We've been in the era of 4K for quite a long time, but still got frustrated by pixelated or grainy videos on occasion. Today, we have rounded up the best video editing software to clean grains and pixelation visually, repairing software to grainy videos caused by file corruption, as well as some tips against pixelated videos in pre-production.
Why We Get Pixelated Videos
Videos got pixelated due to mainly two causes – incompatible media player and the quality of the video file.
For the player cause, you can use capable video players that can handle videos with high resolution, high bitrate, and efficient codecs. And it's easy to check if it's the reason for pixelation by changing the default media player to third-party players.
As of the video file, many factors would result in visible pixel blocks, such as low light filming conditions, improper ISO and aperture settings, defective cameras, or highly-compressed video format. And these are the real hard nuts to crack. But don't worry. Whichever got in your case, you can find solutions below.
Method 1. Fix Pixelated Videos with VideoProc Vlogger
VideoProc Vlogger, the best free video editor for Windows and Mac, offers multiple effective solutions to unpixelate videos including denoising, sharpening, 4K rendering, etc. Notably, it handles any video from defective cameras, social media platforms, DVDs, and anywhere else. Compared to other tools, it achieves better results than expected by improving upon the existing pixel blocks, noises, edges, shakes, etc.
VideoProc Vlogger – Free Video Editing Software to Produce High Quality Videos
- Input and output 4K/1080p 120fps/60fps for free without limits.
- Smooth real-time control and preview of the fixing results.
- High Quality Render Engine to compensate for the quality loss in source files.
- Level-3 hardware acceleration to boost video process real-time faster.
- Support all popular video formats – MP4, MOV, MKV, WebM, HEVC, H.264, VP9, AV1…
- All-round editing features for rough cut, creativity, fun, and beyond.
Download VideoProc Vlogger and make grainy and pixelated videos clear as the original.
Step 1. Launch VideoProc Vlogger and create a new project.
Open this video editing software on your computer, and you'll see a project panel pop up. Then set the resolution and frame rate the same as your source video. Then you'll be landed in the editing workspace, and you just need to drag and drop pixelated video files to it.
Step 2. Enable Image Denoising feature.
Click to select the grainy or pixelated footage in the timeline. Head to the Inspector panel next to the preview window. Click Image Blurring & Smoothing and tick the box before Enable Image Denoising.
Step 3. Adjust Image Denoising settings.
To get an accurate modification, go on adjusting the options below:
- Deviation: Adjust the radius centered on each pixel. When you drag the slider towards the right, more neighboring pixels will be included in the computation.
- Coefficient: It enables you to change the level of weights given to neighboring pixels.
- Edge Threshold: Just drag the slider to find the sweet spot in real-time.
Pro Tips: If you want more control over the frame, you can use the in-built color editor in VideoProc Vlogger. It enables you to adjust exposure, contrast, and sharpness which work together to produce a clear and crisp video.
Step 4. Render and export the fixed video.
Hit the Export button under the Inspector panel. Finish settings like file name, output folder, and video format. Click Start to export the video from VideoProc Vlogger.
Method 2. Fix Pixelated Videos with After Effects
There are bunches of advanced plugins for Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects that can unpixelate a video with visual quality improvement. However, none of them are simple or free.
If you don't want to pay extra fees, try the preset effect called Remove Grain in After Effects. It can remove grains caused by low light or high ISO while recording and lets you apply the effect to the designated area or the entire frame. Here's how.
Step 1. Buy and download After Effects from the official website of Adobe. It costs $251.88/yr, and you can get a discount for educational use.
Step 2. After installing it on your computer, open it and create a new project.
Step 3. Import the video file to its composition tab and drag it to the timeline.
Step 4. Open the Effects & Preset tab on the right side of the preview window. Type into Remove Grain and drag the effect to the composition area.
Step 5. Now you can see it create a preview window of the effect. You can zoom in to see how it looks like in detail.
Step 6. Move to the Noise Reduction Settings and fine-tune the values of Noise Reduction to make it more realistic.
Step 7. Change Preview to Final Output in the Viewing Mode which will put the effect on the whole image.
Step 8. Export the video and set the output and render options properly to retain the image quality as much as possible.
Method 3. Fix Pixelated Videos with VLC Media Player
VLC is a free and versatile video player that most users have installed on the computer. It can play a wide array of videos including pixelated videos caused by index file corruption.
However, there are two things you should know before walking through the how-to part. First, it only fixes the grain or pixel glitch of videos in AVI format. Second, it won't export the fixed video for you because this feature is only available for playback in VLC.
Step 1. Open VLC media player. Click Tools > Preferences > Input/Codecs.
Step 2. Go to the Damaged or incomplete AVI file. Expand the drop-down menu and choose Always fix.
Step 3. Click the Save button at the bottom to get back to the main interface.
Step 4. Click Media > Open File to load the video. Now you can see it make the pixelated video clear.
Method 4. Fix Pixelated Videos with Stellar Repair
Stellar Repair is a paid program providing digital video repair solutions on Windows and Mac. It can fix grainy, blurry, jerky, and choppy videos. Also, it can remove pixelation caused by corruptions in video frames, headers, or movement of videos.
Note that Stellar Repair uses the sample file from the same device to restore corrupted files, but cannot fix videos that was recorded with pixelation. Therefore, only if your video gets grainy or pixelated due to file damage, you can try the following instructions.
Step 1. Launch Stellar Repair on your computer. Click Add File to load the video you are going to fix.
Step 2. Tick the box before the file name. Open its Advanced Repair feature and click Next in the dialog box.
Step 3. Click Browse to select the required sample file for the video.
Step 4. Click the Repair button to activate the repairing process.
Step 5. When it is done, choose the location to save the video in the dialog box. Now you can preview the file under the Action column to check if Stellar Repair cleaned the pixelated video.
Bonus Tips: How to Avoid Pixelated Videos in Pre-Production
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you haven't shot the video, there are a few things to prevent videos from being grainy or pixelated.
1. Film in proper lighting conditions.
A lack of light will cause grainy and muddy footage undoubtedly. So try not to shoot videos in low light like midnight, cloudy day, tunnel, basement, etc. If you have to, add extra lights properly with lamps, strobes, lighting reflectors, and so forth.
2. Use a wide aperture.
A wide aperture (typically f/2.8 - f/5.6) lets in more lights and focuses sharply on things in a short distance, thus producing bright and crisp footage.
3. Use lower ISO.
ISO indicates how sensitive the camera sensor is to the light. The higher the value is, the brighter the video looks, however, the more grains and image noises the video has just like the image below shows. So lowering the value of ISO (typically ISO 100 - 800) is a good way against grains.
4. Use a camera with a larger sensor.
A larger sensor is better, as it allows larger pixels on the sensor, which, in return, helps record more details. Therefore, a full-frame sensor is the best option, then an APS-C sensor, and lastly, a Micro Four Thirds sensor.
5. Set up your camera for high quality videos.
If your camera is capable of filming in 4K HDR at a high frame rate, it would produce clear and crisp videos. Just remember to switch to this mode before you press the recording button on it. If not, the last method is to upscale 1080p to 4K with advanced post-processing software.