Sharpening Video Footage

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Sharpening video can be a bit trickier than sharpening photos. The process is the same of course… increasing the contrast around edges which creates the perception of sharpness.

However, because you’re dealing with 30fps instead of a single image some additional challenges are introduced:

1- Noise is more of a problem.
2- Video is frequently compressed more heavily than photos, so compression artifacts can be a serious problem.
3- Oversharpening is a problem with stills or video but can create motion artifacts when the video is played back that can be visually distracting.
4- It’s more difficult to mask out areas like skin that you don’t want sharpened.

These are problems you’ll run into regardless of the sharpening method. However, probably unsurprising, in addition to discussing the solutions using regular tools, we do talk about how our Samurai Sharpen plugin can help with them.

Noise in Video Footage

Noise is always a problem regardless of whether you’re shooting stills or videos. However, with video the noise changes from frame to frame making it a distraction to the viewer if there’s too much or it’s too pronounced.

Noise tends to be much more obvious in dark areas, as you can see below where it’s most apparent in the dark, hollow part of the guitar:

You can use Samurai Sharpen to avoid sharpening noise in video footage

Using a mask to protect the darker areas makes it possible to increase the sharpening for the rest of the video frame. Samurai Sharpen has masks built-in, so it’s easy in that plugin, but you can do this manually in any video editor or compositing program by using keying tools, building a mask and compositing effects.

Compression Artifacts

Many consumer video cameras, including GoPros and some drone cameras heavily compress footage. Especially when shooting 4K.

It can be difficult to sharpen video that's been heavily compressed

It’s difficult, and sometimes impossible to sharpen footage like this. The  compression artifacts become very pronounced, since they tend to have edges like normal features. Unlike noise, the artifacts are visible in most areas of the footage, although they tend to be more obvious in areas with lots of detail.

In Samurai you can increase the Edge Mask Strength to lessen the impact of sharpening on the artifact (often they’re in low contrast) but depending on how compressed the footage is you may not want to sharpen it.

Oversharpening

Sharpening is a local contrast adjustment. It’s just looking at significant edges and sharpening those areas. Oversharpening occurs when there’s too much contrast around the edges, resulting in visible halos.

Too much sharpening of video can result in visible halos
Especially if you look at the guitar strings and frets, you’ll see a dark halo on the outside of the strings and the strings themselves are almost white with little detail. Way too much contrast/sharpening. The usual solution is to reduce the sharpening amount.

In Samurai Sharpen you can also adjust the strength of the halos independently. So if the sharpening results in only the dark or light side being oversharpened, you can dial back just that side.

Sharpening Skin

The last thing you usually want to do is sharpen someone’s skin. You don’t want your talent’s skin looking like a dried-up lizard. (well, unless your talent is a lizard. Not uncommon these days with all the ridiculous 3D company mascots)

Sharpening video can result in skin being looking rough

Especially with 4K and HD, video is already showing more skin detail than most people want (hence the reason for our Beauty Box Video plugin for digital makeup). If you’re using UnSharp Mask you can use the Threshold parameter, or in Samurai the Edge Mask Strength parameter is a more powerful version of that. Both are good ways of protecting the skin from sharpening. The skin area tends to be fairly flat contrast-wise and the Edge Mask generally does a good job of masking the skin areas out.

Either way, you want to keep an eye on the skin areas, unless you want a lizard. (and if so, you should download are free Ugly Box plugin. ;-)

Wrap Up

You can sharpen video and most video footage will benefit from some sharpening. However, there are numerous issues that you run into and hopefully this gives you some idea of what you’re up against whether you’re using Samurai Sharpen for Video or something else.

My Hopes for Open-Hearted, Strong America

I usually don’t mix politics and business. However, I feel this is an extraordinary election. I encourage you to get out and vote.

I am hopeful that tomorrow we will have our first woman president. I am hopeful that America can rise above the hate, fear and pettiness that has defined Donald Trump’s campaign. I am hopeful that we can live up to the words on the Statue of Liberty… “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

We are a nation of immigrants. That is one of the things that makes America great. People of all cultures want to come here not to change our culture but to live it! Perhaps add a bit of their culture as a flourish, but they come here because they believe, as I did when I used to say the pledge of allegiance in school, that America represents equality, freedom (including freedom of religion), and opportunity for everyone. Perhaps that’s not as true as it could be but I’ve always felt we at least aspire to that.

I am hopeful that America still wants to aspire to that… and not the racism, xenophobia, and small mindedness that Trump represents.

I am pro-business, but I am also pro-people. Trump is neither. Good businessmen don’t bankrupt companies on a regular basis, screwing employees, investors and partners. Even in Silicon Valley where failure is sometimes a badge of honor, Trump’s record is dismal. This is why Mark Cuban offered Trump $10 million to give details on his policy proposals.

Any entrepreneur that’s run a business knows you aren’t going to succeed without a plan. Trump has no plan.

I want to see America continue to succeed and continue it’s greatness. I think we can do better for those that have not benefitted from an increasingly global world. I think we can integrate immigrants, as we ALWAYS have, giving them opportunities while benefitting from the skills and perspective they bring. I think we can educate all Americans, poor as well as rich, black/brown as well as white, so they can take advantage of the opportunities the world has to offer.

Hillary may not be perfect (none of us are) but she has a plan and knows how the government and the world works. I have far more faith in her to achieve what needs to be done than I do in Trump who will likely bankrupt the country like he has his companies.

I care about America and I care about her people. I think this country is already great. I think we can aspire to be even better. But it requires compassion and acceptance as well as dedication and hard work. It is time for a woman to lead this country, someone who can bring all those qualities to the table.

I sincerely hope that we can be the open-hearted, strong country that we’ve usually been and not succumb to fear and close-mindedness. I believe we can.

Do not use Norton Anti-Virus

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We highly recommend against using Norton Anti-Virus. In an attempt to be smart, they proactively quarantine programs because “fewer than 50 users in the Norton community have them”. This means many of our plugins get quarantined when you try to install them.

Our installers pose no threat and you can safely install them.

Here’s what Norton puts up:

Do not use Norton Anti-virus as it's unreliable

1- It describes the risk as Heur.AdvML.C and labels it a ‘heuristic virus’ which sounds scary and looks like a virus name. It’s not. It’s a Norton code for their ‘artificial intelligence’. If this is how smart AI is, it’s going to be a long time before the bots take over the world.

2- Our major crimes against humanity seem to be that less than 50 users have installed this and it was uploaded over 4 months ago.

That’s it. So Norton’s ‘malware heuristics’ AI has decided were a High threat.

This is misleading and doing a disservice to us and our users. I assume most other plugins from small companies will fall under the same umbrella of stupidity.

As such we recommend you use a different anti-virus software.

Wherein Jim Tierney rants and opines about After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and other nonsense