How can I improve this image quality?

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Steve Fogel

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How can I improve this image quality?

PostMon Jul 16, 2018 12:29 am

Hi, all...

I just rendered my video and am not quite satisfied with the image quality. I'm a relative beginner with videography so not sure how to improve it.

Please look at this 5-minute video on Vimeo, starting at 00:15: (password is watermelon). You just need to watch 30 seconds.



The stills look fine; I'm concerned about the talking heads portions. Looks slightly fuzzy and somewhat washed out (with QuickTime Player) compared to what I see while editing. I used Sony A6500's. Is it focus? Codec? Bit rate? (How can I tell what bit rate actually got rendered?) This was rendered with the Vimeo 1080p template. (H.264 and Quicktime).

Might this look better by applying sharpening fX and noise reduction?

Thx!

Steve
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rick.lang

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Re: How can I improve this image quality?

PostMon Jul 16, 2018 5:28 pm

To my eye, your subject is not really in focus compared to the interviewer and the iMac screen. Still a nice video. What aperture were you using for the interview?


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Cary Knoop

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Re: How can I improve this image quality?

PostMon Jul 16, 2018 5:33 pm

Of course it is all a personal taste but to my taste the image is too low contrast, mostly attributable to the raised blacks. After correcting the overall contrast I would try to apply some mild Midtone Detail, but it may not be necessary.
Last edited by Cary Knoop on Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Andrew Kolakowski

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Re: How can I improve this image quality?

PostMon Jul 16, 2018 5:38 pm

Same for me. Too low contrast on interview which also shows noise in shadows. Raise contrast which will help hide noise and make footage more Vimeo/YT (compression) friendly.
I'm not a fan of your background either. It blends with people clothes which somehow doesn't look good for me. There seems to be focus issue as well. You should shot with shallow depth of field and then maybe whole thing would work better. During interview Mac and background doesn't really have to be "clearly" visible as in this case you want to focus on people.
Not an expert at all, but framing is also not working for me (including process of person pressing key on keyboard).
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Steve Fogel

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Re: How can I improve this image quality?

PostMon Jul 16, 2018 5:58 pm

Thanks everyone. I'll adjust contrast. Rick, I used f/6.3 at ISO 800. I realize depth of field was shallow but barely acceptable to my mind. The big problem was budget. Could have rented more powerful lights. Had 3 cameras and did not have budget to rent 3 external monitors for focus assist. I did have a large monitor in video village with a 3-way HDMI switch, but two of the HDMI cables were too long (25') for the Sony cameras to drive them (discovered this after the shoot), so was unable to use that to check focus on 2 of the 3 cameras other than using peaking on those small camera displays. This shoot was intended as a learning experience for me, and indeed it was! I'm hoping sharpening will help once my activation card for DVR Studio arrives this week. Thanks!
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Steve Fogel

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Re: How can I improve this image quality?

PostMon Jul 16, 2018 6:00 pm

Hi, Cary, what do you mean when you say "apply some midtone detail"? You mean raise gamma luminance?
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Cary Knoop

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Re: How can I improve this image quality?

PostMon Jul 16, 2018 6:19 pm

Steve Fogel wrote:Hi, Cary, what do you mean when you say "apply some midtone detail"? You mean raise gamma luminance?

Resolve has a midtone datail control which raises the contrast locally for the midtones. The key is, if you need it at all here, to use it very lightly.

mid-tone.jpg
mid-tone.jpg (23.65 KiB) Viewed 458 times
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rick.lang

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Re: How can I improve this image quality?

PostMon Jul 16, 2018 9:17 pm

Steve, thanks for the details. Always a challenge when something goes wrong. Focus peaking works best at wider apertures as stopping down can give a false sense of confidence that all looks good. When you can set your strength, I’d recommend no more than the medium strength and since you’re scene is fairly static even the low setting will show you what’s sharp enough. In the early days I used the high setting for convenience and found it less accurate. Best to know where your critical focus lies and keep your principal subject near that plane.

I think having the aperture around 6.3 should be fine but the critical focus needed to be on the interviewee. Increasing contrast a small amount will help as may sharpening. Other good advice here.

If your client is happy, don’t worry be happy.


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Rick Lang
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Steve Fogel

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Re: How can I improve this image quality?

PostMon Jul 16, 2018 9:43 pm

I’m the client! For the beginnings of a reel. All self-funded, including paying the crew.

Thanks for the encouragement. Any further focusing advice would be appreciated. That’s one thing that you can’t fix in post.
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rick.lang

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Re: How can I improve this image quality?

PostTue Jul 17, 2018 6:28 am

When feasible, focus near your widest aperture where you want critical focus; stop down and get a feel for how much movement you can have and keep good focus (perhaps simply with a DOF app or) having the subject move. If you pull focus during a take, practice your movement while checking focus. I don’t have a conventional follow focus as I focus with a Chrosziel Fluid Zoom control so its good to get a feel for the movement of the handle that’s required as it doesn’t have user set hard stops.

Use focus assist/peaking on a medium setting. Be careful though that the peaking is not deceiving you on closeups as it peaks where there’s contrast typically edges. If you shoot wide-open up close with a fast aperture, you may have the wrong part of the face or hair in focus. Using a black and white object with edges if you wanted to be very certain.

In a controlled shoot, you’ll be fine even with a fast aperture. When you don’t have control over all aspects, it’s more exciting when you manage to nail it most of the time anyway! Using wider angle lenses helps in the latter use case if appropriate to your needs.

Shoot in the sweet spot of your lens which typically may range from one or two stops below fully open and another two or three stops down. If you use a T2 lenses, shoot around T4-T5.6 ideally but could be T2.8-T8.

Control lens flare regardless of how the subject is lit. Very beautiful when you want it, but certainly distracting if unwanted and may destroy you intended image.

Don’t rely on lenses that are too sharp or too contrasty! Surgical precision will get in the way of your human subjects communicating what you want instead of your viewer counting nose hairs.


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Rick Lang

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