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De-interlacing in Apple Final Cut Pro

Oct 5, 2010 12:00 PM, By Jan Ozer


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Though many producers now exclusively shoot in progressive mode, few producers don't have some interlaced footage that they need to work with, whether legacy DV or some HD format shot more recently in interlaced mode. When producing for TV or DVD, interlaced works just fine. But when producing for streaming, or for film-based output, de-interlacing is necessary to convert the interlaced fields into progressive frames.

The problem is, between Apple Final Cut Pro, Compressor, and QuickTime conversion, there are at least five de-interlacing controls and or workflows that you can use to de-interlace your source footage, with potential combinations available. Here's what I'm sure is only a partial list.

When working in a progressive preset, Final Cut Pro de-interlaces the footage automatically, though you can still apply Final Cut Pro's De-interlace filter.

  • When working in a progressive preset, Final Cut Pro de-interlaces the footage automatically, though you can still apply Final Cut Pro's De-interlace filter.
  • When working with an interlaced preset, you can apply Final Cut Pro's De-interlace filter.

  • When working with an interlaced preset, you can apply Final Cut Pro's De-interlace filter.
  • When exporting via the Using QuickTime Conversion option, you can de-interlace in the Export Size Settings dialog (or try, anyway).

  • When exporting via the Using QuickTime Conversion option, you can de-interlace in the Export Size Settings dialog (or try, anyway).
  • When exporting via Compressor, you can de-interlace using Compressor's De-interlacing filter, irrespective of whether you're working in progressive or interlaced sequence setting in Final Cut Pro or whether you've applied the De-interlace filter in Final Cut Pro.

  • When exporting via Compressor, you can de-interlace using Compressor's De-interlacing filter, irrespective of whether you're working in progressive or interlaced sequence setting in Final Cut Pro or whether you've applied the De-interlace filter in Final Cut Pro.
  • When exporting via Compressor, you can choose one of three De-interlace settings in the Frame Controls pane, again, irrespective of whether you're working in progressive or interlaced sequence setting in Final Cut Pro, or whether you've applied the De-interlace filter in Final Cut Pro. You can also apply these settings along with or instead of Compressor's own De-interlacing filter.

  • When exporting via Compressor, you can choose one of three De-interlace settings in the Frame Controls pane, again, irrespective of whether you're working in progressive or interlaced sequence setting in Final Cut Pro, or whether you've applied the De-interlace filter in Final Cut Pro. You can also apply these settings along with or instead of Compressor's own De-interlacing filter.
What's the best approach? Well, it depends. For example, the answer is different if you'll be inserting the interlaced footage into progressive sequence in Final Cut Pro, or an interlaced sequence. It's also different if you're exporting with the Using QuickTime Conversion option rather than working through Compressor. While it's impossible to cover all the permutations, what I'll do this month is cover some of the most common workflow alternatives. In this issue, I'll start with a quick overview of de-interlacing to help you identify and diagnose your problems. Then I'll look at scenarios encountered on the Final Cut Pro side of the equation, and when exporting Using QuickTime Conversion. Next issue I'll look at the Compressor side of things, primarily the quality and performance trade-offs associated with the de-interlacing controls found in Compressor's Frame Controls tab.

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