FCP5 and HDV - 16:9 Capture / 4:3 Output on DVD at DVinfo.net

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Old December 7th, 2005, 02:21 PM   #1
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FCP5 and HDV - 16:9 Capture / 4:3 Output on DVD

I'm looking for a reccomended workflow. Shooting HDV 720p30 (16:9) so my masters will support a High Def show when HD DVD's become readily available. In the meantime, I need to release on NTSC DVD, and don't want the footage to be letterboxed. Everything will be shot 4:3 protected, so the content itself will work at both aspect ratios. Since I want to avoid using an external format converter such as the Teranex, my question is how best to handle the format conversion within the G5?

Is it best to do this at capture? Or is there a way for me to work with the footage at its native resolution and format, then convert prior to authoring?

I'm working with FCP 5 and DVD StudioPro 4. Didn't see anything in the manual on this particular workflow, and was wondering if anyone else had the same need.

Many thanks,

Alex
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Old December 7th, 2005, 03:44 PM   #2
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Hi Alex; thanks for your e-mail, and welcome to DVinfo. You're shooting with the HD-100, and I'm not familiar with that camera. On the Sony Z1 you could simply choose "i.LINK DOWNCONV" and "EDGE CROP" in the menus and then capture in FCP as standard definition 4:3 DV while keeping your original tapes as HDV. Does the HD-100 have a function like that? If so then I'd imagine it's the easiest route.

Otherwise, I'm not sure what the best approach would be. I haven't tried scaling/cropping an HDV clip in FCP5. Past versions of FCP didn't do the greatest image scaling. But you could try a test by cropping to 4:3 and then scaling to 720x480. I guess you'd need to export the sequence using Quicktime Conversion at the desired size.

There is probably some better software for this kind of thing, but nothing that I have any experience with unfortunately. Let us know what you find out since I'm sure this is the sort of things others could benefit from.
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Old December 7th, 2005, 06:23 PM   #3
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Alex,

This is what I would do. Shot 720p3. Work in FCP in the Native 720p30 and save a Final Cut Master. Take that FCP maste and export it out of Compressor using one of the high quality MPEG 2 settings for SD and ac3 audio. That's wht you'll need for DVD SP4. It'll end up 640x480 but don't worry about the frame size because that's the size of MPEG2 whether it's 16:9 or 4:3.

Import your ac3 and MPEG2s into DVD SP4 and when you create a track, set the aspect ratio to 16:9 letterbox if you want it to play full screen on a 16:9 TV or letterboxed on a 4:3 set. Set it to 16:9 pan-scan for it to crop the edges for viewing on 4:3 sets or playing full 16:9 on 16:9 sets.

I always shoot 16:9 and make my DVDs 16:9 letterbox because most people have a 4:3 set and I want the full image to be seen as it was shot. Also, those who have 16:9 sets will se it as intended and the way it was shot.
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Old December 7th, 2005, 06:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Perry
set the aspect ratio to 16:9 letterbox if you want it to play full screen on a 16:9 TV or letterboxed on a 4:3 set.
FWIW, note that Alex specifically said: "I need to release on NTSC DVD, and don't want the footage to be letterboxed. "
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Old December 7th, 2005, 06:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
FWIW, note that Alex specifically said: "I need to release on NTSC DVD, and don't want the footage to be letterboxed. "
Boyd,

I did notice that. Maybe I didn't explain it too well, but the steps I posted explained both options.
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Old December 13th, 2005, 10:04 PM   #6
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The solution

Thanks guys. Dave's suggestion to use Apple Compressor was a good one, as the JVC doesn't seem to have the same range of output options as the Z1.

And I realized why I couldn't find any info in the printed manuals that come with FCP Studio 5 - there isn't one for Compressor, even though it can be run as a stand-alone program (oddly, the documentation is only found in the online help section for FCP.)

Pursuing this tack, I looked into Discreet's Cleaner 6, which also supports a range of scaling and cropping options. I haven't actually tried the crop option in Compressor, but the tests I've done to MPEG-2 were very impressive - not just in terms of quality, but time as well (go Quad.) My experience with scaling in Avid was similar to Boyd's in FCP (dissapointing) so I was very happy to discover Compressor in my toolkit.

Again, many thanks.

A
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Old December 13th, 2005, 10:50 PM   #7
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THis might be too basic for you, but why not edit everything native 16:9, make a quicktime file of it, insert this into a new timeline, then simply enlarge your frame to the desired amt. You shouldnt lose anymore quality then importing in a 4:3 mode, because that is in essence what you are doing when converting it anyways.

At least, that's the way I have it figured..
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Old December 14th, 2005, 09:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryon Akerman
You shouldnt lose anymore quality then importing in a 4:3 mode, because that is in essence what you are doing when converting it
If I'm reading you right, it would mean recompressing to a 4:3 file BEFORE running the material through another round of compression to get the TS files needed for DVD authoring. I was looking for a way to crop on the fly, so I could simply get rid of excess info (the extra 12.5% the the left and right of full rastor 4:3) while minimizing the number of transformations the source material went through.

I'm still not 100% happy with what I'm getting out of Compressor, but I suspect that may be a function of the MPEG 2 files I started with (I'm editing native HDV) and the color correction I did before compressing for DVD. Next trick is to reimport my selects using an intermediate codec like AIC, and doing color grading work there before going back to MPEG 2. Hopefully, this will produce better results.

Onward.
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Old December 15th, 2005, 09:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Bowles
And I realized why I couldn't find any info in the printed manuals that come with FCP Studio 5 - there isn't one for Compressor, even though it can be run as a stand-alone program (oddly, the documentation is only found in the online help section for FCP.)
Compressor is one of those strange programs that I rarely use and don't understand very well. However, while Compressor is running you can access the PDF version of the manual by choosing Help > Compressor User Manual.
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