Using Video Game Footage - Part 3
The filters are where the magic occurs. The cleanup filters will be book ended by two resize filters. The basic rule of thumb is to use just enough filters to clean the footage, and nothing more. Later, for other post processing, you might begin to play with overdoing some of the filters. If you want to remove the interlacing of an interlaced video, then the DeInterlacer should actually be your first filter. Otherwise follow the guidelines below.
The first filter added should be the 16x-resizing filter. For someone basing the stepping on the original file’s size, they should more than likely use Smart Resize, use the calculator, choose “Percent” and select 400 percent. What I do is add Resize, and change the resolution to 1408x960, letterboxing it if I need to. Don’t forget to choose “precise bicubic”. The image should now be huge. The Resize (and Smart Resize) filter, when done, will show the original, then new, resolution in the Filters box as a way to double check to make sure that something was not missed. The Smart Resize has a document file to tell you how to letterbox the easy way, if you want.
The second filter I like to apply is the Blur More. If you look at the current image, all of the flaws in its source should be incredibly obvious. Something else you will see is that there will be a lot of stepping, and jagged lines. If we add a Blur More, alot of those jagged lines will soften and later when we downsample it, the softness will go away with the overall result being a sharper image. When used alone, this does not help much, but when used right before or maybe after another filter, I have found it helps. This filter has no configurable settings and no preview option.
Sometimes I choose instead to add the Dynamic Noise Reduction 2.1 filter instead of the Blur More. It depends on the source footage. DNR works better with footage that is dirty or has been corrupted, where the Blur More works best with normal footage that is just compressed wrong and looks blocky. Now if the footage is in rather good shape and just needs the “squiggles” from bad MJPEG or MPEG encoding removed, you might not need a second filter.
My third choice for filters tends to be the Smart Smoother 1.1. I have been stunned by this filter's ability to remove compression artifacts without harming the surrounding footage. It is very easy to go overboard on this filter, so care has to be taken. Another problem with this filter is that it is incredibly slow. But putting aside that, use the lowest settings that clean up the image. I find that Diameter is able to go higher much more quickly than Threshold. If you put the settings too high, the image begins to look like a weird chalk pastel drawings and everything gets really soft. It takes some experimenting with the settings until you get an image that you are satisfied with.
There are many other filters that can be used to improve quality, and I would suggest downloading a bunch from the net to try them. There is a VHS filter that is made specifically to recover quality lost due to an old tape or a bad VCR. There is also a Toon filter that retraces lines, to help with footage that is faded. There is a 2D Cleaner that works on the luminance channel and a temporal cleaner that works by looking at movement. Many of these filters don’t have a preview option, so they are not easy to work with.
The very last filter should be to resize the video to one-fourth of its current size. The easiest way to do this is to add a Smart Resize, change it to “precise bicubic”, choose Size Calculator, “Percent” and set 25 percent.
Each clip can require its own settings to clean, and it becomes a balance of taste and time. Combinations of filters in different orders can be used to get the quality desired, so keep trying until you are satisfied, or don’t want to spend any more time on it. Do not hesitate to experiment with the different positions of the clips. Maybe try putting some filters in front of the initial 16x size increase, maybe put one after the 4x size? This is the part of the process that is incredibly subjective and will change per project.
These files that you have just created should be considered your baseline files. Everything from now on will be based on generations off of these, and these should be considered the best quality files that you currently have.