Keeping out the noise

    Markus Rosentreter reviews the Innobits Video Purifier.
    The screen shot above indicates how the image looked pre and post processing.
    The screen shot above indicates how the image looked pre and post processing.
    Comment, Delivery & Transmission
    Markus Rosentreter
    Markus Rosentreter

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    Markus Rosentreter gives us his take on the Innobits Video Purifier.

    Dealing with noise reduction in post has always been a challenge; one that has been best addressed by hardware solutions in the past rather than with software. Hardware systems have been the preferred choice as they bring greater time efficiency to a project by processing and rendering footage in real time.

    However, the launch of Video Purifier, an affordable and time-efficient software application from Swedish manufacturer Innobits has rewritten the dynamics of dealing with noise contamination and made the exercise a whole lot easier and cheaper for end users.

    Video Purifier presently runs only on Macintosh with Intel or PPC processors although a PC version is scheduled for release in the future. System pre-requisites include a Mac OS X Leopard 10.5 or later, QuickTime 6.0 plus a recommended (although not essential) installed memory size of 1GB/core for fast processing.

    The whole aim of the Purifier is to deal efficiently with noise contaminations and remove noise, grain or dithering artifacts from video.

    The footage I used for this review was shot on three different cameras by film students of SAE Institute in a poorly lit, night-time environment, resulting in many grainy shots. This and the fact that we used various formats like HDV, DVCPro HD and Mini DV for a variety of different compression forms meant we had a challenging task ahead of us.

    I imported some footage via drag and drop into the standalone software and was impressed by what this software could achieve. The interface is also easy-to-use although its design has a 90s feel to it and lacks the “slick” look that we have come to associate with Swedish designs.

    However, that is forgotten once you get to the core of the application. An adjustable split point allows us to split the image either horizontally or vertically and one can compare how the image looks before and after it is processed. A look at the comparison window and how the image looked before and after the modification was very impressive again. It also provides a very fast preview combined with a simple controllable interface to increase or decrease the threshold for noise reduction.

    On the bottom of the window, the end user can scrub through the timeline of the clip smoothly while a floating window on the left shows movie information such as frame rate, time code, the format and the resolution.

    Fine-tuning did not take long and with a near real-time preview, it was easy to navigate through the footage and tweak the threshold.

    For the more advanced and challenging parts of the footage, I applied the software’s advanced filter option with gentle softening while the bleeding control was used for colour-based noise reduction. Even very grainy footage looked acceptable and this option proved to be a very useful feature.

    As time is always an issue in video production, we were impressed by the quick rendering time with this software-based programme. In the past, the biggest disadvantage of software noise reduction tools was their inability to achieve quick rendering. Purifier changes that.

    Additionally, the scaling and picture quality are top notch. Noise reduction is well done. This software is fast, accurate and simple to use.

    For two minutes of DVCPro HD material, it took less than four minutes to render on a Macbook Pro dual core with 2 GB RAM.

    This software is also able to de-interlace or re-scale your footage from HD to SD or vice versa. As it supports both 2K and 4K and provides high-quality scaling and purification, this is useful for those using the RED ONE camera as well. The Purifier’s scaling algorithms compare well against tools that Mac users otherwise use, especially when combined with applying at least a very low noise threshold.

    One key drawback is the lack of alpha channel support. Also, there’s not much traffic on the forum for Purifier on the Innobits website. This is a disadvantage if you need to figure something out urgently.

    All in all, the Purifier has set new standards in video noise reduction software by providing a cost-effective solution but more importantly, being much faster than competing products in the industry.

    This is indeed a helpful and fast application that removes not just grain but all sorts of video noise as well.

    Markus Rosentreter is an avid filmmaker and a faculty member at the SAE Institute.

    PROS

    Very fast render, simple to use

    CONS

    No alpha channel support

    PRICE: US $ 256 for Video Purifier

    Video Purifier bundled with BitVice 2.7.1 MPEG-2 Encoder US $ 448

    What to expect in the future

    Alpha channel support

    A plug-in architecture

    Multi-lingual support (starting with Japanese)

    Several layers of pre- and post filtering options, which the users can stack in any order they want, both before and after the actual noise filter.

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