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Old October 21st, 2009, 06:06 AM   #1
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I have an FCP crisis and need help.

I've got the final cut of a film that is due tomorrow at 10am for a screening at my film school. The editor finished the cut, send it to sound engineering, and then we all met up to export it a couple hours ago. Now, here is the problem. We exported the finished sequence and it looked terrible, even though the file was exported using the H.264 codec at a resolution of 1920 x 1080. The source footage was shot in HD at this same resolution. I (the DP) originally captured this footage to my computer, then set the editor the raw footage to edit.

We exported two or three full 1080p resolution (and a number of 720p versions) files with no luck of matching the original quality of the source footage on my own computer. I even went back, quickly edited a 1min sequence from the same footage I sent to him, exported it, and it was gorgeous. So I seriously couldn't find out what was wrong. After a couple hours, I told everyone to go home and that I'd take the editor's computer home with me and figure it out.

So here I am. And I think I just figured it out. His sequence/capture settings were set to NTSC, meaning he edited the whole thing on a sequence with NTSC settings. Now, I'm not an editor but I have edited before. My question to you is this: If my editor edited the whole thing using these sequence settings, would that affect the quality of the final export? Like I said, I'm exporting the same exact footage using the exact same settings on my own laptop and its gorgeous, but from his, its awful looking.

If I set new sequence settings, create a new sequence, and copy footage from the current sequence into the new sequence (that has new settings) would that help out the footage quality in final export? Or am I SOL?
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Old October 21st, 2009, 06:22 AM   #2
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Sean

First make a duplicate of the project file and put it somewhere safe.
Second, open the problem sequence and change the Sequence Settings... window (Cmd - Zero)
Next press the "Load Sequence Preset..." button at lower left of the window
Then select the Apple ProRes 422 preset that matches your original source footage
Finally, select everything in the sequence (Cmd A) and use Remove Attributes (Cmd-Opt-V) to remove all Basic Motion and Distort properties.

Have a look at the result ... if it all looks ok use Export > Quicktime Movie w/ Current Settings + Make Self Contained Movie and you should be all set.

Best
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Old October 21st, 2009, 06:42 AM   #3
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Andy, you are a life saver. Though it isn't finished yet, I followed the steps and so far things are looking pretty good on the canvas as far as quality and aspect ratio. There's extensive post work done on a lot of the clips in the timeline, enough so that rendering the video and audio is going to take about an hour. Then after that I have to export it. So I'll post if it worked when that is done. But thank you anyway, very much!
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Old October 21st, 2009, 09:56 AM   #4
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Bad news. It doesn't seem to have worked. After rendering the entire film in the newly created sequence with the right sequence settings, all the footage is small. It appears as a very small image within an enormous black box. I've tried adjusting (fit to window) commands but that doesn't solve it. What's wrong?
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Old October 21st, 2009, 11:27 AM   #5
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What software are you using to Export? If you are using Compressor, I can help you. Or even Quicktime conversion, I can help, especially if you're export for web or to disc.

Call me at 949 632 5917...I'll walk you through it
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Old October 21st, 2009, 11:34 AM   #6
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CAVEAT: I still use FCS 1 and it's hard to understand exactly what's going on here.

That said, why are you exporting to H.264? Resolution and codec alone don't determine quality. The data rate is the critical 3rd parameter in the compression to H.264. In contrast, if you export from the editor's timeline As Quicktime Movie (NOT using Quicktime conversion), you will get the same resolution, compression, and data rate as the timeline. You don't have to export the whole thing, put In/Out points on the timeline about 30 seconds apart. The Export will only export between them. If you do that, does it look right?

Another thing that may help you work around the frame size problem is to create a new sequence that has the proper HD settings of the captured footage. Then drag and drop the editor's sequence into the new sequence (this called embedding sequences). I think this will force a re-render but to be honest, it may result in the same thing that happened with Andy's technique. Before you render, check see if the preview window is showing the proper sized video with it set to fit-to-window. If your video is a small rectangle in a sea of black, you should be able to resize the entire embedded sequence using the clips handles in the preview window or the Size field of the Motion tab.
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Old October 21st, 2009, 12:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
Another thing that may help you work around the frame size problem is to create a new sequence that has the proper HD settings of the captured footage.
This is what I did, and so far, it seems to have worked. I'm exporting a 720p H.264 version of it right now, and only that will tell. As for your other suggestion about exporting as a self contained Quicktime movie file, I didn't get around to doing that not only because I'm really at this point pressed for time, but also that the file has to be burned to a DVD so that it autoplays in a DVD player. As far as I know, and this could be mistaken, but self contained Quicktime movie files (not using Quicktime conversion) open in Final Cut Pro and don't autoplay. At any rate, it LOOKS to have been solved at this point. I created a new sequence with the proper settings (HDV, 1440x1080, 23.98, Apple ProRes) and moved the edit from the old sequence into the new one. Most if not all the clips were like you said, small in a sea of black. I had to remove all the distort/motion settings and the footage went back to its normal aspect ratio and distribution. It did however demand a render which took like two hours - I took a nap during this time. And as of right now, it's exporting. So time will tell. But thank you ALL for your tremendous help you pretty much saved my life, and my editor's head.
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Old October 21st, 2009, 01:27 PM   #8
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Where did you get your workflow?. The format of the source has nothing to do with autoplay on a DVD. Your export to 720p H.264 is the wrong format for DVD.

The workflow you'll find recommended here is to export to a self contained file "As Quicktime" file then use compressor to create the AC3 audio file and MPEG 2 video file. Then those go into DVD Studio Pro. Alternatively, you can use TOAST and drop the self contained Quicktime onto it. TOast will re-encode it and has the option to create a autoplay DVD.
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Old October 22nd, 2009, 02:51 PM   #9
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I'll have to keep this in mind for the future. I'm not too savvy with DVD Studio Pro, and I was hard pressed for time at that point. But either way, it worked so I am glad and thankful for all the help you've given me here.
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Old October 23rd, 2009, 06:16 AM   #10
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Old October 26th, 2009, 02:45 PM   #11
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What's with the dot dot dot?
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Old October 26th, 2009, 06:52 PM   #12
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I "think" that means he's typing a really long reply and to wait a few minutes for him to finish typing.
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Old October 26th, 2009, 09:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
What's with the dot dot dot?
It was a post with redundant info which I edited out.


Quote:
Bad news. It doesn't seem to have worked. After rendering the entire film in the newly created sequence with the right sequence settings, all the footage is small. It appears as a very small image within an enormous black box. I've tried adjusting (fit to window) commands but that doesn't solve it. What's wrong?
To be honest Sean, if the steps I posted up top didn't work then I rather fear you did something wrong whilst following them or perhaps I just misunderstood your purpose. The remove attributes process is not "my method" per se, but is a common method used when clips have been edited into an incorrectly set sequence ie when the sequence settings did not match the source but should have done.

Here's an explainer:
When you edit a clip into a sequence FCP automatically adjusts it to fit within that sequence by scaling and possibly by distorting (where anamorphic formats are involved). If the source already matched the sequence then no adjustment is necessary. When you adjust sequence settings after the fact then only the sequence settings have changed, not the properties of the clip instances already within the sequence. That's where "Remove Attributes" comes in ... you use that to remove any previously (automatically) applied Scale or Distort properties on those clip instances.
Following that process you should then scrub through to check that everything is corrected as expected, and if necessary you should reapply any intentional scale or distort adjustments that you may have previously made.
Finally you then make self contained QuickTime movie file (using File > Export > Quicktime movie) which gives you a full quality edit master which you can later repurpose as needed.

Hope that helps


EDIT: A feature in newer versions of FCP, and found under the Modify menu, is Scale to Sequence and Conform to Sequence. In retrospect it may have been better to have pointed you there as it may be somewhat less confusing ... I'm just used to the "Remove Attributes" method as thats the one thats been available the longest. Having adjusted your sequence settings, using the Conform to Sequence command on selected clips in the sequence will cause FCP to reapply its automatic adjustments with respect to the original footage and the (new) sequence settings. This is somewhat more intelligent than Remove Attributes as it can be used where not all the source clips are of the same frame size and pixel aspect ie where some of the source clips will still not match the new sequence settings.


Hope it helps
Andy
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