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Old May 5th, 2007, 05:34 AM   #1
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Workflow for HDV Feature Film

We have just finished shooting our first feature in HDV - about 35 hours of footage captured.

We use PPro 2.0 but have enough trouble with slowness in loading much smaller projects, although the workstation was carefully constructed to be in excess of recommended specs.

Our proposed workflow is to have a separate project for each of the 60 scenes in the movie. Eventually we will be exporting each scene to Blu-Ray (or HD-DVD if it survives) and DVD. Is it sensible to do it this way, please?
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Old May 6th, 2007, 07:15 PM   #2
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Hi Colin,

I'm near the end of editing "I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer" right now. Shot on Sony Z1. We have 40+ hrs of footage - so we're in the same boat.

I won't rose-tint anything for you... it's a world of pain!

PPRO2 basically doesn't work well with large projects, so you're probably better off starting off with several smaller projects, although 1 per scene is probably overkill and a pain, seeing as you'll want to have music/atmost carry over between scenes and cross fades etc.

I have Cineform's Aspect HD - this intermediate codec basically allows quicker editing than the highly compressed HDV mpeg. (Aspect HD v5 free 15 day trial is out there: http://cineform.com/products/Downloa...TrialStart.htm - it's worth capturing s piece of sample footage as native mpeg-ts, then run it through HDLink to convert to the Cineform intermediate codec, and then create 2 identical PPRO projects - one native HDV, the other Cineform 1440x1080i) - then check the scrubbing, playback and overall performance).

I used Cineform's HDLink (Medium settings) to capture the footage (scene detection works well and it's quite stable these days). Footage is split over 4 HDDs - 2 SATA and 2 IDE, around 800MB in total

I split my project into 6 x 15 min sequences - and PPRO2 seemed to work OK.

BUT I still had problems rendering and exporting - possibly due to the effects I was adding wasn't helping the Premiere memory problems.

I use Boris Continuum Complete in Premiere to deinterlace (it's motion sensing, so no visible loss of resolution). Also use Magic Bullet Colorista and Looks Suite in Premiere to colour correct and add film-looks. To letterbox to 2.35:1 I either use a matte made in photoshop, or you can add 2 black colour mattes and crop them top and bottom. (you can obv do letterbox on rendering out to your end product, but I like to edit while seeing it as it will come out - WYSIWYG I guess).

Export - I've recently been trying DebugMode Frameserver, and it works well - I can go directly out to TMPGEnc Xpress (I find it the best DVD encoder) without having to export out a large CFHD avi.

My PC is AMD Dual Core 3800+, 4GB RAM etc - you'll have to make sure you use the /3GB and PAE parameters in the boot.ini - gimme a shout if you need the details.

You might want to consider trying the PPRO CS3 Beta though.

I've been editing the movie in this for the last week and found that I can collate all 6 projects into one and have the whole 1hr 20 min film on one sequence timeline. Even though the Beta doesn't allow hdv editing, just adding the Cineform settings allows you to edit the Cineform projects.

From the outset, like you, we were aiming for Blu-ray, HD-DVD output. We still are, but the uptake is slow, so in reality most sales will still be DVD.

So, try your complete workflow before you lock yourself into one. I wish I had researched more, but I reckon I'm now on the right road (after months).

I don't want to ramble any more, so feel free to ask any more specific questions - good to hear from a fellow aussie filmmaker! (although originally I'm a pom, but I'm sure you can forgive that).

Before I go, let me be a devil's avocado... you thought about Sony Vegas? Unless you're film's an exteme dirtbiking video, then more than likely you'll just be using clean cuts, and the occassional fade.

So, you don't need the latest whizz-bang NLE, just a really stable one. Then try out the colour correct plugins and seriously consider Magic Bullet or similar... and if you filmed interlaced, try all the deinterlacers out there - don't use the free ones that ship in Premiere or Vegas, they'll reduce your resolution.

Cheers, Doug.
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Last edited by Douglas Turner; May 7th, 2007 at 01:07 AM. Reason: added Export stuff
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Old May 20th, 2008, 05:46 PM   #3
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We're just finishing editing the feature in Premiere CS3. Never again. There's got to be better program.

We've even tries two very different computers, but still have the same problems. Sound effects like equalisation, etc., randomly cause sound distortion. We had to split the movie into 4 parts of about 20 minutes each. Trying to edit the whole film on one timeline was impossible, due to crashes.

We don't use any plug-ins (not even Cineform). We add some colour correction (either fast color corrector or color match), the occasional sound EQ or denoiser, some slow-mo, using Premiere's new feature (can't remember the name).

To finish it off we imported the parts into one separate project. Very unstable. We are trying to export in so many different ways & discovering so many bugs, it's not funny. On v3.1.1 we found exporting upper field first caused all sorts of weird picture stuttering (a few frames being repeated over & over). We tried exporting to tape, but after 24 hours eventually realised it had probably crashed as the hard disk was in sleep mode, but the processors were still showing 50% usage, so probably stuck in a loop.

We have the Master Collection, and for so many thousands of dollars we're spent, we expect dramatically better downconversion from HDV to SD DVD than Premiere provides. It's a disgrace - output is little better than web quality. I could (sort of) tolerate that output from Windows Movie Maker, but not something I've paid for.

We're not going to go through the pain of Premiere again.

So, should we change to a Mac and Final Cut Studio for our next feature?
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Old May 20th, 2008, 06:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Pearce View Post
So, should we change to a Mac and Final Cut Studio for our next feature?
I'd try Aspect or Prospect first. Much smaller investment and might solve some of your problems.

My experience editing with Premiere is that it is much like my first girlfriend: It's great to look at and will do almost anything you want if you know how to ask -- but it will frequently and unexpectedly go off on you for no apparent reason. But you learn to work around it.

Seriously, I get near-HD quality down-converts using Premiere with Aspect. And the BDs are shockingly good straight out of Encore.
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Old May 20th, 2008, 06:48 PM   #5
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Colin,

Turn off Automatic Save. And then re-try something that would always crash Premiere for you. Seriously, you should try this.

That improved the stability of Premiere for me (bloody crazy, but true!)

Failing that - Aspect HD is great.

I still have to use 5 x 17 minute projects, but I can successfully export Cineform HD avi (hundreds of clips, all with Magic Bullet Colorista and Looks filters added). I then stitch these together in a new project (don't do this with native HDV, as you'll see degredation in image quality - not with Aspect HD though).

You're doing something wrong if you're only getting 'web quality' from your HDV footage!

Maybe get DebugMode Frameserver, exporting to this, then importing this into TMPGEnc, and using this method to export to your DVD result.

I've also tried Media Encoder in Premiere and exported to DVD, and was happy with these results.

Cheers, Doug.
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Old May 20th, 2008, 07:10 PM   #6
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Also ensure you've got v3.2.0 PPRO CS3 - apparently a few memory fixes in this release.
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Old May 20th, 2008, 09:46 PM   #7
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For the price of the Master Collection, I really don't think I should have to buy another codec. Along similar lines, if I buy MS Word, I don't expect to buy another program just to be able to save things properly.

Yes, thanks I have installed Frameserver and bought TMPGEnc 4 Xpress (again I shouldn't have to), and the difference in DVD quality is enormous. On the main computer I have v3.1.1. On the other computer I have 3.2.0 but it suffers from the same problems (except probably the Export Movie uncompressed may work correctly, from what I've read on the internet).

I have read many posts on the internet that Adobe Media Encoder doesn't do a decent downconversion from HDV to SD DVD unless there are no cuts. This certainly is exactly what I have experienced. Horizontal and diagonal lines are very low quality & quite ugly to watch, with artifacts.

It makes sense to me that Apple Final Cut Studio with an Apple operating system and an Apple Mac computer should work much better, but my question is whether that is borne out in practice with a feature length film?
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Old May 21st, 2008, 12:08 AM   #8
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Hi Colin,

You'll have to check some FCP boards to get that question answered, and you'll more than likely get positive responses for a couple of reasons:

a) Mac users never admit that they also have problems
b) Some FCP users (especially the old schoolers) I've spoken to still do the offline/online edit workflow - so editing in SD, then onlining with the HDV footage only at the end (or in a lot of cases get someone else to online it!).

Even if you got FCP, you'd probably be using an intermediate codec anyway. Working with HDV is slow and lossy - as it's such a compressed format. So I wouldn't blame shite HDV performance on Adobe as such, I'd probably blame it on MPEG!

With this film, I made my bed, and now I have to sleep in it. No way I could jump ship to Vegas, Avid or FCP after starting. I just ended up finding work-arounds, and am just a couple of weeks away from successfully delivering a BluRay version of the film for a festival. But yep, I've wasted a LOT of time.

Cheers, Doug.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 12:34 AM   #9
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Thanks for your many informative comments.

Certainly this project has to stay Premiere as it's almost finished.

I agree that Mac users are extremely blinkered about crashes. A friend of mine brought his Mac over to my place. I watched him work. It crashed several times & he had to restart the program. Later that night he had the cheek to rubbish PC's, ranting that Macs never crash.

It's so typical of so many Mac users. If they were more honest, I'd be more inclined to trust them more. Therefore I'm not sure I can believe them when they say that Final Cut is reliable.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 10:29 PM   #10
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I had a similar experience with a Mac user. He was always telling me how great the Mac and FCP was. I went to his place to work on a project and one of the first things he told me was that I needed to "save" religously. "If you don't it will lock up and crash and you will loose all of your work." And we had all kinds of problems when we tried to export. There are no perfect systems it would seem.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 11:31 PM   #11
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I have managed to crash every single creative application on my Mac at least once. But compared to Premiere, FCP is a heaven of stability. I think PPro is Adobe's most unstable app - After Effects for example almost never crashes.
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