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Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects

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Mark Zemel
Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Dec 12, 2009 at 11:03:18 pm

Hi,
I've been editing a green screen video in FCP. I then exported the individual clips so I can start compositing and animating in AE. I've tried exporting it in it's native format, as uncompressed 8 bit, and as Apple Jpeg. But, no matter what format it's exported in when I import it into After Effects it looks super pixelated. The viewer is set to full resolution. I tried adjusting the pixel aspect ratio and the regular aspect ratio, and it helps a bit, but it's still super pixelated. I've been looking all over the internet for an answer to this problem, but haven't found anything. Any help would be really appreciated.
Thanks!
Mark


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Todd Kopriva
Re: Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Dec 13, 2009 at 12:32:27 am

What does the footage that you exported from Final Cut Pro look like if you play it in another application, like QuickTime Player? Is it pixelated in other applications, too? If so, then the problem is not on the After Effects side.

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Mark Zemel
Re: Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Dec 13, 2009 at 4:40:12 am

The footage looks significantly better in FCP, Quicktime and Cinema tools. There is a pretty severe resolution lossage in AE for some reason. I shot the footage on Mini DV at 4:3 aspect ratio, at 24pa frame rate, and then reverse telecined it in Cinema Tools. There were no dropped frames or any issues w/ the capture. And it's especially problematic because I need to key out the green screen background, and the footage is so aliased that I'm getting tons of noise around the edges.

I know Mini DV uses rectangular pixels, so I've been messing around w/ the composition settings, trying different aspect ratios and pixel aspect ratios to correct this. I even exported it using the Apple Jpeg codec because that should convert the rectangular pixels to square ones, but the problem persists. Thanks,
-Mark


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Chris Tarroza
Re: Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Dec 13, 2009 at 7:45:00 am

Hi Mark,

Try Export>Quicktime Movie and leave the drop down menu to 'Current Settings'. If you want to make a reference file, make sure 'Make Self Contained' is unchecked. Exporting this way will make a file in the exact same settings as your sequence, which should be the same as your original footage.

As was said earlier, try to play the exported file in Quicktime or some other program and see if the problem still persists.

If all else fails... make sure your resolution in AE is set to 'Full'. I remember freaking out when I left it to 'Third' and wondered what was going on!


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Mark Zemel
Re: Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Dec 14, 2009 at 3:26:41 am

I originally exported the clips at the 'Current Settings' setting, as self contained movies. The sequence settings in FCP are correct. And, the resolution in AE was the first thing I checked... I don't know. I just checked the original capture scratch (which looks perfect in QT). I imported it into AE and even that looks seriously pixelated. The other weird thing is that when I use the footage to create a comp the automatic comp settings are incorrect. The footage is showing up as 16:9 even though it's 4:3. I feel like I must be forgetting something basic, or missing something obvious. Thanks for all the help so far!
-Mark


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Mohamed Kamel
Re: Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Dec 14, 2009 at 5:33:55 am

How did you interpret the footage in AE?

right click on your footage----interpret----main

make sure you have the right settings


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Mark Zemel
Re: Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Dec 14, 2009 at 6:13:16 am

Hey Mohamed,
Just checked the footage interpretation. The settings seemed correct to me. It's using the native frame rate from the file (24 fps). Separate Fields is off, Remove Pulldown is off. The pixel aspect ratio is set to D1/DV NTSC (0.91). The color management is off. This is for the original capture scratch video file. Again, I already did the pull down using reverse telecine in Cinema Tools. Are those the correct settings?

I've also included some screen shots of the QT file vs. After Effects. The image is blown up to full screen in QT and 400% in After Effects. Even at 100% this pixelation is very noticeable.
-Mark






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Mohamed Kamel
Re: Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Dec 14, 2009 at 6:28:46 am

I don't think fields should be off, i never heard of dv being progressive so im pretty sure it is interlaced plus judging those images i cant see pixelation but what i can see is that the footage is slightly blurred and maybe this is because you have your fields settings wrong so try interpreting as lower field first and tell me what you got.

Hope this helps


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Dec 14, 2009 at 4:06:23 pm

[Mark Zemel] "It's using the native frame rate from the file (24 fps). "

You screwed up some place, and I bet it was in FCP. That's an incorrect frame rate. The proper frame rate when working with 24p is 23.976 fps. In FCP, it's erroneously called 23.98.

Double check the frame rate in the AE project window: highlight it and look at the very top. You'll find the frame rate that you exported from FCP. If it doesn't read 23.976, you screwed up in FCP.

Then there's this: apart from HDV, DV is just about the WORST codec to use for chroma keying. The reason: lousy Color resolution... and there is NO WAY to make it better. As soon as it was recorded, the damage was done.

So what's "Color Resolution"? Watch this:
http://macbreak.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=70596


Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Mark Zemel
Re: Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Dec 14, 2009 at 6:11:33 pm

Hey Mohamed,

Panasonic DVX 100B's can shoot in 24 Progressive Advanced mode. Which allows for a simple 3:2 pulldown from 29.97 fps to 23.98 fps. I use it regularly for doc pieces and performance pieces. The footage is not interlaced because all the interlaced frames have been pulled down. I'm very fastidious about that. As far as I know the fields should be turned off, because I'm not relying on AE for any deinterlacing. I'll mess around w/ it, but I don't think it's the answer.

And, I don't know, but the pixelation in the lower screenshot seems pretty apparent to me. Look at the image around her eyes, and in her hair, you can see the aliasing.

Hey Dave,

I hear you on the Mini DV green screen problems. This was my first green screen shoot, and I can promise you I will never use Mini DV for this kind of thing again. However, the footage is 23.98 (actually 23.976 as you noted) in FCP, but it's showing up as 24 in AE. I don't know why there is a discrepancy there (I just assumed in that last post that AE rounds up). I also can't explain why when I create a comp using the footage it makes it 16:9 instead of 4:3. But, that's easily fixable. What I'm still struggling w/ is the pixelated jagged edged images. But, thanks for the link on color resolution. I'll give it a listen when I get home.

Best,
Mark


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Dec 14, 2009 at 6:49:22 pm

[Mark Zemel] "...the footage is 23.98 (actually 23.976 as you noted) in FCP, but it's showing up as 24 in AE..."

That should NOT be happening. If you did it properly, the workflow from capture & pulldown removal in FCP to import into AE should yield footage at 23.976, not 24. AE is EXTREMELY good about reading frame rates properly. Double-check your workflow.

A potential pitfall: capturing DVX footage shot at 24pa as one gigantic clip. It rarely if ever works, whether you remove pulldown at capture or after the fact. Why? Because your camera is a machine. It screws up.

As you were shooting, did you rewind and play the footage back? Did you remove the tape and replace it? Did you turn it off, change batteries and turn it on again? Did you take it as an article of faith that your camera would flawlessly preserve time code and pulldown cadence in those circumstances? Did you know that if FCP encounters any mistakes in either time code or cadence as it captures and removes advanced pulldown, it instantly reverts to capturing at 29.97?

This is why you should ALWAYS capture individual clips only, setting in & out points within the duration of those clips. No capturing multiple clips, no entire tapes. If you didn't do that, you could be sitting there with a bunch of 29.97 footage, whether you removed pulldown before or after capture.

And that would certainly spoil your day.

If you're CONVICED it's right -- and I'm certainly not -- do two things in AE's Interpret footage settings: conform the footage to 23.976 and set the field separation to None. Drag the newly-interpreted footage onto the Make Comp icon at the bottom of the AE project window. If it still looks stair-steppy, you DEFINITELY did something wrong in FCP.

If it looks okay, you can begin the odious task of keying DV footage.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Yann Figueres
Re: Exported Green Screen Footage from FCP is pixelated in After Effects
on Oct 6, 2010 at 9:03:58 am

Hey guys,

It's been a while since someone respond to this thread but I had the same problem than Mark. Clean footage coming from FCP was pixelated when imported in AE. I tried to export my clip from AE, and then it came out clean as the source footage. So the problem was in AE.

It appears that it is a preference of the viewer which sucks. Go into Preferences > Previews. Then you can change "Zoom Quality" from "Faster" to "More accurate". And then, everything go back to normal in the viewer. At least it was my case.

I hope it can help someone.

Cheers.


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