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Converting animation to progressive

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Paul Campbell
Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 1:32:38 am

I've got some animations that have the following properties (these properties were pulled up in FCP):

720x486
Compressor: Animation
Field Dominance: Lower

All I'd like to do is convert this little guy to a field dominance of none, but still using the Animation codec. I've converted them to progressive using the Prores 422 codec, but when I run these in my FCP timeline, they just look jumpy and not very smooth. I've been looking around for how to simply make these things progressive using Animation, but that's all I want to change and I just can't seem to nail it. (Oops, I failed to mention that I'm using Compressor...I gotta quit forgetting to say that)

Thanks,

Paul



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Chris Blair
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 3:41:15 am

I don't use Final Cut, but converting an animation from fields to frames could be dicey depending on the amount of motion. We take 60i video and convert it to progressive all the time using a variety of plug-ins in either After Effects or Digital Fusion, but there are times when even that produces some odd motion artifacting, especially if there is a fast pan or tilt... or a fairly quick diagonal camera move.

I'd say you'd have to go outside Final Cut to achieve this, but Final Cut users might know better on that.

We use re:Vision fields kit, Film FX, a fields module within Digital Fusion, as well as a slow-motion feature in Fusion that allows you to blend fields (we set the speed at 100% but blend the fields). One of the plug-ins will work great on one set of footage, but suck on the next. So that's why we have a multitude of tools we use. There are half-a-dozen other fields/frames plug-ins out there as well. But there's no magic solution to this other than having the animator render the thing progressive with motion blur.


Another popular technique is to convert 60i to 30p using upper fields, and 60i to 30p using lower fields and then blend the results together at 50% (in a compositing program like AE or Fusion you can do this in one pass). Heck, you can probably even do it in one pass in Final Cut. By using both fields you can often improve the results of the conversion to progressive frames by capturing information of fast-moving objects that can be lost when using only 1 field.

RE:Vision also sells a motion blur plug-in that adds the slight frame blurring you'd get if you shot or rendered something progressive. We've demoed it but I don't have experience with it and can't really comment on it's value.

Here's a link a to a plug-in a lot of Final Cut users mention that also claims to do what you want:

http://www.nattress.com/Products/filmeffects/G_Fast_Deinterlace_Blend.htm

Again...I can't comment on it's quality, but it looks to be very inexpensive and works within Final Cut.




Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Brian Alexander
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 5:28:47 am

So if I'm reading this right your animation is interlaced to begin with, correct? Did you ingest this from an interlaced tape by chance?

You are doing the right thing by de-interlacing the animation with Compressor using ProRes with Frame Controls turned on and output field set to Progressive - not Same As Source. Of course ProRes does not support alpha so you'll need to change your codec in Compressor to Animation (output field progressive) if you're trying to keep an alpha channel with your animation. This is not going to be nearly as fast as a ProRes transcode but it should do the trick.

You're Final Cut sequence settings should be set to a Field Dominance of None to keep everything progressive based.

As far as jumpy animations go, make sure you're not doing any frame rate conversions along the way; if your original animation was built or capturred at 29.97 fps your sequence settings should be set to 29.97 and not 30 fps or vice versa.

I would suggest you verify that your file was encoded correctly using QuickTime before you add it to your FCP project; this will save you some time troubleshooting any issues later.


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Paul Campbell
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 2:52:10 pm

Brian, I do have one animation that's transparent, so in Compressor I used the Animation NTSC with Alpha setting and set my output frames to Progessive. However, this clip still indicates being interlaced in FCP. I figured the Prores codec was responsible for the jumpy animation, but I just couldn't figure out how to make the animation progressive in Compressor using the Animation codec.

As Daniel mentioned, yes, I did post this a few weeks ago, but my original question about why the clip remains interlaced was never answered, so I'm back once again to nag you guys. Thanks,

Paul



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Daniel Low
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 3:02:02 pm

So, you've definitely deinterlaced in compressor by using frame controls and yet FCP reports that it's still interlaced?

Personally, I'd ignore what FCP is telling you, it's certainly not infallible.

Can I ask why you want it progressive?

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Paul Campbell
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 6:32:26 pm

My timeline is progressive, and the original animations just look pixelated and nasty in the timeline when I just drop them in natively. As soon as I deinterlace them, bang, they look fantastic...but the motion is jerky and weird. It almost makes me wonder which is less offensive to the eye.

Yeah, FCP still tells me the clip is lower field first after I convert. I'm either not doing it right in Compressor, or like you said, FCP isn't being accurate.



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Daniel Low
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 7:01:08 pm

What will you be doing with this timeline/sequence? Will you be laying it to tape or DVD or exporting it to another codec?

Whatever, just try exporting a portion of the timeline including the problem clip to an output codec and see how it plays

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Daniel Low
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 7:50:50 am

Didn't we cover this a couple of weeks ago?

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/20/861393




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Please post back saying what solved your problem. It could help others, and saying 'thanks' is free!


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Paul Campbell
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 2:42:24 pm

Yeah, but the thread was broken. My question about why my clip properties were still showing interlaced was never answered. Sorry to double-post, but I never got closure. (Well, the latest replies today may get me there.)



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Chris Blair
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 7:14:57 pm

Again...I'm not a final cut guy, but I think the key comments here are:

"the interlaced animation looks crappy in my progressive timeline..."

and..."the animation converted to progressive looks fantastic but has jerky motion"

Things that come to my mind immediately would be:

1. Are the fields reversed in the original animation from what they should be for the format, codec and editing platform?

2. If it's standard def, was the animation produced at 720x480, and the timeline is at 720x486. If so, this results in a field shift of one scan line, which reverses the fields and can cause the video to look like crap in any timeline. Deinterlacing doesn't fix it, it only blends or interpolates the reversed fields, resulting in a better looking image, with motion still out of whack.

If it's none of those...a better method of deinterlacing sounds like the answer. The best solution is to re-render the animation progressive with motion blur. If that's not possible, the next best is to use a better deinterlace process that reduces motion artifacting. But from my 25+ years of experience, animation is more difficult to convert cleanly than video that's shot interlaced.

So finding out if the fields are reversed or finding a better method of converting the animation to progressive should be the goal, not figuring out why Final Cut still shows the clip as lower field or upper field or whatever it's showing.


Hope that gives some additional things to look at.




Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Paul Campbell
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 8:36:27 pm

Hi, Chris. What you describe in Option 2 is almost right on, only it's reversed. The original animations are 720x486, and my timeline is 720x480. When I drop the animations in the timeline, they show up as being 98.something of scale, which I then just change to 100 to fill up the entire screen. Is this small amount of upscaling possibly what's making the graphics look jumpy?

I could use a timeline of 720x486, but the music videos I drop in are ripped and turned into QT movies at 720x480 in MPEG Streamclip, and since it's a music video countdown, I figured that would be the defacto definition.



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Chris Blair
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 11, 2009 at 1:33:46 am

Paul,

Yes...although this is the reverse of my example, the same thing would occur. Your fields would get reversed. So try swapping the field order (if that's possible within Final Cut or Compressor) and see what just the 60i looks like. If it looks decent, THEN do your conversion to progressive.

Another workflow suggestion would be to transcode your file to your desired Final Cut codec and in doing so change the pixel size to 720x486, reverse fields and use an interlaced to progressive plug-in. This in theory would fix the jerky motion problem caused by reversed fields, and give you the progressive look you're going for.

We get high-end SD animation done all the time by a guy that's really good up near Chicago, and he sends us Quicktimes using the animation codec at 720x486, and they look just fine when imported into our editing system with no change to pixel aspect or resizing of the frame. I do some basic 3D stuff in trueSpace, and just to check I called up it's quicktime output dialogue. There's a check box to adjust the pixel aspect for square, rectangular and widescreen even if I select the animation codec.

So perhaps your animatator has already made this adjustment prior to rendering. I also know that Avid has the pixel aspect options using the animation codec with Quicktime export or output.

Hope you get if figured out.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Daniel Low
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 11, 2009 at 8:31:30 am

Hey Chris

"I do some basic 3D stuff in trueSpace, and just to check I called up it's quicktime output dialogue. There's a check box to adjust the pixel aspect for square, rectangular and widescreen even if I select the animation codec. "

That's interesting, can you check the box for square pixels if you render out to a DV codec - DV25 for example?

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Please post back saying what solved your problem. It could help others, and saying 'thanks' is free!


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Chris Blair
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 11, 2009 at 3:48:00 pm

Daniel Low:
That's interesting, can you check the box for square pixels if you render out to a DV codec - DV25 for example?



Daniel,

Yes...all the options are available regardless of the format, the codec etc. I think trueSpace is converting the image somewhere before it get's compressed.

I believe it's like how you can create an SD widescreen image in photoshop by creating it at 720x486 with a 1.2 to 1 pixel aspect, or you can create it using square pixels at 864x486, then when finished creating it, just resize it to 720x486 (but keeping square pixels). Bring either one into your NLE timeline and they look correct.

I know graphics guys that dislike having to switch back and forth between the pixel-aspect correction feature in Photoshop, so they create all their widescreen graphics using square pixels as noted above, then when it's all approved, they resize it.

So I think trueSpace is doing something to the image to correct for whatever codec or pixel aspect it ends up being. I don't know about other 3D animation software, but when I set a project up in trueSpace, I don't have to tell it the size of the project. It gets adjusted when rendered to whatever format, pixel size, pixel aspect ratio etc. And that's whether you're doing any of the many flavors of HD. Everything (including circular elements) come out looking correct as long as you check the right boxes.

If I start thinking about it too much...it makes my head hurt!! So I just render short tests, checking the stuff I think is correct, until the test render looks correct. Then I write it down for that particular format, pixel size & aspect, codec etc.

As an aside, we have 3 VelocityQ editing systems, and if you take a frame grab from the timeline, then open it in photoshop, Photoshop thinks it's pixel aspect is square, when in fact it isn't. I don't know if there's some sort of metadata that VelocityQ leaves out when it saves the still file (can save as bmp or jpg), but it leads me to believe that some software just isn't "pixel aspect aware."


Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Daniel Low
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 11, 2009 at 4:35:06 pm

"Yes...all the options are available regardless of the format, the codec etc. I think trueSpace is converting the image somewhere before it get's compressed."

So that tells me that Truespace does not honour a codecs PAR, as we all know that DV is non-square.

I don't find it surprising really, only the better (and very expensive), higher end 3D solutions work well directly exporting to video; 3DS Max, Maya and SoftImage spring to mind.
With the likes of Truespace (and I'm not belittling it whatsoever) you are far better off exporting to an image sequence and working with that externally. Let a video specific application like AfterEffect or you NLE handle PARs, SARs and DARs!

p.s. BMP and JPEG are square pixel formats (even though the JFIF standard allows for aspect flags to be written, it's rarely if ever implemented), so Photoshop is correct..






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Chris Blair
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 12, 2009 at 3:13:36 am

We don't have any issues whatsoever with aspect ratio mismatches, and we typically render out to our native .dps file format out of trueSpace. I've rendered a few times to Quicktime when someone else needed the animation, and they never had a problem with pixel aspect.

Same with the animation guy we use up near Chicago. He does big-time stuff, animation for music videos for David Byrne and other big-name musical acts, and all I know is his Quicktimes using the animation codec look correct and are clean as a whistle.

Our Velocity system also has a feature called a virtual file system that allows you to take the captured video file, and access it instantly as an image sequence in any one of about 10 still formats, including jpg, bmp, tga, tif, sgi, raw, pic and several others. The BMP sequences look perfect if you import them into AE, Digital Fusion, animation programs, Premiere CS3, Vegas etc., and require nothing different in terms of settings or processing than the other image sequence formats. It's really a cool feature and that's why so many animators have used DPS (now Harris) stuff over the years.

So while you're exactly right about bmp and DV PAR, Velocity and trueSpace are are doing something to correct for this and doing a transparent job of it.

BUT...I'm curious to know if the original poster has figured out HIS issue though!


Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Daniel Low
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 9:44:54 pm

Just to throw another possible spanner in the works:

720x480 & 720x486 are generally regarded as non-square pixel frame sizes. The Animation codec is however a square pixel codec, as such the corresponding frame size should really be 640x480 (for 4:3) not 720x480

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Please post back saying what solved your problem. It could help others, and saying 'thanks' is free!


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Paul Campbell
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 11:22:19 pm

Daniel, won't I need to seriously scale the animation up if it's only 640x480 in my 720x480 timeline? Or am I just not getting the jist of your reply here?



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Daniel Low
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 10, 2009 at 11:53:55 pm

You are missing something if you don't appreciate the difference between square and non-square pixels.

Computers do square pixels, digital video does non-square pixels.

So in order to create an animation on a computer for delivery to digital video, one would render out as 640x480 square pixel and transcode to the digital video format that is at 720x480 non-square (For NTSC), not scaling, just resampling both are 4:3. (For PAL it's 768x576 square to 720x576 non-square)

Failure to follow this rule will result in circles becoming ovals and squares becoming rectangles.

Without a detailed run-through of your workflow for all your material, it's impossible to determine where you're at.




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Please post back saying what solved your problem. It could help others, and saying 'thanks' is free!


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Paul Campbell
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 11, 2009 at 2:19:21 am

I do understand the difference...I'm just having a bad day I guess. Thanks for the replies. I'll let you know how it goes.



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Brian Alexander
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 11, 2009 at 5:49:35 am

It would help if you could throw a 5 second clip online so we can take a look at what you're seeing.

Also, I apologize if I missed it somewhere but I still didn't see a solid answer here:

Where did this original animation come from? Was it ingested from a tape source or do you have the original files?
and
What's the frame rate of the original animation? 29.97, 30, 59.94 or 60?

Is it possible that someone has created a progressive frame without properly de-interlacing the material? Correct me if I'm wrong but you would never be able to de-interlace the video if this were a progressive video frame displaying interlaced media.

Good luck.


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Paul Campbell
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 11, 2009 at 2:14:41 pm

Brian (and all), sorry for not being completely forthcoming with my info. I shall tell you everything I know about the origin of the clips:

-Originally delivered to us on a data DVD by a graphic artist (That's all I know about this part. We simply had files delivered to us on disk. I don't know what application(s) was used to create them, nor do I know the guy personally. This was farmed out prior to my involvement)

All properties info on the clips comes from pulling up properties in Final Cut Pro, which are:

720x486
Animation codec
Lower field dominance
Frame rate is 29.97

Regarding your question about the possibility of these things being progressive without proper deinterlacing, I have no idea. I'm also not able to put anything online at the moment...I need to find a good site somewhere that will allow me to upload for free (any suggestions?).

Thanks,

Paul



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Daniel Low
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 11, 2009 at 2:19:08 pm

How about http://www.yousendit.com/

By taking a look at it we should be able to figure this out once and for all!

__________________________________________________________________
Please post back saying what solved your problem. It could help others, and saying 'thanks' is free!


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Paul Campbell
Re: Converting animation to progressive
on Feb 12, 2009 at 2:40:11 pm

Daniel, thanks for the link. I'll post something as soon as I get home!



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