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Old February 12th, 2007, 06:22 AM   #1
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FCP-Compressor-DVD Final Video Image Poor?

I just edited a short hd piece on FCP made QT mov, opened it in Compressor and saved it as a file ready for DVD Studio Pro (DVD Best Quality 90 minutes) I Imported it into DVD Studio Pro and created the DVD. I did the same thing using the same captured footage to VEGAS 7 and made a DVD. The difference is huge. The FCP version looks degraded and fuzzy more like old film or video. I must have something set wrong somewhere...but where?
The VEGAS looks darn close to what was coming from the camera.
I am assuming it has to be operator error. But where? I use VEGAS very succesfully all the time and am now trying out FCP. Just a footnote I have been using Apples tutorial and I think I have gone over the settings a dozen times. Well $1300...I can't say that is really trying it out. Please help if you have any ideas about what or where the settings could be set incorrectly. I am shooting a project Thursday and I have a MacBookPro 2.33/2 gigs ram/external 7200 800firewire drive.
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Old February 12th, 2007, 08:54 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Huling
I just edited a short hd piece on FCP made QT mov, opened it in Compressor and saved it as a file ready for DVD Studio Pro (DVD Best Quality 90 minutes)
Hi John.

The first thing causing degradation to your image was exporting as a Quicktime movie. I assume that "short HD piece" means that you are working in HDV. If so, this means that you are putting your footage through an MPEG-2 compression when making the Quicktime, then putting it through another MPEG-2 compression when making your DVD assets in Compressor. MPEG-2 is very aggressive compression and should be avoided whenever possible.

It's always best to export directly from your FCP timeline into Compressor.

I'm not sure what other problems (or errors) exist in your workflow, but here are a couple of tips which often generally help raise quality using Compressor:

1/ For any movie under an hour, I set the max. bitrate to 8.9 and the average bitrate to 7.6. I think the max bitrate the DVD spec will allow is about 10, so this way you are still leaving 1.1 Mbps for the menu structure and so forth. Unless your menu structure is very extensive, or you are using AIFF (very large sound files) instead of Dolby .ac3 files (where you might then have to lower the max. bitrate), this should work well.
2/ You can also try changing your GOP structure to further increase your quality. Click the GOP tab in the Inspector pane. With "DVD Best Quality 90 minutes 16:9" settings you will get an IBBP structure. The more I frames you have, the better the quality (but the trade-off is larger file sizes). So selecting IP as the GOP structure and also shortening your GOP size down to 6 should maximize your I frames and therefore your quality.
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Old February 12th, 2007, 10:37 AM   #3
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FCP/Compressor/DVD "blurry"

Thanks
According to the engineers at Apple and Larry Jordan their training guy...Save FCP to a FCP QT movie then import into Compressor. But even if I import directly to compressor without making a QT mov it still exhibits the blurriness. My Bit rate is at 5.5 average and 7.2 max 2 pass VBR. These were the recommended settings from Apple. I am going from HDV in FCP to Compressor and then to DVD. Somewhere along the workflow it's wrong.
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Old February 12th, 2007, 10:52 AM   #4
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David gave you some good pointers that should help you improve the quality. Having said that, most people are not too thrilled with Compressor's quality, especially at lower bit-rates (important when you are trying to put two hours or more on a single layer DVD). There are other MPEG encorders out there that can work in the Final Cut environment, such as BitVice, if best possible quality at low bitrates is important for you.

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Old February 12th, 2007, 12:04 PM   #5
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John

check out the info provided here, it may be of some help:
http://www3.telus.net/bonsai

cheers
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Old February 12th, 2007, 12:06 PM   #6
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Compressor Quality for FCP?

Thanks for the responses they are a help and much appreciated that you take the time to repond. I checked all of the suggestions so far I do have all of those things looked at and complied with.
Just a question out of frustration...why then for nearly $1300 is the FCP so touted as a great program?
Vegas is not only is a more friendly GUI but the actual final product THE VIDEO ...you know THE BEEF! looks so much better. DSE made the statement that Vegas was awell written program and fast as well. I think he was right after using both. I just invested in another MAC system $4000 instead of PC because I was lead to believe that FCP was a great program.
(WHOOPS sorry for the rant)If the final product requires another plug in. I still think with the help of some of you pros you have the answer. Help is still needed...john
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Old February 12th, 2007, 12:59 PM   #7
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de-interlace

I do not have any of these issues when making a DVD out of my GY-HD100 footage. In fact we've been quite pleased with the results. Just a thought about the fact that the cameras in question for you John and that website that was linked, are interlaced formats. Ever try de-interlacing any of the footage and then try compressing?

Final Cut has been solid for me and our company to work with and still we fight an uphill battle against Avid for reputation & compatability in pro environments even with FCP's high adoption rate. Singing praises for niche programs like Vegas (created by a hardware company) means you have much more limited resources and places you can take your project professionally without significant cost caveats.
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Old February 12th, 2007, 01:17 PM   #8
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Just a thought (although this may lead nowhere, it's still worth asking). Could you open up the original Quicktime movie you exported from FCP and expand it to full screen? Does it display any of the fuzziness or degradation that you noticed in the final DVD? (But make sure that you first go into Movie Properties in Quicktime and check the High Quality box in the Visual Settings of the Video Track.)

Another thought: Import that Quicktime movie directly into DVD Studio Pro and let DVD SP do the encoding [bypassing the use of Compressor]. I don't know if it would make any difference but you never know.

And one final tip is the use of compression markers in FCP. You normally put them in areas of high motion and this will assign more bitrate to those areas for better quality.
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Old February 12th, 2007, 02:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Huling
Thanks for the responses they are a help and much appreciated that you take the time to repond. I checked all of the suggestions so far I do have all of those things looked at and complied with.
Just a question out of frustration...why then for nearly $1300 is the FCP so touted as a great program?
Vegas is not only is a more friendly GUI but the actual final product THE VIDEO ...you know THE BEEF! looks so much better. DSE made the statement that Vegas was awell written program and fast as well. I think he was right after using both. I just invested in another MAC system $4000 instead of PC because I was lead to believe that FCP was a great program.
(WHOOPS sorry for the rant)If the final product requires another plug in. I still think with the help of some of you pros you have the answer. Help is still needed...john
You make a good point. I used to use Sony Movie Studio + DVD ( it is like a simpler version of Vegas) and Avid Liquid 6. Right now I am trying to figure out FCP (see my sync problem thread). But you know, the industry standard (FCP) is an industry standard for a reason. There is no silver bullet. You just have to pick the program that has the least problems... However it is much more beneficial to learn and use FCP than Vegas in my opinion, simply because it is an industry standard. Oh and I am having similar problems in compressor with low bit-rates....
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Old February 12th, 2007, 06:45 PM   #10
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FCP Industry Standard?

I thought so myself. Unfortunately after getting a chance to talk with some of my motion picture friends in Hollyweird (Sony Pictures use Avid alot and Vegas of course just to be legit, Warner Bros) they informed me that Avid is used by more than 80 percent by High End Production Houses. I don't know how accurate this is but it comes fromsome pretty knowledgeable people who have nothing to gain in telling me that although FCP is a good program and yes COLD MOUNTAIN was cut entirely on FCP, most use AVID. I am going to try and work this out with Dave Perry of Carter and see what we conclude here.
So far the problem does not seem to be FCP at all but compressor itself. When exporting from FCP to Compressor regardless of what "settings" you use the PREVIEW the one wit
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Old February 12th, 2007, 06:51 PM   #11
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FCP the Standard? cont...

Sorry hit the wrong key...(maybe that's my problem!) Anyway the preview in compressor shows jagged edges on the detail at 50%-100% Magnification. The left side the uncompressed side looks fine. I had two screens up today and did side by side comparisons FCP and Compressor the video looks fine on the uncompressed side but the compressed side (no matter what setting) all ways looks bad. Any suggestions are welcomed. HDV captured to FCP then Exported to Compressor. I was told by Apple an FCP QT mov is NOT compressed and is the preferred way to save you FCP project. From there you can make movies for DVD, WEB or in the future HD-DVD or Blue-Ray etc.

By the way really appreciate the advice that was given above.
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Old February 13th, 2007, 03:34 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Huling
I was told by Apple an FCP QT mov is NOT compressed and is the preferred way to save you FCP project.
Hi John.

Who exactly in Apple said that any exported Quicktime movie from FCP is not compressed?

This is not true as far as working with an HDV codec is concerned, whether it's HDV1 (720p) or HDV2 (1080i).

For example, say you put two HDV1 clips side by side in the timeline (HDV1 has a GOP length of 6 pictures). You have made a cut at the end of Clip 1 which is after the first 2 frames (cutting out the last 4 frames) of the last GOP (Group Of Pictures). On Clip 2 you make a cut at the beginning which cuts out the first 3 frames of the beginning GOP (leaving 3 frames remaining).

To export as a standard HDV1 Quicktime, FCP has to re-conform the sequence into exact groups of 6 pictures and then render it accordingly.

If you didn't cut into any GOPs during your whole edit, then maybe it wouldn't have to re-render (and remember that setting in or out points in the Viewer has the same effect as a cut) but that would probably take a minor miracle to achieve.

That's why I'm interested in who it was from Apple that made the statement. It seems contrary to my understanding of what happens to the GOPs when you edit in native HDV.
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Old February 13th, 2007, 05:57 AM   #13
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QT Movie from FCP "Save As" not compressed?

This guy Larry Jordan www.larryjordan.biz is a certified Apple trainer. He said in his tutorial (you would need to pay for to hear him say it) that you can either import an FCP project into Compressor from Compressor or Export from FCP to Compressor. There used to be some issues but apparently they have been corrected with 5.1 FCP and 2.1 Compressor. Before the recommended way to avoid these issues was to first open Compressor and import rather than Export from FCP. I hope I made that clear. He says first make a QT movie from FCP in the Save pic best and all that stuff and ...drum roll...there is no compression at this stage. Now, maybe he's referring to SD and not HDV he does not say. I will go and watch that section again carefully (14th time) and see if any mention is made. When I view the movie using Preview, to see what the compression will look like in Compressor the Left side looks fine just as it does in FCP with the screens side by side. The right side (the compressed side looks "stair stepped" and "pixelated" along the edges of the details. Blurry. So that's where I am at...?
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Old February 13th, 2007, 06:31 AM   #14
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Thanks very much for the info. Yes, perhaps he was referring to DV which uses intra-frame compression (i.e. compresses each frame individually) rather than an MPEG-2 codec like HDV which uses inter-frame (compresses a group of frames together) compression. (I hope I've got those terms right!)

I'd have no problems at all exporting to Quicktime in DV codec, or even one of the intra-frame HD codecs such as AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec) or DVCPRO HD. I wouldn't expect these to be put through any re-compression.

And that gives me my next idea/suggestion. Try exporting to Quicktime in DVCPRO HD. I've heard that AIC is not so good with interlaced footage (although it's great with progressive footage). DVCPRO HD might give you a larger file size, but it could be a better "match" with Compressor and give better results with interlaced footage.

Just hang in there, John and you'll master this new toolset.
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Old February 13th, 2007, 08:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Boone
I do not have any of these issues when making a DVD out of my GY-HD100 footage. In fact we've been quite pleased with the results. Just a thought about the fact that the cameras in question for you John and that website that was linked, are interlaced formats. Ever try de-interlacing any of the footage and then try compressing?

Final Cut has been solid for me and our company to work with and still we fight an uphill battle against Avid for reputation & compatability in pro environments even with FCP's high adoption rate. Singing praises for niche programs like Vegas (created by a hardware company) means you have much more limited resources and places you can take your project professionally without significant cost caveats.
I rented a couple of HD-100s a few months ago and I was very pleased with the image on the DVD created by DVDSP. I recently purchased two Sony Z1s and have done many tests and I have to describe the image as fuzzy.

Maybe it's a 1080i thing or maybe it's due to the fact that the Sony CCD aren't full 1080x1920.

Hopefully someone can figure this one out.

Joe
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