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Detail Preserving Upscale in After Effects CC: Tips, Tricks, and Comparisons




Detail Preserving Upscale in After Effects CC




Have you ever wanted to scale up an image or video without losing quality? If you have, then you might be interested in learning about detail preserving upscale, a powerful effect in After Effects CC that can help you achieve this goal. In this article, we'll explain what detail preserving upscale is, how to use it in After Effects, how it compares with other scaling methods, and some tips and tricks for getting the best results.




Detail Preserving Upscale in After Effects CC


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How to use detail preserving upscale in After Effects




Detail preserving upscale is an effect that you can apply to any layer in After Effects. It allows you to scale up images by large amounts while preserving details in the image. The sharpness of sharp lines and curves is preserved. For example, you can scale up from SD frame sizes to HD frame sizes, or from HD frame sizes to digital cinema frame sizes.


This effect is very closely related to the Preserve Details resampling option in the Image Size dialog box in Photoshop. For more information, see Resizing Images in Photoshop.


To use detail preserving upscale in After Effects, follow these steps:



  • Select the layer that you want to scale up.



  • Go to Effect > Distort > Detail-preserving Upscale.



  • In the Effect Controls panel, adjust the following parameters:




  • Fit To Comp Width: Sets Scale percentage so that the layer's width matches the composition's width.



  • Fit To Comp Height: Sets Scale percentage so that the layer's height matches the compositions's height.



  • Scale: The minimum value is 100%. You can adjust this value manually if you want a different scale ratio.



  • Reduce Noise: Used to apply noise reduction before the scaling calculations. Increase the value so that noise is not mistakenly treated as a detail that should be preserved.



  • Detail: High values increase the sharpness or contrast of edges; however ringing or halo artifacts may be introduced. Low values of Detail keep the edges more smooth and natural.



  • Alpha: Processes the alpha channel differently from the color channels. You can choose to process the alpha channel differently than the color channels, for performance reasons. The default is Bicubic.



Comparison with other scaling methods




The Detail-preserving Upscale effect is slower than other scaling alternatives, such as using the layer's native bilinear or bicubic scaling in the Transform property group. However, it offers better quality and more control over the details of the upscaled image. Let's see how it compares with some other scaling methods.


Bilinear and bicubic scaling




Bilinear and bicubic scaling are two common interpolation methods that are used when resizing images. Bilinear scaling uses an average of four pixels around each pixel to calculate the new pixel value. Bicubic scaling uses an average of 16 pixels around each pixel to calculate the new pixel value. Bicubic scaling usually produces smoother results than bilinear scaling, but it can also introduce some blurriness or softness.


In After Effects, you can choose between bilinear and bicubic scaling for any layer by going to Layer > Quality > Bilinear or Bicubic. You can also change this setting globally by going to Edit > Preferences > General > Default Spatial Interpolation To Bilinear or Bicubic.


Bilinear and bicubic scaling are faster than detail preserving upscale, but they can also lose some details or introduce some artifacts when scaling up images by large amounts. For example, here is a comparison of a 720p video scaled up to 4K using bilinear, bicubic, and detail preserving upscale:



Bilinear


Bicubic


Detail Preserving Upscale


As you can see, bilinear scaling produces some jagged edges and pixelation, bicubic scaling produces some blurriness and softness, and detail preserving upscale produces sharper and clearer edges while maintaining smoothness.


Preserve Details 2.0 in Photoshop




If you are familiar with Photoshop, you might have used or heard of Preserve Details 2.0, a resampling option that was introduced in Photoshop CC 2018. This option uses a deep learning algorithm to preserve details when enlarging images. It is very similar to detail preserving upscale in After Effects, as they both use the same technology.


To use Preserve Details 2.0 in Photoshop, follow these steps:



  • Open your image in Photoshop.



  • Go to Image > Image Size.



  • In the Image Size dialog box, check Resample and choose Preserve Details 2.0 from the drop-down menu.



  • Enter your desired width and height values or percentage values for your image.



  • You can also adjust the Reduce Noise slider if needed.



  • Click OK.



Preserve Details 2.0 can produce excellent results when enlarging images by large amounts. However, it has some limitations compared to detail preserving upscale in After Effects. For example, it does not have a Detail parameter that allows you to control the sharpness or contrast of edges. It also does not have an Alpha parameter that allows you to process the alpha channel differently from the color channels. Moreover, it only works on still images, not on videos or animations.Tips and tricks for using detail preserving upscale


To get the most out of detail preserving upscale, here are some tips and tricks that you can try:


Use high-quality source images




The quality of your source images will affect the quality of your upscaled images. If your source images are low-resolution, noisy, or blurry, detail preserving upscale will not be able to magically restore the missing details. It will only magnify the existing flaws. Therefore, it is recommended to use high mask to create a shape that defines the area that you want to adjust.


For example, you can use an adjustment layer with a Curves effect and a circular mask to create a vignette effect around the edges of your upscaled image.


To create an adjustment layer and a mask in After Effects, follow these steps:



  • Go to Layer > New > Adjustment Layer.



  • Go to Effect > Color Correction > Curves.



  • In the Effect Controls panel, drag the curve down to darken the image.



  • Select the Pen tool or the Shape tool in the Tools panel.



  • Draw a circular shape on the adjustment layer in the Composition panel.



  • Make sure that the mask is selected in the Timeline panel.



  • Press F to open the Mask Feather property and increase its value to create a soft edge for the mask.



  • Press MM to open the Mask Mode property and change it to Subtract to invert the mask.



You can also animate the mask path, feather, opacity, or expansion to create dynamic effects. For more information, see Masking and Tracking.


Use other effects and plugins




Detail preserving upscale is not the only effect that you can use to improve the quality and realism of upscaled images. You can also use other effects and plugins that are available in After Effects or from third-party developers. Here are some examples:



  • Sharpen: This effect increases the contrast of adjacent pixels to create the illusion of sharper edges. You can find it under Effect > Blur & Sharpen > Sharpen. Use it with caution, as too much sharpening can introduce noise or artifacts.



  • Unsharp Mask: This effect is similar to Sharpen, but it gives you more control over the amount, radius, and threshold of sharpening. You can find it under Effect > Blur & Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Use it with caution, as too much unsharp masking can introduce noise or artifacts.



  • Noise: This effect adds random pixels to simulate film grain or digital noise. You can find it under Effect > Noise & Grain > Noise. Use it sparingly, as too much noise can degrade the image quality.



  • Add Grain: This effect is similar to Noise, but it gives you more control over the size, intensity, color, and animation of the grain. You can find it under Effect > Noise & Grain > Add Grain. Use it sparingly, as too much grain can degrade the image quality.



  • Red Giant Magic Bullet Suite: This is a collection of plugins that can help you enhance the color, contrast, sharpness, and realism of your images. Some of the plugins included are Colorista IV, Denoiser III, Mojo II, Cosmo II, Renoiser, and Film. You can learn more and download a free trial from Red Giant.



  • Boris FX Continuum: This is another collection of plugins that can help you improve the quality and realism of your images. Some of the plugins included are BCC Beauty Studio, BCC Remover, BCC Optical Stabilizer, BCC Flicker Fixer, BCC Film Style, and BCC Film Grain. You can learn more and download a free trial from Boris FX.



Conclusion


In this article, we have learned what detail preserving upscale is, how to use it in After Effects, how it compares with other scaling methods, and some tips and tricks for getting the best results. We have seen that detail preserving upscale is a powerful effect that can help us scale up images by large amounts while preserving details in the image. However, it is not a magic bullet that can fix any image quality problem. We still need to use high-quality source images, adjustment layers and masks, and other effects and plugins to fine-tune our upscaled images and make them look realistic and appealing.


If you want to learn more about detail preserving upscale or other effects in After Effects, you can check out these resources:



  • Using the Detail-preserving Upscale effect in After Effects



  • Resizing Images in Photoshop



  • How to use masks to control effects in After Effects



  • After Effects Tutorials



We hope that you have enjoyed this article and learned something new. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions related to detail preserving upscale: