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Letterboxing with compressor Vs. Letterboxing in FCP

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Paul Traynor
Letterboxing with compressor Vs. Letterboxing in FCP
on Sep 10, 2010 at 3:39:41 am

Hey, we have a show shot in HD that we deliver to our network in a PAL SD frame. So far we have been just exporting full res HD from final cut and then dropping that back into an SD frame to automatically letterbox it.

One thing that has been bugging me is that we also have to subtitle the show and when dropping the file into the SD frame we are left with very little room between titles safe and video to subtitle in, resulting in us moving the video slightly up in the frame to make room.

One of my colleagues recently did a test for compressing HD footage to SD through compressor straight from the sequence timeline, and the results were noticeably better in terms of crispness, so we decided to try it out.

We are compressing to Apple ProRes, 720x576 frame size and preserving aspect ratio.

The results look great, but when we pull it back into FCP I noticed that the frame size was very slightly different to what it was when we dropped Hd into the sequence. Where the HD took up more space and needed to be moved up, the SD fit perfectly in the sequence with room for subtitles and didn't need to be moved.

Great! I'm thinking, but then I look more closely and start comparing the two frames. Where the Hd now looks slightly stretched, the SD looks slightly squashed, and I cannot for the life of me work out which is correct.

Simply by the nature of it fitting nicer, I would assume the compressor version is correct but then again, maybe not...

Anyone have any thoughts?

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