Categories Post Production

Removing glare from glasses

There are all kinds of finishing effects that are within the grasp of the average editor. You just need to know the recipe. Removing reflections and glare from glasses is one of those tricks that seems impossible, but is perfectly achievable if you understand the steps involved.

In the video below I’ll walk your through the entire process. In fact, this process is a pretty standard approach for any situation where you need to remove artifacts from a shot. The steps break down like this:

Step 1. Create a cleanplate

A cleanplate is a version of the shot with the artifact removed. This requires the most creativity. You need to find different frames where the artifact has moved and copy those pixels into your cleanplate, or recreate the area underneath using a clone (‘rubber stamp’ in old-school Photoshop parlance) brush. However, it doesn’t usually need to be perfect. You’ll see in the video that I was intentionally lazy and left the cleanplate quite splotchy. However, once it’s applied to the shot you don’t notice the little inconsistencies.

Step 2. Track the surface to replace

When I say track, I mean Mocha track. Boris FX’s Mocha Pro really is the only game in town here. Lots of other applications claim to have a good planar tracker, but I’m yet to find one that rivals Mocha Pro. Mocha is especially good at handling skin deformation–essential when you’re doing facial surgery on a shot with a lot of dialog.

Step 3. Matchmove the cleanplate using the track

Now we take the cleanplate and hook it up to the track we just created. The result is that the cleanplate moves with the source footage so that our cleaned up pixels always line up with the surface they’re intended to replace.

Step 4. Composite the cleanplate

With all the movement aligned it’s a fairly simple matter to mask off the area to be replaced and composite the cleanplate over that area. A little judicious blurring to the matte and the cleanplate should blend in nicely. Often you’ll also need to animate some color correction to the cleanplate to compensate for lighting changes.

Step 5. Fudge the rest with a warp

This is the crucial step that most of those tutorials out there miss. Warpers are magical tools. They allow you to take images that don’t quite fit together and force them to line up–in a very believable way. The cleanplate you created in step one will often start to misalign due to changes in perspective of the tracked surface, change in distance from camera, or even deformation in the surface being tracked. By throwing a warper into the mix you can nudge the shape of the cleanplate back into place.

This is all part of our Impossible Shots series. If there’s an impossible shot you’d like to see us tackle, email

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VR experience: Wolves in the Walls and Lucy, a Virtual Being, win Emmy Award

VR experience: Wolves in the Walls and Lucy win Emmy Award

Lucy, the star of Wolves in the Walls VR experience, from Fable, is a fully realized virtual being who addresses you directly and interacts with you as a visitor in her world. Lucy just won an Emmy Award!

Wolves in the Walls earned a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Media, an award that recognizes exceptional distinctiveness, inventiveness and relevance in expanding and redefining the conventions of interactive media experiences. The VR experience is, in fact, more than an adaptation of a book story to the world of Virtual Reality, as it serves to introduce Lucy, Fable’s first Virtual Being, to the world.

The award now received by Lucy and Wolves in the Walls is the culmination of a four year journey that saw Fable Studios change name to just Fable and move from its initial goal, Virtual Reality, to the exploration of the concept of Virtual Beings, characters that creators see as a fully realized virtual beings who addresses you directly and interacts with you as a visitor in their world. Lucy has been a passion project for so many, says Edward Saatchi, part of the founding team of Oculus Story Studio, in 2014, and currently the CEO of Fable. He adds that “we are incredibly grateful for all of the magic and technical prowess that has enabled this journey”.

The VR experience is based on Wolves in the Walls, a book by Neil Gaiman (story) and Dave McKean (illustration), published in 2003, in the United States. The book was highly praised on release, winning three awards for that year. Neil Gaiman has said the story was inspired by a nightmare his daughter Maddy, then aged 4, had that there were wolves in the walls. In the story the protagonist, Lucy, hears wolves in the walls of her family’s house, but her family does not believe her until one day when the wolves come out of the walls.

Interacting with Lucy

The book is considered notable, both because of Neil Gaiman narrative and Dave McKean’s art. The illustrator, utilises many different techniques, including photography, computer-generated imagery and drawing to achieve its effect, an experimentation that makes Wolves in the Walls a story asking for other ways to be explored. In 2006, it was made into a musical which toured the UK and visited the US in 2007. Then Fable picked the story and decided to transform Lucy into a Virtual Being.

According to Fable, a Virtual Being is a character that you know isn’t real but with whom you can build a 2-way emotional relationship. Virtual beings range from digital influencers like Lil Miquela to artificially intelligent agents like Mica from Magic Leap. Fable also says that a Virtual Being’s life can be experienced through Instagram, augmented reality headsets, your iPad or iPhone, chat, Alexa, virtual reality glasses and more. Just like us virtual beings exist across many different media.

While that may be true, I find it hard to get in other media the same level of immersion you experience in Virtual Reality. From the moment you step into Lucy’s universe, you’re there, and you can almost feel the wolves around you. It’s a unique sensation that, as far as I see, no other medium can give you. The whole experience takes a whole new dimension when Lucy talks to you and draws your virtual hands, so you can pick the Polaroid camera to photograph the wolves coming out from the walls…

Whispers in the Night is next

Wolves in the Walls is a unique experience that, as someone commented on the Oculus Store, “is art and replenishes any faith in VR movies in case needed”. The ability to “interact and become part of the story is awesome” is also noted, and the general reception is very positive. You do need a powerful computer to get the most of the graphics – a NVIDIA GTX 1080 is recommended – but on an Oculus Rift S headset, the visual experience is brilliant.

With Pete Billington as director and creator, Jessica Yaffa Shamash as creative producer and creator and Edward Saatchi as executive producer, Wolves in the Walls is now on Early Access at the Oculus Store, and is a FREE experience that clearly demonstrates how VR and AI can be used to bring to new audiences classic book narratives. The team behind the project said, when receiving the Emmy, that “we have always believed that the work on this project was significant to the future of interactive media and that was just cemented in history.”

Lucy will return, with another story being developed, Whispers in the Night, which is part of a collection of interwoven chapters. Audiences will discover and grow alongside Lucy as she shares her deepest thoughts and imaginations, completely unique to their personal exchange. With the ability to share objects with the audience, Lucy and interactive characters represent, according to Fable, the future for AR/VR storytelling for the company.

The Virtual Beings Summit

Artificial Intelligence plays a big part in the creation of those Virtual Beings. According to Fable, “the rise of Machine learning since Geoffrey Hinton’s team’s Imagenet victory in 2012 has, for the first time given humans a new tool to bring characters to life. But machine learning and AI alone aren’t enough. We need artists working alongside engineers. The virtual beings of the future might one day be the UI for our next Operating Systems; and if the next operating system is a character, then it will be a work of art as much as a feat of engineering.”

The second Virtual Beings Summit, organized by Fable, takes place November 19 in Los Angeles. It’s the place to be to hear from industry professionals who are specializing in the new world of Virtual Beings, and where they see the future of AI going. Virtual beings startups, investors, real-time engine creators, AI academics and CEOs all join efforts toe explore the new world of Virtual Beings and their involvement in our day to day lives.

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Sony Alpha 6600 and Alpha 6100: two new APS-C mirrorless cameras

Sony Alpha 6600 and Alpha 6100: a new APS-C mirrorless pair

Sony’s new Alpha 6600 and Alpha 6100 offer internal 4K movie recording in Super 35mm format with full pixel readout without pixel binning.  Is that enough for Sony users to upgrade their cameras?

The new Alpha 6600 has been designed to address the needs of the most demanding photographers and videographers with its versatility making it suitable for multiple types of shooting scenarios and users. The Alpha 6100 is targeted at users who are looking to make the step-up to shooting with interchangeable lens cameras and wish to shoot high-quality photos and videos in a variety of different situations. Two cameras to choose from, make it difficult, sometimes, to decide which is better. Two cameras, announced right after Canon shows its new APS-C pair, make you think about coincidences.

Canon’s announcement of the new EOS 90D, which marries the EOS 7D and the EOS 80D in a new DSLR, had a note about the importance of having options, with the phrase ““It is often said that in life, having two options is generally considered a good thing”. Well, it seems Sony was listening, as the company announced today not one but two new APS-C models, the Alpha 6600 and Alpha 6100. There might be a problem, though: according to comments online, the specifications of these models sound very much like taken from a 2015 camera.

Sony Alpha 6600 and Alpha 6100: a new APS-C mirrorless pair

New features, according to Sony

The two new models appear to be very much like the Alpha 6500 and Alpha 6400, with some new features added… or removed. According to some people, the Alpha 6100 looks like a stripped down version of the Alpha 6400, so many Sony users feel there is no reason to upgrade. The discussions and opinions about these different aspects continue, but the truth is that the Alpha 6xxx series has been a popular choice, so the sales number may be very different from the picture painted by the first comments.

Sony, obviously, says these models bring the best of the company’s technology to everybody. Based upon feedback from users of existing Sony APS-C camera users, further features have been added to the Alpha 6600 and Alpha 6100 to fine tune the user experience. These include:

  • Improved colour reproduction; Algorithms inherited from full-frame models deliver natural colour reproduction, particularly in skin tones
  • Hi-resolution internal 4K movie recording with full-pixel readout without pixel binning in Super 35mm format with easy smartphone transfers via the Imaging Edge Mobile application
  • Interval shooting for stunning time-lapse videos
  • 180-degree tiltable, 3.0-type 921k-dot (approx.) LCD touch screen
  • Integrated Microphone input for clear and crisp audio on video recordings

As usual, there is a lot of fine print associated with the specifications listed for both cameras, so users should read that detailed information completely before buying any of these models. One note on the Alpha 6600: it is the first APS-C model to use Sony Z Battery, promising long battery life. Sony numbers point to extended power performance, with approximately 720 still images using the viewfinder, and approximately 810 images using the LCD monitor.

New lenses for the E-mount

In terms of video, the Alpha 6600 boasts internal 4K movie recording in Super 35mm format with full pixel readout without pixel binning, to capture approximately 2.4x the amount of information required for 4K movies (this is also available in Alpha 6100). This oversampling results, according to Sony, in stunning footage, delivered in the XAVC S format with unparalleled resolution.

The Alpha 6600 equips an HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) picture profile that supports an instant HDR workflow. Recorded movies played back on an HDR (HLG) compatible TV will appear true-to-life, with no blocked shadows or blown highlights, without the need for colour grading. For users who want to colour grade their footage in post-production, S-Log3 and S-Log2 Gamma profiles are provided.

The Sony APS-C range has been further strengthened by the launch of two new lenses, the E 16-55mm F2.8 G standard zoom lens and the E 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS super-telephoto zoom lens. With this announcement, Sony’s versatile E-mount system now features a total of 54 lenses.

New Alphas in time for Christmas

“Our ‘One Mount’ strategy to continually expand the E-mount system, cameras and lenses with complete inter-compatibility between full-frame and APS-C, means that we want to offer the widest range of exciting products that customers can select from when choosing the right tool for their needs,” said Yann Salmon Legagneur, Director of Product Marketing, Digital Imaging, Sony Europe. “The APS-C market is extremely important to Sony and the Alpha 6600 and Alpha 6100 are both cameras that pack-in the very latest technology breakthroughs and whether you shoot stills, video or a combination of the two, we are confident that users will be very happy with the results.”

The Alpha 6100 will be available in October with the following prices: camera body for $750, camera kit with kit with Sony 16-50mm lens for $850 US. Camera kit with Sony 16-50mm and 55-210mm lenses for $1,100.

The Alpha 6600 will be available in November with the following prices: camera body for $1,400, camera kit with Sony 18-135mm lens for $1,800.

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Canon EOS 90D: contracting market “marries” EOS 7D with the EOS 80D

EOS 90D: contracting market made Canon marry the EOS7D with the EOSD 80D

Canon introduced the new EOS 90D, a marriage between the EOS XD and EOS XXD lines, putting an end, apparently, to years of segmentation. Is this another nail in the DSLR’s coffin?

The two new cameras usher in the next generation of Canon APS-C sensor cameras and share many similar characteristics, as Canon says, featuring a 32.5 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, high-speed continuous shooting, Dual Pixel CMOS AF and uncropped 4K UHD video recording capability. One note here, though: none of the cameras shoots 4K at 24p, a clear indication that Canon keeps protecting – even here Canon? – its professional line. Unless it is something else…

Following a trend we’ve seen Canon using in recent years, since the introduction of the M line, the EOS 90D DSLR and the EOS M6 Mark II share many characteristics, an import decision in a contracting market.  There are differences, though. For example, if you’re a video shooter, the EOS 90D is the better camera, because it has a headphone port and because it’s LCD rotates all the way, something you can not attain with the LCD on the EOS M6 Mark II. The EOS 90D also has 4K crop video, a feature missing on the mirrorless model. This somehow contradicts the general idea that mirrorless are better for video, because in this case the EOS 90D seems to be the one to choose, even for vloggers.

EOS 90D: contracting market made Canon marry the EOS7D with the EOSD 80D

Canon says two options are better than one

There is one aspect I want to mention, because it is really important: the EOS 90D mixes elements from both the EOS 7D Mark II and the EOS 80D, two of the most popular APS-C models from Canon. In doing so, it confirms what everyone expected but did not want: the EOS 7D Mark III will never be, and Canon puts and end to the segmentation between the EOS XD and EOS XXD lines, in terms of APS-C, so there will not be a new EOS XD. Is this a way to slowly end the production of DSLRs?

It’s funny, though, that at the exact moment Canon mixes the two lines into one, the company’s wording for presenting the new cameras says this: “It is often said that in life, having two options is generally considered a good thing”. I know the company means the EOS 90D and EOS M6 Mark II, but I could not stop smiling at the irony. Was this done on purpose? Anyways, maybe we will see the EOS 7 come back, maybe in a EOS 7R model, if Canon ever decides to use numbers for its new full frame mirrorless models. Then those who always dreamt of a full frame EOS 7 will have their dream camera, only not a DSLR.

The shared features

Enough of these side notes. Let’s look at the core features shared by the EOS 90D and EOS M6 Mark II:

  •  32.5 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) Sensor
  •  DIGIC 8 Image Processor
  •  4K UHD up 30p and 1080p FHD up 120p video recording with no crop
  •  Dual Pixel CMOS AF in Live View with 5,481 manually selectable AF positions
  •  Electronic shutter with a minimum of up to 1/16000th
  •  Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Technology

EOS 90D: contracting market made Canon marry the EOS7D with the EOSD 80D


The EOS 90D DSLR camera is presented as ideal for the advanced-amateur photographer who values the look-and-feel of the DSLR body and benefits such as an optical viewfinder, 3.0-inch vari-angle touch screen LCD, addition of the multi-controller and a shutter button feel of professional EOS cameras. Now capable of shooting up to 10 frames-per-second (fps), a drastic increase from the 7.0 fps with the EOS 80D, users can capture all of the action on the sidelines of a football game or wildlife while on safari.

Assisting in a photographer’s ability to capture the action is the 45-point all-cross type AF system, 100 percent viewfinder coverage and now supports up to 27 points in f/8 metering. In addition, the new AE sensor boasts an impressive 220,000 pixels and utilizes EOS iTR AF (face priority) detection. Together, these two features allow for the detection and tracking of faces in various environments and shooting situations while using the viewfinder.

The EOS M6 Mark II mirrorless

If you prefer a more compact and lightweight way, the EOS M6 Mark II is your camera. Bringing the controls and functionality of a Canon EOS DSLR into a compact mirrorless camera,  the EOS M6 Mark II is capable of shooting up to 14fps with AF and AE tracking as well as capturing a remarkable 30fps when using RAW Burst Mode with pre-shooting capabilities. The camera also features touch-and-drag AF when using the optional EVF-DC2 electronic viewfinder. A popular and notable benefit of Canon mirrorless cameras allows photographers to select AF positions with the touch of a finger. The EOS M6 Mark II also includes Canon’s Dual Pixel AF with Eye AF Servo to help ensure images are in sharp focus and a 3.0-inch, touch-panel LCD screen with tilt-option to help ensure a user’s portrait or selfie game is and stays on point.

The Canon EOS 90D is scheduled to be available mid-September 2019 for an estimated retail price of $1199.00 for body only, $1349.00 for EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM kit and $1599.00 for EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM kit. The EOS M6 Mark II is scheduled to be available late September 2019 in both black and silver for an estimated retail price of $849.99 for body only, $1099.00 for EF-M 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 IS STM and EVF-DC2 kit and $1349.00 for EF-M 18-150mm f3.5-6.3 IS STM and EVF-DC2 kit.

An important reminder: browse through all the information available at Canon’s website to find more about what these cameras can and can not do. Also read the fine print, because there are multiple notes  explaining aspects that the marketing team tends to forget. There is also a pdf file available, with all the specifications, which you can download here.