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Old March 24th, 2010, 06:55 PM   #1
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Best XDCAM to NTSC Method?

Hi

I've been shooting with my EX1 for a while now and love it to death. I do a lot of work that goes to NTSC TV. For TV I usually shoot 720p, and edit 720p, deliver to web at 720p, then for TV I drop the 720p sequence into an NTSC timeline (Final Cut Pro), render, then output an NTSC file to upload to the station. Usually 30 second TV spots.

To me the final image looks choppy or slightly blurry. I used to shoot using a Sony VX2100, and the image looks more sharp. I think FCP isn't converting the files as good as it should. I'm not sure it's right to transfer the HD file into NTSC anamorphic, because when I play it it comes out stretched to fill the NTSC aspect ratio. This is fixed when I drop that anamorphic file into an NTSC timeline, but I'm not sure it would work when I FTP the files up to Suddenlink or ABC for broadcast. Usually my NTSC file comes out 720x480 with a letterboxed image.

So is there a better way to take your 720p30 footage to NTSC - letterboxed that is sharper than just dropping your HD timeline into an NTSC timeline? I don't want to edit in NTSC 4x3 because I also need the HD version for web.

Whadaya think?
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Old March 24th, 2010, 09:04 PM   #2
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This article may help....

Outputting Standard Definition in FCP from the Sony XDCam EX1
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Old March 24th, 2010, 09:28 PM   #3
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I just did this yesterday on my MacBookPro for a news story.

Use DV NTSC Anamorphic in Easy Setup. When you pull the clip onto the timeline say no to changing the project preferences to match the clip.

Edit as needed.

Go to File, Share, then select Other, Apple, Formats, mpeg2, and finally Program Stream. That will give you video and audio at 48K in one stream.

I just render that to my desktop, then upload using YouSendIt.com, or FTP to their server. There was no choppiness or letterboxing, just the usual resolution hit you take when you go from HD to SD.

BTW: I hate to say this, but the process is a LOT faster and simpler in Sony Vegas Pro, but I don't have it on my MacBookPro like I do on my Mac at home.

There may be a simpler way to do it in FC Studio 3, but this was how I figured out how to do it. I suppose you could take it into Compressor, but why add more work if you don't have to?
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Old March 25th, 2010, 11:59 AM   #4
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Although he mentions briefly using other codecs, I'd choose Apple ProRes or 8 bit Uncompressed 4:2:2 depending on where this output is going to go. If you're doing TV spots, the quality you gain by avoiding the DV codec can help. You can then output to Beta or DigiBeta but I'd use the source to encode in Telestream Episode for delivery with DGFastchannel. Then you can remain truly tapeless end to end.

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Old March 25th, 2010, 12:34 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I'll check that article Jeff.

Charles, I said I will not edit in NTSC because I need an HD final file. I just need to transfer the final HD file to NTSC in a clean way. I do drop it into an NTSC timeline when I'm done, but the final SD file looks softer than my VX2100 projects.

Craig are you saying I should make a Prorez 422 final HD file then drop that into an NTSC timeline? How will that help if my original material isn't 4:2:2? It seems that will just make a larger file.
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Old March 25th, 2010, 01:15 PM   #6
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Hi Jeff.

I tried that article and I'm not sure about the outcome.

Following the instructions, the final file is an anamorphic NTSC. When I double clic the file and play it it looks like 16x9 stretched into 4x3. I'm not sure if I send this to a TV station if it will come out looking like my intended letterboxed NTSC. Also if I put that anamorphic NTSC file into a regular NTSC timeline it looks worse than dropping the 720p file into the same timelie. So I'm confused...





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Old March 25th, 2010, 03:24 PM   #7
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Thanks guys. I'll check that article Jeff.

Charles, I said I will not edit in NTSC because I need an HD final file. I just need to transfer the final HD file to NTSC in a clean way.
Okay. I saw that later. Sorry.

So, why not edit at the full-pop you want, then do the File, Share, etc. from that timeline? I just tried it and it worked.

Or do like Craig suggested (without it being on a DV NTSC timeline).
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Old March 25th, 2010, 08:22 PM   #8
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Charles I just don't know if the anamorphic NTSC file will play correctly on TV, or if it will stretch to fill the 4:3 space. I'm not burning these to tape, I'm uploading them to the stations. When I double click to play an anamorphic file in my media player it comes up stretched to fill a 4:3 space. Now, if I drop it into an NTSC timeline it sits in the viewer correctly, with the letterboxing I require. So I just don't know...
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Old March 25th, 2010, 09:13 PM   #9
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You're seriously confusing me. How do you stretch 16:9 to fill 4:3? Wouldn't it be the other way around? You'd have to crop 16:9 video to get 4:3... unless I'm actually dumber than I look, which isn't likely because I'm pretty dumb looking.

I send 16:9 video to stations all the time using mpeg2 and the method I explained, above. I prefer to use Sony Vegas Pro (on my Mac), rather than FCP7's DV anamorphic, but I just did it two days ago on my MacBookPro and the station played it just fine in their 16:9 news lineup. I've done the same thing with CNN, Fox, The Weather Channel...

I don't know how else to help you; but I wish you well with it.
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Old March 25th, 2010, 10:31 PM   #10
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"How do you stretch 16:9 to fill 4:3?"

Vertically.
If you place a 16x9 720p file into a 4x3 NTSC sequence, you get the letterboxed NTSC, which is what I want it to look like on TV.

If I make a file off that timeline it comes out NTSC, 4:3 with letterbox black areas above and below the image.

If I make an "anamorphic" NTSC file off of the 720P timeline, the file looks 4:3, with the image stretched vertically so everyone is tall and thin, when I double click the file and play it in my media player.

I was not sure if this is a problem, as it fixes itself when I drop that anamorphic file into a 4:3 timeline. I just don't know how it works on the TV station's end of things. I'm sorry if I'm not making myself clear.
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Old March 25th, 2010, 10:55 PM   #11
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No. That's clearer. I'm old, and I confuse easily.

Arcata. Cool. Are the dungeness crabs in season?
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Old March 25th, 2010, 11:01 PM   #12
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Hi Chad,

I'm pretty sure the image won't get squeezed or distorted as long as the file dimensions are NTSC 4:3, which is 720 x 480.

The article's instructions work well for me when going from HD to SD DVD, but I've never sent a file to a TV station so you may want to check with them to see what their file spec expectations are.
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Old March 26th, 2010, 11:39 AM   #13
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No. That's clearer. I'm old, and I confuse easily.

Arcata. Cool. Are the dungeness crabs in season?
Crab season is Dec 1 through the beginning of spring, so it's about over sadly...
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