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Old January 9th, 2009, 01:58 PM   #1
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FCP: Creating a Matte overlay (16:9 Material)

OK - I've been an Avid editor for about 4 years. Masking 4:3 material to 16:9 letterbox. This is very easy to do on an Avid. It consists of going to the effect palette and dragging a letterbox mask onto an empty video track. In effect editor, you can adjust what ratio you want to incorporate (ie 1:85).

On the FCP, this is not the case. I still have not found an easy way to create a 16:9 mask for 4:3 material. The only way I have found, is going into generators, create color solid, then duplicate the mask (two video tracks above 4:3 source). Then crop the top and bottom of each color solid. See attached image for clarification.

There are two problems for doing this: 1) it is inaccurate. 2) it is tedious.

What am I missing here?
How do I mask 4:3 material effectively?
Thanks,
-C

PS - just noted that my posting subject was wrong it should say (16:9 for 4:3 Material)
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Old January 9th, 2009, 03:02 PM   #2
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In FCS I think you can just do this in Compressor:

Import video file, then select compression settings (i.e. DVD: Best Quality 90 minutes). Once applied, select the video setting you've applied to your movie file, which will automatically bring up tabs in the Inspector window. At the top of this window are a series of buttons. Select the 'Filters' button (it's fourth from the left and looks like two 35mm frames overlapped). Scroll down to 'Letterbox' and check the box to the left of it. A box will appear in the bottom half of the Inspector window with a series of pull-down menus for the filter you just selected. In the first pull-down menu, select 'Matte'. Leave the second pull-down at 'Center'. In the third pull-down menu, you will be able to select from a variety of aspect ratios, and Compressor will apply letterboxing accordingly.

It's a little convoluted compared to Avid, but it also allows you to completely edit and finish your video, then apply a single instance of the effect to your entire project.

HTHs,

Chris
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Old January 9th, 2009, 04:11 PM   #3
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Thanks Christopher - Although, I have a sequence that contains 4:3 and 16:9 -
Compressor isn't a fix as I'm adjoining both types of aspect ratios.

Anyone else have any ideas?
-C
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Old January 9th, 2009, 05:06 PM   #4
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Not sure exactly what you're after here, but it does sound lik you are trying ti make your FCP work like an AVID where it maybe need not do so.

As advised you can edit your 4:3 sequence with your mixed aspect media and then crop or letterbox as needed as a final step using Compressor, alternatively you might edit directly in a 16:9 sequence and pan and scan appropriately as you go. In either case, the fact that you are working with mixed aspect media should not be of any consequence.

But that said, if you do want to have a letterbox matte "generator" then there are a number of free plugins that and google is your friend. Here's one De lasserij - Videomontage Rienk Leendertse. Others often prefer to make a matte in Photoshop or similar

Lots of ways and lots of choices
Enjoy
Andy
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Old January 10th, 2009, 07:18 AM   #5
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Here is your path in FCP


Effects/Video Filters/Matte/Widescreen


Good Luck!
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Old January 10th, 2009, 08:41 AM   #6
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David,
FYI thats a "Filter" mate, very different for what is being asked for quite specifically here, that being a "Generator".
Best
Andy
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Old January 10th, 2009, 10:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Mees View Post
David,
FYI thats a "Filter" mate, very different for what is being asked for quite specifically here, that being a "Generator".
Best
Andy
The point in David's advice is that you don't need a video generator to do the job. The filter will accomplish what the original poster wants to do.

-gb-
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Old January 10th, 2009, 08:43 PM   #8
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But it does so only very poorly Greg. And every shot must be reframed using the limited controls available thereafter. By placing a widescreen mask on an upper layer, as the OP asked for, you don't limit yourself to those controls, and have free reign to compose your shots as you wish.
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Old January 10th, 2009, 08:51 PM   #9
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Sorry Greg, there is a difference between a letterbox filter and a letterbox generator.
While a letterbox filter does work clip by clip, a letterbox generator can be applied to several clips at the same time.

See here: de Lasserij - Rienk Leendertse - Videomontage
and download these nice pieces of letterboxing software.

For the original poster: In FCP make a 4x3 timeline, e.g. NTSC or PAL DV.
If you throw a 16x9 clip (SD or HD) into that timeline, the clip will be letterboxed automatically, without any further ado. Very simple, very easy, very convenient.
To get the letterbox effect with 4x3 clips, use the above mentioned widescreen effect filter from FCP's effects menu or use one of the above mentioned plug ins as appropritate.
Make sure that the wide screen ratio of all elements in the 4x3 timeline is the same for letterboxed 4x3 clips and the letterboxed 16x9 clips (1:1.78 is the correct value).

Hope this helps. P.
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Old January 10th, 2009, 10:38 PM   #10
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The way I letterbox my work is to edit the whole sequence, then nest that sequence in another new sequence. I then apply the widescreen filter to that sequence and get the whole thin with one shot.
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Old January 11th, 2009, 12:48 AM   #11
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Indeed Cole, but that simply creates a center cut letterbox and offers you no control in reframing individual clips according to their needs in order to produce the best possible result.

It's worth noting as we banter back and forth about all of this that none of the workflows and advice offered here by any and all of us has been wrong or in any way misleading, its just that as with everything, there are so many ways to skin a cat. The best workflow will be dictated by the individual needs of any given project and any given user at any given time. The important thing is to know what the choices are.

Best
Andy
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Old January 11th, 2009, 10:52 AM   #12
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If all you are trying to do is make a letterbox matte to put on a layer above your clip in FCP: then just make a mask in photoshop, of the black bars you want. You could even just take a slug and move it up till it covers the exact amount of the frame that a letterbox bar would, repeating the process with another slug for the lower letterbox bar.
I don't know of a way to generate a new layer with black bars by default, but it doesn't matter since this is so easy to do. You can do all this accurately by eye, I have done it many times and it's the same thing as the widescreen filter, but it allows me to frame my clip on the layer below.

Edit: whoops this was already answered...
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Old January 12th, 2009, 12:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Mees View Post
Indeed Cole, but that simply creates a center cut letterbox and offers you no control in reframing individual clips according to their needs in order to produce the best possible result.
You can actually still go into the original sequence and shift the individual clips for framing/headspace/eyelines. I've done this on many of my more recent edits as the workflow that ended up working best for us while doing 48 hour projects and other time constrained shoots that needed fast editing done as well as possible.

I just keep both sequences open and play through the letterboxed version adjusting framing on the clips I need to by noting the timecode and switching back to the nested sequence's tab in the timeline and moving the appropriate clips. Works like a champ and gives tons of overall control to the project. You can even nest one deeper to separate scenes and apply color correctors to them and what not as a whole scene.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 02:33 AM   #14
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Thanks for all your replies. Some good ideas there and Cole has me pegged.
I tend adjust each clip individually - whether the aspect is 4:3 or native 16:9.
I'll go the nested route.
Hate to say it but +1 point for Avid Media Composer.
This is WAY easier on an Avid. Clicking around in FCP, subclipping, going into photoshop or downloading a plugin all seem tedious in comparison.

-C
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Old January 13th, 2009, 11:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Drews View Post
Thanks for all your replies. Some good ideas there and Cole has me pegged.
I tend adjust each clip individually - whether the aspect is 4:3 or native 16:9.
I'll go the nested route.
Hate to say it but +1 point for Avid Media Composer.
This is WAY easier on an Avid. Clicking around in FCP, subclipping, going into photoshop or downloading a plugin all seem tedious in comparison.

-C
I blame macromedia for this one ;) I think that behavior is a left over, I remember it being the same on FCP1. The effects are linked to the clip, so anything you do to them follows the clip. If you could apply it and have it stay put while you move the clips, it'd be just fine. That's how I came to the work around with the nested clips. But Apple NEVER makes mistakes (*cough* puck mouse *cough*), so couldn't be to blame here :P
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