June 8, 2017
field test

Field Test: Magic Bullet Denoiser III Cleans on a Budget

With its latest release of Denoiser, Magic Bullet continues to improve on a powerful tool for cleaning noisy footage fast.

The Magic Bullet suite of plugins from Red Giant has long had a solid denoise plugin, and with the release of version III, the company has rewritten it from scratch. Cleaning up noisy video was once a technique that required expensive hardware and was reserved for specific shots that truly needed it. However, in the last few years it has become practically the norm to apply some sort of noise correction to the vast majority of shots in a project. Knowing the tools available, and in particular how much noise they are capable of overcoming, is an essential skill not only for editors and colorists, but also for cinematographers making on-set decisions about how noisy they can allow a shot to get and then clean it up later in post.

Working with computer vision company wrnch, Denoiser III should be able to do more sophisticated analysis of both the noise and the content of a shot, and remove unwanted noise faster and with less artifacting. The plugin, like the rest of the Magic Bullet Suite, offers broad install support, with not only Resolve and Premiere but also Avid and Final Cut X installs available.

To put it through its paces, we used a sample shot that was originally captured on 35mm film, pushed two stops, and skip bleached. The final noise was intended as part of the look of the image, and provides a pleasing texture, but is heavy enough noise to not only be noticeable to most users but also to possible cause some problems at broadcast, making it an ideal test for noise correction software. We took this sample and put it through Resolve's internal noise corrector, and also Neat Video, currently the most popular noise plugin. The best way to evaluate noise is in motion, to see the vibration of noise and to really tell if there are any deal-breaking artifacts.

As can be seen from the tests, Denoiser III is a powerful tool that matches its competitors easily and provides great options for noise. However, where Magic Bullet really shines was in being the easiest to use of the options. Denoiser III is aimed at a wide swath of users, and is just simple drag-on plugin with only five variable sliders. Neat Video offers more sophisticated controls, and while the auto-profile tool is wonderful, it does take at least a few minutes to learn. If you are reading this article because you need to buy a plugin right this very second to deliver a project that was due an hour ago, Denoiser III will get you results faster. If you need a noise correction plugin rarely, Denoiser III is it. There are likely to be situations where Neat Video's more powerful tools offer a needed level of refinement, but in quick and dirty tests, Denoiser held its own.

Credit: Charles Haine

The internal noise tool in Resolve is also powerful, but takes slightly longer to learn to use, is only available with the $299 studio package, and in our testing was the most resource intensive. This meant it had the longest refresh when tweaking the image. Denoiser III offered the fasted refresh, showing us a preview of how the image would look with noise correction after each changed parameter. An auto-noise feature would help Resolve's tool tremendously to keep pace with Neat Video and Magic Bullet in this arena.

The new release also adds Renoiser, which is a handy tool for adding noise back into your image. If you have shot a particularly clean video and want to add texture or personality to the shot, or if you need to clean the noise for VFX reasons (to cut a clean key), then want to renoise the shot after FX, Renoiser will be a handy tool to create a consistent noise level for your production.

Available now for $199 from Red Giant, with an academic discount bringing it down to $99.     

Your Comment

8 Comments

Seems kind of silly to pay 199 for this when you can buy the studio version of Resolve for 299 and just learn how to use it.

June 8, 2017 at 10:52AM, Edited June 8, 10:52AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1732

"Neat Video offers more sophisticated controls... [but] it does take at least a few minutes to learn. ...[If] you need to buy a plugin right this very second to deliver a project that was due an hour ago, Denoiser III will get you results faster."

So you claim that Denoiser will get you faster results... But is only 2 minutes faster then Neat Video on your first time use AND costs more double the price of a single license of Neat Video? Maybe your statement would be more useful if you were to compare render times of the two, but you don't.

As someone who uses Neat Video on a quite regular basis, I love it, it's easy to use, and there's no good reason to get Denoiser III over it. This article appears to be nothing more then a sponsored post instead of a honest to goodness comparison aiming to providing actual advise. I like No Film School, but this article is a real shame.

June 8, 2017 at 11:57AM, Edited June 8, 12:01PM

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But 'Neat Video' dude! The title of the plugin already explains everything! Neat!!! ;-)

June 8, 2017 at 5:37PM

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Michiel Eskens
Director & Editor
225

Looks promising.
Wanna try this.

June 8, 2017 at 3:39PM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
553

I suggest to try before you buy, I had very high expectations but didn´t like the footage that comes out of it.

June 8, 2017 at 5:44PM

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Ulises Bravo
Filmmaker, DP
468

How doe this "Clean on a Budget" when it's twice as much as its main competitor, and with fewer features?

June 8, 2017 at 5:11PM, Edited June 8, 5:11PM

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J Robbins
516

My experience with the product was very disappointing. Most of my work requires tight delivery schedules and come from clients that are in a budget, so trying to make everything right on the timeline seems the best thing to do. I really wanted it to work, but I think that Denoiser III makes horrible things to my footage (I shoot with a C100, mostly using C-Log at 850 ISO). It looses detail, you start to see very big patches of color with no detail inside, think of it as a "Cosmo" placed all over there. Footage looks lifeless, in the end, I didn't like it. I've also used Neat video with great results.

June 8, 2017 at 5:42PM

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Ulises Bravo
Filmmaker, DP
468

I love the product and have owned every version, but the problem I have is rendering times. Every version I think is going to correct the problem or help it in some way but it seems to get worse every time. As far as 4k is concerned, forget about it. It can take hours to render but without it would take maybe 10-15 mins. I know this is a intense process but I have a relatively beefy machine. To be fair I also have Neat Video and have almost the same problem but not as bad. That said Neat has done a recent update but I have yet to test out the demo to see if render speeds have increased and it's worth the investment. If you have a short clip or a project that doesn't have a quick turn around then it's a great product.

June 9, 2017 at 1:45PM, Edited June 9, 1:47PM

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Joseph Bennetts
Owner of BlackWind productions/Editor/DP/Diretor
147