Can you sharpen out of focus footage? at

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Old April 24th, 2006, 01:28 PM   #1
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Can you sharpen out of focus footage?


I've just seen a test on a cinema screen of my dissertation film. And it highlighted a problem I wasn't really expecting, man has it got me downhearted.

around 80% of the footage is out of focus, not badly out of focus, about enough to give you a headache after watching the full 20 minutes, I guess that probably is 'badly' then. I mean you can see what it's supposed to be but it looks what it is... amateur.

It really needs sharpening, I know its possible with photoshop to sharpen images, so I'm hoping that it's possible with other programs to sharpen digital video. I'm really hoping. I have access to Avid (thats our main editing software and I'd prefer to work on that rather than export it as that will lose image resolution and surely will only worsen the problem) if exporting is the only way then I have access to combustion, premiere and probably After Effects. But I'm open to anything at this stage.

I'll be very grateful for any advice.


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Old April 24th, 2006, 01:56 PM   #2
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Is your footage really out of focus? Most DV will look a bit soft when projected up to theater screen size, and that's the best case scenario. Not much you can do about that.

Projectors vary wildly in their quality as well, the bad ones can really do a number on your footage. Low contrast/dim footage can really tank on some of the projectors out there. Your original footage really needs to near perfect to consistently hold up on a variety of projectors. A slight contrast boost might help.

If you original footage is really out of focus, you can add a touch of sharpening in post, but you can't really make it right.

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Old April 24th, 2006, 03:53 PM   #3
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unfortunately its not just the projector or the basic resolution of DV. the 20% of the footage that is nice sharp focus proved that to me.

The frustrating thing is that I'd exported to a tape after some footage from my handicam so a few seconds of that played up there first, and that looked fantastic at the fullscreen projection (which was a pleasent surprise in a way, but really rubbing it in at the same time) we shot the film on a dsr 300 and the lack of flip out LCD screen must have made it difficult for our Camera Operator to pull focus well (we did have a monitor though). but its really causing our film to look amateur.

the fact that it wasnt noticeable on the computer monitor suggests it might be salvageable. i just need to know what the best way is to go about it.
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Old April 25th, 2006, 03:27 PM   #4
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Hi Alex,
This happens to my asistant very often, (he have some kind of visual problem, dunno. I have been able to fix it with a Canopus Edius filter "sharpness", ironiccaly sometimes I then add a soft focus, it ends great.
I believe this filter is also available for Premiere but when using Storm cards.

Hope this helps,

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Old April 26th, 2006, 03:32 AM   #5
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I don't use avid, but I presume there is some filter available that is similar to photoshop's unsharp masking filter (it is indeed available in PPro). But don't expect miracles from these filters.

If Avid doesn't have unsharp masking (which I very much doubt) you can always export a series of frames and batch process them in Photoshop. Needs a hell of a lot of disk space, though.
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Old April 26th, 2006, 08:24 AM   #6
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Photoshop CS2 can restore out-of-focus images to some extent, but the rendering time would kill you. My recommendation would be to hide the blur behind a wall of grain.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 11:00 PM   #7
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You sure can...

Sure Emre,

Premiere has a full set of Sharpen/Blur tools just like Photoshop does. I'm using Premiere Pro 1.5 and they can be found under Window > Effects > Blur & Sharpen. Just used Gaussian Sharpen on my last short film where my DP had a similar problem, and I was able to salvage most of the footage (couldn't save the shots where he forgot to turn off the AF... Needless to say I won't be working with him again! :-/ ). Let us know how it turns out!


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Old May 9th, 2006, 12:48 PM   #8
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Also, you can use photoshop effects/filters inside of Premiere as well. It's a great way to get the look you need.
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