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Rotoscope Effect in Avid Media Composer

Learn how to trace around a subject (rotoscoping) within Avid Media Composer to create an amazing effect.


If Avid Media Composer is not your primary effects software package, you can still create this amazing effect all within the Media Composer software.

Key fundementals that you will learn in this video tutorial include:

  • Using the Paint Tool to RotoScope
  • Creating a Video Mixdown to create a black / white matte
  • Using the Matte Key to clone a subject


With Avid Media Composer you can create some amazing effects.

Clone Skateboarder.png

To create this effect, edit a single clip to an empty sequence.

Create two new video tracks by using the keyboard shortcut Command Y.

Move the position indicator to an area where you would like to start cloning your subject. Use the add edit function to create edit points inside the sequence for the V1, 2, and 3 tracks. I recommend you mark just a small section.

three MC tracks with edit edits.png

Navigate to the project window and click on the effects palette icon. Within the image category, find the paint effect.

Media Composer Paint Effect.png

Drag the paint onto the V3 segment that you've marked. Place the position indicator over the first frame of the paint effect segment.

Park Indicator at first frame.png

Make sure this monitor icon is placed onto the V3 track.


Navigate to the upper left corner of the timeline window, and press the effect mode button. This will open the effects editor window.


If you are using the latest version of Avid Media Composer, right click within the Composer window and choose show single monitor.


This will make it easier while rotoscoping around your subject.  Within the effects editor window click on the poly tool.


Within the color parameter, double click on the red square.


Then change the color to white within the Select Color Box.


Use the polygon tool plot points around your subject. Use the least amount of clicks possible to avoid too many points.


When you connect with your original starting point, you will see a white object.


Depending on how carefully you decide to trace around your subject, you may want to feather the object. Within the effect editor window, adjust the horizontal and vertical sliders to create a feather.


Change the bias parameter to 0, so the feather appears on the outside of the object.


At the bottom of the effects editor window, click on the outline path tool to see the area you've traced around. Then click on the reshape tool to see the plotted points.


Within the Composer window you will see two pink key-frames.


Click on the first key-frame so it's the only key-frame that's active.


Then advance one frame forward using the right arrow on your keyboard.

Within the Composer Window make some minor adjustments to the points to reflect the change in motion.  Avoid adding new points unless it's absolutely necessary.


At the bottom of the Composer window, click on the second keyframe, and use the keyboard shortcut command C to copy.


Then click on the last key-frame and use the keyboard shortcut command V to paste the information.


Click back onto the second key-frame and advance one frame forward again. Again, adjust the points to match the new position of the object.


Again, use the keyboard shortcut command C to copy the new key-frame.

Then click on the last key-frame again, and use command V to copy the key-frame information.

Click back onto the third key-frame and advance one frame forward again.

Once again, adjust the key-frame to match the changes in the subject's movement.

Repeat this process for every frame within the segment area.

After you've trace around all the individual frames, move to the lower left corner of the effect editor window and click back onto the outline path tool.


After you've completed your rotoscoping, command click on the Video Monitor icon that's on V3 to solo the track.

So now you are only viewing the white shape. Turn off all the other tracks except V3. Mark in and out points for the clip segment that's on V3 using the I and O keys on your keyboard.


Navigate to the special menu and choose 'Video Mix-Down'. Choose a bin to save the new mixed down clip.

Edit the flattened white matte onto the old effect that's on V3.


Navigate back to the project window and find the key category within the effects palette.


Drag the matte key onto the flattened white matte.


Un-solo the V3 track by command clicking on the green video monitor icon to change it back to blue.


Click on the effect mode icon to re-open the effect editor. Within the effect editor window click on the invert key button.


Okay, so now you can offset matte key from the original footage by just dragging the object.


I've taken the extra step of adding some music, sound effects, and yellow paint effect flashes to my sequence.


For other great tips like this, or to enroll in a certified Avid Media Composer training course, visit GeniusDV.com

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Creating a Video Watermark was the previous entry in this blog.

Adobe CC Facial Alteration and Repair is the next entry in this blog.

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