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Old April 30th, 2005, 06:51 AM   #1
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Feature HD-movie and Cineform Prospect

Hopefully David from Cineform or one of the makers of "Dust to Glory" reads my post ;-)

I am going to shoot a HD-feature (probably the first one in Austria) mid-August to mid-September 2005 and equipment-wise it boils down to

A)
The Varicam and an Apple postproduction environment, capturing the footage via firewire from the AJ1200 deck and editing in FCP and the DVCproHD codec.

Means to me (being a PC user): New operating environment, new editing software and some difficulties with the vfx guys who also work with PCs.

B)
The Varicam (720p24) OR the F900 (1080p24) in a PC environment using Cineform Prospect and Adobe Premiere Pro and capturing via SDI.

Seems a lot more comfortable to me, because the codec appears to be better, I can work with software I know, and it does not limit me to the Varicam. Most of all it appears to be more costeffective than the apple solution.

The hardware (without monitors) that fills the requirements for realtime capture as stated on the Cineform website would cost around $8000 and would include the following:

Mainboard Tyan S2895 (~$550)
2x AMD Opteron 252 (2x ~$1200)
4GB RAM DDR400 PC3200 dual channel (~$550)
Graphiccard Matrox Parhelia AP (~$380)
SDI AJA Xena DXT (~$2600)
25hrs of storage SATA at 60GB/hr (~$1000)

Being a SD and miniDV guy from ancient XL1 times jumping directly into HD there are some questions:

First, the dream-question: I LOVE to work with Sony Vegas. Version 6 does support Blackmagic SDI-cards, but Cineform Prospect seems to be compatible only with the AJA card (there is only the XENA DXT for PCs) and works with Premiere only. Is this final?

Blackmagic cards cost 1/4 of the Xena card and Vegas is (IMHO) the nicer editing solution. If Cineform could work with Vegas and Blackmagic, it would save me even more $$ and would ease my editing process.

Right now, Cineform Prospect is available bundled with Premiere, which is fine with me because I woud need Premiere anyways if it definately does not work with Vegas. The VFX-guys will work on their own machines and would need only the Cineform codex to work with the footage in AFX. I read a light edition of Prospect will be available Q1 05. What does "light" mean?

Uprezzing 720 to 1080.. should I do this myself or should the company who does the filmout do this? After all, it is one more render.

And finally: How did the postpro on "Dust to Glory" work? Smooth? Troubles? Will-do-again? Never-do-it-again?

I am in totally in favor for the Cineform solution as it seems like the perfect indie-alternative to shedding out $50.000 for an uncompressed HD system.

Cheers, Peter

PS: Offline editing is out of the question. I need everthing online because there will be a lot of digital zooming and panning in the footage, which would be a mess to transfer in an EDL.
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Old April 30th, 2005, 10:48 AM   #2
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The Cineform CTO hangs out here, but I don't remember seeing Jacob Rosenberg here. And he is the one you should ask about the postproduction on Dust to Glory.

I will let him know about your question.
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Old April 30th, 2005, 12:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Koller
First, the dream-question: I LOVE to work with Sony Vegas. Version 6 does support Blackmagic SDI-cards, but Cineform Prospect seems to be compatible only with the AJA card (there is only the XENA DXT for PCs) and works with Premiere only. Is this final?

Blackmagic cards cost 1/4 of the Xena card and Vegas is (IMHO) the nicer editing solution. If Cineform could work with Vegas and Blackmagic, it would save me even more $$ and would ease my editing process.
We have done some developement for the Black Magic cards, we even showed a prototype of Aspect HD using a Black Magic at NAB. However the drivers for AJA are more mature at the moment, we find more reliable performance with AJA so that is currently the recommended HDSDI solution for Prospect HD. In time we may add Black Magic support to PHD -- no promises. Vegas support today is only 8bit vs 10bit we get under PPro (with Prospect HD) -- this is the reason you want to continue with PPro and AE for the deep color support.

Quote:
Right now, Cineform Prospect is available bundled with Premiere, which is fine with me because I woud need Premiere anyways if it definately does not work with Vegas. The VFX-guys will work on their own machines and would need only the Cineform codex to work with the footage in AFX. I read a light edition of Prospect will be available Q1 05. What does "light" mean?
Light? Well we have annouced PHD without BOXX, that might be want you are referring to. The Dust to Glory BOXX system cost between $15k and $20k, now you can build you own systems for much less.

Quote:
Uprezzing 720 to 1080.. should I do this myself or should the company who does the filmout do this? After all, it is one more render.
Stick with 1080p24 sources if you can.

Quote:
And finally: How did the postpro on "Dust to Glory" work? Smooth? Troubles? Will-do-again? Never-do-it-again?
We are doing it again, and again I'm working with Jacob. Jaocb was the online supervisor, I was his telephone support. :) The parts that could have been smoother were related to conforming a 30Hz NTSC Avid EDL
to a 24p HD timeline -- but you don't have to do that. Online editing is the best approach (and the real advantage to compressed D.I.)
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Old April 30th, 2005, 01:43 PM   #4
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Thank you for your help, David!

As soon as PHD is available in the "light" version I am in!

Sorry for the 1080p24 question, I forgot that the VTR will do the conversion for me.

Concerning Vegas and its 8bit capability.. okay, this is beyond my knowledge, so forgive me if I sound pretty dumb now: Is it possible to capture 1080p24 with 10bit colordepth and still edit in Vegas? In other words, would Vegas just skip the last two bits and still be able to read the AVIs? This would mean I still could edit inside Vegas (where it does not hurt to have only 8bit), render and do the colorgrading at 10bit in AFX? ...ouch! thinking error.. I guess the 2bits get lost at the moment I render the file in Vegas. OK, so it is Premiere only.

Thanks again, Peter
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Old April 30th, 2005, 02:11 PM   #5
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Here is the trick about 8bit editing of 10bit content. Yes you can use the top 8bits of a 10bit bit file within Vegas, resulting in that quality loss. However is OK in certain circumstances. If you color correct in 10bit (render this out) there is much less loss if you have to use an 8bit application (or filter.) So color correct before using Vegas.

Prospect HD as a self install license will be available sometime next month (NAB slowed us down a little.)

David
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Old April 30th, 2005, 04:10 PM   #6
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Thanks again!
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Old May 1st, 2005, 07:08 AM   #7
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A night of thinking and half a day of brainwashing later...

The 10-bit issue still bugs me: Varicam and F900 both record only 8-bit to tape. The only way to get the advantage of 10-bit would be recording uncompressed footage directly to harddisk. This is a no-go for me. I will have to stick with tape.

So here comes the big question: If my origin is an already 8-bit compressed (DVCproHD or HDCAM) tape, does it make sense to uncompress via SDI and then recompress with PHD to 10-bit? Those 2 extra-bits cannot contain any information, right? And since the information that got lost during the first compression while recording to tape cannot be retrieved, does the uncompress/recompress with PHD not detoriate the material a little and also enlarge the files at the same time compared to the filesize in DVCproHD?

If I am with 8-bit all the time starting from the tape, I am back at Vegas and would not lose anything using it, right? Or does it make sense to change 8-bit material to 10-bit and colorgrade it then?

Which leads me to the masterbug... if my theory is right, I won't need Premiere and can stay in Vegas, 8-bit is 8-bit. In this case I would need an extra-light version of PHD: Codec only, compatible with Vegas 5/6 and without the Adobe package ;-)

Sorry for stealing your time, David, I know you have got better things to do :-)

Cheers, Peter
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Old May 1st, 2005, 09:17 AM   #8
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I think when you work in 10 bit you will have better latitude when color correcting( no_bandinga nd clipping colors).
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Old May 1st, 2005, 12:17 PM   #9
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Peter, Vince is correct. You know that the high end market has moved to 10bit even though ALL the aquistion tape formats are 8bit (not counting on set D5 or SR decks.) The reason for this is a tad complex. Bascially you need more than 8bit precision to maintain 8bit procision. In an 8bit only system if you apply a color curve (tweak highlights, midtone, and shadows) the output will have fewer discrete levels (max 256 level will be reduced -- introducing contouring/banding.) Now the same operation in a 10/16bit system will still have 256 levels (within the 10bit space.) Of course if you eventual need to hit 8-bit, you will be quantizing these levels. The solution for this is the 10bit codec dithers the 8bit output to remove contouring artifacts. So you maintain the best picture you do need a combination of a deep codec and a deep mixing engine -- Prospect HD adds these to Premiere Pro.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 02:07 PM   #10
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I know I am turning into a real pain in the ass...

I am so obsessed with Vegas because I will also be the DP of this feature and I know I am going to have to reframe a lot of shots in post because I am not perfect with the camera: And there is no other editing software in the world that makes reframing easier and quicker than Vegas. I tried Premiere again yesterday.. and these things are just too painful to achieve with it.

Ok, this is my final one. Does this workflow work?

Capture:
1. Origin DVCproHD tape 720p24 8-bit
2. Convert to 1080p24 with Panasonic AJ-HD1700 and capture with Xena HS and realtime compress to PHD-AVI 10-bit

Edit:
1. Edit the whole film in Vegas 5 or 6 in 8-bit
2. Reframe everything that needs to be reframed
3. Render the full movie with PHD-codec

Question: Does the render using the PHD-codec always output a 10-bit AVI?

Colorgrading & VFX:
1. After Effects for grading and VFX in 10-bit
2. Render again in 10-bit

Print to tape:
1. Realtime uncompress via PHD and output via SDI to AJ-HD1700 VCR

This adds up to two renders. One 8-bit render that hopefully creates a 10-bit AVI (with 2 zero bits at the end) and a final render at 10-bit.

The tricky question is how much damage do I cause when I zoom into the footage using Vegas. Is this strictly a pixel resolution thing or could the 8-bit color resolution be really bad for me?

And again I am sorry for bugging you, David. But I want to make sure as possible that I do not shed out some thousand dollars for the wrong solution.

PS: Maybe I am even looking for the wrong solution. The easiest would probably be DVCproHD firewire and eventually a Cineform codec for better render-quality.. but there is no support outside Apple and FCP for this. :(
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Old May 1st, 2005, 03:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Koller
I know I am turning into a real pain in the ass...

I am so obsessed with Vegas because I will also be the DP of this feature and I know I am going to have to reframe a lot of shots in post because I am not perfect with the camera: And there is no other editing software in the world that makes reframing easier and quicker than Vegas. I tried Premiere again yesterday.. and these things are just too painful to achieve with it.
Did you try the "Pan Zoom Rotation" tool that comes with Aspect HD (and also with Prospect HD?) That make reframing a little easier than the motion panel in Premiere.

Quote:
Question: Does the render using the PHD-codec always output a 10-bit AVI?
Not from within Vegas. Sorry.

Quote:
Print to tape:
1. Realtime uncompress via PHD and output via SDI to AJ-HD1700 VCR
Please avoid this step as the image will be crushed from 1920 to 1280. Any of your reframing, titling elements will be softened as a result (as will any adding potential compression artifacts.) DVCPRO-HD is not a good distribution format. Plus I don't think that deck supports 1080p24 PsF. Better to rent a D5 for the day.

Quote:
PS: Maybe I am even looking for the wrong solution. The easiest would probably be DVCproHD firewire and eventually a Cineform codec for better render-quality.. but there is no support outside Apple and FCP for this. :(
This would not result is better quality. Using HDSDI (10bit uncompressed) can't bettered with a software solution.
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