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What is the best way to scale/zoom-up Red footage in FCX?

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Dennis Widmyer
What is the best way to scale/zoom-up Red footage in FCX?
on Sep 17, 2013 at 5:24:32 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm currently editing a feature film in Final Cut X Pro (10.0.9). I've edited on FCX in the past, but this is my first feature project with it. The feature was shot on two cameras. Camera A was a Red Epic (5K). Camera B was a Red Scarlet (4K). An assistant editor was in charge of getting the project set up. I'm the co-director, so I didn't come on board the edit until a few weeks after he had everything imported, in sync, and properly structured in keyword folders per scene number. The guy did a great job and organized the **** out of everything. He then cut a few assemblies for us.

Now I'm working on it on my own and it's been going great, but I have two questions which have dogged me:

1. There's been a handful of shots I've wanted to enlarge / scale / zoom-in on. A good example is a medium shot, which I prefer to now be a CU of the actor's face. The way I've been doing this up until now, is by selecting the clip in the timeline, going to the Video inspector window in the top right, and changing the Scale percentage. I usually find though that, if I go beyond 150%, I lose a lot of quality. Now, at first I thought this was just because I was using Proxy Media (only for Playback) in my edit. So I did a test and opened the same clip in a separate project reel. I then scaled the clip again to 175% but de-selected 'Use Proxy media for Playback.' So in essence, I did an 'online' to see the raw media in my timeline. And after doing this, the scaled clip's quality definitely improved. But not enough to give me the confidence to do this often throughout the film.

So my question is, is there a better / smarter way to do this? I've been reading PDFs lately about tbe best practices for a Red workflow with FCX. And I see that they recommend making tweaks to files using the 'RED Raw Settings Control.' I confess, I've never dabbled with this. To me, any sort of RED tweaking will happen during the mastering phase. Not during the basic edit. But would this option be better for scaling clips? Or is scaling clips something I should hold off on for now and do in the more final stages of mastering.

2. This second question sort of ties into my basic Project Property settings. So first, a recap of the workflow we used to get the project into FCX:

- Imported all RED Raw footage from both cameras.
- Synced up audio and multi-cam clips.
- Playback settings are 'Use proxy media.' (no Optimized media was created and as far as I know now, Optimized / Proxy media wasn't creating during Import, nor were Import folders / keyword collections created at that point.)

Now, when I look at my Project Properties, it says my 'Video Properties' are in 5K. And my Render Format is Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy). So the way I read that, any straight up Export I do of the default video file is going to be 5K. That includes any sort of Apple ProRes export.

So is this correct? Even though I'm viewing my reel as a Proxy for Playback, is it okay that my Project Properties video size is still 5K? Or should've that been changed to 1080p before I did any editing on this project? Is the 5K project setting slowing me down? Or adding on more time to my Vimeo Shares and straight Exports?

I know I'm asking a lot of questions here, so perhaps it will be easier if someone can explain what their workflow is with 5K footage in 5K. We're doing a small screening of the rough cut tonight for friends and I wanted to export an Apple ProRes 422, but it's like 300GB big! So it seems the only option I have is to use the Apple Devices preset and export an H.264.

Thank you in advance to anyone that can provide me some advice.

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Bill Davis
Re: What is the best way to scale/zoom-up Red footage in FCX?
on Sep 17, 2013 at 5:56:23 pm

I don't do 4k or 5k workflows, so take that into account FIRST.

But one concept that is important when you're working with X is that it's largely raster independent. In other words, it does a lot of "on the fly" scaling as it's needed.

Now you indicate that you are working on a 5k timeline? Which means that EVERY clip shot at less than 5k will need to be upscaled to fill the 5k base screen rez. Which may or may NOT be what you want.

Typically in X, the key parameter is your output format. I know the temptation is to simply create and work with as large a raster as is possible - but before you do that, honestly evaluate where your "film" is most likely to be shown. If you have a theatrical distribution contract in place and your work WILL be going into large format theaters, then of course, you want to work in the highest rez possible from the start. But if it's more likely that you're going to practically deliver for smaller screens, setting your native raster at something closer to a HiDef broadcast raster will allow you to do the kind of up-scaling you're discussing without so much visible penalty. THEN, you can always use the referental qualities of X to output a LARGER raster when and if you end up needing it.

Many of us working with simple DSLR footage set our production rasters at 1280 even tho we're using 1920 field footage, precisely because it gives us the ability to push in on shots when that's useful - and since we're often delivering to the web at smaller rasters - everything looks crystal clear. X does that kind of scaling really really well. (well, everying but downscaling to 4x3 SD, but that's another story!)

You're kinda doing the same thing at much higher resolution values.

Only you know what your deliverable will be. But I will say that one thing about X that's fabulous is that you can work with all manner of Proxies (as I suspect you are) to obtain speed and editing efficiency and then SWAP your source footage to maximize final output. I suspect that if the previous editor used X's internal ProRes transcoding that you're NOT seeing all the native resolution of your 4k or 5k files unless you're linked directly to the RAW files and not to FCP-X's ProRes transcodes.

To put your thinking at ease go back and create a brand new test Event, Import a small clip into it and turn all transcoding OFF (do NOT "optimize" the imported media.

Build a Project for it with the properties you want for your output (perhaps 4k?) then do your up-rezzing tests on THAT.

In other words, temporarily go around what the original editor did on import and Event/Project/Storyline setup. And if you like the results you get there, you can go back to work with confidence knowing that all you need to do is create a new storyline like your test after your edit is done - and re-import your footage into a new EVENT as uncompressed files. Then a simple cut and past of your storyline assets (or perhaps an XML export and import) will yield a new edit at the higher rez.

My 2 cents as someone who doesn't do RED workflow. Hopefully someone here who does will pop up if what I'm suggesting isn't accurate.

Good luck

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.

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Eric Santiago
Re: What is the best way to scale/zoom-up Red footage in FCX?
on Sep 17, 2013 at 7:46:26 pm

The use of REDCINEX is strictly for first light color editing.
I dont have enough experience to claim that it can be used as a final grade option.
As far as scaling, you have to find out what your target is.
With all this scaling talk I fear that your moving all resources to the base clips settings which sounds like 5K.
Now thats a freakish high number and I own an Scarlet and I rarely use 4K as my final settings.
Well I do when I feel like testing YouTubes 4K options :)
If your final output is 2K then use that setting but thats only if your stuggling with mixed media e.g. NTSC, HD and what ever flavour 2K/3K/4K/5K/6K? your using.
Also, if you are planning to export to 5K (why?), I believe you have to change your ProRes 422 to ProRes4444.

Sorry If Im not specific with my input.

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Oliver Peters
Re: What is the best way to scale/zoom-up Red footage in FCX?
on Sep 17, 2013 at 9:27:31 pm

Since you imported the files from the RED camera masters and created Proxies with the FCP X internal workflow, simply flip the pref to "use original/optimized". This makes your clips and sequences look at the RED files instead of the Proxies. That way you are working with the full 5K or 4K files in your timeline.

Any "blow-ups" are done from this original size to maintain quality. In theory, you could tweak your RED raw metadata for color, directly from inside FCP X and then still do further subjective grading with X's tools. Or send to DaVinci Resolve, which will link to the raw files, honor the FCP X settings and sizes and give you a better grading toolkit.

If you render a master from FCP X, make sure to change your render setting to ProResHQ or ProRes4444.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL

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Darren Roark
Re: What is the best way to scale/zoom-up Red footage in FCX?
on Sep 18, 2013 at 1:26:05 am

What Oliver said is right on. With the free Resolve Lite version you can easily bring your timeline into Resolve from FCP X and see what it really looks like. 9.X Lite will do up to 1080P, where the public beta of Resolve 10 Lite will do even higher res than that. Even the Lite versions have amazing scaling abilities.

The earlier suggestion of finding out what specs your film will have now in order to assess what you can get away zooming wise is a good one. If the goal is a 4K delivery, I would suggest doing some tests with the reframing and look at in in a 4K Resolve project. Once you establish the zoom in point of no return you can use that as a guide in FCP X to know what you can get away with. (If you are going to 2K, you have more than enough real estate to do an ECU from a medium shot)

Be sure your preview output is pixel native for the display you are using. Unless you have a 4K monitor, you will see a partial section of the frame up to the highest resolution of your monitor. (Seki does make a 39" 4K monitor/tv for $599)

Hope that makes sense.

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Dennis Widmyer
Re: What is the best way to scale/zoom-up Red footage in FCX?
on Sep 19, 2013 at 2:21:13 am

Thank you all so much for the advice. I'm heading to a film festival tomorrow morning, but I will digest this more when I'm back. I think the big takeaway here though is to figure out asap what our final deliverable format for the film will be (2K vs. 4K). If it is indeed 2K, this will give us a hell of a lot more ceiling with scaling. If it's 4K, then yeah, bringing shots we want to scale into their own reel / timeline, and turning off Proxy playback so I can see the raw file, is a good way to determine what the output will look like when scaled up, and how much we can push it before we see some quality loss.

Thanks again, all.

Dennis Widmyer

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Dennis Widmyer
Re: What is the best way to scale/zoom-up Red footage in FCX?
on Oct 3, 2013 at 11:05:57 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm back in town and back at the editing bay, in the final stages of editing my feature. I took some time to re-read all your replies above, and let me just say how appreciative and grateful I am for your advice.

It looks like our final deliverable is going to be 1080p. So today, I am going to re-create the project in Final Cut X at this property setting. Currently, it's 5K, and because we shot the film with two cameras (a 5K AND a 4K camera), all of our 4K stuff was originally blown up to 5K (scaled 125%).

So now that I've moved everything into a reel with 1080p settings, I'm faced with going in and fixing a ton of shots and re-positioning a handful of shots we scaled. So here are my questions about this process:

1. All of the A-cam shots (5K camera) now have a letterbox on them, as we shot in a widescreen format. This makes total sense, but all the B-cam shots (the 4K camera) do not. I therefore have to go in and add a widescreen letterbox to all those shots, which are spread out among the film.

Question is, what is the best / easiest way to do this? Should I just turn the entire film into one big Compound Clip and then drag the widescreen letterbox matte on as an Effect? Obviously, this would mean it would go over A-cam shots that already have the matte.

2. All of the A-cam shots have a Spatial Conform setting set to 'Fit.' All of the b-Cam shots, however, are set to 'Fill.' I assume I have to change all B-cam shots now to be 'Fit?' Or will changing their scale from 125% to 100% automatically do that?

Either way, what is the best / easiest way to change all B-cam shots to 100% Fit? I don't think the Ciompound Clip idea would work for this.

I think that covers it. Thank you!

Dennis Widmyer

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