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How-to organize the post-production of my first Film-Digital short?


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#1 Rodrigo Silvestri

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Posted 02 July 2008 - 01:49 AM

Hi. These are the facts:
I am a student. My school gives me 200ft of Kodak B&W 16mm film to do a short. After I film that, I give it to them, they send it to process and telecine it to DVCAM 25fps.
I am going to buy 400ft of Fuji (color) 16mm film to shoot a part in chroma key. I am sending it for process myself (to the same place where the school sends it).
I talked with a guy of a post production house who confirmed that he will not charge me for doing a scan (Arriscan, I said 2K) of the film. First time he said it would be good to go with an EDL and scan only the selected shots. Second time, (I think because he realised the -small- length of the film), he said to scan it all.
I'm editing on a Mac. Final Cut Studio 2 (FCPro, Motion, Color) with a Core 2 Quad 2,4GHz, 4GB of RAM and 1TB+ in total of hard drives.
My aim is to have an HD master (not 2K, but I prefer to edit in 2K because we are going to do some zooms in post) of the short movie (not a film master).

And these are the doubts:
Should I send the color film for a low-res telecine (will need money) to edit offline? How would I find the shots later with the Arriscan? (Any way to make it recognize the frames from an EDL or something similar?)
Or should I scan everything (will need disk space), make a low-res copy, edit offline and then go back to the 2K files? (how to do that? Simply change the original file? Relink files?...).
I need to do these things: Edit. Do the keying and effects. Make the color film look like the B&W. Motion does not support DPX, and I would prefer to, somehow, do the keying with the best possible quality. So which is the way?

I have more doubts, but I'm sleepy.
And please, don't question the fact that this is my first 16mm film and "I should take things easier" or "Maybe the school wants you to learn to do the best with only 200ft", etc. I already discussed that on another topic before. I have another excersises which I don't talk about here, that are made to "learn to do a short in one shot with a fixed camera" or "learn to do a short with less than shots", etc. And I already have the authorisation from the school to have the original B&W negative for scanning.

So Thank you in advance!!
Rodrigo Silvestri
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#2 Chris Burke

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Posted 02 July 2008 - 02:57 PM

Hi. These are the facts:
I am a student. My school gives me 200ft of Kodak B&W 16mm film to do a short. After I film that, I give it to them, they send it to process and telecine it to DVCAM 25fps.
I am going to buy 400ft of Fuji (color) 16mm film to shoot a part in chroma key. I am sending it for process myself (to the same place where the school sends it).
I talked with a guy of a post production house who confirmed that he will not charge me for doing a scan (Arriscan, I said 2K) of the film. First time he said it would be good to go with an EDL and scan only the selected shots. Second time, (I think because he realised the -small- length of the film), he said to scan it all.
I'm editing on a Mac. Final Cut Studio 2 (FCPro, Motion, Color) with a Core 2 Quad 2,4GHz, 4GB of RAM and 1TB+ in total of hard drives.
My aim is to have an HD master (not 2K, but I prefer to edit in 2K because we are going to do some zooms in post) of the short movie (not a film master).

And these are the doubts:
Should I send the color film for a low-res telecine (will need money) to edit offline? How would I find the shots later with the Arriscan? (Any way to make it recognize the frames from an EDL or something similar?)
Or should I scan everything (will need disk space), make a low-res copy, edit offline and then go back to the 2K files? (how to do that? Simply change the original file? Relink files?...).
I need to do these things: Edit. Do the keying and effects. Make the color film look like the B&W. Motion does not support DPX, and I would prefer to, somehow, do the keying with the best possible quality. So which is the way?

I have more doubts, but I'm sleepy.
And please, don't question the fact that this is my first 16mm film and "I should take things easier" or "Maybe the school wants you to learn to do the best with only 200ft", etc. I already discussed that on another topic before. I have another excersises which I don't talk about here, that are made to "learn to do a short in one shot with a fixed camera" or "learn to do a short with less than shots", etc. And I already have the authorisation from the school to have the original B&W negative for scanning.

So Thank you in advance!!
Rodrigo Silvestri



600 feet of film is a tiny amount. Have it all scanned as DPX or cineon, down convert that to a quicktime codec of your choice (ProRes HQ is a good one), edit, conform/pan and scan/zoom in Color, output. The keying can be done in Combustion or even Final cut, to a limited extent. Just have the biggest firewire 800 or SATA II drive available for the storage. About 17 minutes of film will run you under 300 gigs for 2k. I am sure others here can chime in and advise a bit more specifically but, This is the very basic workflow you could follow. The arriscanner is considered by most as one of if not the best. If for free, go for it! Where are you that the lab is offering this gratis?
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#3 Rodrigo Silvestri

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 01:02 AM

600 feet of film is a tiny amount. Have it all scanned as DPX or cineon, down convert that to a quicktime codec of your choice (ProRes HQ is a good one), edit, conform/pan and scan/zoom in Color, output. The keying can be done in Combustion or even Final cut, to a limited extent. Just have the biggest firewire 800 or SATA II drive available for the storage. About 17 minutes of film will run you under 300 gigs for 2k. I am sure others here can chime in and advise a bit more specifically but, This is the very basic workflow you could follow. The arriscanner is considered by most as one of if not the best. If for free, go for it! Where are you that the lab is offering this gratis?


Thanks Chris!
This lab, Che Revolution, is in Argentina. After being offered to do the scan gratis, I was told by another cinematographer that that lab does that with students sometimes. It's great! :D
I still have (more) doubts...
You don't mention Motion for the keying because you don't know it or because you merge it with Final Cut (Studio)?
I'll buy a 500GB SATAII drive for this. The film can't overpass 4 mins and a half (We are supposed to be using 200ft B&W), so the first thing I'll do is make the director choose the shots.
Isn't it better to do the keying with the DPX's directly? Or is it the same? (considering that I pretend to have an HD 1920*1080 master).

Thanks again,
Rodrigo
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#4 Chris Burke

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 04:46 AM

Thanks Chris!
This lab, Che Revolution, is in Argentina. After being offered to do the scan gratis, I was told by another cinematographer that that lab does that with students sometimes. It's great! :D
I still have (more) doubts...
You don't mention Motion for the keying because you don't know it or because you merge it with Final Cut (Studio)?
I'll buy a 500GB SATAII drive for this. The film can't overpass 4 mins and a half (We are supposed to be using 200ft B&W), so the first thing I'll do is make the director choose the shots.
Isn't it better to do the keying with the DPX's directly? Or is it the same? (considering that I pretend to have an HD 1920*1080 master).

Thanks again,
Rodrigo



Yes, you can use Motion, but does it work with dpx files. I have never done this. Keying from the dpx is a good way to go, but if you are finishing HD, then you could use that codec as well.


"The film can't overpass 4 mins and a half (We are supposed to be using 200ft B&W), so the first thing I'll do is make the director choose the shots."

Are you saying that you will only scan the selected shots? If so, this is a more laborious way to go. But since this is for free then by all means proceed. The thing that chews up time is shuttling through the film to find the selected shots. With such a small amount of film, it is easier to scan it all. When you have the scans done, please post some samples. Good luck.
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#5 Rodrigo Silvestri

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 09:24 PM

I'll buy a 500GB SATAII drive for this. The film can't overpass 4 mins and a half (We are supposed to be using 200ft B&W), so the first thing I'll do is make the director choose the shots.

Are you saying that you will only scan the selected shots?

No. I said that because you recommended me to have "the biggest drive available for storage", and I know I'll need a big disk only for the first stage.

The school gives us 200ft and we should use only that. One of the causes is because in the earlier years, the "200ft short" didn't have a limit of time, so most of the shorts were mixed with video, or with more film, and most of them were boring. This year, they changed many things in the school (the limit of time between them).
Our professor knows that we are doing all this, but he asked us to please keep it between the limits.


Thanks again,
Rodrigo
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#6 Rodrigo Silvestri

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 02:20 AM

600 feet of film is a tiny amount. Have it all scanned as DPX or cineon, down convert that to a quicktime codec of your choice (ProRes HQ is a good one), edit, conform/pan and scan/zoom in Color, output.


Been thinking more about this...
How do I really do it? I mean, thinking of steps... Because I don't want to have the DPXs here and die of anxiety because I don't know what to do.
So let's suppose that I have the DPXs now... I "down convert" them to ProRes HQ. How? What software should I use to do it?
Then do I send the ProRes edit to color? How would I do it if I want to use the DPXs again? (grade directly on DPXs rather than on ProRes).

How is it done in the "real" market? Do you use the "converted" video files for grading or you go back to DPXs?

Thanks,
Rodrigo
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#7 Keith Mottram

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 08:51 AM

Been thinking more about this...
How do I really do it? I mean, thinking of steps... Because I don't want to have the DPXs here and die of anxiety because I don't know what to do.
So let's suppose that I have the DPXs now... I "down convert" them to ProRes HQ. How? What software should I use to do it?
Then do I send the ProRes edit to color? How would I do it if I want to use the DPXs again? (grade directly on DPXs rather than on ProRes).

How is it done in the "real" market? Do you use the "converted" video files for grading or you go back to DPXs?

Thanks,
Rodrigo


DPX files can be converted in a number of ways Blackmagic and AJA have tools which come with there cards, but the best tool is called Gluetools. as far as compositing goes use Shake or AE motion is a pain in the ass and is not designed for such work.
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#8 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 11:49 PM

check this out

http://www.cinematog...showtopic=31367

thanks

Rolfe
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#9 Rodrigo Silvestri

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 11:16 PM

Thank you guys!

Any cheaper ways of working with DPXs? I don't want to buy GlueTools if I'm only using it for one project (don't expect to do many projects in DPX soon...).

Thanks,
Rodrigo
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#10 John Tissavary

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 02:36 AM

Thank you guys!

Any cheaper ways of working with DPXs? I don't want to buy GlueTools if I'm only using it for one project (don't expect to do many projects in DPX soon...).

Thanks,
Rodrigo


After Effects and Shake can both handle DPX conversions to Quicktime. Those would be the tools of choice for me on a Mac.

Shake would be my tool of choice for greenscreen work on the Mac, unless I had access to Nuke. After Effects is also an excellent package for greenscreen, but not my personal preference.

I would handle your project as follows:

1) Complete scans of all your footage (it's short, and you're getting it free) to DPX. Hopefully your DPX files will contain keycode metadata.

2) Create prores hq copies of the footage using After Effects, Shake, or Nuke depending on what is available to you.

3) Edit in Final Cut or other NLE of choice.

4) From your editorial cut, note the in/out points of your visual effects plates (greenscreen, etc...). I almost always do a primary color correction on the plates before exporting them for vfx composite, but it's possible to avoid that step if the images are not to far off of where you want them to be after grading.

5) In Shake, After Effects, or Nuke, use the in/out frames from your notes to import the correct DPX sequences. You will have better results pulling keys from DPX than from Prores. Render the visual effects composites to prores hq.

6) Import prores vfx composites to Final Cut and drop them in place of the un-composited original clips.

7) Export to Color for final color correction. I'm a Scratch colorist and haven't used Color, so I'm not sure of the exact steps, but it should be relatively straightforward, and there are a lot of documents and tutuorials on the subject.

8) Render a final version to a file format of your choice. Many facilities can lay ProRes HQ to HD tape like HDCAM, HDCAM-SR or whatever HD format you decide on.


cheers,

John Tissavary
producer / director / colorist
TRAkTION*
Los Angeles
www.traktionfilms.com
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#11 Rodrigo Silvestri

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 02:21 PM

Thank you a lot John!
Your post helped me a lot to understand things... I'll follow it almost as you proposed.

I am doing some "tests" with 4K DPXs from ProjectRed.com.
I can't get a correct Apple ProRes copy from Shake.

What I am doing:
In Shake, set the frame size (2048x1556)
Drop the DPX in Shake
Add a Scale node
Add a Keylight node
Add a FileOut node and choose file name/folder
Choose Apple ProRes in FileOut settings
Render FileOut

The rendered file seems to have the alpha channel OK, because the sky is cleared, but not the image, it's completely noisy.
If I choose Apple Intermediate Codec (don't know what it's for) it works, but doesn't include Alpha.

The rendered file is here. It might be a problem with my codecs too...

Which is the difference between Apple ProRes 422 and Apple ProRes 422 (HQ)?

Thanks,
Rodrigo
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#12 Mark Dunn

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 10:19 AM

A silly question, maybe- but why don't you finish film on FILM, for heaven's sake?
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#13 Keith Mottram

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 10:30 AM

Which is the difference between Apple ProRes 422 and Apple ProRes 422 (HQ)?

Thanks,
Rodrigo



HQ stands for high quality, unless I'm very much mistaken and is a higher bitrate that SQ. So much better for mastering.
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#14 Daniel Smith

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 06:04 PM

A silly question, maybe- but why don't you finish film on FILM, for heaven's sake?

Where the f.. would you get that played? Unless it's earning the cinema money what's the point.
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#15 Rodrigo Silvestri

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 06:09 PM

A silly question, maybe- but why don't you finish film on FILM, for heaven's sake?


LOL! 'cause it's expensive!. And it's not worth it. The whole cost of the project doesn't exceed AR$2000, which is less than US$700. We are not paying to actors, crew, etc. We are all learning, and trying to keep it as "just a practical work for school"...

Also, HD is fine for me. I'm sure that it will be seen by more people in Youtube's lowest quality than in the cinemas if I ever project it.

--
Thanks Keith. I already knew the meaning of HQ, but I didn't understand why there were two codecs with the same chroma subsampling and the same frame size.

--
I still can't find the problem. I was able to use Color to export to ProRes. But anyway, I'll need Shake, so I still want to fix the problem.

--
Another thing I can't understand: When I open the DPX file in Photoshop or in Shake it is ok, but when I open it in Color, it shows a very contrasted image. To make it look good I have to reduce saturation and gamma. Is this normal? Is this related to LUTs?

--

Thanks,
Rodrigo
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#16 Rodrigo Silvestri

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 08:59 PM

Hi again.
I'm back.. We filmed the short movie, and I have the processed negs with me.
I'm about to do the scan, it'll be between this week and the next. And then I'll start the hard work!

But I still have some things that are not very clear, so I thank if anyone can answer these questions... :)

(copied from before)
When I open the DPX file (from projectred.net) in Photoshop or in Shake it is ok, but when I open it in Color, it shows a very contrasted image. To make it look good I have to reduce saturation and gamma. Is this normal? Is this related to LUTs?
I already used Color sending projects from FCP and had no problems.
----

I am doing some tests with 4K DPXs from ProjectRed.com.
I can't get a correct Apple ProRes copy from Shake.

What I am doing:
In Shake, set the frame size (2048x1556)
Drop the DPX in Shake
Add a Scale node
Add a Keylight node
Add a FileOut node and choose file name/folder
Choose Apple ProRes in FileOut settings
Render FileOut

The rendered file seems to have the alpha channel OK, because the sky is cleared, but not the image, it appears as a mass of noise or strange colors.
If I choose Apple Intermediate Codec (don't know what it's for) it works, but doesn't include Alpha.

The rendered file is in this link. It might be a problem with my codecs too... Please tell me if you can see it right.

Thanks,
Rodrigo
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