How to "sqeeze-out" more Night Vision from CMOS using Video Editing software

niko

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Unfortunately most dashcameras has no option to adjust colour settings ( brightness, contrast etc ).
However many CMOS sensors have much better performance than you are getting out of them with dashcamera factory original firmware. In many cases it is hard to get quick help ( firmware update ) from manufacturer.
In this case you can use Video Editing solfware to get some improvement for video playback.
Of course correct way would be if those adjustments would be done by original dashcamera firmware and video processed correct way before it will be saved to the memory card, so "DIY" fiddling with video is not most practical way and takes time to play with video editing software, but still it can help a little bit in many situations to get better video playback result.

I havn't tried yet same technique with other dashcameras which uses other type of CMOS sensor. I only played with videos from CF-100 ( Sony Exmor ), but I guess same technique should work with other dashcameras CMOS sensor as well.

If somebody have time to fiddle with their videos using same technique, you can do it and share your result here.

At the end of last year I was testing a BlackSys CF-100 and was not fully happy with Sony Exmor CMOS performance, or let's say with how firmware was tuned-up to get most out from it. So I did simple quick test using AVS Video Editor, just to show to manufacturer of BlackSys that Sony Exmor is capable of much more, so they should work on firmware improvement, which they did and improved a little bit ( I will be posting results soon in my other thread ).

Below is my test:
"DIY" 15 & 20% Brightness added, BlackSys CF-100 vs Original FW, vs Panorama II v 1.08.05

Here are my video:


Added:

 
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Dashmellow

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There is a famous computer axiom known as GIGO (Garbage IN Garbage OUT) meaning that if invalid data is entered into a system, the resulting output will also be invalid. Although originally applied to computer software, the axiom holds true for all systems. Photography and video is a perfect example of GIGO and one of the best platforms to see it at work in real time as we can see in Niko's demonstration. Instead of Garbage In, the Exmor chip is recording very High Quality information that can be extracted from the video. With lower quality chips and DSPs no amount of adjusting would help bring out information that isn't there in the first place. There is a obviously a reason the Exmor sensors have the reputation they do as the demonstration shows.

Because of my background in photography I've been making adjustments like this for quite a long time since before the days of digital. In the old days it was done with exposure and film development to change the characteristic contrast curves of a given emulsion based film. Today it is done with computers but it is exactly the same thing, photometrically speaking. Probably the most important adjustment is the "Gamma Curve" used in concert with contrast and brightness. Gamma correction is a complex calculation of Luminance and Luma (in RGB video) "Gamma" is a little hard to grasp but there is a very good explanation on Wikipedia that demonstrates why it it so important in bringing out features in night time images. Other adjustments can also make a difference in how the video looks but Gamma correction is the thing that makes this all really happen. It is similar to brightness and contrast both of which will make a big difference in how the video renders but is not the same thing. You need to use all of these controls together depending on the particular video and the software you are using.

I'm glad that Niko is bringing the ability to make these adjustments to everyone's attention as from my experience many
details can be tweaked out of an image even sometimes from cheaper quality GIGO prone sensors.

Gamma Correction demo:
"The effect of gamma correction on an image:
The original image was taken to varying powers,
showing that powers larger than one make the shadows darker,
while powers smaller than one make dark regions lighter."
(From Wikipedia)

GammaCorrection.jpg
 
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niko

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There is a famous computer axiom known as GIGO (Garbage IN Garbage OUT) meaning that if invalid data is entered into a system, the resulting output will also be invalid. Although originally applied to computer software, the axiom holds true for all systems. Photography and video is a perfect example of GIGO and one of the best platforms to see it at work in real time as we can see in Niko's demonstration. Instead of Garbage In, the Exmor chip is recording very High Quality information that can be extracted from the video. With lower quality chips and DSPs no amount of adjusting would help bring out information that isn't there in the first place. There is a obviously a reason the Exmor sensors have the reputation they do as the demonstration shows.

Because of my background in photography I've been making adjustments like this for quite a long time since before the days of digital. In the old days it was done with exposure and film development to change the characteristic contrast curves of a given emulsion based film. Today it is done with computers but it is exactly the same thing, photometrically speaking. Probably the most important adjustment is the "Gamma Curve" used in concert with contrast and brightness. Gamma correction is a complex calculation of Luminance and Luma (in RGB video) "Gamma" is a little hard to grasp but there is a very good explanation on Wikipedia that demonstrates why it it so important in bringing out features in night time images. Other adjustments can also make a difference in how the video looks but Gamma correction is thing that makes this all happen. It is similar to brightness and contrast both of which will make a big difference in how the video renders but is not the same thing. You need to use all of these controls together depending on the particular video and the software you are using.

I'm glad that Niko is bringing the ability to make these adjustments to everyone's attention as from my experience many
details can be tweaked out of an image even sometimes from cheaper quality GIGO prone sensors.

Gamma Correction demo:
View attachment 4434

I see you are good in Photography ;)
I am glad to get support of my test and theory of Sony Exmor CMOS being able to record very High Quality information that can be extracted from the video later on via Video Editing ( or like you said GIGO axiom ), even despite some time due to not fully perfectly tuned-up dashcam firmware ( like in my test for BlackSys CF-100), - it is possible to improve playback of night vision recording via video editing, at least if recording is done using Sony Exmor CMOS. Not sure how about other CMOS-s, but as you mentioned, - it's all depend on how much good quality info is recorded on the first place.
I did also played with whole options of colour adjustments ( Gamma, Hue, Saturation, Brightness ), but as you mentioned, - this is very hard job and must be made to each scenario individually. Most universal way was just to add brighntess +15 +20% in this particular test.

I wish dashcams GUI would had option of Full Colour Correction Adjustments, something like Mobius have added into it's GUI.
Then all users could adjust recording quality to their own preferences, because not always default settings are the best choice.
 

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For some reason the firmware in most dash cams, even the better ones often don't render the video they capture in the best possible way even though the information is there in the file. Sometimes however, it is the viewer. I've noticed that different viewers when set to their default values often display the same footage darker or lighter, sharper or less sharp, etc. I don't know why that is but my guess is that the different (proprietary?) algorithms used to work with different video codecs don't always perform the same and some are better than others. On the Macintosh I've been experimenting recently with MPlayerX (which I've become a fan of) which defaults to a darker image than QuickTime Player or VLC but I can easily adjust the brightness and gamma to make it look very good. Sometimes the video is slightly less sharp than in VLC by default but the sharpness controls in MPlayerX are far superior than in VLC for bringing out fine detail in videos without over-sharpening. But neither of these viewers allow you to export video the way QuickTime Viewer does and yet Quicktime doesn't give you much ability to make adjustments.

There are many good video editing software packages out there but I feel like we need some kind of simple video editing/viewing software designed specifically for dash-cam video. It should be optimized for the needs of this market and would provide for adjustments and simple editing and then export with those adjustments in different formats. It should allow for notations and maybe drawing of lines and arrows and have some measuring features. Perhaps it could also handle GPS data. Many video editing packages on the market are far too complicated and expensive for the average dash-cam owner's needs, skills and budget. There are many smartphone and tablet apps that many people use to make and save adjustments to still images but the ones available for video seem limited, a bit akward to work with and really wouldn't be suitable for dash cam footage. Apparently Video LAN (VLC) has been working on a non-linear editing package called VideoLAN Movie Creator which I would love to see happen but they never seem to be able to get it out the door.
 
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niko

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I have added another video ( Part-2 ) showing how by playing with VLC Media Player colour adjustments / filters can bring out much more details out from BlackSys CF-100 Sony Exmor CMOS.
 

parklawn

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The player that seems to work the best for me is Media Player Classic-HC but I cannot figure out how to make any video effects/filters adjustments like in VLC. Maybe I'm missing something, or maybe it can't be done.
 

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The player that seems to work the best for me is Media Player Classic-HC but I cannot figure out how to make any video effects/filters adjustments like in VLC. Maybe I'm missing something, or maybe it can't be done.
VLC has a lot of features most other players don't have......it's been a few years since I used MPC, but I don't recall that it had thise effect, or if it did, they were more limited. Give VLC a try, it plays 90% of the vids out there w/o adding any codec etc.
 

cheeze

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VW3fop6.jpg
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If you just want to view the playbacks, Potplayer allows you to adjust everything! Brightness, contrast, color, you name it!
 
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niko

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\

If you just want to view the playbacks, Potplayer allows you to adjust everything! Brightness, contrast, color, you name it!

Thanks for sharing your experience.

I see on their website they added some other players as well, that might work as well ( some of them I do have experience already ).
Not sure if they all have built in all video / audio codecs like VLC has, but I guess it is only matter of test-n-try.

Alternative to PotPlayer:
BSPlayer
GOM Player
GOM Video Converter
Kantaris Media Player
KMPlayer
Media Player Classic
MPC-BE
MPC-HC
SMPlayer
VLC media player
 

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On the Mac side I've recently been recommending the open source MPlayerX which has many features not found on most other media players and many well crafted image adjustment tools. Like VLC it can play virtually any video codec.
 
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