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SD footage in XDCAM project

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Andrei Zagdansky
SD footage in XDCAM project
on Dec 1, 2008 at 11:48:24 pm

Hi everybody -
I am looking for the best way to "upconvert" SD footage DVCPRO 50 PAL for XDCAM sequences. Zooming does not look too good.

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Andrei



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Noah Kadner
Re: SD footage in XDCAM project
on Dec 2, 2008 at 12:25:55 am

On which NLE are we talking about? There are dedicated upconvertor programs for Mac and PC that do a much better job btw. But ultimately there's no substitute for starting with HD source footage in the first place.

Noah

Check out My FCP Blog and my new RED Blog. Unlock the secrets of the DVX100, HVX200 and Apple Color.
Now featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, DVD Studio Pro and Sound for Film and TV.
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Andrei Zagdansky
Re: SD footage in XDCAM project
on Dec 2, 2008 at 12:50:57 am

Oh, thank you Noah,

I mean FCP. SD footage is given, not my choice. What Mac upconvertor?



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Noah Kadner
Re: SD footage in XDCAM project
on Dec 2, 2008 at 7:27:59 am

Try


http://www.digitalanarchy.com/resizer/main.html

-Noah

Check out My FCP Blog and my new RED Blog. Unlock the secrets of the DVX100, HVX200 and Apple Color.
Now featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, DVD Studio Pro and Sound for Film and TV.
http://www.callboxlive.com


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Stephen May
Re: SD footage in XDCAM project
on Dec 2, 2008 at 9:21:08 pm

Andrei,

It's not really uncommon to be in a place where a lot of the best shots that support a piece are still in SD. Most of my library is SD, but that's changing quickly.

So the BIG question is what the delivery is of the piece you're working on. If it's really HD - Blue Ray, whatever, then I suppose you are going to have to drop your SD clips into the HD sequence. If it's really not going to be HD in the end, you're better off working in SD and dropping the HD clips into a SD timeline. But if you know this already, and you're stuck with the first scenario, then here's my opinion:

Find creative ways to frame the SD shots using backgrounds or frames. Maybe have a SD clip push across the frame into a resting position. I will often drop a Standard Def. clip into a V2 track at near 100% scale or a bit more (thus it's way smaller than the HD frame), but have the same clip underneath it (V1) and scale it to fill top to bottom, and desaturate the clip and/or apply a blur to it. None of this is optimal, but the bottom line is that you're being asked to use SD clips in HD resolution frame - so your client needs to be a little forgiving and very understanding.

If your SD clips were actually shot on a nice camera with at least 2/3 inch CCD chips and a decent lens, then you might be happy to know that they can stand up better than you think to a 1/2 CCD or CMOS HD camera. But it is what it is. You are looking at going the worst direction in workflow to upconvert SD to HD. There's no way around that. -s

Stephen May
Keystone Media Productions
Freelance Videographer


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Andrei Zagdansky
Re: SD footage in XDCAM project
on Dec 3, 2008 at 12:45:15 am

Stephen -

Truly appreciate your input. This is a documentary, and I still thinking how to find the best way to marry nice and clean XDCAM footage with archival really old stuff. I sense a lot of practical wisdom (and brutal truth!) in your post. Thanks again.

Andrei Zagdansky

Independent filmmaker



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Don Greening
Re: SD footage in XDCAM project
on Dec 3, 2008 at 5:04:40 am

Andrei,

Although no one has mentioned it yet, why not meet in the middle of the formats and use DVCPRO HD 720? You could up convert the DVCPRO 50 stuff and it wouldn't take as big a quality hit as it would with up converting to 1080. The XDCAM footage would easily down convert to 720 and still look great. By the time the final show hits the home viewer's TV it's just about all 720 anyway.

I recently had to up convert some SD progressive 16:9 footage to match with my 1080p XDCAM stuff. I dropped everything into a DVCPRO HD 720p timeline and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the SD footage looked. What did I use for the up convert? Apple's Compressor.

- Don


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Andrei Zagdansky
Re: SD footage in XDCAM project
on Dec 4, 2008 at 11:20:01 am

Sounds reasonable. I even tried this approach and mixed SD and XDCAM footage in DVCPRO HD 720 sequence, rendered in AppleProRes422. SD looks great, XDCAM not so great. Maybe I did it a bit hastily.
But I keep thinking.
For the sake of argument, what if I finish everything as XDCAM, treat SD with Magic Bullet, as Noah advised, (my SD is mostly b/w grainy stuff anyway) print HD master and then downconvert to SD, say dub to DigiBeta. How my SD stuff will look? Any ideas?

As always thank you all.

Andrei Z.
Independent filmmaker



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Don Greening
Re: SD footage in XDCAM project
on Dec 5, 2008 at 12:47:34 am

Hi Andrei,

I'd like to say that your proposed workflow to combine SD and HD would look great but I can't. I've never used Magic Bullet and have never gone through the process of exporting to Digibeta from an HD or SD timeline. However, I can tell you that I've always had great results when down converting EX 1080p footage to a DVCPRO HD 720p timeline using FCP 6. The SD stuff looked good in 720p as well. Then I simply chose to "Export Using Quicktime Conversion" out of FCP 6 and created a 720p H.264 movie for a client. They loved it. My final output codec is, of course, not the codec you would choose but I would expect similar results doing it your way.

- Don


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Andrei Zagdansky
Re: SD footage in XDCAM project
on Dec 7, 2008 at 3:07:33 pm

Hi Don,

I played more with DVCPRO HD 720p time line in FCP 6 and got very convincing results. Interesting: no noticeable difference between sequences rendered in DVCPRO HD or appleprores 422. EX footage didn't suffer any major loss either.
Bottom line: I think I found my workflow for this project.
You made my day.

Thank you all.


Andrei Z.
independent filmmaker



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Andy Mees
Re: SD footage in XDCAM project
on Dec 6, 2008 at 3:50:19 pm

Best way to upconvert would be via a high quality hardware converter such as those provided by Teranex.
I regularly combine Teranex upconverted SD material in native 1080i edits with excellent results, although much depends on the quality of the source. Compare well shot and upconverted SD against sloppily shot HD and the former is by far the better. In your situation Andrei, the rougher quality of the archived material should actually work to your advantage ... as a rule viewers are more accepting of lesser quality where it is clear it is from an older source format.


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