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I recently was at friends birthday with a few musical performances and this friend asked me to film the event. Unfortunately, it was really badly lit (I did notice it, but I couldn't do anything about it). So I had a bad feeling, but I shot as much footage as I could anyway. So, this is how it turned out:

original still

With a luma curve adjustment, raised saturation and an orange-ish color-grading, it looks like this:

still with corrections

If I lighten it up even more, it becomes even more grainy. Also, the missing color informations become more obvious:

still with corrections, lighter

So, my question; should I rather sacrifice some visibility so that it looks not totally grainy (2nd picture) or lighten it up even more at the cost of strange-looking colors and very grainy scenes (3rd picture)? And, using either variant as a starting point, how could I further increase the quality of the result? Especially bring more color into it while maintaining a natural look and reduce the noise. I'm working with Premiere Pro CC. I've tried the remove grain effect in After Effects, but that didn't yield great results (I'm not sure if I got the settings right though, I'll try it again later). I also found the Neat Video Plugin for PP and AE, but I'm not making any money from this, so I'm not so keen on spending money on it ...

Edit: As requested, here are some uncompressed stills (directly exported frames from Premiere). I've decided to go with the 'middle ground' option (uncompressed_graded.bmp).

  • Honestly, when it comes to indoor musical performances, grain is the norm. Any performance shot in a bar or club tends to be grainy, which gives it that rock and roll look! :-) – user1118321 Apr 10 '15 at 4:28
  • Could you please add an uncrompressed image (maybe with a link) to your question? I would like to give you a preview... – p2or Apr 10 '15 at 11:21
  • That would be great! I'll upload some once I get to my Computer ... @user111 well, yeah ... I hope my friend shares this view °v° – MoritzLost Apr 10 '15 at 11:26
  • @poor I added the uncompressed stills! – MoritzLost Apr 10 '15 at 11:49
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    @Gin-San Thanks - there is no other method. Yesterday i've tried 1 hour to repair it and couldn't finish my tests. At the moment I don't have access to a workstation, will continue testing as soon as I can. BUT as I said the footage is not only noisy, it contains a lot of compression errors and bad pixels, this often results in big pink squares or random withe pixels, which are probably will floating over the whole video, especially the black areas, will flicker. In general Denoising works, when you denoise first, but there is no opportunity to make it brighter, without getting erros. – p2or Apr 11 '15 at 12:36
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If this is no raw material, there is no additional pixel information to balance your colors and achieve a natural look. Only chance you have is to denoise your video and desaturate the colors. Try to find a good relationship between brightness and noise to get an acceptable result.

Unfortunately there is no good, free, build-in or open source solution at the moment. Denoising a video requires very complex algorithms, not only because every camera produces different noise types. Currently best approach are wavelet algorithms, but there are only 2 tools which use it:

Note: In my experience Neat Video does a very good job and in some cases you are able to denoise the video twice without getting an over blurred image.

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