Contact Home
Precomposed Blog RSS Feed
Latest Updates & Information

HD to SD: Final Cut Pro

Posted by Jon Geddes
8:26 am on September 30th, 2009

Many of you have read our article on achieving professional quality downconversion results and probably noticed it was intended for PC users. What about all of you using a Mac and Final Cut Pro? As the article mentioned, I am still looking for a method that even comes close to the results of using AVISynth.

Apparently the latest version of Apple Compressor (3.5) is producing even worse downconversion results than the previous version (3.05). However, after comparing both versions, even with the best quality resize settings applied under the frame controls, the results are still extremely poor compared to using AVISynth and the hd2sd script. I don’t have images to post this time, but the results are almost identical to that of the poor quality Adobe Premiere image (the first one without the MRQ) in the article.

Some people have recommended using MPEG Streamclip as it produces better results, however it is nowhere near as good as AVISynth. Also, another option is to create an SD Sequence (Pro Res or uncompressed), then drag in your HD sequence to the SD one, apply a little sharpening, and export a reference file for compressor. The results are a little better, but still lacking (clearly noticeable on titles). There just doesn’t seem to be a good option on the Mac.

I do have one solution for Final Cut Pro users, but it involves using a PC as well (might also work in Parallels or Boot Camp):

Export a contained HD Pro Res 422 quicktime movie out of Final Cut, load it onto a windows system, and use the method mentioned in our article starting with the “Downscaling and Processing”. Your Pro Res file will be loaded by the script without issues. Just make sure you have the Apple Pro Res decoder installed for the PC and the latest version of Quicktime. You will be left amazed at the results, yet upset over the fact that apple failed at providing a decent way to downconvert HD footage to SD. It’s unfortunate that you have to go through all this to get good quality results… maybe someday Apple, Adobe, and the other NLE programmers will get their act together. If open source and free applications can produce near studio quality results, and the best settings from an expensive NLE application produce garbage… something is definitely wrong.

If any new methods surface, I will be sure to inform everyone here on our blog.

Our previous article can be read here:

16 Responses to “HD to SD: Final Cut Pro”

  1. Eddie says:

    I have been struggling to achive good quality down conversion. Well I have solved and the footage looks great. Get cineform neoHD and export your footage as an AVI or MOV file and load it into cineform and convert it to a cineform and avi or mov. After its converted bring it into your editing system and encode it… thats it!!! I hope this helps because I had problems with the method posted on here.. I found it to confusing… but this solved and it was fast and the footage is amazing.

    Eddie k

  2. Mark says:

    I tried all the tricks with HDV between FCP, Compressor, SD renders ProRes capture/export. It’s a real hassle for me restarting in BootCamp but wow – HDV material now produces detailed a DVD. For the record my Compressor v3.5 encodes now exceed the quality using the same footage captured to DV on a CF and encoded using an older ver of CCE SP.

  3. Mark says:

    FYI have tested all the pc conversion tools in the original article under under Bootcamp running on VMware Fusion 3.0 – work fine.

  4. Jon Geddes says:

    Thank you for letting us know it works under bootcamp.

  5. Mark says:

    Having explored Apple’s Compressor as a result of forum discussion I would just say that Compressor can indeed rescale very well if frame controls is selected – however it is at the cost of a huge time penalty, we’re talking perhaps 1hr render per 1min of source.

  6. J Bren says:

    Hi Mark,

    Would it be possible to provide a detailed list of your Compressor settings for all the tabs in the Inspector?

  7. Minh T says:

    Hello Jon and everyone.

    Thank you so much for this write up. It an awsome article. I had playing with these for the pass 2days with only 4 hours of sleep.

    I got most of it working and ran into problem. I hope someone could help me.

    I watch Bullen tutorial and got it start fast.

    I used FCP3 export the timeline to qicktime movie with the ProRes LT which is the same as my timeline.

    I got one export that is about 5min long(3.66GB) just to test. And one with a full Dance recital 1h10min(53.1BG).

    Load everything with avisynth and virtualdub work fine with the 5 min but not the 1h10min. I tried to playback the file using the latest QT 7.6 Pro but QT cant’ even play the file i got and error 2048 it not the right format.

    I got Bootcamp with windows 7 64bit.

    On my Snow Leopard with FCP3 installed it play fine but not on windows.

    and since QT cant’t playback avisynth and virtualdub wont even read it. whith DirectShow is the decoder for Virtualdub to make it happen.

    I been researching and to my consideration it think it came to file size problem but i can’t find anyway to fix it. Please some one got these problem and got it fix please help me out or know where to get this fix thank you.

  8. Alex F says:

    Hi Jon,

    I work on a mac and also have a PC. So I was thrilled to find out about the Avisynth HDtoSD through your website. The general image quality is so much better then anything else I have ran into on the mac.
    Still I have one big problem which stops me from being able to use the trick:

    I have a HD Pro Res 422 quicktime movie and went through the exact workflow you describe.
    When I open the .avs file with Virtualdub the input window shows me my movie exactly the way I am used to it. The output preview though shows me a much more contrasty and darker version of my video. I tried for hours now trying to alter the code of the HdtoSd, tried using different codecs – nothing seems to work.

    The line I use is: hd2sd(“my”, interlaced=false, OutputFieldRate=24)

    My next step would be to go back to HD to SD conversion with Compressor which would be such a bummer after all the tests I made and knowing that the image quality is so much better using the Avisynth method. If you or anybody else could help me this would be fabulous!
    Thanks in advance

  9. Alex F says:

    sorry, I forgot to mention that my workflow after VirtualDub is Procoder 3 for the mpeg encoding and than back to the mac. If I watch the final mpeg2 on my mac the film is as contrasty and dark as on the Virtualdub output preview.

  10. Minh T says:

    Alex F try this it work for me. It still having problem with NTFS filesie which i can not use .MOV HD for to do HDtoSD so i use the MPEG2 from Compressor this is my work flow.

    1. Finish Editing in Final Cut

    2. Send to Compressor to make an AC3 Audio file and MPEG2 Stream for Blu-ray. This will create an AC3 and .m2v file

    3. Use DGindex to index to a .d2v file

    4. write a script for AVS to include the .d2v as MPEG2Source video and command for hd2sd save the AVS file

    5. Use VituralDub to create an AVI file. Dont forget to use “fast recompress” and Compression configurate the Lagarith lossless codec

    6. Use HC Encoder to encode the video. Write a script for AVS to include the .avi for Encoder to .m2v DVD file for use with Encore or DVDStudio Pro.

    7. Use the AC3 audio that created with the Blu-ray for audio in DVD authoring Software.

    That work for me

  11. Jon Geddes says:


    That is very strange. I have never heard of that problem before. We use this HD to SD process on a daily basis with our authoring services workflow, using Pro Res files all the time, and have never encountered this problem.

    I wonder if you have everything installed correctly for AVISynth and HDtoSD.

  12. Minh T says:

    Jon How do you use the ProRes file as i ran into the problem that i state above. Am I missing something

    “””Load everything with avisynth and virtualdub work fine with the 5 min but not the 1h10min. I tried to playback the file using the latest QT 7.6 Pro but QT cant’ even play the file i got and error 2048 it not the right format.””””

  13. Michiel says:

    Any luck for Final Cut Express users? Or do I have to upgrade to FCP?

  14. Jon Geddes says:

    If you do not have the option of exporting in Pro Res on the Mac, you can always use a different codec that is accepted on the PC such as Quicktime PNG.

  15. Jon Geddes says:

    Minh T-

    Did you export in the exact same Pro Res codec? Have you tried Pro Res LT?

  16. Minh T says:

    Hey John Thank you for reply. I tried all after export the file play fine on the mac but when i move to pc it wont play. I notice that if the file biger than 4gb it wont play on pc but it did fine with mac. I have to do a work around by making it MPeg2 like i state it above.

Leave a Reply


This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.