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DPX files and FCP


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#1 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 03:32 AM

I am looking for configuration advice on using DPX files with FCP

I am now starting to work with 1080p DPX files

There seem to be 3 options

Use Glue tools quicktime plugin - nice and simple but about $400
Use Combustion - I have version 3(Win) so the upgrade to version 4 (Mac) is only about $300 and I am good on it however I need to transfer the entire file from DPX to something and then cut it unless I use something like automatic duck (another $400)
Use Shake - I have never used this but have spent quite a bit of time time on nodule based VFX systems so should be able to pick it up and it seems tighter integrated to FCP

Glue tools seems the best option but then I lose the advantage of a compositing program and pay $100 more - but the Combustion workflow is then more complex in FCP - same with Shake

Are there any other options I am missing?
What do you think I should do?

thanks

Rolfe
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#2 Dan Goulder

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Posted 23 October 2007 - 05:47 AM

I am looking for configuration advice on using DPX files with FCP

I am now starting to work with 1080p DPX files

There seem to be 3 options

Use Glue tools quicktime plugin - nice and simple but about $400
Use Combustion - I have version 3(Win) so the upgrade to version 4 (Mac) is only about $300 and I am good on it however I need to transfer the entire file from DPX to something and then cut it unless I use something like automatic duck (another $400)
Use Shake - I have never used this but have spent quite a bit of time time on nodule based VFX systems so should be able to pick it up and it seems tighter integrated to FCP

Glue tools seems the best option but then I lose the advantage of a compositing program and pay $100 more - but the Combustion workflow is then more complex in FCP - same with Shake

Are there any other options I am missing?
What do you think I should do?

thanks

Rolfe

You're staking out new turf. If you want to use FCP to do the cutting, I think you'll need to do a DPX-to-Quicktime conversion. You may be able to do that with Combustion by importing DPX and exporting Quicktime. Another, more direct approach could involve using the Aja DPX-to-Quicktime conversion software.

Are you planning on cutting real time 1080p uncompressed 4:4:4 files in FCP? If so, I would assume you'd be using either Aja or Decklink (along with a heavy duty RAID). There are some limitations if you're working in 10-bit uncompressed 4:4:4 color space. FCP has some limitations rendering 10-bit RGB. (You can export cuts only through SDI.)

As things are still evolving, if you talk to 5 different post houses, you'll get 5 different speculative answers on what you can and cannot do when it comes to rendering 10-bit RGB in FCP. It's important that you're able to fully and accurately monitor your files, so that you're not inadvertently truncating to 8-bit, or doing any other unintended alteration to the gamma (which can happen if you're using Shake).

Then there's the Kona 3 approach based on DPX masters converted to Quicktime proxies...
Or... staying in DPX on a PC using Bluefish hardware with Premiere Pro as the front end...

(Maybe Glue Tools adds other options I didn't cover.)

Anyway, if you get to the bottom of this and find a viable, workable solution, PLEASE share it with us.
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#3 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 12:29 PM

This is turning into a major headache and I can see why post houses charge so much for this now.
  • So I went and bought Gluetools - but it didn't work with my version of FCP. ($400)
  • So I had to buy FCP 6 (Final Cut Studio 2) ($400)
  • Now I can get the footage into FCP but the EDLs do not seem to work since DPX or FCP or Gluetools seem unable to handle reverse speeds in EDL CMX cuts.
  • Using a 4 yr old Imac is not helping. Which means I might need a new Mac - might have to wait till the new Pro Macs come out next month. ($X!!)
The other big thing is the way DPX handles timecode - it is metadata that is carried in every file. So if you open and recut and resave in DPX it remembers the original DPX timecode and screws up the EDL imports. I am used to working with Cineon high rez files but on a company ProMac that is maxed out with RAID.

The current option I am thinking about going with is to
  • Convert the DPX 1080P to Apple Prores HQ 1080P (14hr render!)
  • Then cut and down convert in FCP
I would prefer to cut the DPX in FCP ( and would if I didn't have 437 cuts) then export the EDL. Then open Color and bring in the DPX files and use the EDL with the DPX timecodes to do a final color conform.

My questions
  • Does anyone know about using EDLs with DPX?
  • Is there a tool to slide an EDL (my TC is roughly 2 sec out) and resetting the EDL or source footage is useless since the DPX metadata overrides the FCP timecode?
  • Anyone have a good idea on settings for the DPX and Cineon Dgamma etc for display on an Imac?
  • My DPX framerate is 24fps but my edit was done at 25fps? Is there an easy way to convert the EDL? I have had a quick look at Cinema tools but no luck...
  • Easy and accurate way to create identical proxy DPX file in low res
But getting there slowly...

thanks

Rolfe
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#4 Dan Goulder

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 05:59 PM

The current option I am thinking about going with is to

  • Convert the DPX 1080P to Apple Prores HQ 1080P (14hr render!)
  • Then cut and down convert in FCP
I would prefer to cut the DPX in FCP ( and would if I didn't have 437 cuts) then export the EDL. Then open Color and bring in the DPX files and use the EDL with the DPX timecodes to do a final color conform.

My questions
  • Does anyone know about using EDLs with DPX?
  • Is there a tool to slide an EDL (my TC is roughly 2 sec out) and resetting the EDL or source footage is useless since the DPX metadata overrides the FCP timecode?
  • Anyone have a good idea on settings for the DPX and Cineon Dgamma etc for display on an Imac?
  • My DPX framerate is 24fps but my edit was done at 25fps? Is there an easy way to convert the EDL? I have had a quick look at Cinema tools but no luck...
  • Easy and accurate way to create identical proxy DPX file in low res
But getting there slowly...

thanks

Rolfe

Now that I know what hardware you're using, I'd recommend against working with DPX files altogether. You need far more horsepower, as well as a very expensive, top-of-the-line RAID to deal with DPX. Unless you're up for making a major investment in gear, you'd be far better off having proxy files made into a format such as DVCPro HD. (Apple Prores HQ will also present a problem on your system when it comes to real time playback.) DVCPro HD will give you excellent quality offline quality, closer to online than you may think. This way, you'll be able to get a nice, high resolution look at your footage, while being able to generate a usable EDL for an online house to give you a frame-accurate final edit of your original DPX files.
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#5 Michael Most

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 06:01 PM

This is turning into a major headache and I can see why post houses charge so much for this now.


Well, to some degree you've answered your own questions right there.

You're in way over your head here, and you also don't have equipment that is designed for or capable of doing what you want to do. I really don't know why people think they can do anything with anything. Post houses generally don't do any conforming of DPX sequences on Macintoshes because Apple really only supports Quicktime, and no third party (with the notable exception of Iridas) has written software to get around that in a professional manner while maintaining things like time code headers. Essentially all current DI systems are based on either Windows or Linux, and that's done for a number of good reasons. If you're going to work on a Macintosh, you really ought to forget about working with DPX's. Convert everything to Quicktime files and move on from there. The render time is irrelevant, and quite frankly, the price you have to pay for do-it-yourself work, especially on what is essentially low end desktop equipment. Both AJA and Blackmagic make utilities to do this, and Gluetools is another possibility - although you seem to not really have enough knowledge of how DPX sequences are handled or colorspace to use it effectively. What are you planning to do with whatever you final product is here, anyway? If you're planning to record to film, you need far more knowledge of lookup tables than a simple answer to "what Cineon settings do I use for an IMac" - not to mention proper monitoring in order to see any kind of reasonable facsimile of what your output is going to look like. And if you're planning to just make DVD's or something similar, why are you even messing around with DPX's in the first place?

High end capabilities don't come for free, regardless of what Internet forums might say.
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#6 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 06:38 PM

Thank you both for your replies.

Mike- I agree with almost everything you say. Except I worked for Capital FX - who use Mac for all Warner Bros regionalization SFX for Print Distribution

As you said the workflow I have come up with is based on quicktime and seems best suited to the process.

I didn't really want DPX files at my TK grading but it was the cheapest option since they just output straight from DVS Clipster from my 35mm. Any conversion and I would have to pay VT time at £200 (U$D500 and rising) an hour.

I agree with the linux options except the only caveat being "Color" from FCP and Gluetools 16bit 4:4:4 DPX handling. And I am in the market for a new machine anyway and like the interface of FCP.

I think the best option is get the EDL done before the TK - which I did but insist next time the DVS Clipster does the conform (and not me on my old mac)

FCP Color works with DPX files and supports 3D LUT's. I have Sony CRT Broadcast Pro monitors and Wavescopes but the options within Color are great and if I can get it to work then it might even save me TK time - which is currently my greatest cost when producing - and the only thing that matters is the bottom line (as I am sure you know)

I am now able to shoot a full music video in 35mm for about £1000 - so I am getting there...

I think the way forward is
  • 35mm origination
  • One light - create EDL
  • TK - DPX and Digibeta
  • DPX and DPX (low res) [conform done within DVS Clipster]
  • Color conform with COLOR using low res EDL
  • Overnight (or more) conform in FCP to DPX (1080P), HD ProRes, PAL SD and web based delivery packets
  • DPX to DVD Studio Pro for master duplication
Then I gone from origination to distribution without major cost except in render time [which can be purchased from offshore vendors cheaply nowdays anyway]

Which means we can spend more money on artists, production value and £36 coffees at Club 55 in St Tropez...

But can anyone answer the questions I asked?

thanks

Rolfe
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