Imagenomic Portraiture for Video
PROS: Highly effective toolset, stable software.
CONS: Forces you into subscription payment model.
It never forgets a face.
Imagenomic cut their virtual teeth on technology that algorithmically
massaged faces in still photographs to cleanse them of blemishes and
otherwise give them a clean, youthful glow. The company has now
embarked on a more ambitious task: to apply the same automatic facial
retouching to video. From our time with the program, we’d say they’ve
Portraiture works as a plug-in for most of the high-end video-editing titles on the market including Adobe Premiere Pro, After
Effects, Apple’s Final Cut Pro, Sony Vegas Pro and DaVinci Resolve. It
will work on any of the video formats natively supported by your video
editor of choice and can handle 8 and 32 bits-per-channel processing
across all supported programs, with 16 bits-per-channel processing
additionally available for Adobe
After Effects. It’s available for a
15-day free trial, after which it
requires an annual subscription
of $99 a year.
We tested Portraiture in
Adobe Premiere Pro CC with
photographer and director David
Patiño using Cinema DNG and
ProRes 422 files captured with
a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema
Camera. We also tested AVCHD
footage from a JVC video camera.
Anyone familiar with Premiere
Pro will have no trouble
navigating the Portraiture toolset. Upon installation, Portraiture will
appear in the effects library and behave like any of Premiere’s other
baked-in effects tools. Simply drag and drop Portraiture onto the clip
you wish to edit and make further adjustments in Premiere’s Effects
When you apply the Portraiture plugin, you’ll have the option of
adjusting the smoothing effect either by keying in a value from 1 to 100
directly, or by expanding a window to access a slider. We found the
sliders much more intuitive when starting out, since it took us a while
to understand what Portraiture’s numbers corresponded to in terms
of image effects. Next to every option you’ll have the usual “reset
parameter” option to scurry back to the default setting.
UP IN YOUR FACE
We were curious to see how well Portraiture could identify and
retouch faces on the fly, and how well it could handle the boundaries
between skin, hair and clothing. For the former, the plug-in worked
flawlessly. Patiño pulled up some video he had edited of a fashion
shoot hosted in a mall. We chose the clip because we felt it was
particularly challenging, not just for the number of faces but for
the variety of skin tones and types it threw at Portraiture in rapid
succession. Models strutted on the catwalk and passersby streamed
through the frame. Portraiture was able to identify all these rapidly
moving mugs and apply its edits to them instantly.
The first thing Patiño relayed about his time with the software was
that it “really nailed” wide open areas of skin. Things got a bit messier
at the boundary between skin and hair or clothing that resembles a
skin tone. In one close up of a model with bleached blonde hair, we
noticed the default effect of Portraiture cannibalized detail in the hair
and blurred out texture in the clothing.
This is largely due to how aggressive the default “smoothing”
setting is. Out of the gate, Portraiture applies smoothing at 50 percent
and it’s immediately apparent. Patiño liked that the program comes on
strong since “you know it’s working.” But this default is probably going
to be far more than you need on even the most, well, deserving of
faces. When you crank the smoothing up above the 50 percent default,
you rapidly lose facial details and it starts to look like you smeared
Vaseline over your subject’s face.
Suffice it to say, Portraiture is not a one-click fix, and unlike the
still version of the program, the video plugin doesn’t offer presets.
At a minimum, you’ll likely find yourself dialing back the smoothing
effect to a more modest range of 10 to 20 percent and taking advantage
of Portraiture’s other controls, such as masking, warmth, tint and
contrast control, to refine the
effect. Fortunately, this is easy
enough to do.
performance and stability also
impressed us. We tested it on
Patiño’s 2013 MacBook Pro
( 2.6GHz Intel Core i5 with 8GB
of RAM) and our 2013 Mac Mini
( 2.6GHz Core i7 with 16GB of
RAM). Neither would qualify
as hard-core video editing
computers, yet both rendered
the plug-in’s effects with ease.
About the only serious hang-
annual subscription seemed a little high for a single-purpose plugin.
up we had with the program
was the pricing structure. Like
a growing number of software companies, Imagenomic wants you
to pay an annual fee for access to Portraiture. To Patiño, who counts
the still version of the program as his go-to facial retouching tool
and was very impressed with this opening foray into video, the $99
At the very least, it would have been nice to have the option to either
purchase or subscribe.
This isn’t the tool for the videographer invested in gritty realism or
exploring the human face in all its pockmarked glory. It is ideal for
those whose clients include corporate spokespeople, politicians or
anyone looking for just a little bit of relief from the not-so-tender
mercies of high resolution digital video. Our co-tester, David Patiño,
who counts all of the above on his client list, definitely found value in
it. We only wish you had the option to purchase it outright.
While Portraiture’s default smoothing setting comes on a bit strong, you can use
tools such as masking to fine-tune its effects.