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MFX file import and data rate

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Yilmaz Vurucu
MFX file import and data rate
on Jun 17, 2010 at 9:02:30 am

Hi, I would greatly appreciate any help on this issue...

I recently shot a short film, with the Panasonic HVX-200 camera. We shot the footage at 1080 p.

Now, I had absolutely no problems importing the files using the log and transfer feature-we had transferred the contents of the P2 card to my harddisk- and yes the contents folder and the .txt file etc. is not really user friendly-but I managed..

In anycase, not knowing there was a quality problem, and not realizing it until I reached the final stage of post, I edited the whole film, had the music composed, worked on some special effects etc... Everything worked perfectly..

UNTIL I decided to finally complete the color correction.
When I tried working on the color correction I noticed that the shadows and other areas of the footage have quality issues-I hadn't noticed that while editing but the color correction really brought this to the forefront... The footage is almost at draft version, and not HD quality! It's pixelated.. Something went wrong somewhere.

So after doing some research and checking the settings etc, I noticed that FCP (I'm using FCP 6 BTW) imported the footage at a data rate of only 11MB/s... Whereas I know for a fact that the camera records the HD footage at 100MB/s... Which might explain the discrepancy in quality.

So, I played with the import settings, the sequence settings, everything, to no avail.. I even wondered if it had to do with my quicktime (since FCP unwraps the MXF into a quicktime format) and DVCPRO HD codec, but I couldn't find a solution...

After days of research, I gave up, there's nothing out there that can help me solve this, so I decided to post here as a last resort-after all if the great minds at Creative Cow can't help me resolve this, I don't know who can..

so.. Any thoughts, suggestions, ideas?

I look forward to your responses.

Cheers!


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Jerry Hofmann
Re: MFX file import and data rate
on Jun 17, 2010 at 1:38:55 pm

You camera in no way records at 100mb's a sec. It's 100 mbits... which is the same size as what you imported more or less. So that's not the issue.

Sounds to me like the problem is two fold. First you shot with a camera with very small imaging chips. This results in noise in the darker areas. It can be minimized with careful lighting, and turning off all of the detailing the camera introduces, but there's the second issue... Hey, no camera under 10k does a ton better either...

This second issue is the codec itself. It's very noisy. DVCPROHD's good side is that it's an "i frame" format. But in the compression itself, there is a lot of noise introduced with it. It's pretty ugly in fact, and those small chips (1/4 or 1/3") just don't handle the lower light areas very well at all. This is why 1/2 or larger chips are preferable. They cost more of course...

This is what you're seeing I'm afraid... Color Correction sure brings it out alright, and from where you sit now, it should be used to minimize those areas where you are seeing noise... push them back down, and even though you'll diminish clarity in those areas of the luma, you'll lose some of the noise you're seeing...

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but hey, if this was cheap and easy, everyone would be doing it...

Jerry

Apple Certified Trainer, Producer, Writer, Director Editor, Gun for Hire and other things. I ski.

8-Core 3.0 Intel Mac Pro, Dual 2 gig G5, AJA Kona SD, AJA Kona 2, Huge Systems Array UL3D, AJA Io HD, 17" MBP, Matrox MXO2 with MAX Cinema Displays


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Yilmaz Vurucu
Re: MFX file import and data rate
on Jun 17, 2010 at 2:16:20 pm

Hi Jerry-wow thank you for the enlightening post.. At least now I know what the problem is..

However, I did use this exact same camera (and the same videographer) for a music video I had directed, the only difference was-the post was completed at a professional production house. And I don't recall (even though we shot the video at night with local lighting) having anywhere near this much noise in the footage-in fact the footage was quite crisp.. Which leads me to believe that either I'm doing something wrong with the importing process, or there's some codec or something missing?

Now on a related note-if you wouldn't mind, I have a few more questions in regards to this whole process...

I have also noticed noise in exterior shots as well and every single shot (the grass for instance), but it's only obvious when I play the video at 100% of its size on FCP.. If I play it at 50% or so, it's not as obvious. I don't have a monitor-I'm doing something guerilla style here, editing this at home:)

So in your experience, is it really that bad, or does it have to do with the resolution size of my MAC screen... Im using an apple macbook.

Another question is-there's something called the avc intra codec, should I download that, will it help, or is final cut pretty much calibrated for these formats and this is the be-all of the image quality I'll be getting... Because I"ve worked with a host of other formats before, and even though this is HD, this is the worse problem I've had in regards to visual quality. So I can't help but think if it's a codec problem?

Because even when I export the footage out of FCP as Pro Res, I cannot tell you the amount of noise overall I see on the project-every shot has noise... Which makes me wonder-the whole project is not badly lit, so what might the issue be?

In anycase, I will have to push down the luma in each and every shot it seems like...


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cowcowcowcowcow
Shane Ross
Re: MFX file import and data rate
on Jun 17, 2010 at 4:00:03 pm

The HVX-200 does horrible in low light. So you need to light well for it. And the fact that a professional post house was able to make it look better is not surprising, many places have secrets up their sleeves. But know that when you import footage from the HVX-200 vai Log and Transfer, there is ZERO quality loss. The footage just gets wrapped into a quicktime wrapper, but it is the exact same full quality that you shot. No compression.

Now, how are you monitoring this as you color correct? Please don't tell me that you are using the Computer Displays, and trusting the Canvas and Viewer. Those are not full quality, don't show you the full HD image you have. You need an HD capture card and broadcast monitor or darn good HDTV to really see what you are working with.

[Yilmaz Vurucu] "I don't have a monitor-I'm doing something guerilla style here, editing this at home:) "

Ah, you don't. So you are editing guerilla style, not using proper monitoring, and wondering why things don't look good. If you want to see what things really look like, you need proper monitoring. Without that you aren't seeing the real image.

[Yilmaz Vurucu] "So in your experience, is it really that bad, or does it have to do with the resolution size of my MAC screen... Im using an apple macbook. "

And you are using a SMALL screen. Yeah, that is bad. not the way to judge quality. Add a Matrox MXO2 mini and HDTV to that and you'll see a huge difference.

[Yilmaz Vurucu] "Another question is-there's something called the avc intra codec, should I download that, will it help, or is final cut pretty much calibrated for these formats and this is the be-all of the image quality I'll be getting"

That won't help, as you didn't shoot AVCintra, you shot DVCPRO HD. That codec allows FCP to work with the AVCIntra footage shot on AVCIntra P2 cameras, like the HPX-300, and HPX-2000, 3700. those shoot full raster 1920x1080 10-bit, and have larger sensors. DVCPRO HD is anamorphic, 1280x1080, or 960x720, and an 8-bit codec. But still 4:2:2. No, AVCIntra doesn't come into play here.

[Yilmaz Vurucu] "Because I"ve worked with a host of other formats before, and even though this is HD, this is the worse problem I've had in regards to visual quality. So I can't help but think if it's a codec problem? "

It is a monitoring problem mainly. And perhaps a shooting problem. If you shot in very low light, and boosted the gain on the camera to compensate, that adds a LOT of noise. But without proper monitoring, you are stumbling in the dark. And yes, a professional colorist will know a lot more about color correcting than you do, and know many ways to keep the grain at a minimum, and still be able to pull out a good looking image. There is a reason they get paid what they do, and that all they do is color correct.


Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Yilmaz Vurucu
Re: MFX file import and data rate
on Jun 17, 2010 at 4:23:14 pm

Thank you Shane.

I always work in a professional environment with pros for my industry work (including colorists, and of course on industry standard equipment), however this was a project of passion, extremely low budget, hence the working conditions. But your response has been extremely helpful, and has provided me with workaround options (such as purchasing an HD monitor and a card for my macbook)...

I appreciate it!


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Valerie Yoscak
Re: MFX file import and data rate
on Jul 30, 2013 at 5:01:02 pm

I have an apple pro res 422, 1080i, 29.97 and I need to transfer to a .mfx and maintain close captions. Can you help me?


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