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Instant HD

Red Giant plug-in eases the transition period By Stephen Schleicher

As we ramble on down the road to doing HD production and editing every day, there is going to be a transition period where editors are going to need to mix archival SD footage in their high-def projects.  Red Giant Softwares Instant HD is one solution that makes the transition easier.

Instant HD up-converts standard DV footage into a variety of HD formats.  This seems like a big claim, but using mathematical algorithms (yeah, I didnt like higher math either), it interpolates missing pixels to create the higher resolution video. 

Interestingly, Red Giant claims you can use Instant HD to convert cell phone and webcam video into standard definition footage.  I dont have one of those fancy cell phones, so I cant test that claim, but if you can take that footage and make a SD clip, you could conceivably take the resulting clip and run Instant HD again.  The results wouldnt be pretty, but in a pinch?

With only five controls (Output Size, Filter Type, Sharpness, Quality, and Antialiasing), it is very easy to use Instant HD.  Even better a single purchase of Instant HD ($99) will work on either a Mac or PC with Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere, and Apple Final Cut Pro.

How It Works
For this review I tested Instant HD in both Adobe After Effects 7.0, and Apple Final Cut Pro.  With both applications, the process of applying the effect is slightly different from one another, but the results are the same.

In After Effects, the user creates a composition the size of the destination HD format.  The SD clip is added to the Timeline, and Instant HD is applied to the clip.  The SD clip attempts to resize to the size of the comp, and most of the time it will work.  I used a 720p clip provided by Red Giant.  For the 720p HD clip, the resize works perfect, however when I tried to uprez to a 1080p comp, I had to adjust the Output option to get it to fill the area.

When using Final Cut Pro, the user creates two sequences with the same HD destination size.  One sequence is for the source clip(s), while the other sequence is the master/final sequence.  In order for Instant HD to work in Final Cut Pro, you must nest the source sequence into the master sequence.  From there, the Instant HD effect is applied to the nested sequence.  This process was rather surprising to me as After Effects doesnt require the user to go through this many hoops.  However, unlike After Effects, Instant HD for Final Cut Pro resizes perfectly, no matter the HD type being used.

So does it look?  In the following images, the image on the top is the SD clip resized 400% to fit the size of the comp window, while the image on the bottom shows the result of applying Instant HD. 

With the proper tweaking, the Instant HD clip looks a lot better than using the scale property in your application.

Whats Bad
The biggest gotcha for Instant HD is it was designed to work with progressive scan video, which means if you have interlaced footage, youll need to convert it to progressive before applying the effect.

Instant HD works with both Macs and PCs, however, if you have already bought into the Apple Intel chipset on your new shiny Mac, Instant HD is, as of this writing, not updated for Universal Binary.  This means not only will it not work, it wont even show up in your effect list after the install.

Other than that, I was generally pleased with the results Instant HD was able to create.  Regardless of the platform or application used, there will be render times, and that is something that editors and compositors have gotten used to.

Bottom Line
Instant HD is a very simple plug-in that does exactly what Red Giant claims; it converts your SD footage into HD with exceptional ease.  However, at the end of the day, the final HD footage is still going to lack that special something that makes true HD sparkle.  Still, if you need to incorporate standard definition footage into a high definition project, Instant HD appears to be a good solution to the problem, which earns it a strong 4 out of 5 Stars.

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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (, where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at [email protected]

Related Keywords:red giant, up-convert, hi-def, hd, standard def, sd, after effects, final cut pro, apple adobe, premiere


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