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Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4

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Rob Postroz
Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Nov 28, 2018 at 8:46:43 pm

Hi,
I've imported footage into FCP I shot years ago on a canon XL1 - it's SD 720 x 480 - and FCP is adding these horizontal distortion lines to the footage (making the already low resolution footage even worse). I thought it had to do with interlacing, but now I'm not so sure (someone suggested it has something to do with edge interpolation??). At any rate, the raw .mov footage when viewed in quicktime does not have these lines. See attached pic for comparison to see the issue.

I recall many years ago when working in an older version of FCP that these lines would appear when editing this type of footage, but the solution just seemed to be to check a box in the viewer (like view in highest quality or something).
Any thoughts on how to solve this issue? I've tried other forums and internet for answers, but haven't had any luck, so you guys/gals are my only hope!
Any help is much appreciated.
Thanks!
Rob


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Doug Metz
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Nov 28, 2018 at 10:00:29 pm

Looks like interlacing artifacts to me.

Assuming you want / need progressive output, there are a couple of things you can do when using interlaced source material:

1) Make sure your project is set to progressive.

To do this, select the project in the browser. The upper portion of the inspector's Information pane will show your frame size and frame rate, audio configuration, and color space settings. You'll also see a "Modify" button - that's what we're after. You can change frame size, codec, starting timecode, audio configuration, and switch between interlaced and progressive. Keep in mind that you can't change frame rate once you have media on the timeline.

2) Make sure your media is set to deinterlace.

Select the clips you want (in the browser or timeline), and in the inspector's Information pane, select 'Settings' from the pop-up menu at the bottom of the pane. Once there, you'll find the 'Deinterlace' checkbox.

Ideally, you'd set this prior to edit so that you only have to do it once in the browser. Any clips edited into the timeline prior to making this change will also need to be changed.

Doug Metz

Anode


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Rob Postroz
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Nov 29, 2018 at 12:06:32 am

Doug, thanks so much for the prompt response and help!! I tried what you suggested (changing to 'p' and checking the 'de-interlace' box), and though it helped reduce the size of the line artifacts, they're still there unfortunately. Attached below is a screenshot of my settings in the Inspector window.
Also, not sure if this affects anything, but the camera that shot the footage wasn't a progressive camera, it had a 'movie mode' which was still about 30 fps, but made it look similar to 24 p.
Please let me know if there's anything else I'm missing here.
Thanks!
Rob



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Doug Metz
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Nov 29, 2018 at 2:34:23 pm

I think what's happened here, based on your screenshot, is that the footage was captured as progressive (29.97p), so the interlacing has been baked in. I have an HV20, and used to shoot quite a bit with it in Cinema mode. This writes to tape as a combination of progressive and interlaced frames - P, P, P, I, I, P, P, P, I, I, etc.

There are tools to remove the interlaced frames (reverse telecine) and retime the footage to 24p (23.98), but if the interlaced frames have been captured as progressive, these tools can't work properly due to incorrect frame / field information.

In order to really fix it, you will likely need to ingest from tape as interlaced.

Doug Metz

Anode


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Bret Williams
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Nov 29, 2018 at 3:02:43 pm

If it's interlaced, and you're editing SD, why not edit in it's native interlaced format? Output to mp4 will de interlace for the web.

But you can also just make it look better in the viewer by choosing the show both fields selection in the viewer. And make sure you're viewing 100% size for QC check.

If you're mixing with progressive HD, I'd do the de interlace thing, but it definitely softens the footage a bit.

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Doug Metz
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Nov 29, 2018 at 3:30:38 pm
Last Edited By Doug Metz on Nov 29, 2018 at 3:43:52 pm

[Bret Williams] "If it's interlaced, and you're editing SD, why not edit in it's native interlaced format? Output to mp4 will de interlace for the web.

But you can also just make it look better in the viewer by choosing the show both fields selection in the viewer. And make sure you're viewing 100% size for QC check."


There's the rub... his clip info panel is showing 29.97p, so the interlacing has been baked into progressive frames.

[Edit] One other thing to try on one of these clips, just to see what you see, is Uncheck the Deinterlace box, and set the Field Dominance Override to Progressive.

Doug Metz

Anode


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Rob Postroz
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Nov 29, 2018 at 7:55:13 pm

Hi Bret,
Thanks for the post. Very helpful - I kept the footage in interlace and then in the viewer I selected 'show both fields' and it took off most of the interlacing issue. There still is a very subtle interlace effect on it unfortunately that's still there (when comparing w/ the raw footage in Quicktime) but for the most part it's gone.
Re: your point that outputting to mp4 will deinterlace, will the interlace still be taken off when outputting to the highest quality possible? This footage will eventually be seen on larger screens, so I want to make sure the interlace artifacts are resolved.
Thanks so much for the help!
Best,
Rob


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Rob Postroz
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Nov 29, 2018 at 7:28:10 pm

Hi Doug,
Thanks again for the response. When I look at the info for the clips before I drop them in the timeline, the inspector shows them set at 29.97i - the screenshot I posted was after I made your suggested changes to the clips.
Re: interlacing backed in at capture of footage -- how could this be the case if when I view the raw captured footage in Quicktime there are no interlacing issues at all? (the footage is perfect when viewed there) This suggests to me that it doesn't have the interlacing backed in, but is a settings issue in FCP.
Thanks again for your help.
Best,
Rob


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Gary Huff
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Nov 30, 2018 at 10:41:46 pm

First of all, Rob, forget everything that has been suggested. To start with, what is the camera these clips were recorded with?


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Rob Postroz
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Dec 1, 2018 at 12:12:23 am

Hi Gary,
Thanks for the help. The camera I shot the footage on was a canon xl1.
Thanks again,
Rob


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Joe Marler
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Dec 1, 2018 at 1:31:53 pm

[Rob Postroz] "The camera I shot the footage on was a canon xl1."

Your above FCPX dialog says Canon Vixia HV40. So it is actually XL1 material?

Just to verify the file characteristics, could you use MediaInfo or Invisor on your media file and state the following parameters, or just cut and paste. Note for MediaInfo you need to do View>Text to see these clearly. Invisor allows drag/drop of multiple files for a spreadsheet-like comparison, but we only need to see the parameters of this one file.

MediaInfo: https://itunes.apple.com/app/mediainfo/id510620098
Invisor: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/invisor-media-file-inspector/id442947586?mt...

Format
Codec ID
Overall Bit Rate Mode
Overall Bit Rate
Format Profile
Format Settings
Format Settings, CABAC
Format Settings, GOP
Format Settings, ReFrames
Width
Height
Pixel Aspect Ratio
Scan Type
Scan Order
Scan Type, Store Method


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Rob Postroz
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Dec 2, 2018 at 12:44:45 am

Hi Joe,
Thanks for responding. Yes, the camera that I used to shoot the footage was an old canon xl1 - I'm not sure why that other camera name is listed in the inspector, although when looking at the MediaInfo profile below, it lists Canon Vixia in there as well...
Thanks for the suggestion of those programs. I downloaded MediaInfo and ran it on one of the clips. Please see below info results in the categories you requested (I couldn't find the FORMAT settings CABAC, GOP, Reframes listed):

Format : DV
Codec ID : dvc
Bit rate mode : Constant
Bit rate : 24.4 Mb/s
Format profile : QuickTime
Width : 720 pixels
Height : 480 pixels
Scan type : Interlaced
Scan type, store method : Interleaved fields
Scan order : Bottom Field First

Below is the full screenshot of the info in case I missed anything:


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Gary Huff
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Dec 1, 2018 at 3:34:11 pm

[Rob Postroz] "The camera I shot the footage on was a canon xl1."

The XL1 had a "Frame Mode" that was, frankly, not the best way to film on that camera. It was a workaround "de-interlacing" in camera (as opposed to the DVX100 which would give you an actual 29.97 progressive) that caused a resolution loss of around 25%, which I'm sure you're already aware. However, the footage is still interlaced, not actually progressive. It's simply trying to emulate the look of progressive within interlaced (as kooky as that sounds).

[Rob Postroz]I recall many years ago when working in an older version of FCP that these lines would appear when editing this type of footage, but the solution just seemed to be to check a box in the viewer (like view in highest quality or something).

Have you tried doing this in FCPX? There are similar options. I would also render out a section and see if it still looks the same.


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Joe Marler
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Dec 1, 2018 at 6:06:58 pm

[Gary Huff] "I would also render out a section and see if it still looks the same."

This is an important point. Never trust solely what you're looking at in the Viewer. Also with Quicktime Player you cannot control whether playback deinterlacing is applied. Sometimes it reads the metadata and applies it, sometimes not. If there is suspicion about "baked in" deinterlacing or metadata, you never know what the player is showing you.

With VLC you can at least manually turn interlacing on/off and apply different deinterlacing algorithms, then compare that to how FCPX shows it and to the metadata shown by various utilities.

The XL1 is a mini-DV camera so *something* previously captured the tape to a file. My old DVX100 files are AVI captured by Premiere CS4 and (for 4:3 29.97 interlaced material), and that metadata shows DVCPRO, interlaced, bottom field first.

I wonder how the XL1 material was originally captured and whether the media file is the captured file or some intermediate format.


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Mark Smith
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Dec 1, 2018 at 10:49:56 pm

Also keep in mind that even if you had a 24 frame progressive (well 23.98 ) setting on the camera there was no such thing as 24 frame video recording so pull down would be applied to bump the frame rate up to 29.97 and there will be interlaced frames in those pulldown frames. So yes there would still be interlaced artifacts in the pulldown frames.


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Rob Postroz
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Dec 2, 2018 at 12:51:02 am

Hi Gary,
I wasn't aware at the time that there was a 25% loss in quality - I shot this footage almost 15 years ago and the "frame mode" looked so cool I didn't bother to check if there was any quality loss. bummer. By any chance is there a way to get that 25% quality back through some third party software?
Re: changing some options in the viewer, I did try the "show both fields selection in the viewer" that Brett suggested and this helped a lot, but I still noticed some subtle interlacing lines when compared to the raw footage viewed in Quicktime. Is there any other options I should try?
Thanks again for the help!


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Joe Marler
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Dec 3, 2018 at 12:16:03 pm

[Rob Postroz] "I did try the "show both fields selection in the viewer" that Brett suggested and this helped a lot, but I still noticed some subtle interlacing lines when compared to the raw footage viewed in Quicktime. Is there any other options I should try?"

If you can upload a (hopefully small) piece of the original material I'd be happy to look at it using various NLEs and methods. In the tape days, entire tapes were typically captured to a huge file so you may not have a small file, and uploading a rendered output doesn't help, since the question is how the original captured material behaves. But if you have a piece that's less than 1GB I'll look at it.

Normal interlaced DV material is intended to be encoded as interlaced, and the playback chain will deinterlace. So if you play a captured DV file in VLC with deinterlacing turned off, it will show comb artifacts.

In the NLE era you have the option to hard deinterlace it or (for web providers like Youtube) let them deinterlace it during the post-upload encoding. The question is what does the XL1 "Frame Mode" do to the material and metadata, and how does Youtube, FCPX, Premiere Pro or Resolve (which weren't invented when the XL1 was sold from 1997-2001) handle that material.


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Rob Postroz
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Dec 4, 2018 at 1:28:11 am

Hi Joe,
Thanks so much for offering to take a look at a small piece of footage! I have a clip 6 seconds long, 22 mb that I've attached:
12923_21474836471106060000.mov.zip
One final thing I discovered yesterday which may be affecting things: to capture the footage into FCP, I used the tape deck from a different Canon camera - that's why the camera listed in the inspector is from a Canon Vixia not Canon XL1. Not sure how this affects everything within the settings, but the two cameras are totally different, so maybe that's what's causing the issues.
Please let me know if you need anything else.
Thanks!
Rob


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Joe Marler
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Dec 4, 2018 at 2:01:41 pm

OK I looked at the material. As your MediaInfo indicates, it is DV 720x480, 29.97i, interlaced bottom field first. I see on the horizontal blinds some aliasing depending on whether I play the clip in VLC, Quicktime, FCPX, and what deinterlacing is used.

Create a manual 720p 29.97 project (File>New>Project>Use Custom Settings, pick 720p HD 29.97p), add a clip to that, then set the deinterlace checkbox for that clip. Then render it out and inspect it vs the original clip. I tried several things and that seemed to give the best quality.

Traditionally you edit interlaced material in an interlaced project and export it as interlaced since the original intent was the playback chain (DVD, TV, etc) would deinterlace. However nowadays most content is progressive so you are normally editing small pieces of interlaced archival material in a progressive timeline. In such cases the project itself is progressive so the interlaced clips should be deinterlaced.

Premiere Pro allows deinterlacing the clip then exporting it as interlaced which doesn't seem correct -- the "interlaced" metadata flag should indicate interlaced material.

In testing other vintage interlaced material on FCPX 10.4.4, I noticed it sometimes does not identify the field dominance correctly. It's probably a good idea to check this in MediaInfo then check in Inspector Settings and make sure field dominance is set correctly.

I think there was a behavioral change between FCPX 10.3.4 and 10.4 about how the deinterlace checkbox is implemented but I no longer have that version and can't test it.


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Rob Postroz
Re: Frustrated! Poor quality of SD footage in FCP 10.4
on Dec 4, 2018 at 9:49:21 pm

Joe, thank you so much for taking the time to test this! Really means a lot. I will try what you suggest in FCP - sounds like that's the best fix.
Thanks again,
Rob


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