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Old September 3rd, 2002, 03:38 PM   #1
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black & white rendering, codecs, hairpulling etc

Well i've lurked this fine site long enough. Time to participate--

We're nearly done shooting a feature with the XL1. Editing is with Prem 6. Here's the issue: the project is to be rendered into black & white, and i'm getting conflicting results using the different B&W render options in Premiere. I've tried sample clips and whole scenes with each B&W option-- using the Premiere B&W filter (in 'Video Effects' palette), the Boris FX B&W filter, and the plain-jane 'Render to Black & White' setting with the Cinepak codec.

I was amazed at the awful Premiere B&W filter results-- there was spectrum noise on solid 'colors' (grays :) and worse, a random static-like noise that looked almost like an 'old-film' effect of scratches, imperfections etc. This was visible both on monitor and TV screens. There was RADICAL loss of focus and depth of field detail that exists just fine on the camera original. The Boris filter was the same. The only acceptable renders have been using the Cinepak B&W render setting with no filters, although this can be inconsistent with different shots.

Anybody out there have suggestions? Is this a codec issue? Hardware? Should other programs (After effects, Cine-look or whatever) be considered? I searched the forum for B&W threads but there were'nt many.

Our arsenal:
XL1 with 16x and 3x zooms, Tiffen contrast filter
pro Panasonic tapes
plain Firewire card, capture with Win Movie Maker on XP Pro

Thanks for any help--
Good luck everybody with your projects

Michael Pace
Amok in the Florida Panhandle
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Old September 4th, 2002, 03:25 AM   #2
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If you are sure that your source material is okay, then I think it
either must be the format to what you are exporting to (which is
it? what codec?) or the B&W process indeed. I've never done any
B&W with Premiere but I have converted one scene with After
Effects (don't know from mind which setting/effect I used, but
I can look it up for you if want to know). But I did a lot more than
just B&W it. I also changed contrast and what not. Results looked
very good in my opinion.

Again, to what file format are you outputting and with which
codec?
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Old September 4th, 2002, 04:59 PM   #3
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if you are using premiere with a OHCI 1394 then it is using the microsoft DV codec which IMO is the WORST out there. Boris would use the same MS dv codec.
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Old September 4th, 2002, 06:26 PM   #4
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Thanks for replying all--

Export is to avi on my cutting machine with an eventual conv to mpeg2 for DVD burn on a bigger across-town machine. The export codec is apparently the Premiere default Cinepak codec, which gives options of 'render to color' and 'render to B&W'. That B&W selection has been the only acceptable one so far, but as i say i've now found the same noise & crapulence using it on other tests i've run. The effects *seem* to be pronounced during camera mvt, a'la pans, tilts etc, but i have'nt sure-fire confirmed this.

My snooping around indeed suggested a better codec is needed, but my pos on the learning curve is still low so i knew i'd better come here and ask you guys.

Is this just a process of determining the best codec and installing it, ie a plug-in? I've been to some of the codec comparison sites but i'm not yet informed enough to execute...

re: the MS-DV codec: Am i only concerned with replacing the render/export codec or does this factor into the capture process as well? I did'nt immediately see alternatives to MS-DV within Premiere's controls settings, so again, do you just install a new/better one ??

This project really deserves B&W!

Millions upon millions of thanks everybody, for considring this problem--

Best,

Michael Pace
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Old September 5th, 2002, 03:07 AM   #5
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Michael,

I think it is the codec. This can be very easily tested. Make sure
you have a small work area (that little bar above your footage)
of only a few seconds in the area that gives you the most
trouble. Enable the Black & White effect and then
File -> Export Timeline -> Movie. Go to settings and MAKE SURE
that you have only selected work area for the range. Choose
Microsoft AVI as File Type (instead of Microsoft DV AVI) and
go to the next screen. In the next screen select None as the
Compressor (ie, no compression) and turn on 4:3 aspect.
Click OK to go out of the settings and choose a place to write
your output file to. Now watch that file, does it still have those
problems? If not you know it is due to the output codec you
choose.

Standard I am personally outputting any of the following ways:

1. to uncompressed avi as shown above
2. to Microsoft DV AVI to keep it in its original format
3. directly to another application (like an mpeg encoder). This
uses a special technique called frameserving.
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Old September 5th, 2002, 03:59 AM   #6
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Thanks Rob--

codec seems more likely now too, now that i've learned a bit more today. I'm going to do the trial w/ the Mainconcept codec and see.

You and the other Big Leaguers are very generous to share knowledge & experience with the beginners. Cheers!

Best all,

MRP
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Old September 5th, 2002, 06:59 AM   #7
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I'd just like to say that the cinepak standard codec it employs is an absolute pile of crap, don't even bother using it.

The first time i used the cinepak by accident, i thought someone had thrown dirt on my screen, but dirt dosn't move, it was a grainy disgusting image.

I have learnt from experience just how pathetic the output is, even high bit rate divx beats it hands down.

The ms dv codec is fine for keeping it in it's original form with no generation loss and a reasonable size.


anyways

kermie
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Old September 5th, 2002, 08:09 AM   #8
 
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The MS DV codec is NOT lossless. It too, is a pile of crapola. Go with the Mainconcept codec. If you still have probs, I suggest you checkout Vegas Video 3 which has a fine codec and a fine B&W filter tool.
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Old September 5th, 2002, 11:59 AM   #9
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"re: the MS-DV codec: Am i only concerned with replacing the render/export codec or does this factor into the capture process as well? "

when you capture over 1394 ( dv camera to HD) the capture program does NOT use any codec. the camera head already compressed the images using a DV codec and now it is DATA . the capture is transferring the DATA from tape to your HD ...

"I did'nt immediately see alternatives to MS-DV within Premiere's controls settings, so again, do you just install a new/better one ??"

there is a way to use MAINCONCEPTS DV codec for rendering ..
i do not use premiere so i do not know the HOW ?
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Old September 5th, 2002, 12:12 PM   #10
 
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in order to use the Mainconcept codec in premier there is a third part program available to "trick" premier when it loads. This is STILL one of the drawbacks to premier. WHAT are those guys at adobe thinking? (could it be $$$$)

anyway, the software is available from:

http://home.hetnet.nl/~jackwburger/index.html
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Old September 5th, 2002, 10:19 PM   #11
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I too can now submit a testimonial for the Mainconcept codec. Got the MC demo and the necessary 'DVswitch' geegaw (http://home.hetnet.nl-~jackwburger-index.html) installed tonight and *almost* all's well in Mudville. Rendering with MC is tremendously faster-- a 3 minute scene that took 2hrs+ with the cinepak codec was color rendered in about 20 minutes.

My Black & White issues are not over however. I ran new tests with the Premiere B&W filter and then the Boris B&W filter (using the MC codec, natch) and though the render itself was fine, no artifacts, noise etc, the B&W still looks like ass. I should'nt have to print the thing to 35mm B&W negative just to obtain good B&W!

I guess i'll need to check out AE now for a better B&W?

Bill, i'll try the demo for VV3-- need a Premeire-based solution for the immediate future, but i'm intrigued by the various nods i've read to VV. Used Sound Forge before and liked the approach there.

Funny, droves of folks are forever looking for the elusive 'Film Look'-- if anyone wants to replicate the look of B&W Super 8 film that has been at the bottom of the bay for 30 years, just use the Premiere B&W filter. All that messy unwanted sharp focus and depth of field will be a thing of the past! (that was sarcasm...) :)

Again, thanks for all and every input to my post.

Again #2: Have'nt used After Effects before-- anyone done B&W with it (assuming it's even possible??)

Happy Producing, everyone

MRP
Pensacola, FL
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Old September 6th, 2002, 12:51 AM   #12
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does premiere have a HSL adjust filter ? if it does do not use the B & W filter. 1st use the HSL adjust to take out all the color satuation ... then add in a brightness and contrast filter to tune your B&W to your liking ... also on the HSL you can do some minor adjustments using the luminance ...

i use VV and the B&W filter gives you a bland B&W look that just doesn't work for me ... VV works excellent using the HSL adjust fx and brightness /contrast FX ..make fine adjustment using the HSL luminance slider .... to really fine tune it but tricky and a much longer learning curve is to add the color curves fx to the above. ( again do NOT use the B&W fx)
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Old September 6th, 2002, 01:30 AM   #13
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donatello--
I've tonight tried the Vegas demo and the B&W fx filter was such an improvement over Premiere's that i s'pose i'm shocked into thinking it's wonderful. Per yr suggestion I'm rendering a test right now using the VV3 HSL fx tweaks to compare.

Also:
After installing the Mainconcept codec today and doing some tests Premiere is now crashy. As Marge Simpson would say, "Grrrrrrrrr..."

Vegas is looking better & better, but i just *had* gotten comfy w/ the Premeire environment. Ah well, keep learning...
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Old September 6th, 2002, 03:25 AM   #14
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Michael, as I pointed out earlier, I have done B/W with AE
(production bundle that is). I didn't had any problems with
that myself.
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Old September 8th, 2002, 05:27 PM   #15
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I suppose this thread's been put to bed now.

Here's a wrap up:

We could not get the DVSwitch to work properly with Premiere on our XP system. The Mainconcept codec demo was exportable (we got good renders with the MC watermark in the upper left corner) but any attempts at touching the timeline (scrubs, cuts etc) would crash Premiere instantly. It seems to have been a series of severe conflicts with the project settings that we could not remedy after several install attempts with DVSwitch and ultimately reinstalls of Premiere. As i write this Premiere is unusable on our computer.

As i reckoned with all this it occurred to me that it's all kind of moot anyway. Even if the superior MC codec could be used reliably, i simply cannot get good Black and White in Premiere w/o 3rd party tricks (AfterEffects etc).

Vegas Video 3, as pointed out here & elsewhere, has fine B&W controls, a great DV codec, Mainconcepts mpeg2 export, and ass-kicking audio environment. The layout and approach seems initially starkly different, but i expect will fall into routine with practice. Thus for the remainder of this project i'll be using VV3. I had just gottem fairly swift with Premiere (in a month and a half) so starting over seems a bummer, but...whatchagonnado?

Given the dearth of queries regarding Black & White in the forum, my experiences might not be of use to very many folks out there-- i submit them anyway in hopes a fellow Black & White DV traveller finds it helpful.

This forum rocks the cornbread-- thanks everyone for taking time to help handhold us thru this!

Best wishes to all--


MR Pace
Pensacola, FL
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