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betacam capture, mix of anamorphic and 4:3

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Deb Field
betacam capture, mix of anamorphic and 4:3
on Nov 15, 2010 at 7:23:57 pm

I hired a post production house to digitize 125 betacam tapes. I reviewed the footage in FCP and it looked fine. Before it got archived to LTO4, I decided to trim the black/rewind garbage at the end of the QuickTime clips. That's when I found that 20 of the 125 clips display "stretched" in QuickTime. These 20 tapes also don't have a .mov extension, whereas the other 105 do. I'm a betacam newbie; this was the one and only time I used tape and it's an old project I'm resurrecting, so I don't understand the tape capture process well.

Am I correct in assuming that the 20 tapes were probably captured anamorphically? The stated QT dimensions are 720 by 486, but the clip opens stretched in QT and looks correct in the viewer in FCP. There is no way to change the aspect display in Quick TIme. The project manager told me that it's just a metadata flag in the video, and that it won't matter for editing in FCP. He offered to run the clips through Compressor and convert them, but also told me it's not really necessary.

There were many other problems with the project: incorrect codecs, other client's work on my drive, etc, so I don't know if I'm getting the straight story. Do I need to have the 20 tapes redigitized to match the others? The final output will be DVD or TV. If it matters, the project manager recommended PRHQ as the codec. I now realize from reading a lot of COW posts that that was overkill, but it's too late now.

I'd normally research extensively before posting, but I need to get my work out of there. Thanks for any advice.

Deb


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Mark Spano
Re: betacam capture, mix of anamorphic and 4:3
on Nov 15, 2010 at 9:26:04 pm

[Deb Field] "20 of the 125 clips display "stretched" in QuickTime. These 20 tapes also don't have a .mov extension, whereas the other 105 do"

Not sure why they would display as stretched, but perhaps whoever captured these captured with an anamorphic flag turned on. The fact that the clips don't have a .mov extension tells me that it's likely whoever captured these just dragged the files out of the Capture Scratch. This isn't what you want.

[Deb Field] "The project manager told me that it's just a metadata flag in the video, and that it won't matter for editing in FCP. He offered to run the clips through Compressor and convert them, but also told me it's not really necessary."

If you paid for something, it should be right. Anybody who told you they could capture BetaSP to ProRes and gave you whatever this is clearly oversold their ability.

[Deb Field] "Do I need to have the 20 tapes redigitized to match the others?"

I would demand that. If the other stuff is good, just tell them that there are anomalies with some of the footage they gave you, and it needs to be recaptured. Beta SP (NTSC) should come in to you as 720x486, 29.97fps. No anamorphic unless you specifically asked for it. While they might give you reasons why it should work if you use it in FCP, who's to say you weren't going to use it elsewhere? If you paid for a straight digitize of standard definition video, that's what you're entitled to. Nobody who buys a Big Mac expects to get Filet-O-Fish.



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Deb Field
Re: betacam capture, mix of anamorphic and 4:3
on Nov 15, 2010 at 10:12:06 pm

Mark, Thanks for the quick response. A followup question, if you can. Why would the footage, which displays anamorphic in QuickTime, display in perfect 4:3 aspect in FCP? The QT file states a 720 by 486 aspect ratio. Confused and just gathering facts before I demand a redo. Thanks.

Deb


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Mark Spano
Re: betacam capture, mix of anamorphic and 4:3
on Nov 15, 2010 at 10:57:15 pm

[Deb Field] "Why would the footage, which displays anamorphic in QuickTime, display in perfect 4:3 aspect in FCP?"

It doesn't make sense to me either. Perhaps what you're seeing is something relatively normal (720x486 non-square pixels displaying as square in QT Player) or something more bizarre than that. In FCP, there is an option in the viewer windows to correct for pixel aspect. This will be turned on by default for non-square pixel material, such as 4x3 standard definition video. If it really does look anamorphic in QT player, then it would look more like 854x486 and that's not normal for regular 4x3 SD video.

Either way, from what you're saying, it sounds like you got what you wanted for all of the other clips, so why couldn't they have given you what you wanted for the rest? That would be my argument. No reason why anyone capturing SD video from a Beta SP shouldn't be able to give you quicktimes that aren't 720x486 and look like all the rest. If in FCP browser it tells you that the files are 720x486, then they most likely are, but you might as well bring this up as there was clearly a change in the way they digitized the clips at some point. Good luck...



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Mark Spano
Re: betacam capture, mix of anamorphic and 4:3
on Nov 15, 2010 at 11:00:30 pm

[Mark Spano] "No reason why anyone capturing SD video from a Beta SP shouldn't be able to give you quicktimes that aren't 720x486 and look like all the rest."

aaah - too many negatives in that sentence. (sorry)

I mean: They should be able to give you 720x486 files that all look identical in QT Player.



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