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Old August 1st, 2005, 06:51 PM   #1
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Still images and FCP, HELP, not what you think.

Ok, so here's the deal. I am using a bunch of still images in Final Cut. Wait, wait, it's not what you think. I am using product images and some Logo images. In motion or not, and when I resize the logos from big to small, they look blurry and like crap. Now, here is the kicker.... I know I am looking at an LCD screen, and I know that on an NTSC monitor they will look better, but I need them to look good on an LCD monitor. This is a corporate sales project that will be shown 99.99% of the time on a computer monitor. How do I get the images to look NTSC good, on an LCD. I know it must have something to do with the Sequence settings, pixel aspect ratios, interlaced or deinterlaced, but I am lost in a sea of numbers. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again.
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Old August 1st, 2005, 07:13 PM   #2
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This is interesting... I did some things with stills in FCP3 and had the same type of problems. So recently when I needed to work with stills in FCP 4.5 I was dreading it.... but everything turned out great. Not sure how things may have changed in FCP 5.

But here are a few ideas. If you just want a full screen still image then the best approach is to properly size it in Photoshop before dropping into FCP. So (assuming you're working with 4:3 NTSC DV), initially crop your image in the 4:3 ratio using square pixels - 1024x768, 800x600, 640x480, etc... bigger should be better. Then resize in photoshop to 720x480 using resample without constraining proportions. When you drop this into an FCP sequence it will be properly proportioned, will fill the frame and FCP won't need to do any scaling (which it isn't so great at).

Now if you want to use a larger image and pan&scan in FCP, use the same principle of starting in photoshop with square pixels and then resizing to the correct DV pixel aspect ratio. But your image doesn't need to be in the 4:3 proportion necessarily - it will be larger than 720x480 to give you room to move.

Drop this into FCP and notice that it will scale it down to fit the DV frame size, which isn't what you want. Double click on the clip in the timeline to open in the viewer. Click on the motion tab in the viewer and set the scale parameter to 100% which will restore it to full size. Now click back on the video tab and enable image+wireframe. Do all your movement, zooming, etc here, clicking the keyframe button for each move.

Now here's what I think is the real trick to making your images look good, from my experience. On the motion tab in the viewer, enable motion blur by checking the box at the bottom. I just use the default values, but you can play around with those if needed. This will require a render which might take awhile depending on what you're doing and the speed of your machine.

BTW - this is unrelated to your question - but I've been reading over at apple.com's support boards that FCP 5 is actually significantly SLOWER to render DV sequences than FCP 4.5! Gotta love progress... ;-)
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Old August 1st, 2005, 07:19 PM   #3
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Oh, I forgot to tell you....

I am using FCP 4.5 on a G4 Dual 1.25 gig processors. I have a series of images running from right to left at half the size of the screen and across the middle (think widescreen) as a background. I then have the logo coming in from the side and resizing smaller to the upper right corner. When the logo gets smaller the image degrades a great deal, and the images going across the background are blurring. I am going to try that motion blur thing you mentioned and see how that works. Oh yeah, the company logo is in the upper left and the product logo is on the bottom right. They both go all choppy edged and "mosquitoed" when they get smaller. That has me all confused. Thanks for your reply.
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Old August 1st, 2005, 07:21 PM   #4
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Still, LCD crap, NTSC great.

Yeah, this is shifting my paradigm. Looks great on the NTSC monitor, but like doo doo on the LCD. Maybe NTSC setting is not the way to go. OI.
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Old August 1st, 2005, 07:31 PM   #5
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For one thing, FCP is known to use an inferior algorithm for resizing images. I think this could be a bit of a problem for the complicated sort of stuff you're doing. Have you seen Apple Motion? It's designed to do the sort of things you describe. Also, when you say it looks bad on the monitor what does that mean? Are you viewing on the FCP canvas? Check your preview quality settings, but even at best the canvas and viewer displays are just approximations. Try exporting to Quicktime and be sure to enable high quality playback using Quicktime Pro.

BTW, regarding your comment "it's not what you think".... what exactly did I think?...
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Old August 1st, 2005, 07:42 PM   #6
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Not what you think......

What I meant was this. The majority of questions regarding still images in FCP, are about the "Squished" Pixel aspect ratio and resizing bigger and so on. The problem I am having seems to be the exact opposite. I need it to look good on a computer monitor, NTSC doesn't matter, and my images get worse as they get SMALLER not the other way around. It has become quite the conundrum. I will try the export to quictime/high quality playback and see if there is much difference. Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old August 1st, 2005, 08:08 PM   #7
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Should have been a little more clear.... export using Quicktime conversion with the same settings as your sequence. Then try playing the file back on your LCD monitor with Quicktime Pro. When you open the file for playback, choose Get Movie Properties > Video Track > Quality and check High Quality Playback. That will show you the full quality on your LCD screen.

But also note that Quicktime only works with square pixels, so your 720x480 image will be stretched horizonatally a bit.
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Old August 1st, 2005, 09:05 PM   #8
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Hey, that helped

Ok, so that helped alot. The logos still look funky, jagged edges and mosquito effect around the edges, but overall it looks much better. I'll work on the logos and see if I can do anything to help them out. You would think that if the image gets smaller that the quality would at least stay the same. OH yeah, and one more thing. When I make this into a DVD via compressor and DVDSP, will the quality drop again? Just curious.
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Old August 1st, 2005, 09:09 PM   #9
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Jaggy edges sound like interlace artifcacts, and motion blur usually helps with that. Be sure to enable it on all clips. But the real problem is that you're trying to do stuff that FCP is known to not do so well - big changes in image scale. FCP can't do bicubic interpolation like Photoshop.

Regarding DVDSP, sorry but I've never used it.
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Old August 1st, 2005, 09:52 PM   #10
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Well, that settles it....

I will have to upgrade and get Motion when I get some money. This has been a huge pain in the ...... I am going to work on the logos and get them fixed up and see what happens. I think it is the pics. When I resize them in Photoshop they go all crappy too. I'll have to keep messing around. Thank you for all you help. I would have been rather stuck.
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Old August 2nd, 2005, 12:36 PM   #11
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can you list your sequence settings or if your using a default sequence preset can you give that to me? thanks
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