There’s more to sharpening than dialing up an effect. Let’s take a look at the right way to sharpen footage in post.

If you’ve been on a DSLR film set, then you’ve probably heard that you should shoot as flat as possible at the lowest sharpness level. This is a true statement for the most part, but sharpening in post is pointless if your footage ends up looking horrible. In the following article, we’ll take a look at how to correctly sharpen footage in post.

Sharpening In-Camera vs. Post

One of the main reason why you should sharpen in post vs. sharpening in-camera is background noise. When your camera adds sharpness, it will inevitably add unnecessary noise throughout your image — and not in a cool film grain kind of way. Sure you can use denoising filters in post to turn it down, but in doing so you will kill your sharpness.

A better way is to sharpen in post. By sharpening in-post, you can have better control over the sharpened areas while minimizing noise. The following tutorial shows us how it’s done in After Effects. However, even if you don’t use After Effects, this same concept can be applied to your NLE of choice.

How to Correctly Sharpen Footage In Post: Overly Sharpened Image
An example of too much sharpness processing. 

If you’re looking for the best image possible, shooting an unsharp image in-camera is the way to go. However, image quality isn’t always everything. If you are short on time, you might want to go ahead and turn up your sharpness in-camera so you don’t have to render out your footage with a sharpness filter in post. It all just depends on your production.

In the following video tutorial by Casey Faris, we will learn how to correctly sharpen footage in post. The technique explained in this tutorial uses the unsharp mask feature built-into After Effects. The unsharp masks gives users greater control over the various nuances associated with a professional sharpen.

This tutorial was first shared by Casey Faris on his YouTube Channel. 

One of the most interesting take-aways from this tutorial is the fact that 0 sharpness on your camera still means that there will be some sharpness added. So instead it’s better to dial your camera’s sharpness all the way down.

Want to learn more about post-processing? Check out a few of the following video tutorials here on PremiumBeat:

  1. Remove Warp From Warp Stabilizer Using After Effects
  2. Key Workflow Tips For A Smooth Color Grading Process
  3. What is Light Wrapping? Tips & Tutorials

We’re interested to hear your take on how you sharpen in-post. Do you use the unsharp mask or something else? Sound off in the comments below.

Special thanks to NoFilmSchool for tipping us off about this tutorial.