Motion DSP vReveal Software Review

tacohunter52 - 2009-03-18 21:12:20 in Software
Category: Software
Reviewed by: tacohunter52   
Reviewed on: April 6, 2009
MotionDSP
Price: $49.99

Introduction:

You all know the TV show CSI, the show where old actors who can't get jobs making feature films solve repetative crimes. I know that is very blunt, but that's basically what it is. If you watch the show, you'll see the actors do certain repetitive things in order to figure out how someone has died, or to figure out who their prime suspect will be. One of the tools the writers of CSI will use in order to do this is a special photo editing program. It allows them to take extremely pixelated, shaky, noisy, dark, and blurry pictures, and then turn them into crystal clear images. We know of course, programs like this are not readily available to the public, at least until now! To be honest, when I first heard about this product I was quite skeptical, but I was told it was, "real life CSI stuff." I figured 'what the heck, I'll give it a shot'. vReveal was created by MotionDSP for Microsoft Windows. It is designed to do two things: drastically improve the quality of flawed videos and make it extraordinarily easy to do so! MotionDSP is the creator of Ikena, which is a forensic software actually used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. vReveal is an adaption of this software, so it should hopefully do what it is supposed to.

Another interesting little fact is that vReveal was designed for CUDA-enabled GPUs. In other words, it was designed to take advantage of the parallel computing power of the NVIDIA GPU. If you're using an older NVIDIA card, or refuse to use anything other then ATI cards, you've got nothing to worry about. vReveal will still work with any CPU, but it was designed to use the many cores of a GPU. This means vReveal is able to process your video up to 5 times faster, while utilizing a CUDA-enabled GPU. So how does this software work? A video is basically a linear collection of multiple images encoded in an either magnetic or digital format. Well, actually, that is really all it is. Anyway MotionDSP’s powerful algorithms will analyze multiple frames in order to get the best possible outcome. Because there is also motion tracking between each frame, vReveal is able to stabilize videos extremely well. Now that we know a little bit about the software and what it is supposed to do, let's find out how it performs.

Getting Started:

If you've seen one installer you've seen them all, and vReveal setup wizard is no different. To begin you must click next, which has always been a little strange to me, because if I opened it up to install why should I have to verify that I want to install it? I digress. Upon next, you'll be greeted with MotionDSP's terms and conditions. You should of course read through them, although most people will just click next to get the software installed. So go ahead and sign away your life and the title to your vehicle as you hastily click "next" to get this program installed.

 

 

After you've agreed to the terms and conditions, you'll be asked to which folder you'd like to install vReveal. If you haven't precreated one, just do what every one does and click "next." From there your program will install, and you'll then be shown what I call "the finish screen." The finish screen gives you two options before you click "finish." Option one is to launch vReveal, and option two is to add an icon to your desktop. Simply select the ones you'd like and click "finish."

 

 

Now that we've got vReveal installed and ready to go, let's find out how well it works.

First Impressions:

When I first opened the program, I wasn't sure what to think. It looked like a mixture between photoshop and a movie player, but that's what it's supposed to be. That being said, what on earth else would it look like - a menu at a fast food restaurant? It does not however, look bad. In fact, it seems to be extremely user friendly! It looks very basic, but in a good way. MotionDSP did not try to make it look fancy, and they did not make it look overly simplified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon opening, you'll be greeted with the Gallery. From here you can view all the videos you've currently added, import more videos, select videos to edit, or Share them. You can also choose to turn your GPU on and off. This does not mean your GPU will shut off. This means that the program will use your CPU instead. Of course there are no real advantages to this, unless you're not using a CUDA-enabled GPU.

 

 

After you choose a video that you want to edit, you'll be brought to the Enhance section. You'll start off under the basic tab, which only gives you a few options. You'll be able to choose between One Click Fix, Clean, 2x Resolution, Sharpen, Auto Contrast, Stabilize, and Fill Light. The video will be on the right side of the screen. This basically means you can see how the adjustments effect your video as you're making them. You'll also have the ability to take screen shots of your video. This could be useful if you're looking for "before and after" pictures. Clicking the Fine Tuning tab will give you the same options. However, you can adjust them yourself in order to make the movie look as perfect as possible. Once again, you'll be able to watch the video as you edit.

 

 

The Share tab does just what it says it does. It will ask you "How would you like to share?", and then give you two options. The first being YouTube, and the second being your Computer. The video is still on the right side of the screen. This way you can watch it one last time to make sure there is nothing compromising that you would not want the world to see. Once you've decided it's fine to show the world, go ahead and share it!

 

Now we know what it looks like, let's find out how well it works.

Closer Look:

MotionDSP included 7 main tools in vReveal to help you make your video just the way you want it. These tools consist of Clean, 2x Resolution, Sharpen, Light & Contrast, Color, Stabalize, and Deinterlace. By themselves they don't really do all that much, but together they can change your not-so-great video into something pretty decent. I'll give you a quick run down of each of these tools and what they do.

 

Clean:

Clean removes noise artifacts from your video. This includes pixelation and grain. Clean has three settings - Low, Medium, and High. Low is labeled faster and High is labled slower. What this means is that the higher the setting, the longer it will take to process. Although this is a small price to pay in order to make your movie look better, I would suggest putting Clean to High for all of your videos. However, if you're pressed for time a lower setting may be favorable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2x Resolution:

2x Resolution is actually a pretty cool tool. What it does is double the height and width of your video, so a lower resolution video of say 320x240 will be scaled to 640x480. This feature is only available to videos with a resolution of 352x288 or smaller. If your video happens to be in this range of resolutions, then I'd once again have to say turn it on for every video.

 

 

Sharpen:

Sharpen is a great tool for blurry videos, because what it does is sharpen the edges of objects. This basically means it will make things stand out from one another, instead of just being one big smudge. The higher you set your sharpening the more it will sharpen your video. The amount you do this will vary depending on your needs, but be aware that too much sharpening can detract from the image. Focus adjusts the point-spread of sharpening in your video. As you increase Sharpening, I'd suggest decreasing Focus. This will help make the objects in your picture smoother. Sharpening's default setting is 0, whereas Focus is automatically set to 1.

 

 

 

 

Light & Contrast:

Light & Contrast gives you several options and the likelyhood of them being needed in any video is quite high. The first option is Fill Light, which brightens your video. If you have a very dark video, you may wish to set this as high as it will go. If your video is already well lit, it might be best to just leave it. Highlights will increase the intensity of bright spots in your video. This tool should be used in small doses or else your video might end up looking like something from an art show. Shadows darkens the dark bits of your video. This again should not be set to maximum, unless of course you don't like seeing what you recorded. Auto Contrast does just what the name says it does. It will automatically contrast the Highlights and Shadows for the best possible outcome. The Fill Light default setting is 0. The Highlight default setting is 255, and the Shadow default setting is 0.

 

 

 

Color:

I'm sure that every one can guess what Color does. It allows you to adjust the color in your videos. You have two options, the first of which is Saturation. Saturation is automatically set at 50. What it does, is change strength of the colors in your video. If you set it to 0 you'll end up with black and white. With a setting of 100, you'll end up with the opposite of black and white. Your second option is White Balance, which is set at neutral. You can change it to cool, which means blue, or to warm, which means red. I'd suggest leaving White balance alone for the most part, especially if you are color blind!

 

 

Stabilize:

This setting assists in mitigating the blur we get from shaky videos. Let's be honest - unless we are using tripods every time we record an event, our recordings are shaky! The shakier your video, the higher you should set stabilize. Zoom is very useful if you'll be stabilizing your videos, because when you stabilize, a black frame will appear around your video. You should zoom in untill the black areas are gone.

 

 

 

Deinterlace:

Deinterlacing is used to split interlaced video into separate fields. 1 frame = 2 fields.

 

You can see that separately these settings really don't do much. Like I said before, together they're strong (yes I got that from a disney movie script, or was it my PE coach?). To start off, I set Clean to high and turned on 2x Resolution. I then set Sharpen to 49, and lowered Focus to .80. For lighting I set Fill Light to 100, turned Highlights down to 201, and actually turned up Shadows to 49. For color, I turned Saturation up to 89, and kept White Balance at neutral. Who needs red pictures anyway? I did turn on Stabalize, but I kept it low, as you will not be able to see the effects through a picture.

 

Closer Look:

There are many settings that you can use along with the main seven tools. The first of which is what I'll call the trimmer. If you look down at the blue bar, that represents the length of the video and you'll see two black triangles. These triangles can be moved, and as you move them the length of the video is adjusted. This can be useful if you want to only show one part of your film clip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second setting is rotate 90 degrees. This of course will rotate your video 90 degrees. As for a use for this, I can't really think of any. Unless of course you want to make it look like your walking up a wall or something. Then, this effect could be quite useful.

 

At the bottom of the screen you'll find the usuall suspects; Play, Loop and Restart. Included with these, however are screenshots and the comparison button. The comparison button allows you to compare the video with what it looked like before side by side. This is a really cool feature!

 

 

 

The last setting is perhaps the most important. It's the ability to turn your GPU on or off. Having your GPU on will make the picture look a little better, but the main thing it is supposed to effect is saving/processing time. The GPU did take a lot of the load off of the CPU like it was supposed to, but here is the interesting thing. My i7 saved the program in more than half the time it took the GPU to do it. This confuses me, because according to MotionDSP, a GPU is supposed to be able to process more FPS than a CPU.

 

 

 

That considered, I tried another video and their graph proved to be correct. The CPU took a little over a minute, whereas the GPU took around 15 seconds.

 

System Requirements:

 

 

CPU

Intel or AMD 1.6GHz CPU

Memory

512MB RAM

OS

XP 32-64 BIT, VISTA 32-64 BIT

GPU

CUDA-enabled Video Card

 

 

Features:

 

Enhance videos

Supported formats:

 

 

 

Information courtesy of MotionDSP@ http://www.vreveal.com/home

Testing:

I will test this program by using a few of the videos provided, and then by testing a few of my own videos. I will use One Click Fix and then use fine tuning to see if I can improve the video any more manually. I will provide a before picture, a One Click Fix picture, and a Fine Tuning picture for comparison. Let's see if this program can actually do what it's supposed to do.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Included Videos:

The first video I tested is what I'll call "books." It featured books that were slightly distorted, but you could still read some of the titles. Hitting One Click Fix brightened the whole pictured, made it easier to read the titles, and made the overall picture clearer. I was then able to brighten the video more and make it a little sharper.

 

 

The next video is a picture of a city. The video is extremely distorted and grainy. Most people would call it, "An amateur piece of crap." Come on be honest - don't we all take videos like this from time to time? One Click Fix was amazingly able to clear up most of the video, at least to the point where it is recognizable as a city. I was able to brighten the picture some more, but other than that, One Click Fix got pretty much everything that needed to be done to fix it up! Check it out!

 

 

The next video is a dark, slightly distorted video of coral. It actually looked like what you might expect an underwater video to look like. For this reason I didn't think much could be done to it. Boy was I wrong! Hitting One Click Fix made the film clip much more colorful. I then tried to increase the brightness and focus. I can't say what I did was an improvement compared to the One Click Fix, but it was fun to crank it up a notch! Once again, check it out! Whoa baby!

 

 

The next video was a grainy video of a dog on a couch. At this point I was thinking One Click Fix can fix a video way better then I could, and it did make the dog look much clearer. However, I was still unimpressed by the darkness of the video . I tried brightening it and managed to make the video look look even better.

 

 

I'm calling this next video "Shelves" for lack of a better name. I can't really explain what it is, or what's wrong with it for that matter. Looking at it however you can tell that it's just plain messed up. So I clicked One Click Fix, and I swear it fixed 20 different things. The video was suddenly more colorful, more clear, and overall way better. I was then able to smooth it out some, as well as add a little bit more color. Overall, I was very happy with the way this video turned out. Double whoa baby!

 

 

My Videos:

This first video is of my dog. It wasn't all that bad, but improvements could be made. One Click Fix was able get rid of the slight grainy texture and improve the color in the video. I was then able to bring out a bit more color, as well as add a bit of texture.

 

 

Continuing on the theme of "My Dog," I attempted to take an extremely blurry video of her. As you can see, I had no problems achieving this. One Click Fix removed the distortion, and improved the color, but my dog was still blurry. I was then able to remove some of the blur. Not bad for a crap piece of video in the first place.

 

 

For my next video I decided to take some footage of my computer through the side panel window. Of course, it turned out blurry, distorted, and full of reflections. One Click Fix was able to brighten the picture and remove some distortion. I was then able to decrease blur, and in the process I added some grain.

 

 

I then zoomed in on some birds in a dark room. The result was a deliciously bad video of two green blobs in need of improvement. One Click Fix was able to clean up the video a great deal. It was actually able to remove the motion blur from me purposely shaking the camera while I filmed. To me that was VERY impressive. I was then able to brighten up the picture. As you can see, those green clumps in the original are actually birds. I am now expecting to finally see some stellar UFO footage in the next few years from users of this incredible product!

 

 

My next video proved to be very interesting. I took a video of a bug on the ceiling, and of course it was blurry. Clicking on One Click Fix however did not fix the video. Instead it turned the ceiling purple and turned the the bug into a large red blob. I thought to myself okay, this is interesting. So I re-recorded the bug, only this time I made it clear. Once again, I hit One Click Fix and this time it turned the bug and ceiling red. I guess the program just wanted to tell me that my room desparately needed some color!.

 

 

 

Even though the outcome of the bug was unsatisfactory, this program has greatly impressed me. I'm going to be honest. It really blew me away! I had no idea it would work the way it did. And this includes the bug!

Batch Saving:

vReveal gives you the option to Batch Save your videos. In order to do this, you simply edit the videos you want. You will then return to your gallery and CTRL click all of the videos you'd like to save. There is a "Save to Disk" button located near the folder's name that your videos are in. If you click on that, it will save all of the videos you've selected, and of course having your GPU enabled should increase this save time. When the GPU was enabled the video was saved in 1 minute and 39 seconds. When the CPU was the only componant working on the videos it took 2 minutes and 22 seconds, so there was a significant improvement here. Using the GPU shaved almost a whole minute off save times, and keep in mind these were only 30 second long videos. I'm sure if you're dealing with longer videos you'll see an even greater improvement.

 

 

Another thing to keep in mind is FPS performance in videos. As you enhance your videos, you'll see a very significant FPS drop. However, it did vary on the video and what settings you were using. While the GPU was enabled, there would be about a 20% improvement in FPS.

Conclusion:

I went into this thinking that vReveal was going to fail. I was wrong. With the exception of the "Bug Video," it greatly improved everything that was thrown at it. MotionDSP did an extremely good job at making vReveal easy to use as well. In just about every test, One Click Fix did a better job improving the videos than I did. In some of them, I ended up ruining what Once Click Fix had improved. Then again, this is just me. The chances are that when it comes to videos, you'll be able to edit circles around me. While this may sound corny, but I'm giving vReveal two Gigantic Thumbs Up! vReveal will be great for anyone looking to get into video editing and for those that are cursed with taking horrible videos, vReveal will work AMAZINGLY well for you!

Another great thing about vReveal is its ability to utilize CUDA. The processor may be considered the most important part of a computer, but a program such as vReveal will put a lot of load on your CPU, which means you won't be able to use that processing power for something else. The GPU's ability to take most of this load is a great addition to any program, and I'm glad MotionDSP used it for vReveal. On top of that, having your GPU enabled means you'll notice better quality, more FPS, and faster save times. Though if your video is only 30 seconds long, the save time will only decrease by a few seconds. If you're using longer videos you'll notice a much better improvement. If you're using ATI, or just don't have a CUDA-enabled video card, MotionDSP didn't leave you out. vReveal will work with just about any CPU, but then again if you're still using a Pentium 3 or older, editing a 10 second video might take hours.

I really cannot think of anything bad to say about this program. There was purple in one video, which was a little bit weird. However, it did so incredibly well in the other videos that it cancels out one minor failure. Motion DSP, you definitely made a winner here!

You can try out vReveal for a free 30 day trial.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: