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Advise on removing wires/rods of puppet

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Jack Hextall
Advise on removing wires/rods of puppet
on Sep 13, 2013 at 12:26:16 pm

Hi all,

Bit of a long one this, but any help much appreciated. I'm making a short film about a couple of "living" puppets. The aim is to animate the marionettes, which normally would be controlled by strings, using thin rods or wires attached to hands and feet to get realistic movement. I then plan to remove the wires later, using a clean plate for when the wires are away from the puppets, manually rotoscoping when they occasionally cross over the puppet.

I'm basically doing something very similar to this:
The making-of shows the same shots before post:

And here's my (very shoddy) test footage of the puppet movement:

The green screen here is irrelevant; we aim to shoot as much as possible "on location".

I only had limited experience tracking or rotoscoping, so as you can imagine it's proved quite tricky! I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about how best to achieve good results for this. These are some of the issues I've encountered so far:

- Most wire removal tools seem to expect the wire to stay pretty still while the foreground moves; my wires are going to be moving all over the shop.
- I've tried using roto in AE, but it's not really "sticking" to the wires. Am I going to have to paint these out frame by frame?
- I'm currently shooting on a 7D, will I need something with a beefier resolution or bit depth to get nice results?
- Will painting the wires green/blue help?

Many thanks for any comments!

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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Advise on removing wires/rods of puppet
on Sep 13, 2013 at 8:48:00 pm

7D - I would try a different DSLR - one that can use Mgic Lantern to capture RAW for best color information.
Check out the list of supported cameras:

Painitng rods green - may help, however, I would try to find positioning solutions that would eliminate the need to paint out the rods going in front of the puppet, that will be tough.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist

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Jack Hextall
Re: Advise on removing wires/rods of puppet
on Sep 15, 2013 at 5:39:31 pm

Thanks Ted, I'm going to test magic lantern when I get my hands on a beefier card; it looks like its working with some capability on the 7D.

And yes I think positioning the rods will be crucial!

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