I was interviewed for an article in the Telegraph about retouching in film/TV. The final article sort of missed the point, as non-industry publications often do, that it’s hard to make humans look good with bright video lights, cameras, and all the things that production involves. (they spun it as an ‘A-list vanity’ thing) But it did get me thinking about how different users deal with that production problem when using Beauty Box. (Link to the article is at the bottom of the post)
I do find it interesting talking to different customers who are using Beauty Box for different purposes. It’s used on an extremely wide range of productions from low budget wedding videos to feature films. And, of course, how it’s used on those productions varies widely as well.
On the lower budget end, the editor generally applies it to the entire clip, hits Analyze Frame, dials in some settings to make the subjects look a bit better and then calls it a day. The budget isn’t there for a lot of fine beauty work (just like there wasn’t a budget for a makeup artist).
The above may be the case if the editor is pressed for time… turning around video shot earlier in the day at an event or for news, where it needs to go live the same day.
The basic settings work very well for applying a layer of digital makeup that offsets the lack of makeup, bright video lights or any of the other factors that make a subject’s skin look bad in a video. We’ve worked hard to maintain the texture of the skin so that you have a very realistic application of the smoothing algorithms.
When Beauty Box users have a bit more time/budget the workflow changes a bit. They can set up tracking masks and just retouch, say, the forehead or the cheeks. This is much more detailed beauty work and you can see some tutorials on using tracking masks here. Generally this is how Beauty Box is used for commercials, TV, etc.
As you get up into feature films, where there are definitely budgets for makeup artists, we see Beauty Box being used for makeup heavy applications. For example, in LBJ, Woody Harrelson needed to prosthetics to make him look older. As such, digital retouching was used to make those more seamless and realistic. Same goes for films in the fantasy genre, if you’ve got a bunch of elves, orcs and whatnot running about, you may have some makeup problems that need fixing. That’s generally where Beauty Box is a critical tool.
It’s cool to hear about the wide range of productions it’s used on. The idea for Beauty Box came from watching a talk given by a music video vfx artist at Motion Graphics LA in the mid-2000s. He discussed his process of going frame by frame, duplicating skin layers, etc. I figured there had to be a better way of doing that and a few years later Beauty Box was born as the first beauty plugin to take the problem seriously. (There were a couple other plugins out there that purported to do it, but they were just applying a blur to a masked area and it didn’t look realistic. Beauty Box not only smooths the skin but tries to keep the original skin texture giving a much more realistic look)
So to see it used on feature films, episodics, reality and so much more is one of the amazing things about making these tools.
lol… of course, customers will tell us about this stuff privately, but getting folks to give us permission to talk publicly about specific shows/films is tough. If you’re doing something cool with Beauty Box and are willing to let us talk it up, please shoot me an email! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
And P.S…. We’re hard at work on Beauty Box 6.0, using A.I. and some other advanced tech, so look for that coming shortly. (And we give free upgrades to folks that let us say nice things about their Beauty Box work, so…. :-)
Here’s a link to the Telegraph article. fyi… it’s behind a paywall and if you sign up for the free trial, you’ll need to CALL them in the UK to cancel. You’ve been warned. :-) The article is not as skewed as the headline suggests, but it does largely miss the point that this is a video production problem as much as (or more so) a vanity thing.