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Frame Rate & Codec Conversion

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Kenny Miracle
Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 24, 2011 at 4:29:10 pm

Hey Everyone,

I'm working on a documentary that has been shot over 3 years. There is 800 hours of footage that comes out to about 15 TB, and this month the company switched the post production to my team.

The last editors were not super organized, so we're transferring footage across 10 drives onto one 24 TB RAID. Then we'll need to relink all the footage in FCP and label clips inside FCP, but not until everything is the same format. This is where the issue lies...

Mainly - About 10 different codecs & framerates. I know this has been dealt with elsewhere. I've read stuff, but this situation is so extreme with this much footage that any input is welcome. If there are other recommended resources, then let me know.

Here are the codecs/framerates:

DVCPRO HD 1080p30 / 23.98 fps
DVCPRO HD 1080i60 / 23.98 fps
DVCPRO HD 720p60 / 23.98 & 59.94 fps
HDSLR H.264 / 30 fps
Apple ProRes 422 / 23.98 & 29.97 fps
Apple HDV 1080i60 / 29.97 fps
Apple ProRes 422 640x480 / 29.97 fps (Button Cam)
H.263 352x288 / 15 fps (Pen Cam)
MP4 720x480 / 23.98 & 29.97 fps (Pen Cam)

I definitely want the main framerate to be 23.98 fps. For the codec, most of the footage is in DVCPRO HD 1080p30, but I'm having trouble transcoding to this format. Apple ProRes is a sure shot, but that just means a whole lot more footage to transcode.

Thank you, and let me know if there is an easier way to explain this :)

Kenny Miracle

http://www.kennymiracle.com


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Shane Ross
Re: Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 24, 2011 at 5:32:32 pm

I hope they pay you well, and give you plenty of time to accomplish this. 800 hours of footage...just organizing it and converting things to match will take months...if you want to do things right. Something that producers/directors don't seem to take into account when they shoot apparently.

If you don't care about issues like improper pulldown removal, stuttery video, footage blown up and grainy...then just choose a sequence setting you want the final product to be and drop footage in and begin editing. It won't look great, but you can start right away.

Or...take months and use Compressor, hopefully on multiple machines, to convert the footage to the most common format...or the format you want to deliver in. Bear in mind, frame rate conversions take the longest, because you have to have the Compressor settings set to BEST.

Seriously, this will take weeks/months to convert...and then 800 hours/50 hour work week means 16 weeks just to view all of your footage. Unless you have parts you can skip. Still, cut that in half...8 weeks just to watch your footage. And every good editor needs to watch ALL their footage and know what they have.

Good luck. Get paid weekly.

Shane

GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Richard Herd
Re: Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 24, 2011 at 7:34:26 pm

Holy Cow! What is your final deliverable?


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Kenny Miracle
Re: Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 24, 2011 at 7:48:51 pm

As far as I know, it's whatever format I use. So either DVCPRO HD 23.98, or PRORES STANDARD 23.98.

Other than that, the way it will be shown has yet to be determined.

It's a non-profit awareness type doc, so it could make it to theaters, but more likely DVD/BluRay.

Kenny Miracle

http://www.kennymiracle.com


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Richard Herd
Re: Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 24, 2011 at 8:19:34 pm

Tough little problem to state.

I would test that pen and button cam footage first because if you can't get it to look good in DVCPRO HD, then using it in the edit is suspect. Usually that's very compelling footage.

I'll say it just to say it, so folks can disagree if need be: If the pen and button footage is compelling and it doesn't look great uprezzed, then perhaps editing in DV is your best bet.

Then when you have picture lock, you can output to HDCAM and get a decent uprez that way, for blu-ray.

If blu-ray is unreasonable, maybe DV ain't so bad.


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Dan Wolfmeyer
Re: Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 24, 2011 at 8:26:48 pm

With the huge amount of footage you have it would be insane to try to convert it all before you start editing. I would suggest cutting in the format you want to deliver in, but using the raw footage as is. Yes you will have to render A LOT and that will suck, but it will save you a HUGE amount of time. Rough cuts don't have to look pretty, they just have to convey the story. After you lock the cut pull all of the footage that you USED that doesn't match your mastering codec and convert that.


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Kenny Miracle
Re: Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 24, 2011 at 10:46:18 pm

Dan - I think that is the best way to move forward. Locking the final edit first is a great idea.

70% of the footage is in one DVCPRO HD format. So I'll use that as the base.

Most of the other footage is HDSLR, so it may be good to do that, too, since FCP doesn't like H.264 at all. From there I think it would be better.

One concern is still regarding framerates. Any thoughts on the best way to convert the varying framerates to 23.98 fps?

Thanks everyone!

Kenny Miracle

http://www.kennymiracle.com


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Rafael Amador
Re: Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 24, 2011 at 10:53:55 pm

With such mix, first I would check who works all that stuff on a Prores sequence.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Shane Ross
Re: Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 24, 2011 at 11:05:36 pm

What Dan said. But either color code your footage so you know what is what, so you can break up the sequence later for conversion...or put different formats on different layers. Keep them separate.

Shane

GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Dan Wolfmeyer
Re: Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 25, 2011 at 1:03:48 am

I'm currently cutting a doc and this is actually how I'm working right now. My main format is DVCProHD 1080i60. The A camera was actually shot at 720p24, but upon ingest I set the deck to output 1080i60. This is a common workflow for DVCProHD. All of my A camera tapes were captured this way. The B camera is DVCProHD 720p24 which was recorded on P2 cards. Because I have many, many hours of 720p24 footage from P2 cards, I didn't want to spend days or even weeks converting it. In my case I have to do this to meet very specific delivery requirements. Not only does my master have to be 1080i60, but my sources have to be 1080i60 as well. Additionally, I am getting some reenactment footage that will be shot with a more cinematic look than the vérité portions of my doc.

So, my approach is to color code all clips that don't match 1080i60. I use one color for 720p24 and another color for 720p60 (I had a different camera op for one shoot and he set his camera to do 24/60), and yet another color for additional odd formats (like stock ftg of various sources). I'm cutting my 1080i60 shots on V1 and the shots I'll need to convert on V2. Once I lock picture I plan on building sequences containing all of my P2 footage, with handles, and laying that off to DVCProHD tape at 720p24 (or 60). Then I will change the deck to output 1080i60 and recapture those shots. These will then be cut back into the timeline and at that point all of the used material in the finished project will be DVCProHD 1080i60.

In my case the frame rate conversion is being handled by the deck and it's not that complicated. I'm basically just leaving the pulldown intact. All of the stock footage I'm using is from 29.97 sources, so I won't have to do frame rate conversions to that, only rescaling. In your case, things are probably going to be more complicated. Unless you have funds to get your footage converted through a Teranex or a Universal Format Converter, you're probably going to have to go the Compressor route. That is going to be time consuming. You'll probably have to experiment with settings, but as Shane says, for frame rate conversions you'll need to set it to "Best." I would say that you should definitely convert h.264 sources before you start editing. You won't want h.264 on your timeline. If you have a huge amount of DSLR footage (or other h.264 footage) perhaps you should start by converting only what you know you'll need.


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Kenny Miracle
Re: Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 25, 2011 at 6:20:42 pm

This is REALLY helpful advice :)

So, here's the workflow I'm thinking:

1) Organize footage across multiple drives based on content (i.e. Asia footage, Europe footage, etc.)

2) Transcode HDSLR footage to ProRes 422 / 24 fps. Make sure the file name stays the same for easy relinking.

3) Transfer all footage to one 24 TB RAID.

4) Relink all footage in the original FCP project.

5) Label & color code the clips based on format.

6) Create a master sequence as ProRes 422 / 23.98 fps / 1920x1080

7) Edit like crazy until it's locked in as final, potentially separating each format by video tracks.

8) Media Manage the timeline with 2-3 second handles

9) Transcode only footage in timeline to ProRes 422 / 23.98 fps. Using Best framerate settings in Compressor.

10) Export final video in sequence settings, then convert as necessary for other outputs.

How does this generally sound?

Kenny Miracle

http://www.kennymiracle.com


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Richard Herd
Re: Frame Rate & Codec Conversion
on Mar 25, 2011 at 9:24:45 pm

I'm sticking to it!
Test this stuff first; make sure this footage will look good after it's uprezzed.

[Kenny Miracle] "Apple ProRes 422 640x480 / 29.97 fps (Button Cam)
H.263 352x288 / 15 fps (Pen Cam)
MP4 720x480 / 23.98 & 29.97 fps (Pen Cam)"


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