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Make Your Video Less Ugly: Deinterlace

August 20th, 2008 by Dean Jansen

If you’re shooting video with a small camera (still digital camera, cell phone, or flip-camera), you can safely ignore this post. However, if you use a camcorder that is primarily designed for video, you should listen up!

What is Interlacing?

Interlacing is a clever hack, developed in the 1930′s, to avoid flicker on television sets. Many modern camcorders still record interlaced video, which is fine for television sets, but is ugly when viewed on a higher resolution monitor. Interlacing looks like a bunch of little sawtooth lines and is most noticeable wherever there’s motion in a video image.

How Can I Thwart this Menace?

You just need to deinterlace your video. You’ll probably want to deinterlace directly from your editing program, but there are also programs that will deinterlace individual video files. Most professional editing programs allow you to deinterlace as you’re exporting and/or compressing. Deinterlace settings are usually labeled as such, but they may also be grouped with “Field Options” and/or “Flicker Removal.” Below are links to specific instructions for the popular video editing suites.

As I understand it, iMovie and Windows Movie Maker sometimes deinterlace automatically, depending on the export settings. These programs aren’t too well documented, so I’m not sure about the details, but according to PapaJohn, “[Windows] Movie Maker ‘preserves the interlacing of DV-AVI files’ as it captures from a digital camcorder to a DV-AVI file, but ‘de-interlaces’ if you capture the same footage into a WMV file.”

Alternatively, one can deinterlace the source digital video (.dv) files, with an external application, before importing them into an editing program. Just make sure you don’t compress/resize the video before you deinterlace it.

Deinterlacing Tutorials/Guidelines (some have rough edges):

Editing Suites:
Final Cut (Mac ~ $$$)
Adobe Premiere (Windows, Mac ~ $$$)
Sony Vegas (Windows ~ $$$)
iMovie (see above ~ free)
Windows Movie Maker (see above ~ free)

Video Processing Application Guides/Tutorials/Manuals:
VirtualDub (Windows ~ free open source)
MPEG Streamclip (Windows, Mac ~ free)
mencoder (Linux ~ free open source)
FFmpeg (Linux ~ free open source)
VLC (Windows, Mac, Linux ~ free open source)

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Note: If you know of better tutorials, or think I’m missing a good application, please leave a comment and I’ll try to add it.

4 Responses to “Make Your Video Less Ugly: Deinterlace”

  1. [...] Evulgo.org: German Language Blog on Miro Make Your Video Less Ugly: Deinterlace [...]

  2. erik says:

    O many people forget to de-interlace. Sometimes I see “professional” commercial on Hulu that are still interlaced!! Yikes!

    Thanks miro for collecting all these great links.

  3. Anisha says:

    Do I need to deinterlace the LCD monitor screen-captured video ? I want to upload screen captured movies to YouTube.For camcorders (and CRT monitors maybe) it is important to deinterlace the video for better quality but is it necessary for a video captured on an LCD monitor? Thanks

  4. DeanJansen says:

    Anisha, if you're just capturing directly from an LCD screen then probably not. However, if the source material you're capturing has interlacing lines then you may want to try de-interlacing from the player (so if you're playing something in VLC that was shot with a camcorder, and it has interlace lines, and capture the screen, you'll still have interlace lines). In other words, what you see on the screen is what you get.

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