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Old August 28th, 2008, 03:20 PM   #1
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Fimout Vegas Pro 8 to 35 mm film

This is a post I placed on the TVPaint users group forum but I thought there is some interesting information in there for animators who use Vegas Pro 8:

I just came back from our brand new Filmout studio in Philadelphia, called DIVE -- a fantastic, state of the art facility which opened a couple of months ago on Independence Mall. For anyone interested, all film services provided in Philadelphia are tax free.

But here are the tests I conducted. I selected a one minute segment from our (2D animated feature) film which I processed 4 different ways to see which route I should take when it comes to completing Tulip.

1. PNG exported directly from Vegas -- 2.5 GB It took about 2 minutes to render, maybe less. (I used the 3rd party Script, called Image Sequence which someone recently posted here).
This was the only option I had from Vegas (other than JPEG, which is NA for filmout purposes) so I created an uncompressed AVI of the one minute, 1080p sample and "uploaded" into TVP 9 as a non-preload (virtual) file. From TVP's timeline I rendered out:
2. Uncompressed TARGA which came to 10.8 GB and took about 3 minutes to render
3. DPX which came to 14.4 GB and took 4 hours to render
4. Uncompressed PNG, which came to 10.8 GB and also took about 3 minutes to render

All renderings were to image sequence folders.

Each one minute file was thoroughly analyzed by 3 technicians who came to the conclusion that there are no discernible differences between the 4 files. Not even the smallest PNG file from Vegas so that is the way to go for me.
(Can someone here explain if this is an uncompressed PNG codec, or what is it, since there are no settings to select from?)

They rated TVP's DPX as top quality.
The conclusion was that the Vegas Pro 8 PNG way is the fastest and best way for me and it also took the least time of all the test files for the technicians at DIVE to convert to DPX -- about 3 minutes.

The quality of the picture was amazing on the large screen, which looked 100% the same as on our computer monitors. They then went through all the coloring possibilities and also gave us a simulated look of what the image will look like projected from 35 mm film. When they toggled through all 4 tests it was impossible to see even a hint of a difference. I couldn't even tell for sure whether the technician was toggling until I looked at his hand pushing the button.

The technicians admitted that they have had no previous experiences with PNG because they had never dealt with 2D animation and said they were stunned by the results.

I hope this information might help any animator here who might be in the planning stages of converting computer images to film.
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Old August 28th, 2008, 03:39 PM   #2
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Congratulations!

Congratulations, Paul. Your work has inspired me since I ran across your posts here on DVInfo. It's always a pleasure to run across other feature filmmakers using Vegas.

I've been having problems with memory hangups rendering in 8.0b, though, and have been looking for system specs of people who have had successful renders of large timelines. Could you please share with me your system specs, specifically what motherboard, processor and memory your system has? Any info you could share with me would be greatly appreciated.

And once again, congratulations. I just went to the My Dog Tulip site; you've done beautiful work.
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Old August 28th, 2008, 04:39 PM   #3
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Thanks, Mark. Here are the specs you asked for:

MoBo: Asus P51D2-deluxe
CPU: Dual core processor 3.4GHZ, 64-Bit/32-Bit,
800 MHz FSB, 2MB l2 Cache, LGA 775
Memory: 1GB DDR2 533Mhz 4GB
Raid: SATA 8 port
SATA Raid controller
HDs: 7 ST3500630AS 500GB video
SATA 3 raid 5 2 mirrored
Videocard: Nvidia PCIE 16 quad 256 MB RAM
Monitor: 3 Acer 24 LCD 1920x1200
EXT HD: 500 GB

I am not very computer technology knowledgeable so we have all of our equipment (my wife has an identical setup) custom built by an experienced technician, who also regularly checks things out for us and conducts routine maintenance services.

I have no problems grasping the workings of our software applications though, basically because computers offer such a huge step-up from film equipment and its related services that I started using computers as soon as the first promises of animation programs appeared on the Amiga and were later converted to the PC, such as TVPaint -- our main application since 1991.

My first NLE was ShowMaker, which I doubt anyone here has even heard about. It was made in Canada and was the first NLE which introduced more than one audio track (two).:)
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Old August 28th, 2008, 05:09 PM   #4
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Thanks

Thanks so much, Paul, for taking the time to get me that info. It's been incredibly frustrating trying to track down the root of my render problems, and this will help tremendously.

I looked a little more at the site, checking out the cast page, and was even more excited to see the whole project, given the talent involved. Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave, Isabella Rossellini.... wow.

Would love to see the film at Cannes, but have not made it there with one of our little films yet. I hope it makes a domestic festival run.

Thanks again.

Mark Holmes
www.readyokmovie.com

Last edited by Mark Holmes; August 28th, 2008 at 05:22 PM. Reason: Added signature
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Old August 28th, 2008, 05:46 PM   #5
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I've been told it's going to premiere in October of 2009 in London and play throughout the UK through Christmas (and we'll be finished this coming October of 2008...!?) then the movie should open in the States in January of 2010.

This is my first theatrical release so I have no experience with what's involved, but as soon as we have the film in the can, we start on our next feature, the story of Joshua Slocum, the first solo sailor who circumnavigated the globe at the end of the 19th century.

So by the time our current film will just start showing, our second one will be about one third into production -- distribution is a complete mystery to me.

About the star studded cast; it's easier for animators to pull this off than it is for you guys, because the work involves a few hours, during a single day in a studio; no makeup and lines to memorize -- just reading from a script. Even stars like to make a quick buck and it doesn't seem to be a problem recruiting them. The problem is coming up with the money to pay them what they deserve and will ask for, which fortunately I am not involved with.
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Old August 29th, 2008, 12:27 AM   #6
 
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Outstanding work, Paul, and thanks for the heads-up on the new lab!
Looking forward to hearing more about the project once it walks out on stage.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 05:33 AM   #7
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Interesting post, Paul. I've been messing around with PNG sequences out of Vegas for some experiments in Photoshop. I know drives are getting bigger and cheaper these days, but with this amount of data, space saving by using a compressed format is still a consideration for some people (like me). Some other info I found about PNG which might be of interest to you:

RGB or greyscale images.
Support for alpha channel.
Lossless compression (re-saving does not degrade image quality).
Bit depths: 8 or 16 (both can have alpha).
A variant called MNG supports animation.

Were you using 8-bit images? I am interested in knowing what the conversion from say 8-bit PNG is like going up to 10-bit log DPX? Did the technicians say anything about that?
Regards,
John.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 06:30 AM   #8
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John,
The technicians see no difference whatsoever between the PNG samples and their conversion to DPX. Two things surprised me about the process in Vegas.

First, how long the rendering to image sequence took in the end. The test seemed to have gone very fast but then when it came to the actual conversion of 81 minutes of film, the average speed came to two hours per minute of film.

Second, I was surprised to observe that light-clored scenes went rapidly, about 3 or 4 seconds per image, but dark scenes took much longer -- as much as 12 or 15 seconds per frame.

Yes, my images are 8 bit. Coincidently, I am delivering my external hard drive to the filmout studio just today (the delay was caused by disputes over end credits -- what else is new!) and the technicians say they will need 5 days to prepare the material for the color grading, which is scheduled for the 8th, so they need several days to convert my PNGs to their DPX.

Then we go to Magno in N.Y. to have our surround sound components approved by a DOLBY representative (about $ 8,000 just for that -- there has to be a scam in this process somewhere).
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Old December 1st, 2008, 10:15 AM   #9
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Paul, best of luck with the release of your production. Yep, if you do the right thing and get the Dolby certification, it does seem a bit steep!

"Yes, my images are 8 bit" -- good to hear that is viable for transfer to DPX for a good quality filmout.

"Conversion of 81 minutes of film" -- do you think it would be easier on the computer system if a feature-length project is broken down into say 10 minute "reels"? At any one time you're only dealing with the equivalent of a short film.

John.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 11:04 AM   #10
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Ideally any feature film has to be broken down to four 20 minute reels. Since this is rarely possible, there is an allowance of five reels of 13 to 18 minutes of duration, which is what I had to choose; so when I said 81 minutes, by that I just abbreviated the fact that I had 5 distinct sections to convert.

When you suggest "easier on the computer system" I should note that my computer wasn't at all stretched to its max performance by the conversion process. It actually comfortably multitasked for me and I could continue work on my animation software with no hindrance, where I draw paperlessly via a Wacom tablet at 1080p and frequently play back my project at realtime speed of 24 fps. My software is TVPaint 9.

As an experiment I converted one reel directly to one of my fast internal hard drives after which I later moved the images to the external drive. This proved to be no time saver; the conversion speed still chugged along at two hours a minute.

Also it turns out, there is no difference in performance between using FireWire to connect the external drive with the computer or USB -- if anything, the USB route might have been a little faster. My external drive is a G DRIVE Q.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 12:05 PM   #11
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Paul, I just watched a clip on the TV Paint gallery - beautiful.

I'm curious to know at what stage did you export from TV Paint and import into Vegas and specifically what tasks you used Vegas for.

Thank you.

Ian . . .
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Old December 1st, 2008, 12:49 PM   #12
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Thanks, Ian. There's more about this movie at this website: My Dog Tulip

I work with TVPaint and Vegas both opened at all times. I start off with recording the film's voice over tracks, which I edit in Vegas.

I export a chunk of that track, say 2 to 5 minutes as a .wav file to TVP and draw an animatic of the segment in 1080p size, which I then export to Vegas as a reduced, 720p avi. for easier playback in Vegas (I wish I wouldn't have to do this though).

I then start animating (drawing) the first scene as a pencil test and when halfway through I export to Vegas to see how it works with the animatic or with other scenes as I continue the work. Sometimes this work will take several days and I will keep studying the progress I make in Vegas rather than rely on TVP's "realtime" playback.

After I am satisfied with the look of a scene, I export it to Sandra's computer (my wife) who paints the background and all the individual characters on each frame in her TVPaint app. This she does using the Wacom tablet at 1080p as well.

When she is done, she sends it back to my computer and I export it to two folders; one is a 720p folder and the other a 1080p one, using the same names for the scenes. I import the 720p into Vegas and replace its corresponding pencil test version with this new colored one.

As this work progresses I have my composer working on the music tracks, which he e-mails me as he progresses and I immediately sync these tracks up with the voice tracks in Vegas. Sometimes I record my own dummy sound effects into Sound Forge, which I mat keep or replace later by better recordings in my composer's studio.

As the film grows, I send progress reports to my producers in the form of WMV clips which I make in Vegas, or on DVDs which I make in DVDA.

When the film is completed I split it into 5 reels which I them copy to 5 new Vegas projects. I close these projects, go to all my 720p folders which I rename so that Vegas will not recognize them and open Vegas, reel One. When it askes for the first scene I point the requester to the scene's corresponding 1080p folder and the rest of the scenes then are opened automatically.

Now I reset my preview window size in Vegas from 720p to 1080p and using the image sequence script I convert the reel to a PNG image sequence.

There are many more smaller tasks which I do in Vegas, such as selecting individual frames for the producer's Press Kit, creating credit rolls and other subtitles that appear here and there in the film but the main, colored credit cards I create in TVPaint.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 01:15 PM   #13
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Thanks, Paul, for so much detail. Very interesting. It's an ambition of mine to try my hand at animation but, sadly, the mortgage-paying work has to come first for the foreseeable future, so I'm stuck in the world of corporate video! One day . . .

I thoroughly enjoyed the outings/pub clip - in fact I laughed out loud. My youngest son wants to know why he didn't wash his hands before eating (and I reminded him that this is something I am continually telling him to do!).

Thanks again, Paul. Be sure to post here when the film is released!

Best wishes,

Ian . . .
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Old December 1st, 2008, 01:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Stark View Post
My youngest son wants to know why he didn't wash his hands before eating
In the minds of most dog owners both bodies become fused into one. BTW this film will receive an R rating so don't promise your son too much.
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Old December 7th, 2008, 08:00 AM   #15
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The PNG compression scheme is variable, so file sizes for sequence frames are not consistent. The compression is more or less efficient depending on image content. I went through an HDV Vegas timeline exporting single frames with dramatically different image content to compare the file sizes. For 8-bit 1920 x 1080 PNGs, a file size can range from extremes of 1.08 MB to 2.57 MB. From my samples (used over 60 images) I find that 1.80 MB can be considered as a good average for estimating storage space. Compare that to an equivalent uncompressed TIFF which is 5.95 MB or a TGA which is similar at 5.93 MB.
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