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TOPIC: 4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro

4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 13 Jan 2019 13:34 #98478

Hi guys and Happy New Year to everyone.

This topic has been discussed a while ago but I never found a resolution that's why I decided to open a new thread.

Here's the issue:

I've recorded some 4K screen captures but I want to edit them on a 1080p timeline in FCPX.
When I import the footage in FCPX they play fine until I drop them in the timeline.
THen the footage becomes blurry to the point that the characters have lost all their sharpness.

I am NOT working with proxies and exporting the footage yields the same blurry results.
Now, all the responses I've found is that you're throwing away resolution when you downscale etc.

BUT:

Importing the same footage on a Premiere Pro 1080p timeline (I installed the demo just to check) or Screenflow does not give me a blurry image. The image might not be as sharp as in 4k but it's definitely not blurry.

So this issue is specific to Final Cut X (latest version).

The only workaround I've found is to encode the footage to 1080p through Compressor and then import them to FCPX but this is really time-consuming and it makes no sense, to be honest.

Has anyone found a solution to this issue yet?

Thanks a lot in advance!
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 13 Jan 2019 20:30 #98483

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I have FCPX 10.4.4 and the latest version of Premiere. If you can post a short downloadable 4k file which demonstrates this, I'll look at it.
Last Edit: 13 Jan 2019 20:31 by joema.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 13 Jan 2019 22:37 #98484

joema wrote:
I have FCPX 10.4.4 and the latest version of Premiere. If you can post a short downloadable 4k file which demonstrates this, I'll look at it.

Thanks a lot for the reply Joema,

Here is a very short 4K file:
drive.google.com/file/d/1slfRRd9FKfWvSn-...2AF/view?usp=sharing

Try and drop it on a 1080p timeline.
It becomes very very blurry almost like a low-res file.

It doesn't happen on Premiere or Screenflow, at least on my system.

Thanks in advance!
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 14 Jan 2019 00:15 #98486

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In FCPX I only see significant blur if your playback is set to Better Performance instead of Better Quality (under the Viewer upper-right drop-down menu). This is similar to how Premiere 2019 looks if I set the playback quality to 1/4 or 1/4 instead of full quality.

However even with FCPX on Better Quality it looks like there's a little fuzziness if playing back an unrendered 1080p timeline. If I render the timeline via CTRL+R, I don't see that. It might be because FCPX is down-scaling the 4k as an effect, which requires rendering the timeline for highest quality.

The 4k output looks the same between Premiere and FCPX. Also Premiere and FCPX look the same if outputting the 4k timeline at 1080p. If outputting the 4k clip in a scaled 1080p timeline, it seems Premiere is very slightly sharper but I'd have to look more closely at the encoding parameters.

Edit/add: For FCPX I used File>Share>Master File, Settings: Computer, Video codec: H.264 Better Quality, resolution either 4k or 1080p. For Premiere I used File>Export>Media, Format: H.264, Preset: High Quality 2160p or 1080p, Maximum Render Quality.
Last Edit: 14 Jan 2019 00:27 by joema.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 14 Jan 2019 01:38 #98487

joema wrote:
In FCPX I only see significant blur if your playback is set to Better Performance instead of Better Quality (under the Viewer upper-right drop-down menu). This is similar to how Premiere 2019 looks if I set the playback quality to 1/4 or 1/4 instead of full quality.

However even with FCPX on Better Quality it looks like there's a little fuzziness if playing back an unrendered 1080p timeline. If I render the timeline via CTRL+R, I don't see that. It might be because FCPX is down-scaling the 4k as an effect, which requires rendering the timeline for highest quality.

The 4k output looks the same between Premiere and FCPX. Also Premiere and FCPX look the same if outputting the 4k timeline at 1080p. If outputting the 4k clip in a scaled 1080p timeline, it seems Premiere is very slightly sharper but I'd have to look more closely at the encoding parameters.

Edit/add: For FCPX I used File>Share>Master File, Settings: Computer, Video codec: H.264 Better Quality, resolution either 4k or 1080p. For Premiere I used File>Export>Media, Format: H.264, Preset: High Quality 2160p or 1080p, Maximum Render Quality.

Thanks a lot for the quick reply.

Unfortunately, I am getting very different results over here. Even with the same settings.
Please see the two attached cropped screengrabs from the two exports.
The FCPX export is way more blurry, the text is hard to read. On the Premiere export, the text is sharp enough.
Attachments:
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 14 Jan 2019 11:25 #98491

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Have you tried setting the Spatial Conform to NONE and then the scale to 50%? Same result? It doesn't look blurry to me. HOWEVER once in a while when I try to scale a high resolution image down, it's like I am losing a ton more resolution than I should. So I know what you're talking about and it's not just you. I just can't remember the steps I take to fix it because it happens so rarely. It usually happens when I use the DISTORT tool.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 14 Jan 2019 12:07 #98492

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I have run more tests and I don't see much difference. The Adobe docs say if you select "Max Render Quality" on 4k output at 1080p, it definitely adds sharpening. However it appears Premiere may be doing this even when not using "Max Render Quality". When I add default sharpening to FCPX, 1080p output looks almost identical to Premiere.

Of course with FCPX you can edit 4k in a 4k timeline then output as 1080p. In my testing 4k H264 in a 4k timeline is faster on FCPX than 4k in a 1080p sequence is on Premiere.

See attached.
Last Edit: 14 Jan 2019 12:08 by joema.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 14 Jan 2019 12:38 #98494

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At our TV station we now shoot everything in 4K for a variety of reasons. We've never found any issued editing it in 1080 timelines or mutlicams before.

You're working with a screen capture, I'd like to know how that was captured exactly. Any time I work with screen captures, I never leave Screenflow, because they use a proprietary codec that will maintain clarity through all sorts of zooms and manipulations. It's not standard video inside Screenflow.

Again, normal 4K video (not screen captures) work find in FCPX. I'd like to get a 10 second copy of your clip to test out myself.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 14 Jan 2019 14:10 #98496

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As mentioned above, I second the fact that your spatial conform settings must be set to 'fit' or 'fill'.

They should be changed to none so you do not lose resolution.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 14 Jan 2019 14:45 #98497

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spurratic wrote:
As mentioned above, I second the fact that your spatial conform settings must be set to 'fit' or 'fill'...

Thanks for that idea; I just tested all combinations in FCPX and I don't see a difference.

I also tested Resolve 15.2.1, and its behavior varies based on the resizing filter chosen. By default Resolve (and apparently Premiere) apply sharpening when scaling 4k to 1080p. When I disable that, Resolve looks just like FCPX. See attached.

Even without adding sharping in FCPX, I only see a small difference between it and Premiere (see above).

In general you can edit 4k material in a 1080p timeline set to "fit", scale it 200%, then output that, and it will have the same detail as the same region from a 4k timeline. IOW FCPX uses the underlying 4k resolution when scaling 4k content in a 1080p timeline. I've tested that many times. See attached frame caps, one from a 4k clip in a 1080p timeline scaled 200%, the other from a 4k clip in a 4k timeline and output as 4k, then cropped in post to match the 1080p output. They are essentially identical.

As FCP.guru said, I'm suspicious it's related to the exact codec variant used by ScreenFlow. Resolve thinks it's 24 fps so tries to apply 3:2 pulldown in a 30 fps project. The video header shows 30 fps but you never know exactly how ScreenFlow encoded the file.
Last Edit: 14 Jan 2019 16:37 by joema.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 14 Jan 2019 23:38 #98502

Redifer wrote:
Have you tried setting the Spatial Conform to NONE and then the scale to 50%? Same result? It doesn't look blurry to me. HOWEVER once in a while when I try to scale a high resolution image down, it's like I am losing a ton more resolution than I should. So I know what you're talking about and it's not just you. I just can't remember the steps I take to fix it because it happens so rarely. It usually happens when I use the DISTORT tool.

Thanks a lot for the suggestion,

This actually made a lot of sense to me.

I tried it but unfortunately, it didn't fix the problem.

Now, the weird (and somewhat annoying) thing is that when I press play and then stop, FCPX gives me a sharp image momentarily and then it goes back to the blurry image. Sort of like it's playing the file as it should but then it reverts to this blurry rendering for some reason.

It's really a bizarre behaviour and on my system at least the difference between the renders (please check screenshots, it's very obvious) is very significant.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 14 Jan 2019 23:41 #98503

FCPX.guru wrote:
At our TV station we now shoot everything in 4K for a variety of reasons. We've never found any issued editing it in 1080 timelines or mutlicams before.

You're working with a screen capture, I'd like to know how that was captured exactly. Any time I work with screen captures, I never leave Screenflow, because they use a proprietary codec that will maintain clarity through all sorts of zooms and manipulations. It's not standard video inside Screenflow.

Again, normal 4K video (not screen captures) work find in FCPX. I'd like to get a 10 second copy of your clip to test out myself.

Sure, for this one I used OBS to do the screen capture. I captured H.264. I guess it could be the screen capture program but then why Premiere or Screenflow (after importing) don't turn it blurry?
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 15 Jan 2019 13:54 #98511

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Domscillator wrote:
...Sure, for this one I used OBS to do the screen capture. I captured H.264. I guess it could be the screen capture program but then why Premiere or Screenflow (after importing) don't turn it blurry?

If you note my above attachments I tested your 1/2 sec. clip in both Premiere 2019 and FCPX 10.4.4, and there was very little difference when exporting the 4k clip from a 1080p timeline to 1080p output -- provided I used default sharpening in FCPX. Apparently Premiere does that by itself.

If you are seeing much blurrier behavior, send us a longer clip, about 5 sec. Could you try to record it using Mojave's built-in screen recorder? support.apple.com/en-us/HT208721

With your current screen recording format, your best workaround might be use a 4k timeline and export at 1080p. I saw absolutely no difference between Premiere and FCPX when doing that.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 16 Jan 2019 13:41 #98517

I am using a PC for the screen captures.

I will try and upload a 5sec clip.

In the meantime, here is the behaviour on e 1080p timeline in FCPX.

Notice that when I move across the timeline the image turns sharp for a second and then goes back to blurry.
Very very bizarre. Not using proxies, and Best Quality.

The momentarily sharp image is what I get on a 1080p timeline on Premiere. It seems to me that FCPX cannot deal with the codec or something?
drive.google.com/file/d/1FqOu8qaLHUf3L3U...pTI/view?usp=sharing
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 16 Jan 2019 15:08 #98518

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Did you try rendering it first?
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 16 Jan 2019 15:47 #98519

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Tom Wolsky wrote:
Did you try rendering it first?

This is correct. He is using a 4k clip in a 1080p project. That requires a downscale which in essence is a non-rendered effect. The render dots on his timeline show that. There's nothing unique about the codec -- any H264 codec I've seen will also show that behavior.

His options are to either use a 4k timeline or render the 1080p timeline with CTRL+R.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 16 Jan 2019 19:01 #98522

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I also noticed he's hella zoomed in! Fit To Window and re-record that.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 16 Jan 2019 20:32 #98524

FCPX.guru wrote:
I also noticed he's hella zoomed in! Fit To Window and re-record that.

I zoomed in so that you can clearly see what's going on with this behaviour.

Joema is right, my only option will be to render in 1080p on a 4K timeline.
Not sure why this is happening and why I need to go through this extra step on FCPX but at least FCPX is lightning fast when rendering so I guess it's a compromise I am willing to take.

And yes, I've tried rendering first. The result is very blurry.
But when I render on a 4K timeline to 1080p I get the same result like when I import the 4K footage into Premiere on a 1080p timeline. It's just one extra step of rendering.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 16 Jan 2019 20:58 #98525

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Domscillator wrote:
...my only option will be to render in 1080p on a 4K timeline.
Not sure why this is happening and why I need to go through this extra step on FCPX but at least FCPX is lightning fast when rendering so I guess it's a compromise I am willing to take....

I don't see how that's an extra step. By default if you drag a 4k clip to a new project it defaults to a 4k timeline. It's an extra step to override that and make it a 1080p timeline.

Edit/add: OK, maybe you mean when picking a non-default output resolution. You can share to the default destination with one command (CMD+E), and that uses the assigned default resolution. To change this, do File>Share>Add Destination, then if Master File is not the default, right-click on and pick "make default". Then in the right pane pick your default resolution. Then anytime you want to export the timeline just do CMD+E and give it a filename. For more details see: support.apple.com/kb/PH12719?locale=en_US&viewlocale=en_US and support.apple.com/kb/PH26877?locale=en_US&viewlocale=en_US

Domscillator wrote:
....And yes, I've tried rendering first. The result is very blurry....

I don't understand why that happens. In my tests using your own clip, if I render (via CTRL+R) a 4k clip in a 1080p timeline, then playback is very sharp. In all the export tests I did, exporting a 4k clip at 1080p using Share>Master File>Settings>Computer>H264>Better Quality looked very good. It was slightly fuzzier than Premiere but Premiere adds sharpening when downscaling -- their own docs say that. You can manually add default sharpening to a FCPX clip with one double-click, or even make it the default effect and do it with OPT+E: support.apple.com/kb/PH24761?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

So it shouldn't be very blurry. There is something different between our procedures or configurations if that's happening.

Domscillator wrote:
...But when I render on a 4K timeline to 1080p I get the same result like when I import the 4K footage into Premiere on a 1080p timeline. It's just one extra step of rendering...

There are two separate things here:

(1) The momentary fuzziness you see when single-stepping 4k on a 1080p on a FCPX timeline. I think that is expected behavior as it's currently designed. It might be a performance optimization, which could explain why 4k H264 playback on FCPX is much more responsive than Premiere on the same Mac. If you don't like that, just use 4k on a 4k timeline and export at 1080p.

BTW in FCPX you normally don't need to export H264 using "Better Quality". The default is "Faster Encode", and I generally cannot see a difference, yet the export can be much faster.

(2) The significant blurriness you see when exporting. I don't understand that and I don't see it in my tests. Using your test clip, both FCPX and DaVinci Resolve export slightly fuzzier 4k downscaled to 1080p than Premiere, unless you add sharpening. But that difference is minor (see my above attachments).
Last Edit: 16 Jan 2019 21:17 by joema.
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4K Footage Blurry on 1080p timeline on FCPX but sharp on Premiere Pro 16 Jan 2019 22:02 #98526

joema wrote:
Domscillator wrote:
...my only option will be to render in 1080p on a 4K timeline.
Not sure why this is happening and why I need to go through this extra step on FCPX but at least FCPX is lightning fast when rendering so I guess it's a compromise I am willing to take....

I don't see how that's an extra step. By default if you drag a 4k clip to a new project it defaults to a 4k timeline. It's an extra step to override that and make it a 1080p timeline.

Edit/add: OK, maybe you mean when picking a non-default output resolution. You can share to the default destination with one command (CMD+E), and that uses the assigned default resolution. To change this, do File>Share>Add Destination, then if Master File is not the default, right-click on and pick "make default". Then in the right pane pick your default resolution. Then anytime you want to export the timeline just do CMD+E and give it a filename. For more details see: support.apple.com/kb/PH12719?locale=en_US&viewlocale=en_US and support.apple.com/kb/PH26877?locale=en_US&viewlocale=en_US

Domscillator wrote:
....And yes, I've tried rendering first. The result is very blurry....

I don't understand why that happens. In my tests using your own clip, if I render (via CTRL+R) a 4k clip in a 1080p timeline, then playback is very sharp. In all the export tests I did, exporting a 4k clip at 1080p using Share>Master File>Settings>Computer>H264>Better Quality looked very good. It was slightly fuzzier than Premiere but Premiere adds sharpening when downscaling -- their own docs say that. You can manually add default sharpening to a FCPX clip with one double-click, or even make it the default effect and do it with OPT+E: support.apple.com/kb/PH24761?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

So it shouldn't be very blurry. There is something different between our procedures or configurations if that's happening.

Domscillator wrote:
...But when I render on a 4K timeline to 1080p I get the same result like when I import the 4K footage into Premiere on a 1080p timeline. It's just one extra step of rendering...

There are two separate things here:

(1) The momentary fuzziness you see when single-stepping 4k on a 1080p on a FCPX timeline. I think that is expected behavior as it's currently designed. It might be a performance optimization, which could explain why 4k H264 playback on FCPX is much more responsive than Premiere on the same Mac. If you don't like that, just use 4k on a 4k timeline and export at 1080p.

BTW in FCPX you normally don't need to export H264 using "Better Quality". The default is "Faster Encode", and I generally cannot see a difference, yet the export can be much faster.

(2) The significant blurriness you see when exporting. I don't understand that and I don't see it in my tests. Using your test clip, both FCPX and DaVinci Resolve export slightly fuzzier 4k downscaled to 1080p than Premiere, unless you add sharpening. But that difference is minor (see my above attachments).

The problem is that the rest of the camera footage is in 1080p. The only thing that is 4K is the screen capture. I obviously don't want to upscale the camera footage on a 4k timeline.
Ctrl+R yields the same blurry results over here.

Meanwhile: Importing the footage into Screenflow on a 1080p project yields super sharp results in playback and rendering (see screenshot from Screenflow zoomed in around 150%)


Really scratching my head why this is happening.
Last Edit: 16 Jan 2019 22:02 by Domscillator.
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