Watch: How to Gussy Up Grainy Footage in Adobe After Effects
Is your footage grainy and not in a cool 1960s vintage hipster kind of way? There's a way to reduce it in post.
So, you've got some grainy footage on your hands, huh? We've all been there. Whether we didn't (or couldn't) use enough lighting during our shoot or cranked our ISO a little too high, the fact of the matter is once it's shot, it's shot. Unless you're lucky enough to score a reshoot, you're going to have to figure out a way to reduce the noise in your footage, otherwise, you've got a big, muddy bowl of slop on your hands.
If you're familiar with working with grainy footage in After Effects, chances are you've used the Remove Grain tool before. It's super fast and relatively easy. It works by sampling and then analyzing the grain to effectively remove it from the rest of the footage.
Understand though that all video effects have their limitations. Remove Grain is great if you've got a little bit of it, maybe, in the darker areas of your image, but if you've got tons of little buggies squirming around in there (What? Grain doesn't look like little squirming bugs to anyone else?), your best chance for a beautiful, high-quality image is a wish and a prayer.
That's why it's important to know how to safeguard your footage from unwanted grain (because sometimes grain is nice) and one way of doing that is by putting plenty of light on your scene. "Well, not all of us have a bajillion dollars to rent or buy a ton of studio lights, V. What if I just turn up my ISO, you big dumb idiot?" First of all, damn. You're so salty I thought you were my wife's cooking. (True story, tho.) Second, you don't need a bajillion dollars to get enough lighting for your film. Third, turning up your ISO is fine, but going too high with it will result in grain. This is because when you increase the ISO on your camera, what you're actually doing is telling your camera to amplify sensor data to mimic correct exposures, and that amplification results in decreased dynamic range and tonal detail and accuracy.
So, if you are able to, use plenty of light in your scene. If you're not, you can try to improve your grainy images in post with After Effects' Remove Grain tool. It won't be perfect, but hopefully it'll make it look a little bit better than before.