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Cleaning Up with the Clone Tool in After Effects 6.5

Removing artifacts with the new recursive cloning feature By Dave Nagel
Of all of the new features in Adobe After Effects 6.5, I'm focusing on one of the more minor ones. In fact, this particular enhancement is completely undocumented, but it is, nevertheless, a great little addition for those of us who need occasionally to clean up footage--fill holes, eliminate dirt and scratches and reduce artifacts. The enhancement? Recursive cloning.

In After Effects 6.0, the Clone tool could be used to clean up individual frames in your footage by cloning from previous or successive frames. But it had one weakness. Being an effect, the Clone tool was unable to clone itself, unless you wanted to go and render each frame as you touched it up--something entirely impractical in most cases. Now, in version 6.5, this has changed. Cloning is recursive, so you can sample previously cloned data, as well as source data.

Why is this important? Well, let's say you have some footage that's damaged, and the damage overlaps across multiple frames. In AE 6.0, you'd be able to clean up the first frame of the footage by offsetting the clone tool by -1 frame. But you wouldn't be able to do this with subsequent frames because the clone tool would not be able to pick up the fixed footage without rendering. Now it can, providing you with an easy and relatively quick method for fixing up flaws in your footage.

Setting up
For this example, we'll look at a piece of footage that I've damaged intentionally for this purpose. The damage consists of scratches and dirt (created with the Film Damage effect in Boris Continuum Complete).

Here you can see that the scratch lines just barely overlap for a few frames, enough to cause problems in cleanup if we were using After Effects 6.0. Not a problem in 6.5.

To begin, place your damaged footage in the timeline, as well as a duplicate of the footage beneath it. Rename the duplicate footage "Touch-Up Layer" so that you don't get it confused with the original layer. We'll be using the duplicate layer later on in this tutorial.

Select the Clone tool, and double-click your damaged footage in the timeline to open it up in the Layer window.

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Related Keywords:adobe after effects, clone tool, clone stamp, damage, cleaning up footage, removing artifacts, video artifacts, film damage


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