How can I improve export quality? My exports get this "fuzzy" look

AmIJorge
AmIJorge Posts: 2 Just Starting Out*

I use HitFilm Express to edit videos of a game I play, and when I export the video it reduces the quality. The first attached image is from a video before going through Hitfilm, and the second is after. If you look at the background, after going through HitFilm it is much less clear and looks sort of fuzzy. How can I fix this? Do I need to increase the export bitrate, and if so, how do I do that? I'm not super smart with this type of thing, and I don't know what to do. I am using the YouTube 1080p HD exporting preset.

Before export:

After export:

I tried using the "uncompressed AVI with alpha" preset, and then the quality was good but the file size was around 60GB for a 1-ish minute video, which is just way too much space.

Any help would be appreciated.

Answers

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,385 Expert
    edited September 2022

    How can I fix this? Do I need to increase the export bitrate, and if so, how do I do that? I'm not super smart with this type of thing, and I don't know what to do. I am using the YouTube 1080p HD exporting preset.

    Yes, increasing the bitrate will increase the export quality in Hitfilm "MP4" exports. You failed to mention what version of Hitfilm you are using. Hitfilm Express (>=) 2021.2 and Hitfilm Free 2022.1 are using the operating system encoders for AVC. This is the video type used in Hitfilm "MP4" exports. The operating system encoders are not as good as those used by Hitfilm Pro. But increased bitrate will solve quality issues.

    Create a new export preset. Go to the export panel, select the preset tab. You can right click the Youtube 1080 preset and select 'edit preset...' there. You cannot edit built-in presets but Hitfilm will copy the preset settings and let you save a new preset with those settings. You can make this new preset the default preset if you want to. Give the preset a name you want and change the bitrate settings. Raise the average and max bitrate settings. Try a little at a time until you find the minimum that works for you and your video content.

    The exact video content affect encode quality immensely. Some things just need more bitrate than others. This is true for all AVC video encoders. Operating system or other.



  • pedestrian
    pedestrian Posts: 9 Just Starting Out*
    @NormanPCN I tried increasing the bitrate with several different settings and it didn't really improve much. Also tried some other presets an lower resolutions, doesn't help... Strange, because I saved the same video before and it was much less of an issue, but still slightly. Now I edited some more and I have this problem.
  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,385 Expert
    edited September 2022

    @pedestrian This may be a bit harsh but if you want help you need to provide real information. Beyond I tried some things, who know what things, and it/they did not help. How is a anyone supposed to comment on that?

    ---

    What are your project specs. 1080 30fps or 1080 60fps, or ? 60fps wants bitrate than 30fps.

    You say Hitfilm Express. What version of Hitfilm Express. 2021.3, 2021.2, ?

    I know you originally tried the Youtube 1080 preset.

    I know you tried AVI uncompressed. Of course uncompressed is massive. It is uncompressed. a 1920x1080 frame at 8-bit is a little over 6 MB per frame. At 30fps that is over 186 MB per second. A 20 Mbps (mega bits per second) compressed AVC file is only around 2.5 MB per second. That is around a 75x compression ratio.

    --

    I tried increasing the bitrate with several different settings and it didn't really improve much. 

    What exact values did you try? Exactly how did you create/edit your test preset? Did you make sure to use that preset on export (change from default). I need to know you did things right, before moving forward.

    Also tried some other presets an lower resolutions, doesn't help...

    What does that mean? What exactly did you try?

    --

    I have noticed that the Windows AVC encoder, the one Hitfilm Free and Express (>= 2021.2) uses, seems to have problem with motion in low contrast red'ish areas. This thread may be a bit much but the last post I have some discussion showing an example of such. In my case it took about twice the bitrate or the default Youtube 1080 preset to clean things up in those regions.

    So when you say you tried increasing the bitrate. I am wondering did you try doubling it (double avg, max ~ 1.5x avg).

    This thread may be a bit much but the last posting, posted this weekend, I show some examples I have seen of blurry/blocky artifacts in the Windows AVC encoder.


  • pedestrian
    pedestrian Posts: 9 Just Starting Out*

    @NormanPCN

    What are your project specs. 1080 30fps or 1080 60fps, or ? 60fps wants bitrate than 30fps.

    You say Hitfilm Express. What version of Hitfilm Express. 2021.3, 2021.2, ?

    Project settings:

    Template: 4K UHD @ 29.97 fps

    Width: 3840p

    Height: 2160p

    I think part of the problem might be that in my project I use video material of greatly varying quality? Apparently the stuff from my mirrorless cam is shot in 4K and the other one just has much lower resolution.

    Should I change the template to a lower resolution, like 1080 UHD?

    I use Version 2021.3


    What exact values did you try? Exactly how did you create/edit your test preset? Did you make sure to use that preset on export (change from default). I need to know you did things right, before moving forward.

    Tbh I had no idea what I'm doing, so I just increased the bitrate incrementally, starting with target/maxbitrate 100-140 Mbps on the YT 2160 preset. I don't remember the exact other values I tried, because I overwrote the preset I created, but I just kept increasing the bitrate. The last one I tried was 0.192 target bitrate and 300.000 Mbps max. On the 1080 YT I did 0.192 Mbps - 144.100 Mbps.

    Yes, I used those presets to export the file.


    What does that mean? What exactly did you try?

    I tried the YT 1080p, 2160p, Facebook 720p default presets and then changed the bitrate on the 1080p an 2160p. The "fuzziness" in the image quality stayed pretty much the same.


    So when you say you tried increasing the bitrate. I am wondering did you try doubling it (double avg, max ~ 1.5x avg).


    So double both the target and max bitrate? Don't think I have tried that. Will try and check.

    Thank you.

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,385 Expert

    You are really all over the map here. You have a UHD project but initially all you talked about was a 1080 export (Youtube 1080 preset). The Hitfilm Youtube presets resize the frame to the stated dimension. Is that what you wanted? If so then why the 4K project if you are looking for a 1080 result. Trying the Facebook 720 export preset will resize to 1280x720. That the fuzziness was similar is expected. All those presets are target roughly the same bitrate (relative the the frame size of the preset).

    The last one I tried was 0.192 target bitrate and 300.000 Mbps max.

    Okay that is just seriously wrong. You are targeting the lowest possible bitrate, 0.192. How is less bitrate going to help. Your first post questioned if you needed to increase the bitrate, I replied yes.

    ...but I just kept increasing the bitrate. 

    I question what you were increasing.

  • AmIJorge
    AmIJorge Posts: 2 Just Starting Out*
    @NormanPCN

    I don't think you realized that you are currently speaking to someone else, not the person who originally posted this question (me). I increased the bitrate and found that the quality increased quite a bit. It capped at around target bitrate 80 Mbps and max bitrate 90Mbps (at least that's what I found), and the quality was good enough for my purposes. Just wanted to clear this up, because I think the fact that someone else joined the conversation was confusing you. It was me that was using the Youtube 1080 preset, not @pedestrian.
  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,385 Expert
    edited September 2022

    @AmIJorge You're right. My apologies. Man, I hate when people jump into other peoples thread.

    Glad you got things cleared up for yourself. That is a pretty high bitrate for 1080 material but whatever works and you are happy with.

    @pedestrian You stepped all over someone else's thread, and with no information about this is something different and new. Not cool. My bad for reading your initial jump in as a response to previous discussion.

  • pedestrian
    pedestrian Posts: 9 Just Starting Out*

    Wasn't aware you can't join in a conversarion if you basically have the same problem...

    The OP seems to have solved his problem anyhow. Should I still make a new thread?

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,385 Expert
    edited September 2022

    @pedestrian

    Wasn't aware you can't join in a conversarion if you basically have the same problem...

    You can do anything you want. Most people that do this and jump into existing threads think they have the same issue. Most all are not knowledgeable and really do not know what the problem actually is. It just seems the same to them.

    You jumped in with the first words as, " I tried increasing the bitrate with several different settings and it didn't really improve much." and no other info. Given I stated in my post to increase the bitrate, it really sounded like me that you were the original poster responding to my post. I was not looking at the user name of each post to separate separate conversations in the same thread. My bad for all that. At least give information more than just something did not work for you. Details, specifics, they matter.

    The OP gave some information in their original post that did add some clarity to their specific situation, and it probably really was an encoder bitrate issue. I have no idea what your exact situation is. Maybe a simple bitrate thing, maybe not. If it is a simple bitate thing, then you already have your answer.

    Sticky community support forum posting. "Support Posting Requirements (Read Before Posting)". Of course, even that sticky is remiss in listing one should state the exact version of the software you are using.

  • pedestrian
    pedestrian Posts: 9 Just Starting Out*

    @NormanPCN I see, my apologies for that.

    Just wanted to update that it indeed seemed to be a bitrate thing. I changed the bitrate to 140-150 with the 1080p YT preset and finally got a satisfying result. When I upload it to YT though, the quality is significantly worse again, even when choosing HD settings.

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,385 Expert
    edited September 2022

    @pedestrian Youtube re-encodes everything you upload to their own spec(s). All of which is very low bitrate. The encoder they use is a lot better than the Windows AVC encoder, and a bit better than the AVC Encoder used in paid Hitfilm licenses (e.g. Hitfilm Pro), but that encoder only helps them some. The only thing you control is the quality of your export from Hitfilm.

    140Mbps for 1080 video. That is awfully, awfully high.

  • pedestrian
    pedestrian Posts: 9 Just Starting Out*
    edited September 2022

    @NormanPCN

    So I can't do anything about Youtube messing up the quality?

    140Mbps for 1080 video. That is awfully, awfully high

    I tried incrementally increasing it in steps of 10 Mbps and that's the only rate that has worked.

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,385 Expert

    @pedestrian

    So I can't do anything about Youtube messing up the quality?

    Nope.

    Channels that get a lot of views can by default get better encodes from Youtube. This being that Youtube will default to VP9 encodes for all resolutions uploaded (VP9 is a different video codec from AVC/H.264). The relative bitrates allowed for VP9 seems to give better encodes than basic AVC. No real rule here. Youtube can change at any time and it has been a while since I tested this. For the average joe one can trigger VP9 encodes by uploading 1440 resolution or greater. Even the 1080 view result will be VP9.

    Youtube always creates and saves AVC encodes of everything uploaded, for any channel. This being for backwards compatibility with anything old. So also doing VP9 is an additional cost.

    I tried incrementally increasing it in steps of 10 Mbps and that's the only rate that has worked.

    Generally speaking, when you get compression artifacts in your export, with codecs like AVC/H.264 (Hitfilm 'MP4') you increase your target bitrate by 50% to get a real readily apparent visual quality difference. It depends on the magnitude of the artifact(s). In the link I showed in this thread (above), I showed an example that needed a 100% increase with the Windows 11 AVC encoder than Hitfilm Free uses. I showed the Hitfilm default of 20Mbps, and then a 30Mbps and 40Mbps sample, on a 1080p60 content media. I also showed the Hitfilm Pro AVC encoder (Mainconcept) was fine even at 16Mbps.

    The single biggest thing you can do to improve visual quality on platforms like Youtube is to control your content. Avoid things that are hard to compress, or at least reduce their frequency. For games you cannot control their content but you can and do control your movement and camera movement. Be smooth. Less squirrel on speed. You can also control your edits. Edits with and excess of zoom, pans, fast cuts, and some types of effects can make things harder to compress to low(er) bitrates without losing quality.

  • pedestrian
    pedestrian Posts: 9 Just Starting Out*

    @NormanPCN My project settings template is at 4K, because it contains some 4K footage. I tried changing it to 1080p but it distorts the image/excessively zooms in. Is it necessary to do that, would it compress the whole file and require less bitrate, or does it have the same effect as if I just export it at 1080p?

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,385 Expert

    @pedestrian

     I tried changing it to 1080p but it distorts the image/excessively zooms in.

    UHD on a 1080 timeline. Of course it is zoomed in. UHD/4K is larger than 1080. Hitfilm is giving you an HD crop of the UHD/4K media. If you have have 4K media on an HD timeline you need to scale the media to the timeline resolution. Transform property in the controls panel, or right click clip/layer and select transform, scale to fit.

    As for export at a fixed/changed resolution of HD 1080 it does not matter if the scaling happens at the timeline or at export as far as the export is concerned. This assuming the export preset you are using is actually forcing a scale to HD 1080 from the source timeline resolution. Export presets can conform to the timeline or face a resolution. Editing performance is of course worse, editing a UHD/4K timeline when you are targeting 1080 exports. It makes some sense to edit what you intend to export.

  • pedestrian
    pedestrian Posts: 9 Just Starting Out*

    @NormanPCN I edited the timeline to 1080p and it doesn't seem to change much and requires the same high bitrates. I guess I've tried all I can. But at least the export quality itself is good now.

    Thanks for your answers.