How To Avoid And Reduce Noise

23rd December 2018

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Every filmmaker and video editor will come across noise in their footage at one time or another, and it can take a high quality and professional clip and make it look like an amateur effort. The grainy look of noise is unappealing and really lowers the quality of a video project. Instead of accepting that your footage is ruined and will be grainy forever, there are a few things you can do to battle the dreaded noise. Noise can be avoided and reduced both whilst filming and in post-production, and if you want to create top quality, professional films, then there are a few tips and tricks you need to know. Follow our guide on how to avoid and reduce noise from the initial filming stage, right through to post-production editing.


What is noise?

Before you can begin learning how to remove and avoid noise in your projects, you first need to understand exactly what noise is and what causes it. Noise is caused by pixels not properly representing the colour or exposure correctly, and it leaves a grainy effect on your image. It is often a result of shooting at a high ISO setting or over exposing an image or footage. Most filmmakers will find that noise is sometimes unavoidable, especially if you are shooting projects where the conditions are beyond your control, such as documentaries.


How can I avoid noise while shooting?

Videography is fairly similar to photography when it comes to avoiding grain in your footage and following some of the same principles and rules that photographers use can make a real difference to the quality of your film. One of the first things to do to avoid noise is to shoot your footage in RAW. This is a great way to get the most from your image, and it isn’t necessary to shoot RAW all the time. Switch to RAW when you are filming in low light environments. The reason behind this is that when you film in some other formats, the image is compressed instantly which can cause more noise. RAW files also give you a bit more flexibility in post-production, so you can remove noise more easily. A lot of cameras now have built in noise reduction settings, and it can be worthwhile trying them out to make your footage less grainy. They usually work by identifying any pixels that have rendered incorrectly and then fixes them automatically.


How to remove noise from footage?

When it comes to removing noise from video footage at the editing stage, there are a range of different editing software’s you could use. All the major editing suites will have the ability to edit out grain to some extent.


Removing noise in Adobe After Effects

After Effects is hugely popular amongst video editors and filmmakers, and it can be a useful tool for removing noise from your footage. Within After Effects there is an effect called Remove Grain, which is quite good at removing noise from footage, but it isn’t without its limitations. One major downside is that it is only available within After Effects, and if you are using another software such as Premiere Pro you will need to send your footage across between the two. This setting is also extremely slow to use, and to see more than just a preview region you need to change the viewing mode to Final Output, which can take a lot of time. If you are working with very grainy footage, you will have to play around with the Noise Reduction settings to get a passable result, which will slow the software down even further.


Removing noise in Adobe Premiere Pro

Another hugely popular editing software is Adobe Premiere Pro, but it is somewhat limited in its capabilities to edit out grain and noise without the help of plugins or other software like After Effects. It is possible to remove noise using Premiere Pro, and the simple technique is great if you don’t have access to any other software. You can use the Dust and Scratches tool and Median which are located under the Noise and Grain filters in the Effects Library. It is worthwhile focusing on the shadow areas of footage, as these are often the most problematic areas for noise. Drag and drop your filters onto your clip and use multiple masks to cover the most affected areas of your footage. This trick doesn’t always give the best results but is an easy fix for a lot of editors. If you want something more substantial for your noisy footage, then third party plugins such as Red Giant’s Denoiser III is one of the best options available.


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