Neat Video 4 – Revisiting The Popular Noise Reduction Plugin

December 19, 2015

Neat Video is a popular noise reduction plugin for a variety of platforms. In this Insight Robbie explores the plugin now in version 4.


Day 19: 25 Insights in 25 Days Holiday Marathon

Neat Video Version 4.1  – Faster & Better

It seems like in nearly every other ‘From The Mailbag’ episode Team Mixing is talking about noise reduction and specifically the wonderful Neat Video plugin.

This plugin is widely popular for good reason – it’s really, really good at what it does!

Well, it’s hard to believe, but it’s been nearly two years since I took a look at the plugin way back in Insight 114! Since then, the OFX version and Premiere Pro versions have become go-to tools for me on nearly a daily basis.

Back when I took a look at the plugin for that Insight, Neat was in version 3.5 and features like OFX support had just been implemented and GPUs by today’s standards (2 years later) were leaps and bounds slower and less robust.

With version 4.1 just released, I thought it’d be a good idea in this Insight to once again take a look at the Neat Video plugin – see what’s changed, what’s improved and how the newest version will fit into my noise reduction workflows.

This Insight is not meant to be a step by step ‘how to’ of noise reduction with Neat, but rather its meant to give you an overview of this powerful tool.

More Information & More Options

With version 4.1, The Neat Video team has brought more support for new GPUs, new OSs like Windows 10 and Mac El Capitan (10.11) and of course since my previous inspection of the plugin back in version 3.5 – a plethora of under-the-hood improvements.

All of that, I suppose, is to be expected.  After all, as time marches on things usually get better.

As I’ll explain in the video below, performance has increased and the plugin in Premiere Pro (what I show in the video) and Resolve (via OFX) – my two main platforms for this plugin – can best be described as being quite a bit more snappy than previous versions.

Version 4.1 does two things that are really hard to do in software development – make things easier, and make them more advanced!

Neat Video still has the stupidly easy ability to make in 2 or 3 mouse clicks noise pretty much disappear, but version 4.1 also has a insane amount of advance control; and what I like even more, is better methods of displaying information about noise in a shot and what your adjustments are doing including better tool tips and menu options compared to version 3.

You can read about all the new features in version 4 and 4.1 HERE. But as I’ll describe in the video, some of the new features like artifact removal for codec issues, slow shutter control, dust and scratch removal (great for film archival) and the GPU optimizations that allow Neat Video to run in nearly real-time on my main workstation, are just awesome!

Upgrade or Purchase?

If you’re a Neat Video user already, making the jump to 4/4.1 is a no-brainer – you’ll get better performance, more control, and even better noise reduction quality.

Neat has several affordable upgrade options too. For example, upgrading from v3 Pro to v4 Pro for Premiere Pro was only $49.

If you don’t already own Neat Video, then the discussion becomes a bit more interesting.

If you spend most of your time in an NLE like Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X then I think Neat is a necessity. It provides a level of noise reduction not seen in an NLE and once optimized works incredibly well.

At $99 for the pro version to match your NLE, you get a powerful plugin for a pretty affordable price.

What about if you’re using a dedicated color grading application like Resolve?

Well remember, the Resolve (the free version) doesn’t support built-in temporal or spatial noise reduction. So you’ll have to rely on an OFX noise reduction plugin like Neat if you want to noise reduce footage in Resolve.

The OFX version that works in Resolve is quite a bit more expensive ($249) than the NLE versions, but that’s still significantly cheaper than buying Resolve Studio if your only need for the studio version is noise reduction.

About That OFX Version…

One question Team Mixing Light gets all the time about Neat Video goes something like this:

‘Is it worth buying Neat Video (OFX) if I already have Resolve Studio?’

Well, that depends.

Are you happy with the results that Resolve Studio provides with its built-in temporal and spatial noise reduction? If so, then no, you don’t need it.

While the performance of the built-in NR in Resolve Studio is very good, I still run into problems with it and I often find myself wanting ‘more’ from the built-in tools.

A few examples of this would be:

  • More frames for temporal noise reduction – In Resolve Studio you get 2 frames; Neat Video you get 5.  Higher values on certain types of noise/footage are often needed.
  • Frequency Control – Neat excels at its ability to reduce noise at different frequency levels and with different channels, as well as sharpen at different levels and has great tools for displaying that information. In Resolve Studio, you have to do quite a bit more work to separate frequencies/channels, etc., to target your noise reduction.
  • Adaptive Noise Reduction – Noise is not always constant.  Neat provides an adaptive option that really works well in changing light/noise situations.
  • Codec Artifacts – I LOVE this new feature in Neat 4.1. It helps with lines and dots and other nasty things you sometimes see from strong compression – nothing like that is built-in to Resolve Studio.

From a workflow perspective I think having more tools available to you is a good thing!  Mainly because the built-in noise reduction tools are mapped to my control surface & a touch faster overall (not as much processing), I’ll start with those for my noise reduction needs.

At least a few times a day I reach for Neat Video OFX for more detailed and granular noise reduction and sharpening work.

So, in other words, I think even if you own Resolve Studio, the OFX version of Neat Video is still a good investment and Neat Video overall is a pretty exceptional tool.

-Robbie

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