File formats on DJI Phantom 3

I bought a drone with the ambition to edit some drone footage with Hitfilm. It's the only video editing tool I've used and it's very rudimentary and not a lot.

the drone can save video in both mov and mp4 but the file size are _very_ different, a factor of 10 doesn't seem off and there is clearly a quality difference and since I bought the phantom 3 with the 4k camera I was that crystal sharpness. I tried ffmpeg to convert mov to mp4 but it came out even worse than saving it directly to mp4.

What can I do keep the quality from the mov files and still edit in hitfilm express 4? What are my options or is my only other option to migrate to another editing tool?

Comments

  • Let's get some information from you.

    Can we get a MediaInfo report from your source file(s) in question. MP4 and MOV.

    Stating you used ffmpeg to convert mov to mp4 is not giving us any information to comment on. Exactly what settings did you use to transcode your file(s).

  • Thanks for replying. When you asked for information I started looking for the info, not satisfied with the limited information given by VLC I eventually brought the clip in to hitfilm and I saw something I missed before. It told me to install quicktime. (I'm a windows/linux user). I did install it and I brought in a clip again and it worked.

    However, what I found out was that express doesn't support 4k. The good news is that it supports my mov files so now I have to look into if I will think it's worth buying pro or look around for other contenders.

    Thanks again for your reply.

  • Oh, and the trial is unlimited except the exporting so that's a generous feature since it's an investment

  • @creepwood You might want to look into the Hitfilm forum transcode thread. If you are interested in 4k is a vitally important. A word of warning. Not many PCs are fully up to the task of editing 4k material.

    https://hitfilm.com/forum/discussion/42349/transcoding-for-better-performance-and-easier-editing

  • edited January 2017

     Thank you for that tip. My computer is running on it's sixth year

  • You can edit the .mov files directly in HitFilm, as long as you have Quicktime installed. And if you don't want to install Quicktime, you can also change the .mov file extension on the videos to .mp4, and then edit them in HitFilm as .mp4 files.

    Also, note that HitFilm 4 only supports resolutions up to 1920x1080, so if you want to retain 4K resolution with your edited files, you will need HitFilm Pro 2017. And if you want to edit 4K, then you will definitely still want to check out the advice in the thread that @NormanPCN linked.

  • For which formats does the .mov -> .mp4 renaming trick work?  I tried it with DNxHR and  ProRes and HF4 couldn't open either.  Is HF 2017 better in this regard?

  • @tack It only works with MOV files containing AVC video. See this thread for details.

    https://hitfilm.com/forum/discussion/40059/timeline-playback-performance-with-mov-dslrs-phones-etc

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  •  @NormanPCN

    I used one of your guides for handbrake to transcode my 4k to 1080p video so that I could edit them in HF4X. I didn't really do a quality check at them time and edited a whole 4min film. When I was finally done I exported it and then uploaded it to YT. All in all a totalt of 3 coding which devastated some scenes where the shade and color is almost uniform in an large area with squares. 

     

    I went back and checked my original footage and the realized that the first transcode is part of the culprit. 

    What could i do? Is there anyway for hitfilm using transcoded files for editing but when the rendering is done it can use the source files instead? Would it be possible to use the 4k files for editing but with a cbr instead of vbr. I'm at loss here

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @creepwood So, if you right-click a media file in the media panel and select "Relink" you can select another file which will replace the original. This is a way to replace your transcoded footage with the original. That said, if your original footage is VFR, then, in Hitfilm 4 Express (or 4 Pro), you'll have some drift. Hitfilm 2017 doesn't have to worry about VFR issues. 

    Now, if you replace your 1080p footage with 4k footage you'll have to go back and scale everything to 50%, but you'll still keep your cuts, effects and grading, so you keep most of your work. 

  • @creepwood Follow Triem23's advice for relinking.

    "When I was finally done I exported it and then uploaded it to YT. All in all a totalt of 3 coding which devastated"

    I have lots of questions here. First Youtube often destroys the quality of footage. Their encoding settings are very low bitrate.

    1. Was the render from Hitfilm that you uploaded to Youtube good? If it is good then you are out of luck with Youtube.

    2. What were the specs and Hitfilm encode settings of that Hitfilm export that was uploaded to Youtube. Bitrate, frame size and frame rate.

    3. About your transcode. What crf and other settings did you use. What are the specs on the source media you transcoded. How did you determine the transcode was part of the cuplrit? Does the transcode show the devastated result?

    I defaulted my transcode spec to a crf of 20. If 20 does not preserve source quality good enough then you maybe you need to use a setting of 17 or better.

    If this is the case I can really guarantee  that Youtube is probably going to trash your footage. I say this because a crf of 20 is sooo far above Youtube quality levels. They are not even in the same solar system. This also depends on the Hitfilm encoding settings for you export to upload to Youtube.

    Commonly your source footage is the highest quality. The export for upload is lower quality than that. To minimize upload time. Then the Youtube result is the lowest quality of the bunch because of the low bitrate and we have no control over the result Youtube/Vimeo gives us. Footage of people standing around talking, aka like most TV and movies scenes can do okay on Youtube/Vimeo bitrates. Dynamic moving footage oftens gets flushed down the toilet.

  • @Triem23 Thank you. I will try this and see if there is a drift (I assume that is that the timing will be off)

     

    @NormanPCN I did some visual inspection of the files to narrow down where the problem was Youtube was the worst and the exported file I made wasn't very good either. I then started exporting with higher and higher bitrate but even at max, 20Mbps it still wasn't good at 1080p 25fps (same fps at original)

    I went back to check my transcoded files and they were better than the end result but still not good enough, still those squarey areas on the uniform colours areas. Eventually I checked my original files and they were good. No square /artifacts/ in uniform areas I think the drone maxes out at 60Mbps recording. Divided by four 15Mbps should be enough?

    When transcoding in handbrake I used a CRF of 17, The details are absolutely fine, nothing to complain about. it's the largest areas with similar colours. Looking at it today side by side it's not super obvious and it might not even be the reason why it gets like that in the end. I made an album with four snapshots of the different results http://imgur.com/a/pVNYW The largest difference is by far the export, either to youtube directly or to a file. 

    I don't have a problem with YT upload times. I have a 100Mbit full duplex fiber in my home and the end file is just 300MB.

    But I've seen stunning youtube videos of aerial drone footage, how come youtube isn't slaughtering their quality?

  • @creepwood "still those squarey areas on the uniform colours areas"

    Maybe the loop deblocking filter has something to do with that. "fast decode" turns the deblock filter off. At high bitrates I've not see a problem with the deblock filter off. What I have seen is of course limited. Here I am talking about the transcode file. You could try not using the fast decode setting in transcode and use the baseline profile and see what results you get in the transcode file to preserve source quality.

    I am not able to see any of the screenshots I think you listed in your post.

    "But I've seen stunning youtube videos of aerial drone footage, how come youtube isn't slaughtering their quality?"

    Their video is not your video. The exact sequence of frames, and exactly what is in those frames, dictates the amount of quality compression you can get from a video stream. If the encoder cannot find enough of the "good" kinds of video compression then to meet a certain bitrate spec then it must resort to the "bad" kinds which really hurts video quality.

  • @NormanPCN "I am not able to see any of the screenshots I think you listed in your post."

    It's weird, I've had that problem before, but I think I opened up to everyone now.

    "Maybe the loop deblocking filter has something to do with that. "fast decode" turns the deblock filter off."

    I don't think I ticked in the Fast Decode checkbox. Looking at my preset it's off. I found the deblock setting and it's set to off, slider is all the way to the left. Can that be one of the problems?

    However. The largest difference is from the export in HF4X and there isn't many settings that I can find that I can change. Bitrate being pretty much the only one. Is it the limit of the free express version?

     

  • @creepwood "I don't think I ticked in the Fast Decode checkbox. Looking at my preset it's off. I found the deblock setting and it's set to off, slider is all the way to the left. Can that be one of the problems?"

    Okay, It does not sound like you were using my suggested transcode settings since the fast decode checkbox is explicitly listed.

    Are using the Advanced tab in Handbrake? If Yes, Don't.

    In Handbrake I see no slider for the deblock filter even on the Advanced tab. It is a drop down selection box.

    What slider is this you are talking about?

    If you are using Handbrake and not using the advanced tab, then are you confusing the preset slider for deblock. If yes, then you do not want that all the way to the left which is Ultrafast. Try to stay at faster or better.

    Can you tell me, precisely, what your transcode settings were in whatever software you are using.

    "I found the deblock setting and it's set to off, slider is all the way to the left. Can that be one of the problems?"

    Maybe. In my previous post, I speculated about that given your reports of what you see. Deblock off is deblock off no matter how it gets turned off.

    I looked at a GoPro video I have with lots of varied Blue Sky across the screen. I don't get a blocky problem even at crf 20. Then again, my video is not your video. The video is using Protune (Log curve).

    "Bitrate being pretty much the only one. Is it the limit of the free express version?"

    No. 20Mbps is the limit of the level you have selected. If you raise the level you can enter higher bitrates. Each level has limits of bitrate, frame size and frame rate. Higher levels support higher settings. When you raise the average bitrate keep the max bitrate at least 30% higher than the average bitrate.

    Given that Youtube uses <= 5Mbps for 1080p24..30 video I'm not sure how much help you are ultimately going to get. A higher bitrate might help your export file. As for Youtube, you get what you get but it doesn't hurt to try.

     

     

  • @NormanPCN

    "Can you tell me, precisely, what your transcode settings were in whatever software you are using."

    Here are the settings I was using. I've must've missed the fast decode check. 

    http://i.imgur.com/6hSbyWs.png

    http://i.imgur.com/7OEQtS7.png

    http://i.imgur.com/iXPORzD.png

    "What slider is this you are talking about?"

    The slider on the filter tab. There's a slider called Deblock, I'm not using the advanced tab

    "I looked at a GoPro video I have with lots of varied Blue Sky across the screen. I don't get a blocky problem even at crf 20."

    There is barely and blocks (and they're really tiny compared to the exported film. You can clearly see the differences in the album I linked) in the transcoded video, it's after exporting it turns a turn for the worse. 

    It's practically only that one clip with the green ocean, everything else looks decent /enough/. 

    Since the exported file is already messed up in this scene, it's not going to get any better in youtube. So this is where my focus is at the moment. That hitfilm can't export my file adequately

  • @creepwood The filters tab in Handbrake is pre-processing of the video before encoding. Video cleanup (denoise, deblock), Deinterlace and the related detelecine.

    So if you did not check the fast decode option then my speculation about the loop deblock filter is moot.

    I can see your screenshots. I had to click the imgur name and not the "squares" for the individual shots. Definitely blocking going on. I assume the drone is moving. The water surface is certainly moving and drone movement adds to that.

    The transcode seems fine. The Hitfilm (aka Mainconcept) export is certainly subpar. Bitrate usually cures all video ills. The Mainconcept encoder may be having problems with that specific material/motion. The x264 encoder that the likes of Youtube/Handbrake use will/should do a better job with rate control. You can only try a higher bitrate from Hitfilm and see what Youtube does with it.

  • @NormanPCN

    "Definitely blocking going on. I assume the drone is moving."

    Actually. In this shot, the drone is completely stationary just filming down as the bananaboat passes through in the upper part of the screen

    I uploaded the clip to youtube so that people with the link can watch https://youtu.be/0rZpZdAVW-c?t=9 This is what it looks like (for some weird reason if I let youtube automatically  choose 1080p the quality gets degraded even more but if I choose 1080p manuallya the quality goes up a little bit (most easy notably on the text in the initial scene)

    "The Hitfilm (aka Mainconcept) export is certainly subpar. Bitrate usually cures all video ills."

    That's too bad. I'll have to look into other editing software because this isn't up to what I want to do (which is this kind of videos)

  • edited May 2017

    @creepwood So raise the Hitfilm export bitrate and see what you get. As I said, bitrate cures most video ills.

    Gotta tell you, most NLE software is using the Mainconcept AVC encoder just like Hitfilm. Don't assume others will be much different.

    Most software does not give you the myriad of encoding options the encoder has available so there are some editorial decisions each app makes for those encoding options (like motion estimation). In Hitfilm we really just have bitrate options. Vegas give a reference frame count option and two pass. Two pass can really help Mainconcept but that doubles encode time.

     

  • edited May 2017

    @NormanPCN ;

    I'm very grateful that you've taken you time to explain and try to fix my issues.

    "So raise the Hitfilm export bitrate and see what you get. As I said, bitrate cures most video ills."

    I've tried raiding it both to CBR 25Mbps and VBR 20Mbps and the blocky patches are still present. 

    "Two pass can really help Mainconcept but that doubles encode time. "

    Time is not really an issue for me. A 24h rendition would be ok as long as the result is what I want

    By and large in the end. If hitfilm won't be able to export my videos without the blocky patches there isn't much to do than to move forward and look for another software that will

     

    Edit: I had Davinci Resolve 12.5 installed on my computer. I used the same transcoded file I used in HF4X and exported it to QT H.264 (no setting for bits per second). No blocky patches. However, if I use the youtube preset in DR12.5 there's blocky patches in that scene. 

    Not sure of DR12.5 is right for me, it was just a benchmark.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Set your export profile to main, set your level to 5.1, use VBR and try a target of 35 and a max of 53 (BTW, with VBR the max should be about 150% of the target), and see if that helps. (Answer--it will make a huge difference in your render to your computer, and no so much after YouTube destroys your footage) You can even try a target of 60 and a max of 90 (At which point you're more-or-less at a higher bitrate than your source footage).

    To be honest, I'm with Norman in this one. Bitrate usually cures all ills. As far as other "stunning" drone footage--I'll bet if you linked to some of that and I looked at it I'd start pointing out the blocking and artifacts. I've noticed a tendency of many a Hitfilm user to be overlooking how utterly terrible YouTube compression really is, until it's their own video.

    Here's a little something I've pointed out to others before--here's a full-screen shot of some of what YouTube did to the trailer of Rogue One.

    https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2051/32643441942_18563a132b_o.png

    The top two images are Kemmler's shuttle flying in. If you look at the top right image, you'll see that the YouTube compression is so extreme it's actually deleted the tail of the shuttle (for only one frame) entirely! Look at that sky and those planetary rings. Macroblocking, banding and artifacting are all over that image

    The bottom image is the Death Star, seen through a planetary atmosphere. Again, notice the vast amounts of blocking, banding and artifacts. Go ahead and zoom in on this image to 100% and really look at it! These are 100% crops of a full-screen image capture made at 1080p and re-saved as a PNG. There is no quality loss from anything I did--that's all YouTube compression.

    Now, obviously the techies at Lucasfilm and Disney know how to make a good image--if a major Hollywood studio can't get a good looking image on YouTube, the rest of us have no chance.

    Finally, the footage from a DJI Phantom 3 4K isn't wonderful to start with. The bitrate of 4K footage from that drone is about 60Mbps. This is fairly low. By comparison, the bitrate of 1080p footage from my Canon DSLR is 35 Mbps. 4K is 4 times the pixel resolution, so for equal quality the DJI would be expected to be shooting at 150Mbps. The bitrate of footage from my smartphone is 18Mbps at 1080p. The equivalent bitrate for 4k would be 72Mbps. Your drone is shooting smartphone-quality footage. These days 100Mbps is considered the minimum bitrate for ADEQUATE 4k footage (Yet, the broadcast cameras I've used at the TV stations I've worked for shot 100 or 200 Mbps for lowly 1080p).

    I'm not alone in thinking the footage quality of the DJI Phantom 3 4K is lacking. A petition to DJI to raise the recording rate of the Phantom 3 4K to 100Mbps had no effect.

    https://forum.dji.com/thread-34130-1-1.html

  • DJI never, ever, ever listen to their customers complaints or requests.

    They remove features that people use and want and replace them with inferior alternatives. They introduce bugs in forced updates, then prevent you being able to roll back to a unbugged version. They then take weeks, if not months, to release another update with the bugs they previously added removed - maybe -  but with a whole slew of new ones.

    The most important rule is: never, ever, ever do the final update before a new model is released. That will either introduce more bugs, cripple existing features, replace them with worse ones, place caps on performance or features, or all of the above, and they will never release another update for it again.

    DJI have done this with every single one of their products for the last 5 years. They are the only company that actively trolls their customers and seems to get away with it. Their CS forum staff are the worst you'll find anywhere. Their attitude to complaints (and the apparent company line) is "If you don't like it, buy something else that's better. Oh you can't, so shut your face.".

  • @creepwood "I've tried raiding it both to CBR 25Mbps and VBR 20Mbps and the blocky patches are still present. "

    I am with @Triem23 on this one. Try a higher bitrate from Hitfilm. It was some number of posts ago I pointed out how you can do this. Don't bother with CBR. Always use VBR with the max bitrate at least what I mentioned.

    Every encoder has strengths and weaknesses in rate control. Maybe that one overhead scene with the rippling water highlights a weakness of Mainconcept and it needs more bitrate. Maybe, maybe not.

    All encoders are always looking for an advantage to save bits when that can to use in high detail areas. That rippling water has small movement but with gradual color variation.  Mainconcept may be too aggressive in trying to save bits there.

    Adding bitrate cures nearly all ills of encoding. Experience lets you know what you need to do for the material you typically use to get your result. There is no optimal one size fits all.

    I had installed Resolve 14 with all the hubbub on the web about it. I took a closer look at its guts. I think its encoder could be weaker than Mainconcept that Hitfilm and other major players use. I think Resolve is using OpenH264.

    It is not a major concern if an NLE AVC encoder is "weak". Most everyone is uploading to Youtube/Vimeo. They transcode everything you upload. A weak NLE encoder just needs more bitrate to get good quality, relative to x264. That just makes the file bigger and the upload time longer.

    If one wants to generate the smallest, best quality result/playback file for your own distribution and/or playback then no NLE has the encoder you want to use. Which is x264. 

    The normal path for this is to render a high quality intermediate from the NLE and then encode to final external to the NLE. Unfortunately, Express 4 does not have the best options for intermediate. Uncompressed AVI is about it. Hopefully Express 2017 will get Cineform output and that path then becomes optimal.  Apps like Vegas and Premiere can frameserve to get direct access to that encoder which is a plus for them.

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