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Old June 26th, 2010, 04:18 AM   #16
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All the documentation I can find suggests Animation codec is no more than 8 bits per channel, an example of this is here:

Apple QuickTime RLE - MultimediaWiki

PNG can handle up to 16 bits per channel, but I am unsure whether Anime Studio is exporting at 16 bit per channel bit depth and whether your animation requires such accuracy.

It sounds like you have some pretty major issues with your workflow already though, if you are chroma keying rather than exporting a clean alpha from your animation program - but not knowing the complexity of your animation it may be more or less irrelevant.

Your Final Cut timeline settings also matter, and if you are not viewing the final work on an external video monitor and are rendering in YUV rather than RGB you will not be seeing the exact same color rendition as what you would get on a monitor (excluding broadcast safe issues etc.)

But the main point being, without a known deliverable format, none of this really matters. If you have the quicktime reference files already, you can render a sequence out in ANY format simply by duplicating the sequence and changing the codec to the one you want and hitting render. This rendered sequence will then playback fine as long as your machine is spec'd high enough to play a single stream of it (your machine should handle full HD Prores fine as a single stream).

Then, once you know your delivery format, you can go back and re-export the Quicktime Reference files to the best format (or simply supply them as image sequences) to an online editor and simply reconnect the media in your timeline. The issue that comes in here is that any transitions (dissolves/wipes etc) and grading you have done may need to be recreated in the online - but this is par for the course in terms of professional finishing.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 05:31 AM   #17
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Yeah, I tried the alpha channel thing, and it was not seeming to work. I'm sure somehow it was my fault, but since I only needed to key things out for one little part, I figured screw it and used the chroma key technique.

My master plan with all this is to make a high quality 1080p movie, I guess in prores HQ, from all these image sequences, etc., and then downconvert as needed from that file for whatever other formats are needed.

Or, more likely, not even make a "master file", but simply make my sequence prores HQ, render everything, and bring a ref file of the whole sequence/project into compressor to make whatever's necessary as those things come. Or like you said, I could simply make new sequences and change the codec, and rerender, etc. Not really worrried about PLAYBACK with these image sequences on my computer (or anyone else's) . .I was worried that my computer couldn't even handle the footage period. But apparently that was just the BMP and PNG sequence settings. . .whatever they are, they're too much.

So either animation codec or this prores HQ (I'm on FCS2 and I don't see a prores 4:4:4 option). The only reason I really worry about needing super uncompression for this is that there are some auras/gradients/transparencies in the movie, not just solid blocks of color. Also fine detail in place like where I have a marble texture on a floor.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 05:56 AM   #18
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As you are dealing with gradients definitely stick to 10 bit and above, also make sure that your sequence settings are set to render in High Precision YUV, as that will ensure a 10bit workflow, and render out to ProRes or ProRes HQ. That will create the least chance of introducing banding at this stage.

I just realized in your case not being able to playback the quicktime references to image sequences isn't just a harddrive thing - it could also be a RAM and GPU thing. If they render to another codec on the timeline fine, then go with Prores HQ and High Precision YUV for maximum quality (or at least max quality in a final cut timeline).
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Old June 26th, 2010, 06:01 AM   #19
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Thanks.

I don't really know much about YUV/RGB. There's no way using YUV could screw me later is there?

This imac has 3GB RAM (its max).
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Old June 26th, 2010, 04:59 PM   #20
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Not really, pretty much all standard video is delivered in YUV (also known as YCb'Cr') format on television/bluray etc.RGB is used in computing, and digital cinema projection is delivered in a different colour space altogether.

RGB is more 'true' to your originating format because everything is being generated in a computer, but the Colour Space conversion isn't a big deal at all in terms of delivery. The reason I suggest switching to High Precision YUV is that Final Cut Studio 2 can only handle 10bit rendering this way, it can't do 10bit RGB rendering, so you'll be stuck with 8 bits of colour depth per channel if you stay RGB.

Of course, I haven't been able to find info on Anime Studios export options and what bit depth it's exporting it's images too. You might be able to check this by opening up one of the PNG images in Photoshop etc and checking what it's bit depth is listed as though. If it's only 8 bits per channel (24bits or 32bits total including alpha) then you would be fine with 8 bit RGB and animation codec.

One thing really complicating matters in terms of checking things is that your iMac's screen is only going to show 8 bits worth of colour information, so if that's what you are visually checking it on you may see banding on your screen, where in fact there actually isn't any - it's just your screen doesn't have enough precision to display the image without banding... Increased Bit depth however should not cause banding, so if you are not seeing any banding on the gradients you are probably still safest at the higher bit depth, because it will mean there is more data for later down conversions later on to work with so compression/scaling is less likely to introduce banding, or if it does a more mild dither could be applied than if the entire project was stuck in 8 bit.
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Old June 29th, 2010, 11:03 PM   #21
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Thanks. I don't know jack about photoshop outside of some tricks, so how do you use it to find bit depth? I tried opening a png in there and going file/file info, but it doesn't mention it there (CS2 by the way), but at the top of the photoshop window, it has the file name, then RGB/8. . .I'm assuming this means RGB 8-bit?

Also, tried changing sequence setting to render all YUV material in high precision YUV, and I get a message about how at this size, with my graphics, card "solid color" cannot be rendered (I use several generated layers for titles and such)
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Old June 30th, 2010, 10:31 AM   #22
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Josh, first of all have you allocated more ram for your still images by choosing system settings and clicking the memory and cache tab (view attached thumbnails). Itīs recommended to set the still cache to between 15-20%, but no more than 20%!
This could maybe help you in playing the still-sequences better?

Another thing, itīs not recommended to import large numbers of individual images into fcp, even if you adjust the still image cache settings!

You should instead use Quick Time Pro, selecting file - open image sequence, then file - export to a quicktime movie. Set the codec to ProRes 4444 if you are on fcp7 or quicktime animation if you are on a earlier version.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 11:38 AM   #23
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Have not messed with still cache yet. When rendered, plays back fine.

Yes, I have been making the images sequences into QT ref movies in QT pro. I haven't been "exporting", just doing a save as after "open image sequence" and selecting the first numbered still in the sequence.

As far as codecs, someone above said prores HQ was better than animation, as animation was limited to 8 bits/channel. . .I think the stills are 8 bit anyway but I don't know how to check.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 05:41 PM   #24
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Hi Josh, as your PNG's are only being exported as 8 bit per channel (you were correct in your assessment of the RGB/8 info) then Animation is going to be fine in terms of bit depth - although you may run into an issue with the bitrate of Animation at Full HD on your machine - your Hard Drive may not be able to keep up with FULL HD animation codec.

Full HD Uncompressed Animation Codec requires a playback bitrate of about 165 megabytes per second - You can't actually keep a constant playback using Firewire 800 at that bitrate because the maximum pipe size you've got is about 100 megabytes per second (Firewire 800 is 800 megabits/second = 100 megabytes.) and the internal drive on the imac is certainly going to struggle with Animation Codec and keeping the OS running.

Comparatively Apple Prores HQ is about 23 Megabytes per second, which your hard drives will handle fine. So while it's not going to give you an advantage in bit depth, its the best codec in your system in terms of playback.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 06:29 PM   #25
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Thanks. I went back to RGB, prores 422 HQ. Looks fine to me.
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