Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting Great HD Video from Inferior Source Material



Are you working with a sequence containing a mixture of HD and SD elements and frame rates? Need to deliver in HD 1080i or 1080p24? Perhaps ZAP can help!

We have been testing a powerful image processing system called Dark Energy developed by Cinnafilm of Albuquerque. The system uses sophisticated motion analysis and is great at re-scaling from SD to HD, and is also effective at de-interlacing, restoring original film pull-down, converting between frame rates and speed changes. The spatial module has excellent noise, film grain and scratch removal and texture control. At ZAP, we are exploring whether there is a market for this high-end “better mouse-trap” in the Bay Area.

  • ITEM: We fixed 12 shots in a feature length documentary film recently released theatrically. The film was edited at HD 24P, but had many inserts shot in HDV at 60i with a frame size of 720x540. These shots had been previously converted to 24P HD using an expensive real-time hardware solution. The original conversions were juddery, and degraded the overall look of the film.

  • ITEM: A documentary feature had digitally acquired shots of the sky (in HD) with noticeable banding caused by the small gradient of brightness from the darkest to lightest part of the otherwise flat field. We fixed the problem using Dark Energy’s texture components.
  • ITEM: A documentary film was shot with the Panasonic DVX-100a in 4x3, protected for 16x9. The finished film must be delivered 16x9 HD. Dark Energy allowed us to re-scale the footage blowing it up to 16x9 1920x1080 with greater sharpness and a more natural look than other scalers we tried.
  • ITEM: A clip of analog 1980s home video needed to be blown up to HD, cropped to 16x9, de-interlaced and slowed down to 30% of its original speed. The Dark Energy conversion was a vast improvement over what was done in the client’s editing system.

UP-REZ CLIP TESTS: ZAP can convert your source material to any HD resolution and frame rate. We can provide you with conversions at no charge up to 15 seconds duration for you to compare to the original footage in your sequence. Or we can show you A/B comparisons between your original and converted footage on our HD displays.

You can see an on-line demo here:

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