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I need to remove an object (in my case - a newspaper) that is being hold by a man who moves it a bit from side to side and sometimes it is hidden behind some other objects. How do I do this?

My idea is to use rotobrush in After Effects and somehow fill it using 'content aware fill', but I cannot find anything like 'content aware fill' option. I have seen some tutorials on web about how to remove an object from a steady background, but this case is more complicated.

PS I don't want to mask it frame by frame in Photoshop.

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You wouldn't mask it frame by frame in photoshop, you'd do that in After Effects and sometimes it's necessary for a scene to be usable in your film. Like it or not, as an editor it's often a necessary evil. Is there any reason why you need to mask out this newspaper? Do you have some sample footage we can look at to give you the best option? –  Scott James Walter Jul 29 at 16:05
    
Is the camera itself completely stationary? –  AJ Henderson Jul 30 at 13:58
    
No it isn't. It's a handheld shot taken at a ceremony, so reshooting it is not an option. –  Winged Jul 31 at 17:40

2 Answers 2

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If the camera and background are both stationary (or perhaps very near stationary) you should be able to extrapolate a background plate from looking for frames where the man and paper are not blocking that part of the shot. Once you have that background plate, you can mask the newspaper and expose the appropriate portion of the background plate.

This works best if the camera isn't moving, though you may be able to do a camera tracking in the event of small camera movements and still get workable results by matching the position and angle of the background plate to the camera (though it will likely require far more advanced background plates to account for any perspective changes). With anything more than minimal movement of the camera though, the perspective changes will become too severe to compensate for and you won't be able to build a background plate from previous/future frames.

At that point, you would actually have to build a model of the scene in order to be able to render out the background to fill in with perspective adjustments and that would be far more complicated than re-shooting.

Note that this also does still require frame to frame adjustment of the mask and requires building the back plate by hand as well. It is still non-trivial, but isn't quite masking frame by frame in Photoshop since the rotoscope tool should work for it.

If shadows are visible on the background as well, then you may need to make some animated masks to emulate the shadows on the background plate as well. Either way, we're talking about a pretty elaborate operation most likely depending on the quality you need. If any shadows from the actor are visible though (particularly soft shadows against not flat objects) the quality level will drop like a rock and the complexity will go higher fast.

If you do get hit with shadow issues or background movement issues (and reshooting really isn't an option) you may actually be served best by replacing the background entirely). If you build a fixed background plate that doesn't have any shadows from the actors, people are not super likely to notice the lack of shadow compared to a gap in the shadow or a reconstructed shadow. It would involve even further rotoscoping, but might be easier than trying to build a believable shadow.

Reshooting really is the best option, even in the ideal case though.

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This is not possible without doing some major 3D work. If you manually paint in missing parts or use content aware fill you will have a extremely poor result, this is not in any way comparable to object removal in stills.

You will face heavy jitter and other artifacts if you don't have a ton of experience with this kind of work, with such big object you will have to rework the character in 3D which is also a very demanding task.

It will be a lot easier to just re-shoot the scene.

Though as AJ Henderson said, if you really have absolute perfect conditions and are ok with some artifacts its possible to do with retouchting in 2D but going by the fact that the newspaper seems to be moved around a lot this will be daunting task and if you have any possibility to re-shoot the scene than do it. It will look better, be faster and also easier.

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