Final Cut Express 4 Help

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by jld1982, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. jld1982 macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2010
    I did some editing work in college but that was a little while ago and I'm very rusty - these are probably very basic questions but any help is greatly appreciated, I'm trying to get back into it and start learning again.

    I have a Panasonic pv-gs150 and am trying to use Final Cut Express editing software. When I capture clips into the software, the video quality is not good, even when I play the clips in the viewer or canvas window (looks far better on my camera's viewfinder than on my computer) I even tried exporting a couple clips to my desktop to watch as .avi and .mov files and those looked absolutely terrible. What am I doing wrong or what settings need to be changed? I guess a first question would be, I'm not positive which 'easy setup' option to chose, I thought it should be the DV-NTSC one but that doesn't look that great and none of them seem to have decent resolution. Any help is appreciated, I'm at a loss! I'm starting with just trying to get my footage for this project onto my computer but I want to make sure I'm using the right settings and have decent video quality, which for some reason I'm not getting (this is my first time editing using my setup I have at home - not nearly as good as what I used in school - and I'm trying to figure out how to make it all work together) Any help is greatly appreciated!
  2. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ

    1. First off, the Viewer and Canvas are merely approximations of how the video will look and have relatively little bearing on the final output. On a large monitor, the Viewer/Canvas windows will obviously be larger and you'll see more of the imperfections inherent in DV NTSC video. Keep in mind that DV NTSC is 720x480 (non-square pixels) natively. You're working with 1/6th of the effective resolution 1080p HD gives you. Simply put, it's going to look bad played in full screen on a high-res monitor. No way around that.

    2. On your camera, the standard DV NTSC 48kHz FireWire capture setting should be correct.

    3. When you output a sequence from FCE to an AVI or QT movie using the native video codec (in your case, DV NTSC) and play it back in Quicktime, it's going to look terrible (probably even worse than you're seeing it in FCP) because NTSC video has a different pixel aspect ratio (rectangular as opposed to square) and is interlaced (as opposed to progressive).

    For computer viewing, you'll want to encode the final output to a computer-friendly resolution (as in, scale to square pixels) and to a different codec (like H.264) - you'll also want to de-interlace the material in the export settings. Otherwise, you'll see a lot of interlacing "jaggies" with moving subjects. If the original DV material is "full screen" (4:3), a good resolution to use would be 640x480. For "widescreen" (16:9) material, 640x360 works well. Use the Export -> Using Quicktime Conversion option for this.
  3. jld1982 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2010
    Thank you for your help! My biggest concern at this beginning point is that I'm capturing the video in the wrong setting because (Please excuse my technical ignorance, I'm trying to become more knowledgable about that) I was afraid that if I was, all of the time I'll be spending importing this clip by clip would be wasted if I brought it in at the wrong setting/size/etc because it would cause the video to be bad quality - so you're saying that even though it looks bad on my computer, the final product will look good both on DVD and on a computer (youtube, website, etc) depending on how I export it, and how it looks when I import it has nothing to do with that? Also there's no way to capture multiple in/out points at once with FCE right? That is, is it correct that my only two options are capturing clips one at a time or capturing an entire tape at a time?
    My other problem right now is this - the project I'm working on is a promo video for a barn that I ride at. The trainer wants to see all of my footage and tell me clips that she wants to make sure are in there. I thought getting all of the good footage on my laptop and showing her the clips from there would be best, because I could just show her the good ones that I import and go from there. If I show her the clips in FCE, it's going to look bad in the viewer window - how can I show her the clips in a good quality/not blurry like they look in FCE? Would I be better off connecting my camera to her TV and showing her that way? I just wanted to have everything organized by clips on my laptop instead because I'm not sure where we're going to be going over this, what the setup with be as far as if we'll have a TV to use, etc. Any ideas on that? I just want to be able to show her the good clips in a good quality view and I'm not sure the best way to go about that.
  4. Cmu93 macrumors member

    Dec 4, 2007
    I found this for free, and find it very, very useful. Very impressed with his teaching style.

    It may not cover what you asked for, but I believe the 2nd Course will, but that's going to cost you, as that one isn't free... I don't believe.

    Hope that helps... or at least gives some help to others.
  5. jld1982 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2010
    Thank you for that link - I love tutorials like those, I think it makes things easier to learn.

    I'm still trying to figure a lot of the basic things out. For the final project I will need both a DVD and a format for youtube, website, etc - Will I be able to format and export the final project to look as good of quality as when I watch it on my camera and when I hook my camera up to the TV to watch? The camera is not HD but the quality looks good when I hook it up to the TV to play the footage.
  6. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    The default DV NTSC 48 kHz capture setting should be correct for your camera (for 4:3 material, at least). If you recorded in 16:9 mode, you'll want to choose DV NTSC 48 kHz Anamorphic.

    Since you use FCE, for final DVD delivery, you'll likely be using iDVD to encode to DVD. For web (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) delivery, it's best to encode to H.264 using the Quicktime Conversion option in FCE. More on this later...

    Unfortunately, those are your only two options in FCE. FCE doesn't support batch capturing (e.g. setting in/out markers for multiple clips for capture) like FCP does.

    The only way you'd really be able to correctly display to your client how NTSC material will really look on the fly (as in, while in FCE) is to be connected to an external NTSC monitor. This would typically require an interface card.

    For DVD delivery, export out of FCE using the Export -> Quicktime Movie command. This will export an uncompressed QT movie of your finished project using the sequence's native settings (in your case, either NTSC DV [4:3] or NTSC DV Anamorphic [16:9]). You would then drop that file into iDVD, which will encode the audio and video properly for burning to a playable DVD.

    For web delivery suitable for YouTube/Vimeo, etc., use the following steps:

    1. Choose File -> Export -> Using Quicktime Conversion... from the FCE menu.

    2. Click the Options button from the pop-up window.

    3. Another window called "Movie Settings" will pop up and will show three options with checkboxes (Video, Sound and Prepare for Internet Streaming). All of these should be checked.

    4. Under the Video section, first click the Settings button.

    5. In here (Standard Video Compression Settings), choose H.264 for the Compression Type and leave the Motion section alone. Under the Data Rate section, click the "Restrict to" option and enter a value. Around 3000 kbits/sec would be acceptable in your case. Then, set "Optimized for" to "Streaming". Under the Compressor section, make sure the Best quality (Multi-pass) option is selected. Now, click OK.

    6. Now, you should be back to "Movie Settings". Under the Video Section, click the Size button.

    7. A window will now appear called "Export Size Settings". Under Dimensions, select Custom. This will enable the two fields to the right. For a 4:3 project, enter 640x480. For a 16:9 project, enter 640x360. Make sure Deinterlace Source video is checked. Now, click OK.

    8. You will again be back to the "Movie Settings" window. Under the Sound section, click the Settings button.

    9. A "Sound Settings" window will appear. Under Format, choose AAC. Under Channels, choose Stereo (L R). Rate should be set to 48.000 kHz. Under Render Settings, set the Quality to "Best" and the Target Bit Rate to 128 kbps. Click OK.

    10. Back to the "Movie Settings" window. Under the "Prepare for Internet Streaming" section, choose Fast Start from the pull-down menu. Finally, click OK at the bottom of the window. Your H.264 movie should start encoding.

    Following these steps properly should yield a pretty good looking H.264 video for web sharing.

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