How to interact with yourself on video


You want to double your talent? Appear twice in the same shot? Interact with yourself, like Casey Neistat? It is not hard, but it is not that easy either!

Casey Neistat has recently made a video, where he talks to his bearded self. Since I run a dual language YouTube channel, I thought I could steal this idea to talk to myself both in german and in english. However, I made a number of rookie mistakes. If You want to try something like this yourself, there are some points you should pay attention to.

Tip No. 1: Get the camera settings right!

We are going to combine two separate shots into one. We should not let the camera decide anything on it’s own, so we set everything to manual. We turn off the autofocus, so that it won’t start twisting the lens in one half of the picture. And we also set aperture and shutter speed to manual so that the automatic won’t start adjusting the brightness in one half. Both happened in my video.

Then we put the camera on a tripod and make sure that nothing in the picture can move even a millimeter.  In my case, that’s at least one thing that has worked. Mostly.

I wanted to appear once with a beard and once shaved, so I shot the bearded flux first. That is simply because shaving is a lot faster than growing a beard. I had prepared a script, but I didn’t really know it by heart. When I made breaks, I tried to speak in my mind, what the other flux would say at that time.

Unfortunately, all the breaks turned out much too short, which would give me a hard tim in editing, but we’ll come to that later. So Tip No. 2 is: Get the timing right!

If we want both clones to handle the same object, The one who handles the object first in the video hast to be shot first. So the bearded Flux had to introduce the camera dolly.

When I was done with the bearded Flux, I shaved and changed my shirt, and then I started the second shot. The camera dolly, that later in the video would be placed on the  table by the bearded Flux, was already in position, of course. So I had to be very careful not to get behind it.

When everything is shot, we get editing. I have used Final cut pro, but the procedure should be very similar with any other video editing software.

In the timeline, we place both shots on top of each other. Then a mask will be applied to the top layer, so that the camera dolly and the right part of the picture are masked out. In Final Cut I have used a combination of form mask and the draw mask. The more feathered the mask, the less obvious it is, but around the dolly, I did not have enough space.

Since the colors were quite different between the two shots due to the automatic of the camera, I decided to mask out the complete table.

Now I discovered that the breaks were much too short, so I had to stretch them. I did that by making a cut before and after the break and adjusting the playback speed. Final cut offers the retime function for that. A little retiming would have probably worked quite well, but I had to stretch the breaks so long, that it started to look very unnatural. Sadly.

After the bearded Flux had put the dolly on the table, the mask had to be moved, so that it would reveal the dolly in the shot with the shaved Flux . To do so, you set a keyframe at the beginning of the movement, move the mask, move the playhead to the point where the movement shall end, and set another keyframe. But since in my case I could not get the brightness right due to the automatic of the camera, moving the borderline across the picture looked pretty stupid, so I made the mask jump to the new position from one frame to the other.

Unfortunately the bearded Flux has waved his hand behind the dolly after that point of time.

So Tip No. 3 is: Already know where you will mask when shooting

Only when I was shooting the shaved Flux I had the idea to Let the bearded Flux disappear. The bearded Flux had not known that, so he has walked out of the scene much too early. Therefore I had to reduce his speed almost down to zero.

I downloaded the explosion from a page named videezy.com and placed over the bearded Flux with the blend mode set to negative multiply.

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