What are your favorite talent reshaping tools/methods?

Hello. Ever since extended bicubics came out, I’ve been using that pretty much exclusively for body/facial contours reshaping, etc. But it does have its drawbacks & benefits, as each tool does.

From an inside Flame perspective, I see 3 options:
• Ext. bic’s
• Distort (haven’t touched it in 20 years, but I know it’s popular with some)
• Deform mesh in Action (using copied gmask tracer axis). I haven’t used this but was recently shown and it seems promising?

• Motion vector warping: I haven’t messed with this for reshaping, but I believe you can stabilize then unstabilize a clip with vectors, so it seems like there could be something there, with soft-masking the vectors, etc…

I imagine there are third-party apps that specialize in this and may be superior for it, and I’m curious about options there. But I’d of course love to keep it in our Batches. (OFX plug-in??)

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this.


I think we need proper, Elastic Reality style distort node in action. You would ideally be able to draw freeform splines on the surface and define a surface tessellation that can be manipulated. You would be able to move vertices to warp the image. And adjust the extent of the effect using a gmask softness type UI element.


@Sinan I never used Elastic Reality- but I feel like you can do a lot of that in the distort node? I might just be misinterpreting though. I don’t love working in the distort node, but I’ve come back to it more and more when it comes to stuff where I need more control than I can get with extended bicubics. I just always copy it before I make any major changes or spend too much time in it, because it just can seem to… break.


Yes to this.

I did a test today using vectors to stabilize, reshape, then unstabilize. Very footage dependent and it would need to be soft masked in, etc. But it seems promising in some situations. At least there’s no tracking.

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I often use the Flame distort as most tasks here to be done are easy, but as soon as it gets more heavy the nuke’s one is much better to control, especially for details and the area affected by the node.

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Nothing reshapes talent faster than the threat of impending irrelevance.


I feel like I should mark this as “Solution” in this thread.


Deform mesh is pretty powerful. They used it a lot on the latest Terminator. I just used it today. Highly rate it. Only trouble with it is that you can’t adjust mesh size after you keyframe. And unfortunately the code is old do it does flake out on occasion. Lots of saving needed. Always select the surface then double tap the mesh or right click the surface to add it to get best results.

Thanks John. Is there any reason not to just set the lattices at a high number from the beginning, so you don’t get hosed after you keyframe? That is one thing I like about ext bic’s - you can subdivide & merge cells at leisure any time.

I’ll second the deform mesh. Really can’t be beaten in my opinion. Combine with a decent planar track and you get great pseudo-3d warping. Using it right now in fact.

Also love that it can be combined with UVs so easily. Also love that it can be combined with extended bicubics for an uber key type effect as well. Probably my favorite tool in flame.

I like to subdivide way more than most people that I’ve seen use it. I typically set my x lattice to 100 and then put a y value that equates to same aspect ratio of the clip so that my subdivisions are square. As long as you’re working with source and destination hidden then it doesn’t get that heavy.

Last thing is a word of warning. Always turn off Outside, this setting will crash Flame guaranteed.


As @Ryland says “turn off outside” this is a must with loads of lattices.

It’s good to use with the magnet tool and loads of lattices. However the selection of deform lattice with magnet gets a little bit tricky at times. Never had time to work out why. The usual.

@GPM the choice of number of lattices: since I’m not generally deforming geometries I turn the left hand column to 1 to reduce z space lattices. If I’m doing beauty stuff I’ll ramp up the number like Ryland suggests and use magnet.

Today I was warping the angle of something to go into a matte painting so the fewer splines the better: it was my pseudo nuke grid warp.

But it’s a real bugger you can’t merge and subdivide. In that way it’s like the old days.

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I’m v curious: what way do you combine with UVs?

People… maybe I am now the old complacent artist that I used to despise when I was younger, but I am not seeing how grid based warping can ever be better than the freeform splines available in Distort node. Sure it hasn’t been updated in awhile, and has it’s frustrating quirks, but I can draw a spline to exactly match the shape I want. So much easier than trying to conform a grid.


If you pump a UV out of an action and pipe it into the action where you are using the deform mesh you can parent the UV to the deform mesh, as well as the plate, and pipe it out in a separate output. Then take this deformed UV into another action and apply it to the original plate. Then you can run the effect slider on the UV to increase or decrease how much deformation is happening. That way when your client says, “I like the way it looks but lets dial it back 50%”, you can reduce the effect on the UV to 50 instead of starting your warps over again with 50% less warping. Also good for animating warps on and off.

I also use UVs to separate out different parts of the warp. Instead of warping every part of the face with one deform mesh, I might first start with neck and jawline work apply it to a UV using the method described above. Then pipe that deformed UV into another action with a different deform mesh for the nose and apply it to the UV. You can keep stacking warps on top of each other this way and apply them all with one UV at the end. That way when the client likes the jawline, but not the nose, I can adjust one mesh without having to deal with the others.


I like everything I’m hearing here. I wonder if there’s a video showing this? @La_Flame ?
Or Ryland, with all your spare time, care to make a quick vid?

This sounds amazing, and crazy at the same time. Would love to see a video demonstration of the technique.

I have some time off the week after next so I’ll see what I can do.


In my opinion they’re both useful. Distort node based splining gets a little bit annoying because it has that ring of influence around the spline dots (whatever they’re called). And it’s a bit fiddly to get things with a straight edge. At least that’s my experience. I wouldn’t want to change distort node except for it to work better with anamorphic, have planar track inside the node, be able to see an unwarped plate in F1, make morph a bit more idiot proof and some other little things like maybe putting it in action….

I planar track in a tracer all the time and copy that animation into the distort node axes, but it would be nice to do it directly in the node.

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