New Software Can Delete People or Objects from HD Video

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics (MPII) have developed video inpainting software that can delete people or objects from high-definition video footage. How is it done? The software analyzes every video frame and calculates which pixels should replace a moving area that’s been marked for removal, explains Gizmag. The article provides an impressive video demonstration of the technology.

The software “represents a significant improvement over prior inpainting methods, which worked with low resolution video but generated poor results with HD footage,” reports Gizmag. “Their method still generates some artifacts, but they’d be almost imperceptible to the untrained eye.”

“The software was inspired by shift maps — which take a portion of footage from one moment in time and move it to another moment in time to fill in the occluded area,” explains the article. “Similar software has been used to remove people from Google’s Street View for privacy concerns, but it has huge potential for the visual effects industry.”

It has the potential to help artists replace actors with computer-generated creatures, as was done with the Gollum character in “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.”

“Whereas most of the time creatures are simply imagined by the actors on set, a physical stand-in for the creature adds greater realism and impact to a scene, by interacting directly with the actors and affecting their surroundings in ways that would be difficult to cheat with traditional approaches,” notes Gizmag.

“As more and more films use the techniques pioneered by Andy Serkis as Gollum — who recently formed his own studio to promote the art of Performance Capture — effects artists will have to do more and more inpainting, so there’s certainly a market for this kind of software,” concludes the article. “The same researchers are developing solutions to multiple problems associated with visual effects which should make it cheaper, faster, and easier for the VFX industry to meet the demands of Hollywood studios and audiences alike.”