How To Clone And Interact With Yourself In After Effects

How To Clone And Interact With Yourself In After Effects from Motion Array on Vimeo.


Hi Guys! Jordan with Motion Array and today we’re going to be showing you how clone and interact with yourself on camera.  So let’s get into it!

How To Clone And Interact With Yourself In Adobe Premiere Pro

This text has been transcribed from the video for optimal reading

So let’s start by talking about setup. Believe it or not, I didn’t master cloning technology and copy myself into existence.  It’s just 2 takes spliced together to make it seem more real. To accomplish this, there’s 2 main things that you need to do. First you need to have your frame EXACTLY the same for every single take you do.  No motion. No touching the camera between takes. No lighting changes of any sort. So that means if you’re filming outdoors, you’re likely going to have to do some major work in post. And if you’re indoors, all it means is blacking out the windows and then not changing your lighting setup between takes.  

Then, once you’re ready to go through your takes, the second thing you’ll need is, time.  Go through your motion over and over and over until you’re pretty confident you’ve got the first half of what you’re going for, making sure you go through the entirety of what you would do in that situation until the cutting point.  Which for me in this shot is reacting to see that a second me has walked in and caught the ball. Once you've got that down, time to film part 2. For this, still don’t touch the camera. It might be tempting to stop recording to save space or to have 2 distinct files, but touching the record button will likely throw off your frame by even the smallest amount, giving the effet away.   

Run through part 2 with your second character, which for me is catching the ball that was initially thrown.  For this one though, I did have a little bit of help. I had my wife stand in the place that I was initially, which had a marker placed on it so that her placement was super clear.  Next we went through the motion from start to finish again, this time catching the ball. In total, after practicing the trajectory of my throw and my wife doing the same, we had about 6 takes for the first version, and about 9 takes for the second.  Now that we’ve successfully gotten both of our shots, and we’re pretty sure that the motion is gonna match up, let’s take these into After Effects and take a look at how to splice these two together!

Okay so here we are inside of After Effects and the first thing that we're gonna do is look through our footage that we've captured.  Now you can see here that I have two separate files and I just want to reiterate that I didn't hit the record button to stop it what happened is that my camera just made two separate files once the initial file got too big for the camera to handle and it just carried over into the second one.  But with that out of the way what you want to start by doing is take your first clip and drag and drop it over this new composition button here to create a new composition based on the settings from your footage then I'm gonna drag and drop my second piece of footage underneath. 

Just to be clear again I didn't intentionally create two pieces of footage but it just so happened that the first piece of footage contains pretty much only the first set of takes with me throwing the ball to myself on the right while the second piece of footage pretty much contains only the second set of takes.  This will likely not be your scenario, so just make sure to take your one piece of footage and break it up into the before and after sections.  

I'm using some pretty heavy raw footage so I'm gonna be going up here to the quality settings and taking it down from 1/2 to 1/4 resolution. This will make it a lot easier to scrub through and work with our footage over time from here I'm just gonna quickly disable the bottom layer and we're just gonna scrub through and find the take of the top layer that we want to use. What I'm looking for is a take that ticks all of the boxes. It's got a good arc, it looks believable like I'm actually going to be interacting with the person that's not quite there yet, and once I find something that actually works we're gonna section off only that piece of footage to use. For right now we're only concerned with the throwing-and-catching of the ball between the two pieces of footage and we can worry about extending it back towards the preamble a little bit later on. 

Once you found the beginning of the section of the tape that you like split the clip with: 

CTRL or Command + shift + D 

Then delete the section before hand that you don't need to use at the moment then go to the ending section and do the same thing. Now that we found the section of the clip of me throwing the ball that we like we're gonna search through the second clip of me catching it to see what lines up the best. Now hide the top layer just in case you're looking through anything that passes over this section and start scrubbing through to see if you can find anything that looks like it'll line up pretty well. In a perfect world what you're looking for is a motion matches exactly to what you did before but if you can't find something that matches perfectly the beginning point the arc and trajectory and the ending point I would highlight the ending point as the thing that you should prioritize more than anything else. 

After scrubbing through the footage it looks like this point is gonna work best out of everything that I managed to capture so once you've made your decision section off that clip and then delete the section that you don't need. Then let's move this piece of footage over so that it lines up with the ending of the first piece of footage so now we can start to work towards splicing together these two pieces of footage. 

Take the ending point where you want this to actually transition over into the second clip so find the point where the ball actually reaches the point where it would naturally hit the hand of the person catching it. Then go to your second piece of footage and find that same point as well then put these two pieces of footage end-to-end so that the timing roughly works out. If you have a full-sized keyboard you can use the keys:

page up and page down to go forwards or backwards one frame at a time

Now we're still testing but we're gonna take it another level further by hitting the T button to bring up opacity and dropping this clip down to roughly 50% and then stretch out your bottom and top clips out so that they overlap and what we're looking for is the trajectory and timing of these two objects. We're looking to see if the throw will actually look like it works in real life and we can see right off the bat that the catch is too early it happens way before the other status ball actually reaches the same position, so take your bottom clip and move it around in time so that you can see that the two tennis balls are actually in the same position at the same time at the point of catching. You'll notice that they're actually not perfectly identical but that's okay our job right now isn't to get it perfect it's just to get it lined up as close as possible and looking through this will work perfectly for our situation. Now that the timing and positioning has been adjusted you can take the opacity of your top clip here and you can raise it back up to 100% again. 

Now our next job is to take our first piece of footage here and mask it out so that we can actually see the catch happening in the second piece of footage, so I'm just gonna take my pen tool here and make a very basic mask shape around my subject here. Once that's complete you can see that the two pieces of footage are now able to be seen together. But we have this weird line here because there's some very very subtle lighting changes. That's okay we'll deal with that a little bit later. 

A more pressing concern is that we can see the tennis ball is leaving frame and being cut off by the mask. We need to solve this so instead of adjusting the mask itself we're actually going to be creating a second mask go up to your shape tools here and choose an ellipse and we're gonna make a mask around the tennis ball. Having a second mask set to add will actually allow it to disregard this other mask and just allow this section to be seen through regardless. Now if we drop down the mask settings here for the tennis ball mask and keyframe the mask path now we can go along and we can make sure that our mask is set out of the way during the time that the tennis ball is within this greater mask and as it passes through and outside of this zone we can actually move the mask around and make sure that it's always containing the tennis ball. Continue on until it reaches just before the hand actually catches the other tennis ball, and when we reach the point where if you were to move the mask further it would start to interfere with the hand, you can actually just move the mask back out of the way so that it's not actually doing anything at this point in time. 

What you should have at this point of time is actually a generally okay effect. It's definitely got some problems but you can see how we're actually starting to achieve the look that we're going for. But the most obvious problem you should see right now is that we have two tennis balls instead of just one following through the frame. So what we're gonna do is hide this top layer here and just work with the bottom layer then we're gonna go through using the same method we used for the first tennis ball. 

Take our shape tool here and mask around this tennis ball then we're gonna go down to the mask settings for this particular mask and we're gonna change it from add to subtract and now we should see that it's actually getting rid of this tennis ball instead of allowing it to be seen. Now we can take our mask properties keyframe the mask path and move this mask so that at any point in time it's covering up this tennis ball. We never actually want to see this one until the very very end now here right before it actually enters the hand. We're just gonna leave it and we're gonna move it off screen as long as you keep from the movement so that it happens immediately the frame after the previous keyframe there won't be this motion across the screen. It'll just end up teleporting there so now we can see that this has covered up our tennis ball. 

But when we unhide our top layer we can see that there's actually this empty weird checkered space where the tennis ball was taken out. This doesn't look very good at all so what we need to do is find a way to hide this particular area so that it looks like the rest of the background. At this point in time we're actually gonna be adding a few more layers in rapid succession so at this point it's a really good idea to make sure you have a clear distinction over what layer is what piece of footage. So we're gonna take this top layer and rename it to something that tells us exactly what we're working with I'm gonna name it throw right and then I'm gonna take the bottom piece of footage and I'm gonna name it catch left. Now at a glance we know exactly what piece of footage is focusing on what. 

From here we're gonna focus on covering up this transparent hole right here that's showing through the frame. What we need to do is we need to take what's called a clean plate. In a perfect world what I should have done is just taken a moment and stepped outside of camera frame and made that we just got a clean plate with literally nothing in the frame except the background, but in this tutorial we got to show you what not a perfect scenario is so that in case you have to fix things on the fly you'll know what to do. 

What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna duplicate the top layer here and I'm gonna find a section that we can use to use this as a clean plate instead I'm gonna delete all the masks here to make sure that we're just working with a typical piece of footage then I'm gonna extend it on both sides and see if I can find a piece of footage within this clip that has as much of the background visible as possible with me out of the way. This isn't the absolute perfect section to use but it's actually going to work okay for our situation I know for a fact that the masks in our previous clip is never going to extend into the section that I'm standing in here. 

Now with your playhead over top of the frame that you want to utilize we're gonna freeze this particular frame by right-clicking on our clip going to time and select freeze frame. Now the entirety of this piece of footage is actually just this one solitary frame. So now all we have to do is take this piece of footage, let's rename it to say that it's our clean plate, and then we're gonna move this down to the very bottom layer and I'm just going to extend our top clip a little bit here so that we can see a bit of the preamble before the throw. Now if we take a look at the footage that we have at our disposal we can see that when we throw the ball here the empty space has been covered up. We've still got a little bit of the space here where the other tennis ball is showing through but that's not a problem with a transparency layer that's just our mask not quite doing what it's supposed to do, so if we go back to our other mask here that's covering up and subtracting out the second tennis. Nice, that's a lot better. 

Next up we're gonna be diving in to do some fine detail work with the tennis ball, so it's really helpful if we have a little bit of a loop that we've created to focus just on this section. It's really easy to set in and out points to set a loop. Just place your playhead above any frame that you want to start and then hit the B key then go to the spot where you want the loop to finish and you can hit the N key. now our playback will loop between these in and out points. 

Use keys B and N to set in and out points to create a video loop

I'm just gonna set a new end point here so we can focus a little more tightly just on the throw and the catch and we can watch it multiple times on loop. What you should notice is that even though there's some obvious clean up things that we still have to do the effect actually kind of works. Apart from the last frame or to your eyes actually believe that that motion is carrying through you can see here that as we frame by frame go through this everything looks believable right until we switch over here. this point is where we have a little bit of a problem to fix. There's a really clear jump in position from one to the other and there's also a really clear difference in trajectory. The first ball is coming at a more top-down perspective and the other is coming from more the side. So what we need to do is find a way to merge these and make it look a little bit more believable when it switches over. So believe it or not one of the easiest solutions for this is actually to take a fake tennis ball and to replace it at some point in time and have it continue on the trajectory that's a little bit different and have it end up exactly where we want it to be. 

The best part is we don't need any 3d models or crazy tricks, we're actually gonna use the tennis ball as it appears in this footage what we want to do is find the point in time where the tennis ball has the least amount of motion blur, which is here at the top of its arc. You can see that it's still got a little bit of blur to it but that's okay it's the best option we have at our disposal. So now we're gonna duplicate this top layer here using: 

CTRL or Command + D to duplicate your layer

And we're actually gonna rename this layer to be "ball" just to keep things organized. I'm gonna next go in here and delete the mask around my subject. Next we can try to see if we can manage to make this mask around the ball work, but I can quickly tell that this is not going to be a good solution. So I'm just going to delete this mask around it and we're gonna create a new one grab your shape tool here and we want to try and create a perfect shape around the tennis ball not just making it a perfect circle but matching the shape that it actually is in this particular frame. 

Next up we're gonna right click on our layer here and we're gonna select a time freeze frame this will now freeze the tennis ball in this particular position for this particular layer on top and you can see that it actually matches perfectly up with the position of the tennis ball because we actually took the tennis ball from an existing frame so we're gonna use this to perfectly hide the switching point between the real tennis ball and the frame and the new one that we're gonna create a new trajectory for but first we want to make sure that this is actually completely believable so we're gonna increase the mask feather a little bit and try to make it look like it's actually a real tennis ball in real life not just for the particular frame where it's which is over scan through and see what the real tennis ball looks like along its trajectory let's get enough for now so I'm gonna zoom out and I'm just gonna clean up our timeline a little bit and prepared to do some work with the tennis ball next up we're just going to go back to the frame that we took this tennis ball from to begin with and we're just gonna make sure that our fake tennis ball here that we stole the freeze-frame from only starts at this exact moment great so now our fake freeze frame tennis ball only starts to appear at the transition point now comes the fun part at the starting frame here we're gonna keyframe the position of our freeze frame tennis ball to actually end where the real tennis ball was caught in real life once you've moved to keyframe over to this point in time physically move the tennis ball to match the position of the real tennis ball just have the starting and ending points and it'll be just a linear path straight from start to finish but you can actually take this little marker here and use it to change the trajectory of the ball from linear to curved this will take a lot of trial and error but this won't mess up your keyframes at all just changing the trajectory go backwards and forwards in time and just try to get a sense for the position and try to match it up with the real tennis ball as close as possible what you're doing here is not trying to mimic timing you're actually just mimicking positioning the timing might be a little bit off but this is not where you fix that just worry about relative arc and positioning once you're decently happy with it what you can do is highlight your keyframes here then right click go to keyframe assist and then select easy ease this will quickly help you to get a way more realistic nonlinear trajectory for your tennis ball once that's done you can go up here to your graph viewer and click it to be able to manipulate your keyframes in a lot more detail by changing around these values here you can actually impact the speed at which your position change takes place and you won't actually change the position of the trajectory at all you can see here that we have a very simple speed curve but you'll also notice that it's not following the real life trajectory of the tennis ball in the frame this will be a problem because even when we remove the real tennis ball the average person is pretty good at picking up that the physics just don't look quite right so following the actual speed of descent that happened in real life is really key you can use these yellow tabs here to change the curvature of the graph the lower on the graph a particular position is the slower it will be traveling and here at the top of the peak is where the ball will be traveling the fastest use this information as well as the position of the real life version of the tennis ball to try and get your fake one to line up perfectly once you think you're pretty close a really good way of checking is to reset your in and out points to something that's a little bit quicker so you can really just focus in on the trajectory and see if it feels right and in general that actually feels pretty close but to get a real feeling for it we've got to get rid of the real tennis ball and just see what the fake one is doing we know that the real tennis ball is coming from this throw right layer so let's split it right at the point where we want the fake one to take over now what we're gonna do here is we're gonna take the same mask layer that's surrounding the tennis ball and keeping it in frame and just change it so that it says subtract simple as that we don't even have to change the mask around and we've already made the tennis ball disappear now if we unhide our fake tennis ball we can see that the transition from real - fake happens flawlessly it's right here and you can't really even tell the difference we still have some problems though the first one is that pretty clearly this is just a still image moving around the frame it doesn't really feel like it belongs but thankfully this is gonna be fixed with just two simple clicks right here is the enable motion blur button and if you click it this enables motion blur to take place for any elements that you've manually keyframe the position for which includes our tennis ball now if we go down here and select the motion blur option for our tennis ball layer we can see that thetennis ball now has motion based on the direction that it's moving making it look like it's actually interacting in the environment that it's placed which you can really see when I toggle on and off the motion blur the last really simple thing that we can do here is just to delete the excess of the tennis ball footage because it's just a freeze-frame at the end of the motion here and now when we play on loop we can see that it feels a lot better it's still not perfect we can see that it has a nice upward arc trajectory but it's got like a little bit of an s-curve as it goes down but by highlighting your tennis ball layer and then playing around with both the position curve as well as the speed graph values you can finesse the motion of your tennis ball to feel a lot more natural take 5 to 10 minutes and just try and play around and make it look a little bit cleaner and once you got it down it should look something like this indistinguishable from a real throw we're just gonna lastly clean up the point at which there's two tennis balls seen at the same time we're gonna hide the fake tennis ball there for just a second and then we're gonna highlight the catch left layer we can see that we have a mask that's set off to the side but then just a frame earlier it's masking out the tennis ball here what we want to do is move forward one frame to where the mask is placed outwards and we're going to use that same mask just to quickly cover up a little bit more of the tennis ball move it over and we're just gonna focus on a bit of this right edge here highlight each individual point to give it a little bit of a unique shape I'm gonna try to cut out as much of the real tennis ball as possible while not taking off any of my fingers and by keeping your mask feather somewhat high you can integrate it naturally with the motion blur that exists in the scene now when we unhide our tennis ball layer we can see that it follows through in the perfect motion to where I catch it right here and you can see that the effect has been achieved there's just a couple things that are being a bit distracting in the moment you can see in the top right corner here there's this piece that the mask is just not successfully cutting out properly this is just because we moved over an existing mask to just get it out of the way but it's actually not doing nothing it's actually being a distraction so just find the point at what you would switch over and then make it cut with control of command D and then from this new layer here you can just delete the mask simple fix plus Li the only final distraction are the lighting changes that happen when we mask off and switch between Clips there's just two final suggestions that I have to help you make these a lot less noticeable first when you start to incorporate a new piece of footage underneath a masked piece of footage try and keep frame in a two pasady from zero for as long of a duration as possible this will help to make the change a lot more gradual and be a lot less distracting to your viewers and then finally if feathering your mask isn't enough then you can really easily hide your mask edges by just using pre-existing lines within your composition examples are the connection between these two couch cushions or all the different vertical and horizontal lines that exist on the soundproofing panels here in the background by hiding your mask edges along these lines you'll be able to make them a lot less noticeable and once you add some color grading and sound effects to the mix this is your final effect should look like

Well, that concludes this tutorial. I hope you found it helpful, if you did, please give us a thumbs up and if you’d like to see more tutorials please go ahead and subscribe because we’re making new ones all the time.  I hope you guys found it helpful.  If you did, we’ve got lots of other Premiere Pro tutorialsAfter Effects tutorials and filmmaking tutorials!

Thanks for watching and see you in the next video.

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