Category: DIY

GH1 noise removal techniques

I filmed scenes in most of my indie film using a GH13. There are a lot of outdoor scenes at night. With the resultant issues of fpn/banding/noise.

For a flat response, use smooth film mode. And AdobeRGB.
Press menu, camera icon at top, goto pg4, drop down 1, colourspace , SRGB or AdobeRGB, click on it, AdobeRGB?
I found neat video to be the best option for removing noise.

The only issue is the settings.

I found that it brought out banding in the sky and around light sources.

Here is my workflow.
FCP7 with FCS3
Convert mts files to Cineform.
Set all the quality options in FCP to Best and 10-bit.
For noisy footage. use a round trip to Motion. FCP7 is a 32-bit app and tends to crash using NV. Motion is 64-bit and can use more RAM.

In Motion apply NV first.
There are 2 options for settings
1. Upscaled video

Open scene project in FCP 7
Click File -> Send To -> Compressor

Scene will open in Compressor
Render to 4k with this preset:

Settings Window
Apple -> Formats -> Quicktime -> Uncompressed 10-Bit (drag this setting onto the clip)

Double click the setting while it is on the clip to open it and modify:

Go to:

Encoder Tab:
File Format: Quicktime Movie
Allow Job Segmenting: ON
Video Settings: Prores 4444 (or 422 HQ), Millions of Colors +
Audio: Disabled (or Pass-through)

Frame Controls Tab:

Frame Controls: On
Resize Filter: Best (Statistical Prediction)
Output Fields: Progressive
Deinterlace: Best
Adaptive Details: On
Anti-alias: 100
Details Level: 25
Rate Conversion: Best
Duration: 100% of source

Filter’s tab: Nothing

Geometry tab:

Frame Size: Custom – 4096 by 2304
Pixel Aspect: 1.0000

Click Save (lower right hand corner) and Name “4K Prores 16:9″

Now you will find this preset under Settings -> Custom in the Settings Window

Delete current settings on clip – Add “4K Prores 16:9″ to the clip

Add a Destination (Settings -> Destinations -> Plus Sign to add a local destination -> choose a folder on the external drive)

Drag destination to clip

Hit Submit

Wait for clip to render out. (you can see progress under Window -> History, or in ur system queue)

Adding the Neatvideo Filter in FCP to the 4k clip:

Open up a new project in FCP
Right click on Sequence One and go to Settings

General Tab:

Under Frame Size put Custom and 4096 by 2304
Pixel Aspect: Square
Editing Timebase: 23.98
Compressor: Apple Prores 4444 (or 422 HQ)
Click Advanced: Millions of Colors to Millions of Colors +

Video Processing Tab:

Render 10-Bit material in High-precision YUV
Maximum White as White
Motion Filtering Quality: Best

Leave all other settings.
Save Project as (scene title – 4k)

Load 4k video file by dragging it into Browser Window
Place 4k video into the timeline

Go to Effects in the Browser Window
Video Effects -> Stylize -> Add Noise (drag effect onto clip)

Double click the clip on the timeline to open up the viewer window
go to Filters tab

Change Add Noise settings:
Amount: .05
Type: Gaussian Noise
Monochrome: Off
Blend Mode: Normal
Autoanimate: On
Mix: 100

Go to Effects in the Browser Window
Video Effects -> Neat Video -> Reduce Noise (drag effect onto clip)

Double click the clip on the timeline to open up the viewer window
go to Filters Tab

Set Reduce Noise settings:
Temporal Filter Radius: 5
Temporal Filter Threshold: 50
Adaptive Filtration: ON
Mix: 100

(The Temporal Filter Radius is the super-resolution algorithm and takes data from the previous 5 frames and the subsequent 5 frames to compile a higher-resolution output)

Click Options
In the top left window, click and drag a box around space that has no contrast or color change, but just noise (if you cannot find one, click Auto Profile)

Click Auto Fine Tune

Leave Luma filter at 60% and Chroma at 100%.
Set sharpening to 100%

Effects work is now done. Now we will export through compressor back to 2k resolution for our final print. (or we can leave it at 4k for the final print)

Click File -> Send To -> Compressor

Export in Prores format to 4k or 2k. There you go. Now you have clean, upsampled footage ready for projection.

2. Regular Video

the only things that really helped me personally were upping all the noise reduction amounts to 100%. Then slightly adjusting the noise thresholds (these are the bits that lose image detail if you go too high.)

The best result I could find was upping hight to 35%, mid to 20% and low at 15%.

High quality and resolution boxes ticked. Nil else.
first keep your temporal filter radius at 1. Increasing this usually increases quality at the expense of render time. I was happy to do that – but in fact for banding noise it makes things worse if you crank it up.

Camera and sound sync

My method for capturing sound on set involves micing the actors with lav mics piped to a Hi-md recorder or a Yamaha C24 or a Sony PCM-m10 (or any other recorder for that matter).

There may also be a mic on the camera for capturing ambient sound. All these are mixed in post for a stereo effect.

Sometimes multiple cameras are used i.e. standard 2 shoulder shot setup or a master+closeup shot.

Syncing these are also a problem.

First, make sure that the time on ALL your audio and video equipment is correct to the second. Thus the video and audio can be matched via their timecode.

Then use a combination of this clock and an external camera flash to sync. BTW I opened this clock the same night that it arrived. It uses a very simple diode-resistor combo to ensure that the leds get a constant current. It uses a 6V AC adapter. However it can be easily replaced by a 6V DC adapter with a standard 2.1mm connector. The diodes ensure that the voltage polarity is correct otherwise the leds will not turn on. The camera is available for cheaper if you search on ebay.

I rigged up a dc connector connected to a 9V 600ma rechargeable battery. The battery lasted a day so it would be fine for the field. There is an internal battery that maintains the correct time internally. Hence, if the external battery is discharged, the time is still maintained.

Use this as a clapper for the sound, fire the flash and use the clock as a visual timecode for perfect matching.

The footage can be approximately matched on the timeline using the embedded timecode in the audio and video.

Modding the BMD Hyperdeck Shuttle 1 & 2

Most of us need to buy a separate camera cage to attach accessories. However a cage is just an overpriced piece of metal with threaded screws for various attachments.

Some of us also buy devices to clamp the HDMI cable to prevent the connector from breaking loose or snapping off.

I modded the BMD Shuttle body so it would function as both a camera cage/cheeseplate/mount and added HDMI clamps.

The clamps were 2$ flash to tripod adapters found on ebay. The flash male mates with a threaded plate to clamp to the flash mount. This surface can also be used to clamp a cable.

This can be used either with the Shuttle 1 or 2.

Here is the story in pics with comments to guide you through. This post is available at

Sound for Film

Sound is half the film experience. But its often ignored by new filmmakers. Here is some information to get started.

A shotgun mic on a boompole is essential. Here is an article that makes some interesting points – most of these I will disagree with.

I choose the Rode VideoMic as its hard to beat at its clearance price of 129/- Now it has a 3.5mm connector that picks up noise if we use an extension cable. So you can mod your boompole (a 3-section fiber painters pole will do) to hold a 1/4″-20 screw as close to the mic as possible. Buy a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and screw it on. Now attach the small 3.5mm cable from the Rode directly to the PCM-M10. Attach headphones with a long enough cable (great value headphones are Sennheiser HD202) so you can monitor the audio. Setup the audio with levels adjusted before the director calls Action.

I chose the PCM-M10 based on the low pre-amp noise from this chart here – the Sony PCM-M10, Olympus Ls5, LS-10 and LS-11 offer the lowest noise among portable solid state recorders. Remarkably the MZ-RH1 recorder has even better pre-amps!

For recording the actors, we need a small portable recorder on the actors. In the past I used an iriver ifp recorder or a Sony Hi-MD recorder due to their size. Now I am looking at a Yamaha Pocketrak C24. There is a shortage of reviews. However, its the smallest solid state PCM 24-bit/48khz recorder available today. And I got an excellent review from here.

For lav mics, you want one that will have a self-noise lower than the recorder. The closest ones (at a budget) would be a DIY using Primo EM172 mic capsules. The DIY is described here and here.

In some cases, it makes sense to attach 2x Rode VM on top of the boompole at a 45 deg angle in order to cover both actors. This way the boom operator does not need to move the pole around. A mono to stereo cable will allow the 2 mics to be recorded to the Sony PCM-M10.

For the camera itself, modded firmware (GH1,T2i,5d) allow us to switch off the on-camera AGC and allow for line-in input. Buy a cheap mp3 player and set it to play this on loop mode. Now figure out a way using splitter cables (or DIY your own) to give 2 inputs to the camera. Read this article and  Download AGC Disable Tone File Here (41.2MB .MP3) Now you can do a dual record setup with usable sound on camera as well as on the boompole. Or you could route the mic cable all the way (using a 3.5mm male to male extension cable) to the camera to record sound.

In this case the setup is

boompole mic -> recorder -> extension cable| -> splitter.

mp3 player|-> splitter

splitter -> camera

This way you can record dual sound.

Just a warning, some recorders do not allow line-out. In this case set the headphone vol to zero. Now connect the headphone output to the line-in i.e. camera input. Slowly increase the headphone levels until you can see the audio meters on camera.

In terms of software, you don’t even need to pay for stuff. Just use a combination of soX, Audacity and mp3gain in order to deal with your audio files.

To sync your files use a director or action clapper board from ebay. Buy the 10″x12″ version with the color bars. Also you can use this  Film Action/Clapper Board Desk Wall Calendar Clock in order to add visual timecode while slating the shot. Use Audacity to add the timecode as a Label Track.

Ideally you want a production assistant who will also serve as a continuity supervisor. This person can carry along a log book and a pen. Each take will require the entry of the audio filenames on offboard recorders and approx TC at the beginning of the shot. We can also record the filenames on the cameras, which will be useful in case of a multi-camera shoot.

Using devices with XP-only support on OSX

As a part of the film-making process, we end up with many devices that will work only on XP. Such as MiniDisc recorders, the iriver ifp-series recorders and certain video filters that work only with Virtualdub.

I have tried both Wine as well as emulation, and emulation wins hands down.

Here is a way to setup Virtualbox on your mac and run XP on it.

  • Download Virtualbox here, and install it.
  • Buy/find your XP install CD and install a XP VM. 10GB of space, 1Gb memory is usually sufficient.
  • Install the optional addon pack.
  • Install the optional extensions pack.
  • Optimize VB for your guest OS.
  • In the Oracle VM Manager click on Settings -> Ports – USB. Enable the USB 2 features. Click the + on the right and add all the USB devices you will need.
  • Under Settings -> Shared Folders, add any folders you want the VM to access on your host.

I am able to use my Hi-MD recorders effortlessly using SonicStage running on the guest. I can also access the iriver recorders using the iriver Manager.

I also use Vitaliy’s ptool hack software on the guest to modify the stock GH1/GH2 firmware.

In the future I will use Virtualdub for some basic video processing.

Free film equipment

1. White/grey balance cards.
I took some from the paint sample cards at my local hardware store. This gent – got a few samples from a website, that ships only to the US and Canada.
Designer White D354-60
North Sea D90-60
Black 1595-60

For other folks, just go to the hardware or paint shop and pickup samples close to white, black and grey matte.

2. Wind protector for mics.

This gent – pointed me to
Use the Contact page and get the samples – were Kentucky #207, Australuni #2482 and Vanoise #9629.

Setting up a Qmaster cluster on OSX Snow Leopard

I used a very simple setup. Two Macs running the same version of Snow Leopard i.e. 10.6.8 with the same version of FCS3 (with current updates) connected using a cat 5e cable on their GigE ports.

First I had to connect the 2 Macs together with an Ethernet cable.

Make sure that file sharing and screen sharing is ticked in System Preferences -> Sharing
In System Preferences -> Menu -> Network -> Ethernet
Set the IP address manually to and for each of the Macs, a different IP but the same subnet for both.
In System Preferences ->Security -> Firewall turn off the firewall.

Make sure that preferences for the Video Drive is set to +rw for all users. The Video Drive should be set to shared.
From the Finder menu, use Go -> Connect to Server
Keep one Mac connected to a monitor/s. On this mac connect using vnc to the other mac. i.e. vnc:// (if is the IP of the other mac)
Now you can control both the macs from your keyboard.

Setup Qmaster using this guide.

Troubleshoot using this guide.

If the controller cannot see the servers, turn on Bonjour in the Qmaster preferences.

Online resources – filmmaking

Montage Editing

Travel montage technique

Lighting from Lights Film School -
Short Film: Light the Short Side of the Face First
Filmmaking: Lead Room, Head Room & Anticipatory Framing
Filmmaking Tutorial: Framing Heights & Composition Tips
Cinematography Tutorial: Using Flags
Filmmaking Tutorial: Lighting From Upstage

Camerawork resource :-

Get Funky with Photomotion

The Wonders of Slating

Macro – A Closer Look

Sound resource :-

Overview of sound for film

Room Tone, Presence, and Ambience

Foley Artistry

Royalty-free Classical Music – paid

Out of copyright music @ – Swing

Out of copyright music @ – Tango

Out of copyright music @ – Waltz

Out of copyright music – CHARM

Shortlisted music

Awesome Classical Music For Your Movie Scenes

Classical Music Best Famous Popular Kickass – lavalier.htm

Stabilize footage in post

The best free option for footage stabilization seems to be VirtualDub + Deshaker. Here is how we can use this on a mac.

1. Download and install Xcode

2. Download and install Macports

3. Install and build Wine

4. Install and run VirtualDub and Deshaker

5. Install VirtualDub plugin pack to read mov files

6. Setup system to recognize mov files. At this time only Quicktime 7.5.5 works – so download that version only.

7. Use Producer settings for Deshaker

Apple Pro Speakers – Diy conversion

The Apple Pro speakers – Harmon Kardon, look great and give out an awesome sound. Unfortunately they use a proprietary connector (2.5mm).
Some folks have attempted a DIY conversion to include an amp, in order to use these.
More details :-

WordPress Themes