Hey guys, Hugh here from CreatorUp with another tutorial here for you. Today, I want to talk about one of the essential skills in 360 video post-production – video denoising. Most people are using cameras with small sensors that don’t do great in low light, creating unwanted and unattractive visual noise. Here, I will show you my workflow to minimize compression artifacts, which is one of the main reasons why these cameras are so noisy. I will show you my secret weapon, Neat Video Version 5, and tell you all my tips so by the end of this article you will have everything you need to confidently film VR in any lighting situation.
Considering how expensive professional VR cameras are, you definitely want your final footage to be clean, clear, and free of noise. But footage from cameras like the Insta360 Pro 2, Kandao Obsidian or Z Cam S1Pro can often result in noisy footage. These VR cameras use small sensors and have poor dynamic range with heavy compression – this saves storage space, at the expense of creating noise.But, all you need to do to get the high quality footage you want is to clean it up in Post-production.
The denoiser I usually use is Neat Video, and version 5 just recently came out. Version 5 dramatically increased the performance speed with GPU acceleration.
The newly released version also works great with footage that has heavy digital compression. A lot of VR footage has jitter if you zoom in, and this is one thing Neat Video will remove. It also has video de-flicker to remove the flicker commonly seen in consumer VR cameras or from the wrong camera settings.
Before we get into the denoising, there are some important steps to move unnecessary compression. Every camera is different, so you might have to adjust accordingly to the particular camera you have. There are usually 3 levels of transcoding happening in your pipeline. The capture stage, from your camera to your storage devices, which are almost always H.264 or H.265. Then you need to stitch them together. Finally, you need to render them into H.264 or H.265 again for VR headsets. The only step you have any control in is the stitching step. I stitch everything with Mistika VR using ProRes or even PNG sequences to remove this extra level of compression. For Insta360 Pro 2, you can use the Insta360 stitcher to export ProRes as well. Consumer cameras like the GoPro Fusion or Vuze XR have uncompressed codecs like Cineform or Apple ProRes, which you can use instead of H.264.
After stitching with an uncompressed codec or images sequence, you can now open up your editing software. I use Adobe Premiere but Neat Video also supports Davinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro X or whatever editing software you use. Now, I’ll describe the workflow I follow to achieve my final product.
In Adobe Premiere, I search ‘neat’ in the effects panel of Adobe Premiere after I have installed Neat Video 5, click ‘Reduce Noise V5’, and drop it over to the desired spot on your timeline on your footage. Go into Effect Controls and hit the ‘prepare’ button under the ‘Reduce Noise’ effect, and then click the ‘Build’ button, which will open a noise profile.
This will take you into the Neat Video interface. You can hover your mouse over the footage to see the entire area. First, I click the ‘Auto Profile’ button on the top left of the screen, which will allow Neat Video to create a noise profile for the footage. However, if Neat Video does not automatically select the noisiest area on it’s own, you can manually choose the area you want to fix and select it. Then, once the desired area is chosen, click that ‘Auto Profile’ button again.
Next, I click the ‘Profile Check’ button,and this will show you the result of removing the noise. If I’m happy with the result, I now move on to the ‘Adjust and Preview’ tab in the upper left corner. Under ‘Filter Settings’, I select ‘Noise Level Check”, and make sure the static in the frame is entirely covered. I then move to ‘Jitter of Details’ and move the bar to around 20 to remove jitter.
RENDERING AND PUBLISHING
And that is all I do with my footage – pretty easy! Next I’m going to go ahead and render my denoised footage into QuickTime Apple ProRes. After this process is when I would go into the sharpening and coloring stages.Thanks so much for reading my tutorial – if you learned something here, share it somewhere with your fellow VR filmmakers! If you want more 360 VR content, make sure to subscribe to the CreatorUp YouTube page, and sign up for our newsletter to get all of my posts delivered via email. Until next time!