Secret Identity User Guide

Secret Identity is a filter that automatically tracks and obscures facial features with blur, pixellation, solid colour or custom images. Visit the Product Page to download.

Video Walkthrough (13:30):


Secret Identity in Final Cut Pro X

Secret Identity in Premiere Pro

Secret Identity is a filter available in Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Apple Motion. It can be found in the Dashwood Secret Identity category of your effects palette. Simply drag the filter to the desired clip in your timeline. Then select the clip and inspect the filter’s controls in the Effects Palette (PP/AE) or Inspector (FCP X/Motion). For the most accurate face tracking results be sure that the host app is previewing at full resolution. In Final Cut Pro X select “Better Quality” instead of Better Performance.  In Premiere Pro or AE select “full” instead of Dynamic Resolution for playback and paused resolution. This may be slower for your system and not allow real-time previews, but it will allow you to configure Secret Identity to more accurately represent the final render.


Secret Identity Presets

The Secret Identity filter will automatically default to a soft-edge black solid covering complete faces when it is first applied, but you can quickly change the settings using one of the many built-in presets. The presets drop-down can be accessed from the effects palette/inspector, or the on-screen controls in Final Cut Pro X & Motion 5.
Presets are included for black bar over eyes, black out face, black out mouth, blur face, blur mouth, custom image over mouth, pixellate face, pixellate mouth or short depth-of-field.
You can choose to start with a preset and then modify the settings further. You can also save your own user presets and recall them at any time in any of the host applications.




The default tracking method is “Automatic” and uses Mac OS X’s built-in face tracker to track faces and features like eyes and mouths. This is the exact same technology used in iPhoto and Photo Booth.

The automatic tracker work very well for most applications, but sometimes the automatic tracker cannot track the faces in your scene properly.  This can be due to many possible reasons, but usually conditions such as under-exposure, noise,  poor focus, partial obfuscation (profile of face, face on edge of screen or covered by sunglasses or hat), flicker, compression artifacts, low resolution, etc.  In this case the tracking method can be switched to “Manual Keyframes” and the user can either manually keyframe the position of the face, eyes or mouth or use After Effects’ or Motion’s built-in object tracking capability and link x,y positions to the control points.
When tracking method is switched to “Manual Keyframes” the effects palette/inspector will present Height and Width sliders as well as x,y control points for Face Position, Mouth Position, or Left Eye and Right Eye Position, depending on what is chosen for “selection.” Only one face can be obscured at a time when Manual Keyframes are used. If you need to obscure multiple faces manually then apply Secret Identity to the clip again for each additional face.


Identify Faces

You can identify the face “number” of each face in your scene. This helps the user ID and select just one particular face in a scene. Secret Identity sorts faces by their measured width in the frame, but it is possible that the face ID numbers will re-order if one face leaves the frame, is added, or simply moves closer to the camera. Be sure to turn the option off before rendering.


Determines which face or faces to obscure. Defaults to “All Faces” but it is possible to select one specific face by the face ID number when Identity Faces is activated. NEW FOR v2.0: If any selection other than “All Faces” is selected you can choose to obscure just the selected face, or alternatively all faces EXCEPT the selection.


This option allows the user to select whether to obscure the whole face or just the eyes or mouth. Other options in the effect palette/inspector will dynamically appear or disappear depending on the selection.


Original Shot

Original Shot

with Secret Identity inverted blur

with Secret Identity inverted blur

Allows the user to invert the area of the image that is obscured.  For example, if you wanted to blur the whole frame except for one face.  This is useful for a short depth-of-field effect that keeps a face in focus while everything else is blurry. Invert selection is not available if “All Faces” are selected.


The method drop down defaults to “Solid Color” but the user can also select Blur, Pixellate, or a Custom Image.


When Solid Color is selected a color picker will be visible in the effects palette/inspector.  Click the color picker to select change the color from the default black.


When Blur or Pixellate are selected you will have access to a slider called “Amount.”  This slider simply adjusts the amount of blur or the size of the pixels.

CUSTOM IMAGE:Custom Image over Mouth

The Custom Image option allows the user to use any video or still image (preferably with an alpha channel) to track to a face, eyes or mouth.  A default image of a stamp that says “CENSORED” is included with Secret Identity, but can be replaced by choosing a custom alternative.
In Premiere Pro or After Effects you may place a custom image/video on any other layer in your comp/timeline and select that layer from the Custom Image drop down in the Effects Palette.  The visibility of the layer with the source image can be turned off (eyeball icon) or the clip itself can be disabled.
Custom Image Drop ZoneIn Final Cut Pro 7 and Motion an image well will appear in the Effect Palette when Custom Image is selected.  You can simply drag an image or video file from your project bin onto the image well.
In Final Cut Pro X a drop zone will be visible in the inspector. Click it and then select the image or video footage from within the project timeline or event and then click the ‘apply’ button.


Edge Softness softens the edge of the blur, pixellation or solid color. The default value is 50 pixels.


The Scale slider allows the user to adjust the overall size of the blur, pixellation, solid color or custom image.  The default scale is 1x.


Some faces are rounder than others. The Face Aspect Ratio control allows you to change the shape of the blur, pixellation or solid color.  The default value is 1.3.



This checkbox will turn on + symbols over each eye, nose and mouth detected in the scene for the purposes of fine-tuning the tracker settings, or just checking manually tracked keyframes. This setting is OFF by default and must be turned off before rendering.


The Detailed Tracking setting affects how the face tracker scans each frame and detects faces. In the default ON setting only faces that are positively identified with confidence will be presented.  Faces that may lack some trackable detail may be ignored.  If your image contains many faces that are small in the frame you may have better tracking results by turning Detailed Tracking OFF.


Indicates whether the face tracker should choose techniques that are lower in accuracy, but can be processed more quickly, or choose techniques that are higher in accuracy, even if it requires more processing time per frame. If working in real-time rendering the LOW setting may allow a faster frame rate.


This option attempts to predictively centre the eye points on the pupils. It is only relevant when used with Eyes Only selection.

STABILITY (Position, Size, Angle)

Sometimes when the subject sits still (in an interview situation) the tracker will “vibrate” x,y,z positions based on noise in the picture. This isn’t noticeable in pixellation or blur modes, but may be noticeable with solid colors or custom images.  The Stability controls can be adjusted to “lock” the tracking data in place within tolerance values entered on the sliders.  This should solve the vibration issue when a person is sitting still, but may create a jump with a sudden head movement.


Anti-aliasing is required if “eyes only” selection is used and the rectangle created displays “stair stepped” edges.  The default is 8x, but this option can be turned off to speed up rending if using blur, pixellation or solid color.
NOTES: Mouth and Eye detection are not available in Mac OS X Lion.
*Final Cut Pro X v10.0.9 is not officially supported in Mountain Lion. v10.1 and OS X Mavericks or newer are recommended. Secret Identity v2.0 requires macOS 10.11 or newer, and FxFactory 6.0.1 or newer and is recommended for Adobe CC2017 or FCP 10.3 or newer.

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