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#1 Paul Bruening

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 12:00 PM

I can't even count how many times I've had to get retakes because we were shooting on public streets and someone strolled through our frame in the back ground. We couldn't run over and get them to sign a release in time. The worst experience I've had was on a balcony of a second story coffee shop. The balcony was the length of the side of the building. There were two guys way back in the background. We interviewed the Southern writer, Barry Hannah for a mocumentary. Barry had already left when the guy from the BG walks up and declares that he's a lawyer and would not sign a release without a contract and pay. He tried to screw us on purpose.

Sure, the laws kind-of protect you because of journalistic applications. But, it drives up the E&O costs and can blow a distribution deal. Even with the highly interpretable protections, it won't keep you out of court.

Anyone, here, have experience on how hard it is to just swap and animate facial features on extras? All I need to do is change eyes, nose and mouth to beat the rules of identity since the law only protects a person's identity, not their presence in your frame. I could snatch the features off other people and Mo-Trak them onto the problem person. With some changes in hair color and even clothing color, no one could touch me in court. What do you think?
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#2 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 01:21 PM

There was actually a paper at Siggraph this year about de-identifying people by swapping facial features that had applications for exactly this reason. But face tracking/replacement is hard, and a lot of the time it's not necessary, especially if the person is small in frame or out of focus. If I had been on set with that guy, I would have told him to go fu** himself, gotten good coverage of the background with a different person in it, and just replaced his portion of the background in post. If I'm imagining your setup correctly, it shouldn't be that difficult to just roto the guy out and put an entirely different person there.
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#3 Paul Bruening

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 01:36 PM

Thanks for the response, Scott. I also had in mind using unsigned, re-ID'd extras. One of the problems with being a lo-no budg producer is getting asses in front of the camera without the costs. As a result, lo-no's end up too sparsely populated and looking cheap because of it. I could, conceivably, shoot a scene with hidden cameras and wireless lavs in a crowd of people. Then re-ID the shots. Sure, it would be a lot of time in post. Time I got. Money to wrangle, pay and feed extras with, I ain't got.
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#4 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 03:33 PM

That could potentially work, but seems a bit over-complicated, and depending on what exactly you're photographing, might end up being more complicated and painful than you expect. One common crowd-replicating technique that you might consider, especially if time is on your side, is to get a few extras and shoot them multiple times in different costumes in different places on screen. This works best if you've got little to no camera movement, and you'll probably need greenscreen for when things cross.

Regardless of what you choose, you should definitely test it first, and/or consult with an experienced vfx person. Things like this are easy to shoot improperly if you're not used to them, and when shot improperly they become extremely difficult to composite correctly.
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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 04:25 PM

Maybe, assign the MT points at the corners of eyes and mouths and let the complex nose with it's varying shading stand as is. Install eyes and mouths from a library of previously shot faces. I could shoot a movie Cecil B. DeMille style with a cast of thousands and not pay a single person for it. Ooooh, that phrase, "not pay." I'm touching myself already.
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#6 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 12:34 PM

Scott. Have you thought about it some more?

I could get contracts on willing, unpaids. Put them on a turntable axis'd on their eye's center. Turn them slowly. Film them in about 220 degree rotation including a scale marking the degrees of rotation for file naming purposes. If I turned them slowly enough, I'd have enough frame samples to grab in "one-every-whatever" as an applicable sample base. Then, luminance matte (magic wand?) and store them in a library. If I used different sets of eyes and mouth for each target and select them carefully to avoid weirdness with the target. Then, motion track and resize the elements based on the MT points and the target's head angle. I'd still have to manage lighting angles and blur to match elements with the scene. With simple color changes to hair and clothes to wrap the scene up... what do you think?

Gosh, someone needs to write an app for this.

I can see lawsuits in our future.
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#7 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 03:08 PM

It could work, but when people start talking or changing expressions and it's visible onscreen, you'll run into problems using photographs as sources. Really the problem is that matching faces is really painstaking work, especially when the person is moving three-dimensionally. Not only is it really time-consuming, but faces are an especially tricky subject given that we're so good at spotting minute flaws in them. This is why it may ultimately be easier to just replace the whole person- you've only got to match the camera movement instead of the exact details of what each individual is doing.

If you're still up for it, do a test: get a camera and shoot some faces, then take footage you've already shot and try to comp it in.
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#8 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 03:14 PM

I see what you're saying. You know, if I've got a library of unpaid faces, why not replace the whole face? Wouldn't that be easier? If the library was big enough, most viewers wouldn't notice the repetition.
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#9 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 03:27 PM

Also, I think statistics would make the job smaller than first assumptions might indicate. Let's say you shot a scene in a festival crowd. You've got people milling around. There are a lot of people in the shot but they're not elbow to elbow and facing the same direction (like at a concert or sporting event). So, at any given time, only half of the extras would be showing any of their face at the camera. Half of those would be showing 1/4 or less of their face at the camera. Half would be too far from the camera to matter anyway. If you shot at low f-stops, half or more of the remaining would be out of focus. In all, it may only be something like 5% to 15% of faces need any alteration. It only has to be the minimum to beat claims in court and still fool the viewer.
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#10 Dan Goulder

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 03:29 PM

When someone is "small and out-of-focus" in the background, as was mentioned in an earlier post, I wouldn't worry. I'm sure we've all seen shots in New York City movies where the star is walking down a crowded sidewalk. Some shots are wide and deep enough to show hundreds of people along a city block. I'm sure many of these shots have been made without the production company being in control of the entire street and background, which can stretch out for some distance. Although a situation can be subject to various interpretations, I believe that releases are only required from those "prominent" in the frame. (I'm also not too naive to imagine a couple of lawyers tying up a courtroom while arguing over the definition of "prominent".)

If anyone can further illuminate how legalities are dealt with in terms of New York-type street scenes, please share your info with us.

I've used crowd scenes where people were basically facing away from the camera. That doesn't mean some schmoe isn't going to go..."Hey, that's the back of my head...You owe me money!" I would also appreciate if anyone has any insight where this situation is concerned.
Thanks.
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#11 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 03:43 PM

Hey Mr. Goulder,

Nothing can keep you out of civil court if the complainant is determined and wealthy enough. Most lawyers know a dead case when they see it. So, they're the ones you have to convince digitally. You just don't want it to cause E&O, blown distribution or litigation delays. This may be too new an idea to navigate around in the system as it works now. Changing every face would be safer but would drive post costs up. I don't know how to calculate those ratios at the moment. I'll have to digest on it a while. Still, it is an idea that's got me thinking. I like getting away with expensive stuff for free. I just can't let this one go.
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#12 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 05:33 PM

Scott,

What about a subtle system of morphs? You could 'tween and motrak standardized, multiple points for each facial feature using standardized morph shapes at appropriate points. You could even keep libraries of morph patterns like macros. If you did slight changes at enough points, you wouldn't have to worry about facial libraries, blur, shading or compositing. Do a little color changing to hair and clothes and you're in business. What do you think?
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#13 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 06:27 PM

Well yeah, any of that is theoretically possible if you're experienced enough and have enough time and patience. The thing though is that at this point, you're creating a pretty massive amount of additional work for yourself, to the point where you start wondering why you didn't just cast some more extras in the first place. I mean if you're doing it yourself it might technically be free in that you're not paying anyone, but you're starting to get into an area that has a pretty high opportunity cost, and unless you've got massive amounts of free time, I just don't know that this is an efficient way of working. Visual effects is all about making stuff look good and all, but you've got to get it on time and within budget, and once you start saying that you're going to replace everyone's faces, you're increasing the resources that will need to be dedicated to it.

By all means, give it a shot. It could be a really useful technique for you, but if I were you I'd keep it on hand for a rainy day rather than make it a central feature of your filming technique. It really depends on the content of your shots and what's going on in them. It's often difficult to estimate just how complex something like this is before you've done it; there have been many times where I've learned about a technique and thought that it would be great to use, and then realized that it was way more difficult than I thought once I started actually doing it.

So again, it could probably work. Remember that you're going to have to take into account color matching, bokeh, lens distortion, grain/noise, etc. Please test it and become familiar with it before you use it; the last thing either of us want is for you to shoot your film with the assumption that it will work, only to find that it doesn't work the way you want it to, and then you think I gave you lousy advice. Test test test.
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#14 Will Earl

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 07:05 PM

Unwrap Mosaics from those smarts folks at Microsoft http://research.microsoft.com/unwrap/ . This'll probably be your best bet for what your trying to do.

I expect someone will implement the paper reasonably soon - either a smaller software developer with a stand-alone application or someone like Adobe as part of After Effects/Photoshop.
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#15 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 09:12 PM

Thanks for the link, Will. I'll have to read the download when I get Adobe player straightened out on this computer.

I was also thinking of doing wireframe skulls in Maya, mo-tracked to the prominent features of the 2D face. Once all of the head movements and facial proportions are solid, I can make the alteration assignments. I'm leaning towards morph points, now, since they don't significantly alter complex things like blur and shading. Given the correct lens data and distances recorded at shooting, the mo-trak apps would manage lens distortions and distance/size factors as well as alter morph shapes from a library based on head angle in relation to the camera. If I automated the process, the time it takes could be reduced significantly. The morphs only have to be slight at many points to work. A library of wireframe skulls would set patterns and standardize points with only slight matching to individual faces. Macros could do the rest.
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#16 Paul Bruening

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 01:27 PM

This unwrap thing looks great. When will it come out? Do you have to shoot a face in the round or can it handle partial surfaces?
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#17 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 10:22 PM

So far as I know, Paul, If you put up signs stating essentially "If you enter this area you are consenting to be in my film." and that should cover you ass as far as E&O goes. I know this was done in bars ect. I would talk to an entertainment lawyer about what the necessary legal language must be and document the posted signs, but people walking onto a film shoot should have no expectation of privacy. Here is a good article about what is and is not legal to photograph. The whole thing here is expectation of privacy. If you have made a concerted and reasonable effort to let people know you are filming in a certain spot and they choose to enter the area where you are filming, they have given up their right to an expectation of privacy and have no legal recourse. Even IF they can afford to fight a protracted lawsuit, they would lose. If you're shooting something with the expectaion of getting distribution, you should have E & O insurance anyway. http://www.usatoday....mera-laws_x.htm
http://www.legalandr...ures-in-public/
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#18 Paul Bruening

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 05:56 AM

Yea. You can put up signs. But, then, they gawk at the camera and ruin the take.

Sure. You can shoot them and capture their identity and even show it to a lot of people. But, if you make money on your work while their identity is in it, they may have a case depending on their prominence in the shot/s.

Sure, you can pay more on E&O for wreckless extra wrangling. I can't afford any E&O to start with. I'd rather run a side-by-side/before-and-after to the distributor and satisfy their concerns with re-IDs if it can be done in a reasonable fashion. That's the rub. Coming up with a "reasonable fashion." That's why I've brought it up, here. Maybe a few of us can flop around some ideas and come up with a clever solution.
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#19 Will Earl

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 06:18 AM

They show a number of varying scanerios of how unwrapped mosaics can be used to edit video. And I think for what your after it'll work for swapping out facial features. Again I expect we'll see an implementation of this paper appear in a commercial application in some form or another soonish rather than laterish - it has many uses for the professional user doing digital paint work in moving images, but it also has many novelty uses (expect to see a lot of painted on moustaches) for consumer users - espcially among the youtube generation.
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#20 Paul Bruening

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 02:15 PM

I was also thinking of doing wireframe skulls in Maya, mo-tracked to the prominent features of the 2D face. Once all of the head movements and facial proportions are solid, I can make the alteration assignments. I'm leaning towards morph points, now, since they don't significantly alter complex things like blur and shading. Given the correct lens data and distances recorded at shooting, the mo-trak apps would manage lens distortions and distance/size factors as well as alter morph shapes from a library based on head angle in relation to the camera. If I automated the process, the time it takes could be reduced significantly. The morphs only have to be slight at many points to work. A library of wireframe skulls would set patterns and standardize points with only slight matching to individual faces. Macros could do the rest.



I call it, "Skull Mapping." The use of 3D, wire frame skulls to map 2D, morph patterns onto 2D facial features regardless of head relation to camera.
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