July 31, 2012

Don't Have a Make-up Artist on Set? Remove Skin Blemishes from Your Video Using After Effects

I've been asked to remove blemishes and other imperfections from still photos, but with a video, on the other hand, it's a bit more involved. When the image isn't moving, you don't have to worry about tracking the trouble spot to match the camera and the movement of the subject. We've shared quite a few tutorials for Adobe products in the past, but this one specifically uses After Effects to try to make those skin imperfections disappear for good.

Thanks to John Hess at FilmmakerIQ for posting this:

While this is a good solution for a fairly short clip, or long clips where there isn't a lot of movement, if you want to get the best results possible, you're going to want to actually track those blemishes and apply your effect to those tracking points. For this reason when clients ask for this on a video, it's always best to explain that to do it properly for a longer clip, it's going to usually take more time than it's really worth (unless they're willing to pay for that extra time). For a quick and dirty solution, though, this should get the job done if you're not too picky.

As with anything related to the "fix it in post" mentality, making these types of blemishes and spots less apparent on set will save a tremendous amount of time and money. This isn't always possible, though, especially with documentaries, where you may not be able to afford an MUA or you might not have enough time with your subject.

How have you dealt with these issue in the past? What do you tell clients when it comes to removing blemishes or spots?

[via FilmmakerIQ]

Your Comment

16 Comments

I am a fan of Magic Bullet Cosmo. It essentially just softens and blurs detail, so I end up animating some rough masks, apply that effect, and feather the mask a bit. The masks help to maintain detail and clarity in the areas outside of the blemish.

August 1, 2012

-3
Reply

That's interesting. I'm guessing Magic Bullet Cosmo is probably cheaper than After Effects?

August 1, 2012

-2
Reply
avatar
Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Its a plugin for AE, so yes, it is cheaper.

August 1, 2012

-2
Reply

$99 and compatible with AE, Premiere, and FCP.

August 1, 2012

0
Reply

Yeah I find cosmo very handy too. And depending on the range of colour in your shot you can isolate quite well even without masks too.

August 1, 2012

-3
Reply
Lliam Worthington

You can accomplish this with Colorista II, as well. It has the same skintone mapping tool, and you can use that as a secondary vignette, mask off an area, and soften area by using negative "pop".

August 6, 2012

1
Reply
David

I used a similar workflow back when I did all my grading work in Apple Color, but it's way faster and easier with Colorista II.

August 6, 2012

0
Reply
David

I just acquired Digital Anarchy's 'Beauty Box' plugin for After Effects and I must say it is really impressive. It's far better than Magic Bullet Cosmo. Just do a search on YouTube for this plugin and you'll see how it works.

August 1, 2012

1
Reply

The problem with this method is that: as the subject tracks so too does the tonal inconstancies in the mask where the shadows meet the highlights. Easier and more effective way is to create a solid, match skin tone one shade/1 stop darker than the blemish area, create a mask, feather edge at 50, then reduce opacity to 50%, this blends the tone and lightens it back to the subject's original tonal value (play with this setting to get an exact match), then track the mask. Done. Also good for bird removal in time lapse skies. Its good because you don't need extra 3rd party plugins etc.

August 1, 2012

0
Reply
shaun wilson

This is probably stating the obvious, but Andrew Kramer also has a good blemish removal tutorial, one of the first on his website. From memory, it involves creating a luma track matte for the whole face, then using a blur to smooth out imperfections. Creating the track matte was the inventive part; I think it had something to do with using an effect to isolate the red channel, then turning the image black and white. Presumably it wouldn't work on all images, at least not without fiddling more with garbage masks, but anyway...

August 1, 2012

0
Reply

I find Clearasil works for me... :)

August 1, 2012

0
Reply
Jeff

So you want your actors to look faker?

August 2, 2012

2
Reply
john jeffreys

Why not use the mole as a track point instead of manually keyframing the clonestamp's position?

August 2, 2012

1
Reply
Austin

Yeah there are better ways, but I thought this one was interesting without a tremendous amount of work.

August 2, 2012

0
Reply
avatar
Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Yeah, I've actually learned a lot from these tutorials. Thanks for sharing!

August 2, 2012

3
Reply
Austin

PaperBag's Suggestion sounds a lot like a method I use in PS.

But I think this all really, really leads back to a very good suggestion to get it in the camera the way you want it to begin with. I do that with Stills and I do that with Motion.

It'd have to be a really short clip too and one scene and one lighting set-up otherwise I suspect an editor could just be killed trying to fix something that should not have happened.

All that said, it always helps to have a way out of the bag when you find yourself in there!

August 3, 2012

2
Reply