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Blogpost: Neat Video Denoiser Plug-In Review

This is the Story of how a little Plug-In for After Effects (there are also versions for Premiere, FinalCut,Vegas and many more) helped to finish my last Project.

Download one of the best plugins here – Read the rest of the Review here:

The Short Film

One of my last Shortfilms i shot was called Infinite Memory Mafia. It was a short for a competition on www.hackermovies.com. It was quite a quick project from start to finish because it was all done in one week. From writing the book, finding the actors & locations, the shoot & the postproduction. Sadly we didn´t win – but it was a “online-voting”-competition. so the team with the most clickfriendly facebook friends win… thats ok. sad. but ok.

The good thing of this whole adventure on the other hand is, that there is one more nice little shortfilm in my portfolio.

But due to the really fast editing and the limitaion to 3 minutes (or so – i can´t remember) the film wasn´t as good as i hoped – and i knew that there is more potetial in it. So i started (after a few month of other works) with the, lovely sounding, Directors Cut! It was quite fun and the story got a really better drive this time.

So now once back to the production in the first place:

The original Shoot

My DoP was Alex Haspel. A really great cameraman from austria. i worked with him on a few projects already, and he knows what he is doing. but this time we had a camera, that he wasn´t used to. and we got it on the day of shooting – so there wasn´t a lot of time to get to know it in detail. it was a friends Canon 7D. And it was really great filming with it. The lowlight performance looked very good on the little screen, so we were glad to shoot with natural light and some practicals. we had a big bunch of lights in the truck outside – but not nearly the time to shoot with them. so we were all happy to see, that we can shoot with 3-4 simple standard 60W-100W lightbulbs. After wrapping and copying all the material to my laptop (this took hours) we went to sleep, with a happy and good feeling.

On the next day, on the editing suite of a friend (my old P4 wasn´t really capable of dealing with that kind of material 🙂 ) i imported all of the filmed beauty into the avid. again hours of precious time went by (oh my god i thank avid for the 5.0 release-but this is another story, because that came a few month too late for this shoot)… just to realize that the avid rendered a really ugly noise pattern into my images. i was shocked, but as i looked at the original footage i was able to identify what happened. The lowlight performance wasn´t quite as good as it looked on the small monitor (one of a few reason why i will never ever shoot without a proper preview monitor again). There was a really ugly noise in the pictures – and the conversion to avid .mxf wasn´t the best cure for this. Sadly i dont have images from that, but here are a few pics of the original footage.

Back then it was not so bad. i cut in avid and finished it in after effects. this was good enough for the competition. and it ended up on the videoplatform in 360p – so the noise wasn´t the problem.

The Directors Cut

but now – the directors cut will hopefully see a few festivals – or at least one cinema screen, so the noise was really annoying. i tried my best with the tools after effects offers me. the build in noisereducer was ok, but it was unable to eliminate those stripes of noise in the blacks. then i just crushed the noise with the colourcorrection, but this gets really dark – and nearly all of the details were gone. so i was really down and let the project go to rest. … this is really hard, but true – i lost the drive to complete the movie, because i didn´t liked the look it got.

So it was there, stuck on one of those hdds in my shelf. and it waited. until a few days ago. i remembered the film and got a bad feeling, because all the people worked so hard on this film were waiting for the final product. the actors, who worked for me for free – all they wanted was good footage for their reel. one of them got all the footage from me, but the others just want the final for some snipplets. so i put the hdd back into my quickport and fired up after effects. (The directors cut was edited on a macbook pro 13″, in avid 5.0 and after effects cs5) With all the raw footage in there i searched the web for a good solution for my problem.

The Solution!

And voila! there it was: Neat Video Pro.

I downloaded the demo hoping for a good solution. the demovideos looked good and promising, but what will happen to these ugly stripes of noise? i tried it. the demo is quite restricted, because it just denoises a very small portion of your image. but it gives you a preview – and this was amazing. the edges and details stayed in the picture, but the noise was gone – after only pulling a rectangle around and the press two buttons.

Here is a Video with some Details of the Noise Reducing: Noise Video Sample … Sadly the Compression eats a lot up – but in the detail view you´ll see a difference!

I instantly bought the software. Its 99$ for the unlimited HD version (there is one for SD for 49.-) – so its a steal! i installed it and started the project. I applied the effect to a problematic shot, rectangle, analyze -> click, finetune -> click … and all the noise is gone. i stared at the screen with my mouth open. the images even looked sharper then before. So copy&paste the effect to all of the clips – that took about 10 minutes. and the film was sharp as a knife – no more noise. only in the really problematic shots there is a little rest, but not to mention. you can barley see the stripes anymore.

The effect is really simple to use. You search for a spot in your picture where you can draw a rectangle over a unified area ( a wall without structure, the floor, …) and then the little program starts its magic. Neat Video then analyses the noise pattern and BOOM – its gone. I don´t know what kind of badass programmers or voodoo have done it, but it works like a charm – so thumbs up!

Only downside of the plugin is that it adds a bit to the rendertime – but hey… it saved me a whole project … so this few minutes more (ok …it were hours) – who cares.

After this triumph i even pushed an old video from 2000 through the plugin. this project was shot on a canon xm1, edited on discreet edit (after transfer to Beta SP – only way to get in), post in discreet combustion, rendered with really bad codec, because uncompressed was to big for the system – and output to .avi and intel indeo 5… the most **** codec out there i guess. But after floating through time and space – AND the NEAT VIDEO PRO … it looked really really better. i still cant believe that.

So please have a look at the demo. its really for all kind of cameras. it doesn´t matter. you can even safe the noisepattern-settings for use on your next project with the same camera.

Have fun with that – so now im not afraid of the dark anymore – if you know what i mean 🙂

Here are some pics of the final Movie

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Tuesday, 21. December 2010 20:29 Category: Blog Follow the Comments: RSS 2.0 Write a comment, or trackback on your site.

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