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Why I2 ProRes Video Looks 'Soft'
2050 24 2017-2-7
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Mike-the-cat
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DJI is filled with engineers and their products are well crafted, so why did they 'mess up' with ProRes?

Well, if you look at ProRes footage, it looks softer than the h.264 material.

So what gives?

The resolution of the two videos is NOT different. But the acutance is.
Perceived sharpness is a combination of both resolution and acutance,  it is thus a combination of the captured resolution, which cannot be changed in processing, and of acutance, which can be changed.

Acutance is a measure of how strongly luminance changes across an edge. The greater this is, the 'sharper' the image looks even though the 'resolution' is exactly the same. It gives the impression of edge sharpness.

The application of an unsharp mask increases acutance. The technique is called such because it was created by superposing a less sharp image of the original onto the original in a 'masking' process. See.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsharp_masking

Application of post processing can introduce artifacts - which is why the engineers probably chose to leave the ProRes to a skilled editor to milk what they can out of them.
IMO, P4P None, None is oversharpened and gives the impression its sharper than the X5 but its not, just too much edge enhancement....

It would be good if DJI gave a tutorial on this issue given its access to some of the best brains in the business....

2017-2-7
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I 2 Fly
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Very intereresting stuff....
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Gybo102
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So you say this is a good thing and this was intentional from DJI? If so, why have they never said anything on the other "pro res is soft" threads (there are a couple I think) Is there a way to get clear footage without it being over sharpened so we dont have to add an extra step to all footage?
Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the point of ProRes was great image out of camera, needing minimal correctons? (yes there will be grading and things like that) but it seems DJI dropped the ball on ProRes. DJI acknowledged they messed up applying the lens profile to ProRes footage.. and now we have to do an extra step because the footage is... softer than H264?
Is this something DJI can fix in a firmware or is this how it will be moving forward?
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Mike-the-cat
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Gybo102 Posted at 2017-2-7 05:12
So you say this is a good thing and this was intentional from DJI? If so, why have they never said anything on the other "pro res is soft" threads (there are a couple I think) Is there a way to get clear footage without it being over sharpened so we dont have to add an extra step to all footage?
Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the point of ProRes was great image out of camera, needing minimal correctons? (yes there will be grading and things like that) but it seems DJI dropped the ball on ProRes. DJI acknowledged they messed up applying the lens profile to ProRes footage.. and now we have to do an extra step because the footage is... softer than H264?
Is this something DJI can fix in a firmware or is this how it will be moving forward?

er... the point of my post is that the resolution information is already in the image. I don't think you get this.

How it looks is up to you to tweak. Can you take a step back and listen to this... many people shoot in D-Log or some kind of flat format and then add saturation / color tone in the grade. The current treatment of ProRes is the same as that analogy except it relates to the spatial dimension.

The h.264's pixels  point spread functions are altered in a particular way based on the sharpening algorithm. The current implementation gives more flexibility but I guess only the real pros know that
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Mike-the-cat
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BTW Mr. Gybo, you aren't the only person to think the way you do. One medical imaging manufacturer impressed clients by using the same types of sharpening techniques to increase acutance that you see in the P4P none none images and many customers thought these were better quality images where in fact, they cleverly hid underlying noise. An exasperated physicist of the competing company that frankly had better engineering went with 'true' images that reflected the point spread function as authentically as possible. He tried explaining this to some docs but they weren't persuaded. Ha Ha.

Well, as I said, the real pros know the deal....

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Barry Goyette
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Gybo102 Posted at 2017-2-7 05:12
So you say this is a good thing and this was intentional from DJI? If so, why have they never said anything on the other "pro res is soft" threads (there are a couple I think) Is there a way to get clear footage without it being over sharpened so we dont have to add an extra step to all footage?
Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the point of ProRes was great image out of camera, needing minimal correctons? (yes there will be grading and things like that) but it seems DJI dropped the ball on ProRes. DJI acknowledged they messed up applying the lens profile to ProRes footage.. and now we have to do an extra step because the footage is... softer than H264?
Is this something DJI can fix in a firmware or is this how it will be moving forward?

Gybo, mi Amigo!

Read what Mike said again. Maybe he's just confused you with the talk of acutance. The H264 footage is sharpened...not sharper. It appears sharper, but it is not. The ProRes footage is NOT soft...it's normal...and it doesn't need to be sharpened unless you want it to look sharpened, or if you want it to look like the H264 (which apparently you do :-)

But why does the H264 have sharpening applied in the first place? H264 footage often has sharpening applied in the encoding chain, because often it also has a relatively high level of noise reduction applied.  (Noise reduction helps make compression more efficient, but also destroys detail in the image, thus the need to sharpen to make the footage "look" detailed.

In still cameras it's pretty common to see this same effect with "in-camera jpegs". Relatively high levels of noise reduction and snappier than necessary sharpening.  We all know...or should know...that in camera jpegs are a quick solution for users unexperienced with post production. Professionals and serious amateurs should always use RAW still images versus the in-camera JPEGS to get the most out of their imagery.. In the case of the inspire, this is a professional platform. If you want to think about it in the same way -- H264 is for the user un-interested in post production. It's an output format..designed primarily to just be viewed. ProRes and RAW are for the professional and serious amateur (this is where I think you belong). They are formats designed for post production --they have higher bit depth, higher color resolution and in the case of raw...more detail. Both allow for more intensive handling of the images in post. (hint: when post processing any image..the LAST step...is sharpening...because applying contrast, color and other changes to previously sharpened images only emphasizes the halos and other artifacts that are part of any sharpening scheme, like "unsharp mask".)

Knowing this now...you of course...slap yourself in the forehead and say...Barry...Mike...I get it....I GET IT. I wouldn't want my footage "sharpened" before I worked with it...I might not even want it sharpened at all. That makes so much sense.

Barry

(If your tendency is to say..."but...what about...??" let me disabuse you. I've been doing this for 30 years...nearly 20 of that digitally. I didn't make up the above for you on this day...it's standard knowledge amongst professionals and serious amateurs, and has been for a long time. capisce?

:-)
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Barry Goyette Posted at 2017-2-7 07:26
Gybo, mi Amigo!

Read what Mike said again. Maybe he's just confused you with the talk of acutance. The H264 footage is sharpened...not sharper. It appears sharper, but it is not. The ProRes footage is NOT soft...it's normal...and it doesn't need to be sharpened unless you want it to look sharpened, or if you want it to look like the H264 (which apparently you do :-)

Great information.  Thank you.
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Gybo102
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Barry Goyette Posted at 2017-2-7 07:26
Gybo, mi Amigo!

Read what Mike said again. Maybe he's just confused you with the talk of acutance. The H264 footage is sharpened...not sharper. It appears sharper, but it is not. The ProRes footage is NOT soft...it's normal...and it doesn't need to be sharpened unless you want it to look sharpened, or if you want it to look like the H264 (which apparently you do :-)

Yes, im not a "pro" in the sense of doing this for many years. I learn as I go along. I have not had any schooling in the field as well, self teaching and picking up what I can from areas like this.
That said, I understand that h264 footage is usually sharpened / over-sharpened as a result of being processed in camera. I would not say I want ProRes to look like h264, I am just trying to understand if this is normal for ProRes to look soft this way? Basically, was DJI intentionally making the ProRes image "soft" because unsharp masking is normally part of the workflow with ProRes, OR... is unsharp mask a solution as a fix to the way the footage is... that was the purpose of my post, should have worded it a bit better I guess.
My perception of ProRes was that due to being a Industry standard of a deliverable format, content being "soft" was not the norm. I could not imagine someone giving "soft" ProRes content (or footage from the I2) over to a client and saying, "it just needs to be sharpened" thats where my idea of it being sharper comes from. sorry to be a noob in this area.

Again, im not looking for my ProRes footage to look like H264... I like color correcting and grading (still learning tho) I just feel that there could be a happy middle between what we are getting, not over sharp, and not "soft"

Once I get my SSD, this will be the first time Im working with ProRes out of camera, I have worked with RAW and have somewhat a grasp on that (but there is still so much to learn)
When it comes to stills, I hate JPG. I only shoot RAW. Im trying to learn video as much as I can... but video is a learning curve.

Thanks for all the info fellas!
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I 2 Fly
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Barry Goyette Posted at 2017-2-7 07:26
Gybo, mi Amigo!

Read what Mike said again. Maybe he's just confused you with the talk of acutance. The H264 footage is sharpened...not sharper. It appears sharper, but it is not. The ProRes footage is NOT soft...it's normal...and it doesn't need to be sharpened unless you want it to look sharpened, or if you want it to look like the H264 (which apparently you do :-)

Very well unpacked!  If I may:  I want to shoot ProRes (have SSD / license).  I now get to the point where I import my "ProRes X5S" footage into Premiere Pro CC 2016,  colour correct etc. AND NOW I need to export.  To What codec / extension do I export.  In my case, I'll use H.264 and that leaves me with a MP4 video file (4K) - I do this because the bulk of the clients want a format like MP4 that can directly play on their 4K screens / TVs.  Is this OK or do I destroy all my effort to shoot in ProRes and export to H.264?  (If so, what other option do I have?)  Many thanks and regards.
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I 2 Fly Posted at 2017-2-7 10:41
Very well unpacked!  If I may:  I want to shoot ProRes (have SSD / license).  I now get to the point where I import my "ProRes X5S" footage into Premiere Pro CC 2016,  colour correct etc. AND NOW I need to export.  To What codec / extension do I export.  In my case, I'll use H.264 and that leaves me with a MP4 video file (4K) - I do this because the bulk of the clients want a format like MP4 that can directly play on their 4K screens / TVs.  Is this OK or do I destroy all my effort to shoot in ProRes and export to H.264?  (If so, what other option do I have?)  Many thanks and regards.

H264/H265 are fine codecs for delivery and playback. As long as there will be no further processing of the video images(unless it's only cutting) 8-bit is fine for playback.
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Barry Goyette
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Gybo102 Posted at 2017-2-7 10:02
Yes, im not a "pro" in the sense of doing this for many years. I learn as I go along. I have not had any schooling in the field as well, self teaching and picking up what I can from areas like this.
That said, I understand that h264 footage is usually sharpened / over-sharpened as a result of being processed in camera. I would not say I want ProRes to look like h264, I am just trying to understand if this is normal for ProRes to look soft this way? Basically, was DJI intentionally making the ProRes image "soft" because unsharp masking is normally part of the workflow with ProRes, OR... is unsharp mask a solution as a fix to the way the footage is... that was the purpose of my post, should have worded it a bit better I guess.
My perception of ProRes was that due to being a Industry standard of a deliverable format, content being "soft" was not the norm. I could not imagine someone giving "soft" ProRes content (or footage from the I2) over to a client and saying, "it just needs to be sharpened" thats where my idea of it being sharper comes from. sorry to be a noob in this area.

Your hope for "a happy medium" between the H264 and ProRes sort of indicates that you either don't believe us or you don't quite get what we're saying.

The ProRes footage is not soft. When you compare it to the equivalent H264 footage it has as much or more detail. (the image processing of H264 will tend to sharpen edges and higher contrast elements, but will often smear or blur low contrast detail.) I just checked this on my footage and in fact this is the case with the DJI footage...the proRes actually has more detail than the h264. It couldn't do this and be softer at the same time. Sharpening doesn't add detail..it emphasizes the detail that is there. Because the H264 compression obscures a great deal of low contrast detail, it is not as "sharp" as the ProRes, but because of the higher level of sharpening, it "appears" sharper.

A happy medium would mean applying sharpening to the recorded detail in the ProRes footage, Which as we've discussed, should be applied at the end of post processing based on output resolution, and delivery stream. A happy medium (coming directly from the camera) would mean a certain amount of image destruction and would be the opposite of the correct approach.

How bout we just let this one go, Gybo.

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Mike-the-cat
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Barry Goyette Posted at 2017-2-7 15:43
Your hope for "a happy medium" between the H264 and ProRes sort of indicates that you either don't believe us or you don't quite get what we're saying.

The ProRes footage is not soft. When you compare it to the equivalent H264 footage it has as much or more detail. (the image processing of H264 will tend to sharpen edges and higher contrast elements, but will often smear or blur low contrast detail.) I just checked this on my footage and in fact this is the case with the DJI footage...the proRes actually has more detail than the h264. It couldn't do this and be softer at the same time. Sharpening doesn't add detail..it emphasizes the detail that is there. Because the H264 compression obscures a great deal of low contrast detail, it is not as "sharp" as the ProRes, but because of the higher level of sharpening, it "appears" sharper.

Wow Barry, I sure would love to have you as my lawyer
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DJI-Jamie
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I believe Mike's initial post was not to complain but to explain, more or less, why a codec like ProRes has a 'softness' to it that codecs like H.264 do not have. The only suggestion provided was to have access to more information for the masses to better understand what they are working with.
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Mike-the-cat
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I 2 Fly Posted at 2017-2-7 10:41
Very well unpacked!  If I may:  I want to shoot ProRes (have SSD / license).  I now get to the point where I import my "ProRes X5S" footage into Premiere Pro CC 2016,  colour correct etc. AND NOW I need to export.  To What codec / extension do I export.  In my case, I'll use H.264 and that leaves me with a MP4 video file (4K) - I do this because the bulk of the clients want a format like MP4 that can directly play on their 4K screens / TVs.  Is this OK or do I destroy all my effort to shoot in ProRes and export to H.264?  (If so, what other option do I have?)  Many thanks and regards.

The advantage of an intermediate codec like ProRes or Raw, is that you have 1) flexibility with grading, effects layering and 2) fidelity across multigeneration edits.

Once you have made your choices, bake it in, distribute and enjoy.

Everything you buy on a store and watch on Netflix / HBO etc etc is heavily compressed. So what are you concerned about? Its the content of your productions that matter most, not the equipment you used.

Its quite clear that many customers are happy to part with money to gain bragging rights. Oh joy for DJI! As long as they tolerate being called names, they can laugh their way all the way to the bank!

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Mike-the-cat
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DJI-Jamie Posted at 2017-2-7 22:18
I believe Mike's initial post was not to complain but to explain, more or less, why a codec like ProRes has a 'softness' to it that codecs like H.264 do not have. The only suggestion provided was to have access to more information for the masses to better understand what they are working with.

Thanks Jamie. Don't envy your job but it pays the bills!
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I 2 Fly
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Mike-the-cat Posted at 2017-2-8 01:02
The advantage of an intermediate codec like ProRes or Raw, is that you have 1) flexibility with grading, effects layering and 2) fidelity across multigeneration edits.

Once you have made your choices, bake it in, distribute and enjoy.

You are probably right.  I'm reading between (your) lines that good old H.264 delivered to the "client" will be as good as it gets as the real focus is the story content.  So spare yourself a lot of money and time and shoot in 264 / 265 and do that well.  Is that correct?
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I 2 Fly Posted at 2017-2-8 04:01
  So spare yourself a lot of money and time and shoot in 264 / 265 and do that well.  Is that correct?

No, I disagree. H.264/265, as enabled in the I2, is an 8-bit data package. Even if you manage to shoot everything perfectly, which is impossible, there will be needs in post production that will push that 8-bit into unacceptable territory. If you do anything other than cutting, if you add FX or transitions, all of it will degrade the quality of your data stream if you work in 8-bit. AFAIK, h265/265 is a delivery and playback format. It's no good as either a capture format, nor a DI. Even if you had a 10 bit H265, the processing power needed to playback H265 in an editing environment is problemmatic. There's a good reason DI's, like prores, DNxHD were invented. If, of course, you haven't captured footage with the correct exposure, correcting exposure with 8-bit footage is highly problemmatic.
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Mike-the-cat
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I 2 Fly Posted at 2017-2-8 04:01
You are probably right.  I'm reading between (your) lines that good old H.264 delivered to the "client" will be as good as it gets as the real focus is the story content.  So spare yourself a lot of money and time and shoot in 264 / 265 and do that well.  Is that correct?

If its only cuts editing you are doing, h.264 is fine. As the immediately prior poster states, if you want to add effects and grade etc, then it COULD be an issue.
Look, the whole industry (if you are a pro) is about looking nice and beating up on the next guy who can't match you but in truth, the margins are often fine and you have to figure for yourself what the effort / payback equation is for your needs.

Rest assured, normal human beings who are consumers really CANNOT tell the difference given average viewing tools (increasingly phones, pads an small screens).

I posted a reference to an Inspire 2 review and therein, the reviewers show different shots taken from the same rig but with different codecs, you can see for yourself and decide what works for you.

Be wary of the advice of 'experts', especially those with vested interests.
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Barry Goyette
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I 2 Fly Posted at 2017-2-8 04:01
You are probably right.  I'm reading between (your) lines that good old H.264 delivered to the "client" will be as good as it gets as the real focus is the story content.  So spare yourself a lot of money and time and shoot in 264 / 265 and do that well.  Is that correct?

Mike is right here. Depending on your needs, the H264 might just be the perfect codec. It's compact, generally plays well with just about everything, and compared to earlier 60mb DJI codecs, is worlds away...handles moderate grading just fine. (it's not an editing codec, so you'll want to convert to something like ProRes as part of your editing workflow).  You could argue, that with PR current lack of lens corrections, (this includes barrel distortions but also a fair amount of chromatic aberration and fringing) that the corrected H264 is a better starting point than ProRes when using one of DJI's "look" gammas like D-cinelike.

On the other hand, shooting h264, you really want to avoid D-Log (which in ProRes, seems to give the best color this camera is capable of) as it's really not up to the task. Applying a LUT and modest correction causes the H264 to reveal it's stripes pretty quickly. H264 has lower bit depth, visibly lower color resolution (4:2:0?), higher noise reduction and smearing, and a certain amount of sharpening artifacts, even when sharpening is turned all the way down. These are all things that don't reveal themselves in normal viewing or edit only environments, but things that will start to infringe on quality in a moderate to heavy grade.

So, to reiterate, depending on your needs, h264 might be just right...or not enough.
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Umm...Interesting
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I 2 Fly
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Clear as muddy water...  The solution will be to just buy the ProRes license and 480Gb SSD and become a pro....  Here is so much good advice but sometimes a bit confusing.  I'll go the ProRes route, add some sharpening and see.  (is what I'm already doing with my Sony A7S via the Atomos Shogun 4K ProRes HQ anyway - right?)
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Barry Goyette
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I 2 Fly Posted at 2017-2-8 11:27
Clear as muddy water...  The solution will be to just buy the ProRes license and 480Gb SSD and become a pro....  Here is so much good advice but sometimes a bit confusing.  I'll go the ProRes route, add some sharpening and see.  (is what I'm already doing with my Sony A7S via the Atomos Shogun 4K ProRes HQ anyway - right?)

:-).

Sorry for the overload. I think what Mike was trying to say and I reiterated, was that Raven's exhortations regarding h264 might not true for everyone.

I certainly bought this aircraft based on the fact that it had ProRes built in. RAW workflows are incredibly time and data consuming in  production environments, and H264 isn't the most flexible for post production. For ME, ProRes is an ideal "just right" option (although the current implementation leaves much to be desired -- this hopefully will be fixed in the next FW update). Others may find that H264/265 meets all of their needs.  It is substantially better than previous DJI codecs, and I'm currently using it for most things, until ProRes gets the necessary upgrades.
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"(although the current implementation leaves much to be desired -- this hopefully will be fixed in the next FW update)"

To hear this from the so called "flag ship" is disappointing... and it means I'll have to wait (a number of people who has bought ProRes must be frustrated... - not bloody fair at all then.)
2017-2-9
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Here is another forum post about this.
http://forum.dji.com/thread-83350-1-1.html

Here is also a great video review and he explains how to fix this.
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Perspectrum Posted at 2017-2-9 05:13
Here is another forum post about this.
http://forum.dji.com/thread-83350-1-1.html

Thank you sir!
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