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Dark Energy, the Plugin that Helped DSLRs Look Great in 'Act of Valor', Expanding via Kickstarter

darkenergylogoblogthmCinnafilm’s Dark Energy plugin for After Effects is arguably one of the best noise reduction and grain emulation tools on the market today. Most notably, Shane Hurlbut turned to Dark Energy in order to make the Canon 5D Mark II shine for Act of Valor, and high-end production companies around the world rely on Dark Energy for everything from noise reduction for green screen keying to film grain emulation. However, at this point in time, Dark Energy is only available as an AE plugin (and only on the PC). The folks over at Cinnafilm have just started a Kickstarter campaign to port Dark Energy over to the OFX platform so that it can be used in programs like DaVinci Resolve, Nuke, and Avid. Check out their campaign video below:

Personally, I think that a noise reduction plugin as powerful and versatile as Dark Energy could add additional value to programs like Avid and Resolve Lite. Considering that one of the main limitations of the lite version of Resolve is that it lacks the noise reduction features (and the high-resolution capabilities) of its big brother, adding the Dark Energy plugin to Resolve Lite could potentially make for one of the most powerful noise reduction/ color correction combinations at a fraction of the cost of the full version of Resolve.

What’s equally interesting about this campaign is that Cinnafilm is using the Kickstarter platform as a market research tool in order to gauge interest in the OFX version of Dark Energy. While the company could likely invest in the R&D themselves, they’re doing both themselves and their customers a favor by taking it to Kickstarter. They get to know if there’s a viable market for the product, and the contributors get the plugin at a significantly reduced price.

Additionally, if you’ve been interested in the After Effects version of the Dark Energy plugin, but couldn’t stomach the $400 price point, you can now get the plugin for $222 by donating to the campaign. So head on over to Kickstarter to learn more about the potential for an OFX version of Dark Energy.

What do you guys think? Could the OFX Dark Energy plugin potentially make Resolve Lite even more of a powerhouse than it already is? How do you feel about Cinnafilm using Kickstarter as a free platform to gauge interest? Let us know in the comments!

Link: Dark Energy OFX Plugin – Kickstarter


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  • It is great idea to cut down on noise, make better audio. I applaud these directors to make safe plug in.

  • john jeffries on 08.7.13 @ 7:37PM

    kickstarter is literally all corporations and rich people selling products now

  • Anthony Marino on 08.7.13 @ 8:00PM

    I don’t know about this kick starter deal, but dark energy is great. I lost it when Adobe went to the cloud but I can download the other version of AE and use it there. But I must say, it’s a great product, I’m happy with it.

    • I agree. I got it on sale after trying Neat. I’ve contacted them twice and their customer support is second to none – quick and friendly.
      The updated release is meant to handle up to 4K resolutions ( AE version ).

    • Steve Nelson on 08.8.13 @ 3:21PM


      A great product that delivers superb results. The Cinnafilm folks are great to work with too, very responsive.

  • Am I the only one here who thinks their 100k goal is wildly optimistic? I’m sure it’s some of the best noise reduction available, but their program has a very specific purpose for a very small subset of people. And when you consider that their asking 333$ for a plug in that might arrive in 2014, versus the 300$ or so you could spend on Neat Video + Film Convert right now – programs that work on both Mac and PC, compatible with almost any NLE or Motion Graphics software – it doesn’t seem like such a grand deal.

    And when you further consider that this Dark Energy plug-in is a crippled version of their flagship product, with all sorts of developer-introduced drawbacks (no resolution above 2K, Single GPU only etc.), it seems like they just aren’t willing to go mainstream with Dark Energy. Labs doing film restoration – dedicated, small-to-medium businesses with proper funding – are clearly their main customers, and cinnafilm are afraid to branch out. This feels half-assed.

    They should take a look at what BlackMagic did with Resolve – slashed the price by more than 90% and GAVE the crippled version away for FREE. And since they were the best to begin with (as is probably also true of Dark Energy), nobody even considers any other program these days if their doing grading for real.

    • +1

      I gave the demo of the Dark Energy After Effects plug-in a try a while back and I wasn’t that impressed…it’s a good noise reduction tool, but I did side by side tests with Neat Video and Neat Video looked just as good. Neat video supports any resolution whereas not only did Dark Energy not support anything above 2k, it actually crashed After Effects when I tried putting it on a Red footage comp. How do you screw that up? The 2k limit was part of their design! And on top of that Neat Video will work in Premiere as well as After Effects, and it already has all the other plug-in options available. And that’s not even touching GPU use…

      • Thanks for the great (and honest) feedback – a few quick answers/responses:

        1 -Kickstarter is a good choice for us, and we thought long and hard about doing it. We need the investment to make the port happen safely, and we are aiming at the user-individuals who want to make killer images, and less at a larger “denoise” market. If it doesn’t work out for us that is ok; we won’t port over because we will know the market is simply not large enough to sustain the science on those platforms, saving us a ton of money downline – which is a good business decision. We are far from “rich”, and in no way are we out to scam anyone. Many good cinema tech imaging companies have been bought up into larger companies by now, and saying we should follow those big company business models with our software is not really a fair comparison; we are a small engineering company with 10 people (half of which are engineers or scientists) while they have 1000 employees or more. Still, I appreciate the commentary.

        2 – 100k is very optimistic, I agree. For reference, porting/supporting will cost us more than twice that much; our technology is very complex. Sometimes I wish it were a simple filter, our lives would be so much easier! :)

        3 – We did purposely lock down resolution with the initial DE for AE release – fair comment. Since then we have realized this was not a great idea, so the new release coming out this month will be open to 4K. The single (or dual) GPU limitation is a limit of Adobe, not us. Windows 8 and AE cloud will both be accessible with the new release. It is taking longer than hoped, it always does… That should be shipping next week though so please contact us.

        4 – DE is superior to Neat for denoise,a scientific fact; it is much faster and it is superior at filtering complex imagery like smoke and rain and water. View the results on a 20 foot screen sometime, you will definitely see the differences (hard to see on a smaller monitor) – and most importantly we don’t wash out small details. The other thing is that those tools do not have a top shelf grain simulator (our grain is MUCH different in ways that is hard to explain here). This is why we promote and develop DE as a “Texture” toolset, not a denoiser. There is a ton of power in proper texture management – for restoration, theatrical release, even for improving compression for web delivery. Putting it simply, when we sold it as ARRI Relativity in 2009 it had a $140k pricetag, now you can have the same power for $399 on After Effects (and hopefully on OFX eventually). AND the tech is much better now. But I ask simply; why be neat when you can be immaculate?

        We appreciate the support, and the feedback. If you have any questions shoot them over to ~ happy to try and keep up with them.


      • I’m very impressed with Dark Energy. I have researched and tried other products. Dark Energy is the best imo. I’ve talked to Dark Energy people and took part in a web seminar. They are down to earth and very professional. Shane Hurlbut’s, Act of Valor, which showed on 3500 movie screens does add to the validation too. Cheers.

        • I never had a problem with the quality of Dark Energy’s results. The problem is the After Effects plug-in does not fit in a realistic workflow. One of the main problems is the 2k limit (even ignoring the pointless crashes)…I always work in native resolution, and even the 2.5k from the $2000 BMCC is too big for Dark Energy. I mostly have to work with 4k and 5k from Red cameras, so Dark Energy just isn’t worth my time if it’s going to screw up my workflow. A workflow that also needs integration in Premiere and/or Resolve.

          Btw, if the Dark Energy developer is so keen to have the results viewed on a big screen, they should also consider how the difference between 2k and 4k is going to look on the big screen.

  • Within 24 months we’re going to see companies like Adobe launching kickstarter campaigns. You can’t blame companies for wanting free money, who wouldn’t? Blame the backer idiots that give them free money.

  • $100,000 for market research? Where’s the research plan? What are they going to do, survey monkey? I can tell you that even if it doesn’t get funded they will still port it to OFX, because they already know that direction will be a smart expansion plan for plug-in profits.

  • I’m still waiting for the plug-in to be available for Windows 8. They keep pushing back the date. Not happy about that at all.

  • “Dark Energy Noise Reduction Plugin Used on ‘Act of Valor’ Kickstarting Expansion to OpenFX Platform”

    Sweet Jesus. What has the English language ever done to deserve a sentence like that?

  • SpartaBear on 08.8.13 @ 5:41PM

    Since kickstarter campaigns in our field of work still seem to get a lot of attention, this could also be just a smart way of advertising.
    And I agree with on of the first posts: Just as every company needed to have a FB account and later Twitter, a Kickstarter campaign seems to be the “must have”.

  • Man companies are killing crowdfunding. Us Indie ppl need our own platforms that big companies cannot be apart of unless they donate.
    who’s with me??? lol
    so serious though