Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Neat Video Plugin

You may remember our episode in April when our Canon XHA1 had a tragic accident right before shooting our friends wedding in Trinidad. We dashed around the island and found an HD HF100 to use as a backup to the Canon Vixia. In general we were happy with the performance of both cameras considering the unique situation. But there were some definite areas, where we felt the pinch of missing our Canon XHA1. Particularly during the low-lit reception. It was held outside on private property that was beautiful but for shooting purposes, very dark. There was very little artificial light setup throughout the venue. The XHA1 is very good in picking up decent footage in lowlight, but the Vixia and more so the HF100 were not as adept. We had two lights on our cameras but some footage was still very dark and grainy.

When we first looked at the footage I knew something had to be done. There was a lot of grain and noise during the reception, and I could actually see the offending channels distorting the picture. At first I tried to fix it on my own using the RGB color balance in FCP, but that didn't work very good. There are lots of tutorials on youtube to lower grain and noise, and frankly I tried them all with little success.

Then I came across a website promoting a grain and noise reducer plugin called Neat Video for sale for $99. At first, being the cheapo I am, I was skeptical about spending 100 bucks on a plugin I couldn't be sure of. There were video tests on youtube that showed some improvement when the plugin was applied, but not enough to be thoroughly convincing. But after several days of trying to make the footage presentable on my own, I decided to stop wasting time and just buy the neat video plugin.

Boy was I glad I did! This plug-in is AMAZING! I am not exaggerating. It did miracles with footage I thought was hopeless. I've made a little video above where you can see the difference it made. Keep in mind I am still learning how to use this plugin, but off the bat it makes cleaning up dark or grainy footage a lot easier. I would definitely recommend this product. OK, enough plugging of the plug-in (Gong!), and off to bed!

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