Mixed Format project: Upres or Downres?

Posted by JayG0413 
Mixed Format project: Upres or Downres?
October 11, 2015 05:41PM

I'm editing a longform doc in FCP 7. There are a lot of various formats and found footage but the two main sources are a Panasonic DVX100b and a Panasonic AC130.
The DVX is 720/480, 24P and the AC130 is 1920x1080, 23.98. I want to create a finishing sequence that I can export to DI. Is it better to finish in 720/480 and downres all the HD media. Or finish in 1920x1080 and blow up the DV/NTSC. My inclination is to go HD. Goal is to have large format screenings. Does anyone finish in SD anymore?

Any insight or links are appreciated.

Re: Mixed Format project: Upres or Downres?
October 12, 2015 03:28PM
We shot a 70 minute documentary in DV25 720x576 50i which looked decent on a very large screen, BUT the whole film was shot the same. When you intercut your native 1920x1080 with blow-up 1920x1080 the difference will be obvious. The problem for you is aesthetic: will your documentary incorporate enough hodgepodging of sources so as to make the shifts in quality acceptable or even interesting? Can you edit the film to achieve that? Maybe make the SD shots B&W. Don't try to match what can't be matched.

If you can't solve that aesthetic problem, then you should reduce the HD footage to SD for uniform, easy-to-manage quality, and decent large screen projection.

Dennis Couzin
Berlin, Germany
Re: Mixed Format project: Upres or Downres?
October 19, 2015 12:18PM
Thanks for the advise Dennis. I'm glad to hear your 720 project looked good on the large screen. I'm not too concerned with them matching, mostly that the 720 won't break up on the big screen.
My bigger concern is not aspect ratio, but frame rate. I've been offline editing in 29.97 because that's how FCP reads the DVX 24p. Everything I've shot with the Panasonic AC130, is 1080p24 which I've incorporated into the 29.97 timelines without incident.
But my goal was to finish in 24fps. Which means I have to reverse telecine all of the DVX stuff and basically recut the movie to match the offline. Or I can just leave it alone and keep it in 29.97 and all the stuff I shot on the AC130 will have a 3:2 pulldown. Less work in the end, though I don't want to lose the 24fps aesthetic that I shot for.

Had I known to shoot the DVX at 24pA rather than 24p, I'd have been cutting in a 23.98 timeline from the start. Live and learn.
Any feedback on going forward at 24 vs. 29.97 is appreciated.

Re: Mixed Format project: Upres or Downres?
October 20, 2015 03:15PM
Adam Wilt wrote an extremely good explanation of 24p vs 24pA recording with DVX cameras. Before reading it I didn't know that DV compression of interlaced material is frame based, and in consequence every fourth frame -- frame C in Wilt's example -- of the 24 frames per second is compromised in the 24p DVX. So the reverse telecine from 24p DVX will have poorer quality than 24 frames extracted from 24pA DVX would have. There's no undoing that now.

Your AC130 camera recorded your 24 frames per second as 24pN, 'N' for native -- no funny stuff. If you had established your timeline for the AC130 material first, what would FP7 have done to the DVX 24p?

The thing you're calling '29.97' is probably 59.94i. It's television's version of 24 fps cinema. In this 59.94i the 24p DPX footage and the 24pN AC130 footage have similar 3:2 pulldown. To reverse telecine the whole edited video requires intelligent software able to accommodate cadence changes due to editing. And how much is accomplished towards your goal of the '24fps aesthetic'?

As discussed in a strand last year, even what is properly called 24p video (not '24p DVX') does not provide the look of 24 fps cinema. A major difference is that video is always today displayed without black shutterings. 24 fps cinema was displayed with 2 or 3 black shutterings per frame (with each frame image shown 2 or 3 times, respectively). This cadence influenced the motion illusion and added a tad of flicker. For video to simulate it requires 96Hz or 144 Hz display.

According to the cited strand, many modern viewers take the '24fps film look' from films seen on television: 60Hz with pulldown and some further bastardization because the modern display shows 60p, not 60i. The 29.97 thing you've made is 24 frames per second -- there are exactly 24 images shown per second, albeit scrambled into the second. Well, it's a look.

Dennis Couzin
Berlin, Germany
Re: Mixed Format project: Upres or Downres?
October 29, 2015 02:44PM
Thank you for the detailed rundown and links, Dennis. Very helpful, albeit disconcerting. Seems my best bet is to go forward with a 29.97 finish. Much less work involved than reversing all the DVX 24p which, it sounds like, won't give me the best results anyhow. What I'll lose is keeping my AC130 footage at 24pN. Not a big deal I suppose. The 3:2 pulldown being tried and true. Perhaps there's some aesthetic value to these compromised 24 fps formats. Of course next time I'll chart a more deliberate path.

Jay Galione
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