That old chestnut. XDCam - FCP - DVDSP at

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Old June 14th, 2010, 01:25 PM   #1
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That old chestnut. XDCam - FCP - DVDSP

Well I have been using the same workflow for a couple of years now and it works well for me. But has the workflow been improved? Sending a HD XDCam footage timeline directly to Compressor does not produce very good footage. So this is my workflow.

Import the footage. Make the edit. Make a new SD sequence. Drop sequence 1 ( HD sequence) onto Sequence 2. When asked if the footage should match the sequence, say no.
Render the SD sequence out. Send this sequence to Compressor.

In Compressor make a DVD stream. Frame controls on, set to better. I used to set to best but it doesn't seem to make much difference. And that's it. I get a good SD stream to take into DVDSP.

So has anyone got a better method for getting great footage in SD out of the XDCam format in FCP?

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Old June 15th, 2010, 05:27 AM   #2
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Depends on whether you are shooting interlaced or not.Progressive material can be converted to SD OK, but for interlaced you can do a lot better, by conversion to 50p, then downscale, then re interlace, all in compressor.Both compressor and FCP do a pretty bad job on downscaling interlaced material. There are some third party programs such as Purifier (as suggested by another forum member) which I am experimenting at the moment seems OK,However the quality is not quite as good as the method I have described, but it gives a good encode and is much quicker than the compressor methods. Generally there is a great deal of wishful thinking about HD giving better downscale results than material shot with dedicated SD cameras, which objectively is inaccurate, Software interlaced downscales are usually objectively ( resolution and color-space ) inferior, except for a few fairly esoteric software solutions which involve fairly complex workflows.To experiment use a real life scene where it includes objects with varying surface detail, an ideal object is someone strumming a guitar,the neck of which can be used like a resolution chart, however because it's moving slightly,it will show up artefacting during the downscale beautifully. Using these methods you should be able to improve your downscales, but if you or friend have a digibeta SD camera then use the output of that camera as a reference.

For me, I shoot XDCAM EX 720, 50p (I live in PAL land) which gives me the best and easiest workflow for SD production of TV Adds.


Ian Skurrie
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Old June 15th, 2010, 09:07 AM   #3
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I work in an SD sq setting in FCP to produce SD from Sony EX1 HD.

Thats it, SD will always only be as good as the lens, camera, lighting etc....... oh and the limitation of Compressor.

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Old June 15th, 2010, 09:42 AM   #4
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I've got an unusual workflow for making Std Def DVDs - but it works for me (and more importantly my clients). I actually use a combination of FCS2 on Mac Pro or MBP and Vegas on PC. I've been unhappy with DVDSP regarding the quality of the end result regarding clarity etc. and certain aspects of Compressor (although in other regards Compressor is truly excellent).

I mainly shoot progressive (mostly 1920x1080p 25fps) and I edit in HD timeline in FCP6 (usually not ProRes but native 1080p XDCAM EX 35Mbps VBR .movs) and when I've got my Final Cut how I want it, I export that as a self-contained QuickTime H.264 .mov (usually "All Best" type settings) at 1280x720p.

I then transfer that down converted .mov to a PC and put it in a Vegas timeline (was Vegas 7E on a Pentium 4 XP box.... but that died last week.... so it's now going to be Vegas 9E Pro (64 Bit) on a zippy fast i7 Windows 7 box) and, using my own preset templates (slight tweaks on those supplied) render it out to create the MPEG-2 files and PCM Audio (or AC3) files which I then use to master the DVDs with DVD Architect (was version 4 but will now be 5).

I only got the new Windows box and Vegas 9 etc. yesterday so have n't had time to test this workflow with my latest PC set-up but I don't feel there should be any issues - certainly in the past I've found I've got sharper, clearer Std Def DVDs using this cross-platform workflow - at least to my eyes. I also find DVDA a lot easier/more logical to use than DVDSP. Use whatever tools work best, that's me all over!
Andy K Wilkinson -
Cambridge (UK) Corporate Video Production
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Old June 15th, 2010, 02:04 PM   #5
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Like Ian I also shoot in 720P 50. I find this the best solution. I have to occassionally shoot 1080i 25 and find the render times much longer and the results not as good.

So it seems at the moment no different workflow/solution than what I have been using the last three years.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 07:09 AM   #6
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It's the HD down-scaling that's the problem, I get great results from HDV 1080i25 some choices are wait forever for Compressor (with frame controls enabled) or use a PC utility.

This thread contains lots of good references DVD Quality problem
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