How and When to Use Content-Aware Fill in Adobe After Effects

Now you see it, now you don’t! Thanks to Content-Aware Fill, it’s easy to remove almost anything from your videos.

Stephen Petto


Removing an object from a video sounds like a daunting and complicated task left only to skilled motion effects artists. However, Adobe recently released a new tool for After Effects called “Content-Aware Fill,” and honestly, it’s downright sorcery.

See that giant white tent on the right-hand side of the frame? Poof! It’s gone.

The Content-Aware Fill video editing tool is used to remove an object from the scene simply and quickly. It analyzes the area around the object and intelligently fills the space with what it thinks should be there. Surprisingly, it produces pretty amazing results for how easy it is to use. So, if you’re interested in learning more about how to get up and running with this new tool and when you may want to use it in your videos, keep reading!

We’re about to get a little technical! We recommend brushing up on how to use keyframes in After Effects before diving into using Content-Aware Fill.

How to use Content-Aware Fill

Here’s a quick step-by-step breakdown of how to use Content-Aware Fill in Adobe After Effects. Let’s dig in:

  1. First, place your clip into an After Effects composition.
  2. Then, using the pen tool, mask out the object you’d like removed.
  3. Next, set the mask’s blending mode to Subtract. If your video clip or the object itself is moving, be sure to keyframe the mask to follow the object or link it to tracking points.
  4. Finally, click “General Fill Layer” and wait for it to analyze and render. Presto! The object should magically disappear.

When you might use this feature

Removing stuff from a fancy shot is fun, but let’s be practical. The Content-Aware Fill tool is great for removing production equipment such as cables, light stand legs, or boom mics. It can also be used to remove logos from computers, ugly clocks hanging on the wall, or even people!

“The Content-Aware Fill tool is great for removing production equipment such as cables, light stand legs, or boom mics.”

Oh, and one other benefit of Content-Aware Fill? If you happen to be a business that shoots a lot of videos at your office on a solid color backdrop, you can use Content-Aware Fill to add additional background space to your content. Need more height in your video? No problem. Want a wider-looking shoot with a consistent background? Sure thing! This tool opens the doors to lots of new and exciting creative executions with video.

When not to use Content-Aware Fill

By now, you’re probably sold on the Content-Aware tool just like us. However, it’s important to keep in mind some of the tool’s limitations. For example, if the object you are removing becomes obstructed by a tree, the masked area may begin to warp during the generation process.

Also, remember that the longer and larger the clip is that you’re working with, the longer the processing time will be. You can end up with a file that takes forever to render when using Content-Aware Fill, so we recommend working with clips that are under 10 seconds long to save yourself some time.

Your new post-production best friend

There you have it: Content-Aware Fill in a nutshell! This new Adobe After Effects feature makes correcting mistakes and removing objects easier than ever. So the next time you goof something up in your shoot, remember that you might actually be able to “fix it in post.” Now, pull up a file in After Effects and give this puppy a whirl!

Stephen Petto


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