Category Archives: Video Editing Tutorials

Tutorials and tips and tricks for video editing or visual effects applications, video plugins, video production hardware or all of the above. Applications we usually cover are After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, & Davinci Resolve.

Creating the Grinch on Video Footage with The Free Ugly Box Plugin

We here at Digital Anarchy want to make sure you have a wonderful Christmas and there’s no better way to do that than to take videos of family and colleagues and turn them into the Grinch. They’ll love it! Clients, too… although they may not appreciate it as much even if they are the most deserving. So just play it at the office Christmas party as therapy for the staff that has to deal with them.

Our free plugin Ugly Box will make it easy to do! Apply it to the footage, click Make Ugly, and then make them green! This short tutorial shows you how:

You can download the free Ugly Box plugin for After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and Avid here:

https://digitalanarchy.com/register/register_ugly.php

Of course, if you want to make people look BETTER, there’s always Beauty Box to help you apply a bit of digital makeup. It makes retouching video easy, get more info on it here:

https://digitalanarchy.com/beautyVID/main.html

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.

Thoughts on The Mac Pro and FCP X

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There’s been some talk of the eminent demise of the Mac Pro. The Trash Can is getting quite old in the tooth… it was overpriced and underpowered to begin  with and is now pretty out of date. Frankly it’d be nice if Apple just killed it and moved on. It’s not where they make their money and it’s clear they’re not that interested in making machines for the high end video production market. At the very least, it would mean we (Digital Anarchy) wouldn’t have to buy Trash Can 2.0 just for testing plugins. I’m all for not buying expensive machines we don’t have any use for.

But if they kill off the Mac Pro, what does that mean for FCP X? Probably nothing. It’s equally clear the FCP team still cares about pro video. There were multiple folks from the FCP team at NAB this year, talking to people and showing off FCP at one of the sub-conferences. They also continue to add pro-level features.

That said, they may care as much (maybe even more) about the social media creators… folks doing YouTube, Facebook, and other types of social media creation. There are a lot of them. A lot more than folks doing higher end video stuff, and these creators are frequently using iPhones to capture and the Mac to edit. They aren’t ‘pro editors’ and I think that demographic makes up a good chunk of FCP users. It’s certainly the folks that Apple, as a whole, is going after in a broader sense.

If you don’t think these folks are a significant focus for Apple overall, just look at how much emphasis they’ve put on the camera in the iPhone 6 & 7… 240fps video, dual lenses, RAW shooting, etc. To say nothing of all the billboards with nothing but a photo ‘taken with the iPhone’. Everyone is a media creator now and ‘Everyone’ is more important to Apple than ‘Pro Editors’.

The iMacs are more than powerful enough for those folks and it wouldn’t surprise me if Apple just focused on them. Perhaps coming out with a couple very powerful iMacs/MacBook Pros as a nod to professionals, but letting the MacPro fade away.

Obviously, as with all things Apple, this is just speculation. However, given the lack of attention professionals have gotten over the last half decade, maybe it’s time for Apple to just admit they have other fish to fry.