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Varicam Post Workflow

Published : 9th July 2004


Howard commented that...

>"The last 24p Varicam feature I shot was edited on a 30f edit set >up...turns out that cuts can only be made on certain frames, in >correlation with Panasonic frame cadence. Their is software to correct >this, but apparently not reliable."

We have successfully captured 720 24p DVCPro HD clips into our Final Cut Pro System with a AJA Kona HD card, but the time code stays 29.97. I am unfamiliar with Sunset Posts workflow and would be very interested to hear their solutions, as we are aware of a number of projects shooting with Varicam now that are not just destined for DVD or Television where typically those just finish in standard def.

One post workflow path that currently seems to be stated as the path of least resistance is to downconvert to standard def with the matching 29.97 tc, then do your offline as a 29.97 project. When you are ready for HD online you upconvert the 1280x720 to 1920x1080 as 59.94, which the newest DVCPro HD vtr can do and record to HD D5 (I assume HDCAM would work too).

Take your 29.97 EDL and your newly created HD tapes to do your online HD conform in 1080i. Then to get to a 24p Universal master if you are doing film out or need nice PAL tapes, you de-interlace and extract the 24p frames by using a Teranex or the Panasonic converter.

I have not done this but would be interested to hear from those who have.

Jeff Blauvelt
HD Cinema
NY/NE (Westport, CT) 203 221-0233
LA/West (Pacific Palisades, CA) 310 434-9500
www.hd-cinema.com



Jeff,

I've done quite a bit of HD online for a 720/24p, including a full-length feature.

Here is the best workflow :

1) Downconvert to NTSC. Offline on any system capable of doing a 24-frame offline. This includes any version of Film Composer, or FCP3 w/Cinema Tools.

2) Cut your movie.

3) Export an AAF (Film Composer) or OMF (FCP w/Automatic Duck)

4) Online on a system capable of doing 24p HD online, like DS|HD, Smoke, Fire, eQ, or iQ.

5) In the HD online, conform the 24fps AAF/OMF to a 24fps timeline. Then, USE THE PANASONIC AJ-HD1700 DECK!!!

This deck was not available until recently. It converts from 720/24p to 1080/23.98p in realtime without frame delays. The 24fps lists will match up to the 24fps timecode coming from the 1700. That is the smoothest online. Everything else is ugly.

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If you do not do this, then there are several different workflows available. The one you describe is not bad, but there are a couple of big gotchas:

1) The Teranex should be used for a textless pass, and all credits/lower 3rds *must* be applied afterwards in 24p.

In a 1080i online with cadenced material, you're adding titles with no cadence to material with cadence. Unless the HD Online Editor is removing cadence before titling, that's 30fps material on top of 24fps material. The text motion will no longer be smooth and pretty after a conversion. And depending on the size of the text, it will also screw up cadence detection.

2) Long dissolves, and other opticals will be awful.

Across a dissolve, you're mixing cadences. All the converters get confused and you'll have a visual "pop" at the end of the dissolve as the converter auto senses the cadence of the B-side.

The way to get around this (which I've done a few times with success) is to create a Teranex "opticals" reel. Break apart dissolves into A and B sides, with handles. Break apart motion effects to their unaffected lengths. Convert that reel separately to 24p. Then, in a separate 24p-based online, rebuild the dissolves in 24p and insert to the master.

3) Do audio post AFTER the conversion to 24p.

Cadence detection is never perfect. Some shots will slip by a frame or two, and will send audio sync out of whack for those shots.

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720/24p is a neat idea, but HD post for it was a nightmare before the 1700. Do yourself a favor, and make sure your HD online facility has that deck and has a lot of experience with list conversion and the uses of EDL / OMF / AAF / AFE in the conform process.

Lucas Wilson
------------
HD Online Editor
Epic Center
Santa Monica / Hollywood



Lucas - an excellent explanation, thanks.

You may be the first person to have figured this all out.

The Panasonic AJ-HD1700 vtr seems to be the key. So anybody who did the upconvert to 1080/60i post path just had access to the AJ-HD150 with 1080i only playback. The new HD1700 seems like an amazing machine with upconversion and downconversion + 8 tracks of audio.

If someone shoots 60p with plans for later slo-mo, and in particular I was shown that the camera can actually speed ramp which is very cool, do you still need to have the Panasonic AJ-FRC27 frame rate converter/disk array as well to change the 60p to 24p over 60p? or can the HD-1700 do that?

A number of the rental houses bought the AJ-HD130 then the HD150, I guess those can still be used to do downconverts. I wonder how soon they will have the HD1700 which started shipping the end of July?

Once you edit in the non-linear system as 1080/24p it seems you must output to an HDD5 or HDCAM, otherwise the HD1700 only records 1080i even though it plays 24p, or I guess you could re-convert back down to 1280x720 24p over 60p. However, evidently to allow for a two hour tape recording there is a custom format in the HD1700, they specify in the brochure that the 2 hr format cannot be edited, and that it will not play in other DVCPro HD VTR’s, just the HD1700.

In summary if I understand you correctly, the Varicam post workflow short and simple is :

1. Downconvert from DVCPro HD using any of the Panasonic HD VTR's.


2. Before beginning your online, convert the project from 29.97 to 23.98 using Avid or FCP software, cut your movie.


3. Use the Automatic Duck Automatic Sequence Export Pro plug in (must be new Pro version just released) to export an Avid compatible OMF list


4. Import the OMF timeline into Avid DS, Smoke, Quantel iQ or EQ system in 1080/24p. ( I suppose we should check with Boxx Technologies and Apple if they can import the AutoDuck OMF?)


5. Use only the new Panasonic AJ-HD 1700 DVCPro HD to upconvert to 1080/24p and load an Avid DS, Smoke, Quantel iQ or EQ system in 1080/24p.


6. Output to HDD5

Definitely no "guerrilla style" HD24p post like Dale Launer did for his "Tom's Nu Heaven" feature. He captured into a Pinnacle Cinewave HD on his Mac G4 with the HDSDI output of his F900 camera, edited HD24p online (titles included) and borrowed an HDCAM deck to output the final edit!

Jeff Blauvelt
HD Cinema
NY/NE (Westport, CT)
LA/West (Pacific Palisades, CA)



>Lucas - an excellent explanation, thanks. You may be the first person to >have figured this all out.

[Lucas] Thanks! I'm probably not the first, but I know I'm one of the few to have successfully posted a 720/24p feature.

>Do you still need to have the Panasonic AJ-FRC27 frame rate >converter/disk array as well to change the 60p to 24p over 60p? or can >the HD-1700 do that?

[Lucas] You still need the FRC. The conversion on the 1700 is very specific for 720/24p > 1080/23.98p

>Once you edit in the non-linear system as 1080/24p it seems you must >output to an HDD5 or HDCAM, otherwise the HD1700 only records >1080i even though it plays 24p, or I guess you could re-convert back >down to 1280x720 24p over 60p.

[Lucas] Correct. But I'm assuming the reason you want to go to 23.98p is because of an eventual film-out, or you just need a universal master. One thing I should have mentioned is that if you don't *have* to have a 23.98 master, then just do post in 1080i and be done with it.

>In summary if I understand you correctly, the Varicam post workflow >short and simple is. 1. Downconvert from DVCPro HD using any of the >Panasonic HD VTR's.

[Lucas] yep.

>2. Before beginning your online, convert the project from 29.97 to 23.98 >using Avid or FCP software, cut your movie.

[Lucas] No. At the beginning of the offline process, the project on the offline system must originate in 24fps mode. Both Film Composer and FCP w/Cinema Tools allow an offline editor to set up a project at 30fps or 24fps. The difference is that in a 24fps project, the software is keeping track of cadence, and understands where everything lives in both 24fps and 30fps worlds. If the project is cut in 30fps mode, then the offline software has no sense of cadence, and has no idea how to properly convert a list from 30fps to 24fps for online. If you have already cut your project at 30fps, then the best conform you can have is an EDL conversion from 30 - 24 for online. If you're on a DS|HD, you can also import the 30fps AAF/OMF to get effects and other critical information. On any other system, all you can do is an EDL.

>3. Use the Automatic Duck Automatic Sequence Export Pro plug in >(must be new Pro version just released) to export an Avid compatible >OMF list

[Lucas] Automatic Duck is strictly for FCP. It takes an FCP project, and converts it to an OMF. An Avid system can spit out an OMF native.

>4. Import the OMF timeline into Avid DS, Smoke, Quantel iQ or EQ >system in 1080/24p. (I suppose we should check with Boxx >Technologies and Apple if they can import the AutoDuck OMF?)

[Lucas] This totally depends on the online system. For instance - Avid DS|HD can read an EDL, OMF, AAF, or AFE from Film Composer. Quantel eQ and iQ can ONLY read AAF, but the only information they can currently read out of AAF is timeline, i.e.: EDL's. Smoke and Fire can theoretically read OMFs, but it's seriously buggy - EDL’s are the only reliable conform method. But, if you edited your offline at 30fps and are doing a 24fps online - Quantel and Discreet can do list conversion within their software. DS cannot, and you need an external list conversion utility to do it.

If it sounds confusing, that's because it is. That's why it's so important that your Online Editor be fully versed in ALL the different conform methods. You could spend an additional 2 or 3 days in online if you use the wrong conform method.

>5. Use only the new Panasonic AJ-HD 1700 DVCPro HD to upconvert to >1080/24p and load an Avid DS, Smoke, Quantel iQ or EQ system in >1080/24p.

[Lucas] That's the cheapest method. Another way of doing it is using an FRC-27 and an HD150 in conjunction for the conversion, but that introduces a bunch of other problems.

>6. Output to HDD5

[Lucas] yep.

>Definitely no "guerrilla style" HD24p.

[Lucas] You can do guerrilla post with 720/24p if you want. but it'll hurt. A lot.

Lucas Wilson
------------
HD Online Editor
Epic Center
Santa Monica / Hollywood



Hello All,

I've been watching this posting for a few days now, and find myself compelled to chime in. This is my first listing posting so forgive me if I don't follow protocol.

I edit on Discreet Smoke with Varicam HD all the time. Our deck is the 150 and we shoot off speed stuff often. Our off-line is done primarily on AVID and as of late FCP, but the SD material supplied is from the down converted HD straight off the deck. In other word, in the case of 24p, inserted 3:2. Any off speed shots are bounced through the FRC and laid back to an "off speed" tape with new TC and that is treated just like any other source.

Off-lined as normal and a 30fps list is supplied to online for conform. When audio is recorded on a separate device (not on the HD tape itself) an audio post master is supplied with the same list for conforming and audio work. Being that they are all in the 29.97 world, all is happy in audio world (and we like keeping them happy don't we?) When they are finished, it is either laid directly back on to tape or a file is supplied and imported into the Smoke.

As for visuals, the 150 is set to 1080 and when the list is conformed, the Smoke is told the A frame (most often 00:00:00:00) and told to remove the 3:2 on input. List is conformed, effects and text added, output to tape, done. I hate that it sounds so easy, but from my experience, it's really that simple. I understand that when you are delivering a master destine for film release there are added steps involved. I also realize that if you desire to stay in 720 you are headed down a different path as well. But I've gotta say, if you are wanting an HD master that can be sent to any dub house for universal release, just like any Film originating piece in the past, this is the way to go.

And here's one that all you purists will hate me for...when I cut a piece for HD release that was shot in 24 and delivering in 1080i for broadcast, I add ALL text after the 3:2 insertion. I don't want to get into the aesthetic arguments of this, but we all know moving text, even dissolved text, does not look as clear with 3:2 as it does at 29.27.

That's all for me, and I will echo listings in the past by saying there are NO hard and fast rules to anything. Every project is taken on a case by case situation whereby any or all parts of this workflow are changed or abandoned all together.

Get everyone involved as early as you can.

Chuck Brown
AMS Production Group
Dallas - Austin