Batch Processing: Lightroom and Topaz DeNoise AI
The newer image editing software that features use of artificial intelligence is both a blessing and a curse. It can enhance images in amazing ways, but it can require massive computer processing resources and can also be painful to endure the wait times it requires.
My favorite example of this kind of software is Topaz Denoise AI. The sophistication in its image sharpening and noise removal seems almost magical, but I dread how long it takes to perform its miracles. The future promises to offer more and more programs that operate using artificial intelligence, demanding ever more computing resources.
Even when you buy that new computer with a better GPU, there’s still a significant time penalty to pay for using AI. A good way to cope with this reality is to turn to ‘batch’ processing. You’ll want to save the AI processing steps (e.g. sharpening and noise reduction) until the last stage of your image processing, so that you can go get some coffee or sleep while the computer finishes processing your photos.
It just so happens that saving noise removal and sharpening to the very last steps in image processing is nearly always the best technique, anyway. If you edit all of your images with the exception of sharpening and noise reduction, then you can send all of these images into programs like Topaz Denoise AI in a large group, to be processed in one batch. You can even customize the sharpening/noise reduction algorithm per photo before executing the batch processing!
My most commonly-used image editor is Lightroom, so I’m going to show you how to batch-process images using this program.
Lightroom with Topaz Denoise AI
First, complete your usual image edits, but skip performing any sharpening or noise reduction for each image. Please shoot in Raw format!
Go to the Library tab.
Pick which photos to send to Topaz
Select each DNG/RAW image that you want to process with Topaz. Use the CNTL and SHIFT keys while mouse-clicking to select multiples. In the example above, 3 shots are selected to batch-process.
Photo | Edit In | Edit in Topaz Denoise.exe
Retain all of your adjustments
You will want to sharpen and rid noise from the photos that contain the edits you performed in Lightroom. The Topaz Denoise AI program will process and then create new photos in the selected file format as shown above.
Inside Topaz: select all of the photos, and then start processing
I have DeNoise AI set up to use my favorite AI ‘Clear’ recipe for my shots, which it will apply to each photo. Topaz will by default apply the last-used algorithm for each shot.
Select custom processing for each shot
The Topaz DeNoise AI is actually so sophisticated that you can click on each shot in the list and customize which AI algorithm you want to use on it. As you click on a filename at the screen bottom, you can preview the effect and decide which algorithm to use. When each shot has the custom algorithm assigned, finally click on “Select All” to begin the batch process.
Topaz Denoise AI progress display
Your Lightroom library will contain the new files and you’ll be automatically returned to Lightroom after all of the photos have been processed in Topaz Denoise AI. In the sample shown above, the new (sharpened) photos will be in TIFF format.
Now go get that cup of coffee. If you have many photos to process, this may take a while. Some of the AI algorithms can take much longer to process a shot than others do, but if you’re away from your computer this can become a “don’t care”.
Back in Lightroom after batch processing finishes
Back in Lightroom, the new (sharpened) files are highlighted/selected in the Library module, as shown above.
If you wish, you can export these photos right from the Library module. Typically, you’d export these sharpened photos as something like jpeg format. If you leave them all selected as shown above, then the files can also be exported as a batch process.
Batch Processing in DeNoise AI from the Desktop
In Windows, you can batch-process photos in DeNoise AI by itself, too. If you use an editor that doesn’t play nicely with Topaz, then this is how you can still finish sharpening and noise removal as a batch process. Here’s one way to do that:
First, export the files you want to later edit in Topaz from Lightroom (or whatever editor you use). Do this step to capture all of the edits (without sharpening or noise removal).
From the Library tab, multi-select the files to export.
File | Export…
I’d suggest you export the files in a high-quality format, such as TIFF. The screen shot above shows using DNG output, which Topaz understands, but there’s a problem with that format I’ll discuss later.
From Windows File Explorer, select photos that have been edited and exported (so that the edits are embedded in the files). You can use the Shift or Cntl keys with the left mouse button to refine your selections.
Now, just drag the photos to the Desktop “Topaz DeNoise AI” icon. The DeNoise AI program will automatically start running.
In DeNoise AI, click ‘Select All’, then ‘Save’
Like I mentioned earlier, you can also click on each photo filename and customize which AI algorithm to use, with the ability to preview what the selected algorithm will do. After you’re ready, click the “Select All” just above the filename list.
Confirm how to save images
Progress update while Topaz is processing
When the batch processing is finished, you can just quit the program. If you selected “Preserve Source Directory” for the batch output, then the results will be saved in the same folder as your original photos.
I’d recommend that you NOT use DNG files in the Topaz software, but use TIFF instead. The Denoise AI program appears to “undo” the edits when using that format. If you stick with TIFF instead, the edits done via Lightroom (or whatever editor you use) get retained.
If you have lots of photos that you want to edit and then sharpen, batch processing is the way to go. If you haven’t done it yet, you will probably need to get a computer with a really good GPU to handle the extreme resources that AI-based programs like DeNoise AI need. Otherwise, you might be faced with drinking more than a couple cups of coffee waiting for the processing to finish.