For many filmmakers working with DSLR camera recording to less-than-optimal codecs, digital noise is an ongoing issue. Most of the time it’s just a bit distracting; other times it can be so ugly that it renders a shot unusable. I know that even when shooting with my beloved Canon C100 MkII every once in a while I’ll come across a clip where a little noise is still present. Not a big deal until you start to do some heavy color grading.
A few years ago I tried out the original Magic Buller Denoiser, but it just wasn’t stable enough within Premiere and After Effects to be dependable. Turns out that the software code didn’t entirely belong to Red Giant, which meant they weren’t able to fix the problem themselves. Their solution was to build a new completely new denoising program from the ground up.
So how well did they succeed?
In the picture above you can see some significant noise on the far left blue wall and in the brown wall to the right. The image is a still from some recent footage I shot for a friend with the Canon 5D MkII. This seemed like an ideal opportunity to really try out Denoiser II on a real world project, so I threw it into After Effects to give it a shot and fixing the problems.
(as a quick aside, Denoiser seems to be a bit more stable working within After Effects than Premiere at this point)
As you can see here, on this shot Denoiser II achieves some very nice results in context. The blocky artifacting and chromatic noise is reduced to almost non-existence.
The effects aren’t quite as dramatic on every shot I tested, but the tools built into Denoiser II add whole other levels of power to your ability to fine-tune the effect. One neat trick is the ability to actually see where the software is identifying noise in your image (below). If it’s guessing wrong you can just move to a new frame within the shot and hit the “Sample” button to have the software take another pass at getting it right.
In conclusion, Denoiser II really works. Surprisingly, I was able to get better results when using DSLR footage converted first to ProRes than when I just used the source H264 files. There’s a lot of deep math that goes into why this should be so, but honestly, I just can’t be bothered to get to the bottom of it.
Another bonus feature that I dug is that, in addition to removing noise, Denoiser II is actually a very competent sharpening tool. You have to see it in action to believe it, but it’s a pretty killer little trick.
Something else I really appreciated about Denoiser II is that the plugin and interface is fairly intuitive and doesn’t ask a lot of the end user. That’s not always the case with highly-technical software, but using this plugin is a snap.
Not unnoticed in all the fun is the fact that with Denoiser II Red Giant finally fixed the stability problems that made Denoiser I unsuable for me. During my entire time pushing the software around inside of After Effects it didn’t crash, stutter or hiccup. Hopefully that stability will catch up inside of Premier soon.
Denoiser II is exactly what I’ve been needing for a while now. The Magic Bullet Suite is already a mission-critical part of my workflow on EVERY project I shoot, and now Denoiser II just joined my kit of “essential” plug-ins.
Hope this helps you in your filmmaking and storytelling. Got questions or insights? Leave them in a commet below and we’ll keep figuring this all out together…