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Digital Filmmaking Part 1 - Reducing Compression Artifacts

Reducing DV Compression Artifacts By Paulo de Andrade
Welcome to the first installment of the Digital Filmmaking series. Over time we will cover all aspects of digital filmmaking, from script to screen.

I thought about starting this series with the first steps in producing a digital film. But because we live in non-linear times, I figured that I should jump ahead a little bit in order to help those readers who have already shot their movies but are facing some common challenges.


I have received many e-mails from digital filmmakers who want to transfer their movies to film for theatrical distribution and competitions. A very common concern is that digital compression artifacts will become really noticeable when the movie is projected onto a big screen. This is a legitimate concern because while most DV artifacts are virtually invisible on regular video monitors, they can easily be seen on broadcast monitors with a noise display switch. The compression used in DV is very clever and it disguises itself very well, fooling our eyes into not perceiving it. But its presence can be felt when dealing with specific situations such as chroma keying and big screen projection.

Reducing or even eliminating digital compression artifacts has, until recently, been very hard to do. Only a few facilities had the technology to do it properly and it has been kept as a closely guarded secret. Fortunately Visual Infinity, a Canadian company, has recently released a piece of software called Grain Surgery that does a great job at minimizing digital compression artifacts. It utilizes special algorithms that sample a shot for noise and compression artifacts and then eliminate them from the image. The results are truly amazing and the processed footage can be projected with a lot more confidence.

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Related Keywords:digital filmmaking, DV, Adobe After Effects, compression artifacts, grain surgery, Visual Infinity, independent films

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