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35mm quality, 16mm film (Amazing Grain reduction on the cheap!)


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#1 Hunter Hampton

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 05:15 PM

I love film grain- but sometimes with 16mm the grain can be too much or out of context for certain projects. Not to mention the grain gets exaggerated in compression or if viewed on a large screen it can look too coarse and griity (especially on the higher speed stocks).

If your shooting 16mm because you want it to look like 16mm, by all means let it be grainy- it looks good (or if your delivering to SD). But if your trying to get a 35mm look with 16mm and your showing in HD- I have found a great solution that wont cost your production too much money ($100) and just some extra render time.

Its called "Neat Video"- I have heard of it in the past but I assumed it was only for noisy old video footage, I was wrong! It works wonders on 16mm!

All of the frames listed below are were shot on super 16mm, some with different stocks and some transfered on different telecines (all files are 1080p in size). I think I went a bit overboard on some of the reduction, but you can dial it in to get it just how you want. It even looks good when played in motion (no weird artifacts or blurring).

Girl (7212, Spirit HD)-
note: I shot this spot for an Acne center and the Director wanted to see less grain on the face.

Posted Image
Posted Image

Beach Sunset (7201, Spirit HD)
note: This is a little extreme of a reduction but might be good for delivering HD to broadcast.

Posted Image
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MORE:

Snow Scene (7218, URSA Diamond HD)-
note: This is a great example of a really grainy shot!

Original
Grain Reduction

Tea (7205, URSA Diamond HD)-

Original
Grain Reduction


s16mm Babel Frames (Pulled from Blu-ray of Babel)
note: I know that they wanted the Moroccan scenes in Babel to look really gritty, which is why they used 16mm for that, but I thought this would make a good example of trying to make 16mm look like 35mm if you did a grain reduction on it.

Original One
Grain Reduction One

Original Two
Grain Reduction Two


Over all I still have a lot to learn with the software but it seems like its going to be a great inexpensive asset to have available for 16mm! By the way, they just released the plug-in for FCP!
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#2 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 05:46 PM

wow, those shots look really great. Do you have any clips posted? I just had a good laugh because I looked in my FCP plugin list and the Neat Video demo was already in there. I gave it a 2nd look and noticed the "options" button that takes you to the advanced settings screen. Definitely more powerful that I had though on first look.
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#3 Hunter Hampton

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 05:55 PM

Thanks Jason, I dont have any clips uploaded as of yet.

I just realized though that I set the temporal ratio set to "1"- what ever that means, Anyways, if you set it to the max "5" I think it looks at more frames to make a better estimate of grain reduction. I just tried it again on the snow clip and amazingly, it didn't erase the falling snow, just the grain!
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#4 Hunter Hampton

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 08:15 PM

Step 2! Regrain and "Print":

This is pretty drastic:

Original out of telecine (from Ursa Diamond @ cinelcious- notice the larger grain in the highlights):

Posted Image

Grain Reduction with Neat Video, regrain with GenArts Saffire (5218), and "print" LUT Kodak Vison Premeire:

Posted Image

Im so excited about this!
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#5 Bill Munns

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 11:27 PM

Hunter:

Could you explain what file format you put into the software for the grain reduction?

Is it a video file, like a .avi or .mov or could it be a numberd image sequence to be assembled into a video file?

Thanks,

Bill
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#6 Hunter Hampton

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 11:41 PM

Hi Bill-

Its just a Prores 422 Quicktime file (which is what I request for telecine). Any file that you can put into FCP, SE, or Premiere can be used with this software (and yes, you could load up a dpx or similar image sequence as well). You just do your edit, apply the grain reduction to your tastes, render, then proceed on with final corrections and regrain if needed in some other program (Im using shake with the GenArts plug-in I listed above).

The plug in looks kinda tricky at first, but basically you apply it to your clip, then click "options" and highlight a section of the image that just has grain (like a sky or wall)- then you click "auto" and adjust the grain reduction to taste. In the plug-in window you can select how much blending you want as well as the quality of the temporal algorithms.
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#7 Will Montgomery

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 12:21 AM

Great post, thanks for the in-depth analysis.

Noise and grain reduction has always been available but it's always seemed a little unnatural to me. This actually does look good but I'd have to see the footage moving to really tell.

A colorist once cranked up the noise reduction on a b&w 16mm reel I had transfered and it made it look almost "video-ish". Maybe the absolute lack of grain in highlights caused this impression... not sure. I wound up re-transferring without grain reduction and was much happier but that was b&w a almost needed that grain.

If anyone hasn't seen the "Burn Notice" TV show on A&E you should check it out. It is shot on Super 16mm in Miami. Grain is extremely noticeable, especially on the indoor scenes although even the outside sometimes. They might benefit from a little judicious use of grain reduction.
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#8 Hunter Hampton

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 01:29 AM

Will- I think its all about doing just the right amount of grain reduction (which I am trying to find!)- Its easy to go over the top and have a smooth digital looking image (I agree with you that a B+W Image needs to be grainy). The moving footage from the grain reduction looks great, the only downside to this is that it takes a bit of render time.
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#9 Vedran Rapo

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 01:58 AM

Neat Image, is well known grain reduction tool, from the photoshop days :)

I really didnt know they made a Video version.
Great!!
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#10 Benjamin Rowland

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 12:22 PM

Has anyone compared the results from this plug-in with the results from Arri's Relativity software?

thanks,
Benjamin Rowland
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#11 Jason Hinkle (RIP)

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 01:41 AM

Has anyone compared the results from this plug-in with the results from Arri's Relativity software?


i've never seen the arri software, though, from what i hear it has a lot more parameter for dialing in on noise without removing detail. neat video does it's magic using temporal filtering so the images can sometimes get a tiny bit soft.

Neat video is pretty amazing, though, especially considering it's $99 while relativity is around $50,000. the demo movies on the arri site don't look dramatically different from what neat video does.

Edited by Jason Hinkle, 18 May 2010 - 01:45 AM.

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#12 Ernie

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 05:13 PM

i've never seen the arri software, though, from what i hear it has a lot more parameter for dialing in on noise without removing detail. neat video does it's magic using temporal filtering so the images can sometimes get a tiny bit soft.

Neat video is pretty amazing, though, especially considering it's $99 while relativity is around $50,000. the demo movies on the arri site don't look dramatically different from what neat video does.


This isn't a fair comparison as there are major differences between Relativity and Neat.

Temporal filtering (used by Neat) doesn't let images "sometimes" get soft, the images get downright mushy when you lean on the temporal algorithm. Anyone that has used temporal degrain/denoise solutions know that to get the noise out, you have to trade off sharpness. That is the physics of temporal filters.

The Relativity product is a motion compensated solution which provides spatial filtering. This allows for 100% elimination of grain/noise without losing an ounce of sharpness. Relativity can crank through standard definition footage at greater than real time speed and 2k files are about 10 FPS. This is what is expected from a professional grade tool. Remove the noise, do it fast, do it without losing ANY detail.

One is made for home users, the other is for professionals. Relativity also has other tools which allow for re-insertion of synthetic grain (8mm-70mm) that is downright astonishing. So you can start with 8mm or 16mm, and end up with a very sharp looking 35mm or 70mm result. (You can also upres up to 4k using Relativity)

Side by side, there would be no comparison between Relativity and Neat, but it is unrealistic to think that a $100 tool can perform like a tool costing tens of thousands of dollars.

For those that want/need a serious degrain/denoise, go to a post prod facility that has Relativity and pay a nominal fee for a solid degrain. It's your project, your name is on it, it's your shot at impressing someone. If it's just for the heck of it, use a $100.00 Neat plug-in. It's all about perspective.
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#13 chris descor

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 11:12 AM

can you please repost the original images and the grain reduction results, as they are gone.
thanks
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#14 Evan Ferrario

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 02:19 PM

can you please repost the original images and the grain reduction results, as they are gone.
thanks

Search for 600 feet a-minima on vimeo, then you can see the final product.
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