Tip of the Week - Marker Removal

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I've seen numerous questions about this topic on various forums, and I thought I'd touch upon it as I get back to the weekly tips. While this is more of a beginner tip, next weeks tip will definitely be more advanced. Read on!

When you do a search for marker removal, visual effects, or even just marker removal, you don't get any relevant hits! Hopefully this page will change that.

Marker removal is tricky business. It can also be known as wire removal, grip removal, prop removal, etc. The object of doing marker removal is just that, removing a marker from an object, background or person for the comp. This could involve removing LEDS from a tracking shot, removing dots from an actors face, or removing wires and props from scenes when they shouldn't belong. The method most often used to remove tracking markers is replacing them with a similar background of the environment. If the tracking markers are on greenscreen, you would replace the markers with parts of the greenscreen, or similar color green.

How do you replace the markers with bits of the background or foreground now comes into question. I touched upon this briefly in a previous Tip, Paint. However, instead of painting a clean frame, you can use roto and mask around the offending tracking marker. By offsetting your background and using the roto to effectively cut a small swatch of background (or foreground), you can cover up the marker! Often times you'll use tracking markers only to track roto to cover the marker up. This method can usually be used for static markers such as the ones on greenscreens and tracking markers in environments.

For more elaborate cover ups, other techniques combined with the one above will usually get you in the right ballpark. For wire removal, instead of a circle of roto, you will have to create a line of roto over the wire, and instead of tracking, you may have to manually animate the roto to cover the wire. Large roto is usually not the best. The cleanest way is to cover the wire with a sliver of roto, and have a nice feathered edge. This should give you a smooth transition from the background over the wire. You may need to approach wire removal in sections instead of as a whole. This would involve many different techniques, from using the background as a cover, to painting a clean frame of a certain section of background and regraining it to match and positioning that in place. Ideally you would use painting frame by frame as a last resort, and then only as a way to touch up edges or spots you may have missed. Prop removal usually requires either painting out a clean frame of an image, or having a clean background plate without the prop in it.

While the methodology is here to start a decent clean up, it takes a little time to sometimes accomplish a good wire and/or rig removal. Tracking marker removal is much easier! Let me know if this tip helped you out, or told you what you already know!

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