A Focus on Resolve 17’s New Masking Tool: Magic Mask
Magic Mask Cover.jpg

DaVinci Resolve adds an Adobe-like masking feature that has made insulation assessment extremely easy: Magic Mask.

Long before Resolve was a competitor to Premiere Pro for its editing capabilities, it was (and is) top-notch color grading software. Likewise, the tracking features have always been great, if not one of the best. Now, with the introduction of the Resolve 17 beta, they added a new tool that improves the tracking ability and makes it incredibly easy. It's called Magic Mask. Let's take a look at how it works.

Personal blows

With the neural engine, several new features were added to Resolve over the past year. The newest such feature is the Magic Mask. This new tool lets you isolate one or more people in your composition by just applying brushstrokes to the person. The magic mask allows you to either create one mask for the whole person or toggle the operation so that it focuses on a specific function – from the person's arms to the person's shoes. And yes, this suggests that this magical mask is for human use only. So it is already slightly different from using the HSL qualifier to isolate the color of a car.

The magic mask is applied to the man in the picture.

Creating a magic mask

So let's see how to use this tool. On the color page you will find a new icon with the title Magic mask. When you click on it, this new window will appear. It is divided into three areas: Toolbar, the Checklist, and the Mask finesse Panel.

Ultimately, this area isn't entirely new as it is remarkably similar to other elements in Resolve. For example, the Mask Finesse control panel has almost all of the settings you have for HSL qualifications and power windows. So it doesn't really require additional learning – up to a point.

Magic Mask user interfaceHere is an example of the Magic Mask user interface.

To apply a magic mask to a person, just add a stroke to the person you want to mask. Now, you might think that it would be beneficial to use a really long stroke so the software would register more people, right? As mentioned in the reference guide, very long brushstrokes are usually not that useful and can be counterproductive later when trying to trace strokes to follow movement in the clip. This is especially true when a stroke has to follow a changing shape as it moves, such as. B. an arm. While you can make as many strokes as you want, fewer strokes actually work better.

Magic mask: small lineYour Magic Mask stroke just needs to be this long to function properly.

With the stroke added, I recommend turning on the mask overlay to see where you are with the mask. In general, I think it will do a solid job from the baseline.

Magic mask: overlayAn example of the magic mask overlay.

Using the Finesse Tools

However, if necessary, we have the finesse tools to refine your mask. As mentioned earlier, you can use many of the Finesse tools elsewhere in Resolve so I won't repeat basic information about these settings. But if you're new to Resolve and are watching this video, I'll say (for the most part) that you want to dig into the noise reduction, the clean black and white, the blur radius, and of course the radius of the mask itself, which can be controlled by the radius slider . You control the radius via this dropbox to either enlarge or reduce the mask.

Apply tracking

Finally, we need to apply tracking as the subject and camera are moving and, as with the electric windows, the same method is used by simply pressing the play button.

Magic Mask: Finished ChaseIf your stroke is being followed correctly, a green check mark will appear in the tally sheet.

Once we've applied tracking we can do one final pass over the mask to see if we need to refine the selection. Then we can do our class adjustment.

For example, if you want to mask an entire person with the magic mask, it is useful for general offset adjustment either to remove the subject from the scene or to give them an overall creative cast.

Magic mask: before and afterHere I flipped the mask to decrease the exposure of the background and give it a warm touch.

For example, suppose you find that a section is being masked and you don't need to mask it. In this case, you can also paint over parts of the image that are not the person or function you are isolating with a subtractive stroke (colored red) to fix any problems that appear in the generated mask. However, remember that you will have to pursue this again.

Magic mask: subtractive strokesWith the subtractive line I removed the straps of the bag from the mask.

If you feel that an arm (e.g.) is not being picked up properly when moving the character, you can add a stroke. But again, I suggest not using too many strokes. Not only will this slow down your system but it will also confuse the software. So I recommend using a maximum of four if necessary.

Functional lines

We can also add feature strokes to refine the selection of masks. This is particularly useful for skin tone adjustments and more specific corrections to individual parts of the body.

We just switch to the characteristics Then select the appropriate function. In our case, we'll select a face and then add another exposed arms feature. Every time you add a new function, a layer is added in the Magic Mask panel. You can deactivate them or delete them immediately.

Magic mask: UI functionOn the Features tab, select the appropriate feature.

This follows the same general principles as the person mask. First, use the Finesse tools to refine the mask selection. Next, use the subtractive stroke when the mask highlights an area you don't need, then trace it forward.

Magic mask: functional linesSimplify your process with the Magic Mask tool.

In this particular shot we have two people with similar skin tones. Usually we have to draw a skin tone qualification and then mask the woman to isolate her. Of course, qualifying is not just a step. Maybe that's a few minutes of work, then the mask is an extra step. The magic mask makes this process an easy tool.

Because of the neural engine, the Magic Mask is perfect for analyzing and correctly isolating human features from backgrounds with similar elements, while this would be difficult to separate with the qualifier. However, it does not mean that this is the tool for replacing the qualifier and power windows. The magic mask has no soft translucent mask edges and, depending on the complexity of the movement and the level of detail in the image, may not be precise enough to reproduce that of intensive rotoscopy.

With the Magic Mask, however, it is about to make a number of stages of isolation incredibly easy.

As a side note, I noticed that my computer's performance became sluggish after applying the Magic Mask. I can usually play 4K graded files with no problem, but when the magic mask is active on a node I was only able to get 10-15 fps. Whether this is because the tool relies on processing by the neural engine or because R17 is still in beta and this feature is not yet fully developed is a mystery to me (at the moment). As always, however, we will keep you informed of any new advances.

For more information on DaVinci Resolve, see the following articles:

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