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#1 Michael McInerney

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 04:01 PM

So I am about to shoot my first of...many thesis films this year. Three, actually. Each will be going through a similar process in post, so this is a kind of catch-all.

A quick technical overview - we'll be shooting S16, (for the purposes of this project) probably about 10 rolls of 7218 on the SR2 or SR3 (our eyepiece is busted and our equipment manager is lazy). I edit in Final Cut Pro.

What I'm concerned about is post though, not shooting. Usually when we've shot anything on film in the past few years, on a few rolls (maybe more sometimes), our school has sent out the film to DuArt, and we've gotten back DVCAMs or at times, depending on the material, DVCPro50. However, the school has stood on it's stance of "not paying to develop senior projects", there's a whole bunch of politics that I don't want to get into with that, in any case - we'll be going to a lab ourselves with the film, which I was already intending to do anyway. As the editor of my projects, I want these to have a final output better than that of our normally compressed footage.

There have been a number of things considered - my DP first suggested going to Digibeta. Then two of our friends, one who's gone to D5 with a S16 project and another who works in post at a TV/Production studio, have said that digibeta is a pain, not worth it, etc. I don't know. I've never worked with Digibeta. One professor claims that going HD to a hard drive is very pricey and a bad idea, and another suggests the opposite. One has mentioned an HD tape stock. I've spent a lot of today reading other threads and researching through the internet, and it seems that HDCAM SR is excellent for output quality, but insanely expensive - $300 for a 2 hour tape, and a $1,500 a day rental fee for the deck?

Now the obvious question is "what is the final form this project will be outputted to?" That, I honestly do not know at this moment. As a realist, it is probably just going to remain as a digital file or go to SD DVD, however, I might have the option through a friend of a friend of outputting to Blu-Ray. And this project, as well as the others, is a planned festival-runner, and it seems that every festival everywhere has different requirements as far as the final output.

I have also been looking Cinelabs and Bono Labs' options to go straight to hard drive as uncompressed HD quicktime files. Bono seems to have reasonable rates and an easy to understand workflow, but I have seen the comparison between their transfer and Spyposts in another thread here, though I don't know how up to date that was, as someone else mentioned in a similar thread. I read another post of someone who says they stand behind the quality of Cinelabs, who also seem to have very reasonable rates, and have options to output to Digibeta or HD files on a hard drive. Also on this forum, I've read very good things about PostWorks and their dealing with student projects. One thing in particular that interests me about Cinelabs (albeit selfishly) is their option in "telecine 2" to teach you how the telecine works for those interested in perhaps becoming a colorist (one of the things I am considering).

Digibeta sounds great because of the color and lack of compression, but I've read there's little difference between it and DVCPro50? How much of a difference is there? Also, from having edited in HD and SD, I feel it is much easier in an HD format to do color correcting/image control and feel if I had an SD product (digibeta) as compared to and HD one (straight to hard drive) it would be less easy to work with. Though I'm not sure what's more integral when considering compression vs. bitrate vs. color sampling vs. resolution. What should my priorities be in this case?

If we do go digibeta, would the lab/house be able to capture straight to hard drive there for us in a form usable for me (final cut pro)?

Also, what kind of hardware would be needed for running/editing both types of file? At home, I have a 2.8 dual core imac with 4gigs of ram, but at school I might have the possibility of using a computer that has significantly more ram, an xserve (although the files/project would likely remain on an external), and an uncompressed card, though I don't know what kind, if it's Kona or whatnot. In the case of the files being far too unmanageable in realtime, how would making compressed versions of them using Apple ProRes 422 work? How would you edit an offline like that, and then create an online with the original uncompressed?

My concern is more on the technical than the financial, but for reference sake, let's say I'd like to spend about $2,000-3,000 on the post process.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 04:28 PM

OK, here's my suggestion. Go out to DVCam without color correction on it and just edit that, then go back in and rescan your selects, color grade, and output to HDCam, then @ the post house get them to capture it into their system for you to Hard Drive in a codec of your choice (so you can make your down conversions). I know you'll be going to the post house twice, but it might save you some money.
If you don't shoot too much, let's sayd under 10 rolls of film, and depending on the post house, it might be cheaper to just scan it all up @ once to HDCam, and again, have them ingest it for editorial later on. The most recent rates I've gotten here in Philadelphia for all of this are:
$300/hr for HD off of a Spirit (to HDCam, plus the $100 for a 66 min tape in this case)
$75/hr for the FCP suite to capture it in
$150 for a hard drive.
Correction took about 3 hours, for the around 50 minutes of footage we had, so all in all it was a little over 1000$. Not too bad and that was scanning up all the film.
even for 10 rolls of 7218, if you work a good deal with the post house, you can get it all color corrected to an HDCam master for UNDER 3000. . . .
I would highly recommend just having a supervised transferr, best off of scanning up your selects, but 10 rolls isn't really that much footage... and they can still store in terms of matching. The benefit of doing it off of selects is you essentially get a nice edited version of it on HDcam (check to see if the post house to lay down the audio on that as well) from which you can later make down conversions or dubs for any fest.
I don't think you'd get that much more going out to HDCam SR, not for S16mm at least. . .
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#3 Michael McInerney

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 06:14 PM

So regular HDCam and not the SR then...and from what it sounds like, it would probably just be a bit easier to scan it all into an HDCam tape and have the house import it to a hard drive via final cut in one go. Though when dealing with the color sampling, HDCam uses 3:1:1 as opposed to SR which is 4:4:4 compared to DVCPro50 or Digibeta which is 4:2:2... I must say I don't fully understand color sampling (besides 4:1:1<4:2:2<4:4:4), and where a sampling rate like 3:1:1 comes into play. My DP also mentioned that HDCam has a 7:1 compression, as opposed to SD Digibeta, which is uncompressed...but wiki lists HDCam as being the HD version of Digibeta. So many tape stocks.

We had been planning on doing a supervised transfer, but if we went the route of getting it back on say DVCPro50 (as we already have the deck for that at school) and going back to get selects, what would I need to do, or deliver to the post house for them to get the selects for me?
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 06:23 PM

It's less about the color sampling and more about the bandwidth. . . . DVCPRO50 being 50mbps, HDcam is higher than that, though I forget exactly how much higher. Also, HDCam can do 1080psf (23.976) so there is no 2:3:2:3 to make it interlaced. Digibeta is SD so it's Maximum resolution is only 720x480 (so far as I know), so projected on a big screen, it can be soft.
The SR tape is of course the top of the line, and it would be worthwhile to look into getting that if possible, and then latter on transfer into ProResHQ, which would be 10bit, and visually lossless but you can still edit it on most FCP systems.
I like the HDCam, myself, when it comes to doing an HD transfer, it probably is the most cost effective.
See this
http://www.creativec..._data-rates.pdf

for different formats. HDCam is 135mbps as opposed to Digi Beta's 90...

added in

I should note that the SR tape is much higher quality, as it is much newer, hence the cost, but HDCam will do well for S16mm stuff. . . I'd only push for HDCamSR for 35mm. I mean no reason to break the bank, ya know? You can always go back to the original film when/if you get the extra money for the HDCamSR, or sit for a few paychecks before your transfer to get the SR. But I still think HDCam should be fine.
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