Shimmer Effects with Still Images

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the January, 2009, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


Jeff Lyness writes:

I really appreciate your books, videos, and newsletters. I’m an amateur editor, having moved up to Final Cut Express this past year in order to pull together a video tribute to our son on the occasion of his high school graduation.


I have been disappointed, though, that FCE seems little better than iMovie when it comes to shimmering photos. My videos include sequences of photos that I have imported as TIFFs, and done (nice and slow) pans and zooms using the FCE motion controls. But horizontal lines and some other textures shimmer terribly. Using the Deflicker filter helps, but softens the images too much. I should mention that the movies I use are in DV format, as I also include footage from a consumer Canon camcorder recording standard definition video on DV tapes. Is there something I’m missing, or any good workaround for this? I wonder if this is related to the interlaced video format, but deinterlace filter also softens things too much (and doesn’t actually help the shimmering as much as the deflicker filter).

Larry replies: Jeff, there’s not an easy answer to your question. The problem is that still photos are shot at a MUCH higher resolution than video will support. What you are seeing are the artifacts of displaying an image filled with tiny details that don’t survive the trip to video.

The moiré that you are seeing is caused by two things: the extremely low resolution of the video image and interlacing.

Things that will help are to avoid photos with fine detail and applying a Gaussian Blur filter and set the radius to 0.5. This is an issue that we have been living with since the 1950’s. magnifying images also helps.

Jeff then wrote back:

Does it help to convert the image to a lower resolution, matching or nearer the video resolution? Might that allow preservation of detail while reducing shimmer?

Larry replies: Yes, absolutely, And here’s an article that will help explain this.

UPDATE – Jan. 7, 2009

Monte Koshel, from Studio 1, adds:

In response to Jeff’s problem with SHIMMERING IMAGES. We needed to put together a montage of high quality photos and had the same problem. I found the Flicker Filter to be most helpful. (Video Filters > Video > Flicker Filter)

Larry replies: Monte, thanks for the update.

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