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the great reel dilemma of 2008


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#1 David litz

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 02:23 AM

Help!

I am a DP with about 15 years of experience. I have seen many formats come and go. Over the years, I have amassed the individual elements of my reel on a witches brew of formats: Beta SP, DigiBeta, DVD, DVCPRO, and even 3/4" !

My question is, what is the most efficient way to get these diverse elements onto a reel for not a lot of $$$?

When I first started out, I would rent an edit suite and have an editor cut a reel for me. I would walk out with a great reel, but usually $1500 poorer!

I recently bought a MacBook Pro G4, with the hopes of putting Final Cut on there before too long. So, do I:

1) buy Final Cut, and teach myself the program, and cut my own reel?

2) transfer all my weird formats onto one "universal" format, (DVCAM? MiniDV?) and then rent a deck and import all of my stuff into Final Cut? (transfer costs may be huge!)

3) Say "the hell with it", and just keep hiring editors/post houses that have decks for all the formats at their disposal?

FYI - a major post house in my town owes me a favor, they say they will let me sit and review my elements for free in one of their suites. Maybe I can sweet talk them into a discount for some transfers?

Also: I know very little about compression, CODECS, etc. What is the best way to go for an online reel? Flash? Quicktime?

Any help/advice would be appreciated!
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#2 Lav Bodnaruk

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 04:08 AM

this is an interesting question...

im leaning towards suggesting that you do it yourself on the FCP, make the new MacBook work for you. What i would do in this instance is use that favor at the post house to transfer all the footage you have on an external HDD - i.e. buy a Lacie 500GB with FireWire 800 connection. This will be handy to have for any work you plan to do on your MacBook. Then learn the software and cut the real in your own time.

Of course, this will not bring you any closer to having it on-line. QuickTime is good, and my personal favorite, but Flash in FLV format can also be very good and can usually get more clearer images on something that is 'more' compressed and 'smaller' in size... so one would tend to favor this format. Having said that, you would need to have a server and a web site to host this on, and if you are planning to do this on some sort of a 'share' thing - like YouTube, then it really is no need for the discussion as they will turn it into the format they want and compress the hell out of it...

Anyway... that format battle is one you are going to have to fight at a later stage when you know where it is going exactly and how big in the size you want it to be (MBs).

You know, you could still get the posthouse to import all the footage for you, dump it on an external HDD and get it to an editor (freelance) who can cut it and export it for you in the right format in no time... this would be cheaper option and one you can opt. to do if you go insane after a month of trying to do it yourself :)

Oh and i should mention that if you were not going with external HDD option, you could get it all onto DVCAM or MiniDV and have it imported into your computer by using a camera - so if you can get your hands onto that easier, you do not need a deck :)

cheers,

EDIT: typo

Edited by Lav Bodnaruk, 25 November 2008 - 04:10 AM.

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#3 Alfeo Dixon

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 09:58 AM

I have been dealing with this delima for a while. Along with trying to get the footage.

I would transfer your footage as 10bit uncompressed 1080 24p (this part will take a very long time... but you will thank yourself later for it) and make that a master file as a backup to your source media.

Codecs, good luck, I recently decided that Apples ProRes 422 codec is the better option for me for the reel and H.264 for the web version. There's a great little tool with FCP Suite called Compressor. Once you get every thing you want in one location (or scattered about) you can run a batch on the whole lot and produce many different versions of your footage, i.e. reel in SD or HD, web, handheld. I would only do all the different versions if your going to have individual clips used.

The best thing is to still uncompressed master file, downrez to something a bit easier to handle, maybe your web scaled version, you can always have those as individual clips on a website. Cut with that size 'offline' so you cut faster without a maxed out quad G5 tower. Then conform your uncompressed files using the EDL for and 'online.'

Now that you cut your project uncompressed, if needed, take that file to a post house and have them color correct your cut reel. Congrads, your almost there... back into compressor and batch out any format you may need.

Also, don't waste your time getting a 500GB drive, you'll fill it up in a very quick time. Opt out for at least a 1TB drive hopefully with a eSata port for the future. Seriously, the cost between 500GB and even 2TB is not too significant, the first $100 is for the hardware and not the drive. BTW, the money you'll save doing it yourself once you get the uncompressed files done, will more than pay for the extra TB.

-Alfeo
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#4 Charles Haine

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 10:48 AM

Some solid advice, especially about digitizing it all Uncompressed 10-bit.

If you've got a post house that owes you a favor, get it all digitized to Uncompressed 10-bit files so you have all the quality if there is a shot you want to play with in post.

But very few home systems are tricked out enough to deal with that, so I agree, transcode it all to ProRes (HQ) files for editing. My whole reel was editing in ProRes and it looks fantastic. My other career (from cinematography) is color correction, I work in ProRes all the time and I love it.

If you don't have room on whatever drive you buy (and again, I concur, go large, either LaCie or G-tech, avoid lesser known brands, and for now Western Digital also seems buggy), then digitize it all straight to ProRes. You'll have much, much smaller files, you won't need to transcode them, and if you aren't planning to heavily re-correct your footage, you ought to be totally happy with ProRes.

Here is where I differ; hire an editor. It's really hard to judge our own work, I think. I cut my own reel for years, but finally hired an editor, sat down and went through everything I shot, and he found all these clips that I had ignored for one reason or another that he thought were great and put into the reel, and I've gotten quite a few comments on those shots. He also talked me into taking a few shots out of my reel that were very difficult to pull off and I knew would impress other DPs but other DPs aren't the target for your reel, producer's and directors are, and he rightly pointed out they just weren't as interesting.

Anyway, moral of the story is, I started booking a ton more work after re-doing the reel. So, I would highly encourage you to work with an editor.

That said, definitely learn FCP, so that you can do slight little re-jiggers of the reel when time allows.

From your ProRes edited master, you should make H.264 quicktimes and flash .flv files for the web.

Ch:H
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Visual Products

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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Glidecam

Rig Wheels Passport

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Aerial Filmworks

Opal

CineTape

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

Abel Cine

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Metropolis Post