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Resolution Recommendation

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Kay Louie
Resolution Recommendation
on Sep 11, 2009 at 8:09:24 pm

I am producing an educational DVD and working with an animator where communications is a bit challenging (ie, we don't speak the same primary language). I am not a Maya expert and am new to DVD production so my terminology may be off and my questions may not make much sense but I will give it a shot. I am hoping that I can get some guidance on the following:

1. What is an optimal resolution/aspect ratio for the Maya production/development if we want to start with an NTSC (720x480/29.97fps) widescreen DVD and have the ability to produce a Blu-Ray (1920x1080/30fps) DVD down the road?

2. Is it possible and recommended to have the production of the animation source files be in high resolution, ie 1920x1080//30fps so that I can downsample to 720x480//29.97fps and have a widescreen movie?

3. In Maya development, when does one need to specify resolution and aspect ratio?

4. If we have Maya source files, can we specify whatever resolution and aspect ratios we desire for our DVD master copy that will be used for replication? Is the process of generating the file which will be used for DVD replication called rendering? If not, what is it called?

5. Are resolution and frame size independent in Maya, ie, can one have a 720x480 resolution production with a 16:9 frame size or 1920x1080 resolution with 4:3 frame size?

6. Once the resolution and aspect ratio have been established, is it difficult to switch resolutions and/or aspect ratios? Is it possible to specify an initial resolution of 720x480 in Maya and then upconvert to 1920x1080?

7. Using the Maya source files, is it possible and easier to convert from 1920x1080 to 720x480 or the other direction, ie 720x480 to 1920x1080?

8. If we initially specify a resolution of 1920x1080 in Maya and convert to NTSC 720x480 widescreen for our DVD master, will there be a noticeable loss of imagery?

9. Am I looking at things correctly? Are there other things I should consider?

Best,
Kay


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Alvaro Castaneda
Re: Resolution Recommendation
on Sep 11, 2009 at 9:05:28 pm

I would do it all in HD (1920x1080) then down res it to 720, that won't affect quality at all.

in maya you set that in the render settings, there are presets for all that
and yeah you could render HD and/or NTSC from the same file.

not hard at all.



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http://www.intelianimate.com


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Peter Greenstone
Re: Resolution Recommendation
on Sep 12, 2009 at 2:16:50 am

Some Q&A

1. What is an optimal resolution/aspect ratio for the Maya production/development if we want to start with an NTSC (720x480/29.97fps) widescreen DVD and have the ability to produce a Blu-Ray (1920x1080/30fps) DVD down the road?

A: Best to just render it once at HD and scale down later.

2. Is it possible and recommended to have the production of the animation source files be in high resolution, ie 1920x1080//30fps so that I can downsample to 720x480//29.97fps and have a widescreen movie?

A: Same question. Same answer.

3. In Maya development, when does one need to specify resolution and aspect ratio?

A: The aspect ratio is important for composing the shot so it really helps to determine that early on, but it can always be changed and rendered again if need be.

4. If we have Maya source files, can we specify whatever resolution and aspect ratios we desire for our DVD master copy that will be used for replication? Is the process of generating the file which will be used for DVD replication called rendering? If not, what is it called?

A: As stated before, Maya will render out the image sequence at whatever resolution and pixel aspect ratio you want it to. Higher resolution images will take longer to render. Yes, it's called rendering when the images are being generated.

5. Are resolution and frame size independent in Maya, ie, can one have a 720x480 resolution production with a 16:9 frame size or 1920x1080 resolution with 4:3 frame size?

A: Sort of, yeah. You can render out a squeezed image like cinemascope or whatever, or you can fit the 16:9 image in a NTSC frame by letterboxing it (scaling down the image to fit into 720 width with a .9 pixel aspect ratio and letting there be blank space above and below on the screen). You can make the original 16:9 rendered image fit in a 4:3 by letting it be cropped and doing some "pan & scan" where needed to keep the shot composed properly.

6. Once the resolution and aspect ratio have been established, is it difficult to switch resolutions and/or aspect ratios? Is it possible to specify an initial resolution of 720x480 in Maya and then upconvert to 1920x1080?

A: It's a matter of changing numbers in the settings and maybe moving some things in the shot to make sure they look good in the frame. Set it and render it. Render it again if you have to. You can scale an image down but scaling it up will just give you a bigger blurry/chunky image. Always start bigger and go smaller, never the reverse. That goes for everything. For example, a low quality jpeg will still look like low quality jpeg if it's converted to an uncompressed tif and/or scaled up. An mp3 audio file will never regain its original fidelity by converting it to an aiff. Reducing data is fine but adding data is another thing.

7. Using the Maya source files, is it possible and easier to convert from 1920x1080 to 720x480 or the other direction, ie 720x480 to 1920x1080?

A: Really the same question and the same answer. You can always change the resolution settings in Maya and render it again, but rendering does take time.

8. If we initially specify a resolution of 1920x1080 in Maya and convert to NTSC 720x480 widescreen for our DVD master, will there be a noticeable loss of imagery?

A: Well, yes and no. Obviously the image will no longer be HD but it will be as good of a quality as NTSC can offer. Going the other way would result in what I would call actual loss of quality or at least the absence of any HD quality.

9. Am I looking at things correctly? Are there other things I should consider?

A: It's good to ask questions and be thorough. All I can suggest is to plan ahead so you can save on time and effort reworking and re-rendering things for changes. You know the saying "Measure twice. Cut once"?


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Kay Louie
Re: Resolution Recommendation
on Sep 14, 2009 at 6:34:23 am

Thanks so much for the response. I would like to be as clear and helpful to my animator as possible.

Are these requirements sufficiently clear and specific and how you would state them?
1. Original Maya source files should be high definition 1920x1080 // 30 fps.
2. Final DVD master to be an NTSC DVD. Animated imagery should retain the original dimensions of the source, ie 16:9 and display in widescreen mode without any distortion as compared to original source.

Based on the above requirements, is this how the production would be done?
1. Render the Maya source file in high definition, 1920x1080, 30fps.
2. Downsample the source to 720x405 thereby retaining the 16:9 aspect ratio without any distortion to animation.
3. Add in the black bands to get 720x480.


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Peter Greenstone
Re: Resolution Recommendation
on Sep 14, 2009 at 1:23:55 pm

That's pretty clear I guess. Will you be handing the delivered HD animation off to someone else for editing and DVD production? If so, really all the animator needs to know is that you want it rendered out in HD 1920x1080 @ 30 fps.

The person who will be doing the editing and preparing for DVD will need to be told that you want the HD animation to be letterboxed 16:9 to fit within the NTSC frame, as opposed to cropping it to fill the NTSC frame.

Visit http://www.petergreenstone.com


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Kay Louie
Re: Resolution Recommendation
on Sep 14, 2009 at 6:07:19 pm

Thank you. Our animator is also doing the editting and post-production.


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