If you look at behind-the-scenes imagery from superhero movies, you'll often see them showing stunts involving wire work. And you might sort of expect that the "wires" are something like ultra-high-tensile fishing line, very thin and nearly transparent, but able to bear the actor's weight easily. But no, these are big, obvious cables or ropes:

enter image description here

And they're not even green for easy digital removal, either. And yet in the finished scenes, you don't even see them at all! So how is the process of removing visible wires from the footage accomplished?


2 Answers 2


They use computers, and have various techniques depending on the situation:

See also: https://www.fxguide.com/fxpodcasts/the_art_of_wire_removal/

  • Wire Removal By Painting Frame By Frame
  • Rig Removal By Patching Over The Top
  • Stabilise and Paint Back
  • Roto Clone Tools/Source Nodes
  • Automated Tools
  • 2D Background Replacement
  • 3D Environment Replacement

The easiest example of this that can be done by anyone with the most basic photoshop skills is using multiple images of the same scene, and then cut biths out of those images that you want. Note: professional editors of course use many more advanced tools, but the principle remains the same.

A quick and dirty Paint example might help convey the basic idea. I wanted to take a picture of a beautiful park, but I don't want people in these pictures. This is a very busy park so there's never any time where it is empty. I'm not allowed/able to ask people to leave, so what do I do?

I took this picture:

enter image description here

But there's someone on the bench. I don't want that. So I tried again, and took this picture:

enter image description here

That's no good, now he's in front of the tree!

But now I can solve the problem. I open Photoshop, I take the right half of the first picture, the left half of the second picture, and I put them together. This gives me exactly what I want:

enter image description here

You don't really see it, but this image is actually a montage of the two separate images I took:

enter image description here

This is of course tremendously oversimplified, but that is the basic principle at play here: overlaying multiple images and making a "montage" of them so you can hide things from one image using another image.

If you google how to remove people from photographs, you will get a lot of hits for tutorials that predominantly use this approach, whether manual or automated.

  • This technique would be easy to accomplish if the camera was mounted stationarily, but if the camera was moving, would this effect be possible? Would the camera movements have to be recreated exactly, or what other technique would they use?
    – Felix An
    Dec 13, 2023 at 5:39
  • 1
    @FelixAn: (1) Not all fixes need to be perfect overlays, if you're trying to add a bit of sky, you can probably take it from another part of the same shot. Looking at the Spiderman photo in the question, you could just take another part of a grey building tile and use that. (2) There is a highly developed process of camera booms/cranes that use gyro motors to accurately recreate the same camera movement over and over (3) Even if done manually, moving cameras are usually on rails or using some other device that a skilled operator can rely on to recreate the same shot over and over
    – Flater
    Dec 13, 2023 at 5:51

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