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Problem with 720p60/59.94 Varicam 2700 footage in FCP 7

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Tom Wright
Problem with 720p60/59.94 Varicam 2700 footage in FCP 7
on Jul 19, 2014 at 11:16:37 am

Hi, I'm an editor working in FCP 7 and am having problems with some Varicam 2700 footage. The footage in question is being read as 720p60 with an exact framerate of 59.94fps - this would be fine, except I'm getting duplicate frames. This is a bit of a long-winded post so please bare with me!

I'm fully aware that in ye olde days of tape the Varicam was technically always shooting at 60fps, but would flag frames based on the framerate you had set and then, during import, you could tick the 'remove advanced pull-down and duplicate frames' button in Log and Transfer and you'd be set. In this instance however this option is not available (there doesn't seem to be any metadata that indicates the 'correct' framerate) so I'm forced to take this wonky 59.94fps material as is.

Because there are duplicate frames, running these files through Cinema Tools doesn't work because CT just reads the footage as 59.94fps and includes all the frames (duplicates and all) when it reclocks a file, meaning the resulting 25fps video plays in janky slow-motion (simply holding frames for ages). I've spoken to a friend at a local post-house and his elegant solution to the duplicate frame issue was to simply drop the footage into a FCP sequence with the 'correct' framerate and then export it, which would then give me a .mov file I could correctly reclock in CT.

The above solution technically works, but here's the crux of my problem: the number of frames duplicated differs from shot to shot, even though it's all being read as 720p60, 59.95fps. As an example of this some of the footage is doing the classic 3:2 pulldown so appears to actually be 24fps, while other footage is 29.97fps, and other footage is genuinely showing 60 unique frames per second. I cannot for the life of me figure out what's going on here, it's like all of the footage is being read as 59.94fps but actually has a secret, correct framerate. The only solution I can think of so far is to manually count the number of duplicated frames for each clip, mathematically figure out the real framerate from this, and then drop the clip into a sequence with this framerate.

The above will obviously take ages, so if anyone can answer these questions I would be most grateful:

1) Is there a program or plugin that can either analyse the 59.94 footage and remove the duplicate frames, or failing that one that can count the number of unique frames and tell me the actual framerate?

2) Is there anything I could have done on import that would have prevented this?

3) Does anyone with Varicam 2700 experience have any idea how this could have happened? As I said earlier, I've never been given off-speed footage that wasn't 720p24 or 720p25 from the Varicam (from a variety of different cameramen) so I have no idea what's going on.

Thanks in advance!

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