Need to Remove Traffic From a Shot? Here's How

Dive into this After Effects tutorial to create a surreal, empty highway. 

Are you shooting near a busy road? Unless you want to wake up in the early morning hours, or you have the money and resources to shut down a city block, chances are you're going to compete with cars zipping by your frame.

But what if you're trying to achieve an eerie desolate feeling where there's no one around? Do you take a trip to Chernobyl? Or maybe wait for another pandemic to lock down the nation? Probably not.

Removing traffic can actually be pretty simple in After Effects if you know where to start. Luckily, Nick Khoo did the heavy lifting for us and shows us how to do it in this tutorial from Josh Olufemii. Check it out. 

To achieve the look, you'll be painting out each car individually. It sounds like a pain in the ass, but with After Effects adding the Content Aware tool that's found in Photoshop, it makes it a lot easier. 

What you're going to do is select the car using a mask with some room in the selection to include the shadows. Then track the mask of the clip. You're going to want to do that for each car in the shot. Simple enough, right?

After tracking each car, you'll want to select the Subtract option in the timeline, which will give you your plate. Then in the Content Aware panel, you can select between three options: object, surface, and edge blend. Object seems to work best for most situations.

After clicking Generate Fill Layer, Adobe Sensei will automatically fill the missing areas with content. You can then color grade or add different elements to the shot. 

Now, the caveat with this example is that it is an overhead shot, which will be easier for After Effects to fill in. If your shot has a lot of detail in the background or isn't overhead but eye level, the results might not be the same.

So when you're framing your shot in the field, be sure to consider what's going on in the background. If you know you're going to want to remove certain things, like a sign or plane flying overhead, keep it simple, and if possible, shoot a static shot as it's easier to track with keyframes than a frame with pace.

Do you have other tips for removing unwanted background action? Leave some knowledge in the comments.     

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