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Sharpen and Clean up Footage in After Effects

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Travis BrownSharpen and Clean up Footage in After Effects
by on Sep 20, 2013 at 5:23:53 pm

So, I just shot a video for the most upscale client I've ever had in a 6,000 sq ft ornately decorated warehouse. He is a rather renown photographer that shoots fine art models, and his warehouse is full of elaborate sets and backdrops.
I need this video the look the best out of anything I've ever done and need some help. This may be too vague or general of a question, but does anyone have any general advice on sharpening and cleaning up footage to make it look vibrant, color-rich and smooth?
I shot it all to mini-HDV tape on my Sony HDR-FX1000. I wish I had a DSLR or a Red One.... but I have to work with what I have. I noticed that sometimes when I apply effects to my shots, it will degrade the quality of the video rather quickly and noise or (for lack of a better term) pixelation will occur, and I need that NOT to happen. I may be SOL since I don't have a nicer camera that shoots in RAW or anything...
I did my best to get the right white balance, focus and lighting (the latter is tough in a warehouse with some fluorescent lights). Given that information, is there anything I can do to "upscale" my footage or anything I can do to avoid degrading the quality of the video when I add effects (like a gold tint, contrast/brightness, etc.)?
I recall seeing a Topaz software that would uscale footage from 480 to 1080 a couple years ago. My footage is 1080i. Does anyone know of any other software that might sharpen, clarify or make more vibrant my footage? I'd be willing to buy it.

If anyone has any questions for clarification, please let me know.
Any ideas will be GREATLY appreciated.
This video may be my ticket to much bigger things.

Thank you!!


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Keith SlavinRe: Sharpen and Clean up Footage in After Effects
by on Sep 20, 2013 at 7:25:19 pm

Hi Travis,

We think we can at least help you to make your final video look at its best (clean and smooth). But first we need to know what is your output format? For example, is it to be converted from (480i) interlaced to 720p60, or 1080p59.94?

isovideo offers media conversion services http://isovideo.com/services.php, based on our IABM/NAB Game-Changer Award-winning Viarte standards conversion/transcoding server. We recently used Viarte for footage conversion (59.94i to 23.98p) for Ron Howard's “Made in America” documentary, which was world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2013. Please see details from http://isovideo.com/press_915.php (or http://news.creativecow.net/story/872888). Also you may want to see a testimonial from Jerome Raim, who was the lead assistant editor of “MiA” at http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/240/761#765. If you are interested in trying out our service, you could send email to keith@isovideo.com. We could run a quick test and see if it works for you.

Best,
Keith


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Travis BrownRe: Sharpen and Clean up Footage in After Effects
by on Sep 20, 2013 at 7:56:52 pm

Hi Keith,
Thanks for the response.
I am actually starting with 1080i at 59.94. I took a look at your site, and it looks like you can help get rid of judder and make videos look smoother and cleaner. What about contrast and vibrancy of color?


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Keith SlavinRe: Sharpen and Clean up Footage in After Effects
by on Sep 20, 2013 at 8:16:01 pm

Hi Travis,

It is actually good to start with 1080i59.94, as this has a high enough field rate to do a vary high quality deinterlace to 1080p59.94. Then we can add accurate simulated blur to reduce judder for web (30p or 24p) publication.

Sorry, we do not modify color in any way at all. Modifying color is a orthorgonal problem to making video clean and smooth, you may need to find some one else to help with that, but one problem at a time...

Best,

Keith


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Walter SoykaRe: Sharpen and Clean up Footage in After Effects
by on Sep 21, 2013 at 7:37:06 pm

[Travis Brown] "This may be too vague or general of a question, but does anyone have any general advice on sharpening and cleaning up footage to make it look vibrant, color-rich and smooth?"

That is a very broad question, and very difficult to answer.

If you're seeing grain when you apply effects, you may need to reduce noise in your footage first. You can start with the built-in Remove Grain effect [link], or try a third-party plugin like Neat Video or Red Giant Denoiser.

If you're looking to quickly and easily stylize your footage, you might be interested in Magic Bullet Looks [link].

Seeing a couple shots might help us offer more specific advice.


[Travis Brown] "I shot it all to mini-HDV tape on my Sony HDR-FX1000."

HDV is not a great starting point. It's thin-raster (meaning it records 1440x1080 to tape, then stretches that back out to 1920x1080 for playback), and it's really low bitrate (bad for encoding complexity or high motion).

You can try to minimize these defects in post, but it won't be the same as shooting with a better camera. You might consider renting a camera for important shots like this as budget affords.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Travis BrownRe: Sharpen and Clean up Footage in After Effects
by on Sep 23, 2013 at 6:37:29 am

Walter,
Thanks for your reply.
You said, "You can try to minimize these defects in post, but it won't be the same as shooting with a better camera."
That's what I'm interested in. I may be able to upload some footage in the next day, but I want to smooth out motion and make the footage not look mosaic or pixelated when applying effects. I will be installing a trial version of Sapphire Edge, as I've read some reviews, and it seems to be highly recommended. Aside from that, do you have any specific advice (without yet seeing footage) for minimizing "these defects in post"?

Thanks again.


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Walter SoykaRe: Sharpen and Clean up Footage in After Effects
by on Sep 23, 2013 at 6:58:10 am

What version of After Effects are you using?

[Travis Brown] "I want to smooth out motion "

If you have Ae CS5.5 or higher, you can try the Warp Stabilizer.


[Travis Brown] "and make the footage not look mosaic or pixelated when applying effects"

I really need to see an example of this to diagnose it, but I'll mention that HDV (like all interframe-compression formats) is not handled well in AE CS4 and earlier. You'd benefit from transcoding it to an intraframe-compression format like ProRes, DNxHD, CineForm, QuickTime/Photo-JPEG, QuickTime/PNG, AVI/Uncompressed, etc.


[Travis Brown] "I will be installing a trial version of Sapphire Edge, as I've read some reviews, and it seems to be highly recommended. "

I love GenArts Sapphire and I use it all the time -- but I've never used Edge. I'd suggest you try the demo for Magic Bullet Looks, too, and see which feels better for you.


[Travis Brown] "Aside from that, do you have any specific advice (without yet seeing footage) for minimizing "these defects in post"?"

Just what I said before: noise reduction and color correction.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Travis BrownRe: Sharpen and Clean up Footage in After Effects
by on Sep 24, 2013 at 3:54:34 pm

Great!
The warp stabilizer does work quite well, and I've got a lot of effects to play with in Sapphire. I just installed Magic Bullet Looks and will try that out, too.
How do I transcode my footage? I already have clips on the timeline, so I assume I would have to re-apply my effects after transcoding?
Thanks for all the suggestions!


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Walter SoykaRe: Sharpen and Clean up Footage in After Effects
by on Sep 24, 2013 at 6:06:56 pm

[Travis Brown] "How do I transcode my footage?"

With a compression application: Adobe Media Encoder, Apple Compressor, Sorenson Squeeze, Telestream Episode, etc.


[Travis Brown] " I already have clips on the timeline, so I assume I would have to re-apply my effects after transcoding?"

You can simply replace the footage. Right-click the footage item in the project panel and choose "Replace footage..." then select your newly transcoded media in the dialog box. This will swap the old media out and the new media in, throughout your project.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Travis BrownRe: Sharpen and Clean up Footage in After Effects
by on Sep 24, 2013 at 11:38:14 pm

OK. I see how it easy it is to replace the footage in Premiere.
I do have CS6, and I know you said "that HDV (like all interframe-compression formats) is not handled well in AE CS4 and earlier." So, do you think I would still see a benefit by transcoding?
Thanks again.


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