8 Replies Latest reply on Jul 23, 2012 5:23 PM by the_wine_snob Branched to a new discussion.

    Highlighting a Moving Object with Track Matte Keying

    the_wine_snob Level 9
      b Highlighting a Moving Object in Premiere Elements with a Track Matte

      This is a step-by-step article on highlighting a moving object in Premiere Elements (PE). There are variations of this used to obscure the identity of a person, license plate or even add softening to skin on a model. They all work alike, though the Effect chosen will obviously be different. For this example, I will be using PE4 and creating a highlight with the Track Matte Effect.

      In our case, well highlight a football player in some game footage. Since Im dealing with words, and not doing a visual and audible tutorial here, you will need to tune up your imagination, if you are going to play along at home.

      Imagine that we have a 30 sec. Clip of our player, Tom, a wide-receiver in an American football game. We have placed the Clip on the Timeline in PE, and its on Video Track 1. Our Clip has a static camera, with just a wide enough lens angle to include the line of scrimmage and the goal line. The Clip starts with his team lined up at the line of scrimmage. Hes stationary on the end of the formation, closest to our camera. When the ball is snapped, hell run left to right and slant toward the middle of the field. At that point, the quarterback will throw to him. Hell catch the ball and continue down the field, crossing the goal line for a touchdown. During this play, there will a lot of other players around him and we want to make sure that he stands out in the Video Clip for the entire play. Since hes starting with the 21 other players around him and hes static, you have his exact location and its fixed for say 2 sec. Lets play ball.

      Now that you have the mental image in mind, you have some decisions to make. The first is how do we make Tom stand out from the other players and the rest of the field of view. We could brighten him up, but then the exposure of his image would suffer. Lets assume that the exposure is perfect now for the entire field of view. Instead of brightening him, lets darken the rest of the field of view. Well create what will appear to be a moving spotlight on him, but in reality we will be creating a moving shadow on the rest of the field. Its really like taking a piece of cardboard with a hole in it, and moving it between a light source and the ground. The cardboard throws a shadow, but the hole lets the full illumination through. We are going to create that piece of cardboard, in the Titler in PE and punch a hole in it, but first we need to duplicate our 30 sec. Clip on Video Track 1. Well Alt-click on it, to select just the Video portion, as we do not need to duplicate the Audio, then hit Ctrl-c to Copy it to the Clipboard. Because PE will not allow us to select the Track to Paste to, we need to position the CTI (Current Time Indicator) to the end of our Clip, where there is nothing else. The easiest way to do this is to hit End, to go to the end of our Timeline. Now, we Ctrl-v to Paste the copy of the Clip onto the Timeline. Next well move this copy to Video Track 2 and align it perfectly with the original Clip on Video Track 1. The Snap feature allows us to align the CTI to the head of our original Clip then drag our duplicate to that point, but onto Video Track 2. Check that the two Clips are aligned and that you did not exceed the Snap function.

      We are set to create our highlight with the Titler. In the toolbar, click Title>New From Default Still. This creates a new Title with a default Text Box. We dont want text, so well click on the Selection Tool (the little arrow at the top of the Titlers Toolbox. When we see the bounding box around our Text Box, we hit Delete to remove it. Now, go back to the Toolbox and select the Ellipse Tool. Click in our Title and Shift-drag to create a circle. If everything is set at default, tt will appear white over a black field. Size it roughly to about the size of Tom. We can fine-tune its size later.

      Place this new Title on Video T
        • 1. Re: Highlighting a Moving Object with Track Matte Keying
          the_wine_snob Level 9
          (Cont'd from above)

          Place this new Title on Video Track 3 at the start of our original Clip (Video Track 1) and our aligned duplicate Clip (Video Track 2). Notice that its only about 5 sec. long (the normal default), so we want to click on the tail of the Title Clip and drag it to the full length (30 sec.) of our other two Clips. If we play our Timeline now, well have a white circle over an area of the two Clips below. Also, well only see the white circle and the duplicate Clip, since they are above our original Clip and will obscure it.

          Now is a good time to adjust the size and starting location of our circle. Dbl-click the Title to open the Titler. Use the Selection Tool to get the bounding box around our circle and Shift-click-drag on one corner to change the size. We hold Shift, so that our circle stays, well circular and does not turn into an ellipse. Once we have the size about right (remember we can always come back an increase/decrease the size), drag it around, until its over Tom at the head of the Clip on Video Track 2. For this, we want the CTI to be over the first frame of our Clip. Well hit the Home key, as this is the only Clip on our imaginary Timeline. If you already have others, then youll want to use PageUp, or PageDown to move the CTI to our first frame of this particular Clip.

          Our white circle is now sized and positioned over Tom. We like the exposure of Tom, and we want to darken everything around him, so that he stands out from the other players and the field. That is why we duplicated our Clip. Were going to add a couple of Effects to the duplicate, but not to the original. Im going to choose Brightness & Contrast, so that I can adjust the duplicate Clips apparent exposure down. Once applied to our duplicate Clip, we need to adjust the Properties of this Effect. With our duplicate Clip selected, we can go to the Properties Panel and hit the Edit Effects button. There youll see Motion, Opacity and also our Brightness & Contrast Effect. The first two are always present by default for any Clip. If the properties for the Brightness & Contrast Effect are not visible, then click the little right-pointing arrowhead between the eyeball and the Effects name. Now, you can see two sliders, one for Brightness and the other for Contrast. You can drag the sliders to preview the change, or you can click on the setting (to the right side of each sliders path) to type in an amount. I chose -40.0 for Brightness and -25.0 for Contrast. This gives us a darker and flatter image in our duplicate Clip.

          Now we have the look that we want for our background, but Tom is also dark and flat. Not what we want. We want Toms image to come from the original Clip on Video Track 1, and the image of everything else to come from the adjusted duplicate Clip on Video Track 2. That is where the Track Matte Key Effect will be used. We will drag the Track Matte Key Effect to our duplicate Clip on Video Track 2. With this duplicate Clip selected if we look in the Properties Panel, well now see that the Track Matte Key Effect has been added. Click on it and hit the Edit Effect button again. This will give us control of how this Effect works. It has three settings: Matte with a drop down, Composite Using with a drop-down and Reverse with a check box. For Matte, well chose Video 3 (our Title) from the drop-down. For Composite Using lets choose Matte Alpha from the drop-down. Now, we can see in the Monitor Panel that this is not what we want. Because we have a white circle in our Title on Video Track 3, the background image is from the Clip on Video Track 1 and is properly exposed, while Tom is coming from the darkened and flattened Clip on Video Track 2. This is where the third setting in the Track Matte Key Effect, Reverse comes in. Now, click the checkbox. Toms image should be coming from the original Clip on Video Track 1 and the background from the duplicate Clip on Video Track 2.

          (Cont'd below)
          • 2. Re: Highlighting a Moving Object with Track Matte Keying
            the_wine_snob Level 9
            Cont'd from above)
            Play the Clips and watch how Toms image is correctly exposed, while everything else is darker and flatter. Things are looking good, but with one exception. Our Title, which creates the Track Matte Key Effect is staying still, while Tom is running down the field, crossing towards the middle, catching the pass and running for a touchdown. As soon as the play starts, he runs out of the circle and into the darkened flatter portion of the image. We need to get our circle to follow Tom. Thats where Motion Keyframing comes in.

            Hit Home to move the CTI to the first frame of all of our Clips. Select our Title (which is being used in the Track Matte Key Effect for the duplicate Clip on Video Track 2) and click on the Edit Effects button. We are now going to add Keyframes via the Motion Effects. Since we have positioned our circle over Tom, while hes in formation and static in the first frame of our Clips, we can set a Position Keyframe there (on the first frame). We will ignore the other settings under Motion for now. To do this, we click on the stopwatch icon and can see a little diamond added to orange line in our Title/Track Matte at the first frame. Here, the position is fine. slowly scrub the Timeline to the point that the ball is snapped, and Tom first starts to move. At this point, we want to add another Keyframe to anchor the Position at this point. We click on the little diamond below the title Video 3 (far left side of the Timeline) and a second Keyframe is added. It appears on the orange line in our Title/Track Matte Clip also.

            Now, things involve a little labor. For starters, well scrub our Timeline along until Tom slants to the middle of the field. At this point well place a third Motion Keyframe. With the CTI over this Motion Keyframe, we need to move our Title/Track Matte so that it is over Tom at this point. We can do this by either dragging in the Monitor (notice that it has a set of cross-hairs, since we are in the Edit Effects mode, or by dragging on the value for horizontal Position, or typing in a value after clicking ON the horizontal value. We may have to go into the area between our Keyframe #2 and #3, and add additional Keyframes, adjusting our Position, depending on how linear Toms path is, and if he runs at a constant speed, across the field of view. for now, we have just the three Keyframes. PE will fill in the other frames, between these two Keyframes.

            At the point of Motion Keyframe #3, Tom slants towards the middle of the field. Well use Keyframe #3 as the anchor for our next change. Scrub the CTI to the point in the Clip that Tom changes his direction again, just before he catches the pass. In our imaginary football game, well say that the pass is caught, just after he breaks off his slant and heads toward the goal line. At the point that he changes direction, we add another Motion Keyframe, and then move our Title/Track Matte to this point with the use of both the vertical and horizontal positioning.

            Decision time - Tom has run towards the center of the field, so his image has gotten smaller. We might want to make our circle smaller too. If so, using the position of the two Motion Keyframes that define his slant pattern, we can add Scale Keyframes at those two points. The first is to anchor the Scale, and the second to set where the Scale ends up. At the second of these two Scale Keyframes, we adjust the Scale to something smaller. Use your eyes for this.

            Now Tom is running straight for the goal line, but has not caught the ball. Depending on whether he breaks his stride, we may only need to add one more Motion Keyframe. If he pauses, then well add however many are necessary. Lets say that he never breaks stride, catches the ball on the full run and heads straight towards the end zone. Well scrub to the frame where he crosses the goal line and kneels down clutching the ball and raising it above his head. Here, well add the last Motion Keyframe and adjust our Title/Track Matte to that location. Again, depending on how linear Toms speed is, we may have to tweak our Track Mattes Motion with additional Motion Keyframes.

            Now, in our example, we created a hard-edged circle to highlight Tom. If we wanted it to be soft-edged, we could add a little Gaussian Blur Effect to the Title/Track Matte. We could even Keyframe its value, so that when Tom kneels in the end zone, it sharpens (by decreasing the value of the Gaussian Blur to 0).

            Also, instead of adding the Brightness & Contrast to our dupe Clip on Video Track 2, we could have added a Gaussian Blur to that Clip, so that Tom was sharp, and the background had a slight Blur Effect. We could even do a combo of Brightness & Contrast plus the Gaussian Blur to make Tom really stand out really well. The choices are endless. Hey, how about making the background bluer, or greener, and keeping Tom just as he was filmed?

            Now, if the camera has panned with Tom, we will have fewer Motion Keyframes, depending on how well the camera person followed Tom.

            As I stated early on, Id have done this in Premiere Pro. Some things are a little different, but I played along in PE (the target of this article), to keep me honest. I might have missed something, as I did the exercise. If I did, especially if I got confused between the two programs, and called something by the wrong name, I hope that others will correct these errors. Steve has my permission to edit this article in any way that he sees fit. I have posted it in the Tip & Tricks sub-forum, and will link to it in the article that prompted this one. Its probably best to have any discussion/corrections in that article, and Steve can then do an edit to this one, where it is.

            • 3. Re: Highlighting a Moving Object with Track Matte Keying
              Level 1
              Excellent details. Just in time for me to use this technique on a video of my oldest granddaugher as a Christmas present. Thank you Bill, and Merry Christmas!
              • 4. Re: Highlighting a Moving Object with Track Matte Keying
                the_wine_snob Level 9

                My immediate guess is that you have not yet added the Track Matte Keying Effect to your "dupe" footage.

                On the Timeline, you should have your original Video on VT 1, with the dupe of that footage on VT 2. Depending on what you wish to do, say darken the surrounding footage, you would alter the gamma/contrast of the "dupe" footage with the necessary Effect (Brightness/Contrast, or maybe Levels). Now, to get down to the well-exposed version with your subject (your son), you will create the Title with just the "circle," and put it on VT 3. You need to add the Track Matte Keying Effect to the "dupe" footage, and in the Effects Panel, set the Track Matte to VT 3. As your subject moves, you will need to Keyframe the Track Matte on VT 3 to move as is necessary. This has the effect of "punching a hole" in the now dark footage on VT 2, so you "see through" to the original footage on VT 1.

                If this is not working for you, list how the various Clips/Title-Track Matte are arranged on your Timeline and exactly what Effects you have added to each.


                PS got your note that your e-mail is down, so this forum and this thread is probably the best place to address the issue. Also, I just returned to town, so am a bit late in my response - sorry.
                • 5. Re: Highlighting a Moving Object with Track Matte Keying
                  the_wine_snob Level 9

                  Two similar effects can be to add a Title with a Shape, say an oval, that has only a Stroke, and no Fill, and place it on an upper Video Track. This can be Keyframed to "follow" the subject, with the fixed Effect>Motion>Position (and also Scale, if necessary), to draw attention to the subject.


                  Similar to that would be a Title with an "arrow" pointing out the subject. I like using a Webding, or Winding font of an arrowhead. Again, this arrow can be Keyframed to follow the subject with that fixed Effect>Motion>Position. Depending on the subject and their motion, the fixed Effect>Rotation might also be Keyframed.


                  Here is an "oval:"



                  Here is an Arrow:



                  • 6. Re: Highlighting a Moving Object with Track Matte Keying
                    the_wine_snob Level 9

                    Here is an Adobe Article on Track Matte Keying in PrPro CS5. Though one might not have that particular program version, the general concepts are pretty much the same.


                    Hope that this helps.




                    PS - cannot recall if I linked to Curt Wrigley's excellent tutorials on using Track Matte Keying, but he has taken down his wonderful site.

                    • 7. Re: Highlighting a Moving Object with Track Matte Keying

                      Is this tutorial applicable in Premiere Pro CS4 too?

                      • 8. Re: Highlighting a Moving Object with Track Matte Keying
                        the_wine_snob Level 9

                        There might need to be a little interpolation for other versions of PrPro, but it should be slight, as few changes, that will affect the Track Matte Keying were introduced. Might be a name change, or two, but nothing major.


                        Good luck,