Due to all the lights in the video the vehicle number is not visible. The video was captured by a CCTV camera. In the video the car comes close enough to be able to read the vehicle number if it were not for all the lights which make it completely unreadable. Not even the form of 1 letter or number can be guessed. Really nothing can be seen except light. Is there a way to edit this video so that the vehicle number becomes visible?

  • 2
    If you are able to post a sample frame of the license plate and/or more information on the video format, it would be helpful for verifying if there is any unlikely situations that might be able to help.
    – AJ Henderson
    Jul 1, 2014 at 2:06
  • 1
    Agreed. Crowd source it. Jul 1, 2014 at 5:43

2 Answers 2


Depending on the fidelity of the video you can try to do a high pass filter on the video, in essence it will sharpen edges of the scene and help bring it out.

The two steps I would do:

1) De-noise it (I use the neat video plugin for after effects)

2) Run a high pass filter (photoshop has this, but not after effects).
To emulate this:
a) Create a duplicate of the video (command D)
b) Drop the tint effect to turn it into black and white
c) Add the find edges effect (only the black areas will be sharpened)
d) Drop the levels effect onto it, adjust it to to bring in more black (to sharpened more) or bring in more white, to leave out areas not to sharpen.
e) If the edges are to harsh you can always blur it to shoften or feather the sharpening effect.
f) Add an adjustment layer, drop it below the duplicate layer
g) Change mode track matte of the adjustment layer to luma inverted (it would hide the layer above when this is done automatically).
h) Add unsharpen mask effect to the adjustment layer, put it 100, radius 2, adjust as needed.

You can already see that this type of work you can tweak a lot of things. Hopefully this gets you going in the right direction

All the best,


There isn't really a magic "enhance" button like on CSI. If there isn't enough information to see even part of the numbers (at least a blur where they are) then it is impossible to tell what is there because the information simply was not captured. It is most likely clipping, which means that everything in that area is the maximum possible whiteness and thus any detail that was beyond that is lost.

If there is some detail, there are some options available. There is forensics software that can analyse the data from various frames and interpolate what the numbers are. It doesn't actually enhance the image, but from process of elimination it can tell what the license plate can't be and that lets it figure it out.

The next best approach after that is to try something like what eLouai suggests to try to sharpen any details there and adjust the contrast of the image such that it increases the contrast of the near washed out portion to make any detail that is there more visible. It won't be magical results, but it might be enough to get a slightly better idea as long as there is something there to work with.

You might find this related post on Photography.SE to be interesting as it is kind of related.

  • Actually I have seem miracles performed on videos I thought that was either blown out (white) or crushed blacks and it was impossible to see any detail on. In post production they were able to bring out a ton of detail I never thought possible. Again it depends on the video source and its dynamic range, also dependent on the compression codec used (or not used), ideal is of course a raw format.
    – eLouai
    Jul 1, 2014 at 1:58
  • @eLouai - yes, I'm over-simplifying a bit. If it is RAW video, then it will have a lot of leeway in to the highlights to recover, but based on the context of the question, I highly doubt he was using a $50,000+ video camera and recording video that takes terabytes per hour as a CCTV camera. It is an assumption on my part, but I'd hazard it holds up. :) If it is entirely crushed to white, outside of a RAW format, there isn't going to be any recovering anything useful unless the display itself was causing the crushing, though that's relatively unlikely as well.
    – AJ Henderson
    Jul 1, 2014 at 2:03
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    CCTV can be improved upon with some very simple filters. Here is an example cctvforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=26441 You really shouldn't be so dismissive. Ideally if he provided actual screen shots it would have been easier to judge.
    – eLouai
    Jul 1, 2014 at 2:18
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    @eLouai - yeah, I updated it to ask for a bit more clarification. My read of "Not even the form of 1 letter or number can be guessed. Really nothing can be seen except light." is that it is completely washed out to white, but if that isn't a correct read then there are options, that's also why I included the link I did. It goes over a lot of options if there is some data there. I did think you covered the "some information there" case pretty well though so I didn't bother to hit on it initially, but my answer should be more complete now. Thanks.
    – AJ Henderson
    Jul 1, 2014 at 2:21
  • @eLouai - also, very much agree on the screenshot. It's really hard to judge something like this blind without knowing what we're actually looking at and what format it is in.
    – AJ Henderson
    Jul 1, 2014 at 2:25

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