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Don Greening - Question for you, please

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Bob O'Brien
Don Greening - Question for you, please
on Jan 5, 2009 at 11:39:49 pm

Don,

In a December 9th post, you list three methods of downconverting. Method three intrigued me because it saves a rendering step. Here it is:

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.

So, I tested it out:
-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 to get a 16.9 anamorphic MPEG2 file?

Thanks for your response in advance.

Bob O'Brien
Video Design



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Michael Palmer
Re: Don Greening - Question for you, please
on Jan 6, 2009 at 1:54:14 am

"So, I tested it out:
-Edit in XDCAM EX 1080 60i"

What record mode is this EX 1080 60i, HQ or SP?
I'm sure Don would need to know.

Good Luck
Michael Palmer


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Bob O'Brien
Re: Don Greening - Question for you, please
on Jan 6, 2009 at 2:21:27 am

HQ mode.

Thanks.

Bob

CAMERAS
Sony EX3 & Sony DXC637/PVV3 Betacam-SP

PORTABLE EDITING
*MacBook Pro - 2.33Ghz - 2Gb RAM
*Matrox MXO / 23" Cinema Display

DESKTOP
*DualG5 2Ghz w/2.5Gb RAM
*UL4D SCSI Card
*HMV800 DualMax RAID0
*AJA IO
*Sony 2800

SOFTWARE
*OSX10.4.11, QT 7.5, FCP 6.0.4, Livetype 2.1.3, Soundtrack Pro 2.0.2, DVDSP4.2.1, Adobe CS3 Prod Suite


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Don Greening
Re: Don Greening - Question for you, please
on Jan 6, 2009 at 6:27:47 am

[Bob O'Brien] "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."

I don't use MPEG Streamclip or Uncompressed 10 bit but the problem most likely lies in your SD export settings. EX footage in HQ mode is a square pixel codec and you're trying to export that to a codec that is non-square because you've flagged the Uncompressed 10 bit codec as Anamorphic. There's two ways to get what you want:

1. Export to the SD 720x480 space but make sure it's flagged as Anamorphic. Then Compressor or any other compression program will see the Anamorphic flag in the video stream and display it at the proper 16:9 aspect ratio. With MPEG Streamclip you probably have to manually flag your file as Anamorphic within that program.

2. You can do a straight non-anamorphic export using a square pixel aspect ratio of 853x480. This will result in the exact same 16:9 frame as the first method. To take away the potential problems of various programs not "seeing" the Anamorphic flags try it this method and see if it resolves your issue.

I'm probably not the best person to ask because I don't even use Compressor to encode to standard def. MPEG2 but use BitVice instead. Most of the time when I export using Quicktime Conversion out of FCP it's just to make downconverts (without rendering first) from 1080p to 720p or for the web.

- Don



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Michael Slowe
Re: Don Greening - Question for you, please
on Jan 6, 2009 at 11:35:33 am

Don, sorry to interrupt what is fast becoming your own Q & A thread, but I too use BitVice (the best?) for encoding SD DVD's and ask you whether you let BitVice do your downscale HD to SD or do this within your edit software prior to going to BitVice for encoding. Increasingly I find that people's preference is for DVD's and it is irritating that the MPEG 2 problems tend to negate the great picture quality we get with the EX1 so the encodes and downscales are vital if we are to retain quality. I don't understand Bob's problems regarding aspect ratio. Surely, if he is shooting in 16:9 with the EX (he has to), all the software he is using will retain that aspect throughout? Certainly BitVice does.

Michael Slowe


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Don Greening
Re: Don Greening - Question for you, please
on Jan 11, 2009 at 5:32:15 pm

[Michael Slowe] "for encoding SD DVD's and ask you whether you let BitVice do your downscale HD to SD or do this within your edit software prior to going to BitVice for encoding."

My version of BitVice (v.1.8) can't encode HD to SD MPEG2 so I have to export an SD version from FCP first. Having another compression stage before encoding to MPEG 2 probably doesn't help the picture quality too much but so far I've been fairly happy with the result. BitVice is good but the Cinema Craft encoder is best as far as software encoders go. It's available as a stand-alone app or as a Compressor plug-in. It's not cheap, either.

http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/cinema_craft_encoder.html

[Michael Slowe] "I don't understand Bob's problems regarding aspect ratio. Surely, if he is shooting in 16:9 with the EX (he has to), all the software he is using will retain that aspect throughout? Certainly BitVice does."

Keep in mind that you still have to manually check the 16:9 box in BitVice. Modern NLE's and their companion software will usually interpret the anamorphic flags correctly. When cross or down-converting the trouble comes when there's a lack of understanding about how it all works and the user starts changing preferences manually instead of letting the software do its job.

- Don



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Michael Slowe
Re: Don Greening - Question for you, please
on Jan 11, 2009 at 6:35:08 pm

Thanks from me also Don. Actually I have BitVice 1.8 and I export an HD timeline from Media 100 as a .Mov and BitVice does the downscale as well as the encode, are you sure yours won't? Thanks for Cinema Craft, I'll check it out.

Michael Slowe


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Don Greening
Re: Don Greening - Question for you, please
on Jan 12, 2009 at 7:03:56 pm

I've got Bitvice running on my G5 and do MPEG 2 encoding on that so I can continue editing on my Mac Pro. The other night I took your advice and tried to import a DVCPRO 720p .mov file into Bitvice. The program told me it could downscale to the DV space. When I said okay two error messages came up and I can't remember exactly what the problem was other than one of them said something about a Compressor mis-match. Then BitVice quit.

- Don


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Michael Slowe
Re: Don Greening - Question for you, please
on Jan 12, 2009 at 10:44:24 pm

Don, when I encode with BitVice I do this.
Export from my Media 100 HD (1920 X 1080i) timeline By reference and a .Mov file appears on my chosen drive. I bring that into BitVice and after daling with the questions regarding the AIFF audio file I am asked whether I want to scale the image. I agree and the main BitVice encoder window opens and I then set the various items, interlace, upper field, 16:9 aspect, bit rates etc etc. I am given a choice of scalers and then hit encode. The double pass encode (& presumably downscale) takes about 5X the length of the production. Then I have my m2v video file and quit BitVice. I then use Compressor to transform the AIFF audio to AC3 Dolby and then open Studio Pro to build and format combining the audio & video and finally burn the DVD with Titanium Toast.

It's quite a job but the result is pretty good but being MPEG2 not as good as tape. Now I don't know the DVCPRO codec you are using so can't reproduce the problem you had. Why don't you E Mail the people at Innobits at http://www.innbits.se.html and ask them, I have found them to be very helpful, they're in Sweden.

Michael Slowe


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Don Greening
Re: Don Greening - Question for you, please
on Jan 13, 2009 at 10:22:04 pm

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the detailed reply and for your workflow suggestions. My issues are, in part, due to the fact that my Bitvice program resides on a different computer that doesn't have the same codecs as my Mac Pro where all the editing is done. A common HD codec to both machines is the DVCPRO HD 720p codec so I down converted to that from the XDCAM EX 1080p codec. Perhaps Bitvice doesn't like the the 720p anamorphic codec. Anyway, since most of my EX footage is down converted to DV first to match my other multi camera shoot footage it's not a real huge issue for me at the moment. Anything that needs to stay in HD from the EX is usually destined for the web anyway and I just use Compressor to convert to H.264. I'll wait until Bitvice Pro is released before I worry any more about what I'm doing wrong with the current version.

- Don


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Bob O'Brien
Re: Don Greening - Question for you, please
on Jan 6, 2009 at 12:52:18 pm

Thanks Don. That makes sense.

Thank you for sharing your expertise.

Bob


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