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Finishing a Feature Film with AJA Kona 3X and ProRes

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russpond
Finishing a Feature Film with AJA Kona 3X and ProRes
on May 31, 2007 at 5:07:47 pm

First of all, great group! The discussions are packed full of great information.

I recently finished shooting a feature film with the Panasonic Varicam. The entire film was shot in DVCProHD (720p, 24fps). I've captured the footage and I'm now editing it in FCP 6 using the standard DVCPro720p sequence setting. Also, I'm using an AJA Kona 3X card for monitoring, but I also plan to use the Kona3X card for mastering the finished film to D5 using the Kona 3X cross conversion feature.

Here's my question: As I get close to locking the edit, I want to color/grade the film in Final Cut using Apple's new Color software. Before coloring, I want to create an intermediate project. I want to up rez the locked edit from the original 8-bit, DVCProHD codec to the 10-bit ProRes 422 so that I can get more dynamic color range when finishing the film. I've got a 2-bay SATA drive that will hold the media as I use Media Manager to create the new project.

I was testing the workflow on the trailer to see how this would work. Using Media Manager, I can "recompress" the footage to Apple ProRes 422.

But, there are a copule of options to choose from:

Apple ProRes 1280x720 24 p
AJA Kona 720p 23.98 ProRes 422

Which one to use? Plus, my editing timebase on the original DVCProHD is 23.98, but no matter which of the two above settings I use, I always get a frame rate error message. Not sure why? I even tried 59.94 (the native DVCProHD frame rate) and still got the error.

Any thoughts on which "recompress" setting to us to get my timeline into ProRes for finishing?

Also, with Kona's cross-conversion feature, do you see any benefit moving to a ProRes 1080 intermediate instead of a ProRes 720 intermediate? The final output either way will be 1080 D5 through the Kona card.

Thanks,
Russ


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Russell Lasson
Re: Finishing a Feature Film with AJA Kona 3X and ProRes
on May 31, 2007 at 5:42:41 pm

[russpond] "I want to create an intermediate project. I want to up rez the locked edit from the original 8-bit, DVCProHD codec to the 10-bit ProRes 422 so that I can get more dynamic color range when finishing the film."

We've discussed this in the Color forum. By converting 8-bit footage to 10-bit, you won't gain anything.

Color can work in 32-bit floating point. It will take the information from the 8-bit image and manipluate it in 32-bit floating point, then you should render out of Color to 10-bit ProRes or Uncompressed.

Converting 8-bit to 10-bit won't change before you go into Color won't change what Color can do to the image. I've heard it just take the 8-bit values and multiplies them by 4 get get a 10-bit file that takes up more space.

[russpond] "I've got a 2-bay SATA drive that will hold the media as I use Media Manager to create the new project."

Use the Kona system test to see if you can uses these drives for uncompressed instead of ProRes. At 720/24P the data rate is only about 60MB/sec. It's close, but it might work as another option for you.

As a side note, I've colored a feature that was shot on the Varicam in the old FT (before it was Color). In the dark scenes there was quite a bit of noise if I needed to lighten up an area. It's suggest trying Nattress Color Plugins to reduce the noise. I didn't at the time, but I wish I would have. Over all though, the Varicam gave me good flexiblity. It also helped that the DP was very careful not to overexpose the shots, especially skys.

-Russ


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russpond
Re: Finishing a Feature Film with AJA Kona 3X and ProRes
on May 31, 2007 at 5:52:28 pm

[Russell Lasson] "As a side note, I've colored a feature that was shot on the Varicam in the old FT (before it was Color). In the dark scenes there was quite a bit of noise if I needed to lighten up an area. It's suggest trying Nattress Color Plugins to reduce the noise. I didn't at the time, but I wish I would have. Over all though, the Varicam gave me good flexiblity. It also helped that the DP was very careful not to overexpose the shots, especially skys."

I'm sorry guys for keepig this in the AJA forum, but I have another question for (the other) Russ.

So, within Color, can I render out directly to ProRes 422 and then have FCP read that new project/sequence? I was under the impression that I had to export the timeline from FCP to Color, then color the film and then go back to FCP (native DVCProHD) and then render the ProRes. That just seemed like too much recompression going on.

But, I do see the value in going from Color to ProRes and staying there in FCP. That would really leverage the 32-bit Color workspace into ProRes for final output.

Thanks,
Russ


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Russell Lasson
Re: Finishing a Feature Film with AJA Kona 3X and ProRes
on May 31, 2007 at 6:03:57 pm

[russpond] "but I have another question for (the other) Russ."

This will sound nerdy, but there are two people named Russ where I work. I was here second so they call me Russ 2 or R2 for short.

[russpond] "I was under the impression that I had to export the timeline from FCP to Color, then color the film and then go back to FCP (native DVCProHD) and then render the ProRes."

FinalTouch used to allow you to render to a different codec than you imported your sequence as. Right before I started this DVCPROHD film, they changed it to try to limit problems with the XML transfer. So I had to convert the film to uncompressed, color it, and render back to uncompressed. Not what I wanted to do, but what choice did I have?

I don't have Color running yet, but it's my understanding that you import as DVCPROHD and render out to ProRes. It's a very good workflow.

Read through the thread you started in the Color forum. Michael Sandness says a lot of useful info

http://forums.creativecow.net/cgi-bin/new_read_thread.cgi?forumid=223&posti...

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/223/1196?

Some people might thing that you still want to convert to 10-bit before, but I really don't think that it matters because Color works higher than 10-bit.

-Russ (or R2)


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JeremyG
Re: Finishing a Feature Film with AJA Kona 3X and ProRes
on May 31, 2007 at 7:57:38 pm

If I were you, I'd recapture @ whatever format you are finishing in. If that's 720p24, 1080p24, 1080i30, whatever it is. Let the Kona card conform for you in hardware, and don't do a software transcode. You might have to call AJA and figure out if you can capture 24p from Varicam and capture to 1080psf24 on the fly. Something tells me ti won't, but ya never know. If that's the case, I'd recapture @ 720p24 10 bit Uncompressed. I don't know if you will be able to do this in ProRes with a PCI-X machine. The rumor is, is that people are having bad luck with it. You might want to consider capturing 10 bit uncompressed 720p24.

Send that locked edit to color and grade. Render and bring back into FCP. If you have a 720p24 timeline, then simply set the KOna to cross convert to 1080psf24 or 60i whatever frame rate you like, and lay off to D5. Avoid FCP for a software transcode, and avoid Color to conform your bit depth. Send Color the highest quality footage possible. What people tend to forget is that Varicam footage when coming out of an HD SDI pipe goes through some decompressing to get it to HD SDI spec. Then if you capture uncompressed, you will be capturing that hardware decompressed signal coming from the deck. I know I will stir the pot here, but we can argue all day and all night about whether or not capturing an DVCPro 8 bit tape as DVCPro HD is better/worse than capturing that same 8 bit tape into 10bit. My limited tests conclude that there is no doubt in my mind, capturing to 10 bit is better. As an example, I capture a Green Screen clip DVCpro HD firewire and then the same clip 10 bit uncompressed. I key the dvcPro HD one first, and then copy/paste the settings to the 10 bit clip, the results are automatically better. This kind of increase in bit depth will also help you in color correction. I know some people feel different, and maybe they are right and I am wrong, but in my practice this is what I find and I use it. You can choose for yourself which method yields better results for you.


Jeremy


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Russell Lasson
Re: Finishing a Feature Film with AJA Kona 3X and ProRes
on May 31, 2007 at 10:23:07 pm

[JeremyG] "I know I will stir the pot here, but we can argue all day and all night about whether or not capturing an DVCPro 8 bit tape as DVCPro HD is better/worse than capturing that same 8 bit tape into 10bit."

The pot is already boiling over!!!! - just joking!

Jeremy brings up a good quote about digitizing. Often times with DVCPROHD it is best to digitize over firewire because it copies data instead of compressing then decompressing.

I've heard different opinions from several people that I respect and there is really no consensus. Overall, I can't tell by looking at video which is better. Even if I zoom in 800% an analyze the pixel patterns. I think the only way to really know which is best is to know the math and compare what pixels remain. But I'm a little rusty on my video algorithms right now.

My current opinion comes from a Graeme Nattress post that Russ (not me, the other one) started:

http://forums.creativecow.net/cgi-bin/new_read_post.cgi?forumid=223&postid=...

He's not just a video editor, but the man writes good plug-ins and works for RED. Instant credibility.

Jeremy, regardless of how you convert your bits, we all still like you.

-Russ


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JeremyG
Re: Finishing a Feature Film with AJA Kona 3X and ProRes
on May 31, 2007 at 11:43:44 pm

[Russell Lasson] "Jeremy, regardless of how you convert your bits, we all still like you"

Thanks Russ. I tend to disagree with Graeme on some of his findings (gasp) but it's all good, he's a-ok in my book. His knowledge pales mine in comparison. I think people sometimes forget that there's more to a timeline than video. You really want to see 10 bit shine? Create graphics in 8 bit vs graphics in 10 bit. Even a simple thing like text.


Jeremy



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gary adcock
Re: Finishing a Feature Film with AJA Kona 3X and ProRes
on May 31, 2007 at 8:32:43 pm

[russpond] "I was testing the workflow on the trailer to see how this would work. Using Media Manager, I can "recompress" the footage to Apple ProRes 422."

Russ
a simpler solution would be to allow Color to do the conversion for you- since it is going to on your final renders anyway- Color only outputs to full raster codecs ( UC, ProRes and AJA's 10Bit RGB) or image sequences.


The workflow in the color tutorial is DVCPROHD 720p24.

gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows


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Oliver Peters
Re: Finishing a Feature Film with AJA Kona 3X and ProRes
on Jun 1, 2007 at 11:21:01 am

Russ,

One thing to think about is what are you mastering back to? If your thoughts are ingest via HD-SDI to DVCPROHD and then in the end output back through HD-SDI to a Panasonic 1200 or 1400 or similar, you are converting in and out of this codec at least twice. This codec involves scaling and in spite of various claims, it isn't transparent and will cause additional artifacts. These will definitely be visible on a large screen, especially after grading.

I would recommend to do your offline edit that way, but when it comes to finishing the film:

1) recapture in uncompressed (720p/24)
2) grade and render in Color and pass back to FCP
3) ouput using Kona to upconvert to 1080 and master to Sony HDCAM.

Sincerely,
Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Oliver Peters
Re: Finishing a Feature Film with AJA Kona 3X and ProRes
on Jun 1, 2007 at 11:22:54 am

Russ,

I just saw you are intending to master to HD-D5. Then yes, same process but master to HD-D5 instead of HDCAM

Sincerely,
Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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