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FCP Compressor losing quality in low light shooting

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Bijoyini Chatterjee
FCP Compressor losing quality in low light shooting
on Apr 7, 2012 at 3:06:13 pm

Hello,

I filmed some footage using the SONY EX1 (XDCAM) in very low light conditions (it was a dance party and the light was predominantly red/yellow). The gain of the camera was at 18db and the aperture at 1.9 or 2.8 (at most).

I edited the footage using FCP 7.0.3
Sequence Settings:
1920x1080 HD
30p
Codec: XDCAM 35Mbps bit rate
Video Processing tab
Render in 8-bit YUV

and it looks good when I exported the sequence using the Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) 1920x1080 30p codec .

The problem comes when I convert it to H.264 in Apple's Compressor. I played around with *every* combination of Frame Controls and video settings. Here is an example below of my compressor settings.

The resultant H.264 file has a very poor resolution and looks like there is some sort of enlarged pixels moving about, the definition of the people are fuzzy and the eyes look blurry. It is not acceptable at all.

My question is:
Am I at the limits of Compressor? Is there a better compression software out there for low light (red dominant) images? I do find that cameras perform worse under red lights than blue or yellow! Or is there a detail that I am missing in the FCP Compressor? Any help will be most appreciated...





http://www.oniricaproductions.com


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Neil Patience
Re: FCP Compressor losing quality in low light shooting
on Apr 7, 2012 at 7:32:35 pm

Is there a reason why you are restricting the bitrate to 5000kbits/sec
If you increase this you will get better quality - I think the max is somewhere around 30,000 or so - but it would be worth experimenting with increasing that above 5000 for sure.

best wishes
Neil
http://www.patience.tv


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Alan Okey
Re: FCP Compressor losing quality in low light shooting
on Apr 7, 2012 at 10:50:58 pm

Apple's h.264 encoder is one of the worst out there. If you have Adobe Media Encoder, use that instead. Or, install the x264 encoder. All h.264 encoders are not created equal!

http://www.streaminglearningcenter.com/articles/x264encoder-vs-the-apple-co...


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: FCP Compressor losing quality in low light shooting
on Apr 8, 2012 at 3:36:03 am

Are you scaling the video into something less than 1920x1080?

Else, even at 5 Mbps (5000 kbps) and your quality settings, you should get decent video. Unless you're scaling it to 720x576 or some other size. So the Frame controls setting affect the picture only if you are changing the size and/or frame rate. Else they don't matter.

Also, if your original video is very noisy, it will look worse with compression. Just like grainy film gets worse with compression. Better to slightly de-noise the video before compression.

And there's nothing wrong with Apple's H.264 encoder. It can produce excellent results depending on the source and output settings. It's a carpenter and his tools thing.

-----------------------------------
Neil Sadwelkar
neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com
twitter: fcpguru
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
Mumbai India


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Bijoyini Chatterjee
Re: FCP Compressor losing quality in low light shooting
on Apr 8, 2012 at 1:08:25 pm

Hi Neil,

I am not rescaling - the resulting H.264 is 1920x1080.
The original footage is grainy because I used an 18db gain but the final H.264 is just not acceptable as
1. It does not look like HD
2. It is distorting the image
3. The image does not look well defined.

As I mentioned in my post, I have tried all the combinations of settings in Frame Controls and Video Processing and I don't see any improvement. Which is why I was wondering about the efficacy of FCP Compressor and about other compression software out there.

Thanks for your reply,
Bijoyini

http://www.oniricaproductions.com


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Neil Patience
Re: FCP Compressor losing quality in low light shooting
on Apr 8, 2012 at 7:43:45 pm

I have tried making H264 files with Compressor, Adobe media encoder and Telestream Episode and the results between them are pretty much the same give or take.
Matrox have some good hardware accelerated H264 encoding butI have not used it so hard to say if it will significantly improve things in your case.
I think your fundamental issue is having to shoot with 18db gain which is going to make things noisy as you have obviously noted.
Clearly the H264 compression is emphasising the noise in your master which to a degree is to be expected.

When you say 'distorting the image' do you mean adding noise or changing th aspect ratio ?

Perhaps another approach might be to try to de-noise your footage - have a look at Neat Video's noise reduction plug-in. It is very good at noise removal without adding too many atrifacts along the way.
Could be a good solution for you.

best wishes
Neil
http://www.patience.tv


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Bijoyini Chatterjee
Re: FCP Compressor losing quality in low light shooting
on Apr 11, 2012 at 5:12:06 pm

Thanks a lot! I am actually much happier with Adobe Media Encoder and thanks for your recommendation. It is much faster and the quality seems to be better.

http://www.oniricaproductions.com


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