Object removal can be achieved, and you can even leverage some of Mocha's power by using MochaImport to "undistort" (stabilize) the area where you'd like to do the object removal. From there the standard paint tools and some judicious photoshop will take you the rest of the way.
I've also had very good results creating clean background plates using photoshop's "Median" layer stack option. CreativeTechs Tips: Photoshop CS3's Automatic People Remover.
I feed the stack a series of TIFFs with the unwanted objects already matted out.
Hope this helps!
Yes. Depending on the shot you just need to track, fix, apply the fix to the track and adjust the composite to make it look seamless. There are a bunch of tutorials. This is the first one using the Google search term Object removal with After Effects and Mocha
Thanks Rick, I had seen that tutorial and some others. However, these tutorials had a rather easy area to remove, such as the back of the boat. My question was more -and I realize I may have not been totally clear- if object removal in After Effects can be obtained at the same level of Mocha Pro, even if it takes a bit longer, or if Mocha Pro is absolutely essential to do professional object removal.
I would like to add, I tried the methods in those tutorials and my results were not that great, mostly because those tutorials deal with a fairly short camera motion and easy to remove areas.
What I said before, yes. Absolutely. Mocha pro just makes it easier.
Thanks Rick. If you had to take a guess, on a typical removal job that includes wires and tracking markers, how much time would you say that Mocha Pro saves?
Tracking markers are a piece of cake. You don't need Mocha to do that. Wire removal is also usually very easy. There's a wire removal tool built into AE. It would help a lot if I saw your Shot. I've done a lot of wire removal and it just takes a few moments. With the new tracking tools I seldom put tracking markers in a scene unless there's not geometry in the scene at all. Usually I remove tracking markers with a second application of Primatte or Keylight.
Removing wires is usually a matter of just a couple of keyframes. Sometimes you would use AE's tracker to track the start and end points of the wire and then apply that tracking data to the start and end of AE's CC Simple Wire Removal tool.
If you can show me a still frame of your shot and explain how the camera and the objects move I can give you a step by step later today. Show us the shot on YouTube or Vimeo and the help will be even better. Without showing us the shot there's no way to make an educated guess on the best workflow. I can only tell you that for 90% of my plate cleanup that requires removing wires and tracking markers I seldom need to track anything. Two instances of Keylight and CC Simple wire removal with 3 or 4 keyframes is all that is needed.
Oh, these are only theoretical questions. I'm trying to decide whether to get Mocha Pro or not whenever they have the next 50% sale or not, and I have only a few days left in the trial, so I was trying to see how it compares to After Effects, and it would be worth buying eventually at the reduced price. I shot some "learning" stuff in my front yard with the goal of using Modo to put different models at the center of it, for which first I shot without any trackers, but the tracking wasn't so great, so then I shot with letter size paper sheets as markers, with a grid and a large black dot in the middle of them. Obviously such a thing would never be used in real tracking jobs, but it was more to test if the trackers would do a good job with them, and if I was able to remove them in Mocha Pro. In Mocha Pro I can, but not before Mary Poplin took a look at it and gave me some very useful advice on how to deal with it, which was backplates every 100 frames or so. In After Effects I tried one backplate and a few frames around it, but it was a terrible result. Even though I tracked rotation and scale as well, the rotation was inverted, so I had to invert the Y axis rotation in the graph editor and then it kind of worked, however, the rotation itself was still off and it looked like there was a patch of grass moving on its own.
For a non green screen shot like you describe, if there is some fixed geometry in the shot, you can get a great result without tracking markers. If you really need targets to track a tennis ball is a great option. It is much easier to hide a sphere than a big square with a mark on it.
Mocha is a planar tracker, it does not need dots or x's. It need planes. Motion tracking needs an area of constant detail not a point. 3D trackers like Syntheyes or AE's camera tracker also use AREAS not points. All of this technology works better with larger targets to analyze.
I'm not trying to talk you out of getting Mocha Pro. I have it and use it and it does speed up production on some compositing projects. It is not my primary tracking tool and I paid for it with a rather large job where the pro features saved me more time than the price I paid for the tool. Almost everything I do is on a fixed bid basis so time is money way more than it is when you work by the hour.
The question you really need to ask is what is the likelihood that the purchase of Mocha Pro will return more for the investment than some other tool. That is the only way you can successfully turn a profit in the film business. If AE is just a hobby and you have money to burn and you don't care about making a living with AE, then the formula should not really be that different. Will I get more use out of Mocha Pro than I will with another tool. Will Mocha Pro teach me more about what I want to learn about than another tool. Only you can answer those questions. I got my first job in film and television in 1970, six months later I was the head of the Special Projects department in a major market TV station writing, directing, producing, shooting, and editing documentaries and commercials. I've been at it ever since. I've wasted so much money on gear and other tools early in my career that I almost went broke because they were only used once or rarely. Having a shiny new tool in your kit is not much of an advantage if you only use it once a year.
Thank you Rick for your great insight into the process. I really like Mocha, but even $400 (when they offer the 50% discount again) is not money to spend lightly, at least for me, so I really appreciate your input.
As for 3D trackers, recently I tested a few with the same footage, and the two that gave me the best results are the tracker in CC 2014, which solved really well a couple of takes that the others had trouble with, and the Blender tracker. I also tested Mocha Pro and The Foundry's Camera Tracker. I'm sure that if I spent more time with both of those I could probably get a good track as well, but the tracker Mocha gave me was messed up, and Mary told me most likely I would need to setup a lot of planes to make it work. I'll make sure to test that before my trial runs out.
But what I don't see in any tracker, which to me is something so basic that I don't understand how it's not a feature in them, is the ability to manually position trackers in a 3D space. Let's say for example that you shot something in a place where you know exactly where the origin is, and where the tracking points are, meaning the exact distance between the origin and each tracking point. You even setup markers and you do it, if possible, in a way that signifies the X and Z axes. So when it comes to the camera tracker, you can tell it, OK, this point is the origin, tracker A is exactly 10 meters from the origin, tracker B is 15 meters, and so on. You can also tell it that tracker C and D, for example, are the X axis, and trackers D and E are the Z axis. If possible, you can also tell it that trackers F and G are the Y axis.
So the tracker, knowing these things beforehand, can perform a much more accurate tracking and solving. The tracker in AE CC introduced the ability to set the origin, but other than that is very basic and the distances, when taken into a real 3D program, have nothing to do with the real distances in reality. The only one I tried that approximates to this feature is the Blender tracker, which allows to set a scale, and it gets close to what it is in reality, and it is the best tracker I've tried, because it offers a lot of manual features to fine tune. It also takes much longer to setup, but provides a lot of user control.
But if any company could come up with a tracker like that, where you enter the distances manually, I'm sure it would be far more accurate than any other tracker. Is there any tracker like that in the market?
My most used tracker for 3D tracking is Syntheyes. Once you have a good camera solution you can go in and add zero weighted trackers to the scene and they will be accurately positioned in 3D space. You can also select a feature that the automatic tracker did not pick up and add your tracker there. Syntheyes exports to just about everything. If AE's camera tracker is not sufficient then I use Syntheyes first, Mocha Pro second. It just depends on what I am trying to accomplish.
Here are various tutorials of mine showing how to do removal inside AE with mocha and MochaImport+
Of course, the best workflow always depends on your shot:
using corner pin and a clean plate:
using stabilized precomps: