Convince me NOT to use the "Detail" PP Setting --or to use it! at DVinfo.net

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Old April 12th, 2009, 03:48 PM   #1
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Convince me NOT to use the "Detail" PP Setting --or to use it!

Hi All

A while back I changed my Picture Profile settings from the standard "Detail On" but at 0 to "Off" after reading here from various posts that implied it was more versatile to leave the sharpening to Post Production and setting the "Detail On" would add additional artifacts that would be hard to eliminate in post, and that if I needed the picture to be sharper I could do it in post.

Recently, in reviewing my EX1 footage, especially with landscape-type nature images --not necessarily interviews or where people are taking up a good percentage of the frame --I'm finding I want a bit more sharpness out of the images. I do like the 'non-video' filmic quality of the "Detail off" setting, but it all just seems a bit 'soft' to me. I'm also doing some shooting of similar subjects using a fairly cheap prosumer AVCHD camera (Panasonic SD1), and though I know that it's doing all kind of bad stuff to the image and does fall apart with high dynamic range and movement, sometimes it looks a lot sharper and more detailed than the EX1 when viewing through a 50" plasma display.

I'm following the rules about apeture range, and precise focusing, I try to keep from about f2.8 to about f5.6 and the zoom range not too extreme because I do know this affects the sharpness.

Before I venture into a lot of comparative testing and post production sharpening, I'm wondering if I could tap some of the experiences and practices of the rest of you out there with regard to this setting. What am I really giving up by turning "Detail On" in the PP settings, and what are your recommended settings if you do turn it on?

Thanks for any advice.
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Old April 12th, 2009, 07:32 PM   #2
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Check out the Picture Profiles thread. Starting with post #397 they talk about Detail quite a bit. Here's the link to post #397.
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/982043-post397.html
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Old April 13th, 2009, 12:42 AM   #3
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Hello!

Im using Alister Chapmans PP from here http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/1019869-post17.html and it gives me the sharpness i like!
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Old April 13th, 2009, 09:31 AM   #4
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I have been looking for the same thing as you. I love the look of the EX1, but it just seems a little murky. I've been looking for an added smidgeon of clarity.

I tried Tom Roper's settings and everything looked great in my tests. I also tested New Blue FX's Sharpen utitity. It looked very good too, but I wanted to do as much in camera as I could. That was until a couple weeks ago.

I was shooting a prairie scene with a group of trees in the mid-ground. Remember, the calendar says it's Spring, but the trees don't have any leaves yet here in Kansas. Just lots of tiny twigs and buds. The problem scene was a slow pan across the treeline. The tree branches were slowly moving up and down as the wind gently blew. It wasn't until I put it on a bigger screen that I noticed the sharpening going nuts. Whenever the branches were moving I saw normal blurring from motion. As soon as the branch reached the end of one "sway" and paused before heading back the other way, the sharpening would pop in, then pop out as the branch started moving again.

Until I figure out if there is a tweaking that takes care of this, I have, reluctantly, turned Detail Off.
Pete

I haven't had a chance to test sharpening in post with similar subjects. That might be the direction I go.
Pete
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Old April 13th, 2009, 09:51 AM   #5
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Thanks Clark, Uwe and Michell for the pointers.

I have continually been watching the Picture Profile thread, which should probably be turned into a Wiki with 462 posts so far. Maybe it's a world record for a thread?

What I find when observing this thread is that there is a lot of great info, but it tends to be a needle in a haystack. However, in re-reading the posts a bit it seems that with care in using it along with other settings, the detail setting On may not be such a bad thing. I'm reviewing EX1 footage I shot last year when I first got the camcorder and I do notice quite a bit more sharpness in the images, and this was probably because I had the Detail set to On, which was the default before I turned it off.

For now I'm going to experiment with Alister Chapman's PP described above. He uses CineGamma 1 while I have been using CineGamma 4 almost exclusively for this time, but I'll try it out. It seems he has found a good way to utilize the Detail setting along with other settings to get some sharpness but also reduce noise and artifacts, which is of course very important.

What I was hoping for this thread is for people to share their "Detail On" settings and try to unravel the "Detail On" mystery a bit more...
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Old April 13th, 2009, 09:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Peters View Post
As soon as the branch reached the end of one "sway" and paused before heading back the other way, the sharpening would pop in, then pop out as the branch started moving again.
Pete
It seems this might be a symptom of sharpening in general with frame by frame motion blur. I have even been thinking about shooting with shorter shutter speeds to just 'freeze frame' motion and then add blur in post if necessary in post. Pretty extreme however and very post intensive to mitigate the "Saving Private Ryan" look.
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Old April 13th, 2009, 10:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uwe Boettcher View Post
Hello!

Im using Alister Chapmans PP from here http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/1019869-post17.html and it gives me the sharpness i like!
Uwe, I did look over and set using Alister's settings but he doesn't go into many of the other settings other than about 10 or so that he mentions in the post and doesn't elaborate later. I did a 'reset' on PP3 (I just chose it at random) and the changed the various settings to Alister's, but I don't think Alister gave a 'base' setting from which to 'tweak.'

What are the rest of your settings?
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Old April 13th, 2009, 11:18 AM   #8
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Hi Keith!

For me the rest are @default.
I tried many other settings from Bill, Philip, Doug and others.
Alisters Detail settings look sharp to me, but not to sharp and artificial.
Im shooting 1920 x 1080 50i.

Kind regards,
Uwe
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Old April 13th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Moreau View Post
especially with landscape-type nature images --not necessarily interviews or where people are taking up a good percentage of the frame --I'm finding I want a bit more sharpness out of the images. I do like the 'non-video' filmic quality of the "Detail off" setting, but it all just seems a bit 'soft' to me.
This was my experience with Detail off--the image looked almost SD. On wide landscapes I lost ruts in the ground, tree branches, rocks in shadows, etc. These had simply gone missing from the image, and it was easy to see the loss in the viewfinder.

I haven't experienced any artifacting (I tested with slow pans), but it may be worth exploring some compromise between OFF and minus settings such as the ones Alistair is using.
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Old April 14th, 2009, 12:59 AM   #10
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Calling this setting "Detail" I think is misleading. From a technical standpoint as far as what's happening in the camera, the Detail circuit is increasing luma transition contrast as I call it ie. wherever the luma is falling off and increasing in image elements vs. the overall image. The eye perceives this as a sharpening effect but in reality it's selective contrast manipulation. Theoretically, I'd say a true Detail circuit would increase the resolution of the image. My current approach is to leave this off because I can add "Detail" (sharpening) in post but I can not take it away from an already sharpened picture. Personally, in most situations I like to stay in the middle between additive and subtractive during acquisition.
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Old April 14th, 2009, 04:26 AM   #11
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As some of you know already ;) I shoot low light / fireworks displays only.
During my first tests/tryings I connected the EX1 with component cable directly to a 50'' Kuro plasma TV and watched in a totally darkend room what was happening when focussing on candle flames, light in windows from neighbour houses etc.
I tried various settings in picture profile like gamma curves, blacks, details and so on, escpecially aiming on low noise in the dark areas (the "night skies") and "normal" reproduction of the lights.

When switching the details on, even with all parameters at default value/off, one immediatly can see that the all lights get some bright "1to2-pixel-white-glowing" at its contours. This seems to be a typical "Kantenaufsteilung" (I don't know the English word, its the sharpening effect at the edges/corners) which I really do not like/need. If I would need a sharper picture I would try to do this in post - but my tests are not finsihed. I just wanted to tell you that you produce some Photoshop sharpening effects when switching the details to on - regardless what settings you use with it...
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Old April 14th, 2009, 05:31 AM   #12
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Change the detail frequency to say -8 to -10. If that doesn't look good play with other negative numbers.

John
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Old April 14th, 2009, 09:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Allen View Post
Calling this setting "Detail" I think is misleading. From a technical standpoint as far as what's happening in the camera, the Detail circuit is increasing luma transition contrast as I call it ie. wherever the luma is falling off and increasing in image elements vs. the overall image. The eye perceives this as a sharpening effect but in reality it's selective contrast manipulation. Theoretically, I'd say a true Detail circuit would increase the resolution of the image. My current approach is to leave this off because I can add "Detail" (sharpening) in post but I can not take it away from an already sharpened picture. Personally, in most situations I like to stay in the middle between additive and subtractive during acquisition.
Max, I too did subscribe to your school of thought when I read similar posts recommending to turn the detail setting to off --not "0" which apparently adds considerable processing to the image even though it's at 0. However I'm concerned that I may not be able to recreate the detail/sharpness in post as well as the camera does with it's specially designed circuitry matched for other parameters of the camera. Would you say that you can create similar or better detail / sharpness in post production sharpening that can be achieved in camera? I'm concerned that without the "Detail" on we're losing valuable data that really can't be restored in post, especially since I assume that the EX detail circuitry is pre encoder. I haven't played a lot with post production sharpening yet with this camera so I'm not sure. Also there are 'blur' options in post if the picture is too sharp for the style or matching other footage.
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Old April 15th, 2009, 03:13 AM   #14
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Hi Keith,

I think if I was completely certain that the acquisition footage's path to delivery was not going to involve softening in post then I'd more easily consider sharpening (apply Detail) in camera. Done right, this would be after testing the integrity of the effect through the entire workflow chain to final delivery format.

If by losing "valuable data" with Detail off you mean you may not be capturing more information from the image, the Detail circuit does not increase raw visual information capture but only processes existing information through DSP. As you know, the processing by design takes into account the perceptual phenomenon of interpreting sharpness as "detail". So if nothing is added in camera, this processing can be added later. Whether the higher level of processing quality can be achieved in camera or post I think is probably an entire test project in itself involving software and workflow testing -- one that I'm not currently qualified to comment on.

On blurring, let's consider that blurring sharpened footage in post is not subtractive but additive. It is blur on top of a sharpened image, not reconstruction of the pixels prior to their sharpened state. At least I know of no software that can do this. One way to do it as with RED is probably for the camera to record base reference data for the native state of the footage upstream of the processing.
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Old April 16th, 2009, 05:03 PM   #15
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Hi Max

I think the issue that I'm brining up is that at some point the detail that is not stored in the XDCAM EX data stream recording on the flash drive cannot be fully restored by post production sharpening. In some cases I believe there might be anything left to sharpen.

Also, as Alister and others have pointed out that the unsharpened data is stored along with compression artifacts, however minor those might be. Subsequent post-process sharpening will bring up those artifacts along with original detail.

Though adding 'blur' in post is considered a 'filter' the net effect is to remove detail from the finished product. I've in fact had to add blur to very sharp XDCAM EX clips to make then work well when down sampling to SD res for DVDs. For some clips there was too much twitter on moving images. Slight blurring in post was enough to reduce the twittering and the image was still acceptable, even in HD. I used the gaussian blur filter in Final Cut Pro.

I'm personally leaning toward turning the detail on as a default setting, especially for those 'nature' shots were there is a lot of detail in darker areas (dark green, browns). I don't believe that the detail can be restored in post as well as doing the sharpening in the camera. I'm experimenting now with Alister's settings, though I may push the Detail setting a bit higher than the -8 he recommends.

Please if others have their thoughts on this, I'd love to hear your views.
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