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What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?

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Vic Noseworthy
What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Feb 23, 2013 at 1:15:55 am

Hi folks,
I have worked using Final Cut Express for several years. I do a lot of composite editing, so I stepped up to FCP7 since I thought a better codec would yield better final output to DVD (I do weddings).
FYI: I still use the same "pro-sumer" (i.e. consumer) cameras that I used with my previous platform.
Since I switched to the better codec (I currently use ProRes422LT), my DVD quality seems to be worse, not better. Needless to say, I'm disappointed.
I suspect my inexperience with the more professional platform is the problem. I really know very little about how to set up a project in FCP7. I'm wondering if someone more experience would be kind enough to provide a little info on how to go about setting up a new FCP7 project so as to maintain DVD quality.
What settings should my sequences be? (My cameras are Canon HF M400s)
Are there other settings I need to pay attention to?
Any advice would be very much appreciated.
Thanks very much,
Vic


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Spencer Averick
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Feb 23, 2013 at 1:31:29 am

You don't really need to setup the project settings. Once your footage has been transcoded to ProRes LT, you just open a new project, drop a clip into the timeline and say "yes" so that the timeline will automatically become your footage's format.
Once you complete your edit, export a "Quicktime Movie" "self-contained". This is full res Prores LT file of your finished project. At that point you should see zero quality loss. Now take that file and bring it into Compressor. Apply the "Best Quality" DVD settings to your file and submit. Once Compressor is done, you bring those files into DVD Studio Pro to complete the burn (or build your TS folders in Studio Pro and bring those folders into Toast to burn). With this process your final DVD will look great.


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Feb 23, 2013 at 1:59:51 am

Hey, Man! Awesome advice, and it gives me hope! I've never used compressor (in my life! Never even thought of it, but it did come with my FCS3!) I'm thinking it will help a lot, 'cause a long time ago I'd read about how it improves quality!
I will definitely give this a try! Can't wait to see the results!
Thanks so very much!
Vic


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Feb 23, 2013 at 6:49:20 pm

Hey Spencer. I've converted using Compressor. I'm into DVD Studio Pro, but man it's confusing! Can I use the mpeg2 file (the one created by Compressor) to simply create a DVD in iDVD?
Thanks,
Vic


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Spencer Averick
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Feb 23, 2013 at 7:00:03 pm

Hey Vic!

Honestly man I've never used iDVD, but here are the easy steps for Studio Pro:

-Compressor has created 2 files (mpeg for video and aac for audio)
-Open DVD Studio Pro. Drag your 2 files straight from the finder into the little tv box icon (called "track 1") in studio pro in the upper left hand window. You'll see your movie in the box and in the timeline and in the "assets" window now.
-You can delete the other box called "menu 1". Now control click on the "track 1" box to bring up the menu, and select "First play".
-Now at the top, select "burn". That's it!

This is without menus, just a straight dvd that plays.


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Feb 23, 2013 at 9:15:25 pm

Hey, again, Spencer!
I've looked to see what files were created by Compressor, and the only two files I see are:
1. one that ends with: MPEG-2 18.0Mbs.m2v
and
2. one inside a folder labelled ; that file is named similarly: MPEG-2 18.0Mbs.mtv.par
Perhaps I have used Compressor incorrectly?
Any advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated. I will review your previous suggestion on how to use Compressor to make sure I've done it correctly. FYI: My first Compressor attempt took about an hour to export an 18-minute .mov file for DVD creation.
Anyways,
Thanks again!
Vic


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Spencer Averick
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Feb 24, 2013 at 8:15:18 pm

Vic, make sure that when you apply the DVD setting in compressor you drag and drop the entire folder "DVD best" onto the file, not just the video setting in the folder. It contains both the audio (ac3) and video.


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Feb 27, 2013 at 5:35:58 pm

Hey, Spencer! Thanks so much for your help. It appears I still have one more hurdle: Because my internal DVD drive gave out, I have since purchased an external DVD drive (it's a good Pro model that cost me, like, $400).
Previously (i.e. when using iDVD), when I clicked on "Burn", I would get the option to select the external drive. However, when I'm using DVD Studio Pro, I don't get that option; instead, it tries to use the internal DVD drive (which doesn't work).
Any idea how to set up DVD Studio Pro to work with an external burner? Is there a hardware settings window either in DVD Studio Pro, or on the computer itself?
Thanks so much!
Vic


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Spencer Averick
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Feb 28, 2013 at 5:14:41 am

Hey Vic, sorry don't have any experience with this, but take a look at this thread it might be there:

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3112577?start=0&tstart=0


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Feb 28, 2013 at 8:59:51 pm

Hey, Spencer.
Thanks for the link!
A follow-up question, if I may:
Basically, I've been burning DVDs that, I believe, could/should be of a higher quality. (i.e. currently, I feel the image quality is a bit washed out, especially compared to the original .mov files used to create the DVD, and also as compared to other DVDs I have viewed).
My question is this:
How much quality is lost in the final stage of video production, i.e. DVD creation? I'm asking because, it seems to me, I'm generally quite happy with the quality of my video projects right up until the DVD-burning stage. That final leap, i.e. creating the DVD, seems to steal away far more of the image quality than I would like or would have expected. I realize that I'm going from HD to SD, but I still feel I'm losing too much quality when burning DVDs (I seem to get the same quality whether I use DVD-SP or Toast to burn the DVD).

Any information you can provide to help me determine what's acceptable, quality-wise, for the DVDs I create will be very much appreciated.
Thank you, again!
Vic


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Spencer Averick
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Mar 1, 2013 at 6:27:19 am

Hey Vic, you do lose quite a bit of quality going to DVD but there are ways to adjust quality settings. Obviously, it depends so much on the quality of the raw content you shoot. When you shoot on your small camcorder then compress to DVD there will be some loss. If you shoot on a RED camera then compress for DVD it will still look pretty good, even though you're compressing both to same exact format (mpeg2 always for sd dvd).

Do you color correct at all? You might want to apply some contrast to your image before compressing to dvd, that might off set the washed out look you see.

In terms of dvd quality, it doesn't matter if you use DVDSP or Toast. The only thing that matters is bit rate. In Compressor after you apply the dvd "best quality 90 minutes", click on that setting on your file to open in the inspector. Select the "encoder" tab in the inspector. Select the "quality tab". Here you can adjust the "average bit rate". As you move the slider up, go back to the "summary" tab to see that your estimated file size has gone up. You can't go over 4.7 gigs for dvds.

I would do some tests with a 2 minute piece of your video. Adjust the "average bit rate" up to like 7.0 or 8.0 and see how that looks compared to 5 or 6 or what you had it at.


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Mar 1, 2013 at 2:09:00 pm

Thanks so much, Spencer, for those tips. I will definitely try them.

I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to quality on DVDs; everyone's seems better than mine. At the same time, I haven't had a single complaint from customers (i.e. brides). In fact, two (of the 8 or 9) weddings I've done so far have raved about their videos.

With regards to my cameras, I should mention that I also shoot regularly with a Canon T3i. My understanding (from what I've read online) is that the T3i shoots at about 45Mbs, as compared to the Vixia camcorders, which shoot at 24 Mbs. I like to shoot with these because I can afford to have several cameras, and hence several camera angles at once (esp. at the church). I really like editing, and the multiple angles provide a great selection of shots.

FYI: The image quality is very, very comparable between the Vixia camcorders and the T3i. In fact, the only real difference I can see is in the color balance; the T3i is much warmer. (I love the bokeh afforded by the T3i, esp. when I use my f/1.4 lens, which is always!)

I have been wondering about color correcting, and how it might affect the overall image quality that I'm getting. When I say my image looks "washed out", what I'm really saying is that the image shifts very much to the brighter end of the spectrum, such that everything is overexposed (especially the whites!). This problem is very much exaggerated when I compress for DVD (i.e. mpeg2). Perhaps there's a way to bring down the whites??? I really don't know much at all about color correcting, though I have toyed with it for specific clips. My problems is that I really don't understand the workflow necessary for color correcting. Do I have to go in and color correct each clip individually, or can I cut my clips together and color correct afterwards? I ask this because I never know which clips I'm going to be using until I'm actually editing, and it seems crazy to try to color correct every clip. How do the pros do it? Do they color correct each and every shot, even those they don't actually use? Do they save two copies of each clip (i.e. the original and the color corrected version)?

Anyways, sorry to bombard you with so many questions. Any advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated! Thank you again!
Vic


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Spencer Averick
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Mar 1, 2013 at 9:23:02 pm

Hey Vic, I would definitely color correct your videos, it will make a big difference. The first few times you do it will be a learning process but once you get it you'll be able to knock it out in a couple hours.

In the professional process the color correction happens after the edit is finished and locked, and it is very time consuming because they do color each shot individually, although there are obviously ways to copy and paste certain "looks" to similar or identical shots to save time.

But when I think about your situation with weddings, if I was editing and you gave me a shot that lasted an hour during the ceremony and was washed out, I would probably fix it before I started editing. Apply it to the clip before it goes into the timeline so that I don't have to tediously apply a color filter every time I see that same shot. For everything else like quicker shots I'd only color correct after picture lock.

So for your situation with weddings you should focus on 2 things- Color consistency (mainly with the whites, white balancing, but also with overall hue) and contrast (avoid the washed out look).

Like I said this will take time getting used to , but start with this- apply the 3-way color correcter to a clip in the timeline. Now adust the "blacks" slider the the left and you'll see the blacks getting blacker. Now adjust the "whites" slider to the right and the whites get whiter (or to the the left if you want to bring the whites down like you said) . Use small adjustments here don't go overboard. This is adding basic contrast and will help your finished look. You may have to adjust the saturation slider up a bit. Play with the "mids" slider as well. Also, to the lower left of the "whites" slider there is a tiny box. If you click that, then go to your video and point it to anything that is truly white in the frame, then you'll automatically adjust the white balance. White balance will be key in giving your video an overall consistency. Let's say you like this look and want to apply it to other clips in the timeline. Copy the clip then option+v to paste attributes>filters to other clips. Or you can open the filter and drag it into your browser, then name it something like "wedding ceremony CAM A". Now you have that filter to drag and drop to any clip you want in the timeline. Also always remember to keep in mind that your computer monitor isn't exactly the perfect reference. Professionals use expensive monitors to see exactly what the finished product will look like. In your case, the only way to view exactly what your clients will see is to burn dvd's and watch at home.

This is just a tiny bit of what coloring is, but you should definitely play around with it, and see how it looks after adding contrast and compressing for the DVD


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Vic Noseworthy
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Mar 6, 2013 at 10:28:45 pm

Hey, Spencer.
Thank you, again, for your awesome help! I was out of town for a few days, so it took me a little while to respond. I will definitely be experimenting with the suggestions you have made. Also, and as an aside, I just finished reading "The DV Rebel's Guide" (while I was out of town) and, in that, the author talks about color balancing and luminance adjusting. I do believe I am gradually getting to understand and appreciate the importance of adjusting color in post. In fact, I'm kinda' excited, since I'm sure it'll make my productions all the better!
Going forward, I will no doubt have many questions. Again, your willingness to share your expertise in this area is so very much appreciated. I can't thank you enough, and I expect I may wish to draw upon your kindness and knowledge in the future.
I will keep experimenting and testing!
All the best,
Vic


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Rafael Amador
Re: What settings for initial FCP7 set-up?
on Feb 23, 2013 at 1:35:25 am

EDITED


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