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Why is my export quality so bad?

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Austin Bio
Why is my export quality so bad?
on Aug 10, 2012 at 1:25:11 pm

Why can't I export a .mov quicktime movie from FCP 7.3 that looks EXACTLY like the image I get when playing the footage in the timeline?

These are my issues that I can't find a way to surmount:

1. Interlacing. Yes, I shot interlaced - bad idea, never will do it again. But in FCP, viewed at full screen, the footage is beautiful - no interlacing artifact at all. Once exported, it looks horrible. Please no comments about "just choose 'deinterlace' when exporting." This seems to horribly degrade the quality (see below) and it doesn't deinterlace it anyway at the same resolution as I'm viewing it in FCP - you have to scale the quality down from 1080i to 720p before the interlace artifact in the exported file is gone. And even then, the quality is much worse than 720p should be (see below).

2. Saturation/bit depth/color quality: Once exported - no matter what quality I choose and no matter whether I check 'deinterlace' or not - the color goes down the drain once exported. It looks pathetic. Oversaturating the image before exporting in hopes of a correct saturation by the time it's exported does not work.


Bottom line: If the footage looks beautiful IN final cut, viewed at full screen, we KNOW it can look beautiful OUT of final cut, viewed on the same screen. How is this accomplished?

A few technical details:

Footage specs:

Shot in 59.94i, 1080.

Once ingested into FCP (these are the default ingest settings for my AVCHD footage):
29.97i
1920x1080
Upper (odd) field dominance
Square pixel aspect ratio
Apple prores 422


Export specs:

Compressor: H.264
Frame rate: Current
Keyframes: Automatic
Data Rate: Automatic
Frame recording: Unchecked
Quality: Best (multipass)
Encoding: Best quality

Export size settings:

I have tried all of the following settings, each with 'deinterlace' checked AND unchecked, respectively. And each with bad results:
1920x1080
1600x900
1280x720
and other sizes of 16:9


Any ideas on this is HUGELY appreciated.


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jerry wise
Re: Why is my export quality so bad?
on Aug 10, 2012 at 3:54:15 pm

i just did an h264 export of some xdcam 29.97 interlaced footage and it looks great. matches perfectly.
actually i like interlaced footage and we broadcast at 1080i. you get much smoother motion.
i assume you converted your footage to prores 422 before starting your edit.


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Austin Bio
Re: Why is my export quality so bad?
on Aug 10, 2012 at 4:46:17 pm

Yes, the footage is ingested into prores 422. How do you get those results? How do your settings differ from the ones I list above?


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jerry wise
Re: Why is my export quality so bad?
on Aug 10, 2012 at 5:21:51 pm

from the timeline
file
export
quicktime movie

current settings
custom
general tab
quicktime video settings
h264

frame size 1920x1080 hdtv 1080i 16x9
square
upper odd
29.97
timecode rate same as editing timebase


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Jeff York
Re: Why is my export quality so bad?
on Aug 10, 2012 at 7:16:18 pm

I'd be curious to see what the results are after you matched Jerry Wise's settings. He did exactly what I would have done.

I want to underscore something Jerry said because he's exactly right. Don't poo-poo shooting in interlaced. Initially, it bothered me to no end to be forced into shooting 1080i just because the station I was working for aired in 1080i, but the fact is it's quite beautiful when done correctly. True, your graphics look ratty when stilled, but who watches graphics stilled on TV for very long other than editors? Plus, as Jerry said, the motion video looks very nice. And you have a pixel for every frame of a TV displaying in 1920x1080...at least vertically.

I am curious why you're taking your 59.97i footage down to 29.97i? You are tossing half of your data away at that point.


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jerry wise
Re: Why is my export quality so bad?
on Aug 10, 2012 at 10:52:48 pm

i think in this case that 59.9i and 29.9 might be same thing.

all the work i do ends up on tv and i monitor my work on a tube monitor so i'm old school. actually i have a flat screen too. i have both so i can see if there is going to be any problems with my work when its put to air.

we havent heard back from Austin. maybe he gave up.


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Austin Bio
Re: Why is my export quality so bad?
on Aug 15, 2012 at 12:01:12 am

Ok Thanks for the input. Problem with interlaced is I'm shooting for computer screens, not TV. TVs are interlaced. Monitors are not.

Why 29.92i? For whatever reason, when I ingest the footage using FCPs 'Log and transfer', it automatically (there aren't even options for this) assigns 29.97i to the 59.54i footage. I noticed this issue but didn't sweat it because the footage looked great while in FCP. Export quality is the issue.

Jerry: problem is I MUST deinterlace if it's gonna look anything other than crap, viewed on a computer monitor. Is this not your experience? At this point I'm wondering what a good workflow perhaps using Compressor might be here...

Thanks a ton you guys - I've just been really busy with school starting and all.


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