Need to smooth some freckles, hide some mild acne, or maybe give a pale face a tan? The Smooth Skin plugin can automatically track and only affect faces in a scene without any keyframing or interruption to your background! Here’s the product page, and here’s a quick video tutorial:
Smooth Skin is a filter available in Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X 10.1, Premiere Pro CS6-CC2014, After Effects CS3-CC2014, and Apple Motion v4 or 5.1. It can be found in the Dashwood Smooth Skin category of your effects palette. Simply drag the filter to the desired clip in your timeline. Then select the clip and inspect the filter’s controls in the Effects Palette (PP/AE/FCP7) or Inspector (FCP X/Motion). For the most accurate face tracking results be sure that the host app is previewing at full resolution. In Final Cut Pro X select “Better Quality” instead of Better Performance. In Final Cut Pro 7, Premiere Pro or AE select “full” instead of Dynamic Resolution for playback and paused resolution. This may be slower for your system and not allow real-time previews, but it will allow you to configure Smooth Skin to more accurately represent the final render.
The UI Parameters
The Help button to will open your browser and direct you to this web page. Maybe that’s how you got here?
The user can save preset configurations for use at another time, or in another host application. For example, let’s say you have a particular setting configured for one subject in your documentary. If you save it with the name of the subject you can easily apply Smooth Skin to any clip with that subject and quickly load the pre-configured preset.
The view popup defaults to “Final Image” but you will use the other four modes as you tweak your parameter settings in Smooth Skin.
This view will show all the faces automatically detected by Mac OS X’s built-in face detector. Detected faces will be surrounded by an oval shape. Areas outside of these ovals will not be affected by Smooth Skin. “Faces Detected” view will be necessary when making adjustments in the Face Detect Advanced parameters group.
View: Skin Detection Mask
White areas in the Skin Detection Mask will be affected by the blurring, texture and skin toning parameters, but black areas will be left untouched. Grayscale areas will be partially affected. This view is used while making fine tuning adjustments in the Skin Mask Advanced parameter group.
View: Skin Texture Mask
The Skin Texture Mask view will show which details will be overlaid when the Skin Texture parameters are used. This view comes in handy when setting the Skin Texture Depth.
View: Original Image
This option allows you to quickly look at a before and after of the affected face without disabling the effect.
View: Final Image
This view shows the final image after processing by Smooth Skin.
The Skin Blur parameter applies a Gaussian Blur to the areas shown in white in the Skin Detection Mask. For best results turn the Skin Texture Blend to 0 while setting the Skin Blur level. In most cases it is best to blur just enough to make skin blemishes, freckles, small wrinkles, etc disappear.
Skin Texture Depth
Skin Texture Depth allows for small details in the skin to be mixed back on top of the blurred skin. Switch to the Skin Texture Mask View to see which details are being filtered out. Smaller values will retain small details and larger values will retain most details, small and large.
Skin Texture Blend
Skin Texture Blend is simply an opacity control for the Skin Texture chosen with the Skin Texture Depth slider. 0 is no texture, and 1 is maximum opacity.
This control can darken or lighten shadow areas in the selected Skin Detection Mask. If your Skin Detection Mask does not include shadow areas the Skin Shadows control will be unable to adjust them. See Skin Mask Advanced parameter controls to learn how to select a range of luminance values in the face.
The Skin Highlights control will allow highlights to be darkened down, similar to a knee control in a camera. If your Skin Detection Mask does not include highlight areas the Skin Highlights control will be unable to adjust them. See Skin Mask Advanced parameter controls to learn how to select a range of luminance values in the face.
Skin Tone (Cool/Warm)
The Skin Tone parameter allows the colour temperature of the pixels in the Skin Mask to be lowered (blue/cooler) or raised (orange/warmer.)
Add Noise to Skin Area
If your video contains visible noise it will be eliminated by the Skin Blur inside the Skin Mask area. Increase this slider to add noise back into the Skin Mask area to match the rest of the image.
Automatic Face Detection is the default. This will work in most situations. However, if the Face Detector is having trouble maintaining a lock on the face due to poor lighting, lens distortion, obfuscation, or noisy video then switching to Manual Skin Toning Only will turn off the tracker. The manual mode will require careful selection of skin tone because the Face Detector will no longer be elimination the background from the Skin Mask.
Skin Mask Advanced
Skin Mask Color
There are four different methods of choosing the skin tone to use in the Skin Mask. HSL Ranges (the default), RGB Tone, HSL Tone, and the Color Picker. The easiest to use is the Color Picker, but it doesn’t have as much fine tuning capability as the HSL Ranges mode.
When setting the Skin Mask Color be sure to turn on Skin Detection Mask view mode. The goal is to set as much of the face skin area to white and exclude details that should remain untouched (like the eyes.)
Mode: HSL Ranges
The HSL Ranges skin tone mode is the default because it has the most control over a range of hues, saturation and luminance. Use these settings to select the exact tones of skin tone you would like to affect with the primary smoothness controls. Make sure you are set to Skin Detection Mask view mode when setting HSL Ranges.
Hue Angle: Sets the primary hue in degrees based on standard vectorscope angles. Negative angles rotate the hue counter-clockwise. An ideal angle for skin tone will usually be around -15˚.
Hue Width: Sets the spread of selected hues in degrees. The default value is 45˚, meaning hues 22.5˚ counterclockwise and 22.5˚ counter-clockwise will be selected.
Hue Softness: Adjusts the transition from selected hue to unselected hue by softening the selection.
Saturation Threshold:Sets the saturation threshold with a value from 0-100. The default setting is 10, which will include most saturation levels except for extremely saturated pixels. A value near 100 will almost filter out all saturated pixels. As an example, this control would be useful if the subject were wearing red plastic glasses and the heavily saturated glasses frames needed to be excluded from the Skin Detection Mask.
Saturation Softness: Softens the transition from selected saturation levels to unselected saturation levels.
Luminance Threshold:Sets the luminance selection threshold. Lower values will include more shadow areas like eyes and higher values will exclude them from the Skin Detection Mask. The default value is 6.
Luminance Softness:Softens the transition from selected luminance levels to unselected luminance levels. It is best to set this so that most of the skin tone in the face shows as selected (white) on the Skin Detection Mask, but has no hard edges.
RGB, HSL and Color Picker Mode share the same Skin Mask Threshold and Skin Mask Smoothing parameters, but select their primary colour in different ways. Since these selection modes cannot select a range of hues they are not as versatile as HSL Ranges, but work faster with most well-lit subjects.
Skin Mask Threshold: This sets the threshold of the Skin Detection Mask based on the selected primary colour (see below.) The default value is 9.2. Lower thresholds will exclude more pixels and only select pixel values very close to the primary colour. Higher values select more pixels. It is best to select as many pixels as possible in the skin without selecting the eyes.
Skin Mask Smoothing: Once the Skin Mask Threshold is set you may soften the transition from selected to unselected pixels, which will help hide a hard edge between smoothed and unsmoothed skin.
RGB Tone mode uses Red, Green and Blue controls in the 0-255 range to precisely choose a primary skin colour. The default is R181,G125,G106.
HSL Tone uses Hue, Saturation and Luminance controls to select the primary skin colour. The hue control is in degrees but is based on a standard Mac color wheel where red is 0˚. The default is Hue:15˚,Sat:41, Lum:71. This mode is not as versatile as the HSL Ranges mode because it can select a range of hues.
Color Picker simply uses a standard color picker to choose the primary colour. Switch the view to Original Image to successfully pick a suitable skin tone on the subject’s face.
Skin Mask Blur: This setting applies a Gaussian Blur to the Skin Detection Mask in order to hide hard edges. It’s default value is 2, which should be just right to smooth out any aliasing, yet maintain a hard enough edge to not affect the eye area.
The vectorscope will demonstrate a rough representation of which range of hues and saturation levels are being selected with the Skin Mask Color. However, it does require extra processing to display the vectorscope so underpowered systems may experience a slowdown in responsiveness.
Enable Vectorscope: This checkbox is off by default but can be turned on to display a standard REC709 vectorscope with a “skin line”.
Vectorscope Gain: The vectorscope gain adjusts the intensity of the source footage overlay (in green) on the vectorscope.
2X Vectorscope Zoom: This checkbox will cause the source footage overlay to zoom in 200% for a better view of exactly where the skin tone lie on the vectorscope.
Face Detect Advanced
Face:Determines which face or faces to obscure. Defaults to “All Faces” but it is possible to select one specific face by the face ID number when Identity Faces is activated.
Check Tracking Accuracy:This checkbox will turn on + symbols over each eye, nose and mouth detected in the scene for the purposes of fine-tuning the tracker settings, or just checking manually tracked keyframes. This setting is OFF by default and must be turned off before rendering.
Accuracy:Indicates whether the face tracker should choose techniques that are lower in accuracy, but can be processed more quickly, or choose techniques that are higher in accuracy, even if it requires more processing time per frame. If working in real-time rendering the LOW setting may allow a faster frame rate.
Better Tracking:The Better Tracking setting affects how the face tracker scans each frame and detects faces. In the default ON setting only faces that are positively identified with confidence will be presented. Faces that may lack some trackable detail may be ignored. If your image contains many faces that are small in the frame you may have better tracking results by turning Better Tracking OFF.
Scale:The Scale slider allows the user to adjust the overall size of the blur, pixellation, solid color or custom image. The default scale is 1.2x so that the mask exceed the actual face area slightly.
Face Aspect Ratio:Some faces are rounder than others. The Face Aspect Ratio control allows you to change the shape of the oval face mask. The default value is 1.2.
Edge Softness:Edge Softness softens the edge of the blur, pixellation or solid color. The default value is 50.