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Old July 6th, 2006, 05:28 PM   #1
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Downconvert Question

This seems like a basic question, but I did a search and found that every downconvert question except mine has been asked and answered. Either that or I didn't understand the answers given.

I'm shooting a video with multiple people and multiple cameras. Most of the cameras being used are DV (GL2, VX2000, etc.). I have an FX1. I want to shoot in HDV to take advantage of the higher resolution and then downcovert to DV. However, I do not want letterbox. The footage from the various cameras will be intermixed with music in each section and it would look horrible to have some stuff letterbox and other stuff full screen (in my opinion).

Since the FX1 does not have an edge crop downconvert option, I realize I need to do this in post. I have FCP 4.5. So, I shoot in HDV, capture in HDV, and then what? How do I make my captured 16:9 HDV footage into individual NON-letterbox 4:3 files so that it will mix seamlessly with my DV footy in the sequences? Is there an export/edge-crop to QT file option in 4.5 or something that would produce a result like that?

Lastly, is there an option/trick for cropping the LCD to 4:3 so that I don't cut any footage off when I downconvert in post?

Thanks much.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 06:08 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shane Coburn
I have FCP 4.5. So, I shoot in HDV, capture in HDV, and then what?
I didn't think you could capture HDV in FCP 4.5 without some sort of 3rd party addition. How are you capturing?

If you can get your HDV footage into FCP somehow though then I think it's as simple as creating another 4:3 DV sequence and dropping the clips into it. FCP will probably want to automatically letterbox them. So double-click on your clip in the timeline and switch to image+wireframe in the viewer, then grab a corner of the frame and drag outwards (try reducing the view scale and making the canvas window larger so there's a wide border around the image). Drag the the image outwards until it fills the full height of the frame. Alternately you could use the scale slider in the controls on the clips Motion tab.

However, as I recall FCP 4.5 did a pretty poor job of image scaling so you might not be thrilled with the results. Another thought would be borrowing or renting a Z1 or A1 and capturing with in-camera downconversion and edge-crop. That would also save you a bunch of rendering time.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 06:51 PM   #3
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If I was doing it in Premiere, I would open a Standard 4:3 file and pull the footage in and rescale on the timeline.
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Old July 6th, 2006, 09:29 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
I didn't think you could capture HDV in FCP 4.5 without some sort of 3rd party addition. How are you capturing?
Well, I guess I'm not. I just received my camera the other day and wanted to figure out the downconvert before I captured any footage, but I tried just now with some bogus footage and FCP won't even recognize my camera (hooked up via firewire through back i-link port). I thought that all I would have to do is change the FCP Capture Presets in A/V Settings to DVCPRO HD - 1080i60 and the Device Control Preset to DVCPRO HD FireWire, but no go. What do I need to do here? Geez, I thought I had done all the research I needed before buying this cam, but now it seems I need a Z1, not an FX1 (was told that the only difference was XLR, PAL, and timecode), and a different editing program, not FCP 4.5. Great.

(Excuse my irritability...it is not aimed at anyone here. I just spent a lot of money on my set-up and thought I had done the proper research in advance. I have a shoot next week and this camera is posing way more obstacles to my work than I had planned. Frustrated.)
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Old July 7th, 2006, 04:47 AM   #5
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Shane, don't stress over the FX1 as it is a great camera. Yes the Z1P has some advantages, but with a few extra bits and pieces, you can achieve the same results with an FX1.

In regards to Final Cut, my suggestion would be to "cross-grade" to Final Cut Studio 5.1. Check the Apple site for details. The pricing is very reasonable.

Although I don't know the specific details, I believe FCP 4.5 does not offer the ability to capture HDV without a 3rd party application. Others will be able to confirm this.

Good luck!
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Old July 7th, 2006, 08:41 AM   #6
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Yes, the simplest solution is probably to cross-grade which will give you the full Final Cut Studio suite of applications for $200 which is really quite a deal:

http://www.apple.com/universal/crossgrade/

You were trying to capture DVCPro HD which has nothing to do with the Sony Cameras - it's a Panasonic thing. There are some complicated tricks you can use to capture using iMovie HD and then bring the files into FCP 4.5 and convert to DVCPro. I remember trying them myself under FCP 4.5 and gave up because it was more trouble than it was worth. You could probably find some threads here if you do a search. But honestly, spend another $200 and you'll be all set. Sorry, you needed to do a little more research... :-)

BTW, none of this would be any different with the Z1 - it uses the same HDV as the FX1. I have a Z1 and it's a great camera, but the main reason I bought it was for shooting PAL standard definition video. You won't be disappointed in your camera or with FCP either once you get the new version. Relax and have fun with the new software and hardware!

Oh - one final thought - if you really don't want to upgrade right now, just shoot HDV with your FX1 but downconvert to regular DV with the camera (i.LINK CONV on the menu) and you can capture and edit in FCP 4.5 just like any other DV camera.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 10:55 AM   #7
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Chris, Boyd - Thanks for the advice. The crossgrade is very reasonable and seems well worth the money for all of the extras.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
Oh - one final thought - if you really don't want to upgrade right now, just shoot HDV with your FX1 but downconvert to regular DV with the camera (i.LINK CONV on the menu) and you can capture and edit in FCP 4.5 just like any other DV camera.
Hmmm, what result does this give me exactly? Does this do what I was asking with the edge crop to a 4:3 and remain high res, or does it turn the footage into straight DV and lose the all of the extra pixels (no different than actually shooting in DV and capturing in it)? Also, when I go to MENU > i.LINK CONV > ON (HDV~DV) it says "Changes NOT allowed. Unplug i.LINK cable." But I have no cable plugged in. I tried it in both camera and VCR mode. Do I need to shut something else off on the camera to get it to allow the change?

Lastly, is the Z1 worth the extra money? I'm beginning to think it is. It seemed that everyone I spoke with prior to my purchase told me that the Z1 was a rip-off because it was basically the FX1 with a few extra gadgets. The only thing I could think of using on the Z1 were the XLRs and I knew I could get an adapter for the FX1, so I thought I was being a "smart consumer". I had no idea about downconverting, etc. when I bought this. I'm thinking of seeing if B&H will let me exchange my FX1 for a Z1 and pay the balance. I haven't used the camera on a shoot yet. Just been trying to get acquanited with the functions in my office. Any thoughts on this?
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Old July 7th, 2006, 11:18 AM   #8
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Hi Shane

As a former FX1 owner now with a Z1 (my FX1 got stolen) there are a number of differences I find very useful... the XLR audio is superior, you get phantom power...(no more dying mics), plus more usable audio level controls with trim, roll off etc, you get nice little features like underscan, white balance tweaks, black stretch, plus the outputting of 4:3 DV from the camera...so you can shoot in HDV and output 4:3 DV.

HDV will always be 16:9...

The in camera downconvertion works pretty well and that's all I use. I shoot in HDV in case I need any of the stuff in a future HD world, then downconvert in camera...Ok it does give you regular DV but many consider this superior to straight DV...It certain gives you very nice pictures and will cut in well with your other cameras...

When I had to use clips from older cameras, with the FX1 stuff I actually used Premiere Pro to convert my 4:3 stuff to 16:9. It did naturally lose a bit of resolution, but on a regular wide screen tv it looks just fine, and I'm sure most people cannot tell the difference. But mixing aspect ratios is pain.

The cheapest solution if you want to use with existing 4:3 DV cameras you mention is just to shoot with the FX1 in DV 4:3.. it'll save you a lot of hassle and expense..

Regards
Gareth
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Old July 7th, 2006, 12:53 PM   #9
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Well, I just talked to B&H and they were cool with me exchanging the camera. (Actually, I am returning the FX1 and purchasing a Z1 as a separate transaction to ensure it gets out here in time for my shoot.)

I just figured the $1200 difference is worth the time I will save when downconverting for this and future projects. The fact that I now don't have to purchase a separate XLR adapter and I get a better native mic only adds to the value for me (but wasn't enough in itself, orginally).

Other features like PAL and Black Stretch aren't things I know I need (actually, I don't even know what Black Stretch even is), but I plan to have this camera for awhile and they could come in handy down the line. In any case, I'm definitely going to get on that crossgrade right away...thanks.

My only hope now, is that the accessories I bought for my FX1 (extra battery and Century .6x lens) will work with my Z1. I'm pretty sure they do, but I was "pretty sure" about the other stuff as well...
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Old July 7th, 2006, 03:24 PM   #10
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Hi Shane

Yep your batteries and lens will work no problem... basically same camera..

You don't get a mic as standard with the Z1... unless B&H do a different deal from my UK dealer.... I got an Audio Technica 897.. which is a nice mic, better than the stock Sony...

You'll also need a mic adpater to use on the camera mount if you get a non Sony mic... as the Sony one only fits their own make... Rode does a cheap adapter, as do Lightwave... ask at B&H..

As to the Cross grader... if you capture HDV and downres you'll still have to convert to 4:3 thus losing image area and res...(not a major problem as you have 4x the res to play with) but be careful with your framing. Here you can active the 4:3 safe area in the VF of the Z1 whcih will help framing.

But if you want to output DV for use with GL2, VX2000, etc IMHO you'll still be better off shooting HDV and outputting 4:3 DV from the Z1... your work flow will be far less complicated. The Z1 does a pretty good job in this respect.

Regards
Gareth
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Old July 7th, 2006, 03:56 PM   #11
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Sounds like you made a good choice. I think the FX1 is a great value for the cost; there really isn't anything else on the market with the same bang for the buck. But if you can afford the Z1 then you won't regret having all those extra features which Gareth mentions. And don't forget that you now also will have the ability to shoot PAL video if you ever need it.

Gareth is also right about the mike - the Z1 has the same built-in mike as the FX1 and an empty holder for a camera-mounted mike. You might be thinking of the PD-170/PDX-10/HVR-A1 which include the Sony ECM-NV1 mike - that is not included with the Z1 however (and no big loss there).

Enjoy the new camera! Let us know what you think of it after you've put it through its paces.
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Old July 7th, 2006, 04:52 PM   #12
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Thanks guys. Feel good about my decision -- mic or no mic (I won't need one for this shoot anyway). However, I am excited about the potentials of this camera. The FX1 was definitely nice...nicer than the GL's and VX's I am used to, but I think it is time for a procam that I can start to build an arsenal around. (I think I would have been apprehensive to invest too much in the way of accessories and attachments with the FX1.) Really, it is just time for me to commit to the pro-gear.

The main reason I'm upgrading isn't really for my original downconvert concern (though that still adds to it), but that the more I thought about it, the more I think I would have been dissatisfied with the FX1 down the road. With the Z1, I can plug and play with pro external mics, and like you mentioned, if a job comes down the road that requires PAL, I'll have a cam in place and not have to rent one. Having rented a PD-170, shotgun mic, and tripod a few weeks back I learned that those costs add up quick and all-but-shatter low-budget jobs.

Thanks again for all your help, and thanks to B&H for allowing the return.
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Old July 10th, 2006, 06:05 PM   #13
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Quick question: For my immediate needs, can I shoot HDV and downconvert to DV in the Z1 and capture in FCP 4.5 or will I still need 5.0? What if I do everything (shoot/export) in DV? Can I sue 4.5 then? I ask because the crossgrade for 5.0 is only $200, but I need OS 10.4.4 for it to work (I'm on 10.3.9). Tiger is another $130, but I believe there is an even newer OS coming out some time soon and I might as well wait for that if I'm going to upgrade. Thoughts?
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Old July 10th, 2006, 08:13 PM   #14
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As far as I know, you need FCP5.1 to capture HDV without 3rd party software.

If you are only capturing DV from the Z1P, you will not need to upgrade.

My recommendation would be to bite the bullet and purchase the crossgrade and Tiger. The latest version of FCP runs faster, and Tiger offers a whole lot of nice features.

However, if you only need to edit DV footage and you're happy with your current setup, then leave it be. Don't fix it if it ain't broke!
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Old July 10th, 2006, 08:42 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shane Coburn
For my immediate needs, can I shoot HDV and downconvert to DV in the Z1 and capture in FCP 4.5
Absolutely! I did this myself for the first 6 months I had my Z1. I got the Z1 because I had to do a PAL DV project, and I didn't want to deal with upgrading software (both OS and FCP as you are also facing) in the middle of a big project with tight deadlines. So I used FCP 4.5 for awhile and it's completely compatible in both NTSC and PAL modes, with the choice of DVCAM or DV SP recording.

In the case you describe, FCP will just think it's connected to a regular DV camera and will function as normal. You can then choose the downconvert option you want: anamorphic, letterbox or 4:3 (SQUEEZE, LETTERBOX, EDGE CROP in the menu).
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