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How to Remove Stuck or Hot Pixels from Video Footage

06.1.10 @ 4:34PM Tags : , , , , ,

One of the drawbacks to shooting movies with DSLRs is the problem of stuck pixels, also known as “hot” or “dead” pixels. If every pixel on a DSLR’s large CMOS sensor is essentially a bucket for catching light, out of the tens of millions of buckets (21 million in the case of the 5D Mark II), there are always going to be a few faulty ones. But whereas dead pixels are easy to remove from still images (and harder to detect), on video they stick out like a sore thumb. So — what to do if your otherwise beautiful footage is marred by one (or more) stuck pixels? Thankfully there are a number of solutions to removing dead pixels in post, using your software of choice. Included here are methods based on Final Cut Pro, Vegas, Aperture, and After Effects.

After Effects

After Effects ships with a Wire Removal plug-in, which you can use to track the beginning and end point of a wire (e.g., if you’re doing a Kung-Fu movie and your actors are flying around Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-style). This will also work to remove a hot pixel, if you set the two points very close together, and then you can save it and apply it to your footage in batches given the stuck pixel is in the same place. Here’s the process (it’s called CC Simple Wire Removal and is built into AE), from Hampton Road Studios

You can also try to use the Clone Stamp tool, which is what’s pictured above, but I find setting a target point separate from where the stuck pixel is creates less than ideal results. The Wire Removal tool works better in my experience.

On the plugin side of things, RE:Fill by RE:VisionFX looks like it might work, but it doesn’t explicitly mention dead pixel removal as a use for the plugin.

Final Cut Pro

There are a number of solutions to remove hot pixels using Final Cut Pro. Via this thread at Cinema5D I found out about video whiz Adam Wilt’s FXscript to remove dead pixels — exhaustive details of the process here. Long story short, you can download his custom script for free, unzip it, and drop the folder “AJW’s Filters” into /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Plugins. Restart FCP, and:


Drop the filter on a clip you want to fix. Use the Location control to position the white square atop the area you want to mask, then uncheck “Use Test Color”. Fiddle with the trims, height, and width to properly mask the hotspot; you want the smallest mask possible that adequately covers the hot pixel and any of its side effects. Stepping through the clip for a few frames is useful to double-check things; toggling the mask on and off (and/or toggling the test color on and off) is useful to verify position and effect. You can also try using different pixel mask sources, in case the default “all four edges” blend causes a visible bump or blemish in the image. Once you’re happy, you’re done. If you have more clips from the same camera to mask, drag the filter to the Favorites bin in the Effects browser, and give it a descriptive name (like “pixel mask – upper left” and pixel mask – upper right” for the two instances we used for our two cameras).

In the comments of this post at Planet5d, Carl suggests The Repair-collection by CHV-Electronics, which features a plugin called, appropriately enough, Dead Pixel. The plugin costs $99 and also includes tools for dirt, dropout, and noise removal. If you’re going to be doing a lot of this stuff in FCP it’s definitely worth a look.

Vegas

There is a complicated (but free) plugin written for the sole purpose of removing stuck pixels in Vegas here. These instructions will get you started, but be warned — you’re going to spend some quality time in Vegas if you’re using this plugin. “Download the plug in via the link below. Copy stuckvideopixelremover.dll to the folder where you store your other Sony Vegas plug ins. Register the DLL by opening a command prompt and executing the command “regsvr32 stuckvideopixelremover.dll” in the folder where you’ve put the DLL.” And that’s just the beginning…

Aperture

If you have a lot of sensor dust1 on your image (and a lot of time on your hands) you can export sequential TIFFs to Aperture and use the batch controls to bring back footage from the dead. We could’ve used this on The West Side, but then again our hands were pretty full on that production, and it was supposed to be gritty anyway. Regardless, here’s an in-depth tutorial on using Aperture to remove sensor dust. While you can use the Spot & Patch tool to effectively remove dust, it does get a bit complicated if the dust is covering complicated imagery (as opposed to, say, the sky seen at left).

Have you run into problems with stuck pixels on your footage? Do you have other solutions to this all-too-frequent DSLR problem? Feel free to share in the comments!

  1. Persistent smudges instead of pinprick points. []

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  • Don’t know if it was just me, but your site was down awhile today.

    I have stuck pixels but haven’t fixed them yet. Will try the FCP method

  • Thank you thank you!!!!!!! I’ve talked to a lot of different sources, and this seems to be the way to do it.

    Reposted on facebook.

  • Now I just found out via Bubu on the dvxuser.com forum about this method for a Canon T2i:
    Go to manual mode. Put on the body cap. Go to the sensor cleaning menu, then choose manual cleaning. Wait 30 seconds and then turn the camera off, then back on and that’s it. Gone. The five of them. If I could send the guy a 100 bucks bottle of wine, I would. Such a good guy

  • wow that’s so simple!!! i works pretty well

    BUT it works only on 8bpc…

    Whatever, thks a lot!

  • I was able to use the delogo filter in avidemux. First find location of dead pixel (I used gimp), reduce green box in delogo filter to as much as you can (I got 6×6 pixels). You’ll have to play around with the location. My Gimp location was off a few pixels. Use the preview in avidemux filter section to try until you cover the pixel.

  • shaun mcalister on 06.21.11 @ 2:39PM

    Adam’s pixel mask worked perfectly for me. My footage had two dust specs, but not anymore!

    Better link for Adam Wilt’s FXscripts: http://www.adamwilt.com/downloads/.

  • Canon 1D Mk IV has a pixel mapping feature “dust delete data” that might be useful. Not sure if any video programs can take advantage of the data though.

    • Doesn’t work in video mode to my knowledge. At least, not on my 5D Mark II, which has the same feature and can’t eliminate one pesky stuck pixel.

  • Please excuse my ignorance, but i am having trouble even installing this before i even get to try it!

    PROBLEM:
    To begin with, i don’t even have a ‘Final Cut Pro System Support’ folder in ‘Library/Application Support’ … and even when i create one myself and drop the ‘AJW’s Filters’ folder into it, then close and re-open Final Cut Pro i don’t have AJW’s Filters available at all in my effects browser.

    Can someone please help me? I hope i am just doing something stupid here and this is a quick fix.

    I am running Final Cut Pro 7.0

    thanks.

    • Hi there!

      I am having the same issues, Danni, did you get it figured out?? Thanks!

      • im also having same issue i have the fcpx version- no applications support folder. i added the download folder to multiple areas in the motion 5 effects and generator sections which normally works for other plus ins but this didn’t show up for me. help!

        • Make sure you’re looking in the right Library folder. you don’t want the one under your user name in finder. you want the one under Macintosh HD (for me in Leopard) or whatever your root directory is named under “Devices” .

  • You are a life saver Koo!! I love your website!

  • hi my name is amatu pleas wich plug-ins can i use to remove stuck or dead pixels AE thanks

  • please can someone tel how too make my canon footage very clean and shape using ae

  • Adam’s pixel filter worked perfectly for me. Thanks for the great post!

  • Adam’s pixel mask was a total life saver. Thanks so much!!!! Great post.

  • After Effects workflow did the job for me! Really really awesome news! Love it! Thank you Ryan and Matthew for the post and tutorial.

  • Adobe After Effects is amazing! So easy to use.

  • My brother recommended I might like this website.
    He wwas entirely right. This post actually made my day.
    You cann’t imagine simply how much timje I had spent for this info!
    Thanks!

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