Ease Of Use
NEAT Projects Professional is the latest software from FRANZIS and it is designed to make it easy for photographers to remove unwanted items from images. For example, you could have a really amazing shot of the Louvre in Paris but as you won't be the only person visiting this rather famous museum, there will be quite a few strangers in your photo. You could get up before the crowds arrive or use an ND filter while there (see our technique on this) to stop people spoiling your shot but if you didn't pack one or don't like early mornings, it's something you're going to have to correct when back home.
You can capture several shots of the same scene, merge them in photo editing software, layer them together and manually brush in / out detail on individual layers to create your final image or make use of scripts. There's also the Content Aware fill tool in Photoshop which can be quite good at removing unwanted details but most of these methods are rather time-consuming so this is where FRANZIS' new software comes in as even though you still need to remember to take multiple shots from the same spot, the software will do all of the digital hard work for you which should save time and make the whole process easier. But how well does it perform and can it really make unwanted items vanish with just a click of a few buttons? We put it to the test to find out.
FRANZIS NEAT Projects Professional Ease Of Use & Performance
Those who have taken a look at our previous reviews of FRANZIS' software or have put one of the many programmes they offer to the test themselves will be familiar with the layout of NEAT as when you first open the software up, you are greeted with a blank user interface that has icons and a menu bar to the top of it. Don't worry if this is the first piece of FRANZIS software you have used, though, as there are video tutorials available on the FRANZIS website and you can also place your mouse cursor above the icons so a text bubble pops up explaining what they are.
Images can be simply dragged and dropped onto the start screen or alternatively, you can use the toolbar buttons or drop-down file menu. The more images you have, the better the results will be so it's worth remembering that when you're out capturing your photographs. Although, your shots don't have to be perfectly lined up as they need to be when removing unwanted objects from photos when using other editing software which is a bonus.
After you've selected all of your images and clicked 'Open' a warning message will more than likely pop-up asking if you want to reduce the size of the images as processing them at the size they are will take a long time. As FRANZIS recommend resizing, that's what I did. The processing doesn't take too long if the 'reduce size of all images' button is clicked but if you do choose to 'import all' you will be waiting quite some time for the processing to be complete and we'd not recommend reducing the sequence as this uses fewer images and the final results aren't as good as a result.
Once the processing is complete that's pretty much all you need to do to the photo (yes, it really is that easy) as all of the objects / people you want to be removed are removed automatically. I was pleasantly surprised how well the software actually performed and if I'm honest, I didn't expect it to be able to remove unwanted detail quite as well as it did.
Should you wish to edit the photo, there are presets available to the left side of the post-processing window and when selected, the software controls the tone mapping of the image and edits the results with filters and effects. The small preset buttons use your actual image so you get a tiny preview of how your shot will look with the preset applied. Clicking on the preview image applies the effect to the image in real time, which will then be displayed in the middle of the screen. As you'd expect, not all presets work on all photos but I did quite like the 'Light' option for the museum which just needed a little brightness adjustment. A side note worth mentioning is that the presets column can actually be separated from the interface should you wish to use more of the screen for previewing your image or to make it easier to see the presets.
To the right of the screen is a column that has various editing options you can use to 'finalise' the image along with a magnifying glass you can use to get a closer look at specific areas of the image.
Movement Algorithms gives you several motion removal processes to choose from and it will be applied immediately once activated and the Optimisation assistant sets what it thinks are the optimal values for settings such as sharpness and tonal value. These can also be manually adjusted with sliders or by inputting values should you wish to have more control. If you would prefer to work without the assistant, simply deactivate it. The assistant also learns your settings and applied the same settings to the next images, with a few suitable adjustments for that specific shot, but you can click on the refresh button to reset the values and forget the 'learned' settings.To make tweaks to specific parts of the image rather than the whole photo there's the local adjustment tool where a chosen effect / adjustment will only be applied to a specifically definable area.
The local adjustment tool in NEAT actually features a newly developed intelligent border recognition algorithm that independently identifies borders, lines, differentiations and light differences in drawing mode which makes it much easier to use as you don't have to be too precise with it. Dust spots and other unwanted elements can be removed via the correction window.
As well as working in this more guided way you can also click the Image Sequence button to edit / adjust individual images within the sequence. In this view, individual images within a sequence can be influenced, either by adjusting a single image, removing a photo from the coagulation or completely deleting exposures from the series. All settings are adjusted with sliders or by inputting figures and the most useful setting to adjust out of all that's on offer is the Radius option as this tells the software how much distance around a point should be looked at for motion that needs removing. A small radius should be used for fine movements, for example, tree-branches. If you want to see in more detail where movement is in the overall image there's a movement map. Areas of the image containing a significant amount of motion will be depicted as yellow/red while portions with less motion will be marked blue/purple. It's a nice extra feature but to be honest, I didn't need to use it.
For even more control over the final photo, you can use brushes to give certain parts of the image more / less weight over others. You can also smooth the transitions between corrected and untouched areas of the photo.
All of the tools on offer are very responsive, accurate, incredibly easy to use and quick in response. Although, processing times can be longer when you are working with images at a true size so it's actually quicker to work in the Preview Mode. To see changes you've made to preset settings applied immediately, ensure 'Real Time Processing' is selected. You can also ensure you don't burn out any highlights, resulting in a loss of detail, by using the handy border pixel display which shows light pixels as orange and dark pixels as blue.
As with other FRANZIS software, there isn't an 'undo' button as such but you can create restore points which saves an in-between point of the current settings you're using when told to. You can save as many editing restore points as you like and the timeline displays the restore points which can then be accessed with a simple click.
When saving, you can crop the image or add a caption should you wish and as well as been able to save the image as various image file options or as a project, you can also open the final image in an external program such as Photoshop.
Again, FRANZIS has created a piece of software that's simple to learn and easy to use. Plus, this software can also be a time-saver for those who don't want to, or have the knowledge on how to use scripts or edit images to remove unwanted objects manually. There's also a batch processing option available which can speed things up even more, too. Yes, you will need to make the odd adjustment (I had to) but they weren't major things and were easily corrected with the tools on offer.
Before & After Comparison:
Value For Money
NEAT Projects Professional is available for $129 (USD) or the basic version can be purchased for $69 (USD). Other similar products include software from Movavi available for £18.95 and inpaint from Teorex priced at $19.99 (USD). Although, both don't offer as many features as what's available in NEAT from FRANZIS.
NEAT Projects Professional Verdict
I was pleasantly surprised at how well NEAT Projects Professional performed. I'll be honest and say I didn't expect it to be able to remove unwanted objects / people / movement quite as accurately as it did. I expected to see ghosting that needed to be removed and thought several other edits would need to be made to turn a busy motorway into a scene from the Walking Dead but the software did the hard work for me. Yes, there was a little tweak here and there but no way did I have to put in as much effort as I would if using masks and layers and removing unwanted objects manually. The software's easy to use, performs well and does exactly what it's advertised to do. Happy to Highly Recommend it.
NEAT Projects Professional Pros
- Easy to use
- Results are really good
- Quick in use
NEAT Projects Professional Cons
- Some images need a little more work
- Need to remember to take several photos for it to succeed
NEAT Projects Professional System Requirements
Windows 10/8/7, 64 Bit, Prozessor Intel I5, 4 GB HDD, 2 GB HDD,1.280 x 1024 Pixels Screen Resolution, Graphic Card: DirectX-8-compatible, 128 MB, 32 bit colour depth
Mac OS X ab 10.7, 64 Bit, Prozessor Intel/G5, 4 GB HDD, 2 GB HDD, 1.280 x 1024 Pixels Screen Resolution