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Using 720p footage in an NTSC project

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Jonathan Capra
Using 720p footage in an NTSC project
on Aug 13, 2008 at 10:00:00 pm


We have a MacPro tower outfitting with an AJA Kona LHe, running Final Cut Pro 6. So far we have only been doing standard definition projects on it.

We just started our first HD project with it and we hooked up a JVC HD monitor to the primary output and have our old Sony NTSC monitor hooked up to the secondary. We have the primary output set for 720p 59.94 and the secondary set to 525i 29.97 with a center cut.

Our source material is 720p 59.94 HDV clips. When I work on a 720p/59.94 timeline I have the Video Playback set to 'AJA Kona 720p59.94 10-bit uncompressed'.

This setup works great.. We get crystal clear 16:9 HD on the HD monitor, while the NTSC monitor has the realtime downconvert/center-cut, which is also very sharp with fluid motion.


I started editing a promo for the HD production in question. The promo is going to be SD-only however.

First I made a 525i29.97 timeline in Final Cut Pro. I changed the Video Playback to 'AJA Kona 525i29.97 10-bit uncompressed'. I dropped some of the HDV clips onto the timeline and scaled and cropped as appropriate. But I found that a lot of the motion was very comby/fieldy looking on my NTSC monitor, if I may use those terms. Even motion on the Canvas window looks a little chunky. Not very nice to watch.

Next I tried making a custom 525i59.94 sequence and copied and pasted my clips there (immediately rendering of course). It looks a lot better in the Canvas window, but won't play out to the monitors while the Video Playback is set to 'AJA Kona 525i29.97 10-bit uncompressed'.

However if I change the Video Playback back to 'AJA Kona 720p59.94 10-bit uncompressed' then it does display on my NTSC monitor, except the image is very blurry. This follows with what I have seen with this Video Playback setting when playing 525i29.97 clips on a 525i29.97 as well... so I am not surprised by this. I believe what happens with SD stuff under this condition is that the AJA Kona is actually upconverting the SD footage to 720p space and then hardware downconverting it back to 525i, so of course it looks muddy.

Is my only choice to edit on a 16:9 720p59.94 timeline and then let the AJA output hardware downconvert and center-cut? Is there no internal way to get Final Cut Pro to handle 720p59.94 footage on a 525i29.97 timeline and get it to output well?

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