9 Replies Latest reply on Jul 30, 2009 7:25 AM by Fienduk

    SD footage looks Bad in timeline and on Export


      Hi there

      Let me start by saying that this Forum is amazing, I read through pages of stuff looking for something kind of similar to my question but come accross tons of really useful stuff that I just can't help myself from reading. You guys truly are a mind of knowledge, some of which I haven't a clue about to start with, but I am learning...


      Anyway, on to my query.


      I work in Prem Pro CS4 and also use Encore and AME.


      All my updates are up to date and I work on a struggling system (dual core. P4. 32 bit Vista Home, 4GB mem, ATI video card (512mb) Its a couple of years old, but handle SD footage ok.


      I often get asked to shoot Weddings, Bands & Events (I'm no professional, just a keen ameteur). I shoot this footage mainly in SD (PAL) using a Sony HDRFX1 & and HDR-SR12e.


      Okay, so i know there is a difference in Picture clarity at source. the FX1 out performs the SR12 easily, and so this is used for the odd cut away and not the main event.


      When I import my footage into PP, all looks OK with the FX1 footage, but the SDR footage is really blurred (out of focus) and washed out. Though playing it back through the Camera or hooked up to a TV, it doesn't look half bad.


      So, what am I doing wrong? Why is PP making this footage look horrible and even making the FX1 footage look rather un loveable.


      This is the case in Both the Preview window (Highest Quality) and when I export to file or DVD.


      I have exported to Verbatim discs (This has made a slight difference) using Encore (using both Dynamic link and exporting as an AVI).

      I don't touch transcoding setting, I let Encore sort that out.


      I see talk of Codecs - I use mostly the Mpg2 DVD "Main Concept Codec" as my stuff ultimatley ends up on a disc (no other codecs are available to me) - Should i be looking for a better one? - But surely this won't make the footage any clearer in the Preview window in anycase.


      Maybe I am Importing it wrongly, as the SDR is a HDD, I just import the usual way... So I can't see i am doing anything wrong there.


      I understand that this is a large post and I have so many questions about getting it right. But my main problem is the end product just doesn't quite live up to my expectations, or as it looks on the Camera (or playing from the camera on a 40inch Bravia) before importing in to PP.


      I have tried playing the DVDs back through several DVD players and Monitors, it looks virtually the same.


      Any suggestions as to improving this would be greatly appreciated.

        • 1. Re: SD footage looks Bad in timeline and on Export
          the_wine_snob Level 9

          My first guess is that in your Project, you are getting to do an A-B comparison between the footage from the two cameras. When only one is viewed at a time, the SD material looks pretty good. When you view it next to the other camera, you can now see the differences.


          For DVD-Video (SD), the MainConcept MPEG-2 is a very good one. There are some that are better, but the price climbs very quickly and the differences will likely not justify that expenditure.


          I do have to admit that I am not doing HD + SD Projects. Others will very likely be able to give you much more info.


          Good luck,




          PS, there are some good discussions on sub-topics like "SD and HD material" in the same Timeline, or Sequence, and also some good discussions here, and on the CS3 forum on HD to SD output. Dan Isaacs has some great workflows for the best results. Still, your issue seems to be the SD footage looking pretty bad, next to the other footage.


          BTW Verbatim is one of the best media to use - good move. Taiyo Yuden is another good one. Burn at the lowest speed and do, as you are doing, test the DVD-Video on a TV for your final analysis. [I use DVD RW's for testing, so I don't end up with a lot "coasters."].

          • 2. Re: SD footage looks Bad in timeline and on Export
            Harm Millaard Level 7

            You basically have two cameras, your A camera (FX1) is HDV and your B camera (SR12) is AVCHD, then you output to DVD (SD).


            Now, if you only had camera A, things would be extremely simple, especially with your aging PC, just downrez to SD in camera and capture in MS DV AVI type2 and when finished export to Encore and let Encore handle it. Done!.


            What complicates things is the AVCHD workflow from your B camera, which is a beast to edit with your PC. I would try if the following is workable for you. Transfer the AVCHD footage in the normal way to your hard disk, create a corresponding sequence and import all clips in the order they were shot and put them on the timeline. No editing at this moment. Only export with AME to MS DV AVI. Nearly done...


            You create a new sequence with a standard DV preset, capture the downrezzed material from your A camera and import the earlier exported MS DV AVI from your B camera. That leaves you with a standard DV project, which is easy to edit and can be exported or DL'ed to Encore. The advantage is that the major bottleneck of editing AVCHD on an underpowered system is largely avoided and the actual editing goes much smoother.


            Let us know if this approach is workable for you.

            • 3. Re: SD footage looks Bad in timeline and on Export
              Fienduk Level 1

              Hi Harm


              Thanks for the advice, I think under normal HD - SD circumstances, this would indeed be my best solution and i thank you in advance for when I need to do this (something I am going to do once I have new PC), currently however, mainly due to my PC restrictions. I am only filming footage in Standard Def in anycase, so I do not need to scale down at this time. So to recap, Footage shot in SD on FX1 and Footage shot in SD on SR12. No HD anywhere in my project.


              But still the SR12 footage once bought in to the timeline looks blurry, out of focus and washed out. When exported to test how it looks on a LCD TV, it looks the same way, yet playing from within the Camera, it looks good, playing through the camera on to the same TV, it also looks OK.


              There seems to be some loss when imported in to PP.


              Not sure what I am doing wrong (If anything) and what i can do to improve things.


              I do wonder though if the solution you suggested for AVCHD may also work for the SD capture mode? The type of file is Movie Clip (.mpg)


              Any thoughts? Or should i just accept that this is what you get with an Handy Cam filming SD (HQ), I can' believe that it should look quite as ugly as it does, it's looks more like SVHS!!!


              Thanks again

              • 4. Re: SD footage looks Bad in timeline and on Export
                Curt Wrigley Level 4

                Unfortunately, Pr is notoriaously BAD at scaling HD footage of any type to SD.   In CS4 they addred an option called Max Render Quality that is supposed to help.   Helps a little, but still not acceptable quality.   Its a huge hole in Adobe functionality.


                Search for forums for "hd2sd" and you will find a good quaility 3rd party solution that scales hd to sd very nicely.



                • 5. Re: SD footage looks Bad in timeline and on Export
                  Fienduk Level 1

                  Thanks Curt


                  I will indeed look for that guide as it is something I want to do in the future, however on this occassion all my footage is SD, No HD at all.

                  This is why I ca not understand the drop in quality in PP.

                  I would have thought that it would look the same as it does un-imported (If that's even a word) !!!

                  • 6. Re: SD footage looks Bad in timeline and on Export
                    Harm Millaard Level 7

                    Sorry for not responding sooner, but the forums are back to their old tricks again... utterly unresponsive, no way to post, waiting 15 minutes for nothing to happen and the only sensible approach is CANCEL!


                    Jeez, Adobe, get these forums in order, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!


                    Back to topic. How does your material look when played with any player, still washed out, blurry, etc.?

                    • 7. Re: SD footage looks Bad in timeline and on Export
                      Fienduk Level 1

                      No problems Harm

                      I appreciate you taking the time to help me out with this issue.


                      Let me go through what I do, hopefully you can pick any holes.


                      I import from FX1 via capture in PP - usuing the DV preset (No option to change except for HDV) - you referred to "capture in MS DV AVI type2" but I have no option to chage any setting. It's either DV or HDV.


                      I import the Footage from the SDR via Sony PMB (Picture Motion Bridge) and then import into PP using the double click on project panel method, then set up a series of BINS to make it all very tidy.


                      I then use 1 sequence and sync up the footage, then just use keyframes to mix in and out where required.

                      This is all in 720x576 PAL


                      The quality problems are noticable in the preview window (Set to highest quality)

                      To test if this is really what I am going to end up with at the end of my project I have exported as an AVI file and played it on my PS3. The footage still looks washed out, Blurry etc.

                      I have also expoted to a DVD via Encore using Dynamic Link and importing a renederd file and palyed this back on both a Toshiba DVD (upscaler) and PS3. I have also tested it on A Sony Plasma (Though this actually makes it more washed out but a smoother feel) also through a Bravia 30" LCD (this looks the same).

                      Also played back on PC using VLC, WMP, Nero & Media Player Classic - all give very similar results.


                      However, playing the files direct from the Camcorder give a different impression. The footage, whilst not as pretty as High Def, is what you expect from a Single Chip handy Cam.


                      I will say one thing, the footage is clearer when viewed in PMB (Sonys Picture Motion Bridge)

                      • 8. Re: SD footage looks Bad in timeline and on Export
                        McFrisco Level 1

                        I don't know if this will be any help, but here's how I do it.

                        I work in SD, but occasionally shoot in HD formats just to get higher resolution and more choices in framing.

                        In Premiere, I set up an SD sequence (DV-NTSC, Standard 48khz.) Of course, you'd use the PAL presets instead.

                        Then, I capture or import the footage in its native format.  If its HD, I capture it in HD.

                        This gives me a picture that is much larger than the SD frame.  I just reduce the size in the "effects" panel for the shot, For 1080p, reduction to 40% will cover the video safe area.  But it can be any size below 100% and framed up any way I want it, over to the left, to the right, out of the center of the shot.  Whatever works for your sequence.

                        This gives me excellent looking video when I export to SD.

                        I have found that the best codec for anything going online these days is H.264.  Unless you have size limitations, I've gotten the best playback I've ever seen.  To see examples of this method's results, go to




                        These videos use the Youtube SD preset in AMD with no tweaking.

                        • 9. Re: SD footage looks Bad in timeline and on Export
                          Fienduk Level 1

                          Hey McFrisco


                          This is a really usefull work tip, I will certainly be making use of this in the future.

                          Unfortunatley for me, it doesn't quite answer my initial cry for help, which I am starting to think is something I am going to have to live with.


                          My problem is how Standard Definition footage is handled by the Adobe suite. I seem to end up with a loss in quality somewhere between Capture and Output.

                          The footage looks fine when viewed within the Camera or hooked up to a TV, but once Caprured it seems to play back a blurry, flat and too saturated.

                          I have tried to compensate using PP inbuilt correction and sharpening tools, but over doing that results in a far faker picture.


                          So, thanks fr your input, it truly is a great way of doing what I am going to do with my next job. That is film in HD and output to an SD DVD, see if that improves my lot.


                          Obviously any further advise is going to be greatly appreciated. This Forum is certainly one the most helpful I have ever been on.