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DPX sequences, Final Cut Pro, Color, Oh my!


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#1 Mike Nichols

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 09:41 AM

So, is there anyone in the real world working with Final Cut Pro, DPX/Glue Tools and Color in a streamlined and effective way for features? I'd love to hear other war stories, because I am having a devil of a time with things...
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#2 Dan Goulder

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 10:22 AM

So, is there anyone in the real world working with Final Cut Pro, DPX/Glue Tools and Color in a streamlined and effective way for features? I'd love to hear other war stories, because I am having a devil of a time with things...

I'm curious about your workflow. To what format are your dailies being transferred? Are you having everything transferred to DPX, while editing with hi-def proxies (which is a suggested Kona 3 approach), or what? Also, are you using Glue Tools to bring FCP sequences into After Effects, or what? Is this a Kona 3, or Decklink (or other) workflow?
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 10:44 AM

Talk to Thomas Worth. He's done an HDCAM feature on Color.

P
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#4 Mike Nichols

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 05:01 PM

I'm curious about your workflow. To what format are your dailies being transferred? Are you having everything transferred to DPX, while editing with hi-def proxies (which is a suggested Kona 3 approach), or what? Also, are you using Glue Tools to bring FCP sequences into After Effects, or what? Is this a Kona 3, or Decklink (or other) workflow?



You have 2 hours???

Let me start from the beginning:

Direct to Disk SD telecine uncompressed 10-Bit QT. My original plan was to create a high quality NTSC DVD for previews and then either finish to HDCAM SR.

Plans changed when I got a great deal on a 2K scan. So, from my DV offline cut (I media manager'd the SD QT's to DV NTSC) and burned in TK. I sent an EDL of my offline cut with a QT reference movie to the post house. They scanned from my EDL and delivered 2K DPX stacks of each "edit."

Now, here is my first mistake. As a "work around" I tried importing my EDL into a new project as an offline project. Then, I reconnected the files to the corresponding DPX stack as opposed to the original DV QT's. Timecode carries over in DPX's so, it worked! The problem was, however, was that this "solution" proved to be problematic for Final Cut Pro. I would have dropped frames all the time, it would take 15 minutes for my project to open and the overall "cleanliness" of my project was a mess.

So now, I imported each stack, which has a file name of 001.[@@@@].dpx in succession for each stack. I had handles, so I had to trim the handles on each shot. Further complicating things was the fact that I mixed 4 perf and 2 perf 35mm, so my scans were different sizes! The 4perf scans needed to be cropped for 2.35, so I ran those stacks through a crop node in Shake.

Now, I am back to "conforming" the DPX stacks manually by eye referencing the timecode from original edit.

Tedious, but the only way I know of going about things.

From here, I have no idea how to get this sucker into Color. There is a rumor about working with Aliases, but with 1100 edits, it is a scary thought to have to create 1100 .mov aliases.

My ultimate goal would be finish up with a graded 1080p 2K sequence (my scans are only 1868 x 780 because I shot on 2perf).
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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 06:52 PM

Hey Mike,

Sorry to hear of your troubles. Did you try the up-res/down-res trick to get the files up to 1920 wide?

Is it worth trying the project in Adobe Premiere/After Effects? If you can get a student friend to score you a copy of each or Adobe's Production Package, it might do the job with less hurdles. Phil is pretty knowledgable on this approach. See what he thinks.

academicsuperstore.com carries the stuff pretty cheap:

http://www.academics... Premium/933485
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#6 Mike Nichols

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 08:13 AM

Hey Mike,

Sorry to hear of your troubles. Did you try the up-res/down-res trick to get the files up to 1920 wide?

Is it worth trying the project in Adobe Premiere/After Effects? If you can get a student friend to score you a copy of each or Adobe's Production Package, it might do the job with less hurdles. Phil is pretty knowledgable on this approach. See what he thinks.

academicsuperstore.com carries the stuff pretty cheap:

http://www.academics... Premium/933485


Thanks Paul.

Actually, what I am doing is staying at the 1828 x 780 pixel dimension to picture lock in FCP. Then I am going to use Shake to scale horizontally to fit a 1920 frame and grade in Color. I have a Kona 3 coming. I am thinking, for the sake of my sanity, converting all my stacks to 10bitRGB Kona QT's so I can move back and forth between color.

What I did learn, is that facilities that use an arriscan do a 3K>2K conversion on scanned files. If I ever shoot/scan a 2 perf feature again, I am going to try and get the 3K files and scale them down.

- m

Edited by Mike Nichols, 21 October 2008 - 08:15 AM.

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#7 Greg Johnson

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 01:17 AM

I re-built an entire feature in After Effects from the .DPX scans from each shot because the online from LA wasn't frame accurate.

We had the old NTSC 29.97 master from FCP to compare to the online HD CAM SR (that the director didn't like because 20% of the shots were a frame or two off.) So my friend went shot by shot and analyzed them A-B in FCP to see if they were frame on. If they weren't then he noted the Reel, and shot number then in what direction and how many frames the shot was off.

So I'd then import the conformed 2K .DPX reel (with the errors) in After Effects as the base layer, and then pull the scans for each shot that needed to be fixed into the project, and replace the errant shots. At first I thought glue tools would be the best option, but it required a render conversion, and the director was adamant about no generation loss or renders in order to keep all the log data and whatever meta-data there possibly was.

The project took a few months for the two of us to do, but it was simple to create a basic LUT adjustment layer, and nest the sequence to render out as a 1080P to view the reel with sound to check for errors. (The sound was done at Skywalker Sound, so the director had to make sure everything was in sync, frame by stinking frame.)

Once we finished we rendered out a new conformed .DPX reel and FedEx'd each reel on a drive back to Post Logic in LA to be color corrected in there DI suite.

We also did quite a bit of simple composting and effect work while we were in there to save money by doing it ourselves. A lot of those shots we FTP'd to Post Logic's baselight server overnight if we needed to do quick fixes.

Everything went pretty well considering all that could have gone wrong. They created a master print, and a D-Cinema master. I was so proud to finally see the bugger in theaters, the audience had no idea the entire film had gone through little ol' After Effects.

I don't know if that was the answer you were looking for, but that was my experience with .DPX sequences on a limited budget.

- Greg
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#8 Mike Nichols

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 08:21 AM

I re-built an entire feature in After Effects from the .DPX scans from each shot because the online from LA wasn't frame accurate.

We had the old NTSC 29.97 master from FCP to compare to the online HD CAM SR (that the director didn't like because 20% of the shots were a frame or two off.) So my friend went shot by shot and analyzed them A-B in FCP to see if they were frame on. If they weren't then he noted the Reel, and shot number then in what direction and how many frames the shot was off.

So I'd then import the conformed 2K .DPX reel (with the errors) in After Effects as the base layer, and then pull the scans for each shot that needed to be fixed into the project, and replace the errant shots. At first I thought glue tools would be the best option, but it required a render conversion, and the director was adamant about no generation loss or renders in order to keep all the log data and whatever meta-data there possibly was.

The project took a few months for the two of us to do, but it was simple to create a basic LUT adjustment layer, and nest the sequence to render out as a 1080P to view the reel with sound to check for errors. (The sound was done at Skywalker Sound, so the director had to make sure everything was in sync, frame by stinking frame.)

Once we finished we rendered out a new conformed .DPX reel and FedEx'd each reel on a drive back to Post Logic in LA to be color corrected in there DI suite.

We also did quite a bit of simple composting and effect work while we were in there to save money by doing it ourselves. A lot of those shots we FTP'd to Post Logic's baselight server overnight if we needed to do quick fixes.

Everything went pretty well considering all that could have gone wrong. They created a master print, and a D-Cinema master. I was so proud to finally see the bugger in theaters, the audience had no idea the entire film had gone through little ol' After Effects.

I don't know if that was the answer you were looking for, but that was my experience with .DPX sequences on a limited budget.

- Greg


I am fooling around with After Effects too. It is pretty damn powerful in the DPX workflow.

Sounds pretty tedious. I did something similar, but with FCP and Gluetools. Basically, eye matched each edit from the DVCAM offline to the DPX scans which had 2 to 3 second heads and tails. FCP would be greatly served incorporating a "Batch Trim" function on clips!!

Edited by Mike Nichols, 23 October 2008 - 08:24 AM.

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#9 John Brawley

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 10:42 AM

What I did learn, is that facilities that use an arriscan do a 3K>2K conversion on scanned files. If I ever shoot/scan a 2 perf feature again, I am going to try and get the 3K files and scale them down.

- m


It actually has a few modes.

Im pretty sure it's the same sensor that's in the D20/21, which is also 3K.

It can do 3K scans or 6K scans by physically *moving* the sensor by a pixel. Like pixel offset but they claim because they do it for real, not in software, then it's not a cheat.

It can also do 2 intensity passes to extend the dynamic range a little and improve noise reduction. It also has a kodak technology called ICE (?) It's an IR scan that scans the surface of the film to see what dust is there to clean that up as well.

It's a pretty cool machine.

jb
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#10 Paul Bruening

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 11:25 AM

Greg's post is a good indicator. Premiere/AE is really a powerful package. Cut the work print in Premiere and kick it over into AE to conform, FX, and color time. Although Adobe isn't the "bragging rights" software in the industry, it is notorious as being the software that many productions actually get cut on. It is an inglorious but valuable system. Adobe's free render engine is one of my favorite parts. Also, its interaction with Maya is fab.

Another great thing about Adobe's full production package is the full suit of editing software. Once you've settled on your cuts in Premiere, you send the work print out to anyone else that has the same software. That means your sound can be cut by three different computers. One for dialog, one for SFX and one for music. While those guys are cutting and polishing your sound, you can get other guys to do stuff in Photoshop, Illustrator and Maya. While they're doing their picture magic, you can be conforming and timing the straight picture data. AE will render to what ever resolution you can deal with right up to about 30,000 pixels wide, IIRC. It can render on as many computers, through the free render engine, as you can beg, borrow, rent or steal from your friends,

With Adobe, you're getting an entire editing system. I swear, I don't get paid to say these things. I just love the shear, operational power that I get from my Adobe based, PC system.
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 02:06 PM

What he said.

Premiere is the only system I know of where you can offline and online data-based workflows in the same software and thereby use all the advanced filters and so forth, with no issues getting them to conform. The only gotcha is setting filter attributes in pixels.

P
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#12 Mike Nichols

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 08:45 AM

What he said.

Premiere is the only system I know of where you can offline and online data-based workflows in the same software and thereby use all the advanced filters and so forth, with no issues getting them to conform. The only gotcha is setting filter attributes in pixels.

P


So, in light of my situation, I purchased a Kona 3 card and wrapped all my DPX stacks in the 10bit RGB Log AJA codec. Gluetools is great, but becomes problematic at non standard pixel dimensions when needing to bounce things back and forth between Final Cut Pro, Shake and Color. Rather than painfully take each stack and crop/resize in shake, I can do it in reels after assembling in FCP.

Edited by Mike Nichols, 27 October 2008 - 08:46 AM.

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#13 Paul Bruening

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 09:48 AM

So, in light of my situation, I purchased a Kona 3 card and wrapped all my DPX stacks in the 10bit RGB Log AJA codec. Gluetools is great, but becomes problematic at non standard pixel dimensions when needing to bounce things back and forth between Final Cut Pro, Shake and Color. Rather than painfully take each stack and crop/resize in shake, I can do it in reels after assembling in FCP.


What's the latest news, Mike?
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#14 Mike Nichols

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 01:43 PM

What's the latest news, Mike?


Well, it is going well. I rewrapped all 1100+ stacks in the 10-bit RBG AJA wrapper. So far so good. Timecode has been retained. So, although it is tedious, I am able to bring my reference movies into FCP and replace the DPX stacks in the timeline with the AJA ref movies. I lose the nifty log-lin conversion of Gluetools, but now have complete roundtrip capabilities with Color and Shake. Once I replace all the DPX stacks with the QT reference movies, things are going to be grand!
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Visual Products

Willys Widgets

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

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CineTape

The Slider

Tai Audio

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineLab

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

FJS International, LLC