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Three Simple Questions: Photos Into FCP

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Paul Spillenger
Three Simple Questions: Photos Into FCP
on Oct 1, 2011 at 8:26:51 pm

I've read many posts on this general subject, here and elsewhere, but my basic questions are not fully answered. I have whittled them down to three specific questions in their simplest form, which I would appreciate hearing some clear (not jargon-laden or unnecessarily technical) responses to. Thanks in advance.

1. Once a still photograph print has been scanned and saved as a file, is there anything that can be done to improve its quality (i.e., resolution) in Photoshop before importing it into FCP? Or is the visual "information" contained in the digital file always going to remain the same and therefore the resolution cannot be improved?

2. Once a photograph has been developed and, say, a 4x6 print created, is there anything the person scanning the print can do to improve the quality of the digital file that will eventually go into FCP? Or is it true that DPI is irrelevant because video can only use a maximum of 72dpi anyway? If the person took the negative and had the lab create an 8x10 print, would this increase the amount of "information" that went into the digital file?

3. Once the digital file is created, and FCP shows that its "frame size" is 640x480, for example, one would have to enlarge it, in an HDV project say, to a frame size of 1920x1080 to get it to fill the frame, and substantially more than that to allow moves on the image. Since this will require resizing the photo to more than 400% (at least) of its original size, it can be assumed that the image will look very bad in the HDV project. Question: At this point in the project, is there anything that can be done to improve the quality of the image?

Thanks again for your time.

Paul



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Andrew Rendell
Re: Three Simple Questions: Photos Into FCP
on Oct 1, 2011 at 10:24:04 pm

Once you've scanned a picture and saved it at a particular resolution, you've limited what information there is in the file, so although you can expand it, you're limited by how the software in question creates it's extra pixels. IMO photoshop does a better job of expanding a photograph than FCP, you can choose different interpolation methods to see which one gives you the best looking image, plus add a little unsharp mask to improve the subjective sharpness.

Dpi is irrelevant as there is no such thing as an inch in a tv picture, so dots per inch is meaningless. The only thing that video sees is the total number of pixels. If you have a 6x4 print and scan it at 300dpi, you'd have 1800 pixels along the 6 inch side by 1200 pixels along the 4 inch side, which isn't far off an HDTV frame size, so so you could expand it to fill the tv frame without too much of a problem. Making a 10 x 8 print and scanning that would give you more pixels in the file for the same dpi scanner, but if you're in a position to go to some extra trouble/expense than putting a regular print into a desktop scanner you'd get a better result by having the negative scanned at high res rather than having a bigger print made.

Expanding a 640 x 480 image to fill an HDTV screen is going to look pretty bad in FCP - if that's what you have to work with I'd recommend sending it to Motion and doing your zoom there, it's much better than FCP for that kind of thing.


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Paul Spillenger
Re: Three Simple Questions: Photos Into FCP
on Oct 2, 2011 at 12:18:47 am

Andrew,

This is all extremely clear and helpful. I thank you for taking the time. I can see that I need to take some time to understand how Photoshop "expands" and "interpolates" a photograph.

I see exactly what you're saying about a 4x6 photo scanned at 300dpi giving me an 1800x1200 pixels image. Unfortunately, though that's what I thought I was getting from my friend (the "client"), all my image files say 640x480. This is a mystery to me at present.

I am also reading between the lines of your response and hearing that the larger the print that's scanned (at whatever dpi) the more pixels there are and therefore the better the image would look at 100% in FCP.

Thanks again for your help.

Paul



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