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Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?

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Zevie Tannenbaum
Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 9, 2011 at 9:49:02 am

I'v posted here before, but hopefully I make more sense now. I'm new to all this, so please understand...



Problem

I recorded my screen, 1680x1050, dragged the video into a new comp and then animated some stuff with photoshop files.. I then export the movie using After Effects and the quality is great. The problem I'm having is that I'm working on a 720x480 timeline in Final Cut Pro and when I drag the exported AE movie, the quality drastically drops. I understand that the timeline I'm working is less then half the quality of the exported comp.

Attempts to Fix Problem

The first thing I tried doing was making a brand new comp in after effects, 720x480 and then pre-comping the original comp, 1680x1050 and then scaling it to fit, but then again I loose quality.

I tried using programs that convert from HD to SD (I'm on a mac by the way), didn't work

* The only way I can seem to get the right quality in Final Cut, is creating a new timeline and dragging the 1680x1050 video, but then I can't use all the video I've worked with on my 720x480 timeline.

If you can please respond quickly, I have a deadline coming up.

Thanks,
Zevie


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 9, 2011 at 10:42:01 am

It's quite confusing because I do not understand what the actual problem is. If your final project is 720x480, then there's no resolution loss- you bring in the higher rez files from AE and scale them down- you get better image quality. The only issue would be if you work on 720x480 for some reason and you want to scale up to HD or something af the sort. Then you would loose resolution.
Also, I do not understand (like Dave before me) why do you finish in FCP and not in AE?
Just as a rule, for fx and graphics, you should always try to work on a higher resolution and then in the end, encode your final uncompressed render from AE to the final compressed size using a compression software like Adobe Media Encoder.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Zevie Tannenbaum
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 9, 2011 at 10:48:56 am

Sorry. I don't understand, how do I "Finish in Final Cut"?

Also, I'm not getting 'better image quality' when I scale the comp down. I realized that something has to be pretty wrong. I just took an HD video that I have for a tutorial and when I scale it down to a 720x480 comp, the quality is better, but when I take my video, the quality just drops..


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Zevie Tannenbaum
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 9, 2011 at 10:58:28 am

I seem to have figured out the problem, I just don't know how to fix it. When I drag the full sized video into the 720X480 video, and don't rescale the quality is GREAT! When I rescale to fit the comp, I loose quality as you can see in the screenshots below...

*You have to click on them to really view the difference...

When I first Placed the High Res video into the 720x480 Comp


After I Rescaled to Fit



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Zevie Tannenbaum
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 9, 2011 at 11:23:50 am

I also exported the movie 720x480 while the comp was scaled up and the quality was great, its just when I scale to fit the comp, really weird...


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 9, 2011 at 1:22:25 pm

Maybe what you are seeing in FCP when you scale to fit is a preview and the final render will give you the full rez. Try to render out a few frames and see what happens. Still don't understand though why you are not rendering out of AE at 720x480 if that's all you're gonna use...

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Zevie Tannenbaum
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 10, 2011 at 9:24:01 am

When I render out in full quality in AE, it looks fine when I bring it into it's own timeline, but when I bring it the timeline that I've been working on, the 720x480 then the quality is just bad...


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Walter Soyka
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 9, 2011 at 4:28:16 pm

Since you have two different aspect ratios (1680x1050 square pixels or 16:10, and 720x480, which could be either 4:3 or 16:9), the "scale to fit" command will not scale proportionally. Either Layer > Transform > Fit to Comp Width (to letterbox), or Layer > Transform > Fit to Comp Height (to center-crop) will scale proportionally.

You didn't answer all of my questions in the last thread on this, so I'll re-ask and clarify a couple:

Are you using a preset for your output (720x480) comp -- which one? How are you rendering from AE? What sequence preset are you using in FCP? How did you generate the screen grabs you shared here?

Also -- what's your deliverable (broadcast, DVD, web, etc.) and what other kinds of footage are you cutting this into?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Zevie Tannenbaum
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 9, 2011 at 8:54:18 pm

Thanks for all the replies!

I'm not home right now, but this is what I recall...

I'm using a built in preset, NTSC 720x480 for the AE comp. I exported using the default settings this time, but I have tried ProRes 442 and H.264, but it never made a difference since the quality was always bad, until today where I realized I wasn't rescaling it correctly...

My timeline setting in Final Cut is NTSC 720x480. I forgot what I'm using for compression settings, but it's the default.

I generated the screen grabs using the built in screen capture program in the Mac, I dont think the're would have been a quality difference if I would have exported from within AE as a PS file...

I am going to have the video on a DVD, which is going to be played on a projector and home T.V

I'm adding the AE video into my FCP timeline, which is mostly filmed with basic home video camera...

* I also tried exporting the video when it was scaled up and it played well on QuickTime, even before I put it in
FCP

Thanks for all the help,
Zevie


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Joey Foreman
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 9, 2011 at 10:56:56 pm

The default export module usually uses the Animation codec.
Change the Compressor in your FCP Sequence settings to Animation.
(In FCP, if your sequence is using the NTSC/DV Compressor, then yes, you should expect to see a drop in Quality.)

If you're using any version of FCP 6.0 or above, if you drag your clip to an empty sequence, you'll get a dialog asking if you want the Sequence Settings to match the footage. Choose Yes.

If you're seeing the poor quality in Quicktime Player, first make sure you're using Quicktime 7, not Quicktime X. Then go into Quicktime Preferences General and be sure that Use High Quality Video Settings when Available is checked.

Joey Foreman
Editor/Compositor/VFX Artist


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Zevie Tannenbaum
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 10, 2011 at 8:55:28 am

If I drop the video into a new sequence, I do get the option, but I want to drop it onto the timeline that I have been working on, the 720x480...


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Joey Foreman
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 10, 2011 at 12:06:32 pm

Look in your sequence settings and see what the compressor is set to.
If it's DV/NTSC change it to animation, assuming that's what you rendered to from AE. Just change it long enough to see how that affects the AE footage in the timeline.
If you're intercutting with DV footage, I would recommend recompressing that to Prores 422 with the Media Manager, then re-render your AE clips to ProRes from AE.
Then change your Sequence Settings in FCP to ProRes as well.

If you don't do this, all of the clips in your timeline will have to be rendered to Animation, and will require re-rendering again if you apply any filters.
Making everything ProRes will get you too a happier, less processor-intensive medium.

Joey Foreman
Editor/Compositor/VFX Artist


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 10, 2011 at 4:24:00 pm

I've looked through this thread -- briefly, mind you -- and for the life of me, I have no clue why you would want to work this way.

The scaling algorithm in FCP isn't anywhere near as good as the one in AE. So you're taking a quality hit right there.

If your goal is to move this captured web page around on the TV screen, it's a lot easier to control the motion in AE than it is in FCP.

You gain almost nothing by doing this in FCP rather than in AE. It's a flat-out screwy way to work.

Perhaps the ONLY reason to do it would be to sidestep a known bug in the AE/Quicktime interaction when rendering 1080 video, where the field order flag isn't set properly when rendering out video intended to be progressive-scan.

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


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Zevie Tannenbaum
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 10, 2011 at 6:11:36 pm

Sorry I wasn't clear, the FCP timeline is a whole montage and the AE video is just a small part, I won't be able to let anyone know if I was able to fix the problem for another couple days, since I'm not home...

Thanks,
Zevie


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Zevie Tannenbaum
Re: Changing Comp Size Without Loosing Resolution?
on Jan 12, 2011 at 11:07:17 pm

I made a new comp, and made it a NTSC Widescreen (1.21). I then took my original video, (already exported from AE) and dragged it into my new NTSC (720x480) comp. It still happens, the more I scale in, the better the quality is, the more I scale out, the worse the quality gets.

I tried 'Fit to Comp' and 'Fit Height to Comp' and I still get the same unclear results... I'm seeing these results in After Effects preview window and the quality is set to 'full'


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Zevie Tannenbaum
Create This Effect?
on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:12:36 am

I've included part of the video that I've been having problems with. I still don't understand why I'm loosing so much quality when I drag it into my FCP timeline (720x480) and when I rescale it in AE using a 720x480 comp...

*EDIT - The same thing is happening in FCP, when I drag it into my 720x480 timeline, when it's scaled it, the quality is better and when I scale out the quality gets worse...

You can download part of the video below

1486_problem.mov.zip


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