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Preserving Quality in Post Workflow


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#1 Evan Pierre

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 04:09 AM

Hello,

We have begun shooting a very ambitious high school film on a canon XL2. The script is so expansive that we plan to shoot it over the course of about a month and a half. This is to keep us from being overwhelmed by the 50+ locations and 40+ actors :lol:

While doing some scouting on saturday we rolled our first tape as the sun set. We are going to be capturing this onto an FCP equipped mac and organizing and backing up (twice!) all files and footage as we shoot over the course of production.

My question is this: What workflow should we use to ensure the HIGHEST quality possible is saved when capturing, processing, editing, and then finally authoring to DVD our DV tapes from the XL2. We have an external deck to capture with. In the past I have just captured straight into fcp and then exported with compressor then burned with dvd studio pro. I have a feeling there is a better way to do this.

Thank you!

- Evan
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#2 Matt Read

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 10:30 AM

In the past I have just captured straight into fcp and then exported with compressor then burned with dvd studio pro.


Evan,
At the level you're working at, this work flow is pretty standard. What will affect your image quality the most are the codecs you use.

When capturing your footage into FCP make sure you are using the same codec that your XL-2 records with. This information can be found either in a user's manual or online. In addition to using the same codec, make sure the aspect ratio, resolution, frame rate and bit rate are the same in FCP as on your XL-2.

If you have any effects shots that will require you to use Motion and/or AfterEffects, I would suggest that you export the shots from FCP using the Animation codec at a high resolution (while maintaining the same frame rate and aspect ratio from your FCP timeline) and work with this codec and resolution in Motion/AfterEffects as well. This will help you to create your effects with more detail and you will end up with fewer rough edges when you compress back to the codec and resolution you are editing with.

When you are ready to make a DVD, export from FCP using compressor. Select DVD Best Quality 90 minutes (unless your video is longer than 90 minutes or you will have additional videos, etc. on your DVD. In that case, choose either 120 minutes or 150 minutes). Be sure to export both an MPEG-2 and Dolby Digital Professional file so that you have both video and audio. These are the codecs you want to use because any video you import into DVD Studio will eventually be converted into an MPEG-2 and Dolby Digital file anyway. By exporting with these codecs in the first place, you avoid your video being compressed an additional time and thus avoid any potential image degradation that may occur.

In addition to these steps, set you XL-2 to record at the best quality it's capable of. Other than that, there's not really much else you can do.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 10:37 AM

The real limiting factor of all of this is the DV Codec of the XL. It's not really all that high quality of a codec, not that it's bad, it certainly has it's place.
I would recommend, though, exporting uncompressed NTSC 8-bit from FCP and then bringing that into compressor separately. That's my own work-flow for DV stuff. Technically there isn't any higher quality created from this, but to my eye the uncompressed version looks better than the DV export version.
Try a quick export of a small clip with the uncompressed vs the DV and see which one looks better to you-- though I must say it might be a good idea to look into a little better of a camera, something like an HVX @720p or a XDCamEX @1080. I don't know if I'd go with HDV, but acquisition in HD for latter down-sizing to SD (from prosumer cameras) generally gives a bump in quality.
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#4 David Ghast

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 12:58 AM

Ditch the mac platform, your looking for trouble working on a fischer price computer. When it comes to doing post, proprietary is not a word you want to hear. You get format locked and before you know it steve jobs dick will find its way into your mouth.


You think im joking, you'll see.
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#5 Matt Read

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 11:22 AM

Ditch the mac platform, your looking for trouble working on a fischer price computer. When it comes to doing post, proprietary is not a word you want to hear. You get format locked and before you know it steve jobs dick will find its way into your mouth.


You think im joking, you'll see.


Why did you even bother replying to this post? Nothing you said even remotely applies to what Evan was asking about, nor could it be helpful to him. The kid is in high school. FCP on a Mac is the best option for his situation. In fact, it's the best option for many situations. I know several professional editors who cut wide-release features on FCP on Macs. Learning FCP in high school will give this kid a huge jump start if he decides to pursue a career as a professional editor.

The next time you don't have anything helpful or nice to say, don't bother saying anything at all. It just makes you look like a jerk.
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