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Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?

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Erin Herbst
Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jun 30, 2014 at 2:42:14 pm

Hello all!
I'm a novice videographer (just graduated high school!). I've been getting a lot of jobs recently filming local business owners for promotional videos and whatnot.
I shoot with my Canon 70D, usually in 1920x1080 30fps IPB mode with an EF-S 18-55mm lens. According to the camera manual this is the best setting for "Full HD recording suited for longer recording time."
I've noticed though that when I import my footage into Adobe Premiere Pro for editing, it often looks fuzzy or slightly "grainy" when I export it. I always set my sequence settings to match the footage and when I export it I check the box "match the sequence settings" and "use maximum render quality" and export in mpeg format.
Here's an example: http://reels.creativecow.net/film/21803
It's embarrassing because I'm being paid for my work and I want to deliver crisp, clean looking footage - which I know my camera can deliver! So what am I doing wrong? Am I filming in the wrong format (should I be shooting in ALL-I or at a lower frame rate?) or is it something I'm doing in Premiere that's screwing it up? I generally do not scale my footage up much so I don't think that would be the problem!
Any advice would be so much appreciated.


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Steve Crow
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jun 30, 2014 at 4:58:10 pm

Look for an option to film in 1920x1080 24p mode instead - thats 24 frames per second progressive. I think you will like the results much better

Steve

Steve Crow


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Ann Bens
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jun 30, 2014 at 9:18:58 pm
Last Edited By Ann Bens on Jun 30, 2014 at 9:20:35 pm

Dont export with Match sequence settings.
You are exporting with a preview codec which is of lower quality.
Max render quality is only usefull if you do not have a supported GPU.
What is your final product going to be? I am not a big fan of mpeg.

-----------------------------------------------
Adobe Certified Expert Premiere Pro CC
Adobe Community Professional


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Erin Herbst
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 4:51:59 pm

Hi Ann,
I will give that a try and see if there is any improvement. Any suggestions for what format I should be exporting in for online playback? H264? .mp4? .mov?


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Rob Manning
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 1, 2014 at 4:08:15 am

Hi Erin,

How is the client displaying this content?

Online, in a point of sale loop, broadcast on cable, You Tube, Vimeo?

There are presets for export which you can adjust for bit rate to customize.

Ann would have a good idea should you let us know.

Thanks,

Rob


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Erin Herbst
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 4:48:08 pm

Hi Rob, thanks for the advice!
She wants to use it for her "media package." I think she's trying to sell online training videos but I don't believe they will be hosted through YouTube or Vimeo. For online playback... what kind of bit rate should I be using?
Thanks, Erin


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James Kumorek
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 1, 2014 at 12:09:29 pm

Hello Erin,

There could be a variety of issues that could cause your video to look "soft". The first is focus -- DSLRs can have a very shallow depth of field, especially in lower-light situations. If you have your f-stop wide open (like f2.8), and you're zoomed in a bit, your depth of field can literally be just a few inches for clear footage. Which means that if your subject is moving around a bit, they will go in and out of focus as they drift towards and away from the camera.

What's your ISO setting? Higher ISO settings, which you would need to shoot as the available light decreases, will add noise and decrease the crispness of the video.

When you create your sequence, what settings are you choosing? If you were to pick a sequence resolution of (for example) 1280x720, but then export to 1920x1080, that would cause softness.

Are you shooting in fully manual mode, or are you letting the camera pick settings? If you're letting the camera pick the settings, you're not as likely to get the best results possible. If you're not that familiar with how the different settings affect your results, that's worth investing some time in learning. You might find this article I did helpful: http://www.churchproduction.com/story/main/how_to_shoot_better_footage_manu...

My best guess is it's a combination of the lighting levels that you're shooting under, the camera settings, and the focus/depth of field. The stock lenses that come with the cameras like the 60D (what I own for a DSLR) or the 70D are really hard to focus manually with great accuracy, which makes lower-light shooting for video a bit problematic. Try getting more light on your subject, and find a good balance between a higher F stop value to increase the depth of field, and higher ISO setting to get some for image brightness back up to where you need it to compensate for the higher F-stop value without adding too much noise into the picture.

Set up early before your next shoot if possible, pick what you think are the best settings, and shoot a short sample clip of you at the podium. Then, load it into your laptop and look at it full-res to see how it's coming out, and adjust your settings until you're getting the best you can get.

Hope that's helpful!


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Erin Herbst
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 4:56:07 pm

Hi James,
This was very informative an incredibly helpful. To be honest I have no real understanding of f-stop or ISO settings (I'm VERY new to this haha) so that's clearly something I need to educate myself on.
I really appreciate your input!
Thanks, Erin


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JP Pelc
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 1, 2014 at 2:29:58 pm

Hi Erin,

First of all as previously suggested you should try shooting in 24fps as that gives a more filmic and professional look. I think the biggest issue here is your lens. The kit lenses are pretty low quality glass, and rather slow. As a result you need to crank up your ISO in order to get appropriate exposure, which results in noise.

I don't know what kind of video you mostly shoot, but a wise investment on solid glass would be a Sigma 30mm f/1.4. I bought it a while ago and for ~$500, you can't get a better image. If you want to go even cheaper you can get the Canon 50mm f/1.8 for ~$100, just to see what it's like to use fast lenses. Of course these will not be suitable for filming speeches as seen above, but as I said I don't know what you usually shoot.

If you are weary about investing in a lens, you can always rent one pretty cheap for a day or two from borrowlens.com to test it out


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Erin Herbst
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 5:07:15 pm

Hi JP,
Thanks so much for the advice! I generally shoot speeches/people talking directly to the camera for short promotional videos.
Heres an example:




And another: https://www.dropbox.com/s/36ca3kb8w9f9saa/Civil-Litigation.mpeg
I apologize if this is a very amateur question but what type of lens would you suggest for this type of work? I have rented mics from Borrow Lenses before and I just build it into my fee so I would probably just rent a lens from them as well (at least until I save up enough to buy my own).
Thanks, Erin


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JP Pelc
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 6:43:09 pm

No problem. For stand ups or other controlled situations, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 that I mentioned before is a great option. It is a prime lens however, so you have no ability to change focal length if you need to go wider or tighter.

http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/Sigma_30mm_f1.4_for_Canon

If you want a variable focal length these are some pretty solid options:

http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/canon_standard/Canon_24-70mm_f2.8_L

http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/canon_standard/Canon_24-105mm_f4_IS

For speeches, you will probably need a telephoto lens as you are usually stuck pretty far away:

http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/canon_telephoto/Canon_70-200mm_f2.8_IS_...

http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/canon_telephoto/Canon_70-200mm_f4_L

http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/canon_telephoto/Canon_28-300mm_f3.5-5.6...


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Steve Crow
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 7:30:25 pm

Hey JP,

I agree with your overall points and lens recommendations but I think it's fair to also point out that if that prime lens with a fixed focal length is attached to a camera with a sensor smaller than full frame (say something like the Canon Rebel Series (T2i - T5i, the 7D, other APS-C cameras etc etc) or a micro four thirds sensor camera like the GH4 then the effective "reach" of the lens is increased from 1.6x to around 2x in the case of the micro four third cameras. I am often surprised how far I have to back away from the talent when using my Canon 50mm 1.4 because it's acting like an 80mm (50x1.6=80)

Also, let's not forget that you can still move the camera to get a wider or closer shot IF (and I think this was your point) you have the freedom to move your camera location and are not stuck where you are at.

But again, I basically agree with your points.

Steve

Steve Crow


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JP Pelc
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 9:11:33 pm

Steve,

Yes I am aware of the 1.6x crop factor and I considered that when giving my lens recommendations, I just didn't feel the need to mention it in case this thread might turn into information overload :)

And yes I meant to convey that she could just move the camera closer or further, but I guess I was kind of vague. Thanks for clearing it up.

To Erin, it's a good idea to get a basic understanding of exposure and the settings to control it before going on many more shoots. All you really need to learn to get started are the 3 main settings you can change (ISO, Shutter speed, Aperture/f-stop) and the benefits and drawbacks of changing each of them


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Michael Phillips
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 9:16:29 pm

I don't really agree with the notion that 24p makes it look more professional. Certainly 24p has a look, mostly for stories that want to have that "suspension of disbelief. In this case, it is speeches and such, so not warranted from a creative storytelling technique.

More importantly, shoot progressive, regardless of frame rate, you will get full horizontal resolution compared to interlace. So 30p (29.97p) is fine, and usually a nice comprimise. 24p (23.976) has some tangible benefits in file size and data rate as it will be a 20% smaller file overall given the same parameters and that may gave value. Or increase date rate by 20 for more quality, etc. It will also give you 20% more shooting time on that card. :)

I do agree with the exposure discussion. At the very least get a gray card and do a white balance and exposure on that before shooting. This will give you a great start and better looking image.

Lens is a factor - but may have diminishing returns based on the codec compression of the camera.


Michael


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 2, 2014 at 8:16:46 pm

Hi, Erin:

Contrary to what a couple of other posters said, 24p is not going to solve any of your problems. I like the look of 24p, but it doesn't have anything to do with your issues.

From watching your sample, I can detect a few problems:

1. Camera is shaking or jiggling. This indicates that you should stop touching the camera, or you need a better tripod/head.
2. Camera is on autofocus. It is better to set the focus manually so you know it isn't going to shift without warning, or lock in on something other than the presenter. With DSLR's, critical focus often necessitates an external monitor.
3. Camera position is not ideal. Try to find a spot where you won't have people walking in front of the camera, ruining your shot. For a presenter, shooting more straight-on is usually better. If you have to get up high to avoid obstructions, then do so. Use a tall tripod and stand on a chair if you have to.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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Steve Crow
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 2, 2014 at 10:47:03 pm

Uhhh actually I have to agree with Jason (I somehow missed the link to your video entirely, sorry about that) He's right on regarding the manual focus and keeping your shot steady...

What you are trying to do is first of all not easy but here's how I would have approached it ideally

* Forget about trying to film both the presenter and the slides at the same time, very difficult to do both well with one camera - instead just set your camera up with a more or less straight on shot of the same speaker - the human is the most important part of the video - the slides are a distant second or even third, fourth

* THEN, arrange to get the slides from the speaker afterwards and use your editing software to show the slides as your "B-roll" - in other words put them on track two so that you still have the voice of the speaker underneath. Just a few seconds on each slide should be enough unless the slides are very dense with information, then cut back to the speaker.

* Speaking of that....Powerpoint type presentation slides are often very awful to work with in video. People try to cram as much text and small diagrams as they can on a slide. I often opt to recreate the slides in Photoshop or my video software rather than use directly the same slides used by the speaker.

The image looked a little washed out to my eye....so I would increase the contrast somewhat.

Steve Crow


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Erin Herbst
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 5:19:35 pm

Thanks Steve, I appreciate your input!
I wasn't too concerned about capturing the slides, unfortunately that was as far as I could zoom in on the speaker with the lens I had :( I'll also filming
You mentioned in your first post that I should film in 24p rather than 30p. I know this is basic stuff but can you explain the difference between the two and why one looks more filmic than the other? In what type of situation would I want to use 30p?
Thanks, Erin


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Steve Crow
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 5:33:20 pm

24p or 24 frames per second comes from the kind of cameras used to film for Hollywood movies, in fact the standard goes way, way back. Essentially 80-90 percent of all the movies you see in the movie theater are filmed at 24 frames per second with some notable exceptions. It's what our eyes have become used to.

This frame rate creates a bit of "motion blur" between individual frames and that's actually a good thing up to a point...higher frame rates means less motion blur and the movie begins to look both more "real" "more like video" and "less cinematic."

30p is what video cameras used for years and years and is typically associated with the more "video look"

The P stands for progressive which means that each time the camera captures a "frame" it is recording the entire image hitting the camera's sensor in one snapshot - a very nice thing. "i" stands for interlaced and it means the frame is broken down into two "fields" - basically half the image is captured in each frame (really it's all the odd lines in one frame and all the even lines in the other) which is then merged to give you a complete picture.

It's easy to confuse frame rates like 24, 30 and 60 with shutter speeds which are actually different.

Steve Crow


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 9, 2014 at 8:48:26 pm

[Steve Crow] "30p is what video cameras used for years and years and is typically associated with the more "video look""

60i is actually what you are referring to, Steve. 60 interlaced fields. 30p is 30 progressive frames.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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Erin Herbst
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 4:43:29 pm

Hi Jason, I apologize for replying so late. I've been out of town without internet access. Thank you for your advice! Unfortunately this was at a luncheon so there were people spread out throughout the room so I couldn't have my pick of locations without blocking someone but I will definitely try standing on a chair next time.
This is probably an amateur question but can you explain what critical focus is and why it necessitates an external monitor? Thanks, Erin


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Jul 8, 2014 at 5:56:49 pm

[Erin Herbst] "can you explain what critical focus is and why it necessitates an external monitor?"

Hi, Erin:

"Critical Focus" is just a way of saying that you want to be really sure your focus is right where it should be. The built in viewfinders or LCD screens of the typical DSLR are small and often lower resolution than the image you are capturing. This makes it difficult to be sure that your focus is right on. Having a larger, external monitor with features like 1 to 1 scaling and focus peaking make it much easier to obtain critical focus!

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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David Howard
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Aug 15, 2014 at 2:30:41 am

It will probably have allot to do with your import and export options, also your project settings. Hope this helps

Redefined Media

Video Production Sydney


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Kyle Thompson
Re: Video doesn't look like HD quality...why?
on Mar 16, 2015 at 3:38:56 pm

Finding someone to let you practice is a huge step, so great job getting out there and making that happen. Jason gave you some great advice. The biggest step up I took was moving into a full frame sensor, more expensive lens, and external recorder (like the ninja blade) with focus assist. But - for learning how to get a good shot and tell a story, well you can do that with a smart phone.


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