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Tourist Remover vaporizes unwanted people in photos

Tourist Remover vaporizes unwanted people in photos

It's hard enough to get your own friends and family out of the way when you're trying to photograph what they're standing in front of. Try getting utter strangers to cooperate, especially when you're on a trip and you don't speak their language. If you've ever waited around patiently for people to move out of the frame, you'll appreciate the handy utility, Tourist Remover, part of the SnapMania online photo service.

The idea is this: You take a series of photographs, preferably with your camera mounted on a tripod, of the vista or landmark you want to capture. The service compares the multiple pictures and meshes pieces of different shots together to give you one that has no people in it.

I tried the service with a series of pictures of the CNET headquarters' front entrance that I snapped over the course of about two minutes. Once uploaded, I had to wait seven minutes for Tourist Removal to work (my request got put into a queue behind other users), but the result was impressive. From the eight snapshots I took, all with people in them, SnapMania was able to effectively remove everybody in front of the building. It needs to be said, though, that with a little patience, I could have easily just taken the shot without anybody in it. I had only to wait for the right moment. Also, there were some people sitting on a bench that didn't move at all for several minutes, and Tourist Remover couldn't do anything about them (I came back after they were gone to run my test).

In a nutshell: It's a cool service, but only applicable for scenes that are not too congested with people, yet not so spare as to make it redundant. Sure is fun, though.

SnapMania, overall, has a slightly overdesigned Flash-based interface with some nonstandard icons, so it takes a bit of getting used to (the Glide Effect), but it also has very useful features. In addition to Tourist Remover, it will help you stitch photos into panoramas; post images to blogs (worked the first time for me--big props for that); do basic image manipulation; and print images in books and on mugs, posters, and stamps.