Hiding Unwanted Elements Using Sony Vegas
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Hiding Unwanted Elements Using Sony Vegas No matter how diligent you are during production, sometimes unwanted element gets on your recording By Jeffrey P. Fisher

No matter how diligent you are during production, sometimes a product, face, name, logo, or other unwanted element gets on your recording. And since you need the shot, you are faced with trying to disguise or eliminate it. Adding pixilation or blur to the offending area is the typical approach.

Its even called the ?cops effect named after the popular Fox reality show. Faces are often blurred on that program, but the workflow is versatile and useful for more than you think.

In this example shot from the Artbeats College Life stock footage collection (www.artbeats.com), there is a sign in the background that this tutorial will show you how to subtly hide.

Isolate the video event on its own Vegas Timeline track. Right-click in the Tracks header and choose Duplicate Track from the pop-up so you have identical clips on two separate tracks. Vegas automatically calls the second track a Copy of the first.

Navigate to the Video FX tab in the lower left and scroll through the list of available effects listed on the left side pane. Locate the Cookie Cutter and then drag and drop the Circle, Center Preset from the right pane to the top video event.

The Cookie Cutter Video Event FX dialog will display. I prefer positioning the dialog box and the Video Preview side-by-side when working with this effect. Also, solo the top track by clicking the (!) so you can more easily see the Cookie Cutter boundaries isolated in the event.

Note: To save this Window layout for future use, hold down Ctrl + Alt + D then release and select one of the numbers 1-0. Vegas asks you to name the layout and then click OK to save it. To recall the layout, hold down Alt + D, release, and then select the number chosen above again. Vegas stores up to 10 different screen layouts.

Use the Positioning workspace to move the circle over the offending sign in this example. Also, use the Size slider to be slightly larger than the item to be removed. To soften the edges, use the Feather slider, too.

You can now choose to add either Pixelate or Gaussian Blur to disguise the sign. Click the Plug-in Chain button to display the Plug-in Chooser dialog. Find the plug-in you want from the list, in this case Gaussian Blur, click to select it, and then click Add. Click OK to close the Chooser dialog box and return to the effect settings. For the Gaussian Blur, choose the Medium Blur Preset.

Unsolo the top track to see how the blur works in the video. Adjust any parameters as needed. Often you need to size up a little larger and use more feather to blend better. If the shot moves, you may need to keyframe the Cookie Cutter position to stay over the element you are blurring out.

In this example, the female runner moves in front of the sign, so fading the effect out at the appropriate moment makes sense. Otherwise, she will be blurry! Split the Cookie Cutter event (top track) where needed and delete the rest. Drag a fade on this Event only, too.

Other shapes in the Cookie Cutter Video FX, along with using Pixelate instead of blur can be the better choice for disguising unwanted elements. Try animating the Pixelate by changing the settings a little with a few keyframes for better results. Though this example is less subtle than the previous, it is sometimes your only choice.

You can also use the Event Pan/Crop Bezier Masking tools for drawing more precise shapes. This is what I used when asked to hide some products seen too clearly in an indie film. As you can tell, this effect is not just for cops anymore.

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Jeffrey P. Fisher is a Sony Vegas Certified Trainer and he co-hosts the Sony Acid, Sony Sound Forge, and Sony Vegas forums on Digital Media Net (www.dmnforums.com). For more information visit his Web site at www.jeffreypfisher.com or contact him at [email protected].

Related Keywords:NLE, video effects, cops effect, video editing

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