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Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP

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John Russell
Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 12, 2010 at 5:05:31 pm

OK - any help would be gratefully received.

I have a deadline for a film in three weeks and have already made big mistakes - and can't afford to make any more! I am experienced in using PS but not using FCP - so I could do with some help.

I made a series of animated gifs in PS (Mac). The animations are a series of line drawings. There are over 300 animated gifs with an average of 5 frames each. I imported these into FCP which preserves the timings and places them along a time-line. So far so good.

Problem is that the images are too low resolution - approximately 600 x 500 pixels at 72 dpi. This is because initially the project was intended to be only web-based but now I need to be able to output for large scale projection and DVD. As I understand it therefore the images have to be 1920x1080.

Would a sensible way of proceeding now be:

1] to remake the gifs at higher resolution (and the correct ratio) and import into FCP as before.
2] import each frame image directly into FCP and set the timings there. Could FCP handle 1500 still images?
3] animate the images in another programme, eg. After Effects (again I have no experience of this programme) and then import into FCP? In this case are there any configuration problems?

Also I would also like to know what settings would be the best for line drawing animation in FCP (or if anyone could suggest any tutorials)?

Thanks in advance for any feedback/advice

J




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Mark Suszko
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 12, 2010 at 7:45:55 pm

Could you set these up in photoshop to be re-made using a batch action, or is there too much that would have to be hand-re-done? I have made re-sizing droplets and batch jobs in PS for re-sizing and trimming some folders of files. Though it is always easier to scale down and up, and I was scaling down from files that were too large. Ideally, if you had worked on these in vector format, scaling would be cake.

I don't think there is any way to get around having to re-make the png's in a higher rez. Just zooming into them will get too aliased. This was not a technical problem, but a managerial/client one: you built based on assumptions of tiny web stuff, then they changed the deal. Don't beat yourself up that they increased the scope after the fact. Rather, bill them the time to do it over, instead of time to do it right.


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John Russell
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 12, 2010 at 7:55:50 pm

Thanks for that Mark. Yes I have come to terms with the fact that I will have to re-make them at a higher size/ratio! There are however a couple of issues it would be good to get feedback on.

1] Looking through the forums it seems a good idea to import the images into FCP at twice the final resolution to get the best results. Is this correct?

2] Are there any problems with importing the images as animated gifs into FCP? This is my preferred solution given that I understand this process and it produces the required effect? Are there any technical problems with this?

best

J



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Jiggy Gaton
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 13, 2010 at 3:46:48 am

2] Are there any problems with importing the images as animated gifs into FCP?

To answer this, no. dropping animated gifs on the FCP timeline preserves the animation. I was shocked when I first tried that:)

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 12, 2010 at 7:57:55 pm

[John Russell] "I made a series of animated gifs in PS (Mac)... the images are too low resolution - approximately 600 x 500 pixels at 72 dpi... the images have to be 1920x1080. "

Here's a handy thing to know: the concept of DPI is pretty much irrelevant in FCP and just about any multimedia application. They work by pixels alone. Thus, a 15-inch-wide image at 150 DPI is precisely the same width as a 5-inch-wide image at 450 DPI; they're both 2250 pixels wide.

I presume you made your Photoshop canvas at 600x500. Now you need to make it 1920x1080. That's one big flippin' change! I don't know of any third-party upscaling plugin that can work that kind of magic. So I think your Option #1 is best: "remake the gifs at higher resolution (and the correct ratio) and import into FCP as before."

And unless you have some overwhelming reason to make gifs, I'd use another graphics format like PCT, PNG, TIFF or TGA. You can make image sequences out of any of them, and they have more colors for better antialiasing and smoother lines. Aren't gifs limited to something like 256 colors?

And Mark's right about having the client pay for changing horses in mid-stream. They changed the rules of the game on you, and you shouldn't have to subsidize the client's lack of forethought. If you do, they'll think they can get away with it all the time.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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John Russell
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 12, 2010 at 8:37:50 pm

Dave

Thanks a lot for that.

So would it be OK to import 1500+ TIFFs on that scale into FCP, and then play with the timings/transitions etc once they are imported. Can FCP handle this? Sorry if this is a dumb question? The animation is simple there are no effects really, it all works through the drawing.

And would 1920x1080 be enough? Reading through the forums it seems some people suggest importing at twice the size required to ensure high quality out put.

Thanks again for your help.

J


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 12, 2010 at 9:47:44 pm

[John Russell] "...would it be OK to import 1500+ TIFFs on that scale into FCP, and then play with the timings/transitions etc once they are imported..."

Personally, I'd take an image sequence into After Effects and work with it there. In AE, I easily can change the frame rate of an image sequence, and render in the codec of my FCP edit timeline or to a good intermediate codec.

I'm not a big fan of how FCP handles image sequences. Oh, it'll work, I just don't LIKE how it works. It's a personal preference, I guess. If you've used it in the past, knock yourself out.






[John Russell] "And would 1920x1080 be enough? Reading through the forums it seems some people suggest importing at twice the size required to ensure high quality output. "

Nope, I wouldn't go beyond 1920x1080 unless I had to zoom into a portion of the image... and then I wouldn't rely on FCP's lousy scaling algorithms to do the job, I'd do it in After Effects.

Twice the resolution won't help the quality. It will, however, make your file sizes about 4 times larger.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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John Russell
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 13, 2010 at 9:30:49 am

Thanks for all the advice - very helpful!

OK re-sizing images TIFs as suggested.

A couple of issues are still worrying me – any answers?

1] Will 1920x1080 pixels be big enough? Reading through the forums it seems some people suggest importing at twice the size required to ensure high quality out put for projection/DVD?

2] Any suggestions of what settings/ codec I should use for line drawing animation? Or any suggestion of tutorials?


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 13, 2010 at 5:19:37 pm

[John Russell] "1] Will 1920x1080 pixels be big enough? Reading through the forums it seems some people suggest importing at twice the size required to ensure high quality out put for projection/DVD? "

Now I'm confused -- I thought you said the client had a sudden change of mind, requiring you to work at 1920x1080. Now you mention DVD, which is 720x480, whether it's 4x3 or 16x9. What's up?
You can play a DVD on a portable player. You can play a DVD on the side of a house through a projector. In both cases, the image is still 720x480.




[John Russell] "Any suggestions of what settings/ codec I should use for line drawing animation? "

In FCP, use ProRes 422 as the codec in your edit timeline. You'll have to render any image sequence you import -- no way around that. ProRes 422 is just fine for a timeline at 1920x1080 or 720x480. It's tough to go wrong with ProRes in FCP.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Jiggy Gaton
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 13, 2010 at 5:41:12 pm

not to dilute this thread, but web gifs to the side of a house? that's gotta look bad. but seriously, we just watched the world cup here on the side of a house, and that looked bad too.

what is the deal on projectors. clients come here, we give them a DVD that looks great on TV, and then they call and say it does not look so hot on new HD projectors. should I also give these folks a high-res computer file and tell them to play from a laptop or what? this is a new phenomenon, and not sure if projector technology has changed dramatically, as we don't have HD projectors here...

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.


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John Russell
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 13, 2010 at 6:24:18 pm

Dave

Thanks again.

Sorry this is confusing. The situation is that I don't want to repeat my earlier mistakes (in fact they were my mistakes not the clients)- so I want to lay out the animation in FCP in as high resolution as is necessary to be able to output for high quality projection and DVD as well as for streaming on the web.

I am assuming 2178 x 3840 is sufficient - probably overkill?

I am also assuming 16 x 9 is a more workable format than 4 x 3 these days as long as I keep the main action in the centre of the shot (after reading about the various options). I would therefore be able to output for projection, DVD, and web streaming. Is this correct.

Sorry if these are dumb questions - maybe i should be over in the beginners section?





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Dave LaRonde
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 13, 2010 at 8:09:12 pm

[John Russell] "I am assuming 2178 x 3840 is sufficient - probably overkill? "

You're correct -- it's overkill.




[John Russell] "...16 x 9 is a more workable format than 4 x 3 these days as long as I keep the main action in the centre of the shot..."

Correct again. You then have the option to go to 4x3 with minimal disruption.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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John Russell
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 13, 2010 at 9:48:34 pm

Dave

Thanks again for this help - its a life-saver! I've a few more questions then I'll try and leave you alone!

To recap: So I've remade my images as TIFS scaled down from the original scans to 1920x1080.

The images are hand drawn, pen drawings and I've worked on the transitions in PS. These transitions are usually just simple fades between images. The transitions are not meant to be smooth the intention is that you see the gradual layering of one image over another. Maybe 7 images to fade from one image to another in 1/2 seconds

As you suggested I will then import these image sequences into AE and work on them there. And then import into FCP.

Questions:

1] If in FCP, I use ProRes 422 as the codec in my edit timeline, again as you suggested, will there be any problems exporting from AE to FCP?

2]Should I render the sequences in AE using the codec above and then export?

3] You it be a good idea to render short sequence 1/2 minutes and then export to FCP or render and export the whole sequence (about 15 minutes)?

Thanks again

John


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 13, 2010 at 11:25:03 pm

[John Russell] "If in FCP, I use ProRes 422 as the codec in my edit timeline, again as you suggested, will there be any problems exporting from AE to FCP? "

I wouldn't do it that way. I'd import the image sequence(s) into AE, got the motion right (you can change a sequence's frame rate in the Interpret Footage settings), and render from AE in ProRes. The codec will be avilable if AE is on the same machine as FCP. If it's on a different machine, render using Quicktime's PNG codec; it's lossless. You'd eventually have to render the edited project in FCP, but it will be in ProRes 422, which is fine.





[John Russell] " Would it be a good idea to render short sequence 1/2 minutes and then export to FCP or render and export the whole sequence (about 15 minutes)? "

If it makes sense to you, I'd render the short sequences in AE, and use FCP to make the transitions between the resulting clips. I don't have a firm grasp of these transitions you refer to, so I'm not really sure.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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John Russell
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 14, 2010 at 12:01:15 am

thanks Dave - I'll post up a link when its done so you can see it

j


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John Russell
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 14, 2010 at 11:11:56 pm

I think I;m getting there

Are there any problems with this workflow?

I've remade the animations as psd files at 1920x1080. I've animated the layers of the individual files using PS animation feature - each file contains from 10 to 15 layers and 5 to 15 second long sequences So far, this is good for me because I am familiar with PS, Dave suggested AE but I haven't used it before. I have also found that I can then export these files from PS as movies using either Apple ProRes 422 at a rate of 25fps, or using the animation codec. I can then line these files up on a timeline in FCP, using compatible codec, and output at high resolution for DVD, projection or lower for web streaming.

will I have any problems with 19x9 ratio on the web?

How can I stream on the web at 16 x 9 and get the best quality

Any suggestions..?



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Jiggy Gaton
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 12, 2010 at 8:15:15 pm

Hi, u might want to check this out:
http://www.ononesoftware.com/
Genuine Fractals 6
We use it when we get into tight spots like that, or we r just plain lazy. It works well with line drawings, but u can just download a trial and see if it works on yours. If it does, charge the client for that too:)
jigs
ps.it does batch, so the entire job can be done in a few clicks.

Phoenix Studios Nepal: A small A/V Production House in Kathmandu.


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John Russell
Re: Problems creating an animation in PS and FCP
on Jul 12, 2010 at 9:21:17 pm

Jiggy - cheers yes I've used genuine fractals before. I'll give it a try but I think it may be too big a jump. I've already tried the enlarging using PS in 10% increments trick and it doesn't look good.


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