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Old August 13th, 2009, 07:48 AM   #1
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too lame for HD?

So I have an animation project I plan to do in HD (1920x1080, 23.98fps), and set up an FCP project accordingly.

As recommended by an animator I made image sequences from my animation program, and made QT reference movies out of those (since FCP doesn't deal easily with image sequences), and brought the QT movies into my project to use as clips. Thing is, FCP starts grinding to a halt when I try to play, or even perform any operation, really. There's a lag, then I see the spinning color wheel, then my operation goes through.

So then someone on here mentioned using lower res proxy movies 'til I had everything locked, and then bringing in the high res image sequences. Cool. so I exported a scene in whatever by 240 (very tiny anamorphic), brought it into my HD project, rendered, and it still grinds to a halt.

Tried converting the sequence settings to match my low res proxy movie, and now it's like butter.

So. . .can my system just not handle HD? It's an Imac from early 08, 2.4 Ghz processor, 3 GB RAM (the max for this machine). Am I asking too much of it? If so, my plan is to use these low res movies in a low res sequenc 'til everything's done, and then BAM change sequence settings to HD and render out the high res image sequences, reconnect media to replace the proxy clips with the real ones, and, I guess, wait a couple months while it renders.

Or am I just doing something wrong that's making it chug? I do have the video clips on the same drive as FCP, which I know is generally frowned upon, but I've never seen it make the program grind to a halt like this, and I've done it before for really tiny projects with no issues. All those were SD though.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 08:07 AM   #2
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Don't know whether your workflow is the correct one, but I've found that even the fastest mac will stutter with hi rez photos. On a new Mac Pro 2.93, whenever the beach ball would start, I'd have to see what Photoshop file in the timeline was doing the offending and replace it with a smaller jpg.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 01:43 PM   #3
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Not sure whether this helps, but I did a big animation project which was ultimately loaded into a video server for digital projection on a 45 foot screen. I took the animator's original uncompressed 1024x768 files and rendered them full size with the photo JPEG codec at 50% quality. My 3ghz dual iMac was able to play them at 30fps without dropping frames most of the time. Photo JPEG is a variable bit rate codec, so the nature of the footage determines whether the computer can maintain full frame rate.

The photo JPEG files were virtually indistinguishable from the original uncompressed video (which totally choked the iMac). For production, we used the Quicktime-based Catalyst Media Server from High End systems running on a fast MacPro quad core with 128GB solid state disk drives. They recommend photo JPEG for this system because it's very efficient.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 02:37 PM   #4
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I used to stitch animation image sequences that came from my 3d guy by placing them in the appropriate FCP timeline, rendering the timeline and then exporting the timeline as a self contained quicktime and then opening THAT file in an appropriate sequence. Works fine but FCP chokes of too many 1 frame stills.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 03:36 PM   #5
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Thanks. MY problem is that, even completely ignoring image sequences, and just putting ANYTHING into an HD timeline, my system grinds to a halt. Is that normal?

And you think changing the codec to for the sequence settings to photo jpeg might work? for image sequences/QT ref movies of image sequences? Furthermore, does it matter if I use TIFF, PNG, BMP, etc. for the image sequence? I think I had problems with PNG and TIFF before, and used BMPs. Maybe I'm crazy though.

Last edited by Josh Bass; August 13th, 2009 at 05:19 PM.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 05:38 PM   #6
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WEll, holy crap on a crutch, people, that photo-jpeg thing just worked like a charm! On the sequence I applied it to, that is.

I have a 40 second piece composed (or comprised, I can't ever remember) completely of QT ref movies to BMP image sequences (with some FCP generated titles in places), and now I can play the timeline from anywhere, and no lag! It's still not able to play every single frame, but I can live with that. At least FCP is functional now.

Will this look good on export out of FCP, or is there a better codec? Again, final output will be BMP-based 1920x1080 image sequences at 23.98fps.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 07:53 PM   #7
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Cool John, I was also really impressed by photo JPEG which I had never used before. If you play the file in Quicktime and leave the properties window open, you can see whether you're really getting the full frame rate.

My use of these files was pretty specialized since we were directly feeding a big 20,000 lumen projector from the Mac Pro media server, and it was 1024x768 instead of 1920x1080. But personally I think "what you see is what you get" and you could export those sequences in any format you like and get good results. I mean, it looked great on a 45 foot screen and that is a pretty tough test :-)

Give it a try...
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Old August 13th, 2009, 08:24 PM   #8
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One thing I did notice was that my titles (generated in FCP) seem a little jittery (I have them doing a snap zoom from infinitely small to full size, then a slow zoom even larger for a moment, and then a snap zoom "forward" to disappear) when I exported a movie with the photo jpeg codec. That might just be 'cause titles in FCP are like that though.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 08:29 AM   #9
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You might also want to try some motion blur. I did a bunch of 3d photorealistic animation several years ago which was also projected on a 45 foot wide screen for an opera. The "jaggies" really bothered me in some sequences. Individual frames looked fine, but running at 30fps you would get that "jittery" effect on some of the edges as a pixel flashed on and off between frames.

Motion blur usually helped with this problem. I also used some of "Joe's Filters" to help, like the diffusion effect. But these were widescreen DV projects instead of HD, so that might change things.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 08:34 AM   #10
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You referring to the animation or the text for motion blur?
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Old August 14th, 2009, 01:16 PM   #11
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My work was all rendered in a 3d program and imported into FCP. I did not use any titles, so not sure what issues you might have there. Whenever I need titles, I just do them in photoshop and import as JPEG's.

I was just making a generic comment about how I solved a problem with jittery edges. Might not help in your case...
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Old August 14th, 2009, 05:03 PM   #12
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To realistically work in HD you need a raid and a HD video out card like AJA or Matrox.

You really can't see what is going on with video on a computer screen and you will have a lot of issues with dropped frames etc.

A raid card in a MacPro and a raid 5 box, is really the best way to go, and then a Kona or an MX02 and a SDI HD monitor, it will be a silk smooth setup and you will have a real look at what video will look like.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 05:21 PM   #13
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I will have to settle for an approximation in for the moment, then. I am not ready to make that kind of investment right now.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 06:42 PM   #14
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While Olof is accurate for HD destined for TELEVISION, I would suggest that the MAJORITY of HD being produced these days is for distribution/dissertation of a multimedia sort and therefore the HD-SDI monitoring and RAID storage that would be needed for uncompressed (or VERY high bitrate compressed) HD are overkill for MOST producers of HD material. I use Apple's ProRes and ProRes HQ for editing and get by just fine on a FW400 connection to my external drives. And if your video is destined to be watched ON a computer screen (Vimeo, YouTube, corporate intranet), the broadcast monitor would actually HINDER your end result.
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