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Video Assist / Ground Glass / Anamorphic question


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#1 John Young

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 10:53 PM

So I was watching a "making of" thing, just passing some time, and I got to thinking about some of these telecine/digital post houses wanting a timecode or something similar on the footage.

Does the video assist have a "safe" area for whatever aspect ratio the picture is being shot built in? Perhaps I don't understand how video assist works.

Would I just "zoom in" my footage in my NLE if the timecode was burned into the footage?

Do modern cinema cameras put the timecode in the footage's overscan area and then the transfer/digitizing house pulls out the correct aspect ratio for the DI or work/answer print?

Sorry if that makes no sense at all...
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 01:03 AM

The video assist is just a video image of the viewfinder's groundglass, with whatever frameline markings they wanted to add in there, some have TV safe guides, some don't. You see the beyond the framelines and even beyond the film gate because this is what the lens is seeing without the gate cropping it.

Generally you wouldn't have TV safe markings for a 2.40 anamorphic lensed movie though because it's silly, if you're shooting with anamorphic lenses, you're shooting for scope theatrical projection and you'll have to pan & scan it for TV later anyway, you can't compose for both TV and anamorphic on the set.

The timecode window is added to the dailies in post. Most people don't add timecode to the film itself in-camera, the telecine will read the film's keycode (barcode) on the edges and look at the timecode displayed on the Smart Slate. However, there are devices like Arricode and Aatoncode which do burn-in time code on the edge of the film near the sprockets, outside of the picture frame. You don't see this in dailies or any video transfer, but the number is read by a machine. It's used to make syncing dailies go faster, without the need for slates (though recommended).

Basically the timecode and keycode info is stored on the tape and can be read by the editing software, but you can also get the info displayed on the image as a window with numbers in it.

Dailies with a TC window burned in would not be used for the final product. However, if the TC window is in the letterboxed area of the dailies, some people will put a black mask over it for making screener dubs for previews. But like I said, a window-burned video daily is not meant to be used for anything but offline editing. You then generate an EDL of the cut and go back to your film negative or high-resolution digital masters to conform or online.

You shoot a framing chart that matches the framelines in the viewfinder and send this to the telecine house so they know how to line-up any letterboxing, etc. You tell them what aspect ratio you want for the transfer. If for offline dailies, you might get them letterboxed to the theatrical ratio. But the scan later for the D.I. would use all the available negative and then follow your framing chart to know how it is meant to be cropped.
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