Colorizing Fluttering Butterflies

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Gregory Douglas

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Colorizing Fluttering Butterflies

PostMon Aug 01, 2022 6:42 pm

I have a client who wants to use a video clip of butterflies in a video I’m editing for him but he wants me to change the main color of the wings from orange to blue and change the white spots on the wings to yellow spots. Here’s what I’ve done so far. Please refer to the photos I’ve attached.

I added a corrector node and used the eyedropper qualifier to change the color of the wings to blue. I couldn’t use the same method for the spots because there is too much white in the rest of the image. So I made Power Boxes for each of two test butterflies and used the curve tool to select each butterfly. I was then able to change the color of the white spots to yellow. The butterflies tracked well.

The client also wants the entire background to be desaturated and darkened. I added Outside nodes to each butterfly. I have 6 nodes. I’ve attached an image to show how the nodes are connected.

Node 1 = original clip
Node 2 = Blue butterflies
Node 3 = Test butterfly #1 with Power Window
Node 4 = Outside Node for Butterfly #1
Node 5 = Test butterfly #2 with Power Window
Node 6 = Outside Node for Butterfly #2

When I darken and desaturate the Outside nodes, the background and butterfly wings change but only the yellow spots remain normal. How do I keep the entire butterfly from being darkened and desaturated? Do I need to put all the butterfly nodes parallel to each other?

And finally… is there an easier way to skin this cat?

Use the attachment scroll bar to see all images:
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Marc Wielage

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Re: Colorizing Fluttering Butterflies

PostMon Aug 01, 2022 7:11 pm

Gregory Douglas wrote:When I darken and desaturate the Outside nodes, the background and butterfly wings change but only the yellow spots remain normal. How do I keep the entire butterfly from being darkened and desaturated? Do I need to put all the butterfly nodes parallel to each other?

You could window the "butterfly FX" corrections to mask out changes in the background, and that would allow you to independently change levels and optimize them for different parts of the frame.

The hardest part of being in the color business is managing client expectations. There's a point where you're pulling the wings off flies -- or in this case, changing the color of spots on butterflies -- which to me is so meaningless, you wonder if it really matters or if it's even worth the trouble. If they're paying extra for it, more power to you.

There's a fine line between VFX and color, and if it were me, I'd hand the shot over to a VFX person and let them roto the butterfly spots in with a lot more precision. But that would take more time and money.
marc wielage, csi • VP/color & workflow • chroma | hollywood
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Gregory Douglas

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Re: Colorizing Fluttering Butterflies

PostMon Aug 01, 2022 7:31 pm

You could window the "butterfly FX" corrections to mask out changes in the background, and that would allow you to independently change levels and optimize them for different parts of the frame.

How exactly would I do that? I've already tried using the the curve tool to outline a butterfly in a Power Window then using an Outside node to adjust the background. But that masked out changes in the background and the wings of the butterfly. The yellow spots were not masked out. Scroll down my attached image to see my node setup.
The hardest part of being in the color business is managing client expectations. There's a point where you're pulling the wings off flies -- or in this case, changing the color of spots on butterflies -- which to me is so meaningless, you wonder if it really matters or if it's even worth the trouble.

In this case the client wants to recreate a dream someone had with butterflies that had specific colors.
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Joe Shapiro

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Re: Colorizing Fluttering Butterflies

PostMon Aug 01, 2022 7:43 pm

I'm with Marc on this being more of a VFX request. Though I'm impressed you're getting close!
Wondering if your issue right now is that the feather is too wide on the power window you're using to separate the two corrections.
Director, Editor, Problem Solver. Been cutting indie features for 20 years. FCP editor from version 2 to 7.
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Gregory Douglas

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Re: Colorizing Fluttering Butterflies

PostMon Aug 01, 2022 10:31 pm

OK I got this figured out. First, I darkened the source video then created power windows and used the curve tool to select the two out of focus areas in the background. Then I desaturated those areas. Since all of the butterflies were colorized from orange to blue in a separate node using the eye dropper qualifier, I was able to boost the saturation and gain on the blue wings. Each butterfly will have to have its own power window to change the white spots to yellow, but I was able to boost the gain and saturation on the spots of the two butterflies I've already power windowed. Not sure how bright the client wants the yellow but I'll be able to adjust it as necessary. The butterflies are supposed to be a gloomy forest. Here's what it looks like now:
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Joe Shapiro

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Re: Colorizing Fluttering Butterflies

PostMon Aug 01, 2022 10:33 pm

Congrats!
Director, Editor, Problem Solver. Been cutting indie features for 20 years. FCP editor from version 2 to 7.
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Stephen Swaney

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Re: Colorizing Fluttering Butterflies

PostTue Aug 02, 2022 12:02 am

Congrats! It is always interesting to hear how people solve weird problems.

I wonder if the new Depth Map could separate the background?
Maybe the Object Magic Mask for the butterflies?
(Can you tell I am lazy?)
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Marc Wielage

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Re: Colorizing Fluttering Butterflies

PostTue Aug 02, 2022 2:14 am

Gregory Douglas wrote:How exactly would I do that? I've already tried using the the curve tool to outline a butterfly in a Power Window then using an Outside node to adjust the background.

Make a tighter mask that only affects the area that you want to change. That's the essence of rotoscoping: carefully tracing the outline of an object and then changing or replacing it as required for the shot. This is one of those places where the lines between VFX and color begin to blur.

I wouldn't necessarily use an outside node at all: I'd create a shape around that portion of the butterfly, and then track it so that it precisely matches the insect's movement without straying into the background. You don't have to draw a line around the entire creature -- only around the portion you need to change. In some cases, you might have to do this frame-by-frame, manually moving it a little bit at a time, if the mask won't automatically track with the tracking control.

This is one of those things where there might be 4 or 5 potential solutions, but some work better than others. And in some cases, there is no magic trick that always works -- you have to use trial and error, and sometimes pieces of different ideas, all working in tandem to pull it off.
marc wielage, csi • VP/color & workflow • chroma | hollywood
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Marshall Harrington

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Re: Colorizing Fluttering Butterflies

PostThu Aug 11, 2022 9:52 pm

I'm working on a set up clips of talking heads (upper body really) that need the background darkened and de-saturated. I've been creating a power windows and tracking them with some level of softness. I'm finding that making the selection to be incredibly time consuming and I'm still not in love with the results. Keep hearing that Rotoscope with fusion provides a selection that works well with fine detail like hair but have no idea of the workflow for that.

I know it's not butterflies, but some of you responding here have taught me so much for so long that I think I'm in the right place. Anxious the hear your thoughts.
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bounceHouse

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Re: Colorizing Fluttering Butterflies

PostFri Aug 12, 2022 3:14 am

@Marshall, see the reference manual, section on "Magic Mask", for example page 2955 "Dealing with Hair" for a place to start if you are looking for "automated" help from the tools.
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