DVCpro HD source footage looks soft and aliased
I have a project that it looks like the cameraman shot slightly out of focus, but I can't tell if it is on my end. It is a green screen wide shot of a person who is small enough in the frame that it is hard to tell. I compared it to some similar source footage from another project (I can only see the final output) and it also looks soft, but the final output is fine.
It is DVCpro HD (720p) and ultimately I need to composite and output to DVD. I am using the source settings in FCP and have tried various compression settings, too. Ultimately, I am going to make a SD DVD, so I also thought I could downconvert and that could help both the soft and alias issues. I doubt it was shot out of focus, but I can't really figure out any other possibility. Unfortunately, I have little time to figure it out and need to find a solution somehow.
[Matt Meyer] "I have a project that it looks like the cameraman shot slightly out of focus, but I can't tell if it is on my end."
"looks" involves a viewing mechanism. Ideally this should be a Broadcast Monitor set to 1 to 1 pixel display so there is no scaling.
[Matt Meyer] " I am using the source settings in FCP and have tried various compression settings, too."
Sorry this doesn't make sense. Either you're outputting as Sequence settings or compressing. Each involve different workflows. The best way to test a DVD is make one (you can use a small portion to speed the process) and view the results on a TV. The type of TV will have impact as well. An SD CRT TV would be one thing. Testing on an HDTV would be another but the results will likely impacted by the DVD player and/or HDTV's upscaling ability.
[Matt Meyer] "Unfortunately, I have little time to figure it out and need to find a solution somehow. "
Your option is to either take the time or gamble. There is no "automatic" solution to proper quality control. If you aren't happy with the results you'd have to redo or live with it.
There are various workflows but if you have potential problem material then you have to deal with the problem.
Many people find downconverting 720p to SD (in Compressor) to generally look good compared to 1080 which can require additional work due to sharpness and line twitter issues. Generalities don't help when you're faced with specific problems.
Some will do downconvert and then increase sharpness in SD if it goes soft. Then it would be best to downconvert to AppleProRes or Uncompressed since it will be the SD file that gets compressed to the DVD.
You should check source from your NLE feeding a broadcast monitor. You should tests a DVD on a typical TV set. You can set the Canvas to 100% in FCP for seeing things at full resolution but that's not good for normal playback and really doesn't replace looking on a broadcast monitor.
Thanks for your help and suggestions. Sorry if it was confusing.
What I meant is that the final DVD looked bad, so I went back to the source and tried to see where the issues were. The FCP sequence is using the source settings (the footage is in dvcpro hd 720p and the sequence settings reflect this with compression, frame size, etc.) I Then took a clip from the original footage and put it in a new sequence and, while it's hard to see the clarity with the green screen, it does look soft, so I am assuming it was shot that way. As for the viewing monitor, I did look at other footage in the same format and it looks fine, so I don't think it is the monitor.
Now, I am thinking of trying to either use a different system if I can, although I doubt this will change anything, and then just make a SD sequence and hope (the DVCpro HD) footage looks better as a smaller frame size, especially as it the final output is in SD anyway.
Does that make sense? Or are there other things I should look at?
When shooting green screen it's not uncommon for camera people to make sure the detail or edge sharpening is turned down in the camera. That can help in keying. That should only impact the edges though.
The problem is that SD video often has a fair amount of edge enhancement. That's why some people will add that back in after downconverting. If you don't convert to ProRes or Uncompressed you can then add the sharpening there as you can see more clearly how much you'd like.