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Aspect ratio question

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Brent Stanley
Aspect ratio question
on Sep 15, 2009 at 10:40:50 pm

I feel like I should be able to figure this out on my own, but after being frustrated, I'm asking for help.

2 x 2.8 GHz Quad core Mac with 8 GB ram
Running FCP 6.06

We've been editing shows and delivering them in SD on Beta. We're in an awkward phase right now of slowly moving from tape to tapeless. Our TV station client has agreed to accept HD shows as QT files on a memory stick or hard drive.

I had been editing in a SD timeline, (Easy setup NTSC) since I'd had difficulty with seeing video in my external monitor (via a JVC BR-HD50 deck HDMI cable)if I was using HD settings.

Recently I've started working with footage shot on a Sony EX3 camera (XDCAM EX 1080p30 35 Mb/s) With a FCP timeline set to 720x480 (NTSC 3:2), CCIR 601 Pixel ratio, and a DV/DVCPRO- NTSC Compressor, I then created a QT movie using the XDCAM HD 1080i60 settings (This was requested by the client)

They're happy with the quality of the QT, but it has a 'letterbox' look to it, and they'd like that gone. I went back into my timeline, and changed each clip in the motion tab. (scale = 43, distort aspect ratio = 0) The clips now fill the screen and seem to be reasonably the right aspect ratio.

I decided it would probably make more sense to edit in HD, so I started a new sequence and then brought one of the XDCAM clips in, and said 'yes' to the 'would you like to match?' prompt. So now I've got a timeline with the following sequence settings:

Frame Size: 1920 x 1080 HDTV 1080i (16:9)
Pixel Aspect: Square
Field Dominance: None
Compressor XDCAM EX 1080p30 (35Mb/s)

But now there's no way I can get rid of the 'letterbox' look, at least on my ext HD monitor (mind you FCP is still in the NTSC easy setup) If I change the scale or the aspect ratio settings under the motion tab, the 'black bar' bands remain on the top and bottom of my monitor.

I'm probably confusing everyone else as much as I am myself. But is there a way of setting this up that will work easier and with out the letterbox? We are planning on ordering a Matrox MXO2 box to replace the JVC deck - but I won't have that for a week or two.


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Alan Okey
Re: Aspect ratio question
on Sep 15, 2009 at 11:43:19 pm

[Brent Stanley] "Recently I've started working with footage shot on a Sony EX3 camera (XDCAM EX 1080p30 35 Mb/s) With a FCP timeline set to 720x480 (NTSC 3:2), CCIR 601 Pixel ratio, and a DV/DVCPRO- NTSC Compressor, I then created a QT movie using the XDCAM HD 1080i60 settings (This was requested by the client) "

Let me get this straight:

The footage was shot on a Sony EX3 at 1080p/30. Your client is requesting an HD Quicktime file @ 1080i/60. And you're editing in an SD 720x480 sequence? Why on earth would you do that? Why not simply use the XDCAM 1080p/30 Easy Setup?

[Brent Stanley] "I decided it would probably make more sense to edit in HD, so I started a new sequence and then brought one of the XDCAM clips in, and said 'yes' to the 'would you like to match?' prompt. So now I've got a timeline with the following sequence settings:"

Are you dragging content from the browser into the new XDCAM EX sequence, or from your existing SD sequence?

If you're dragging in footage from an SD sequence, once you've dropped it into your new HD sequence, highlight the clip in the timeline, right-click on it, choose "remove attributes" and check "distort." This should remove any distortion that was added when you dropped the HD source clips into an SD sequence.

Also, you need to change your Audio/Video settings so that your external video output is set to 1080i/60, otherwise you won't be seeing the proper aspect ratio on your video preview monitor.


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Brent Stanley
Re: Aspect ratio question
on Sep 16, 2009 at 4:39:03 pm

Alan: [Why on earth would you do that? Why not simply use the XDCAM 1080p/30 Easy Setup?]

I've never been able to see video in my external monitor if I edit in anything other than a SD timeline. (I suspect that's because of the JVC deck I'm using). We have a Matrox MXO 2 box on order, but I won't have it for a couple of weeks.

I'll try out the other suggestions you made. Thanks very much Alan.


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