… for Visual Effects

Tip #328: Track & Blur Faces

Blurs are a great way to hide faces.

A Gaussian Blur applied to a portion of an image to blur a face.

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When you need to hide a logo or face, a blur is a great way to do so. While no longer a safe way to protect identity (Tip #329), all NLEs provide a way to apply a blur to a portion of the image. Premiere also provides an easy way to motion track it. Here’s how.

  • Select the clip you want to blur in your Premiere timeline.
  • Apply Blur > Gaussian Blur from the Effects panel.
  • In Effect Controls, select the name of the mask – Mask (1) in my case – in the Gaussian Blur effect to make its controls visible in the Program Monitor.
  • Drag the blur in the Program Monitor to reposition it, then using either the on-screen controls or the mask settings in the Effect Controls panel, size and rotate it till it matches the same in your image.
  • Add Feathering to soften the edges. (In this screen shot, Feather = 22.0)
  • Increase the Blurriness till the face loses recognizability. (In this screen shot, Blurriness = 18.0)

EXTRA CREDIT

If the face moves, motion track the effect to automatically move the blur as the face moves. Here’s how:

  • Position the playhead at the start of the clip. (If the object you want to track is not visible, read Premiere’s help files for the best way to create a track.)
  • In the Effect Controls panel, click the right-pointing arrow in Mask Path for the mask you just created.
  • After a few seconds of analysis, Premiere will be able to track the mask as the subject moves.

NOTE: If the track fails to work, read Premiere’s help files for guidance. Explaining the intricacies of motion tracking is too large for a tip.


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