After Effects Tutorial Sharpen with a BLUR?! Best way to SHARPEN your Footage!

I made up a new way to sharpen footage with After Effects by combining two proven methods, and the effect is incredible, really!

I learned how to sharpen using a blur from pixImperfect about two years ago, and I use it ALL THE TIME ITS SO GOOD. Using the built in sharpen is not good enough, you need this technique, but then I was like, what if I want to use this on video?!

I brought the technique over into After Effects, instead of using grouping I use pre-comps, and the technique transfers over between the two Adobe programs, very very cool. In addition to the ability in photoshop, within after effects you can play around with the order of the effect which can produce different results.

The technique goes like this: Duplicate layer 3 times. Top layer Blend mode- vivid light. Add invert. Add gaussian blur, put it between 3-8. Pre-comp layer 1 and 2. change pre-comp blend mode to overlay. Boom, done.

It was once complicated for me, but after doing it a hundred times I have finally memorized it. Also in Photoshop I have a action button setup for this process, what a life saver automation!

Then I learned about how astrophotographers sharpen images on wikipedia, they stack sharpening with increasing levels. This is where my idea goes further than pixImperfect, we are now stacking the same effect with increasing intensity, 4 times. So I tested this theory and it works, it works so well at sharpening with gaussian blur technique without introducing artifacts and digital noise.

What is happening here, is the inverted blur is focusing on the light signature of the image, and brings out the true edges. Where I believe the built in sharpening tools work more on the contrast of the image and do something more funky. I am not saying they don’t work, but they don’t look as good or as effective. Also AI sharpening is good for some uses right now, but has a long way to go and also some AI sharpening tools are adding what it thinks should be there, its a whole different topic.

With this sharpen technique you can save even super blurry footage and make it at least somewhat passable. This effect is great for my current workflow of taking old MiniDV SD footage and bringing it up to 1080p, I do a detail preserving upscaling and then slap on this effect after that. The end result has the ability to truly bring new clarity to older footage. Check out the tutorial here: