I think that you will find the Scaling algorithms in most NLE's is not the best, either up, or down. One is often better served by using another program, or 3rd party plug-in. For SD to HD, many like the results from Red Giant's Magic Bullet InstantHD better. Not sure how it might (or might not) perform with 720p to 1080p.
Whether PrPro is better, or worse, than FCP, I cannot comment.
Adobe has been focusing on improving scaling quality via Premiere Pro CS4 updates. Fist they added the maximum render quality option. This improves both the resizing and deinterlacing. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that scaling quality was also improved in a recent update regardless of the maximum render quality option.
I have also heard that Premiere Pro CS5, which will be out any day now, will have much better scaling quality than any previous version.
Thanks for the responses. I'm very interested in why scaling appears not be done well in FCP and Premiere. And I have a few observations -- coming from a novice who has not used FCP or Premiere or even a video camera yet -- that I would like people to comment on.
1. Is scaling not done well because most users of these professional products do not want to rescale their work? i.e. the pros capture at a certain resolution and rarely change it. So Adobe did their best, but weren't overly concerned about the results because: "Who rescales anyway?"
2. Maybe FCP and Premiere haven't caught up with the increasing use of digital capture by all sorts of people, particularly since the emergence in the last two years of DSLRs with reasonably high-quality 1080p capabilities. These "amateurs" – and there are a lot of them now, some of them quite gifted – may want to rescale their work for different end uses. (To see what these DSLRs are capable of, check out the winner of Chapter 3, The Beach, at http://transcendentfilms.com/canonvimeo.htm)
3. My prime use of FCP or Premiere, at least in the first year or so, will be for converting to HD format my 1980's slide shows ("on 3-screens and in stereo", as I used to advertise). In doing so I may want to incorporate a limited amount of new HD footage, and I will also want to pan and zoom occasionally. I assume a zoom in or out of a still is similar to a rescale, so does that mean Premiere's scaling inadequacy is going to impact on the quality of my zooms?
4. In the case of a static rescale i.e. I have a "still" on the screen that has been cropped or enlarged from the original, should I rescale in Photoshop because it does rescaling better than Premiere?
4. I wonder what users of the RED camera and the upcoming Scarlett, think of Premiere's scaling? These are professional users in the main, who have to rescale since they shoot at 3K and above. Do they not use Premiere and FCP? I can see I'll have to visit the RED forum.
5. I believe CS5 is being released shortly. What should I do to find out the improvements that have been made to Premiere in the rescaling area? Wait for a few months after release and post again?
6. Does anyone have a link to side-by-side comparisons of scaling using Premiere/FCP/third party software? I'd like to know how much of a quality difference there actually is. I imagine that a rigorous comparison would be quite difficult to do.
I would very much appreciate any comments. I really am quite surprised that scaling in FCP and Premiere may not be implemented as well as it could be. I wasn't expecting that in my comparison between the two.
I am frequently scaling clips.
PremPro with InstantHD plugin
I am in no postion to evaluate or quantify the relative quality differences but each workflow has it merits and purposes. All have been acceptable / succesesful and I have never had any broadcaster or client reject the footage.
Thanks, Shooternz, for your comments. I am just a little sus about claims that FCP and Premiere don't scale properly, because they are professional products. And how often would someone who scales a clip actually compare the output, side-by-side on two monitors, and critically evaluate them? But I can well imagine that a user who scales a clip, might see imperfections that weren't obvious before (displaying on a larger screen, for example), and then decides that the implementation of the scaling is at fault. The newly-obvious faults could be due to any number of reasons, only one of which is scaling implementation. Third-party products can be appealing and seductive in their marketing, but in the case of scaling, do they do a better job?
I am concerned about scaling for this reason: my first projects will be mainly stills with a small amount of motion. The slides are of wilderness, well exposed, typically with a wide depth of field, and they sparkle when shown as slides. I want to achieve that same "sparkle" in the HD format, and I don't want to compromise on quality at any stage – within the limitations of my budget – whether it be in the scanning, editing, or final showing (on a Barco DP2000, see http://www.barco.com/en/digitalcinema/product/1805/specs, at the local cinema). I've been wanting to move into digital images for about 5 years, but have had to keep putting it off because of the limitations of the technology. The limitations are now few, and the benefits great, so in I dive! But I want to know the limitations of all the products in all the steps from capture through to display before I outlay the dollars.
For your stills project - use After Effects. If the stills are larger than the comp...the scaling (rez) will be excellent.
I consider After Effects to be less resolution dependant than PrePro and it has excellent algorithms in its sacle and motion due to "sub pixel interpolation" that is not incorporated into PrePro. (maybe CS5?)
Be aware in motion imaging that you will get different looks from your original...depending on the display device.
example 1: you can put a 50+mb psd into After Effects but the display device will determine the final rez.
example 2: same 50+mb image on broadcast tv is likely to be mpeg standard rez when viewed.
BTW: Instant HD is an excellent tool box for upscaling, sharpening, anti-aliasing... but it cant do miracles.
For Scaling of stills, I would just do that in PS, as one has more control over which Scaling algorithms are used. It also is part of most still workflows, and would not require AE. If the images are done in Camera RAW, then they will be brought into PS as part of the process. Do what is needed there, and just Save_As PSD to the correct sizes, Modes, etc.
Just my opinion, based on my still advertising work.
The thing about AEFX Bill is that one can bring in a still at
any size (to 30,000px x 30,000px) and use the rez for motion (more or less an independent resolution - like film)
If he pre scales in PS to Comp size..he has only that rez to play with. ie a Fixed resolution
At the end of the day ...we all hit the rez limiter in the output / display device.
I do agree about the handling of higher-rez images in AE, and use if for things like "photo-walls," but since I am already in PS with my stills, it's so easy to just fill up a folder with Scaled versions for use in Video, right from the program. I guess that one's chosen workflow will be the deciding factor.
For me, it's NEF (Nikon Camera RAW) to PSD in PS, where I do any manipulations, with one side-step to DNG for archiving. Then, Save_As a Layered PSD working file, and last Save_As PSD Flattened, 8-bit color depth, Scaled to needed dimensions, without Alpha Channels (unless I need to animate Layers, or need the Alpha), So easy, that even a dummy like me, can do it.