12 Replies Latest reply on Mar 11, 2009 9:39 AM by (RUADHRI_BRENNAN)

    Degraded Image Quality in AE


      I have a Quicktime shot in DVCPro PAL of some animation shot on a panasonic HVX200 with the P2 card.

      In Quicktime the file is great and looks fine, however when imported into After Effects the file has relatively wide (wider than scan lines) vertical lines on it and is extremely blocky. It has a jaggy effect on thethin angled lines on objects in the shot and generally nasty!

      I think the vertical blockiness may be due to the pixel aspect ratio being turned on but the whole image looks terrible compared to opening it in any other viewer or with Final Cut Pro.

      It appears that we are only seeing a single field of the clip even though it was shot progressively.

      An export (in the native codec or a JPEG sequence) is equally bad.

      Been through all the regular checks to see why this is happening (resolution settings etc) but can't figure it out!I appreciate sometimes DVCPro looks a bit rough but the originals are fine.It looks as though I'm viewing it at a 'third' quality.

      Using AE CS3 on an intel Mac.

      Footage is 1024 x 576 25 fps DVCPro PAL.

      Here's some grabs from the desktop:

      QT Original:
      AE Viewer:
        • 1. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
          Andrew Yoole MVP & Adobe Community Professional
          AE automatically interprets DVCPro PAL footage as Lower Field First. When viewing interpreted (deinterlaced) footage, you only see one field of each frame during previews, as AE previews are not interlaced. The finished render (to fields) will not have the problem.

          You can temporarily turn of the field interpretation if it's more comfortable to work that way - just remember to turn it back on before rendering.
          • 2. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
            Level 1
            Turning it off does indeed improve the jaggies but doesn't fix the horrible banding which I'm seeing (see reference shots)

            I'm gong to upload another picture so you can see the difference in various viewers.


            Oh, I meant to say that even with the field order turned on or off, the resulting QT movie rendered from AE still looks as bad as the one I see in the AE viewer.
            • 3. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
              Level 1
              Have a look at the images linked:


              Picture 1 is a grab of the 3 pictures.

              Top left is the preview from the AE project window.
              Top right is the viewer in AE
              Bottom is the QT movie

              You can clearly see in the 2 AE clips the banding, particularly on the creatures 'crest' that's in the cage. The banding affects the entire image

              The bottom clip shows how it SHOULD look, a nice crisp shot with no banding direct from Quicktime.

              I've posted this issue of 4 AE forums and no one has been able to provide an answer to it.

              The other pictures are of what goes on when trying to key these images. The banding makes it nearly impossible to get a clean key. however as mentioned, in Final Cut Pro, the images are both crisp and key out ok without any banding.

              The reason I'm using AE is because there is other work to be done once keyed and the Key light plugin does the best job on DV material.

              I'd love to hear from you!

              • 4. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
                craulmedia Level 1
                > Ken Evans - 11:38pm Jan 21, 2009 Pacific

                > Footage is 1024 x 576 25 fps DVCPro PAL.

                wrong. Working widescreen SD-PAL is ALWAYS 720x576 Anamorphic.
                stretching 1024x576 is probably causing your problem.
                • 5. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
                  Level 1
                  Yes, you're quite right.

                  The material isn't stretched it's just got the pixel aspect ratio button checked so it displays correctly. (in AE)

                  In quicktime properties, it reports the size as 1024 x 576 on playback, which is correct so we see the image as intended at 16:9.

                  The file on disk is 720 x 576.

                  This still doesn't explain it as I'm not stretching it in anyway other than the preview as described above and the file looks fine in QT and FCP as described in the previous post. I'm only seeing these vertical lines in AE.

                  I've now gone and finished this in FCP and it's fine but the problem remains in AE.

                  I should point out that I deal with stuff every day and have done for many years and have never seen this issue. We have however just upgraded all our systems with new graphics cards/capture cards and are now running Leopard. Never saw it before that and oddly enough I don't get the problem on my laptop. I'm suspecting it's something hardware or software related outside of AE causing the problem.
                  • 6. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
                    craulmedia Level 1
                    the quicktime report is wrong. quicktime is not capable showing anamorphic footage by default unless yo set the aperture for previewing in the QT visual settings.
                    quicktime info always should show 720x576. same mistake as always when working with widescreen footage.
                    There is NO 1024x576.
                    something gone wrong as you exported from final cut pro.
                    always export 1:1 reference movies (self contained or just reference) out of FCP, do not use Quicktime conversion and do not change anything in the export settings for reference movie.
                    when you import in ae drop the 720x576 widescreen footage onto the "create new comp" button and interpret correctly before you start working. means, if you have interlaced footage set interpretation for field dominance to "none" and set back to original state before rendering out, or set it in the render settings in the render queue.

                    and, don't forget that adobe has changed PAR in CS4. Read the LiveDocs about it.
                    • 7. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
                      Level 1
                      The quicktimes are straight out of the camera as mentioned. They haven't been through any other processes. There was no export from Final Cut Pro. All it does in parse the MXF files into QT movies using Log and Transfer system from the P2 card. They are not recompressed in any way.

                      They play in Quicktime at 1024 x 576 because that is the dimensions required for the correct aspect of anamorphic material. This has always been the case. The camera puts a flag on the clip (which I know it does since you can see it in the metadata of the clip in the camera) so QT interprets this and plays back without any tampering with visual settings in the properties box.

                      When you say there is no 1024 x 576, you mean in terms of a ratio for SD PAL TV. QT player never resolves these movies at 720 x 405 which is what you would be watching on a widescreen TV or the actual visible frame inside a letterboxed 16:9 presentation.

                      I'll attach some clips to show you the process if you're not happy but the clips from our HVX200's have always played in QT at 1024 x 576 in their anamorphic SD mode. They may well be stretched beyond their original capture dimensions but there are no artifacts or blockiness in anything other than AE.

                      So if I'm understanding you correctly, are you saying that if I load a 720 x 576 anamorphic clip into AE and then turn on the aspect ratio correction, it will look blocky? If so how come I've never seen it before this week and why is it not apparent in any other app or media player? (VLC etc)

                      I'm using CS3.
                      • 8. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
                        Level 1
                        I think I may have found out the problem here.

                        The problem areas are with the high contrast blue and red-and other areas but blue and red show the most degradation. Obviously, DV being 4:1:1 (Panasonic DVCPro, NOT the 4:2:0 of DV PAL) there is a lot of colour information missing and the blue channel always takes the heaviest losses on the DVCPro format.

                        The reason we've never seen this before is because we've always used the HVX cameras for either DVCPro 50 or DVCPro HD in this particular setup. In normal DV mode we almost always use our DVX100's which do have the different colour sampling and manage to smooth over this high contrast blue and red issue because of the sampling method and other factors like lesser quality optics, CCD blocks etc.

                        So, by colour smoothing the material, something which QT player appears to do by default (I'm awaiting a reply from my engineer friend at Apple to confirm this) the steppy vertical lines disappear and everything is back to normal. It doesn't matter if the material is stretched out way beyond it's original dimensions, with the colour smoothed it fixes the banding on the high contrast red and blue areas.

                        So the conclusion is format/codec, using a blue screen when a green one is far better suited to DV and subject material all conspired to produce the problem.

                        As for the 1024 x 576 quandry, you say it doesn't exist yet if you select the Widescreen PAL square pixel preset in AE, the frame dimensions are...naturally: 1024 x 576. We also produce all our graphics for our video's at SD at that resolution and they work a treat in FCP in the anamorphic projects.
                        • 9. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
                          Level 1
                          Oh, the filter...

                          I used the Natress 4:1:1 chroma smoother to fix it!
                          • 10. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
                            Im very new to after effects and digital video in general. I seem to have the same problem but I only understand bits and pieces of the jargon used in the above thread.

                            My footage suffers severe degradation on import to AE. I'm shooting with a canon xha1, which is HD capable but I'm shooting in pal sd widescreen (720x576x25)for this project.

                            I import files that have been freshly uploaded to my computer, without having gone through any other processes, and After effects chooses correctly the aspect ratio of the clip, however, there seems to be vertical stretching of pixels as in the images shown above. When the footage is rendered, the quality is definately lower than that of the untouched footage.

                            I am using Sony vegas to edit, and if i were to place two identical clips, one fresh from the camera, the other rendered through after effects, in the vegas timeline, the original would appear to have 2 black anamorphic bars while the AE version wouldnt have any.

                            I'm at a loss as to what the problem is, and this is the first time I've come across someone with a problem like mine...

                            Any help for someone who knows a lot less about dv than you guys?
                            • 11. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
                              Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
                              Well, the "vertical stretching" is the whole point of working with anamorphic footage, as effectively it is a horizontal squeeze. That's perfectly normal and the reason, why video editing programs and AE itself need to use pixel aspect ratio (PAR) correction in their viewers. Just enable the respective button in the bottom row of the composition/ footage/layer viewer. Note: AE does no smoothing on PAR previews, so additional block artifacts may be visible. Those will not appear on the rendered footage, however. The rest is a bit unclear. in addition to just setting the correct size and PAR, it is crucial to retain the correct field order, which is probably where it breaks for you. You need to tell it, whether the footage uses upper or lower fields first and you need to use the identical setting on the render settings panel. For DV footage this should be lower field first. Furthermore, since both DV and HDV are already compressed, there wil lbe further degeneration when you re-compress them. Therefore use uncompressed formats as intermediates to transfer data back to Vegas. Quicktime animation or PNG are good options. As a last piece in the chain, you will of course need to correctly import in Vegas. Your 19:9 bars going missing and the footage reverting to 4:3 either hinges on the program not correctly recognizing the size of the video footage and its stream flags, or you not telling the program to interpret it this way. Naturally, the thing with correct fields applies here, too.

                              • 12. Re: Degraded Image Quality in AE
                                Level 1
                                Thanks a million for replying. I cant believe I didnt check the properties on the vegas end, that fixed the anamorphic line problem. However the footage still contains some banding. I'm pretty sure that the PAR and field order are correct (i have it set to lower as its DV footage I'm working on). I'll have a look into the format, and see what it looks like in one of the two you suggested. Then I'll probably be back to re-read your post. Thanks a million for your help.