Still image quality in video editing programs

Ja Di ksw

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 9, 2003
1,305
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I'm wondering if there is an easy way to add still images to either Final Cut Express or iMovie without a downgrade or change of image quality. In FCE, .psd files I import don't even show up, and .jpg files have their colors changed (dramatically lighter). I've been trying FCE for only a day, though, so there may be some options I'm missing. In iMovie, the quality of any image I imported was downgraded, with areas of solid colors becoming particularly noisy. Even using all the tricks AppleCare gave me did nothing for iMovie.

Does anyone know what settings I need to change to get unmodified still images when importing them to FCE or iMovie?
 

hsilver

macrumors regular
Jul 17, 2002
142
0
New York
Don't know about FCE but FCP cannot handle photo images over 4000 pixels in width without slowing down or crashing. 3840 x 2160 would be optimum size for HD - can still zoom in and downsize. TIFF and PNG are best codecs for stills. Can use PSD and bring in layers from Photoshop. Also if you resize images or import them you have to be careful to make square or rectangular pixels depending on format you are editing in. Photoshop generally works in square pixels but some video is rectangular - like HDV. If you mix up pixel shape a circle will be ovoid, etc. Latest versions of Photoshop can output images for various video aspect ratios.
 

Ja Di ksw

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 9, 2003
1,305
4
The images aren't being scaled down, I have every option I can find set to the highest possible quality, so really can't find what's going wrong. Here's a quick sample of some cropped areas to highlight what I mean. 2 are from Aperture, 2 are the same photos (I exported the master files to the desktop and then imported those masters to iMovie).

iMovie
iMovie B.png

Aperture
Aperture B.png

iMovie
iMovie A.png

Aperture
Aperture A.png
 

Ja Di ksw

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 9, 2003
1,305
4
Here are four more. first two are iMovie / Aperture again, the next 2 are final cut express / aperture, where the quality is better but the colors are all off.

iMovie
iMovie C.png

Aperture
Aperture C.png

FCE
FCE.png

Aperture
Aperture D.png
 

initialsBB

macrumors 6502a
Oct 18, 2010
688
2
It looks to me like it's a gamma setting problem in FCE. I know that in FCP I can set the gamma of each clip.
 

Kevin Monahan

macrumors regular
Feb 23, 2011
161
1
It looks to me like it's a gamma setting problem in FCE. I know that in FCP I can set the gamma of each clip.
The FCE photos looks like a gamma problem that could be solved with some color correction. The iMovie photos look like 8bit banding that could be solved in an NLE that supported 10 bit rendering.
 

Ja Di ksw

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 9, 2003
1,305
4
It looks to me like it's a gamma setting problem in FCE. I know that in FCP I can set the gamma of each clip.
Kevin Monahan said:
The FCE photos looks like a gamma problem that could be solved with some color correction. The iMovie photos look like 8bit banding that could be solved in an NLE that supported 10 bit rendering.
Trying to use the color correction filter and the gamma filter is getting me somewhere, but it's getting very difficult to get the colors correct and I'm thinking it's going to be a nightmare to do this for several hundred pictures.

For the 8bit banding, to be honest I'm not quite sure what you mean by that, but I've tried importing RAW, psd (16 bit), psd (8 bit), and jpg, and they all do this. Does iMovie work with 10 bit better than 16 bit for some odd reason? Not sure what an "NLE" is...
 

Kevin Monahan

macrumors regular
Feb 23, 2011
161
1
For the 8bit banding, to be honest I'm not quite sure what you mean by that, but I've tried importing RAW, psd (16 bit), psd (8 bit), and jpg, and they all do this. Does iMovie work with 10 bit better than 16 bit for some odd reason? Not sure what an "NLE" is...
Unfortunately, it does not matter what the source is that you put into iMovie, what you get is 8 bit banding (lower quality) on output no matter what. This is because footage is transcoded using the Apple Intermediate Codec on import, which is limited to 8 bit color on output. 10 bit color is not available. If you were to use a full featured NLE (non-linear editor), such as Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro, you wouldn't have banding problems using ProRes or other advanced codecs, using 10bit color.

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2704

Hope that makes sense now.
 

Ja Di ksw

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 9, 2003
1,305
4
Unfortunately, it does not matter what the source is that you put into iMovie, what you get is 8 bit banding (lower quality) on output no matter what. This is because footage is transcoded using the Apple Intermediate Codec on import, which is limited to 8 bit color on output. 10 bit color is not available. If you were to use a full featured NLE (non-linear editor), such as Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro, you wouldn't have banding problems using ProRes or other advanced codecs, using 10bit color.

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2704

Hope that makes sense now.
That does make more sense, thank you. Wikipedia has FCE listed as using AIC too, so I guess that means I'm stuck with these problems unless I upgrade to Final Cut Pro X?
 

Ja Di ksw

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Apr 9, 2003
1,305
4
Hmm, looking through FCE's options it has 10-bit uncompressed (along with H.264, which it says is higher quality), so I should be able to do it with FCE. And the comparisons I did showed better quality than iMovie (but not as good as aperture), and different colors, so I mainly have to work out that and hope that there's an easy way to do it for all pictures, but not the inter spliced video.
 

Kevin Monahan

macrumors regular
Feb 23, 2011
161
1
Hmm, looking through FCE's options it has 10-bit uncompressed (along with H.264, which it says is higher quality), so I should be able to do it with FCE. And the comparisons I did showed better quality than iMovie (but not as good as aperture), and different colors, so I mainly have to work out that and hope that there's an easy way to do it for all pictures, but not the inter spliced video.
Yes, you have uncompressed 10 bit there. That should work. Hard to edit with unless you have a super fast drive array. You might try Photo-JPEG, looks great at a lower data rate. Make sure you are looking at your Canvas at 100% to check its true quality. If you are satisfied with the quality, you can switch it back to "Fit to Window".