In Depth: Repairing Damaged Pixels

In Depth: Repairing Damaged Pixels

Updated March 20, 2015 10:02pm PST – Added BG Pixel Blaster for FCP X

Damaged Pixels

Introduction: What is a Damaged Pixel?

First, lets get semantics out of the way. The term damaged pixel refers to several types of damage that can be recorded on a camera. The damaged pixels I’m referring to in this article are often caused by damage to a camera with CCDs or CMOS sensors. The damaged pixels can be white, black or sometimes even colored, but they are caused by different problems. I’ll try to explain this as simply as possible.

Dead pixels or burnt pixels happen when all three sub pixels (red, green and blue) are permanently turned off in the camera. They show up as black in the footage.

A hot pixel is when all three sub pixels are turned on, showing up as a white pixel in footage.

A stuck pixel is when one of the three sub pixels are turned on, so it can show up as red, green or blue.

You can also experience what could look like damaged pixels if the sensor is dusty or dirty. In that case, get your camera cleaned professionally. You can risk serious damage to the camera if you’re swabbing the sensor when shutter’s curtain or mirror closes. If you’re seeing out of focus areas, this may be caused by a dirty lens.

Here’s an eHow video on dead pixels.

Fix Damaged Pixels with your NLE/Host

There are a lot of methods that will work in a lot of host applications. There are tools out there that you wouldn’t consider to do the job but will actually take care of damaged pixels with ease.

After Effects Clone Stamp Tool

First, Ryan Koo talks about how to fix damaged pixels in After Effects with the Clone Stamp tool. Read the tutorial

CC Wire Removal Tool

Wire removal tools are a great way to deal with damaged pixels. The purpose of wire removal tools is to remove wires or fishing lines on actors or props in your visual effects shot. Mark each end of the wire, then the wire removal tool will blend the adjacent pixels to cover the wire. You of course may need to track the wire if it’s moving, but wire removal is pretty straight forward. Read The Art of Wire Removal from FxGuide for more on wire removal.

After Effects Tutorial: Fix a Dead, Stuck, or Defective Pixel using CC Simple Wire Removal
RiverCityGraphix shows you how stuck pixels are fixed in AE with his method.

There are several other wire removal plug-ins on the market that may work just as well for fixing damaged pixels, like Boris Continuum Complete BCC Wire Remover. If you have another give it a try.

Remove dead pixels, or dust, in a Adobe Premiere

How To Fix A Hot Pixel In Final Cut Pro

BG Pixel Blaster for FCP X

This Final Cut Pro effect preset was created to remove unwanted pixels from either “locked-off” shots or stills. Brendan Gibbons, the creator says, “The idea behind it was a simple way to help remove dead pixels, but you could also use it as a “digital concealer” to remove spots or blemishes etc.”

Download and learn more at Creative Cow.

Fix Damaged Pixels with Plug-ins

There are also lots of plug-ins out there made specifically for fixing damaged pixels, and others meant for bigger jobs but will do the trick quite well. Here are a few that you may already own.

Boris Continuum Complete BCC Pixel Fixer

BCC Pixel Fixer is made especially for this problem. Place a cross-hair over the bad pixel. BCC Pixel Fixer takes care of it. I demoed this plug-in at NAB and it’s very easy to use and works fantastically well. It is also great for removing dust and dirt from the frame.

Make Bad Pixels Disappear

In this tutorial, Kevin McAuliffe walks you through the process.

More info:
Boris Continuum Unit: Image Restoration

Price and Host Support:

Free Demo
Download here

Dashwood Editor Essentials Dead Pixel Fixer

Dead Pixel Fixer is included in Dashwood Editor Essentials, a set of utility plug-ins to repair footage or simplify mundane tasks, such as letter boxing or adjusting anamorphic video. Dead Pixel Fixer allows users to remove issues caused by a burnt pixel on the sensor.

Dead Pixel Fixer Tutorial – Dashwood Editor Essentials

Tim Dashwood walks you through how to use Dead Pixel Fixer in Premiere Pro.

More info:
Dashwood Editor Essentials

Note Dashwood products are no longer available at Toolfarm.

Price and Host Support:
Dashwood Editor Essentials, Price: $49.00, Toolfarm Price: $46.55
Mac only
Adobe After Effects CS5 and up
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and up
Apple Final Cut Pro 7 and X
Apple Motion 4, 5


RE:Vision Effects RE:Fill

RE:Fill is made for repairing holes and scratches. A tiny pixel is not too small of a job for RE:Fill. The description says, “selecting the nearest “good” pixel, mirroring pixels about a hole’s edge, or cloning from another ‘good’ region… and the good region can even come from another point in time or from another sequence altogether.”

There seems to be a lack of RE:Fill tutorials online, but it comes with a manual.

More Info:
RE:Vision Effects RE:Fill

Pricing and Hosts:
RE:Vision Effects RE:Fill, Price: $99.95, Toolfarm Price: $94.95 

  • Adobe After Effects 7.0 and up, including 64-bit support for CS5 and up, and Adobe CC versions.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 and up. (Read about common Premiere Pro issues).
  • Apple Final Cut Pro 5.1, 6 and 7, but not FCP X (read about limitations).
  • Fusion 5.02 and up via Fusion’s After Effects plug-in adapter. Only the 32-bit version of Fusion is supported because 64-bit Fusion does not support After Effects-compatible plug-ins.
  • Quantel generationQ.
  • Other programs that offer After Effects plug-in compatibility, please test demo before purchase.

Free Demo
Download here

Imagineer mocha Pro Remove Module

The Remove Module in Imagineer mocha Pro is a great option for removing a bad pixels or other unwanted elements in your shot with mocha’s Planar Tracker.  Auto Remove automatically detects and blends from surrounding pixels and it does the job faster and better than clone or paint tools.

More info: 
Imagineer mocha Pro

Price and hosts:
Imagineer mocha Pro, Price: $1,495.00, Toolfarm Price: $1,420.25

Free Demo
Download here

CoreMelt SliceX Object Remover

Removing Dead or Stuck Pixels in Final Cut Pro X and Motion – Check out this tutorial from Ian Anderson explaining specifically how to remove a damaged pixel with SliceX’s Object Remover and some cloning.

More Info:
CoreMelt SliceX Powered by Imagineer mocha

CoreMelt SliceX Powered by Imagineer mocha, Price: $99, Toolfarm: $94.05
Mac only, Apple Final Cut Pro X

Free Demo
Download here

TOKYO ReAnimator for Final Cut Pro X by FxFactory

ReAnimator is another great tool to fix problems in footage, including easily repair damaged pixels, lens dirt, and other small scale artifacts that can wreck your video.

Final Cut Pro Dead Pixel ReAnimator Tutorial

More info:
TOKYO ReAnimator for FCPX

Price and Host Support:
TOKYO ReAnimator for FCPX, Price: $49.00, Toolfarm Price: $46.55
Mac only
Apple Final Cut Pro X

Free Demo
Download here (download with Noise Industries FxFactory)

CHV Electronics Repair FX

Repair FX includes pour plug-ins: Dead Pixel FX, Noise Reduction FX, Dirt Remover FX, and Dropout Eliminator FX. Dead Pixel FX can reconstruct damaged areas up to 16 by 16 pixels. There’s no tutorial for it, but basically you first set the canvas to 100% so that you’re accurate in placing the marker, then put the marker on the spot to repair. It’s pretty darned easy.

More Info:
CHV Electronics Repair FX

Note: CHV products are no longer available at Toolfarm.

Hosts and Pricing:
CHV Electronics Repair FX, Price: $95.00, Toolfarm Price: $90.25
Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5

Other Plug-in Possibilities

This is by no means an exhaustive list and there are other possible ways of dealing with damaged pixels. Here are a few tools with cloning options which could work for you.

  • Silhouette FX, with the clone options in Paint
  • CHV Electronics Clone and Paint Collection (FxScript) – use the Clone plug-in
  • Tiffen Dfx – another with a clone option
  • Noise Industries FxFactory – also has a clone plug-in

Note: If you’re a software developer and you’d like me to add your product to this list, email michele[at]toolfarm[dot]com with information on how your plug-in can do the job. A link to a video tutorial on the subject would be very helpful. It’s nothing personal if you were not included on the list! grin

Fastest Way to Fix Dead Pixels 10 Minutes on your Camera

If you’re having this issue with your own gear, this is worth a try. They don’t give instructions on the video, but just point your camera at this and record for 10 minutes. I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t guarantee anything, but it’s supposed to work. Warning, this one is seizure inducing!

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Posted by Michele Yamazaki