Isolating a Region Using the Vignette Controls

The vignette controls give you an extremely fast way to isolate areas of an image that are geometrically round or rectangular, such as the face of someone in close-up, or a window in the background. Vignettes are also useful for isolating subjects that are too hard to key using the HSL qualifiers.

On the other hand, if the subject you’re vignetting moves, you need to either keyframe the shape to move along with it (see Keyframing) or use motion tracking to automatically create a path for the shape to follow. (For more information, see The Tracking Tab.)

Vignettes can also be used to select large regions of the frame for brightening or darkening. One common example of this is to use a shape to surround a region of the image you want to draw the viewer’s attention to, switch the Control pop-up menu to Outside, and darken the background outside of this shape using the contrast sliders to make the subject “pop out” more, visually.

Figure. Vignette adjustment before and after.

Lastly, if the square or circle vignettes aren’t sufficient for isolating an irregularly shaped subject, you can create a custom User Shape in the Shapes tab of the Geometry room, and use that to limit the correction. You could go so far as to rotoscope (the process of tracing something frame by frame) complex subjects in order to create highly detailed adjustments that are too difficult to isolate using the HSL qualifiers.

User Shapes can be edited and animated only in the Geometry room, but the mattes they create can be used to isolate adjustments in any of the eight Secondaries tabs.

Figure. A User Shape compared with the resulting secondary effect.

The Vignette Controls

The vignette controls are located underneath the Previews tab. Some of these controls can also be manipulated using the onscreen controls in the Previews tab.

Note: If you have a compatible control surface, you can also use its controls to customize the vignette. See Setting Up a Control Surface for more information.

Figure. Vignette parameters in the Secondaries room.
  • Vignette button: This button turns the vignette on or off for that tab.
  • Use Tracker pop-up menu: If you’ve analyzed one or more motion trackers in the current project, you can choose which tracker to use to automatically animate the position of the vignette using this pop-up menu. To disassociate a vignette from the tracker’s influence, choose None.

    Note: When Use Tracker is assigned to a tracker in your project, the position of the vignette (the center handle) is automatically moved to match the position of the keyframes along that tracker’s motion path. This immediately transforms your vignette, and you may have to make additional position adjustments to move the vignette into the correct position. This is especially true if the feature you’re vignetting is not the feature you tracked.

Parameters That Adjust Square or Circle Vignettes

The following parameters are only available when you use the Square or Circle options in the Shape pop-up menu.

  • Angle: Rotates the current shape.
  • X Center: Adjusts the horizontal position of the shape.
  • Y Center: Adjusts the vertical position of the shape.
  • Softness: Blurs the edges of the shape.
  • Size: Enlarges or shrinks the shape.
  • Aspect: Adjusts the width-to-height ratio of the shape.

Using the Onscreen Controls to Adjust Vignette Shapes

The Angle, X Center, Y Center, Softness, Size, and Aspect parameters can all be adjusted via onscreen controls in the image on the left of the Previews tab.

Figure. Onscreen controls for vignette shapes.

Note: Although you can also view the outlines that correspond to these onscreen controls in the preview display of the Scopes window when you turn the Vignette Outline button on, this outline has no onscreen controls that you can manipulate. You can only make these adjustments in the Previews tab.

To move the vignette
  • Drag anywhere inside or outside the shape in the Previews tab to move the vignette in that direction.

    The X Center and Y Center parameters are simultaneously adjusted. Color uses the same coordinate system as Final Cut Pro to define position.

To resize the vignette
Do one of the following:
  • Drag any of the four corners of the vignette to resize the vignette relative to the opposite corner, which remains locked in position.

  • Option-drag to resize the vignette relative to its center. (The center of a vignette is visible as green crosshairs.)

  • Shift-drag to resize the vignette while locking its aspect, enlarging or reducing the shape without changing its width-to-height ratio.

    Depending on the operation you perform, the X and Y Center, Size, and Aspect parameters may all be adjusted.

To rotate the vignette
  • Right-click or Control-click any of the four corners of the vignette and drag to rotate it to the left or right.

To adjust the softness of the vignette
  • Middle-click and drag to blur the edges of the vignette.

    This adjustment modifies the Softness parameter. The degree of softness is visualized in the Previews tab with a pair of concentric circles. The inner circle shows where the edge blurring begins, and the outer circle shows where the edge blurring ends, along with the shape.

Animating Vignettes

One of the most common operations is to place an oval over someone’s face and then either lighten the person, or darken everything else, to draw more attention to the subject’s face. If the subject is standing still, this is easy, but if the subject starts to shift around or move, you need to animate the vignette using keyframes so that the lighting effect follows the subject. For more information on keyframing, see Keyframing.

Another option is to use the motion tracker to automatically track the moving subject, and then apply the analyzed motion to the vignette. For more information, see The Tracking Tab.

Creating a User Shape for Vignetting

The following procedure outlines how you use the User Shape option in the Shape pop-up menu of the vignette controls.

To use a user shape for vignetting
  1. Open the Secondaries room, click one of the eight Secondaries tabs to select which secondary operator to work on, and then select the Vignette checkbox to enable the vignette controls.

  2. Choose User Shape from the Shape pop-up menu.

    Figure. Choosing user shape from the Shape pop-up menu.

    The Shapes tab of the Geometry room opens, with a new shape in the shapes list to the right, ready for you to edit.

  3. Click in the Geometry preview area to add control points outlining the feature you want to isolate, then click the first control point you created to close the shape and finish adding points.

    Figure. Drawing a user shape in the Geometry room.

    The shapes you draw in the Geometry room default to B-Spline shapes, which use control points that are unattached to the shape they create to push and pull the shape into place (similar to the B-Splines used by the curves controls in the Primary In and Out rooms). You can also change these shapes to simple polygons if you need a shape with hard angles rather than curves, by clicking the Polygon button in the Shapes tab. For more information on working with shapes, see The Shapes Tab.

    Tip: If you’re not sure how many control points to add to create the shape you want, don’t hesitate to create a few more than you think you’ll need. It’s easy to edit them after they’re created, but you can’t add or remove control points to shapes that have already been created.

  4. If necessary, edit the shape to better fit the feature you’re trying to isolate by dragging the control points to manipulate the shape.

    Figure. Editing a shape in the Geometry room.
  5. To feather the edge of the shape, increase the value of the Softness parameter.

    Figure. Feathering a shape in the Geometry room.

    Two additional editable shapes appear to the inside and outside of the shape you drew. The inner shape shows where the feathering begins, while the outer shape shows the very edge of the feathered shape. If necessary, each border can be independently adjusted.

  6. As an optional organizational step, you can type an identifying name into the Shape Name field, and press Return to accept the change.

  7. Click Attach, at the top of the Shapes tab, to attach the shape you’ve created to the tab of the Secondary room you were in. (The number of the secondary tab should be displayed in the Current Secondary field at the top of the Shapes tab.)

    Figure. Attach button.
  8. If necessary, you can also add keyframes or motion tracking to animate the shape to match the motion of the camera or subject, so the shape you created matches the action of the shot.

  9. When you finish with the shape, open the Secondaries room.

    You’ll see the shape you created within the vignette area of the Previews tab. At this point, the matte that’s created by the shape can be used to limit the corrections you make, as with any other secondary matte.

    Figure. User shape in the Secondaries room.

    When you use a user shape, the vignette controls in the secondary tab to which it’s assigned become disabled. If at any point you need to edit the shape, you must do so in the Geometry room; the secondary corrections that use that shape will automatically update to reflect your changes.

Using Secondary Keying and Vignettes Together

When you turn on the vignette controls while also using the HSL qualifiers to create a secondary key, the vignette limits the matte that’s created by the key. This can be extremely helpful when the best-keyed matte you can produce to isolate a feature in the frame results in unwanted selections in the background that you can’t eliminate without reducing the quality of the matte. In this case, you can use the vignette as a garbage matte, to eliminate parts of the keyed matte that fall outside the vignette shape.