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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):
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:
and other sizes of 16:9

Any ideas on this is HUGELY appreciated.

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