Mixed Media on DV NTSC timeline - Best way to export for big screen?

Posted by JayG0413 
Mixed Media on DV NTSC timeline - Best way to export for big screen?
October 27, 2016 03:01PM
Hey there,

I'm editing a mixed media long form documentary on a 720x480 NTSC DV 29.97 timeline in FCP 7. I'm using these settings because over 50% of the footage is from a Panasonic DVX. The rest is a potpourri of found material (much of it lo res). Plus a good portion of 1920x1080 from a Panasonic AC130, which is interpreted smoothly by my timeline (even though it was shot at 24). My export tests are giving all kinds of unwanted results. The worst being that some of the lo res found material is interpreted as representing different parts of the source video than is in my timeline. So I'm not getting a WYSIWYG export. And of course the aspect ratios need to be conformed.

What is the best way to get an export of this timeline for a big screen exhibition. I've been using Compressor for most of my exports. Can I stick to that? Or do I need a hardware option? Do I need to recut in a 1080 timeline? I don't want to! In that case I might be better off recreating the project in Premiere Pro...but that would be a nightmare because there are hundreds of hours painstakingly logged and marked up.

Thanks for the help!

Re: Mixed Media on DV NTSC timeline - Best way to export for big screen?
October 30, 2016 07:33PM
What a mess! FCP7 isn't very good at mixing media.

I've been using Compressor for most of my exports.
Compressor has a role after the edit, but it also has a role before the edit, to ready the disparate clips for FCP7. Aspect ratio disparities are obvious, and Compressor's Geometry pane and its "best" setting for Resize work well. Frame rate disparities are less obvious and require more thought. How will the 24p footage be screwed into the 60i timeline? Do you dare make a 60i product?

I've seen excellent big screen projection of DV-PAL, straight from a tape. DV-NTSC, with 83% as many pixels, should be almost as good. But much depends on the projector. A digital projector doesn't project 60i as 60i. Either it deinterlaces it to 30p and projects that, or it double deinterlaces it to 60p and projects that. (60p preserves the motion quality of the original.) A projector's deinterlacing is in real time. There's such great uncertainty how a 60i will be projected that it's a scary product to release.

Compound this with the disparities in the timeline. What became of the 24p in the 60i timeline? Maybe it was "telecined", or maybe otherwise screwed in. If it was telecined, the 60i product will project decently in 60p. But a projector making 30p from the telecined 60i shots can make unseemly double exposed frames. Sophisticated 30p deinterlacers won't.

interpreted smoothly by my timeline (even though it was shot at 24)
The FCP7 canvas offers one interpretation among many of that 60i thing sort-of on the timeline.

If this were a new project you could examine all the footage and decide the best release format and best sequence settings. What didn't fit the settings could be worked on in Compressor. But this is a nearly finished project and, for better or worse, the timeline is DV-NTSC. At this point you can render everything and then study what's wrong in the export. Just those clips should be pulled out and reprocessed. Fix the obvious aspect ratio disparities. Where the problems seem come from codec, change the clip to something easy for FCP7, like ProRes. Where the problems seem to come from framerate, change the clip to something more like your timeline, if not 60i, 30p.

Then the DV-NTSC 60i export should look OK on the FCP7 canvas and in QuickTime, but I suggest you make it safe by first double deinterlacing the whole thing to 60p, and then blow it up to 1280x960 with square pixels.

Dennis Couzin
Berlin, Germany

P.S. My happiest video processing experience came from DV-PAL that was shot to simulate HD. The cameraman had letterbox masked the viewfinder and wanted the 720x576 video cropped to 720x432. It was 50i so I double deinterlaced it to 720x432 50p, then blew it up to 1280x720 with square pixels. Unbelievably the 1280x720 (square pixel) 50p product looked better than the 720x432 (PAL pixel) 50i original shown the same size! It looked better on the FCP7 canvas and in QuickTime, and I expect in most playbacks. This is because I had built better quality deinterlacing and rescaling into the original than most playbacks can achieve in real-time.
Re: Mixed Media on DV NTSC timeline - Best way to export for big screen?
October 30, 2016 10:04PM
Wow Dennis.
Thanks for the thoughtful and detailed reply!
Maybe one day I'll rebuild the timelines for best release format and sequence settings.
So is it definitely a 60i sequence? That's the same as 29.97?

You say to double deinterlace the whole thing to 60p then blow it up.

I read your nine step procedure in the link. Still not exactly sure how to do that but it seems like a lot to do with the whole thing.

Can I do the blowup without the deinterlace? Vice versa?

The sequence is playing the Panasonic DVX and AC 130 footage at the same frame rate. ABCDD ABCDD. Looks fine in real time.

Can I export the timeline to a DV Tape? To avoid getting any disparities from what the timeline plays?

Don't want to cut corners. Just not sure about the double deinterlace.

I really did it this time : o


Much appreciated.
Re: Mixed Media on DV NTSC timeline - Best way to export for big screen?
October 30, 2016 11:22PM
The reason for the double deinterlace is safety, in case FCP7 did something funny to some of your original clips when fitting them into the 60i sequence.

FCP7 can't show fields separately, so it's hard to know exactly what 60i thing it's made. You say the 24p material is displayed ABCDD. Go to a part where there's fast action, set the canvas to 100%, and step through to confirm that you see those frames cleanly, with no interlace. Then FCP7 has not made telecine, but instead that clunkier, safer, transform of 24p to 60i.

You can check the miscellaneous found footage this way too, since some of it might be telecine, or perhaps 60i with dominance opposite to your DV-NTSC. I use a funky method for seeing fields in FCP7. Unfortunately I made no test clip for 720x480, but you can crop one from the 720x576 clip using Compressor.

Whether you export the DV-NTSC to tape or to file, whatever plays it should take it as what it is: 720x480 (1.125:1 pixels) with lower dominant interlace to play back at 29.97 "frames" per sec. If you've checked it for having no wayward parts, playback will be OK. Subsequent transforms should be OK too.

Dennis Couzin
Berlin, Gemany
Re: Mixed Media on DV NTSC timeline - Best way to export for big screen?
November 02, 2016 06:16PM
What Dennis outlined, of course. Great info.

[set the canvas to 100%]

There is a specific key command to do that! Hold the H key for a second or two to pop either active Viewer or Canvas window to 100% with both fields (if any) viewable.

[I'm using these settings because over 50% of the footage is from a Panasonic DVX. ]

There are some studios around the US who actually specialize in massaging DVX-100 footage shot either 29.97 or 23.98, either with or without 16X9 mask, and upscaling it to almost-1080 HD quality.

I'm a fan of such an outfit, Modulus Studios, in Brighton, MA, who I worked with on two 1-hour docs over the past couple years. One has already been broadcast on PBS, the other is now in festivals. They support a lot of indie post. The upscaled work mixed well with true HD (XDCAM). They have hardware like Teranex and software like Resolve for finishing, and I believe they are just transitioning from FCP7 as an intake platform, to Premiere CC. Worth checking out a studio like this, if you have a budget.

Best, as always.
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