Quick Tip: Denoise your Footage the Right Way

Shooting in low-light situations with high ISO settings can introduce some digital noise in your footage. In this quick tip tutorial I’m going to show you how to get rid of it the right way, quickly and easily. Let’s take a closer look at it!

Disclaimer: Let me first say that I am not a Neat Video Ambassador. Like every other article on cinema5D, Neat Video, or any other brand, did not pay me to write this article. I bought this plugin with my own money, and this is my unbiased opinion.

NoiseReduction_01

Image credit: Jeff Loch

Digital Noise

Let’s start this article with a quick technical reminder about exposure, ISO settings, and digital noise. If you shoot video in low-light situations there are only a couple of things you can play with to get a correct exposure: lighting, aperture, and sensitivity (or ISO). If you can’t get more light onto your subject and your aperture is already wide open, your only choice is to crank up your ISO settings.

By increasing your ISO settings, you are telling your camera to increase the voltage of an amplifier close to the sensor, which brightens the image. By doing so, you’re also introducing more digital noise in your final image. Indeed, modern camera sensors are getting better and better at handling digital noise and low-light situations. Still, sometimes you don’t have the choice, and you have to shoot at settings that would be unimaginable a couple of years ago, which results in digital noise in your footage.

Of course, other parameters such as your camera picture profile or the image sensor’s temperature, for example, can introduce digital noise in your footage. Also, remember that any footage at any ISO settings has digital noise. The thing most filmmakers want to avoid is undesirable digital noise to get a pleasant, non-disturbing, final image.

I won’t go too deep into the digital noise subject, if this is something you want to learn more about, let us know in the comments, and we can make an entire article about it!

Denoise your Footage the Right Way

There are tons of color correction/color grading tutorials on the Internet, but lately, I’ve seen a lousy habit proliferate. No matter what camera you’re using, what picture profile it was shot on, or what post-production tool you use, remember that noise reduction must be applied BEFORE you do any color correction or color grading.

The reason to apply noise reduction before touching your colors is simple. If you use noise reduction at the very end of your color-correction chain, you’ve been grading noise since the first node/layer. Indeed, you’ll remove that digital noise at the end of the process, but you’ll also lose more information and details in your image, simply because you’ll have to apply a much more substantial noise reduction.

The primary advice here and something to remember: noise reduction first, color-correction second.

How To Apply Noise Reduction

Most video editing software doesn’t come with a built-in noise reduction solution/plugin. The only software that comes to my mind that features a noise-reduction tool are DaVinci Resolve Studio and Final Cut Pro X. If you are an Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas, Avid, Edius or any other NLE user, you’ll have to use a third-party plugin to denoise your footage.

For this tutorial, I used Neat Video. I’ve been using this plugin for years, and it always gives me good results. The latest update, Neat Video 5.2, supports GPU acceleration in macOS, which is excellent as noise reduction is a very demanding task to handle for a computer. You can read our entire article about the latest Neat Video update here.

NoiseReduction_02

Image credit: cinema5D

Removing noise with Neat Video is an easy process:

  • Drag and drop the plugin onto your footage.
  • Open the plugin.
  • Select an area of your footage that features noise by drawing a box. I usually do it in the shadows’ part of my footage, which contains most of the digital noise. Select an area big enough, and that is not clipping. Once the box turns green, the plugin tells you that it’ll work great.
  • Press the Auto Profile button. Neat Video will analyze the noise and automatically create a profile to remove it.
  • In the Adjust and Preview tab, you can see the before/after. If you want, you can adjust settings such as Temporal Noise, Jitter of Details, and Dust and Scratches.
  • Click on Apply.

And voila! Digital noise is now a thing of the past, and you can start your color-correction/color-grading process from there.

Pricing and Availability

Neat Video is not a free plugin, but it’s one of the “must-have” plugins you should have in your library for me. I bought the version 4 years ago, and it truly paid for itself multiple times. On Neat Video’s website, you can download a demo of Neat Video 5 to see if it works for you, and even compare it to Resolve’s or Final Cut Pro X’s ones.

If you want to purchase it, the Neat Video plugin starts at $74.90. For more information about pricing, you can visit Neat Video’s website here.

Footage in this tutorial are courtesy of “Romain Ughetto – Could We Love Again

What do you think of this Quick Tip tutorial? Did you find it useful? What noise reduction plugin do you use? Let us know in the comments below!

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Caleb Weaver
Guest
July 6th, 2020

Thanks for the recommendation on Neat Videos. Haven’t tried it yet, but have heard good things. Will definitely check it out! I appreciate that you have the link to it, too.

Video
Video
Guest
June 13th, 2020

Since when It is better to NR before and not after? Not true at all.

Brandon
Guest
June 8th, 2020

Hey guys thanks for the info but I was wondering is the process for noise reduction that you outlined feasible for most video producers . I have an incredibly beefy computer and adding/adjusting effects after noise reduction has been applied isn’t an optimal way to work due to the amount of rendering that needs to be done after each adjustment.

 Aaron Villa
Aaron Villa
Member
June 8th, 2020

It usually helpful to add some noise back in if too much was remove to keep gradient banding from showing up. In FCPX I just use the built in Add Noise effect set to “Overlay”, “Blue noise (reduces banding)”.

Gleb Volkov
Guest
June 7th, 2020

While, this is merely a short overview, the great power of Neat video is further revealed when you take the time to learn the different settings in depth.
Invest the time in watching the various tutorials they have on their website to learn how to create the best initial profile, which is very important, and then learn what the various settings actually do – to fully unlock the power of this plugin.
I know I’ve been using it wrong, or at least not at full power, for a long time – because I just wanted to press a few buttons and be done, instead of actually learning how it’s meant to be used.

Luke Wen
Luke Wen
Guest
June 7th, 2020

The best result is achieved by profiling the noise pattern with the dedicated calibration target in advance, not profiling directly on the footage

Gleb Volkov
Guest
June 8th, 2020
Reply to  Luke Wen

That is incorrect.
Neat Video (as opposed to Neat Image, used for stills) recommends profiling from scratch directly on the actual footage and not on separately prepared profiles. For this reason they also don’t maintain a profile library for video usage (again, opposed to the stills application)
See here for reference: https://www.neatvideo.net/viewtopic.php?t=1158

 Mark Hensley
Mark Hensley
Member
June 6th, 2020

I have Neat video. And on a test, found found the results better using Davinci’s built in noise reduction, better.

Patrick
Patrick
Guest
June 6th, 2020

The temporal noise reduction in neat video is way better than the spatial. Always use the advanced setting tab and turn down the spatial to around 15-30% on separate channels. Then play with the temporal setting – Usually 1-3 frames works best depending on how noisy your footage is. This will give you better results than just using spatial.

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