How to Clean Up a Surveillance Video

By Bill Richards

Surveillance video is often grainy, badly lit and usually contains an obtrusive time code. Removing these infidelities is much easier than it used to be. Using modern video editing software you can achieve great results with minimal effort and without professional expertise.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Video editing software
  • Software plug-ins (optional)

Step 1

Crop the video to only include one video feed and then expand that portion to fill the entire video frame. This is necessary when multiple surveillance feeds are combined into one video file.

Step 2

Crop out the time stamp from the top or bottom of the frame. If possible, crop the video so that it has a 16:9 aspect ratio. This will make it look like a wide screen video.

Step 3

Use a degrain filter to remove excessive noise from the video. Be careful not to overdo this because it will result in a blurry image. Removing grain is a trade off between graininess and sharpness: removing grain inevitably compromises the sharpness of the video. Only degrain to the point where all necessary detail is still present in the video, and when in doubt err on the side of more grain.

Step 4

Adjust the black and white levels of the video to bring out the most detail through contrast. Surveillance video is often too dark or washed out; you can bring out additional detail by adjusting the levels so that more of the black and white information is in the middle of the spectrum (gray) instead of closer to pure white or black. Move the middle levels slider from left to right and find the point that brings out the most detail.

Step 5

Overlay a semi-transparent white circle onto the video to highlight a person or object. Use keyframes (markers placed on the timeline to animate objects) to keep the person or object highlighted if they are moving. A keyframe should be placed at the end of each stage of linear motion; if the motion is not linear, you will have to use more keyframes.