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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:14 PM   #1
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FCP Native HDV editing: the good, the bad and the ugly

Now that the champagne celebrations heralding the arrival native 24p editing on FCP are winding down, itís time to wake up and deal with the hangover: Native editing is not a good way to complete a project that is intended for HD delivery or filmout.

Why? If your timeline requires rendering of any kind (even real-time effects, that donít require rendering to play) you will be recompressing your mpeg, which can add nasties to your image. I wasnít convinced of this until I did some tests. Just the simple act of placing a superimposed title on a shot, doing a simple color correction, or performing a flop, caused blockyness to appear in the shadows - subtle, but definitely there, and not good for the big screen. If you complete in HDV, say by outputting to tape and then handing it over to a post house to up-convert, these recompression artifacts will become ďbaked inĒ to your master. (Think of all those Red Rock M2 shooters that will be rotating every single shot in their timeline!) This inconvenient truth should be a concern to anyone using HDV for high-end work.

Donít get me wrong, I am just as excited about the arrival of native 24p editing on the Mac as the next guy. I think it is the most practical way to deal with large quantities of HDV footage (after all, transcoding is a supreme pain in the butt!). However, for projects aimed at large screen viewing, I think native editing should be treated as a means to get to a picture lock, but not to a master. The same artifacts that I mentioned above all disappeared when the shots in question were copied and pasted into uncompressed timeline. This, to me, is really good news because it means that a whole sequence that has been edited native can be easily converted to uncompressed while still in FCP, shedding itís HDV baggage before being played out to a high end format. This technique is not new or mine Ė it has been suggested by others on this forum for quite some time, but it was reassuring to see it work with my own eyes. Given the surge in native editing that will surely follow Final Cutís new capability, I thought it was a good time to bring it up again.

Of course, rendering your entire sequence to an uncompressed codec is not necessarily a practical thing to do, but you really donít have to. Complete your edit in HDV, then submit it to your post facility as a consolidated FCP project on a firewire drive. Let them render it as uncompressed on their high-speed array and then output it via HD-SDI to your delivery format. Yes, it is a bit of a pain, but easier, I think, than converting all of your material to another format at the start. Happy cutting!
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:26 PM   #2
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Well I dunno what things are like in FCPland, but when Avid gets around to releasing 720p25 support my workflow will be something like this:

-Capture HDV
-Change project to SD & transcode media to DV or 15:1 (probably DV, space is cheap these days)
-Edit offline with SD footage for speed's sake
-Change back to HD project, relink sequence to HDV media
-Use DNxHD to render anything while mastering
-Mixdown to a DNxHD master

I'd be curious to hear what workflows people use for HDV (especially with HDV under Avid but under any NLE would be interesting)
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:32 PM   #3
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Exporting a "Quicktime Movie" with uncompressed sequence settings is the same net effect as dropping into an uncompressed timeline and rendering. This is a great way to deliver also.

Just to be clear for the audience tuning in: native HDV can be your path to the highest quality available; you just have to know how to do it correctly!
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Wilson
Well I dunno what things are like in FCPland, but when Avid gets around to releasing 720p25 support my workflow will be something like this:
I can't say working with HDV media in FCP is as buttery as DV media, but it definitely doesn't slow me down.

These days I only make offline media for multicam concerts or to fit a project on a powerbook.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:44 PM   #5
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How is it for realtime effects like dissolves, keying, colour correction etc?
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Wilson
How is it for realtime effects like dissolves, keying, colour correction etc?
RT dissolve is full frame rate, but blocks up a tiny, tiny bit. Keying, I don't know. 3-way color corrector, I get one layer of that full res, full quality, full speed.

Everything works well enough for me to get a cut to 97%. At that point, whether a render takes 2 seconds or 8 seconds doesn't really matter anymore.

Keys and graphics usually need to be tweaked as you move from low res to high res media anyway, so I consider it to be a pretty equal trade-off.

This all being on a dual 2.0 G5, which is trumped several times over by the newest Mac Pros.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
Exporting a "Quicktime Movie" with uncompressed sequence settings is the same net effect as dropping into an uncompressed timeline and rendering.
Hi Nate,
If you did this to an HDV sequence that had effects already rendered in it are you sure the uncompressed would be made from underlying HDV and not the HDV render? If so, that is an interesting option as it would not require rendering on the facility side.

Speaking as a post facility, I would probably still recommend the render approach. You could do the render at your end to save time and yet we would have access to the underlying project and all applied affects. That way, if something comes up looking funky we can look into it, even make a fix, and then relay a section off without loosing too much time.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 01:32 AM   #8
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I'm pretty sure (Note: *Pretty sure*. Hopefully some one can back me up) that any form of non-native output from a FCP timeline is processed from the original media files, not any mid-range renders.

I know it works that way when you add effects to already-rendered sequences. It'll go back to the original media file, and render with all the effects, rather than adding the effect to the already rendered file. I can't see any reason why it would behave differently on an output.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 01:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Young
If you did this to an HDV sequence that had effects already rendered in it are you sure the uncompressed would be made from underlying HDV and not the HDV render?
Yes, it always goes back to the original media and tosses any renders.

This is true even if you've rendered an uncompressed timeline!

Not that you're guilty of saying otherwise, but you know, those FCP guys have indeed thought a thing or two through when it comes to HDV.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 04:47 AM   #10
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My HDV workflow will go something like this:

Capture and edit native HDV.
Bump to uncompressed 8-bit SD timeline and re-render so all graphics etc suddenly look lovely.
Author SD DVD.
Back up to external HD original HDV timeline for future use of HDV/Bluray DVDs.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 05:38 AM   #11
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I have a question:

Assuming Native HDV Editing In FCP: If I color correct one clip on a timeline and DON'T render it, but then removal the color correct filter, will this affect quality? What about if I do render it, but then removal the color correction?
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Old October 6th, 2006, 05:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Wilson
Well I dunno what things are like in FCPland, but when Avid gets around to releasing 720p25 support my workflow will be something like this:

-Capture HDV
-Change project to SD & transcode media to DV or 15:1 (probably DV, space is cheap these days)
-Edit offline with SD footage for speed's sake
-Change back to HD project, relink sequence to HDV media
-Use DNxHD to render anything while mastering
-Mixdown to a DNxHD master

I'd be curious to hear what workflows people use for HDV (especially with HDV under Avid but under any NLE would be interesting)
You can delete this post, I answered my question.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 05:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Benner
I have a question:

Assuming Native HDV Editing In FCP: If I color correct one clip on a timeline and DON'T render it, but then removal the color correct filter, will this affect quality? What about if I do render it, but then removal the color correction?
No it won't effect quality, even if you do render and then remove the effect, FCP will always revert back to the original source clip, it won't revert back to a compressed/uncompressed/compressesed again as you add/remove effects.

You can add/remove effects all day long, then when you finally remove all effects, the clip reverts to original clip hence quality is as it was when you first imported it.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 06:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Cooper
My HDV workflow will go something like this:

Capture and edit native HDV.
Bump to uncompressed 8-bit SD timeline and re-render so all graphics etc suddenly look lovely.
Author SD DVD.
Back up to external HD original HDV timeline for future use of HDV/Bluray DVDs.
Hi Nigel,
I don't think you will gain anything from the uncompressed stage if an mpeg for DVD is you final master. As long as you create the mpeg from your HDV timeline via "export to compressor" your export should be created from your original data (graphics included). Of course, it's always good to do a little test to be sure.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 07:26 AM   #15
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I will be doing tests. I have been told by a codec guru that if there are any cross-disolve type renders or other complex graphics that have been rendered out in HDV there could be blockies and artifacts, whereas a bump to uncompressed 8-bit timeline re-renders them in that format i.e. not HDV hence no blockies etc.
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