If you've been caught in an embarrassing situation by the local 6 o'clock news crew, then you'll appreciate that professional video editors often must protect the innocent by obscuring people's faces in broadcasts, and in some cases, they may need to avoid trademark infringement by blurring company or product logos. A new feature in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014 can make that a much less tedious task.
Bad boys, bad boys
You've seen it on "Cops," on "20-20," even on the local television news — blurred-out faces of people, or blurred-out logos (or offensive statements) on subjects' T-shirts. Why? It can be to avoid revealing a confidential source, to get someone to talk on camera who wouldn't otherwise, or simply to prevent a known — and litigious — brand from being accidentally associated with a controversial subject. (Would you want your company's logo seen plastered on the chest of a just-arrested arson suspect?)
The blurring process can be challenging in video, but Premiere Pro CC's new Masking and Tracking features aim to make the process a tad easier. Select a clip in the timeline, add an appropriate effect (for example, Mosaic) to the clip, click a button in the Effects Controls panel to create a mask, then resize and position the mask over the offending portion of the video. Click another button to analyze the clip. As Premiere Pro analyzes, it creates a series of keyframes — one per frame.
The process was a little slow on my getting-up-there workstation — about a frame per second — but with the right clip, it worked pretty well. The "right" clip means one in which the subject doesn't turn away from the camera or go behind other objects, though some head movement seemed to be okay. If the subject does go behind an object, you'll have to stop the operation, move the playhead to a point where the subject is visible, and continue the operation. If you want to obscure multiple subjects, then you must create multiple masks, and perform the tracking operation multiple times. The key to success with this procedure is to position the mask over relatively constant portions of the frame — inside the borders of a face, or over the solid background of a T-shirt.
As with previous versions, you can incorporate motion graphics created in Adobe After Effects into Premiere Pro projects. Now, however, you can edit the text of those graphics without leaving Premiere Pro. You must have After Effects installed, too, and you must have enabled an option to unlock the text layers in After Effects before you add the graphics composition, but if you've done that, you can see the text layers as lines in a Premiere Pro panel, in which you simply retype what you want.
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