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Old January 13th, 2010, 01:28 PM   #1
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nanoflash + SDX900 SD + Final Cut workflow

I have an upcoming shoot with an SDX900 (DVCPro50) that will be cut in SD in Final Cut Pro and we would like to bypass tape using a Nanoflash. Last fall I tried this with the same client and they had persistent problems with the footage in post. I don't know all the particulars of their workflow, but they had to cut in graphics and other sources and apparently had to do repeated renders or the original footage, and repeatedly had the anamorphic image revert back to squashed 4:3. They also thought the final project looked softer than their recollection of previous SDX900 footage shot to tape. I believe they were working in Pro Res but I don't know how they got there nor exactly what went wrong.

I just shot a test and want to play around with different workflows . Recorded with the Nonflash set to SD and 50MB and .MOV. My first attempts seemed odd when I just dragged the IMX (.MOV) originals into a Pro-Res SD timeline. I didn't see anamorphic images and despite telling the footage to adapt to the sequence setting (Pro Res), when I checked settings they remained MPEG IMX.

Better luck seemed to happen by exporting the IMX clips with Quicktime ( not compressor or quicktime conversion) and choosing a ProRes codec. That created an anamorphic clip whose settings did say Pro Res.

In the past the client would have transferred from tape and cut in a DVCPro50 timeline.

What is the recommended workflow for this situation?

Also will these files look as good as transferring directly from DVCPro50 tape would?

Thanks

Lenny
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Old January 13th, 2010, 11:08 PM   #2
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Do you have the SDI upgrade? Check the camera's SDI's output menu. You might have three choices for the output menu standard, letter box and squeezed. I would would play with those settings and play back recorded tests to see what works.

I own a SDX, but have not tried it with the Nano. I did do a test with the HDX and did a down convert to SD with the Nano. The HDX has a three position switch which controls the Video Out on the back of the camera. The choices are HDSDI, SDI and VBS. I set it to SDI. The Nano was set to 50IMX and MXF. The SDI carried video and audio, but did not carry embedded TC so I couldn't set the Nano up to record when I hit the record on the camera. I had to start the Nano separatley each time.On playback of the footage on the Nano, I noticed a bit of an electronic halo around my subject. The SDI output menu in the HDX camera has a ton of settings that allows one to tweak the SDI signal which I did not mess with. It looked more like a high detail level problem.

If I get a chance I test the SDX with the Nano over the weekend and see what I can find out.

Dusty Powers
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Old January 14th, 2010, 12:30 AM   #3
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Thanks Dusty,

Its not my Nano so I can't go over all those settings right away.
I don't recall a setting for standard, letter box and squeezed.

As I recall the settings we used were:

SD, Long GOP, 50MB, DVCPro50, .MOV, 24P inside of 29.97 interlaced, NTSC.
If there was an anamorphic setting it's likely we used it.

Re settings: I'm a little concerned whether it should be Long GOP or I frame.
The owner of the nano was sure it was Long GOP.

I'm most concerned though with making Post smoother for the client. How should we convert the files in Final Cut Pro as the IMX codec doesn't seem like a good choice to interface with all the other graphics and other files the client needs to cut into the show? She had no problems when using tape going into FCP as DVCPro50, but I'm afraid in this case that would be a second compression hence my assumption that ProRes is the way to go (though client prefers DVCPro50 for smaller files.)

What's the best way to convert the files, what codec should we be using and also will these files look as good as a direct transfer from DVCPro50 tape to FCP?
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Old January 14th, 2010, 09:49 AM   #4
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Hi,

I was answering your email to support, then saw this posting. I'm going to put your email questions and our suggestions here:


>>>What is the recommended workflow for this situation?

You can use an IMX timeline in FCP. We now support 50, 40, or 30 Mbit IMX, all of which have their own
Easy Setups in FCP.



>>>Do I need to export files in order to change the IMX to ProRes or another codec or should I be able to do that just by rendering inside a ProRes sequence?

I think either will work. I can't say for sure which is the better approach. I think most people transcode the footage 1st, then edit.


>>>Will ProRes maintain quality better than working in DVCPro50 as the client is used to. If DVCPro50 is OK how do I change the IMX files?


Ideal option would be to keep as IMX and avoid the additional transcode. If you can't do that, I'd think you could export to either DVCPro or Pro Res
through the FCP menu. Couldn't say which of those 2 better preserves the quality.

>>>Are my settings correct on the Nanoflash? Should I be using I frame instead of Long GOP?


SD IMX is always I-Frame. Codec setting only applies to HD. Settings look correct. There is an additional SD setting,
SD Aspect Ratio (16:9 or 4:3), which you will want to match the camera's output with.

>>>Also will these files look as good as transferring directly from DVCPro50 tape would? Why did my client think they looked worse?


If the original IMX footage is transcoded or rendered to a different compression such as DVCPro, it will impact the quality with each transcode/ re-compression cycle.
Best to minimize this if possible. If they keep it as IMX it will look as good or better than DVCPro from the tape.

>>> Can you perhaps explain why we would have had the persistent problems on the last shoot - sync problems, losing anamorphic, repeated renders etc? I realize you don't know the previous workflow so am just wondering if you had any ideas.


Hard to say from a distance.. I would say that if they need DVCPro as the finished product, to perhaps try transcoding the IMX to DVCPro 1st (via the
export option in FCP? maybe there are other ways), then bring that to a DVCPro timeline.

Perhaps others with more inside knowledge of editing in Final Cut could comment on this.

Tommy Schell
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Old January 14th, 2010, 10:05 PM   #5
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Tommy,

Thanks very much. You've answered many of my issues. I guess the question remains - Stay in IMX or transcode to Pro Res by exporting?

The client will be intercutting graphics and other footage as well so will an IMX timeline support that as well as a Pro Res one? Maybe this a question more for Final Cut savy than Nanoflash.

Would I be correct in guessing that you are with Convergent?

Lenny
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Old January 14th, 2010, 11:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonard Levy View Post
I don't know all the particulars of their workflow, but they had to cut in graphics and other sources and apparently had to do repeated renders or the original footage, and repeatedly had the anamorphic image revert back to squashed 4:3.

Lenny
Hi Leonard,
I have recently recorded and edited over 40 hours of SD 16x9 to the NanoFlash in MOV format and edited in FCP. Although I use a Sony camera I have had the same problem with files fail to maintaining the correct aspect ratio. My Fix is to go to the file in the project window and highlight the file, then right scroll across and tick the Anamorphic column and all is fixed. This only works with clips that are not on a time-line, I really have no idea why some clips fail to maintaining the correct aspect ratio.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 12:08 PM   #7
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"This only works with clips that are not on a time-line,"


What do you with clips that are in a time line and what kind of time-line are you using?
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Old January 15th, 2010, 06:25 PM   #8
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Hi Leonard,
I have not found a way to have this effect the clips on the time-line. When I first encountered this problem I wasted so much time on it without success. The only option was to open a new time-line and start editing from scratch. Now I always check my files in the bin after import to ensure the anamorphic column is ticked.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 09:13 PM   #9
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Not sure if this helps but the aspect ratio adjustment ends up in the distort menu when you click on the clip if it is on a timeline.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 09:14 PM   #10
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Hi Lance,
In general FC, AE etc can not tell if a footage is Anamorphic or not (import to FC any average DV Anamorphic and FC won't tag it as that).
Is to you to check this property when importing.
Rafael
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Old January 16th, 2010, 09:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonard Levy View Post
I didn't see anamorphic images and despite telling the footage to adapt to the sequence setting (Pro Res), when I checked settings they remained MPEG IMX.
FC (QT) doesn't treat "Anamorphic" as a property of the footage but as way to display.
You always need to check your Anamorphic stuff in the Browser. Conforming the clips to the sequence setting doesn't works.
Cheers,
rafael
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Old January 16th, 2010, 11:25 PM   #12
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Thanks to everybody who has piped in so far.

As Rafael and Lance suggested, it works to check the anamorphic property in each .MOV clip after it has been imported in FCP. I don't do a great deal of editing, but I don't remember having to do this as a general rule with other kinds of clips so i'm wondering if this is a Nanoflash specific issue.

Anyway here is what I've discovered so far in testing the Nanoflash file from the SDX:

1. After bringing the nanoflash.MOV file into Final Cut Pro you must open the settings on the clip and check " anamorphic" . It won't do that automatically and it must be done on the original clip.

2. The sequence has to be 720x486 NTSC CCIR 601 (40x27) ; the pixel aspect NTSC CCIR 601; and "anamorphic 16x9" must be checked. Any changes in those sequence settings caused the picture to look very soft - ( i.e square pixels or 720x480 etc)

3. You can use the clips in either an IMX sequence or a Pro Res sequence and they both look the same as long as the settings are correct.

4. You can export the original IMX clip from FCP using Quicktime to>Pro Res 422 + "stand alone" file, and then bring that back into FCP as a clip. Then you have a Pro Res clip to work with if you want.

5. All of these seem to look exactly the same.

I don't know if you need to export to Pro Res in order to cut in Pro Res as it looks OK just bringing the IMX clip into the Pro Res timeline . Also don't know if there is any reason not to just edit in an IMX timeline, except maybe its not as good for intercutting with other material like graphics or footage from other codecs.

I'm not that experienced an editor, but when I looked through other footage on my drives all of the SD material is 720x480, not 486( but most of the SD is not anamorphic either.)
What's the difference between working in a 720x480 timeline or a 720x486 timeline?

I don't recall the Nanoflash giving me a choice about this.
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Old January 17th, 2010, 09:43 AM   #13
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Hi Leonard,
the problems for FC keeping track of the "Anamorphic" is not an NANO issue.
You export any anamorphic clip from FC, re-import back, and FC doesn't know that is Anamorphic.

I think that you are complicating your workflow a little. Check your footage as Anamorphic, and let FC to conform the sequence to the clips.
Also, I don't see the need for transcoding to Prores. I haven't tried IMX, but all the XDCAM flavors works well natively in FC. Normally I edit in a native sequence and when everything is ready to export, I change the codec to Prores, and set "Render all YUV material in High Precision".
720x480 is the DV size (DV, DV50) also the standard MPEG-2 for NTSC DVDs is 720x480.
The standard for IMX is 720x486, no options.
If you lay 720x486 stuff in a 720x480 sequence, FC will crop properly the extra 6 lines.
If you are delivering in DVD, editing in 720x480 would be your best option. Also if you will end up printing to DV or DVCPro50. If you output in Betacam, Digibeta or so, keep 720x486.
Cheers,
rafael
PS: And sorry for my double post.
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Old January 17th, 2010, 12:57 PM   #14
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Rafael,

I suspected that I should be working in a standard 720x480 sequence which I imagine will make it easier to use other codecs.
Unfortunately when I drag the 720x486 clip into a 720x480 sequence it doesn't just clip off the the extra lines, but the entire image goes soft.

Is there a way to make FCP simply cut off the extra lines instead?

Lenny
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Old January 17th, 2010, 10:49 PM   #15
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Hi Leonard,
FC is aware of the "6 lines" issue and crop them properly: 4 on top and 2 in the bottom.
You need to uncheck "Always scale clip to sequence". Otherwise FC will try to put the 6 lines inside the canvas.
Cheers,
rafael
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