How to soften faces in HD footage?

smhontz wrote on 3/15/2012, 8:31 AM
Just started working in HD, using a Canon XF 305 & 105. I'm loving the incredible detail and the huge frame size, but my partner (a woman) was aghast at how much detail was there in a recent series of interviews we shot (predominantly of women).

She wanted to soften the image a little to flatter the women's faces a little more. We ended up using BCC's "Gaussian Blur" on the "DrTSmallSoften" preset. That did a pretty good job, although I think it might be too much on other details like hair and clothes.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for how to do this? I'm not looking to do anything fancy like motion tracking or editing each frame in Photoshop. I suppose I could invest in a soft-focus filter for the camera, but I'd rather shoot everything "raw" and then clean-up if necessary in post.


PeterDuke wrote on 3/15/2012, 8:38 AM
You could look at more flattering light during the shoot as well. Something with softer shadows.

We have a TV channel which seems to apply its own softening. Faces tend to look flat and bland until they smile or frown and the cracks in the face suddenly appear from nowhere.
Laurence wrote on 3/15/2012, 8:39 AM
Neat Video works really well for softening skin and yet leaving the defining lines at the edges intact. It does this equally well to reducing noise IMHO. Give it a shot and see if you don't agree.
Grazie wrote on 3/15/2012, 9:01 AM
I attended a course on using Make Up for the new up-coming age of HD. I stayed with SD for another 6 years!

This might do something: SONY Soft Contrast FX for the time being.


rs170a wrote on 3/15/2012, 9:09 AM
A friend of mine is using the Tiffen Dfx Video/Film Plug-in package and loves it.
When we were shooting SD, we both had a variety of Tiffen Pro-Mist filters that we used on interviews all the time (the Black Pro-Mist on women is great!!) and he swears that the electronic version is almost as good as the glass filters were.
The advantage here is that you're saving a LOT of money over buying each glass filter separately.

redpaw wrote on 3/15/2012, 9:23 AM
there's a filter in magic bullet looks called 'cosmo' - does a great job!
vtxrocketeer wrote on 3/15/2012, 9:45 AM
Another solid plug for NeatVideo. Noise reduction probably wasn't on your mind, but this is one of the very few "must have" plugins I could ever recommend. For footage that has electronic noise, it can work darn near miracles.

The side benefit is that skin imperfections and blemishes nearly disappear whilst other details remain, e.g., hair, large wrinkles, etc. The result, if NV isn't applied too heavily, is surprisingly natural. Heavy or imprecise application of NV will yield plastic-looking video, sort of like spackling on make-up. Both don't look right.

For instance, I just finished a project where, in one scene, I shot an attractive and 'youth challenged' woman in very low lighting; her face was illuminated gently by the glow of an LCD screen. The rest of the shot was very noisy. After running NV, the noise all but disappeared as intended and the woman's face looked, well, a bit younger and vibrant. Fashion mag cover? Uh-uh, but very much improved.


Jay Gladwell wrote on 3/15/2012, 10:12 AM

Look at Red Giant's Magic Bullet Looks 2. It has a feature called "Cosmo" that does exactly what you're looking to accomplish.

EDIT: Oops, Redpaw beat me to it.

Barry W. Hull wrote on 3/15/2012, 11:11 AM
BCC "Smooth Tone" effect was designed for what you are trying to accomplish.
Dominated wrote on 3/15/2012, 12:14 PM
Try duplicating the footage, then add your BCC "Gaussian Blur" to the footage on the top layer and lower the opacity until you get the amount of softness that you desire. Save's you from forking out more money for another plugin
FrigidNDEditing wrote on 3/15/2012, 12:57 PM
I'll also state that Magic Bullet with Cosmo is what I do to make my interviews of women look drastically more kind to my talent/subjects.

rs170a wrote on 3/15/2012, 10:36 PM
there's a filter in magic bullet looks called 'cosmo'

I've got MBL 2.0.5 and have looked through it but can't find 'cosmo' anywhere.
What am I doing wrong?

Marc S wrote on 3/15/2012, 11:21 PM
Another vote here for Cosmo. Very customizable so you can dial in just the right amount.

You'll find it in the "subject" and "post" sections of looks. It's near the bottom of the tools palette so you'll have to scroll down.
rs170a wrote on 3/15/2012, 11:30 PM
Thanks very much Marc.
I really need to spend (a lot) more time with this program.

Grazie wrote on 3/16/2012, 12:07 AM
Cosmo, Neat Video both excellent.