We're working on a film in HD and had 3 interviews filmed for us. We told the person operating the camera to get a close up of our subject, but instead shot it wide. Normally, we would have a few other people watching to make sure we got what we wanted, but this was a special circumstance and only one of us could be there. Our only option left now is to crop into the wide shot to get the close up we intended for. Obviously, this presents the problem of loss of quality.
I know we'll never get back what's not there already, but we would still like to make this look as good as possible. Thankfully, the film is a mix of HD and SD footage and right now the client does not have use for an full blown HD version of the film.
Are there any tips or tricks that I could put to good use in After Effects? I've tried sharpening as much as I could without seeing artifacts and we have the InstantHD plugin from Red Giant, but I don't think it'll help me in this instance, since the footage is not SD.
The Resizer plug-in in Instant HD (formerly Digital Anarchy Resizer) should still be able to help. A high quality upscaling algoirthm should work well even if the footage didn't originate in HD and Resizer lets you use custom sizes in addition to the included presets.
One thing that could be fun as an experiment would be taking a video layer to Photoshop CS4 Extended, set it to one of the higher quality scaling algorithms, scale it up, save a PSD file with video (which you can do since CS3 Extended) and bring that into AE. I haven't tested this, it's just a wild idea.
The previous info is not entirely correct. Please check the details on the Resizer and Instant HD Advanced story here and here. Furthermore I generally suggest to have a look through the Enhancement category. You may also need other deinterlacing and artifact removal tools to get the best possible quality.