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EX to NTSD-SD Export Confusion

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Chris Babbitt
EX to NTSD-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 9, 2008 at 6:40:52 pm

I know this has been discussed ad nausium, but there has been so much conflicting advice that I am very confused. I know, I am often confused, so please be patient with me.

Several have said that if your project is going to end up as an SD DVD, then do not export in the native XDCAM format. Instead, you should do your downconversion in FCP instead of Compressor, and export to Pro-Res instead of the native XDCAM codec, and bring that into Compressor instead. So, I take my XDCAM sequence and drop it into an NTSC-SD timeline. My confusion has to do with what the settings of the SD sequence should be. Assuming that the footage is 1080 60i and I want to maintain a 16x9 aspect ratio and don't care to de-interlace, what should the settings be? Frame size? 720x480 anamorphic? 853x480 non-anamorphic? Square or rectangular pixels, etc. The advice, both in this and in the FCP forums has been vague and all over the map. Can someone (Raphael?) please post specific detailed settings for an NTSC-SD Pro-res (or another appropriate codec) sequence? Thanks for helping out a slow learner.


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Don Greening
Re: EX to NTSD-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 9, 2008 at 9:28:48 pm

[Chris Babbitt] "I am often confused, so please be patient with me. "

"I could've been a doctor but I had no patience."

[Chris Babbitt] "Assuming that the footage is 1080 60i and I want to maintain a 16x9 aspect ratio and don't care to de-interlace, what should the settings be? Frame size? 720x480 anamorphic? 853x480 non-anamorphic? Square or rectangular pixels, etc."

The SD settings should be DV NTSC Anamorphic if you want to use that. A less lossy SD codec would be the DVCPRO 50 Anamorphic codec but the files sizes are larger than DV NTSC. Both these codecs are 720X480 regardless of the screen aspect ratio. Choosing the Anamorphic setting is the difference between your project being 4:3 or 16:9. Dropping your EX square P.A.R. (pixel aspect ratio) footage into an SD sequence with a P.A.R. of .09 (I think it's .09) will result in a properly displayed picture. Final Cut Pro will automatically do the PAR change anyway.

- Don



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Chris Babbitt
Re: EX to NTSD-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 9, 2008 at 9:49:09 pm

Very funny, Don. DV-NTSC is easy, but I'm looking for something less lossy. Raphael had suggested Pro-Res, but then you have to specify settings, frame size, and everything else, and he was ambiguous. I'll have to try DVCPro50 as you suggest. Does that give you better results than letting Compressor do the downsizing?



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Don Greening
Re: EX to NTSD-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 10, 2008 at 5:23:34 am

As with anything else to do with FCP there are at least 3 or 4 ways to accomplish the same task. If you want to use ProRes then set your sequence to 853x480 square pixels then copy and paste the EX stuff into it. When FCP asks if you want to change the sequence settings to match the footage say no. Not having a lot of experience going from HD interlaced to SD interlaced you can do a little test. In your initial SD ProRes sequence setup set the field dominance to "lower". The EX stuff will have the fields set to upper and FCP may shift the fields automatically when you drag the HD stuff into the SD timeline. Just do a test using both methods and see which one does the job.

If you use DVCPRO 50 you can drag everything into the empty sequence and FCP will do everything for you. Folks were using DVCPRO 50 long before ProRes showed up and the results were fine.

Method number 3: Edit your project in the native EX timeline complete with titling, graphics, the works. Set your rendering codec to Pro Res if you want but don't render anything. When you're finished choose "Export Using Quicktime Conversion" and choose either DVCPRO 50 or ProRes as the output codec. FCP will scale everything and output a finished, fully rendered self-contained .mov file. You don't need to render anything before the export which saves on disc space. This is the method I use a fair bit.

- Don


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Chris Babbitt
Re: EX to NTSD-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 10, 2008 at 5:33:31 am

I like your method #3. That makes more sense to me than all the fooling around with a new sequence. I'll give it a try. Does it give you better results than going directly to Compressor?



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Don Greening
Re: EX to NTSD-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 10, 2008 at 5:59:06 am

Same result, since Compressor is the common denominator and major player in anything that gets rendered or compressed. The major difference in workflow methods is time. Unlike others who think Compressor takes longer than within FCP, I've used Compressor as a stand-alone app. to cross or down convert clips for use in FCP. I continue to edit while Compressor works in the background. For myself, Compressor will work much faster than doing the same thing in the FCP timeline. For example, if you right or control-click a clip in a sequence one of the options in the pop-up is to "media manage" a clip. You can cross, up or down convert by choosing "re-compress" in the media manager window. This will use Compressor to do the job but it takes a lot longer to get the job done using that method than simply using Compressor as a stand-alone app. and do the same thing. Curiouser and curiouser.......

- Don


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Chris Babbitt
Re: EX to NTSD-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 10, 2008 at 8:23:47 am

"Same result, since Compressor is the common denominator and major player in anything that gets rendered or compressed."

That's what I've always thought, but some others believe that you get better results by downscaling in FCP first. I have to say that I've been disappointed in my DVDs (soft image) when taking 1080i XDCAM files into Compressor, so I'm looking for a higher quality method. My 720p (HQ) footage looks great, however, using this method. It's just the interlaced stuff that I don't like. In fact, I don't think it looks as good as my DVDs that were sourced from DVCAM.

I'm wondering if exporting to ProRes SD & checking "High Precision YUV" rendering as Raphael suggests, would yield a better DVD in the end.



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Don Greening
Re: EX to NTSC-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 10, 2008 at 9:09:46 am

[Chris Babbitt] "I'm wondering if exporting to ProRes SD & checking "High Precision YUV" rendering as Raphael suggests, would yield a better DVD in the end."

Rendering in High Precision YUV can be either 8 bit or 10 bit depending on the sequence codec you're using. For example, the YUV 10 bit option will only be available if you use codecs such as ProRes HQ or 10 bit Uncompressed. Using High Precision YUV will take longer to render out and it will make a difference to any graphics in the timeline. However, it will not make any difference to the actual footage.

I can't advise you on a better way to down convert 1080i to SD because I shoot progressive all the time. I find SD progressive looks far better on today's LCD and plasma displays than interlaced does. Plus I do a lot of work that ends up on the web and progressive is the only thing to use there. With progressive you don't have to worry about field dominance at all and whether or not FCP will do a successful field flip going from HD to SD.

There's also a big issue with down converted EX footage having "line twitter" any time there's subtle motion. I've heard reports that if you shoot with the detail setting off on the EX cameras that the issue almost completely disappears. I have to test this one out for myself.

- Don



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Mick Haensler
Re: EX to NTSC-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 10, 2008 at 9:02:43 pm

Seems like I'm not the only one going through this AGAIN today. I've got a 144 minute project to output to SD DVD and I was trying to find a less time consuming way to render. My workflow has been:

1. Edit EX footage natively in FCP
2. Create an SD timeline and drag the EX sequence into it
3. Control R to render that timeline
4. Export that as a self contained MOV file, usually with the Prorez HQ codec
5. Drop that file into Compressor and compress
6. Take THAT file into DVD studio and burn

All well and good for short projects, but now I've got 2 monster training DVDs and I wanted to save some time. So I'm trying exporting straight from the EX timeline into Compressor. So far it's looking like the 144 minute project is going to take at least 6 hours to compress on a Octocore machine.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media



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Aleksey Severyukhin
Re: EX to NTSC-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 12, 2008 at 3:24:52 am

Hi there! I've been searching around for xdcam ex-sd dvd solution all over the web and it's really hard to find the proper workflow.
Can you please provide more details:
In step 2, what is the settings of created SD timeline?
In step 5, what is you settings for compression?




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Don Greening
Re: EX to NTSC-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 12, 2008 at 6:52:36 am

Hi Aleksey,

This may help in your quest:

http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/8/1014954

- Don


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Aleksey Severyukhin
Re: EX to NTSC-SD Export Confusion
on Dec 12, 2008 at 11:40:36 pm

thank you Don, im still trying to find a working way for sd conversion.



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Bob O'Brien
Re: EX to NTSD-SD Export Confusion
on Jan 3, 2009 at 7:24:17 pm

Don,

I was intrigued by method 3 since it would save the extra rendering step.

-Edit in XDCAM EX 1080 60i sequence (w/render settings to ProRes HQ)... but don't render.
-Export Self Contained file in SD Codec of choice (I chose Unc 10-bit anamorphic).

The resulting SD file looks great playing back in Compressor (properly playing back in 16:9), but in MPEG Streamclip, it is squished to 4:3.

To convert to MPEG2, my Compressor settings were 6.2Mbps 7.7 max. 2-pass 16.9 AUTO field (the orig is 60i).

The results looks awful. In both Compressor and MPEG Streamclip, the m2v file plays back stretched out in a 16:9 frame (because of the stretch, the sides are cut off... as though a normal 4:3 file were stretched to fill a 16:9 frame).

So, I tried the same Compressor settings except with with a 4:3 aspect.

The results were a properly centercut 4:3 image.

Clearly, I'm doing something wrong. How can I use your workflow it get a 16.9 anamorphic MPEG2 file?

Thanks for your response in advance.

Bob







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