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Old July 22nd, 2009, 06:55 AM   #1
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sequence settings in FCP for animation?

Hi gang. Bit of an unusual situation here. I am making an animated short film using Anime Studio Pro, if any of you are familiar with that. But I won't be putting the whole movie together there. Instead, I'll export chunks from that program and assemble everything, with sound, in FCP.

It's been recommended that instead of rendering QT movies out of this animation program, I instead export an "image sequence", that is, where every frame is exported as a separate Jpeg, BMP, PNG, etc., and then together they are treated like a movie in FCP. This is supposed to be better for rendering and compression issues.

So, If I am working with 24 still images a second (i.e. a 24p project), 1920x1080 resolution, what would be the proper sequence settings for the FcP project?

Oh, PS, someone told me that FCP cannot deal with image sequences like the one I described above, and that you must use QT Pro to take the image sequence, then make a reference movie out of it, and bring said reference movie into FCP where it will act like a clip. I also just realized the article this fellow pointed me to, which describes this process and FCP deficiency in that area, is 6 years old, so does FCP 6 now have the capabiliity to deal with image sequences? Thanks.

Thanks.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 12:51 PM   #2
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Balderdash! You can easily use FCP for image sequences. I'm working on an mixed media animation project right now where the animation was created in Flash in HD. Works great and we are able to play with the animation in places where it went too fast or needed a hold for a few frames.

First I would ask if the animation project was created in ones or twos, that is a full twenty 24 fps or at 12 fps which is what most traditional hand drawn animation is done at. Once that's settled before you import the image sequence, go into FCP and adjust the still duration to one or two frames. You can use an image sequence of TIFFs, PSDs or even JPEG as long as the quality is set at maximum. Make sure the program you are using is numbering the files with zeros before the frame number (0001, 0002, 0003...etc.) or you'll have a difficult time in FCP. Import the folder with the files into FCP. Your sequence setting should be at least in ProRes 24p 1920 x 1080. You can also use 8-bit or 10-bit uncompressed if you computer is ready to deal with it. Select all the images in the bin and drop them on to the sequence, they should play perfectly or need a render for crisp playback.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 03:38 PM   #3
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Yes, I read about that method. I guess, then, you could put that series of images in its own sequence and use nesting so you could treat the image sequences like clips? I tried the QT Pro method of creating a reference movie, seems to work well.

I'm using full 24fps. . .it's not handdrawn, more like flash.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 06:01 PM   #4
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prem pro can natively work with image sequences as if they were a clip, its a far cry from the hacky FCP workaround.

the only advantage to working with frame sequences is that if you have a long render, and you need to make a fix in the middle, you can just output the middle part again overwriting the changed area. can't do that with a QT. otherwise unless you expect to do a lot of this, you may well be better off just creating QT's to begin with.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 08:06 PM   #5
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Yes, I've been told of the Premiere Pro thing, but I will not let this stop me from using FCP.


It seems that, as with other things, you want to keep recompression down to a minimum, so using the image sequences instead of rendered video would be the way to go. However, I just brought in my QT reference movie/image sequence to FCP and it DID NOT LIKE IT! It said it didn't match my sequence or any sequence preset, and when I tried to bring it in anyway, I got an error message and FCP crashed.

So maybe I will use QT movies, except I get weird errors that aren't "real" when I export from the animation program. .. .pieces of gradients in a background appearing on a character's arm, stuff like that. No good. Don't have these errors when I use the image sequence.

Oh, and I just realized that 1920x1080 in the animation program does not equal 1920 x 1080 in FCP. My current solution is to make the animation's aspect ratio 1.2x vertically what it should be.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 11:41 AM   #6
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I would check the pixel size, it can either be square or rectangular. The adjustment you had to make sounds like a pixel size issue. What codec are you using in FCP? Don't worry about rendering, it's going to happen somewhere along the line. Just make sure you working in the right codec for your use.

I recommend my method over making a QT file. You can always make a FCP reference file of the image sequence once it's in FCP.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 11:57 AM   #7
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Yes, it is a square v rectangular issue. It seems like if I uncheck the "correct for aspect ratio" option in the viewer or canvas window, and go into my motion for any of these clips/stills, and set aspect ratio to 0 (it defaults to 18.52), everything comes out right. Anime Studio exports square pixels, and there's no way around it.

So far making a QT ref movie from the image sequence and bringing that in as a clip seems to be working (seems like the problem I had before was that I was telling it to use a frame rate of 24 instead of 23.976). Except when you park it on a frame, then it looks like crap. I'm assuming that's not "real" though. . .in motion, and exported to a self contained movie, it looks fine.

What codec SHOULD I be using? There's a billion of 'em! You're talking about in sequence settings, right?
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Old July 27th, 2009, 02:35 AM   #8
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Despite what others have said, I hate working with image sequences in FCP with a passion. I know a few people who have cut stop frame animations in FCP and there have always been thousands of issues as a result of importing millions of still images. The more media you try and jam into a FCP project, the fatter and more unstable it gets. I'd rather have a few Quicktime files in the project than a million images.

My suggestion would be to treat things as you would for a 35mm feature. Do an offline edit using DV or ProRes Proxy then once you've locked picture you can bring in the full resolution files. I've probably do the online in After Effects anyway...

Personally, I think converting your images to ProRes is the way to go.

My 2c.
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Old July 27th, 2009, 05:38 AM   #9
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So far the QT reference movies are working okay for me. The stills themselves aren't actually in the project, they're just alluded to by the ref movie. I think handling full res HD is too much for the Imac anyway (it'll pause, and I get the spinning colored wheel before many operations).
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Old July 27th, 2009, 06:57 AM   #10
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Ok, I thought a little harder about what you said. So basically, I could export anything for use in FCP. . .a freakin 960 x 480 if I wanted, just to use as a timing reference, and for FX, transitions, etc., and when I have everything as I want it, go back to my Animation program, export the stills, make QT ref mov, "reconnect media" to my new HD clip, and everything should fall into place.

I'm sure FCP would run better with 960x480 QT movies than image sequences. I guess this would work. Sure beats a pause after EVERY FREAKING TIME I MOVE THE PLAYHEAD.
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Old July 27th, 2009, 11:11 AM   #11
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Look very closely at you final renders from final cut. I just did an animation at an unusual ratio of 2,000 pixels by 1,500 or so with the sequence settings codec set to "animation" and tried another with "apple intermediate code".
There were color shifts during every dissolve and effect which made the video useless. Final cut does not like to do anything unusual which I can say with absolute certainty. I was able to fix the problem by re-rendering the self contained "apple intermediate code" through quicktime.
I won't list all the glitches I've had with Final Cut, but unless you are editing straight forward SD, HD, as traditional footage, FCP has the tendency to go absolutely insane. You aren't doing anything out of the ordinary yet -but sometimes unusual methods become necessary w/ animation. So just look for early stages of glitches and don't ignore them. Alternatively After Effects is smooth with experimental animations.
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Old July 27th, 2009, 02:48 PM   #12
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So we like Pro res codec or Apple Intermdiate codec, or what for sequence settings?

I haven't tried dissolves yet. The first piece I exported from FCP in my animation has some wipes/slides, and they seem fine. I did notice the image goes all to crap if you pause the playhead on the timeline, but it doesn't seem to render that.
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Old July 27th, 2009, 06:57 PM   #13
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Ok, I just did a test, dissolved 2 clips together inf, these "clips" being ref movies to image sequences, and exported as prores 422 1080p 24fps. It looks fine. . .I don't see a color change or anything.

One thing I have noticed is that FCP doesn't seem to recognize all the media available in a given clip where dissolves are concerned. What I mean is. . .sometimes it'll only let a transition be of a certain max duration, like I can't have my dissolve be more than 19 frames, even though I know there's enough overlap for a 2 second dissolve or something. That's very weird. Does it with my slides too. I guess I could always use the 2-track/AB method for that.

I still like the idea of using low res QT movies for place keeping and replacing them later with the full res image sequences.
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