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HDCAM SR to Hard Drive for Editing - What Codec


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#1 Michael McInerney

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 04:40 PM

So I'm waiting on sending an e-mail back to Technicolor, got a quick question on something I'd like a second opinion on.

We've got about 4500 feet of Super 16mm film, that's being transferred to HDCAM SR, and being converted from that to a digital file to be be edited offline (which turned out to be cheaper than going to DVCAM at 20 cents a foot).

Now, I THINK that the best, or most reasonable codec to go to (as a Final Cut editor) would be Apple Prores 422 HQ, but I can't say that for sure because I haven't gone through this process before.

What codec would you suggest I have them use to put our footage to hard drive, considering filesize and such? Would it be possible to go to HD with the digital footage, at a reasonable bitrate so that I'd be able to edit easily in Final Cut? Thanks for any help.
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#2 Dan Goulder

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 05:30 PM

I would double check on the DVCAM transfer estimate, since it's generally an hourly charge where tape transfer is concerned. They actually could have done a simul-transfer to DVCAM when they went to HDCAM SR. If you want to put the footage on hard drive, you should probably choose between ProRes HQ and DVCPro HD, depending on what your editing system can handle. Either one will give you good results. (Prores would probably be recommended first, although I think DPro HD works well, too.)
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#3 Michael McInerney

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 06:45 PM

Yeah, they said that it'd be a simul-transfer, but regardless they said that the DVCAM charge was a 20 cent a foot charge, the SR charge is $400 an hour for transfer. The hard drive option is going to be a few hundred dollars cheaper, primarily because I already have available hard drives. When I called back they agreed that Prores was pretty much the best I could get, or near it.
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#4 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 07:31 PM

As for a codec, why not go sans? Uncompressed, that is; if you have like an AJA or Blackmagic card, enough hard drive space and big enough processor AND if you are not doing a lot of rendering. Huge files but best for quality conscious people, or if you are doing a film out.

Otherwise ProRes 422 HQ will do nicely.
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 10:32 PM

I was in a similar spot for a short, but we decided on HDCam and then out to DVCProHD. Seems to be a nice little work-flow and only added $75 onto the total cost.
I'm about to look into the same exact thing as you (SR-->ProRes) so if you hear anything, let me know if you please
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#6 Michael McInerney

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 10:42 PM

As far as uncompressed, I definitely don't have a proper rig to handle that for an offline - I'd like to edit the Apple Prores and then bring in the EDL and do the conform back to HDCAM SR if we get the money to do that in the end.

Adrian, the footage is being transferred tonight, and we should get it soon. I'm just hoping we a) get our money together and B) the workflow is easy enough when we do get it. What did you want to know about SR -> Prores?
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 10:46 PM

If it's just an offline, use anything convenient.

But why not just online it - it's not like hard disks are expensive. All you need is the space, you don't even need the speed if you're a bit clever.

P
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 10:53 PM

Mike, just any hiccups which come up along the way.
As it's going through tonight I am assuming it's not a supervised session? Here's hoping one can do a supervised HDCamSR-->ProRes/Uncompressed for an online and reconform later on in post. Else, hell, just do it off of the HDCamSR if it ever comes up necessary (sorry going into my own film now!)

Best of luck with it all!
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#9 Michael McInerney

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 09:03 AM

Wow, I like how in my last post my point "b" became a smiley, haha.

I'll let you know about the process as I'm going through it, Adrian. I don't know if they finished it last night (they said yesterday that they started it the previous night, the flex file too awhile to set up, and they had to do a second session, which was either yesterday night or tonight). I've got to drop off a hard drive for them when they're done. And yeah, it was unsupervised, but we had all our filtration/framerate/color temp. feels indicated on the camera reports, as well as a few sentences of instruction (everything was pretty much universally overexposed by a stop), and about six stills that our set photographer took that has the sort of look we want in the scenes we shot. So it's a "guided" unsupervised transfer, sort of. If and when we can afford the conform, we'll do a supervised coloring session then. The idea is to have a completely uncompressed final, which I'd be unable to do myself as I don't have an online editing system - even if I had a disgusting setup (which I don't), Final Cut imposes it's own compression on anything that comes in/out of it. This way (the conform) I'd like to get a master uncompressed Blu-Ray and HDCAM SR final.

Not doing the transfer supervised is basically a money/time (mostly money) issue. This is pretty much all coming out of pocket for us.
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#10 Mike Nichols

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 10:09 AM

Wow, I like how in my last post my point "b" became a smiley, haha.

I'll let you know about the process as I'm going through it, Adrian. I don't know if they finished it last night (they said yesterday that they started it the previous night, the flex file too awhile to set up, and they had to do a second session, which was either yesterday night or tonight). I've got to drop off a hard drive for them when they're done. And yeah, it was unsupervised, but we had all our filtration/framerate/color temp. feels indicated on the camera reports, as well as a few sentences of instruction (everything was pretty much universally overexposed by a stop), and about six stills that our set photographer took that has the sort of look we want in the scenes we shot. So it's a "guided" unsupervised transfer, sort of. If and when we can afford the conform, we'll do a supervised coloring session then. The idea is to have a completely uncompressed final, which I'd be unable to do myself as I don't have an online editing system - even if I had a disgusting setup (which I don't), Final Cut imposes it's own compression on anything that comes in/out of it. This way (the conform) I'd like to get a master uncompressed Blu-Ray and HDCAM SR final.

Not doing the transfer supervised is basically a money/time (mostly money) issue. This is pretty much all coming out of pocket for us.


ProRes HQ is great!
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#11 Dan Goulder

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:25 PM

If it's just an offline, use anything convenient.

But why not just online it - it's not like hard disks are expensive. All you need is the space, you don't even need the speed if you're a bit clever.

P

Hey Phil,
How would one work around the speed limitation? (I assume you mean without using a large RAID).
Thanks.
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#12 Michael McInerney

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 03:06 PM

ProRes HQ is great!


Haha, you work in rentals at Able Cine Mike? My friends just came back from renting some lenses only like a few hours ago, and I know Jeff who works in repairs, I believe.

I'm hoping ProRes HQ is great; I've only heard fabulous things about it, whether firsthand, or in magazines, or from professors. I'm going to be getting it in HD, so maybe I won't even need to do a conform (it'd be nice $ wise). I guess I'll just see as time goes on.

If anybody is curious, we would have spent about $4450 or so from everything from tape stock to post costs thus far. That is, a 120 and 40 minute HDCAM SR tapes, cost of development, HD transfer, and digitizing to hard drive. Hard drive cost not included due to the fact that I have many already, haha. And all of that is at a student rate. If you go to HD, expect to pay an hourly rate of 2-3 times the amount of recorded footage you have (more if you have them sync sound instead of doing it yourself). And this is all for 16mm, too. We handed in about 4500 feet alltogether. As far as hard drive space is concerned, wiki says Prores 422 HQ in HD is 220mbit/s, which I believe translates to about 27.5 megabytes/second, which is about 1.65 gigs a minute, which for us, with 2 and a half hours of recorded footage is about 248 gigs alltogether (though if I'm wrong on any of this, feel free to correct me!).
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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 09:02 PM

How would one work around the speed limitation?


1) Get your hard disk full of huge, uncompressed quicktime movies.

2) Use your tool of choice to create low res versions of these which you can play back. This is an overnight process, probably.

3) Edit the low res versions.

4) Use conform tool of choice (Premiere can be press-ganged into doing it, I believe FCP certainly with Film Tools will do it) to apply edits to full res material. You won't be able to play this back smoothly, but you will be able to:

5) Render said timeline out to a file on a hard disk, which will also be a slow process, and take it back to the post house for output to your delivery format.

At no point does your computer have to be able to play back the full resolution material in real time; you just let it render through at whatever speed it can muster. The only very, very marginal problem this can cause is if there is a problem which is objectionable on the full res material, but hidden by the lower resolution of the proxies; this would have to be a very narrowly characterised problem and I don't think it's something you'd see often. Even then, you can scan lumpily through full res shots you're concerned about and at least view them as stills or slow motion video.

None of this removes the requirement to have the sheer space available to online your project, and with these sorts of workflows you're liable to have to keep a large proportion of your original footage online, but just needing space is cheaper and easier than needing fast space.

P
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#14 Mike Nichols

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 11:12 AM

1) Get your hard disk full of huge, uncompressed quicktime movies.

2) Use your tool of choice to create low res versions of these which you can play back. This is an overnight process, probably.

3) Edit the low res versions.

4) Use conform tool of choice (Premiere can be press-ganged into doing it, I believe FCP certainly with Film Tools will do it) to apply edits to full res material. You won't be able to play this back smoothly, but you will be able to:

5) Render said timeline out to a file on a hard disk, which will also be a slow process, and take it back to the post house for output to your delivery format.

At no point does your computer have to be able to play back the full resolution material in real time; you just let it render through at whatever speed it can muster. The only very, very marginal problem this can cause is if there is a problem which is objectionable on the full res material, but hidden by the lower resolution of the proxies; this would have to be a very narrowly characterised problem and I don't think it's something you'd see often. Even then, you can scan lumpily through full res shots you're concerned about and at least view them as stills or slow motion video.

None of this removes the requirement to have the sheer space available to online your project, and with these sorts of workflows you're liable to have to keep a large proportion of your original footage online, but just needing space is cheaper and easier than needing fast space.

P


Ha, what Phil said!

Luckily enough, I had the luxury of having a beefy enough system to work online with no hiccups the whole time. I worked with 10bit RGB LOG files with my CalDigit HDOne and Mac Pro Superbeasto.

I do in fact work at Abel. It's been 6 months now and it's great...Except I have to see Mitch Gross all day long :) (hey Mitch!)

Seriously, I have never been surrounded by so many SMART people. The help I have gotten from my co-workers on my film has been invaluable.
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#15 Tony Gioconda

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 11:44 AM

Long time reader- first time poster....

Anywho.... I'm essentially doing the same thing. I have about 5000 feet of S16mm at Postworks right now. Its 36 cents a foot to go to HDCAM SR then $150 an hour to put that on to a hard drive. I gave them stock and a hard drive so add $300 and $400, respectively, to the price (plus another $250ish for back up HD). I've asked for 10 bit 4:4:4 uncompressed files. Even if you wanted to down rez to ProRes HQ or any of the other HD codecs, starting with the highest possibly quality digital files will essentially let you work with whatever works best for you.... at least that's my philosophy...

What i plan to do is take the huge (7 GBs a minute) video files and put them through Compressor to make SD copies of the files. I'll probably use ProRes for the codec, but i'll figure that out when I get my stuff back. I'll then take the SD files and cut the short on my MBP using FCP. Once i get to picture lock, I'll go back to full rez files for color correction and my one effects shot. I am lucky enough to have a friend with an HD capable rig, but even then, once i get to picture lock, real-time editing isn't all that necessary.

I'll be finishing on Blu-ray or DVD (I hear a rumor that you can burn 20ish minutes of Blu-ray quality video on a standard DVD-R) for cast and crew then eventually go back to HDCAM SR.

....but to answer the original question... Codecs? Shmodecs. Uncompressed is the way to go.

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