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"Editing Maya Image Sequences in Final Cut Pro"

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Stuart Christensen
"Editing Maya Image Sequences in Final Cut Pro"
on Oct 15, 2009 at 3:13:18 am

Recently I have been trying to establish a good workflow to output my Maya image sequences for editing in Final Cut Pro, where I'm usually mixing 30P DVC-Pro50 material with the animated clips.

I'm sort of a generalist and I'm not an expert Maya user by any means. It's trial and error for me sometimes.

I did a lot of experimenting and here's what gave me the cleanest results for preserving the quality of the Maya Sequences and blending them in Final Cut with DV clips, with minimal rendering issues.

My original Maya sequence was 400 frames long, and I created 4 different camera angles and rendered them out in Mental Ray as a Targa image sequence, 720 x 480, 30 frames per second. You can also try outputting to TIFF or PNG as well. I usually stack these on top of each other in FCP timeline and make cuts between the different angles because they are all the same length.

I used Quicktime Pro to open the Maya Targa image sequences and converted them to Apple Pro Res 422 (standard,not HQ) with the 4:4:4 Chroma Sampling enabled. And Bingo! Super clean clips that don't need any rendering as you make changes during a mixed edit.

In FCP, I then set my sequence settings at 720 x 480 NTSC/DV 3:2 and set the pixel aspect ratio for NTSC-CCIR/DV, editing time base set to 30. Also, in the sequence setting dialogue box it's important to set the Quicktime Video Settings to Apple Pro Res and in the advanced dialogue box I checked the box to enable 4:4:4 Chroma Sampling, however I didn't notice much difference if any in a test where I left this unchecked.

The Prores422 codec is perfect for editing the Maya Sequences because you can make cuts galore and never have to re-render changes in the timeline as you work. This is not the case if you are using the QT Animation codec clips.

Why not just import the Targa image sequences into FCP? Well, for starters I would just have to re-output the image sequence to the ProRes422 codec so that I could have an FCP ready clip and not thousands of individual frames to try and make edits with.

If you have Quicktime Pro, this is the cleanest fastest way to get stuff out of Maya and into FCP.

When your finished editing you can output a Quicktime Self Contained movie that looks great, as well as convert it to whatever delivery format is specified.

This post is intended for Newbs (like me) to get a good start with making FCP play nice with Maya.

Any Pro suggestions for this post would be greatly appreciated as well! A special thanks to Peter Greenstone for pointing out much of this information!

Hope this helps to keep the quality at a super premium level!

I know alot....but not as much as the other guy.


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