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35mm > HDCAM > FCP ?

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Tom Wise35mm > HDCAM > FCP ?
by on Jun 22, 2009 at 5:49:22 pm

Hi, all.

I am working a gig running FCP 6.0.5 on a (2004) Power Mac G5, Dual 1.8, 1GB ram and OS 10.5.7. A client and I are re-cutting a feature film. We've finished an offline edit using our only available source, an old NTSC Beta SP DF transfer.

I am now ordering a new telecine conversion to be performed at the Library of Congress from their print of the film. The only HD transfer they offer is via HDCAM tape. Can anyone recommend the ideal HDCAM format to specify? One friend suggested HDCAM SR. The original film is 24fps stereo and I need the new HD media to reconnect with a minimum of discrepancies. By the way, the HDCAM > digital file conversion will be performed by an outside facility and I will edit with those. So no HDCAM I/O will necessary on this computer. Does anyone have any codec suggestions? The final product will be a Blu-ray disc. Also an SD DVD. The Producer also intents to pitch the film to various networks.

Finally - What's the most advisable way to upgrade this trusty OLD Power Mac to accommodate the new HD media workflow? Or should I use my Intel 2.2 Macbook Pro (2GB ram)? Any card/storage recommendations? And about how much storage will likely be needed for 100 minutes of HD media and some occasional render files? (And the eventual Blu-ray authoring.) External monitoring would be ideal, however the client is working under considerable budget constraints and we may have to be content with internal monitoring.

Many thanks!


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Mads Nybo JørgensenRe: 35mm > HDCAM > FCP ?
by on Jun 22, 2009 at 6:19:47 pm

Hey Tom,

All the questions that you are asking has previously been answered in other posts - so use the search function...

You will find that: "The Producer also intents to pitch the film to various networks." & "the client is working under considerable budget constraints and we may have to be content with internal monitoring." doesn't really belong together.

Normally Producers takes off-line to the market-place and in that way raises money for the OnLine. Or he/she finds some unsuspecting editor who is willing to work flat out for no money on a under-specc'd system with no reward(s) at the end of the tunnel - except a credit on a product that no-one wants to buy. Obviously there is the random rare exception to my point - but they are very rare.

If you want to work at full HD; expect on a feature length project to buy a complete new FCP system. You can use a variety of codecs to play around with and some of them are very good, but you still need some decent storage to do the business - which is IMHO the main cost of upgrading to full HD. Get your producer to dig deeper - don't do a job of that magnitude on a low-pay, unless you are into that kind of torture? ;-)

All the Best
London, UK

Mac Million Ltd. - HD Production & Editing
Please watch our latest video on Data Protection at


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Tom WiseRe: 35mm > HDCAM > FCP ?
by on Jun 22, 2009 at 7:51:23 pm

Thank you for your response. Originally this job was to be a combined off-line and on-line edit for a simple SD DVD reissue. But the source footage proved so poor that we decided to move up to HD, thus also maintaining future cable and broadcast options. As for your suggestion that an entirely new system is necessary, that seems a little extreme, considering my Macbook Pro is virtually new.



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Jeff BrownRe: 35mm > HDCAM > FCP ?
by on Jun 23, 2009 at 1:46:39 pm

As others may point out, there is "HD" as in an HDV palmcorder, and there is "HD" as in mastering for PBS broadcast. The second type of HD will require a much more substantial system than a MacBook. Do some searching on storage requirements (capacity and throughput) for uncompressed HD, and you should get an idea of what to expect.

I'm also somewhat mystified by the decision to move to HD since your "source footage was so poor". Unless you mean the Beta transfer was lousy and are hoping for a better remastering to HDCAM; then I understand.


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Tom WiseRe: 35mm > HDCAM > FCP ?
by on Jun 23, 2009 at 7:43:37 pm


At this point I am looking at ProRes. Info I have turned up elsewhere indicates that HD cutting via the ProRes codecs is possible on a properly-outfitted Macbook Pro.

As for the decision to move the project from SD to HD, we are having to have a new telecine performed by the Library of Congress from the original 35mm print. Their fees for an HDCAM transfer were virtually identical to their quote for SD, hence the switch.



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Steve WargoRe: 35mm > HDCAM > FCP ?
by on Jun 24, 2009 at 4:25:44 am

Regarding your question about HDCAM SR, which everyone seemed to miss, SR is much more expensive than standard HDCAM. Once it's transferred, you will have to have a deck to digitize from. There are some $350 a day HDCAM decks but not SR. Besides, did the Library offer you SR? Probably not.

As for ProRes, it works really well but you should really look into a tower with E-Sata. A ProRes that large most likely bog your laptop down.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .

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Dino SanacoryRe: 35mm > HDCAM > FCP ?
by on Jun 24, 2009 at 11:23:54 am

First of all, possible and reasonable are two different things. I have mastered several feature length projects in Final Cut a dual 800 G4 (in the now distant past of course). I wouldn't pretend to bother with that today. If you have the time and patience you can use the system you have. I would though take it to at least 2 gigs RAM. The laptop is going to be a faster machine. Media storage is your biggest consideration with either set up.

Second. HDCam and HDCam SR are two completely different formats. One does not imply the other. If they have HDCam, then that is what it is. Get the transfer done at 23.976 frames per second. Apple likes to call this either 23.98 or 24 but it really has to be 23.976. There is a real 24 (which is true film rate) but that is a pain to work with, especially if the intended destination is video.

Don't even pretend you will be adding useful external HD monitoring to an old tower or a laptop on a no budget process. I would suggest a second computer monitor to give yourself some room.

ProRes is the most reasonable mix of quality and file size. It may be a little processor intensive on a G5. I've worked with it on a dual 2.0 G5 but can't speak for the 1.8. ProRes is a 10 bit format. Unless you have days upon days for rendering (for color correction, image scaling/cropping, titles, whatnot) you will be processing at 8 bit. A much more reasonable (but lower quality codec) is DVCProHD. The laptop should be faster, but with still only two processors, not by much.

Your new transfer will have new timecode. 23/24 frame rates have no drop frame timecode. You will be eye matching the new cut. Even if the transfer starts at the same number, it will drift from your offline as time goes on.

Buying/building a new system for a no budget job is not a reasonable consideration. If you want a better computer or or more complete system, look for a facility that will rent a suite to you. If that is still too expensive, at least then your client knows the value of what you can't offer since they wont pay for it.

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Tom WiseThanks!
by on Jun 24, 2009 at 10:01:40 pm

Many thanks, Dino. The Cow comes through again!

- Tom

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