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Reducing Noise in Apple Final Cut Pro

Nov 16, 2010 12:00 PM, By Jan Ozer

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Figure 8. Still image comparisons: the original on the left, filtered on the right.

Figure 8. Still image comparisons: the original on the left, filtered on the right.

Those are the controls, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In this regard, I present Figure 8 as exhibit A. As you can see, I have three encodes: on the upper left, the temporal filter radius set to the max (5) and the Mix to 80; on the upper right, temporal filter radius at 1, Mix at 80; and on the lower left, temporal filter radius at 1, Mix at 100. The unfiltered clip is shown on the lower right. The three filtered clips look very similar in the figure, but if you play them you'll see a marked difference in the background noise.

Exhibit B are the video files themselves, which you can click to view in the links below. Note that these 720p files are encoded at about 10Mbps to preserve detail, so will take a few moments to download.

For the record, these clips are 11 seconds long, and joining me is Eric Quanstrom, Sorenson COO. I encoded the files using Compressor's iPad/iPhone 4 preset, and the nonfiltered file took 23 seconds to process. Maxtemporal.m4v took 3:36 (min:sec) to process, filter100.m4v took 2:34, and filter80.m4v took 1:44. Check out the files and draw your own conclusions regarding how much better the filtered files look than the original.

You can also play quandrant.mp4 which shows all four files in the configuration shown in Figure 8, and is the file from which the screenshot was taken. You'll see a very significant difference between the background and foreground noise in all four clips, particularly the background noise in the Max Temporal/80 mix clip.

All of us shoot (or are shot) in low-light situations, which inevitably results in noise. While not a panacea, the Neat Video noise reduction plug-in does a great job improving the quality of your video footage, with an easy interface for novices, and advanced configuration options for more technical users. It's hard to imagine any video producer who couldn't benefit from owning this affordable, highly effective plug-in.

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