How to Use Neat Video, Best Footage Denoiser

It doesn’t happen very often to stumble upon a product that has a huge impact on the way we work. For several years I struggled with noise in video, especially in footage made with drones, and also with flicker in time-lapses and hyperlapses

I had tried several fixes but never found a real solution. Then I tried Neat Video and instantly noise and flicker became a thing of the past. It is probably the best purchase I have ever made for my video and photo workflow

What is Neat Video?

Neat Video is a program capable of eliminating luminosity noise, chromatic noise, and flicker in footage, time lapses, and even photos

Neat Video is available as a plug-in for most video editors like Premiere Pro, After Effects, Final Cut, DaVinci Resolve, Vegas, and so on. The price varies according to the video editor and it is in most cases between $50 and $100

The much-improved version 5 has a host of functionalities, it is even possible to purchase third-party profiles for some specific situations. But I will show you some easy workflows that work perfectly well for the most common situations

How to Get Rid of Luminance Noise with Neat Video

What is Luminance Noise?

Luminance noise is often referred to as grain: small dots darker or brighter than the surrounding areas. This footage was shot with a Mavic 2 Zoom, a model from a few years ago. Drones are more prone to noise compared to full-frame cameras, and this is not surprising considering the small sensors and the basic build of the lenses

Footage with a very high amount of noise

This clip has noise everywhere, mostly luminance noise. The trees are also quite mushy, lacking detail. After color grading, the noise is even more evident, a disaster!

Settings for Luminance Noise

In this example, I am using After Effects, but Neat Video works in a very similar way with all other programs. I add a new Adjustment Layer and in Effects, I choose Neat Video

Analysis of noise

In the top left corner, there is a message “profile not ready”, so I hit the button Prepare. This window appears on the screen, it has three smaller ones at the bottom to analyze the three components of noise: Luminance noise, Chrominance noise on the magenta-purple, and Chrominance on the blue-cyan. Moving the mouse around the window it is possible to check the amount of noise in the different parts of the image

I choose a portion of the image with a high amount of noise, the area should be as uniform in color as possible and in general, the dark parts contain the highest amount of noise. This area with trees should be fine for our purpose, so I draw a box, increasing the size until the rectangle becomes green. Above the rectangle, the Noise Level is indicated at a value of about 10, which is a high level. Moving to this other area of trees above, the noise level is even worse

With most programs, when applying denoising, there is a trade-off between noise reduction and loss of detail. A softer image has to be accepted as a price for noise reduction. This is not the case with Neat Video, as it can get rid of very high levels of noise without significant loss of detail

Profile check

In order to maintain detail, it is better to avoid choosing areas with a noise level above 10, so I select the previous one. After hitting the button Build Profile on the top left, on the right of the screen a window shows a series of interesting values for the components of noise and several functionalities

In Neat Video, there are a host of ways to get rid of noise, but I will show a simple method that works in most situations. After hitting the button Profile Check, it is possible to analyze the effect. By dragging the rectangle on a different area the noise level is shown in the three small windows. Releasing the mouse button the noise level after applying the effect is shown

The luminance noise in the window on the left has disappeared. There is the risk of losing some detail, in which case, I will reduce the amount of luminance noise adjustment. On the other two windows, we notice still a good amount of chrominance noise, both in the Magenta and the Cyan channels

Temporal Tab

Temporal tab

By clicking on the button Adjust and Preview at the top, a window Filter Settings appears on the right with three tabs: Temporal, Spatial, and General. In Quality Mode I increase the Radius to 3, for a more detailed analysis of noise. By opening Temporal Noise, it is possible to check the level by clicking on the button Begin. The image turns blue, with some white spots only in the sky. All the non-moving areas should be solid blue, which is the case here, so we can click on Finish

Then we can check for local flicker, which is a difference in luminosity in parts of the frame. There are plenty of big white spots all over the image, but by moving the slider Local Flicker to the right to a value of 15, the spots disappear and we can hit Finish

Spatial Tab

Spatial tab

We can now move to the Spatial tab, where we tackle chrominance noise. Since the noise in both channels was quite high, I increase both sliders to 90. There are several other sliders for fine-tuning, but I find that this simple adjustment is in most cases all we need

Finally, I tick the box for Sharpening. I am always weary of sharpening tools, as they tend to introduce artifacts, but in Neat Video sharpening always works very well

We can now click on Apply and check the result. The image before was unusable. After applying Neat Video adjustments the noise has gone. The detail in the houses is excellent

Analyzing before and after face-to-face, the image after denoising is a big improvement

How to Get Rid of Chromatic Noise with Neat Video

Chromatic noise

A different scene. It is a very hot and hazy day, with very low visibility, it is not easy to distinguish the sea from the sky. After a big dose of editing, the footage is a disaster with luminance noise everywhere and chromatic noise in the sea and on the road. In the times before Neat Video, this clip would have gone directly to the bin

After hitting Prepare, I select an area in the lower part of the sea. The noise value is high, at around 10. I hit Build Profile and then Profile check. Inspecting the image, the luminance noise has disappeared, but some chromatic noise seems to be still there

This time I accept the automatic profile. After hitting Apply, this is the result: the noise has mostly disappeared, and the detail is excellent. But there is still a small amount of chromatic noise in the sea

Fine-tuning chrominance

After clicking on the button adjust, it is possible to fine-tune the Temporal adjustment. After increasing the Radius to 3, the blue mask shows some temporal noise, so I push the slider Noise Level to 45%. In the special tab, I increase the values for Chrominance in both magenta and cyan channels and check the box for Sharpening

After hitting Apply the noise in the sea has gone. Neat Video has managed to rescue a totally unusable clip

How to Get Rid of Flicker with Neat Video

How to get rid of flicker

Flicker is a frequent issue in time-lapses and hyperlapses. This is a hyperlapse taken with a drone from many years ago. It is a disaster with the wrong amount of motion blur, plenty of warping due to too much lateral movement, and big flashes of flicker. With the current line of DJI drones, the result would obviously be much better

I call Neat Video at the rescue. After building a profile, I go to Adjust and Preview. In the case of flicker, we are only concerned with the Temporal tab. In Temporal Noise, Noise Level Check shows a high amount of noise, so I push the Noise Level slider to the right until the white spots disappear. Then I check the Local Filter and again I push the slider to the right. Finally, I push the Frame Flicker all the way to the right and check the box Adapt to Changing Noise. And now the flicker has disappeared

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I am Vittorio Caramazza, aka Vicvideopic, the founder of this website and author of all the posts. I am a videographer and photographer contributing to several stock agencies. I am an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and Lightroom. I have 10 years of experience with dron videography and photography. I was struck by drone syndrome in 2013. I have owned and tested in depth the following drones: Phantom 3, Phantom 4, Phantom 4 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic Mini, Mini 2, Air 2, Air 2s, Autel Evo Nano Plus, Mavic 3, Mini 3 Pro, Mini 3. My home has turned into a breeding ground for drones. I am the owner of two YouTube channels specializing in Videography and Photography, with a focus on drones My main channel is VicVideopic (in English): My other channel is Drone Mitico, the Italian version.: I am currently based in Sicily (Southern Italy), but I tend to move quite often. After all, this is one of the main benefits of being a digital nomad…

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