- Download or create an account on the video upscaling program
- Import your low-resolution video
- Select an upscale preset
- Use a comparison view to preview the before and after
- If it looks good, press ‘Export’
In this day and age where technology rules the world, you would think upscaling video could be done with the click of a button, right?
And… you’re pretty much right!
While it does just take a couple of clicks, the confusing part is figuring out which software to use, how much it costs, whether it’s really going to work, etc.
As an indie filmmaker myself, I can tell ya – there’s nothing more annoying than finding the perfect stock footage clip for my video. But when I add it in, it’s only a 720p resolution, and my other footage is 4K.
And if you try to make the clip bigger to fit the screen, it just loses quality and gets all blurry. The worst.
That’s when I started using an AI video upscaling program to fix my issue and never looked back.
So, in this article, I’m going to tell you (and show you) exactly how to upscale your videos and which programs worked the best for me!
Why Should You Care About Upscaling?
Video upscaling is turning low-quality videos into high-quality videos by removing blur and keeping details intact.
Let me point out a few upscaling benefits:
- You can change low-resolution videos into high-resolution without losing quality. If you try to do this without using upscaling software, you’d basically just be enlarging all the pixels, turning the video blurry and out of focus.
- It helps to make old videos look better on bigger display screens. Say you want to dig out all the old family videos and show them to everyone on your 50″ TV. While the videos probably look decent on your phone, playing them on a much larger screen like the TV wouldn’t be very pretty without a proper upscale.
- You can use it to sharpen a blurry video. Not only does upscaling preserve the quality, but it can even improve video quality and details in a once blurry video. (Check out some of the tutorials below for an example)
Choosing the Right Upscaling Software
Really, the only thing you need to decide is which software you will use for your upscale.
I’ve tried several of the top AI video upscaling software, and the three below gave me the best quality output and made my blurry videos a whole lot sharper.
However, they do have some differences in their interfaces, how much they cost, whether it’s cloud-based or downloadable, other filters they offer, etc.
So here’s an overview of all three so you can decide which one will be best for you!
Topaz Video Enhance AI
Get rid of motion blur and video artefacts, and even update and improve old home movies.
Topaz Video AI is my personal winner for the best overall AI video upscaling software. It was the easiest to use and gave me the best-looking upscale with my test video – enough said! Here’s why it gets top marks:
- Incredible results: I used an old home movie video with a blurry sign as a test on several AI upscaling platforms, and Topaz was the best at adding detail to the sign and making the words crisp and legible.
- Best interface settings: While all the interfaces of these three software programs are easy to use, Topaz stood out specifically because of the multiple comparison views to view your original video side-by-side with the enhanced video.
- Advanced Features: Some of the additional features and filters included with Topaz are an AI stabilizer to smooth out any shaky footage, facial detection to add more detail to faces, and slow motion of up to 16x.
- One-time fee: As a filmmaker myself, I’m a sucker for a one-time fee, so I can use this software forever rather than having to pay monthly for something I probably won’t need to use every single month.
- Offline editing: Topaz is a program you can download directly to your computer, so you can upscale on the go without needing any internet connection.
Topaz Video AI costs $299 for a lifetime license (NOTE: they often have sales on this software – sign up for their email list for notifications or check around holiday times!).
You’ll also get access to a year of free upgrades in case they add any cool new features.
Not only does Topaz offer a free trial, but they also have a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can be extra sure this software is what you’re looking for!
Quick Guide to Upscaling Video Using Topaz
First, you’ll want to download Topaz Video AI for your Windows or Mac device. Then open it up!
After activating your account, you will be prompted to import videos to upscale by selecting video files from folders on your computer.
*Pro Tip: You can click the link at the bottom to view their Quick Start Guide! It’s very helpful – especially for those new to AI upscaling.
Once your video is imported, it will appear on the main interface of Topaz.
The video on the left with the blue (1) will show the original video, while the video on the right with the purple (2) will show a preview of what the new video will look like.
The sidebar displays presets and filters that can be added to your video. I selected the “Upscale to HD resolution” preset to upscale to 1080p.
You can go down this toolbar and toggle on any other effects you’d like to add to your video as well.
*Pro Tip: Hover your mouse over the effect name to see a description of what it does.
To preview your enhancements, click the arrow on the preview button and select the duration.
‘In to Out’ will process the entire clip to preview.
To view your before and after video, use the buttons that are located next to ‘Comparison Mode’. You can choose to view the videos side-by-side, one at a time, or half of the original next to the other half of the new version.
It’s amazing how much clearer the ‘Mississippi’ sign is in the previewed upscale!
If you like the way your new footage will look, you’ll want to go ahead and purchase Topaz to avoid a watermark on the final video.
Once you’ve purchased it, go to the toolbar on the right side of the screen and click on the settings icon at the bottom. This will bring up the ‘Preview & Export Settings’ option.
From here, you can select a new format, such as ProRes, H264, and so on.
When you’re ready, click ‘Export’ – the video will export onto your computer.
Topaz is easy to use and can upscale many videos simultaneously. And because its results are so great, it takes a lot of computing power, which you’ll want to keep in mind if you’re only using a tablet or low-end computer.
I love that it’s a one-time purchase, so those monthly costs won’t sneak up on you.
But if you’re not going to be using an upscaling program indefinitely, then you might want to stick with a cheaper plan on one of the software I list below.
While both tools offer similar capabilities, Pixop's price point is significantly lower.
Pixop is my preferred software for anyone who doesn’t have a powerful computer, wants to use it with a team, or only has a few short videos they want to upscale. Some of the benefits include:
- Web-based: You won’t need a powerful computing system for this platform since everything is done via your online account. You could even upscale your video on your account at home and then download it from your account later onto a different computer.
- Great for teams: Pixop gives you the ability to add team members to your subscription and gives you a great folder structure to keep everything organized.
- Lots of filters: There are too many to name! But a few of their unique filters include: Deep Restoration, Super Resolution, Denoiser, Dejitterer, Frame Rate Conversion, Face Forward, and more.
- Pay-as-you-go: Pixop has a pay-as-you-go pricing method, making it really affordable if you only have a few videos to upscale. But if you have video footage with long runtimes, then it might not be your cup of tea.
Pixop uses credits on a pay-as-you-go pricing model.
Basically, the amount of credits it costs depends on the length of your video and which filters you use.
Although you need to add a $10 minimum to your account to get started, I upscaled my 10-second test clip for only $0.51!
Quick Guide to Upscaling Video Using Pixop
After signing up for a free Pixop account, you’ll be taken to the home page of your project.
By clicking on the grey box in the middle, you can import your first clip immediately.
If you want to experiment and see what Pixop can achieve, they provide you with a sample project at the bottom of the page.
Your video will display all of its metadata after it uploads.
Click ‘Process’ to begin upscaling and adding more filters.
You can select from several presets on the left to enhance your video, such as “Enhanced HD,” “Enhanced UHD 4K,” and so on.
You can activate any of the listed filters under the Filter tab, as well as change the output resolution to a custom size.
As soon as you’re ready to export, click “Process,” and a cost estimate window will appear.
If you want to go ahead with paying for this upscale, you’ll need to load credits onto your Pixop account. But keep in mind you have to add a minimum of $10 to your account.
Once you’ve loaded the money, press ‘Confirm’ to pay for the video and continue with the export.
When it’s done, the completed video will appear next to the original. Select the ‘Compare’ buttons to see each version next to each other.
The only downside is this comparison is kind of pointless since you’ve already paid for the video. But I guess it is pretty satisfying to see how much better your video got!
The comparison view shows the old video on the left compared with the new video on the right. You can scroll through all the image stills to compare, or click the ‘Video comparison’ button on the top left to watch the comparisons play out.
This new video will stay on your Pixop account forever, but to get it onto your computer hard drive you’ll need to download it from the website.
Pixop is as easy as it comes. Any user can benefit from Pixop, whether you’re an individual on a budget or part of a production team.
The ability to pay for upscaling as you go (rather than a monthly fee) is a great feature, but if you have longer videos you want to upscale, it might get a little costly.
That’s why I recommend Pixop to those who have short social media video content and individual stock footage clips.
AVCLabs Video Enhancer AI
AVCLabs may be a better choice for those who don't need a long-term AI enhancer - such as for social media or old family home videos.
AVCLabs is another great AI video upscaling program. It’s an offline program that’s specifically great because it offers pricing plans for any budget. Some benefits include:
- Flexible payment plans: Whether you want to pay monthly, annually, or a one-time fee – there’s something for every user.
- Cool features: Other than great upscaling ability, AVCLabs Video Enhancer AI has several other features, including Colorize, which adds color to black-and-white videos. (Pretty neat!)
- Offline editing: Download the program to use on the go without needing to connect to wifi.
1-Month Plan: $39.95
1-Year Plan: $119.95
AVCLabs also offers a free trial, as well as a 5-day money-back guarantee on all plans.
Quick Guide to Upscaling Video Using AVCLabs
Download AVCLabs onto your computer and open it up.
Right away, it will ask you to import a video.
Your video will open into the main editing interface.
There’s buttons to either add more videos or trim and crop your current video.
The toolbar for presets and features is located on the right.
You can use a variety of presets to either slow down or upscale your video. I selected the ‘Upscale to HD resolution’ option for this example.
You can view the Video In vs Video Out to see the aspect ratio comparisons for your final video. You can also choose a custom output size if you’d like.
You can scroll down through the rest of the toolbar to toggle on various features AVCLabs offers, like Face Enhancement, Colorize, and Motion Compensation.
You can also choose the video format for your final video, like ProRes or H.264.
You can click the button with the eye under the video to view the before and after comparisons before going through with the export.
The only drawback is that you can only preview 30 frames at a time, or around one second. Whereas with Topaz, you could view the entire clip.
If the new version looks good to you, exit out of the comparison window and click the blue ‘Start Processing’ button on the lower right.
After the export, you can find the new video directly on your computer!
AVCLabs is a great video enhancement software for anyone who wants a monthly or annual plan, and who has a fast computer that can handle the graphics.
If you have one or more longer videos to upscale, the monthly plan at AVCLabs would probably be cheaper than the pay-as-you-go credits on Pixop.
Tips for Getting Optimal Results
While trying to increase your video resolution, here are some tips you should remember.
Understand the Resolution and Aspect Ratio of the Original Footage
People tend to mix things up when defining the resolution and aspect ratio. The resolution is the number of pixels on a TV or computer screen.
On the other hand, the aspect ratio is a video’s orientation based on the width-to-height ratio. It goes hand-in-hand with the resolution, and both help to determine the quality of a video or image.
Knowing the resolution and aspect ratio of the low-res video will give you more clarity on how to upscale videos.
Processes Available for Upscaling, Such as Interpolation and Image Resizing
A general upscaling process goes like this:
There’s a signal analysis to recognize the resolution of the source video. Then, there’s noise reduction, image sharpening and resizing, and analysis of textures and edges. The last step is the final conversion to whatever video resolution you aim for, e.g., 4K or 8K.
If you don’t properly upscale your video, the TV fills blank pixels with information according to the composition of pixels around them, resulting in the video being stretched across the screen.
When Not to Upscale Video
While upscaling can really give your footage life again, you shouldn’t always expect a miracle.
Sometimes, heavily blurred or pixelated videos can become even more blurry when trying to upscale them. And if your footage is already pretty good, then you probably won’t see any great results with an upscale. The only difference will be the bigger file size bogging down your computer.
Just remember, upscaling can’t add any detail that wasn’t originally there. Knowing when video upscaling won’t fix all your problems can save you time and money in the long run.
Once you get the hang of video upscaling, you no longer have to worry about low-resolution videos.
No matter your budget, video length, or amount of views you have, one of these platforms will be perfect for your needs.
Now, you can enjoy high-resolution videos all year long!
Common Questions About Video Upscaling
How do I upscale a video for free?
Several AI video upscaling software have free trials and money-back guarantees (Topaz Video Enhance AI is my favorite), but I’ve also had success using CapCut as a free video upscaling software.
Can you upscale 480p to 1080p?
Yes, you can upscale video from 480p to 1080p, but the quality of the output will be determined by the original video quality.
Will upscaling really make my videos look better?
While upscaling video resolution isn’t a guaranteed cure, most of the time, a good AI video upscaling software will help make your videos look better and enhance video quality.
Which software is the best for upscaling old footage?
Topaz Video Enhance AI is known as the best AI video upscaler for a reason. It’s easy to use for every skill level, and it’s specifically great at adding detail to low-resolution videos (no video editing experience required!).
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