"QuickTime/FCP is not frame-accurate," they're trying to tell me! at DVinfo.net

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Old June 3rd, 2009, 08:24 PM   #1
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"QuickTime/FCP is not frame-accurate," they're trying to tell me!

OK, this is not the very first time I have heard this, but it is the first time I heard this from people I would have expected to know better... either that, or I have my head farther up my own butt than I am aware of!

I'm in a meeting and a producer proceeds to tell me, with a rather authoritative tone of voice, that "QuickTime is not frame-accurate," which is why my methodology of using Final Cut Pro to check a QT movie of a client edit against a batch of frame sequences to make sure things match is ultimately flawed.

Wait, the full statement is actually "QuickTime is not frame-accurate, unless it is not compressed."

Ignoring for now the fact that I am not using timecode to match things, but rather matching the frames visually to make sure when the client's paperwork says "shot 575 cut-in = frame 26," that the first frame of shot 575 in their edit matches frame 26 of the DPX sequence they sent for that shot... ugh, pardon me while I hit my head repeatedly on my desk...

Does this statement make sense to anyone? Where on earth could they be coming from to make such an outlandish comment? The producer claims that "QuickTime drops frames." When I pointed out that there is drop-frame timecode and non drop-frame timecode and that may be the confusion, the producer said that wasn't what they were talking about. Then Producer cites some anecdotes of this behaviour in her own experience... something about advancing a QT frame by frame and the counter will change but the picture will freeze... which to me sounds like someone looking at footage that has not had the redundant frames for a 3:2 pulldown removed...

And AFAIK, timecode and codec are mutually exclusive; that one has no impact on the other. Am I wrong in this understanding? WTF is she talking about, "unless it's not compressed"???

Mike Barber
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Old June 4th, 2009, 12:08 AM   #2
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Absolute Rubbish.
People finish films in Final Cut using codecs - frame accurate.
Post houses use it daily to create HD-CAM SR masters using codecs - frame accurate.

All this in virtually any codec of their choosing. Guess what - Prores 422 is a codec and its frame accurate.

Framerate has nothing to do with frame accuracy and both are completely independent of the QuickTimes' codec.

Sounds like she had a bad experience and is painting the post world with her tainted brush.

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Old June 4th, 2009, 07:04 AM   #3
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Once upon a time (a very bad time) Quicktime was not able to create a DV PAL AVI file without exactly the kind of corruption your producer is describing ... that was finally fixed only very very recently. I guess its possible that she had previously run afoul of this, or perhaps had heard some bastardized account of the issue and had put 2 and 2 together to make 3 ... other than the above tho, I've not personally heard of any verifiable claim of anything remotely like what she's talking about.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 07:49 AM   #4
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FCP is in point of fact frame-accurate and is used by professional post-houses all over the world. End of story.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 06:25 PM   #5
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Many, many years ago FCP sometimes slipped frames. How do I know this? By re-editing pre-edited material off tape right on the cut. Once in while FCP would slip and start a clip a frame early. Media100 did this also. I haven't seen this problem in years.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 09:19 PM   #6
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I'm glad to know I'm not completely off my rocker. I was dumbfounded when the producer declared that in front of so many people, I just didn't know how to react... it was like being told water isn't a liquid.

I won't get in to all the Avid vs FCP nonsense that gets tossed about...
Mike Barber
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Old June 5th, 2009, 01:20 AM   #7
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You could have asked her, "What format is Quicktime?" And see what kind of answer she came up with just for the sake of amusement.

I recently worked with a director who didn't know how overcranking produced a slow-motion image. But she was wise enough to listen when the DP took time out to explain it. Her task was to tell a story. She left the technical details up to the people who knew what they were doing.

Top management might not know the geeky stuff all that well. In fact, they don't have to because their real responsibility is to deal with the big picture. But sometimes certain individuals are given a little authority and it goes to their heads. They want to make a point when they truly don't know what they're talking about.

I occasionally received that sort of attitude when I was doing prepress color management. Someone would try to make a big deal about what they knew about Photoshop, then I'd ask what color space they're working in.

That generally stopped them in their tracks.
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Old June 5th, 2009, 05:19 AM   #8
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There's nothing more dangerous than a producer who 'knows' FCP. Please leave the editing to the editors.

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Old June 5th, 2009, 01:50 PM   #9
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The "frame accuracy" issues that may arise are TYPICALLY from RS protocol controllers, if I understand correctly. RS-422 (the 9 pin controller) for tape control is typically listed at frame accurate +/- 1 frame and it IS the industry standard for controlling transports. This applies ONLY to tape captures ands print to tape and has NO bearing on frame accuracy of edits.
Shaun C. Roemich Road Dog Media - Vancouver, BC - Videographer - Webcaster
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