In the daily duties of a VFX artist, there are various tasks other than keying green-screen footage, placing environments around the keyed actors, or even creating effects such as explosions (who doesn’t love explosions?!).
The work of a VFX artist often involves (for example) sky replacements or removal of an unwanted object from a shot.
During the work we did for a recent music video, we had to get rid of a logo that was on the footwear of an actress.
In the wide scenes, the logo was not too clearly visible, but when it came to the close ups (above all the close up of her feet) the problem of advertising a well known brand name and logo became an issue.
There were two shots in a scene where the logo was too evident to ignore, so we took action and the appropriate steps to remove them. In the first shot we worked on, we created a clean plate of the shoe without the logo in Photoshop, we then used Mocha to track the footage and later the Mocha removal tool helped us in making the magic happen to achieve the desired result. Overall, this shot was relatively easy to repair
For the second shot, we had some issues in tracking the footage. We tried to track it using Mocha first, but the program was simply not able to track. Then we tried to track the footage directly inside of After Effects, but the end result was the same as it had been with the planar tracker.
We spent much time trying different settings and since the footage was interlaced we also tried to de-interlace it but to no avail; nothing we did seemed to work. It seems that no computer or program was able to track our piece of footage.
The reason why this occurred is still unknown, but since we tried different programs, different settings and also different operating systems on different computers, we finally concluded that the problem must have been with the footage itself.
A solution for this problem would have probably been to re-shoot the shot, but this option was obviously not cost effective, so we tried to find another way to work around the problem and get a shot usable for the video.
In the end, sheer and dogged determination proved to be the best recourse; a lot of patience and hand masking was the easiest way (if not the only way) to get the job done.
We created a patch for the part of the shoe that had the logo on it and removed it in Photoshop.
Before and After
We then tracked the masked shape of the removal manually along the shoe. Since the removal of the logo had been done on the most clear frame, we had to add some blur for the frames in which the foot was moving, in order to match the motion blur of the rest of the image.
This solution was quite time consuming, but worked out just fine to deliver results.
We know first hand that when the technology that helps you to do things in a faster way lets you down, you have to find a way to get the job done.
Knowing the programs you are using is a basic knowledge requirement, but having good problem solving skills is essential in situations such as this.