Hollywood films often use tools that regular users can't easily afford. A good example of that is with a movie that Shane Hurlbut shot, Act of Valor, filmed on the Canon 5D Mark II. The post-production of that film involved a software suite called Dark Energy that is often used with restoring film prints, but in this case they used it to clean up DSLR footage and get rid of compression artifacts and noise, as well as add realistic grain. Well not too long ago, Cinnafilm, the company behind Dark Energy, introduced a Windows plugin for Adobe After Effects. Until Friday, March 15th, the plugin, which is normally $400, is down to just $150. Click through to learn more about it.
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co0MrioVD2A
Here is the sale going on until the 15th:
In honor of Albert Einstein’s March 14th birthday, we’re holding a crazy big sale on Dark Energy for After Effects.
It’s The Great Big-Brained Einstein Birthday Sale! Register now to save more than 62% on the price of the Dark Energy plug-in for After Effects.
Registration is open from March 8- March 15. Purchases made at this amazing price will be finalized the week of March 18th, but you must register to qualify for The Great Big-Brained Einstein Birthday Sale price!
The Dark Energy plug-in comprises two modules; Anti-Matter (noise and film grain removal) and Matter (noise and film grain synthesis). Resolutions up to 2048 x 2048 are supported. The license is locked to the installed platform. This is a Windows-based software platform, so in addition to PCs, any Apple product that can dual boot and support an NVIDIA GPU and Windows 7 64-bit will be able to run the software. Dark Energy for After Effects requires Adobe CS 5.5/6.0, After Effects, and appropriate CodeMeter software. DE for AE is currently tested and recommended for the Win 7 64 bit operating system only.
Check out this tutorial showing the plugin in action:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRpZT0-Ea-Q
Shane has talked quite a bit about the software, and while it's a little more expensive than some other noise reduction tools out there, this is a professional tool with professional results. Cinnafilm's Dark Energy is normally only available at the very high-end because of its $13,000 starting price, but you can get two very useful parts of that program for $150. If you're constantly dealing with DSLR compression or noisy footage (or even footage originated on film), this could definitely be a great option. With the deal it's certainly more comparable price-wise to something like Neat Video, which is one of the most popular noise reduction options out there.
Cinnafilm also has student discounts available, so if you're currently a student (up until 6 months after you graduate), you can get the Dark Energy plugin for 50% off. If you just want to see how the program works, they have a free trial for the software as well.
What are some other options for artifact/noise removal? -- regardless of price -- just looking for tips and best practices, thank you!
March 14, 2013 at 8:14AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
PS More specifically, I would like to know how to deal with footage coming out of a DSLR (specifically a 7D) in order to avoid artifacts such as can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/59808168 (very short test). Any advice much appreciated!
March 14, 2013 at 8:18AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I've owned DE since it's release and it's a fantastic tool. My last feature was about 95% 7D ad after running it through DE it you would never know it was a DSLR movie. For the noise you're talking about , you should have no problems - you just have to play with the placement of the RGB "squares" to see what works best. If you have a decent graphics card - I have the GTX 570 in my PC - it's VERY fast (about 10 times faster than Denoiser II) so you can run tests quickly. The post sharpening tools are miraculous and will make any DSLR footage look better. I even fixed a bunch of noisy Alexa low-light footage on a recent feature.
My typical render process is to output to Cineform RGB 444 .avi (make sure comp is set to 16bit in AE) and then I have the best possible Master that I can make whatever flavor I need from Blu-ray to Pro Res 444. I've run 3 feature films, several trailers and a bunch of news footage on a recent doc through DE - worth every penny.
March 14, 2013 at 10:44AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Thank you so much for the advice, I will be sure to try your recommendations!!
March 15, 2013 at 7:17AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Neat Video - Ugly website, awesome plugin
March 14, 2013 at 8:18AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I've had success with Neat Video. Found myself in awe on nearly every shot after applying the plugin. I shot a short film at night on a Nex5n ( https://vimeo.com/56217892 ) - the before and after was dramatic. The Dark Energy plugin looks equally as impressive and had I not already purchased Neat Video for $100 - I'd give it a good look.
March 14, 2013 at 8:32AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Neat is great, but it doesn't have the featureset of Dark Energy -- nor does it have the price tag (and you aren't limited to 2K for your $100). I think of Neat being the best tool for your average multi-hyphenate (director, editor, etc.) to use and DE is more of a specialized, high-end tool. I'd love finer control over the different color channels in Neat, for example.
March 14, 2013 at 8:38AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I'm confused by Ryan's comment that Neat Video is limited to 2k for $100. The Neat Video web site says the $50 version is limited to 1280x720 and the $100 version is unlimited, while the article above says Dark Energy is limited to 2048x2048. Can Dark Energy handle the 4k of Scarlet or 2.5k of BMCC? I couldn't find any information on Dark Energy's web site confirming the maximum resolution it can handle.
March 14, 2013 at 10:25AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Sorry if I worded that in a confusing way -- the Neat Video $100 version is not limited to 2K, but the After Effects version of Dark Energy is. Hope that clarifies!
March 14, 2013 at 11:37AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Neat is available on OSX and is supported by more NLEs too
March 14, 2013 at 2:30PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Neat Video makes FCP X horribly unstable. At least it removes noise pretty well. I can shoot at 3200 asa and not give a fuuuuckkk B)
March 14, 2013 at 10:10AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Depends on the camera, some at 3200 are beyond help...
March 14, 2013 at 11:38AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
some nighttime car interiors on my last short were done on a 5D 2 and it looks decent. noise cleaned up well
March 15, 2013 at 7:56PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Saweet! An alternative to Neat.
Anyone have issues with Neat video re: duped frames? I'd get duplicated frames either side by side or phantom frames (ie. Stills 'dropped in' randomly in the timeline). It's undetected at normal playback (unless you're a trained eye like the post house I dealt with) but there nonetheless. I ended up removing the plugin from my entire film to remedy the issue.
Has anyone experienced this? Does Dark Energy suffer the same issues?
March 14, 2013 at 8:19AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I didn't notice this problem - but I am using the After Effects version of the plugin. (Utilized dynamic linking with Premiere) Are you using it within your editing app?
March 14, 2013 at 8:35AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Do students get 50% off the $150 special price mentioned here??
March 14, 2013 at 9:12AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I don't believe so, but if that's the case I'll definitely add that to the post above.
March 14, 2013 at 9:46AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Yeah, my timing was in AE -> export Tiff and back into my NLE for Neat vid finish.
March 14, 2013 at 9:24AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
How about Magic Bullet Denoiser II? How does neat video and dark energy denoiser compares to magic bullet´s?
March 14, 2013 at 9:30AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Dark Energy used to be known as ARRI Relativity, the industry standard tool for removing grain on film scan.
The noise reduction algorithm is simply the best among all.
March 14, 2013 at 10:11AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I went with Magic Bullet Denoiser because I needed something that would be cross-platform (I go between an OS X machine and a Windows machine, depending on the project's needs), and I'd have to purchase multiple copies of Neat Video to do that... even more if I wanted it in Premiere AND After Effects, which Denoiser also does for that one purchase.
However, I have some regrets. Denoiser has less powerful results than Neat Video, and it is SLOW. I mean, seriously slow. On my beefiest graphics card, the difference is barely noticeable. Just turning the effect on or off in Premiere makes everything hang up for 10 seconds or so. It's much more stable in After Effects, however, but the render times are still really high for 2013. Neat Video seems to give better results with more stability... but again, their licensing policy means I'd have to spend at least 4 times more money to get the same functionality I have now.
I can't speak for Dark Energy from a user perspective, beyond information you can google.
March 14, 2013 at 12:20PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Having used both Neat Video and Magic Bullet Denoiser extensively with Canon and GH2 footage, I have to say that in my experience Magic Bullet Denoiser has failed me many times (in some cases turning a scene into nasty mush) but Neat Video has never failed me. Especially with a little rGrain 35mm thrown on top afterwards (essential to get rid of the plastic look of super clean video).
I've also found the Magic Bullet Denoiser AE plugin to be much less stable than the Neat Video AE plugin on my Mountain Lion Hackintosh.
I can't say anything about Dark Energy, as I've not used it yet, but it appears to a step above Neat Video.
March 14, 2013 at 12:40PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
How is this any better than Neatvideo? which is cheaper and works incredibly well.. then just adding your own grain on top?
March 14, 2013 at 12:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
"The license is locked to the installed platform" looks a bit dodgy to me. Does this mean one-time-installation only? So if you upgrade your hardware, Dark Energy goes bye-bye?
March 14, 2013 at 1:15PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I wish I could run this on my Mac. I have neat video but after watching act of valor and struggling to tell the difference between the film shots and the 5D shots I knew this program wasn't JUST a plugin. Well have fun PC people!
March 14, 2013 at 2:54PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
2 reasons I keep a fast PC nearby - Vegas Pro 12 and Dark Energy :)
March 14, 2013 at 4:50PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
can i install this thing on my two workstations? or is it limited to one for this buy?
March 15, 2013 at 7:23AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I just finished a tutorial on video noise removal for free using Adobe Photoshop. I was quite pleased with the results you can check them out at http://youtu.be/3UdQDYTFfBM?hd=1.
March 15, 2013 at 11:16AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Would buy if it would work on windows 8. Hopefully they'll get it for windows 8 and have this pricing again.
March 15, 2013 at 12:45PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Thanks everyone for the spirited discussion - yes, this is a one time sale. I will try and give you some quick answers, we are scrambling to keep up with the inquiries (which I suppose is a good thing!!)
* You get one seat per purchase. If you lose your config, let us know, we will get you another license on good faith no problem; we take care of our family of users. At this price, if you think you need two copies you should probably just buy two copies. Just sayin.
* DE is hands down the best denoise tech on market; we back this up all the time in shootouts on the big screen. This is rocket science in a plugin, and is very complex to make this good/stable/fast. To do this right and not damage the image or make faces look plastic or remove rain or change smoke or water (problems you will see on a large screen with our competitors) requires some heavy compute lifting and special attention to detail - which is why we use NVIDIA GPUs and they are more mature/stable on CPU for now. Will we port to Mac? Maybe, eventually, but not for a while. Right now NVIDIA offers like 8 models for the CPU and one or two on the Mac. We go as the GPU goes. Keep in mind, with speed comes more efficient feedback - you can make adjustments and see the results immediately. This alone sets us apart.
* Dark Energy is designed to be a full texture system - modeling any type of film grain out there correctly (not a wall of noise overlay, but we actually deveop the image through it - the results on a big screen are night and day). We cut our teeth with ARRI and Kodak and a bunch of picky folks out there making 16mm look like 35mm. This is the best film simulation out there. If you want a digitally shot movie to look like film, that is our passoin and our focus (no pun intended). FYI - for best results: 1) denoise to a "noiseless master" (carefully), 2. color grade on the noiseless master (avoiding coloring noise), 3. add film grain and you are there. No film required. Also, lighting and shooting it right to begin with is important of course. :)
OK, onto others tasks we have 7 hours left!! Hope you all get into the mix and take advantage of this sale - if not, you can always buy it at full price later on once you realize what this actually truly is capable of. :)
March 15, 2013 at 4:07PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Does this mean one-time-installation only? So if you upgrade your hardware, you loose the license?
March 15, 2013 at 5:07PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Thanks for stopping by, Cinnafilm Dude. One question: for filmmakers who aren't looking to buy the AE version but would rather work with someone trained in (and with access to) the full-blown pro version, how would we go about finding post houses that work with DE?
March 15, 2013 at 5:55PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Anyone know if there's Windows 8 64-bit support?
March 15, 2013 at 5:57PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I emailed them and got no response (maybe they are too busy or I messed up on my end). So I downloaded the trial and tried on my windows 8. Wouldn't work. I would buy this if it worked on windows 8. Looks to be a fantastic product.
March 15, 2013 at 7:48PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
They got back to me. I called the company. They will be looking at Windows 8. My summary about these guys, excellent! Very knowledgeable, polite and down to earth. Cheers.
March 19, 2013 at 11:14AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Thanks again for the great response to our sale! The old price is in effect now, but the tool is still a great bargain at 399.
Some quick answers for you:
1. No Windows 8 for now - probably after a service pack or two or we will go crazy responding to their bugs. So far people tell me (and I agree to some extent having used it) that this could be another Vista in the works. So we want to be sure it is stable out there for a while before we port.
2. Contact us if you want to use this tech as a service. Many of the best post houses out there have this and will be happy to work with you, and we can point you to the closest one. Info@Cinnafilm.com
3. You get one install only. If it gets messed up, or your hard drive crashes, etc contact us we will give you another courtesy copy or two. After that though you have to purchase again. Three strike policy is pretty standard for high end power plugins.
4. In a couple months we will have some fresh courses on texturing that will help you get the most out of this tool. Visit our website for more info in a few weeks.
March 17, 2013 at 9:44AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I missed the sale :-(
Had the flu and in bed for 8 days.
$150 Dollars....very good price. Damn!
March 19, 2013 at 9:34AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Give them a shout (email) as they may be able to help you - ask if they'll still allow the special pricing. Excellent company. Cheers.
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March 18, 2014 at 1:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM
just to be more clear; the film was shot using:
Arriflex 235, Panavision Primo Lenses
Arriflex 35-III, Panavision Primo Lenses
Arriflex 435 Xtreme, Panavision Primo Lenses
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Panavision Primo, Canon L-Series and Zeiss ZF Lenses
Canon EOS 7D, Panavision Primo, Canon L-Series and Zeiss ZF Lenses
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, Panavision Primo, Canon L-Series and Zeiss ZF Lenses
Panavision Panaflex Platinum, Panavision Primo Lenses
Phantom HD Camera, Panavision Primo Lenses ...
I wondered about shooting the entire film on the 5D...the source is IMDB; thanks for the post and the plug-in is very useful I used it couple times and its way much better than many others on the internet
December 5, 2014 at 4:12PM, Edited December 5, 4:12PM