How to blur trademarks in video clips


When contributing footage to Shutterstock for commercial use, it’s important to respect our standards for intellectual property and identifiable people. Take special care with footage that shows trademarks, such as logos. Since each frame of a clip is analyzed like a photo, one trademark visible for even a split second makes your clip unacceptable for commercial use. If the clip is newsworthy, you can submit as editorial. However, clips suitable for commercial use generally have better sales. That’s why it’s a great option to blur trademarks and identifiable faces using techniques that keep your clips usable and appealing. But where do you start?

We asked three expert Shutterstock Footage contributors to explain the techniques they used in popular clips that include blurring effects.

Clip: Times Square Time Lapse

Noel Powell: I use After Effects for all blurring in my clips, and a number of processes, depending on what needs to be blurred. If it’s a logo on a solid color, I’ll create a solid color layer that matches that color and mask it so it only covers the logo. If the logo is moving, then the mask has to be animated to track the movement. If the color changes slightly over time, then the color of the masked layer needs to change with it. If it’s a moving face or logo, I’ll use an adjustment layer with a fast blur or a directional blur and a mask that moves with the face. Sometimes, instead of an adjustment layer, I’ll duplicate the footage layer and apply the animated mask to the duplicate layer. Then I’ll apply extra motion blur to that layer, so that the shutter speed is more than 360%. If it’s a large sign, I may use a vector blur to scramble the image without losing details like sharp lines. This way you don’t have a huge blur covering a large portion of your clip.

Clip: Defocused crowd

Mardale Alina Ionela: I used Adobe After Effects and plugins – Magic Bullet Looks, Frischluft – Lenscare/Out of Focus, Digital Film Tools – Glow edges. The effects were used on adjustment layers. The settings will be slightly different from clip to clip as exposure, subject, and movement varies. Also, if the setting is too high the quality will suffer. And if the blur is set to high, banding will appear. A 2-3% of noise filter can be added to reduce banding.

Clip: Driving through tunnel, abstract with motion blur and glow

Maurizio Radice: The clip was created from a camera car shot that I sped up by 400%. All the editing work is done in Final Cut Pro 7. I color corrected in blue and added a glow with “Light Rays” effect. And finally a bit of Motion Blur (select motion, motion blur in your viewer). For a motion blur parameters I use 50% blur and 16 samples.