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"hair in the gate" issues


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#1 Marc Laurier

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 05:00 PM

Today I got some transferred footage back, and, while it generally looked nice, it was almost uniformly marred by a black piece of debris on the top of the frame (I guess this is a standard case of "hair in the gate", although it is present on three shoots' worth of footage, and as I am careful to clean the cart area of the camera at every opportunity, I am not entirely sure WHAT on earth this is).

Anyway, most of this footage is stationary, tripod-mounted landscape stuff and some of it is not re-shootable for practical reasons. I am wondering if it is possible to somehow batch export frames from FCP and clean them up individually in Photoshop using the healing or stamp tools, or otherwise "rotoscope" the frames using something like After effects. I realize this will be extremely painstaking work, but this footage is rather important to me and the prospect of a black hair against a bright blue sky is really, really depressing me.

Does anybody have experience with this kind of operation, and do they have any recommendations? Also, any advice about avoiding such microscopic debris in future (I am using a fixed-lens Nikon for the moment, although I feel it is about time I upgraded).

Thank you for your advice. I could really use it.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 05:05 PM

You could export just the problem shots, once you edit the piece, as an image sequence from FCP, and then only fuss with the frames you have to in photoshop. Depending on the damage, might be possible. What about just cropping or applying a slight wide-screen mask to the footage instead?
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#3 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 05:15 PM

Anyway, most of this footage is stationary, tripod-mounted landscape stuff and some of it is not re-shootable for practical reasons. I am wondering if it is possible to somehow batch export frames from FCP and clean them up individually in Photoshop using the healing or stamp tools, or otherwise "rotoscope" the frames using something like After effects. I realize this will be extremely painstaking work, but this footage is rather important to me and the prospect of a black hair against a bright blue sky is really, really depressing me.

Thank you for your advice. I could really use it.


The fact that the camera is stationary will make fixing the problem a lot easier. The fastest workaround that I know of is matting out the problem area and putting a blur around the edge, and then finding another section of the film that matches that section and superimposing/blurring the matt line over the offending area. On tape systems this is actually a real time fix, on an NLE system it might take longer but there are probably more sophisticated fixes as well.

The key is finding another part of the shot that actually matches how the affected area SHOULD look like, if you can do that, than fixing it should be easy.
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#4 Rick Palidwor

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 07:19 PM

If you can afford to lose that part of the frame why not crop to something like 16:9 and it will be masked (assuming it does not extend too far into the frame). Maybe not the best solution but certainly easy.
Rick
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#5 Dan Goulder

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 07:49 PM

Here's what you do: Since the footage is of a landscape, shot fixed on a tripod, all you need to do is import the file into After Effects. Using the clone tool, you can shift pixels around, cloning the "hair" right out of the first frame. With After Effects set up to work over any predetermined number of frames, the program can be set to automatically paint over every following frame. You then export the repaired file in its original FCP format.
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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 08:06 PM

Here's what you do: Since the footage is of a landscape, shot fixed on a tripod, all you need to do is import the file into After Effects. Using the clone tool, you can shift pixels around, cloning the "hair" right out of the first frame. With After Effects set up to work over any predetermined number of frames, the program can be set to automatically paint over every following frame. You then export the repaired file in its original FCP format.


[I am stealing your comedic style here.]

Dan makes a good call here, but he's forgetting another call, a call back. . .

;-)

Edited by Karl Borowski, 18 December 2008 - 08:07 PM.

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#7 Marc Laurier

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 10:22 PM

Thanks everybody for all the helpful advice. I don't think I will use a black matt to hide the blemish, because the shots were very carefully composed (and in any case, the lens was insufficiently wide to properly accommodate them; plus, this particular project really needs the super 8 look with the ragged edges on the frame. I am encouraged by the after effects solution suggested above. The only problem is that despite the tripod and the consistent hair position, the registration on this camera is pretty shaky.

If I might ask a more general question: I am using a fixed-lens camera (a Nikon R10 I recently ordered on-line) and have had these debris problems despite my best (but admittedly uninformed) cleaning efforts. Does anybody have any advice about how to keep the camera clean? Is there a reliable way to clean the gate to ensure that these microscopic fibers don't interject into the frame? Any particular material to use? And what if some dust has entered it over the years -- any suggestions on getting it out?

Thanks again.
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