Hazy footage isn’t necessarily a lost cause. See what it takes to restore an imperfect shot with ResoveFX’s powerful Dehaze tool.
While preparation in filmmaking is critical, there are some circumstances—predominantly in documentary filmmaking— where you can only hit record and hope for the best. At the time of writing this, the UK is currently getting battered by storms. And although we’re not unfamiliar to a grey sky, the winds are packing a harsher punch than usual. Perfect for capturing library assets of subjects and moments that you can’t obtain on an ordinary day.
Whereas many have retreated to the comfort of their home (or pub), I recently dashed to the coast in the hope of capturing waves smashing into the rocks. No rain was expected, so I felt comfortable enough to leave the car with just my Ursa and tripod. It was only halfway through the shoot something weird started to happen; the focus peaking begun to fall short of the entire composition even though I was shooting with a narrow aperture and at infinity focus. My fingers were starting to feel numb and with thirty minutes of sunlight left, I returned to the car to troubleshoot.
The problem? Although there wasn’t a rain cloud in sight, the ND filter was layered in minute water droplets that had sprayed up from the incoming tide and mighty wind. Not large enough to be felt, but small enough to cause a cloudy mask on the filter.
When comparing two shots before and after the ocean spray, you can see a clear distinction between the two even without a LUT or correction.
There was no difference in lighting, time of day, or weather. But, the after shot has a clear haze to the image and lacks the clarity of the clean shot. Now, if this was for a dream sequence, I think I might have had a happy accident as it has a dream-like quality to it. Yet, it’s not, and the haze degrades the shot. Thankfully, I had several shots on the card that weren’t affected by the spray. I can discard this shot and forget about it. However, what if you had a hazy shot, whether from water spray, rain, or condensation? Perhaps it was the only shot you had of that particular moment, and you have to use it. What could you do?
Dehaze is a premium ResolveFX color tool in DaVinci Resolve. Premium means it is only available in the studio version of Resolve that retails for $299. But it’s also premium because the tool packs a punch harder than your standard correction tools.
So, what does Dehaze do and how do you use it? When a translucent property slightly mists your glass or filter, the image isn’t completely lost. In fact, in most circumstances, everything within the frame will still be perceptible. But as the translucent property is stopping the light to some degree, we receive our image data with a lack of contrast, saturation, and clarity. And of course, since water spray sporadic, these issues won’t be consistent through the entire composition. Sometimes it will be stronger in some areas of the frame. Dehaze seeks to resolve these issues by applying a selective color and contrast adjustments to reduce the amount of visible haze.
What does this mean? Well, theoretically you could implement the adjustments that the tool does by using the custom curve and saturation slider. However, in doing so, you would be affecting the entire image. Dehaze only affects haze.
How to use it
Perhaps the reason why Dehaze is only included in the studio version of Resolve is because of its simplicity while remaining powerful. You quite literally drop the effect on a node, and it will do its job. There is a strength slider, which will increase the color and contrast adjustment. There is also a shadow and highlight slider which increases or decreases the amount the haze adjusted in those tonal regions.
As the tool applies needed contrast and saturation to the hazy image, there are two principles to follow. Grade your image as you would typically, but without additional saturation and contrast, and also apply the dehaze tool on the final node. Applying the effect on the final node of your node tree allows you to revert to previous nodes to adjust any corrections that send the dehaze tool off course.
The original shot:
The shot with my grade applied from previous clips that shared the same exposure and properties. In comparison to my other shots, there’s a clear dissimilarity due to the haze.
And this is the same shot with dehaze applied.
Dehaze has corrected the contrast and saturation without any degenerative effects on the image. If I zoom into the picture or watch closely as I playback the shot, I can still notice the haze because I know it’s there. And truthfully? This tool isn’t going to fix the problem completely. I did capture this shot with water droplets obstructing the light; it’s never going to be as perfect as it would have with a clean and clear filter or lens. However, if you have found yourself with a hazy shot and you’re also in a pinch, just know you don’t have to write off the situation just yet. Dehaze can help bring your shot back to life with only a few clicks and adjustments.