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Converting FCP project for DCP creation

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Robert Withers
Converting FCP project for DCP creation
on Jan 9, 2015 at 3:11:00 pm

Hi,
My producer is trying to prep a 4x3 HD film created in FCP7
into the necessary specs for dcp transfer and festival screening. The festival will make the dcp but is asking for specific paramaters.
Here are the native specs of the project:
> 633x480 custom
> square
> no field
> 29.97
> apple pro res 422LT
> 48khz/16bit stereo

The festival wants:
Apple pr res 422 or 422HQ (which is easy enough)
1998x1080 (which doesn't appear in Compressor as possibility
24 fps or 30fps (which should we do? 30 i guess?)
6 or 8 channel 24bit 48KHz (can i just change to 24 bit?)

The numbers and specs requested do not match anything on FCP7 compressor and even as custom we are not able to match or make these numbers appear.
Any suggestions? We must be missing something.

Thanks,
Robert

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Converting FCP project for DCP creation
on Jan 9, 2015 at 5:43:18 pm
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on Jan 9, 2015 at 6:10:19 pm

In colloquial American English, you have what is known as a "hot mess".

First, you must have headaches galore when editing in that custom resolution. FCP has troubles with custom resolutions.

Second, those custom horizontal & vertical dimensions aren't even correct. You want 4x3 -- 4 units wide, 3 units high -- and SQUARE pixels, yet the dimensions are 633x480. Here's a little arithmetic based on the vertical dimension:

480/3=160. Your unit is 160 pixels. The vertical dimension is 3 units high.
160x4=640. That's the pixel count for 4 units wide... but yours is 633 pixels wide.
Thus, you don't have 4x3 square pixels.

Third, you absolutely must double-check the HD dimensions. You already realize that 1998 is NOT a standard horizontal dimension in HD. Get 'em on the phone. Ask them why they want such a weird horizontal dimension. It sounds like a case of miscommunication if festival organizers know what they're doing, or stupidity if they don't.
In motion picture terms, 1920x1080 is a 1.78:1 ratio.
A 2.35:1 widescreen film ratio would be either 2538x1080 or 1920x817 (which is a set of totally bizarre dimensions).
So what's the deal with 1998x1080? That's a 1.85:1 ratio.
I'd also be very interested to learn what festival organizers intend to use to play back 1998x1080 files. Not project them, but play them back.

Fourth, how do you propose to upscale your current SD edit to HD? Pillarbox it? Fill the 16x9 screen, but lose the top & bottom of the 4x3 image? Do you plan to use a plugin to ameliorate -- not cure -- the lack of HD resolution in your current edit? You haven't said.

I do not envy the pickle in which you currently find yourself.

Is the original footage used for the current edit SD or HD?

You may very well find yourself creating an HD edit to accommodate the film festival, and then it's MUCH easier to create a 4x3 SD file to placate your producer.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Robert Withers
Re: Converting FCP project for DCP creation
on Jan 9, 2015 at 8:22:29 pm

Yes, the very model of a hot mess.

I don't know how the producer got to her current version but it is HD with pillarboxes already, only the central image is the 4:3 ratio, a scan from film. So that's a good point. The file must already be 1920x1080.

The weird 1998x1080 is apparently a 2k format specifically for DCP. I've heard of DCP studios asking for these. (They also want 24 fps!) But maybe the festival can use the HD file is.

From research:
2K = artificial standard

The reason for making 2K (2048×1080) slightly bigger than HD seems to have little other reason than that it is a bit bigger and that they need a catchy name. Cinema content is almost never 2048 x 1080 sized, but it is almost always distributed in a 2K (or 4K) ‘envelope’. What does that mean:

cinema ‘flat’ is encoded as 1998 x 1080 frames: aspect ratio 1.85 and fits inside the 2K frame. The frames can be just that size, or black bars are added left & right to get to the full 2K size (‘pillar boxed’).
cinema ‘scope’ is encoded as 2048 x 858 frames: aspect ratio 2.39 and fits inside the 2K frame. The frames can be just that size, or black bars are added top & bottom to get to the full 2K size (‘letter boxed’).

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Robert Withers
Re: Converting FCP project for DCP creation
on Jan 9, 2015 at 8:27:38 pm

Yes, the very model of a hot mess.

But you make a good point--this file is already an HD square pixel file made from a film scan. It's got pillarboxes and only the center image is 4:3.

Apparently 1998x1080 is a pixel ratio that is targeted specifically for making DCPs. So maybe the festival will simply accept and convert the existing 1920x1080 file, adding a little more box to the pillars.

See research below:

2K = artificial standard

The reason for making 2K (2048×1080) slightly bigger than HD seems to have little other reason than that it is a bit bigger and that they need a catchy name. Cinema content is almost never 2048 x 1080 sized, but it is almost always distributed in a 2K (or 4K) ‘envelope’. What does that mean:

cinema ‘flat’ is encoded as 1998 x 1080 frames: aspect ratio 1.85 and fits inside the 2K frame. The frames can be just that size, or black bars are added left & right to get to the full 2K size (‘pillar boxed’).
cinema ‘scope’ is encoded as 2048 x 858 frames: aspect ratio 2.39 and fits inside the 2K frame. The frames can be just that size, or black bars are added top & bottom to get to the full 2K size (‘letter boxed’).

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Converting FCP project for DCP creation
on Jan 9, 2015 at 10:35:48 pm
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on Jan 9, 2015 at 10:40:19 pm

It's already HD? Whew!
It's 1920x1080? Whew again!

I'd export a ProRes 422 1920x1080 file, bring it into Motion and make the 1998x1080 version. The Pillarbox sides with just be a little wider.

Use Motion again to make that weird 633sx480 version.

You mentioned a frame rate of 24fps with some alarm. What's the current frame rate? It could be probematic, and you may want to tend to it before you go into Motion. For example, the HD original file may be 23.976 with a 3:2 pulldown added during the transfer from film, making a 29.97 file. You'd have to remove the pulldown, for starters.

Others hopefully will chime in with experience of going from 23.976 to 24. I have none.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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