Learn 2 Techniques to Remove Objects from Videos in Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro 17/06/2021 5 min read

Whether it’s telephone lines, a photobomber, or your ex–sometimes you just want to remove an object or person from your video in Final Cut Pro. While it can be much more difficult to do than a still image, it is definitely possible to cover up part of a scene using another portion of the video using a technique called masking.

Below we’re going to outline 2 techniques you can use to make that something (or someone) disappear from your video. One of them will use Final Cut Pro’s built in draw mask effect, and the second utilizes a premium plugin download. 

Part 1: Making Objects Disappear with Draw Mask

Right out the gate, you should be warned: if there is camera movement in your shot then trying to cover up anything is going to be extremely difficult. But if you’ve got steady hands, or a tripod, then you can use this technique to cover up one part of your image with something else by drawing around it with a mask. 

1. Add Your Clip and Duplicate

To make part of your image disappear, you’ll need to cover it up with something else. In this step, you’ll create a duplicate layer on top of your clip in the timeline, which will become the patch you use to cover up your removed object later on.

  1. If you haven’t already, create your project and import the media you’d like to use. 
  2. Drag your clip into the timeline. 
  3. Hold down Option and drag your clip upward. This should create a duplicate just on top of the original clip in the timeline.
  4. If your clip has audio, mute your duplicate clip by dragging its Audio Bar downward to infinity. 

2. Draw Image Mask

The draw mask is a standard effect in your Final Cut Pro toolbox. It allows you to isolate part of the video and then move it around, apply effects to it, overlay it on top of another video. Basically, whatever you want! It’s powerful, so learning how to use the draw mask is a great way to up your game in the future. 

  1. In the Effects Browser locate Draw Mask and drag it onto the duplicate top clip. 
  2. Highlight that clip in the timeline by clicking on it.
  3. In the viewer, begin drawing your outline by clicking to create points.
  4. Continue creating points until you’ve completed your shape by clicking on the first point you created. 

3. Adjust the Mask Properties

Now that you’ve created a mask on your video clip it probably looks exactly the same. That’s because underneath your clip is the original unmasked copy. If you were to disable that track, you would see that the top clip only displays what is inside your mask outline (with blankness all around it). In this step, we’ll adjust that mask so that it displays a different portion of the video within the mask.

  1. With your duplicate, masked clip selected head over to the Video Inspector and increase the Feather property.
  2. Over in the viewer, click inside your mask and drag it to whatever portion of the video is appropriate for patching over the object you’d like to hide. 
  3. Back in the Inspector, under the Transform controls, adjust the position properties so that your mask now covers up the object you’d like to hide. 
  4. If there are hard edges visible you might try increasing the Falloff property to soften them.

When you hit play, you should see your video play as normal, with the object you’ve covered up now removed. If the object you’re trying to cover up moves during the shot you can create keyframes for the draw mask position to follow it! 

Note: If there is more than one object, or the motion is just too hard to follow, you may want to consider utilizing a plugin. 

Part 2: Use FCPX Removal Tool from Pixel Film Studios

There are a number of third-party options for removing objects in FCPX that you can download. We’ve chosen FCPX Removal because of its power and ease-of-use. You can download it here: 

What’s so great about this plugin is that it is able to track and remove multiple moving objects at the same time, as long as there is no camera movement. It does so by recording an image of what the background looked like before it was obstructed by an object moving in front of it. By stitching together images of the background, FCPX Removal is able to reconstruct your video as if the objects had never been there in the first place.

Download FCPX Removal

Once you’ve installed the FCPX removal plugin, proceed with the steps below to start making things disappear!

Step 1: Get Your Clips Ready

It’s important to know that not every clip is going to be appropriate for this tool. You’ll need to select clips in which the camera is not moving, and the background is fixed. If there is camera motion, FCPX Removal will not be able to accurately reconstruct the background in order to remove the moving objects. 

  1. If you haven’t already, create your project. 
  2. Import footage into the Event by pressing Command + I and selecting the video clips you’d like to use.
  3. Drag the clip you’d like to use into the timeline from the browser.

Step 2: Apply FCPX Removal to Your Clip

After you’ve downloaded and installed FCPX Removal, it should appear in your Effects browser right alongside all of your other effects. Following the steps below will apply this plugin to your clip and open up a special interface where you can use the plugin to remove all moving objects from your clip. 

  1. Open the Effects browser and locate FCPX Removal. Drag it onto your clip (the one on top).
  2. Highlight the clip in the timeline by clicking on it, then click Analyze in the Inspector.
  3. A popup window should appear, select Pixel Analysis from the drop-down menu in the top right.
  4. The moving objects should disappear from your clip. If they haven’t all disappeared, try adjusting the Threshold property until the background is free from obstructions. 
  5. Now click the Analyze Clip button to apply this effect to the whole clip.
  6. Now click Finish to close the window. Moving objects will be removed from the clip.

Now that you’ve removed all the moving objects from your clip, you’re left with a still image. Chances are, you want to preserve some motion in your video, which you can do easily using the Draw Mask effect from part 1 of this tutorial. 

Step 3: Duplicate and Mask Your Clip

To be able to selectively restore some of the video’s movement you need to duplicate the clip, remove the FCPX Removal effect, and apply a mask. This allows you to choose which objects are removed and which get to stay.

  1. Hold Option and drag your clip upward in the timeline, creating a duplicate above it.
  2. In the Effects Browser find the Draw Mask effect and add it to your duplicated clip. 
  3. Select that clip in the Timeline, then in the Inspector disable the FCPX Removal effect.
  4. In the Viewer outline the portion of the image you’d like to include. When you’re finished, complete the shape so you have a whole mask.
  5. Now in the Inspector, adjust the Feather property so there are no hard edges. 
  6. Depending on what you’re masking, you may want to toggle the Invert property to choose between showing what’s inside your mask or what’s outside.

Making objects disappear from your videos in Final Cut Pro is a little more complex than photoshopping them out from still images. Using the 2 methods outlined in this article, you should be able to pull it off with the right footage.

And if you are looking for more resources for Final Cut Pro, you might want to check out Motion Array. There are hundreds of plugins, effects, and transitions to choose from, as well as stock footage and royalty-free music to use in your videos.

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