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Old August 6th, 2011, 07:08 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Birmingham UK
Posts: 4
Firstlight Issues

Hi There.

I'm currently working on a project that was filmed in difficult low light conditions.
A mix of grey backgrounds, fairly high iso grain as well as spots of overexposure due
to the nature of the lighting don't help matters.

After initially writing some of the footage off as unusable I found that I really did
need to use some of it to complete the project.

So I began to try various ways to improve the footage.

Luckily Firstlight came to my aid.

My current work flow is:-

Do my entire edit using the native 5D files in premiere. Getting all the timing, cuts and
sound exactly how I want them, with only the most basic regard to image quality.

Then I begin to swap out all the edited clips. Importing the individual 5D clips into Aftereffects.
Adding a touch of high pass filter and Denoising all in 32bit.
Then I render out as a 12 bit Cineform 444 file using trillions of colours and the quality
set to absolute maximum. ( Overkill sure, but I can't see a reason not to as hard disk space
is so cheap these days ). The 444 clips ending up replacing all the native 5D clips.

I get large files of course, but as the clips are all pre-edited I'm basically only ending up
with high quality master clips.

I then do the vast majority of my light level and colour correction in Firstlight.

And I have to say, considering how poor some of the images originally were they've come out
quite usable now.

One thing I have found with Firstlight is that adjusting the exposure level at all seems to
produce blocky artifacting quite rapidly.
However, if I don't touch the exposure but just use just gamma, gain, lift etc I can brighten
the image an astonishing amount without it breaking up to much.

Anybody know why this is ?

And finally getting to the reason I started this post I have two issues with Firstlight.

The first and most anoying is that Firstlight regularly freezes up when dealing with the
444 files. I don't get this with the standard 422 files just the 444 ones.

I can import the file, do my corrections, then see the results playing in media player etc.
However, once I've played the file in media player or Aftereffects etc and return to
Firstlight. The video image simply greys out. Reselecting the clip has no effect, it
just remains grey.

I then have to close Firstlight down, reopen and select the file again. Luckily it retains
all the corrections previously made and functions normally until I play the clip elsewhere
where upon the image greys out again.

Is this a known fault with Firstlight and 444 files ?? Has anyone seen this before.
I've reinstalled Cineform a couple of times and the results are the same. 422 works fine.
Anyone any ideas.

I can work round this, but it would be nice not to have to keep on closing and reopening
the program.

The second, though much more minor, issue I have is with cpu usage.

If I simply open and play a 5D file in media player my cpu usage hovers around the 1.5 - 2.5%
mark ( probably using the gpu for decompressing ?)

If I play a Cineform 444 file, the cpu usage jumps to 30 - 35%. Not a problem, it's four or five
times the size of the original 5D file and I think purely cpu processed.

However, if I use Firstlight on a file there's a big jump in cpu usage. The more adjustments used
the greater the usage. Add a couple of scopes, do some corrections and suddenly if I play that 444
clip in media player I'm seeing 70 - 80% cpu usage.

I'm just wondering if that's normal.

It's not a problem for me because I'm not actually editing in 444 but almost using the original
5D files as a proxy, and only using the 444 files at the end of the process.

I'm sure there are better ways of doing all this, but so far the results have been very good
and I'm very happy all things considered with the images I'm getting.

However, I would imagine if you were editing with 444 files in HD or larger, with several layers
and using Firstlight you'd need some very serious hardware to run it all.

It's funny that I originally bought into Cineform so that I could edit HDV more easily, and now
those 5D files that proved such a pig to edit with at first run so smoothly and easily they have
become my proxies to Cineform.

Sure my editing computer's well past it's best now, but it's still an Intel quad core running at 4 gighz,
which is reasonably pokey, if no match for a new high spec i7. And I'm just suprised to see how
much power is needed to run 444 and Firstlight.

Again is this considered normal, or do I need to look into system issues.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Many Thanks

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Old August 8th, 2011, 05:07 PM   #2
CTO, CineForm Inc.
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California
Posts: 8,091
Re: Firstlight Issues

444 FS2 is overkill, I'm pretty sure you would tell the difference using 422 FS1 or maybe even High. 444 FS2 on noise footage is likely double the compute of 422 FS1. When you add Active Metadata correction the compute load also increases. This is normal. FirstLight should no care 422 vs 444, not sure why you are experiencing that. FL playback is get an overhaul anyway so support the upcoming features.
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Old August 8th, 2011, 07:02 PM   #3
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Birmingham UK
Posts: 4
Re: Firstlight Issues

Hi David.

Thanks for the reply. Hope you had a good time whilst you were in Oz

I know 444 FS2 is overkill for the project. Lol ...

But I like to try these things out myself, gain experience and learn about what can and
can't be achieved etc ... And since I'm not working to deadlines, the odd hour extra time
incurred here and there isn't a problem.

I'm fitting a new SSD bootdrive tomorrow. Will let you know if the 444 Firstlight
issue still occurs after a completely fresh install. Hopefully it's just a system glitch ...

That Firstlight overhaul sounds interesting. Any more details you can let us have.

Like many others, I didn't get the significance of Firstlight initially. Seeing it as just
a basic additional colour correction tool.

Now, I simply couldn't imagine working without it.

The word 'metadata' just seemed like salesmans techo jargon to me at first, now I'm begining
to understand it and see the possibilities I can appreciate what all the exitement's about.

Can't wait to see what's in the pipeline.

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Old August 9th, 2011, 11:53 AM   #4
CTO, CineForm Inc.
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California
Posts: 8,091
Re: Firstlight Issues

I wish we could explain the Active Metadata's power more clearly, as it does take a while for the true power it sync in. We just did a 48 Hour Film Project and used Active Metadata through Dropbox for some awesome effects / color correction kung fu. I couldn't imagine doing it with AM now.
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Old August 9th, 2011, 06:15 PM   #5
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Birmingham UK
Posts: 4
Re: Firstlight Issues

Hi David

Damn, I wish I'd known you were interested in promoting and increasing interest and understanding of
the whole Cineform 'metadata' workflow. Because I'd have flown out to work with you on the 48 hour film

Not to be a part of it, but to film you guys in action. Who better to see making a short film and
using the power of these products in a real life situation, than you guys !!

Not wanting to dissparage your filmic efforts, because I'm sure they're really great, and I'll definitely
maybe take a look at them sometime.

However, what for me ( and probably every current & potential Cineform user ) would have made an
absolute must see production, would have been all the over the shoulder, behind the scenes, ' making of '

Edited, not exactly into a training video, but a real life overview & informed observational discussion
about how to utilise and apply all the benefits associated with a Cineform metadata based workflow.

They say that a picture says a thousand words. Lol ...

And the majority of those, like me, who're struggling a bit to fully comprehend what metadata is, let alone
see or understand the real world benefits, don't want to have to trawl through pages of techno babble
trying to glean some sort of illusive quicksand clarity.

Just thirty minutes of you guys doing it for real, utilising and explaining as you went, would have been a
really great promotional and educational tool.

I'm not the type of guy who reads the manual ( until I get into trouble that is, when there's usually lots of
swearing involved )

For instance, explaining depth of field, and how to achieve it to someone unfamiliar with lenses is very
difficult. You're trying to describe physical concepts to someone already lacking much of the basic
fundamental technical framework needed to grasp & comprehend the subject.

'SHOW' them however ( like my photographer friend did with me ), and ten minutes later that same
person is pulling rasor fine images, or nicely softening the background up like a pro, and saying ' Wow,
so that's how you do it, I understand now. Easy isn't it '

I think metadata is the same kind of thing, it's intangible and difficult to pin down and describle in simple
easy to comprehend statements or explainations.

However, I bet if you simply showed us what metadata can do, outlining the benefits in a real workflow
situation, the lightbulbs would suddenly come on in everybodies heads.

Anyway, that's just my opinion. lol ...

I'm already totally sold anyway.

But if you ever need someone to come out and put together this kind of real world hands on tutorial, let
me know. You wouldn't believe how cheap I am. Lol ...
( A bit like Philip Bloom, but with a 95% off rebate voucher )

Best Regards


Last edited by Simon Birchall; August 10th, 2011 at 03:06 AM.
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