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Capturing DigiBeta


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#1 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 02:10 PM

Later this week I'm having my first telecine session- most of the better stuff I've shot this past semester. I'll be transferring 16mm to DigiBeta, then capturing from the tape onto a firewire drive so I can work on it at home. Most of the footage will be edited in Avid Xpress Pro HD, and a bit of it is effects work that will be composited in Fusion. At the facility, I've got the option of capturing on an Avid Media Composer or a Fire. Which should I use?

The Avid will give me OMF files, the Fire will give me an SGI image sequence (which I've already learned needs to be put into a QT file before going to my hard drive, otherwise it takes hours to write every single file individually). If I capture on a Fire, everything not going into Fusion will need to be re-encoded to OMF for Avid, which in my experience takes forever. If I capture on an Avid, it's already in OMF, and I'd be a bit concerned about quality during compositing. What does OMF encoding do exactly? I can't find any documentation about it.

I know people here have done this before, so I'd like to hear your recommendations.
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#2 David Cox

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 05:01 PM

When the Avid digitises, the operator can choose the compression applied to the images. Depending on the avid in question, this can be anything from uncompressed to really, really compressed.

Fire is an uncompressed system, but being quite old now and running on Silicon Graphics computers makes it not that friendly to "modern" standard files like quicktime, windows media, MXF etc. This is why they would capture on Fire, render out to SGI files, then encode to uncompressed quicktimes.

So the question to ask is can they provide uncompressed capturing via their avid. If not, you should consider the compromise in quality that will result, especially for your compositing. Either way, I would suggest you get quicktime files from that avid as this will be a more common format on which to base your project. Your avid will take quicktimes, but not many other things reliably take all the data in OMF.

By the way, using a Fire as a file converter is like using a boeing 747 to go to the shops!

You have a third option by the way. Take the digi beta tapes home and hire a little digi beta deck called a J30 by sony, This is a player only that has firewire output. Capture your footage and backup your capture to another drive, then send the deck back. These decks are relatively inexpensive to hire.

David Cox
Baraka Post Production Ltd
www.baraka.co.uk
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#3 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 05:14 PM

When the Avid digitises, the operator can choose the compression applied to the images. Depending on the avid in question, this can be anything from uncompressed to really, really compressed.

Fire is an uncompressed system, but being quite old now and running on Silicon Graphics computers makes it not that friendly to "modern" standard files like quicktime, windows media, MXF etc. This is why they would capture on Fire, render out to SGI files, then encode to uncompressed quicktimes.

So the question to ask is can they provide uncompressed capturing via their avid. If not, you should consider the compromise in quality that will result, especially for your compositing. Either way, I would suggest you get quicktime files from that avid as this will be a more common format on which to base your project. Your avid will take quicktimes, but not many other things reliably take all the data in OMF.

By the way, using a Fire as a file converter is like using a boeing 747 to go to the shops!

David Cox
Baraka Post Production Ltd
www.baraka.co.uk

They can capture 1:1 with their Avids, but I'm not sure that's "uncompressed." It's still in OMF format, and I'm not sure exactly what that does. Avid XPress Pro will import uncompressed Quicktimes, but it still has to convert them to OMF, at least last I checked.

As for using Fire as a file converter, heh, you're right. I think I'd pretty much have to, though. Last week they helped me capture about 5 minutes worth of footage on it, which ended up at ~5600 frames with pulldown removed, adding up to ~5.5GB. I expected it would take 10-20 minutes to put it on my hard drive, but it took more than 2 hours. I'm not doing that again.
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#4 David Cox

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 03:10 AM

They can capture 1:1 with their Avids, but I'm not sure that's "uncompressed." It's still in OMF format, and I'm not sure exactly what that does. Avid XPress Pro will import uncompressed Quicktimes, but it still has to convert them to OMF, at least last I checked.

As for using Fire as a file converter, heh, you're right. I think I'd pretty much have to, though. Last week they helped me capture about 5 minutes worth of footage on it, which ended up at ~5600 frames with pulldown removed, adding up to ~5.5GB. I expected it would take 10-20 minutes to put it on my hard drive, but it took more than 2 hours. I'm not doing that again.


Yes - fire was never known as the fastest beast even when it was new!

Avids 1:1 is generally considered to be uncompressed, so I would suggest that might be the way to go.

David Cox
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Rig Wheels Passport

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Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

Tai Audio

The Slider

Wooden Camera

Visual Products

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

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