Centering Circle Masks

I have just upgraded from HF2 to HF4Pro and am crushing on what this software can do currently and where it is going!

I'm having an embarrassing difficulty, however. I am wanting to make an HUD graphic interface design using (among other things) 3 circular rings of slightly different sizes rotating around a single point in 3D space. I am finding it simple placing two masks on a plane, one slightly smaller than the other to make a perfect ring. What I have not managed to do is to figure out how to perfectly center the mask(s) on the plane so that I can parent it to a point. Even making a square composition (400x400 in this case) and attempting to nudge it into center has been only crudely accurate and the rotating around the point is still off center and "wobbly".

Additionally, I saw in the "Creating Animated Masks" tutorial on Youtube that Shift is used to constrain a mask to be a perfect square or circle, and that Alt allows you to pull a mask from its center. This tutorial was for HF3. Is the Alt option still available in 4?

I'm sure there is an easy solution for aligning that I am too dense to see right now. Thank you in advance for any and all help!


  • Yes, the Alt and Shift constraints are still available, and also can be used together to pull a perfect circle from the center. So if you add a camera to your timeline, you will get a mark at the exact center of frame, where the X and Y axes cross. You could pull from that while holding Alt+Shift to line up multiple masks.

    Or, create your first mask, then duplicate it, and then use the Expansion property in the mask controls to adjust the size of each copy.

  • edited July 2016

    @AxelWilkinson just beat me to it.  I think the second way is the best way... create your first mask exactly how and weher you want it (using the Alt and Shift keys as necessary), then duplicate it and use the Arrow Pointer (Expansion Property) to resize it (again using the shift key to constrain the properties).  You can move them both to where you need to if necessary.  Using a temporary picture that is centered on the frame or even a 2D point at 0,0 would do the trick in terms of centering it perfectly, especially if you zoomed in (800%) very closely to draw your first mask, then zoomed out to expand it.  You could use the X and Y coordinates on the bottom right to get close to 0,0 also.

  • You could also download all the assets from the Iron Man HUD tutorial.  There is a lot there and might include something you'd like, as they provided all the single elements, as well as the pre-flattened versions.

    Or there is this older tutorial from MajahrPictures on a very simple HUD from scratch.

  • Thank you, @AxelWilkinson and @senseihaynes. Adding the camera to get an X and Y axis, zooming way in, and expanding duplicate masks has helped me accomplish what I've needed. I appreciate the assistance.

    I am still curious about the ALT function. Each time I have attempted to make a mask while holding down ALT, with or without adding SHIFT, I get a little red circle/slash in my Viewer and cannot drag out a mask. Page 116 of the User's Guide under "Rectangle and ellipse shapes" says: "Click and drag on the Viewer to create the shape. This will create a new mask on the currently selected layer. Releasing the mouse will set the shape. Holding Shift while drawing the shape will constrain it to a perfect square or circle. "  The ALT constraint is not mentioned and is not working when I try to use it, so I am curious. I have a new laptop and there may be some odd setting buried in its innards that has disabled the ALT perhaps. 

    Having said that, both sets of suggestions were quite helpful and will allow me to accomplish what I need. Thank you both again!

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Here's some old (Hitfilm 2) tutorials.

    Tooshka isn't on the forums anymore, but you'll see methods of rotating things, bulging things, animated procedural graphs, and all kinds of awesome HUD techniques. All Tooshka's tutorials are solid stuff! 

    And this HF2 tutorial on making all kinds of other useful shapes.

  • edited July 2016

    @Palacono Thank you for the heads up and the links! It was the Iron Man HUD tutorial that made me want to create HUD from scratch just because I want to try something difficult! :) The second link was helpful, but now, of course, I'll have to make a Pac Man! :)

    @Triem23 Great tutorial! Perfect for what I needed!

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    No problem. Also (again) check out the Tooshka playlist and the other tutorials from the MajaharPictures page. Majahar builds radars from scratch and other things. 

  • @Triem23 Checking them out now. :)

    @Palacono The MajahrPictures tut had the brilliant suggestion of using polar warp to create a circle from a square. I've adjusted the Start and End Radiuses (is that the plural of radius?? Radii??) very closely together to create an automatically centered super thin ring without dealing with masks. Super helpful!

    Thank you for the assistance!

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator


    Also try polar warping with things like Audio Spectrum, or Lightning. Text. Anything you want to bend in a circle. 

  • @Triem23 Thanks for the spelling correction! :)  And I will be trying all of those. Thanks!

  • Still here on Hitfilm Express 2017:

    Tried to redo this after having read some forum posts here plus watching this tutorial [thanks Triem!] (3:30 Section, and especially 3:45!)

    with holding shift  / alt
    but instead of centering the selected ellipse shape the camera orbit changed afterwards (had the plane layer selected before this action):

    what am I doing wrong? mask ellipse in layer.mp4?dl=0

    Tried it in Hitfilm 3 Express - and, dang - it worked! Seems something was changed since then.

  • @Thomekk yeah keyboard shortcuts changed in Hitfilm 4 at the request of hundreds of users. Away from computer right now, and don't remember the new key binding off the top of my head. 

  • Three things...

    First, as for the key bindings when making masks, Shift and Alt still work for me on the Mac in Express 2017. @Thomekk With a camera in the comp, you cannot use those modifier keys until after starting to draw the mask, or else you'll orbit the camera.

    Second, there are far easier ways of making perfect circles and squares than using masks.  For a circle, apply Polar Warp to a plane.  For a square, make a square plane.  If you actually need to make masks, then use the mask tool, but if you simply want to make shapes, these are much easier options IMO.

    Third, I don't believe it's necessary to actually make a circle before doing the later steps in the video with the Iris transition.  Just use a full-frame white plane.  If you want the look of the transition edge being affected by the underlying circular shape, then go ahead and use a circle image, but it's not imperative to make the circle and square before doing the rest.


  • Hey, thanks guys!

    jsbarrett   - great! Especially the first point helped me out in something I got despaired after trying a lot. The little difference here made it absolutely (really a miliseconds order-of-actions phenomena). So it works. I just wanted to reproduce this.

    I appreciate the other points you made of course, too. The polar warp-effect seems to be a very useful tool. As my action stopped after not being able to set the perfect circle (and being so stubborn trying to find out why) I'm now quasi able to rotate again and play. 

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