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Photon Pro


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FCPX Inspector view

Once you've loaded the Photon Pro Noise Reduction effect for your clip, you will see five parameters that are used to tune the denoising behavior. 

Spatial Radius will determine the size of the window around each pixel used for noise reduction. A larger value will give a smoother result but potentially create blurrier images.

Temporal Radius will determine how many frames, before and after the current one are used for noise reduction. You'll want to use a higher value to reduce the 'flicker' effect.

Luma NR and Chroma NR determine the amount of noise reduction that is performed on the frame, for the luminance and chrominance values respectively. You will want to use a value that gets rid of the film grain look but no higher than that. A higher value will produce unnecessary blurry images.

The three major sources for noise in digital video are:
  • Optical effects due to the quantum nature of the light: In poorly lit scenes the uneven distribution of photons will result in irregular lighting of the camera focal plane. A faster lens (low F-number) and a larger sensor help to mitigate these issues by capturing more of the available light.
  • Electrical effects such as power supply noise, dark current levels, read-out circuitry noise or ADC noise in the sensor create additional artifacts at the sensor level. Using a higher ISO setting in your capture system will generally make these effects more visible.
  • Digital quantization effects, especially evident in low color depth sensors. A sensor with a 14 bit encoding will be less sensitive to quantization problems than a sensor with 10 bit encoding.
Due to the combination of the above issues, the correct value for Luma NR and Chroma NR will be higher for scenes with lower light level and/or where a high ISO capture setting has been used.

Start with adjusting your Luma NR level until the grain look is removed. This will generally get you 95% of the way to the desired result.
If you still notice some color artifacts, you can eliminate them by increasing the Chroma NR value. 
When fighting chroma noise issues, you will benefit by using a larger Spatial Radius.

The Spatial Mask setting affects the edge sharpness of the results. You will want to leave this enabled at all times unless you're intentionally trying to obtain a blurrier results or a ghosting effect.