After Effects CS5 and Neat Video Noise Removal

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When I first bought the Canon 7D, I was shooting HD-Video all over the place.  Then, I tried shooting at night and encountered my first problem.  Because I had the camera set for ISO Expansion, I shot this night video at ISO6400.  Very noisy!  More recently, I shot a beautiful beach sunset at ISO6400 because I pushed the 7D to 60 fps but did not manually set the ISO.  Again, very noisy!

Now that I am getting deeper into After Effects CS5, I knew there had to be a plugin to remove digital noise from video.  Sure, After Effects CS5 includes the plugin called Remove Grain but the results are very soft.  Topaz Labs does offer their Topaz Enhance plugin for After Effects; however, it is not CS5 compatible and there are plenty of complaints on their forum about CS4 compatibility.  After searching around, I found Neat Video and their Remove Noise plugin.

Neat Image has been around for a while.  You may know their digital noise reduction plugin for Photoshop.  Well, Neat Video offers a video noise removal plugin for Premiere Pro CS5 and After Effects CS5.  Both plugins provide the same level of noise reduction, so it’s your choice of programs, platforms and even 64-bit/32-bit.  In fact, their Premiere plugin is also compatible with Premiere Elements.

I was very impressed with the level of customization.   You start in the Device Profile Tab by drawing squares on a frame of video to build the Auto Profile.  Then, just click the Noise Filter Settings Tab and start tweaking the results.  The generated results may be too soft, but Advanced Sliders provide  excellent tools to customize the level of digital noise removal.  Finish up will the Sharpening slider and then click Apply.  You can re-adjust the settings at any time by clicking the Options link in the plugin’s settings.

Digital noise reduction for HD-Video is very computer intensive.  Neat Video does use all CPUs and Cores, but does not use your graphic cards GPU.  The Neat Video plugin does take time to render video in After Effects CS5; however, it takes about the same amount of time as After Effect’s Remove Grain plugin and produces better results.  Take a look at the following side-by-side samples.

Neat Video’s results are impressive and can save the day (or at least that noisy video).

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