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Old October 10th, 2011, 11:55 AM   #1
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Location: Wilmington, NC
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JVC HM700 to 35mm distribution best practices.

Heya folks!

I'm currently in production on a feature documentary about locally grown, organic food, and we're shooting it with an JVC HM700 (with the Canon lens.)

I'm doing the post in Final Cut Studio 3.

The projects I've shot with the camera so far have been destined for DVD and web, but for this, we're PLANNING on taking it as far as it can go. It's the current plan to put it to DVD and BluRay, and hopefully downloads via Amazon/Apple, and perhaps streaming on Crackle/Hulu, as well as presentations at film festivals and sustainability conferences.

But I think the project itself has some legs, and I think could go fairly far, and I want to cover as many bases as I can, (so that we can hand off anything a potential distributor might want.)

On the slim chance that we get a distributor who wants to bump it to film for limited theatrical run, I want to be ready.

So, what do folks suggest for a postproduction pipeline?

Should I stick with editing in the native Quicktime-wrapped XDCAM? (We're shooting 720P @ 24. The camera will record 1080, but is native 720, and I've read that produces better results.)

Should I convert everything to ProRes and edit in that?

Something else?

We're a long way from post yet, but I want to get all my ducks in a row, and wanted to get some thoughts from folks here.

Thanks in advance, and all the best!

Daniel G. Trout
Fishmonger Media Consulting
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Old October 10th, 2011, 01:54 PM   #2
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Re: JVC HM700 to 35mm distribution best practices.

Based on the current timeline of your project there is basically no chance of or reason for your film getting 35mm distribution, studios are shutting down print manufacture or wide US releases as of next yea, 35mm distribution is literally on the way out.

With that in mind, the question you asked doesn't relate directly to 35mm so much as it does theatrical, which could be DCP. If you are finishing to DCP most post houses will be used to receiving prores for HD projects, so you can finish in that. Working in ProRes is pretty common, but for a doco you may need to consider how much space your rushes will take up and whether you are better off working in xdcam and transcoding later.

Your codec is far less of a concern at the edit stage than your workflow. For distribution finishing with a textless version, and separate audio stems as well as your mix, proper talent releases and music clearances all matter much more than your format for editing ultimately. Master deliverables are changing quite a lot at the moment, especially since the Japan Earthquake caused shortages in HDCamSR stock.

From a technical perspective if your master footage is on the timeline you can almost always get it to the format you need to later on down the line, its just degrees of difficulty. Transcoding everything at the outset to prores will remove one degree of difficulty at the cost of a lot of hard drive space.
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Old October 11th, 2011, 09:34 AM   #3
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Re: JVC HM700 to 35mm distribution best practices.

In the same situation I would convert all the approved footage to ProRes before editing while keeping the XDCam originals available in case alternate footage turns out to be needed. The advantages of working in a processor friendly codec such as ProRes becomes very evident when you start applying filters.

As someone who regularly sends short projects to 35mm and occasionally long projects to DCP I can tell you that ProRes is the format of choice at this time. Some independent cinemas now accept ProRes files as I just found out a few weeks ago when a small project I did was screened at the Lincoln Center cinema for a special event.

Regardless of how you edit the project, keep a ProRes file master on hand for whatever distribution method pops it head up in the future. It will serve you well.
William Hohauser - New York City
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