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Old June 23rd, 2010, 03:04 AM   #1
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computer can't handle workflow?

So, working on an animated project.

I decided to export HD image sequences from my animation program, rather then use QT movies. This was recommended by the folks on the message board for that animation program as the best way to maintain high quality, and I've personally seen some glitches result from trying to encode movies.

So, in FCP, you can't really use image sequences. What you have to do instead is open QT pro, and take the images and make a reference movie out of them.

Ok, so I have my references movies that contain my HD PNG image sequences.

I have a sequence with the following settings:

1920x1080, square pixel aspect ratio (this is from the animation program), compressor (codec) = PNG (image sequences are PNG).

I would think you would want your FCP sequence to match the settings of the image sequences which is why I chose PNG as the compression setting. However, I get a big red box in the canvas window that says "cannot display, close window and reopen" or something. If I actually do close, and reopen, I get a "general error: out of memory" message. Seems my imac cannot handle PNG compression in this context.

Is there a less robust/taxing codec I could use for this project and not lose quality? Pro Res HQ or something? There are so many codecs and I don't know what most are for.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 08:06 AM   #2
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I guess you may use QT Uncompressed or go for the ProRes 444, which provides close to Animation codec quality in a smaller file. (ProRes 422 don't store all color values for pixel). Just be aware that there are some players than don't support this codec if you need to send the file somewhere else.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 09:33 AM   #3
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Is there any reason you need to keep the sequences as reference movies once you bring them into FCP? You are making FCP refer to each individual frame as it's working if it's a reference image sequence. That's a lot of work. Use the animation codec to make movies it's uncompressed but you'll have to render it once it's in the sequence. You've been working at this for a while now, what's your final goal with the animations? Knowing that would help streamline your process.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 09:53 AM   #4
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I'm a little lost. . .do you mean why didn't I just make a movie out of the image sequence instead of keeping it as a series of stills?

I guess I hadn't really thought about it. I'm also planning to apply a broadcast filter to the whole movie to clamp down the whites (I have another thread about this). Maybe I'd lose something if I turn the stills into a movie?

I have the sequence setting set with the animation codec right now (I read up on it in the FCP manual right after I started this thread. . .manual says it's lossless), and it's not crashing anything so far.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 10:35 PM   #5
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A reference movie is a container that houses the file locations of the original media and the sequence they play in. A self-contained movie is a new file with all the media in one place, filters and effects are rendered but all the other media are just a one for one data transfer unless you are changing codecs. Good luck with the animation codec.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 11:51 PM   #6
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Right. I did all my editing already. . .using very low res proxies. I tried to wait 'til I was sure everything was perfect before doing the "uprez".

Do you think there's a benefit to using self-contained movies in the timeline as opposed to reference movies to the image sequences?

When you make a series of stills into a self-contained movie using QT pro, you have the option of leaving it as a reference or making a new, self contained movie. I don't know what, if any compression it applies when making a new movie.

I'm not planning on doing much playback in the new HD timeline or anything.
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Old June 24th, 2010, 12:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Bass View Post
Do you think there's a benefit to using self-contained movies in the timeline as opposed to reference movies to the image sequences?

When you make a series of stills into a self-contained movie using QT pro, you have the option of leaving it as a reference or making a new, self contained movie. I don't know what, if any compression it applies when making a new movie.
Benefit? LAWZ, yes! A reference movie OR an image sequence causes the hard drive to go looking for INDIVIDUAL files at a rate equal to your frame rate instead of a stream, such as when you either import all the stills and render out a file (not just render the timeline) or create a movie FROM your image sequence.

Making a movie self contained means it creates a complete self standing movie with all the data included. A refernce movie is merely pointer information that references OTHER media files, in this case your PNGs.
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Old June 24th, 2010, 12:53 AM   #8
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BTW, I used to do a TON of this when I worked multicamera sports lives - my brother would render out images from Lightwave of whatever crazy 3D animation we were going to use to pump up the crowd and I'd import the images, place them in a timeline, render the timeline and then EXPORT to a QuickTime for subsequent playback in real time.
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Old June 24th, 2010, 01:57 AM   #9
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Would there still be a benefit if I'm not planning to do any more playback? My next step should be outputting to some final format.

Like I said, the animation codec seems fine with the ref movies/image sequences. If making self contained movies will speed up export/rendering later, that's a reason to use them instead of ref movies.
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Old June 24th, 2010, 04:47 PM   #10
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Most important: if you are planning to take your files off YOUR computer, they NEED to be self contained.
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Old June 24th, 2010, 05:24 PM   #11
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That shouldn't be an issue.
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Old June 24th, 2010, 09:23 PM   #12
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Hey Josh, to be able to smoothly playback image sequences referenced from a quicktime file you will need a very fast RAID. CPU overhead isn't as big a deal, but raid speed is. Unfortunately with an iMac you are limited to an external raid running on Firewire 800, which is probably going to be too small a pipe for the sort of data transfer rates you need.

The question of course is what is your delivery format, because that will dictate how you should finish your project and what codecs to go to, what software to use, and whether you can do it yourself or need to go to a post house for delivery.

So are you going to tape (HDCAM-SR), film, DCI, or what. You're going to have to do some processing to get out to any of those formats, and the format you are going to will determine where in the pipeline you need to do your processing and what format you should output to as to avoid quality loss.

The thing you have to remember is that in 99% of cases a practical workflow for you is more important than avoiding quality loss at some point - there is ALWAYS some lost quality from acquisition/creation to a distribution format. You can work very hard to minimize it, but currently there is no such thing as an affordable, simple, visually lossless production/post production pipeline - and certainly no distribution method that is readily available that allows for a completely lossless process.

For what it's worth - my recommendation would be to render out to PRORES HQ, or PRORES4444 if you are running FCS3 and what the absolute best quality - PRORES4444 is about as generationally lossless as you possibly can get using your current apps, handles up to 12bits of color data per channel and CAN be RGB instead of YCb'Cr' (athough you may need to use Color as your renderer to ensure true RGB output - I don't believe you can get there using Final Cut's rendering engine).

Animation codec is actually a little archaic as it only supports 8bits per pixel of information, so I would avoid ANIMATION codec if at all possible (assuming you were working in more than 8 bits per channel to begin with, and/or are doing grading etc.)
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Old June 24th, 2010, 09:44 PM   #13
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Distribution methods/formats will be whatever various folks require. I'm not looking to keep it "perpetually uncompressed", but to avoid doing 'til the output stage.

I'm not real versed in the RGB vs. YC whatever whatever. . .I've always worked in whatever FCP defaults to.


If you say prores HQ is better than animation, than so be it. I'm limited to whatever comes with FCS2, however. Couldn't tell you about 8 bit vs 10 or 12. . .It'd be whatever anime studio (the animation software) generates, and I'm not sure what those specs are (PNG-based image sequences from a vector-based program).

W
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Old June 25th, 2010, 01:14 PM   #14
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My understanding of the Animation codec is that the bit depth is dependent on the program encoding the file. A program working in 16bit will export an Animation file at 16bit. And if there's an alpha channel in the file the file will be 12bit at the minimum. That's my understanding, perhaps it's wrong. The Animation codec is theoretically good up to 32bit. If the animations don't use alpha channels then ProResHQ is good but if you need an alpha channel for layering in the FCP timeline then ProRes4:4:4 is the way to go otherwise the Animation codec should work.
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Old June 25th, 2010, 01:52 PM   #15
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No, no alpha channel. Anime studio can do that, but it wasn't working for me when I tried to use it for a few shots. I just put things against a solid green background and keyed it out with the chroma keyer in FCP.

FCP Manual doesn't mention bit depth of the animation codec, just says it is "lossless" but does use compression, as opposed to the uncompressed setting.
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