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The ever changing world of Post Production


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#1 Mike Nichols

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 04:41 PM

Here is my dilemma, I have searched older posts, but I feel like their relevancy might be outdated already! I am shooting a feature, about 50,000ft (there will be some HDCAM shot on an F-900). I don't have a distrib deal, so I don't know how I am going to finish. I need a cost effective HD solution!! I have a glorious Mac Pro set up with Raid Arrays and the AJA IO HD. With all that, would it be in my best interest to have my dailies on SR AND data on a hard drive in a compressed HD format (Pro Res/DVCPRO HD etc) This way, I can offline in either pro res or dvcpro hd (the higher quality used to have a leg up during screenings) and then do a tape to tape from the SR when a deal is in place? How well does Pro Res hold up as an intermediate codec? If need be, could I finish with Pro Res and have an acceptable Digital Master? If so, then can I skip transferring to SR all together? (Even typing that sounded like a bad idea...)

I am just trying to minimize costs, and never have to go to SD.

Thanks!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 05:07 PM

But why shoot 35mm then if you're just going to end up with Pro-Res HD quality? Seems rather expensive to shoot if you aren't going to preserve more of the inherent quality that it has. Why not shoot Super-16 or HD?
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#3 Doug Okamoto

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 05:13 PM

How well does Pro Res hold up as an intermediate codec? If need be, could I finish with Pro Res and have an acceptable Digital Master? If so, then can I skip transferring to SR all together? (Even typing that sounded like a bad idea...)

I am just trying to minimize costs, and never have to go to SD.

Thanks!


Well first of all Pro res is only 4:2:2. So David has a good point, why shoot on 35mm and use a codec that is less quality than what you have on film?

You might be minimizing costs on the back end but you've already spent it on the film so why not use that investment rather than lose it?
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 05:15 PM

Not that 35mm isn't a good choice for material to be shown in HD broadcast or Blu-Ray... I was referring more in terms of using 4:2:2 HD as an intermediate step for 35mm material to be shown theatrically.
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#5 Mike Nichols

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 05:50 PM

Not that 35mm isn't a good choice for material to be shown in HD broadcast or Blu-Ray... I was referring more in terms of using 4:2:2 HD as an intermediate step for 35mm material to be shown theatrically.



That was my question. I wasn't planning on using the pro res as an intermediate. I guess my post got a bit convoluted! I was asking if pro res was acceptable as an intermediate codec. Since the answer seems to be a resounding "NO!!" then I think transferring circle takes (or possibly all) best light dailies to HDCAM SR and then importing the selects as pro res for "off line." The catch is, my "offline" will be what I screen for buyers, so I want the best relative quality.

Am I trying to reinvent the wheel? Barking up the wrong (and expensive) tree? Should I just shoot RED????
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 06:02 PM

I've been fairly convinced for a while that this sort of thing could be done fairly effectively if you were cautious, attentive, and had a few tests shot out to film to establish at least a ballpark colour calibration.

In an ideal world you'd have it all transferred uncompressed to hard disks; 50,000 feet is only about 7TB of 10-bit 1080p24 and the disk storage for that is not particularly difficult - probably cheaper than the HDCAM-SR tapestock, in fact. Unfortunately, direct to disk transfers are strangely difficult - I suspect shadowy, behind-the-scenes types are actively trying to prevent this being offered because it opens up a lot of possibilities to people in your position. You could conceivably bounce it from SR to hard disk, at some considerable cost.

Then I'd make all my offline proxies and cut those.

I'd then figure out some sort of solution for creating the online from that stack-o-disks full of your full res material. I've found several ways of doing this in Adobe Premiere, but there's presumably an equivalent process for Final Cut. Then you can grade your full res stuff in Color, or whatever, and stick it back out to another disk or three for the attention of your friendly neighborhood ArriLaser.

This assumes you have enough full HD speed storage to hold at least a reel of your material. You can add that to a Mac Pro for, oh, $2000 or so. If you didn't want to invest in enough HD speed storage to grade, you could probably grade the offline if it was DVCPROHD and find that the same grading decisions would translate reasonably cleanly to your full res material.

I have never done this (I have done bits of it from HD masters). Technically it is more or less sound, notwithstanding color calibration and whatever you're going to do about an audio mix.

Phil
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#7 Mike Nichols

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 06:08 PM

I've been fairly convinced for a while that this sort of thing could be done fairly effectively if you were cautious, attentive, and had a few tests shot out to film to establish at least a ballpark colour calibration.

In an ideal world you'd have it all transferred uncompressed to hard disks; 50,000 feet is only about 7TB of 10-bit 1080p24 and the disk storage for that is not particularly difficult - probably cheaper than the HDCAM-SR tapestock, in fact. Unfortunately, direct to disk transfers are strangely difficult - I suspect shadowy, behind-the-scenes types are actively trying to prevent this being offered because it opens up a lot of possibilities to people in your position. You could conceivably bounce it from SR to hard disk, at some considerable cost.

Then I'd make all my offline proxies and cut those.

I'd then figure out some sort of solution for creating the online from that stack-o-disks full of your full res material. I've found several ways of doing this in Adobe Premiere, but there's presumably an equivalent process for Final Cut. Then you can grade your full res stuff in Color, or whatever, and stick it back out to another disk or three for the attention of your friendly neighborhood ArriLaser.

This assumes you have enough full HD speed storage to hold at least a reel of your material. You can add that to a Mac Pro for, oh, $2000 or so. If you didn't want to invest in enough HD speed storage to grade, you could probably grade the offline if it was DVCPROHD and find that the same grading decisions would translate reasonably cleanly to your full res material.

I have never done this (I have done bits of it from HD masters). Technically it is more or less sound, notwithstanding color calibration and whatever you're going to do about an audio mix.

Phil



Believe me, I have given a lot of thought of Direct to disk, but it scares the CRAP out of me... I have heard some stories of less than desired work. The IDEA is fantastic. I guess it would work. I could be a guinea pig and document my trials for you guys!!
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#8 Thomas Worth

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 07:05 PM

Phil is correct. Here is the way to do it:
  • Telecine everything to HDCAM SR 4:4:4 at 880 mbit/sec (FYI only the SRW-5800 will do 880, the 5000 and 5500 will only do 440 so the post house needs to have a 5800). Have it transferred "flat," to retain as much image information as possible
  • Have the tapes captured to uncompressed 4:4:4 QuickTime on a Kona3 equipped Mac Pro. This will need to then be copied to several FireWire disks. You can opt to have the post house frameserve DPX files during the layoff to FW disks if you'd rather have DPX instead of QuickTime files
  • Render your own offlines in FCP to any codec you want, DVCPROHD, ProRes422, DV, Cinepak, whatever (joking about Cinepak, btw)
  • Cut the movie using the offline on a MacBook or some cheaper system
  • Export an XML from FCP of the timeline, then re-link your online files (which will have the same TC if you did this correctly)
  • Color correct in Color if you have an appropriate grading setup
Tape to tape is a complete, total, absolute miserable waste of money. Everyone is moving to software based grading systems. Even EFILM uses Lustre for DI work. There's nothing a da Vinci can do that can't be done with a Mac and some rendering time.

Even going to HDCAM SR is not the best way to do it, but there are not many facilities that go straight to disk for a reasonable amount of money. That's why we still have to use this method. At 880mb/sec it's very high quality, so at least we're not losing much going to tape. Plus, you have a tape backup.

I agree with Phil that the tape step is unnecessary and will eventually be done away with.

I've already done everything here and it works. The goal is to eliminate the expensive post house from the equation as soon as possible. The old school method of using window burns and transferring selected takes from keycode is a thing of the past. Don't waste your money.
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#9 Mike Nichols

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 08:06 PM

Phil is correct. Here is the way to do it:

  • Telecine everything to HDCAM SR 4:4:4 at 880 mbit/sec (FYI only the SRW-5800 will do 880, the 5000 and 5500 will only do 440 so the post house needs to have a 5800). Have it transferred "flat," to retain as much image information as possible
  • Have the tapes captured to uncompressed 4:4:4 QuickTime on a Kona3 equipped Mac Pro. This will need to then be copied to several FireWire disks. You can opt to have the post house frameserve DPX files during the layoff to FW disks if you'd rather have DPX instead of QuickTime files
  • Render your own offlines in FCP to any codec you want, DVCPROHD, ProRes422, DV, Cinepak, whatever (joking about Cinepak, btw)
  • Cut the movie using the offline on a MacBook or some cheaper system
  • Export an XML from FCP of the timeline, then re-link your online files (which will have the same TC if you did this correctly)
  • Color correct in Color if you have an appropriate grading setup
Tape to tape is a complete, total, absolute miserable waste of money. Everyone is moving to software based grading systems. Even EFILM uses Lustre for DI work. There's nothing a da Vinci can do that can't be done with a Mac and some rendering time.

Even going to HDCAM SR is not the best way to do it, but there are not many facilities that go straight to disk for a reasonable amount of money. That's why we still have to use this method. At 880mb/sec it's very high quality, so at least we're not losing much going to tape. Plus, you have a tape backup.

I agree with Phil that the tape step is unnecessary and will eventually be done away with.

I've already done everything here and it works. The goal is to eliminate the expensive post house from the equation as soon as possible. The old school method of using window burns and transferring selected takes from keycode is a thing of the past. Don't waste your money.


When you say Telecine (bear with me, Telecine to me still means getting best light DigiBeta sessions at commercial rates...) you're talking about transferring ALL my shot film SR@880 via the 5800 and to do it flat. I think I got that. I have the sweet killer Mac Pro Pro set up WITH the Kona 3 already, but I am still pricing a nice Array to work with that sort of footage. Wouldn't it be wiser and easier for me to ONLY capture selects Full Rez and proxy THAT footage? 7TB of FAST storage for 4:4:4 1080p24psf capturing is a LOT OF CASHOLA. I still think I need (at least for the deck!) the post house for an awful lot!

edit: I see, you're talking about having the POST house dump the SR captures onto Firewire...

Edited by Mike Nichols, 28 February 2008 - 08:08 PM.

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#10 Thomas Worth

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 08:28 PM

Wouldn't it be wiser and easier for me to ONLY capture selects Full Rez and proxy THAT footage? 7TB of FAST storage for 4:4:4 1080p24psf capturing is a LOT OF CASHOLA. I still think I need (at least for the deck!) the post house for an awful lot!

You don't need fast storage for the entire production. Only enough to work on roughly 20 minutes of online at a time (20 mins per reel). The rest of the storage can be FireWire drives.

edit: I see, you're talking about having the POST house dump the SR captures onto Firewire...

Yes. Your own Kona is really only good for monitoring via SDI out, unless you somehow get access to a deck. Depending on how much you need to bring into the system, it might be more cost effective to rent a deck (even with insurance) for a weekend than to have to pay a post house to both 1. capture the footage, and 2. lay it off to FW disks.
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#11 Paul Bruening

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 09:10 PM

With PCs, you can card out of a MB slot and run SATAIIs from the card. You wouldn't have to buy an array. Is it the same way on Macs? Some of my PC boards can card out to 20TB of SATAII total.
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 09:35 PM

Mr. Bruening is right - storage is easy. Least of your problems.

P
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#13 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 02:14 PM

Phil is correct. Here is the way to do it:

Tape to tape is a complete, total, absolute miserable waste of money. Everyone is moving to software based grading systems. Even EFILM uses Lustre for DI work. There's nothing a da Vinci can do that can't be done with a Mac and some rendering time.


I've already done everything here and it works. The goal is to eliminate the expensive post house from the equation as soon as possible. The old school method of using window burns and transferring selected takes from keycode is a thing of the past. Don't waste your money.



One could argue that the mac is allot of rendering time and that a davinci (esp. resolve) can do some things color can not... But for this kind of work a properly equipped Mac-Pro can do it, just keep in mind that a cinema display is not a reference grade monitor....


I think compared to transferring everything to SR a SD transfer to D-Beta (or DvCam or BetaSP) with keycode is a tremendous savings, then you could spend the money for a good selects scan to DPX files instead of the limitation of a Spirit, etc. to SR. A Arri-Scan or Northlight scan to DPX will blow a Spirit or DSX transfer to SR away I feel that the negative scan is probably the most important part of the process as it is the step where you can lose the most fidelity...


-Rob-
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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 02:30 PM

For some reason a Northlight scan will probably cost more than the Spirit, but it will of course go directly to data by default.

You will want to have some sort of backup of it because the scan will be a bit pricey to do again if you drop a disk down the stairs.

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#15 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 03:52 PM

For some reason a Northlight scan will probably cost more than the Spirit, but it will of course go directly to data by default.

You will want to have some sort of backup of it because the scan will be a bit pricey to do again if you drop a disk down the stairs.

P



These things are too hard to simply calculate but I would think a SD Keycode xfer and a selects scan might be close in price to a complete scan to SR on a Spirit. Deals can be made on all this stuff depending on the time, place and project, YMMV.


Furthermore I feel that a 4:4:4 Spirit classic transfer is a complete waste as the Spirit has half res color ccd line arrays so all additional color sampling (0:2:2) is interpolated. A DSX or Millenium will have true 4:4:4 but watch out for tube life... The newer Spirit 2K and 4K are full bandwidth color but many people feel they do not produce as good a picture as a Arriscan or Northlight.


As with all digital information there is no really good long term backup, maybe LTO tape and a Raid 5 or 6 disk array to transfer to... move quick for thy data will be dust long before the film starts to fade...


-Rob-
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#16 Thomas Worth

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 04:26 PM

These things are too hard to simply calculate but I would think a SD Keycode xfer and a selects scan might be close in price to a complete scan to SR on a Spirit. Deals can be made on all this stuff depending on the time, place and project, YMMV.

Yes, the biggest factor is what type of deal you can score. I've gotten reasonable deals on telecine so I've adopted the HDCAM SR route.

Also, keep in mind that doing it my way eliminates the second visit to the post house. It also eliminates EDLs, Flex files, window burns, etc. Also, you can have an HD version of the picture to cut (DVCPROHD, for example), which makes judging fine detail (like focus) easier. And you can generate as many different versions of the picture to as many formats you want, since you are in control of the online.

The goal is now to get the data straight off the telecine to a drive, fully uncompressed. Someday... ;)
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#17 Nathesh

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 09:56 AM

Here is my dilemma, I have searched older posts, but I feel like their relevancy might be outdated already! I am shooting a feature, about 50,000ft (there will be some HDCAM shot on an F-900). I don't have a distrib deal, so I don't know how I am going to finish. I need a cost effective HD solution!! I have a glorious Mac Pro set up with Raid Arrays and the AJA IO HD. With all that, would it be in my best interest to have my dailies on SR AND data on a hard drive in a compressed HD format (Pro Res/DVCPRO HD etc) This way, I can offline in either pro res or dvcpro hd (the higher quality used to have a leg up during screenings) and then do a tape to tape from the SR when a deal is in place? How well does Pro Res hold up as an intermediate codec? If need be, could I finish with Pro Res and have an acceptable Digital Master? If so, then can I skip transferring to SR all together? (Even typing that sounded like a bad idea...)

I am just trying to minimize costs, and never have to go to SD.

Thanks!



:unsure: :rolleyes:

I don't get it all. You have done your offline right. Your whole feature does not run a full 50000 ft I presume. The final edit time for Online frames storage. How long is it?. If it is some 90 to 100 min it is going to take about some 2to3 TB if you get your work scanned into dpx files. Say one frame of 1920x1080 dpx file will hold upto 10 or 12 MB. You do the math for the total running time. You can either process them on some Online edit machines like Smoke or Lustre or keep them stored until you could get a deal. I do believe cost of 1 TB hard drives have come down.

Or have them converted into D cinema or E cinema.

D-Cinema is a minimum standard defined by Hollywood where 2K or 4K resolution projectors are used with defined contrast ratios, brightness on screen and color gamut. Compression is in JPEG2000 at 250 Mbits. The Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) defines these specs. D-Cinema Customers include cinemas that play Hollywood content across the world and multiplexes and popular cinemas in top cities. They use also VC-1 or wm9 codecs too.

E-cinema is a stripped down format that has resolutions for 1.3K. It is used in smaller theatres.

Both these cinemas use DLP projectors for display. Eg Barco 2K or 4K projectors. The cost of getting your film into this form is 6 or more times lesser than getting into film print.

I may not be entirely correct with the above data. Others do help to correct this.
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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 10:38 AM

As far as I'm aware you can't cut a D-cinema MXF, nor is it intended to be used for that purpose, although packaging material for digital distribution is something I know very little about.

Mike -check your PMs.

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#19 Sam Wells

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 10:23 AM

I think compared to transferring everything to SR a SD transfer to D-Beta (or DvCam or BetaSP) with keycode is a tremendous savings, then you could spend the money for a good selects scan to DPX files instead of the limitation of a Spirit, etc. to SR. A Arri-Scan or Northlight scan to DPX will blow a Spirit or DSX transfer to SR away I feel that the negative scan is probably the most important part of the process as it is the step where you can lose the most fidelity...


-Rob-


I wonder if Arriscan to SR might be an acceptable 'economy' alternative --- ?

I totally agree the front end machine is critical.

-Sam
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#20 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 12:34 PM

I don't understand the reasoning of HDCAM SR as a 'transport format'. Any good scanner can output uncompressed 10bit Log DPX files that are easily copied to any IT container such as hard drives, LTO3, DVD (small quantities).

Why would you want your scanner to output to an expensive HDCAM SR VTR in order to recover the same digital files on the other end using an expensive (again) HDCAM SR? I can understand using SR tapes for final deliverables but not for transporting digital files between computers.

I use LTO3 and get a speed of about 10 frames per second reading/writing HD format DPX files. A good LTO3 drive costs maybe 1/20th of an SR machine and will cost considerably less in maintenance and tapes.
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