OK, I can finally come up for air. August was a VERY busy month for me. On top of my regular day job, I took on two side jobs (after hours work). One was really easy…online a 23 min reality show. That was straightforward and I was able to do it in two four-hour nights.
But the other one…well, that was a doozie. It’s the one I blogged about last time…the one that required the DNxHD Quicktime with 12 channels of embedded audio. That wasn’t the only tricky part. The show, that was edited at 23.98, needed to be delivered at 29.97. This was easy, actually. Because of MIX AND MATCH (available since Avid MC 4) I could easily convert the timeline and have it look right. We were given the uprezzed project (they edited low res, DNxHD36 from XDCAM EX, uprezzed to DNxHD175) as 23.98. Then I would open that project, and remove all the matte graphics…all the lower thirds and other keyable graphics they had in the project. Because while I can convert the media to 29.97, mattes won’t.
I put the prepped sequence in a new bin. Then created a 1080i59.94 (29.97) project, and dragged the bin into it. I then opened the bin, and double clicked on the sequence. I was prompted with a message stating “This sequence is of a different frame rate than the project. Would you like to convert it to 29.97?” Why yes, I would! So it did. When we tried this with the mattes in the sequence, it said “whoa whoa whoa…I can’t do that. You have matte graphics in here!” (I’m paraphrasing)
Now, when I did this, the timecode was way off. I mean, the original sequence was 48:00:00, but the converted sequence was over an hour long. In looking at the sequence, stepping through frame by frame, I noted that several timecode numbers were missing. At first every 5th number, so I was missing 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 00. But then later, I was missing 1, 6, 12, 18, 24. Really odd. To correct this I loaded the sequence into the Source monitor, made a new sequence and just cut in the old sequence into the new one. That fixed things. We were back to picture ending at 1;48;00;00.
But what caused that? Well, it appears to be because they cut with a 23.98 Drop Frame timeline. Wait…what? 23.98 DROP FRAME timeline? But 23.98 is a non-drop frame only format…right? Well, yes. On tape, and with QT files, 23.98 is non-drop only. But apparently Avid MC 5 (not sure about earlier versions) allow you to have 23.98 drop frame sequences. I’m guessing they do this to allow you to cut to a proper drop frame time for delivery. Clever. But, it does have that small hiccup of an issue. Figured that workaround though…
OK, the frame rate conversion was done. And it was delivered in high resolution, all I need to do now is color correct it. Yes, I could do it in Avid MC, but I don’t that much time, and I am a tad rusty with color correcting in Avid MC, and I really like the control I have with Color…so…I thought I’d go with Color. But, I cannot SEND TO Color like I can with FCP. So, what did I do?
Simple. I exported a Quicktime file from Avid MC 5.5…encoded as ProRes 422 (Because Color doesn’t work with DNxHD). At first I tried exporting as DNxHD and then converting to ProRes with Compressor, but when I did that, I got the famous gamma shift. But I found if I exported directly to ProRes (something that requires FCP be installed on the system) I didn’t get that gamma shift. So I exported the QT file, and then I exported an EDL. What made that easy is that all the video was on one layer. Well, after I prepped the cut and moved things to one layer. And then I launched Color and imported the EDL into Color. When you choose the option to use it as a “cut list,” Color then knows that there’s a media file that this references. So it asks for the path to the QT export. So I selected the EDL, the path to the QT file, chose settings for 1920×1080 29.97, and clicked OK.
And Color imported the media, all chopped up…perfectly. And yes, where there was a dissolve, Color added dissolves.
I color corrected and then…hmmm, now what? Rendering. The options I have are to render as QT…ProRes, AJA 10-bit codec, or Uncompressed, or as an Image Sequence. I could do 10-bit, but that requires a LOT of space. And I did still need to do a playback with the client, and have them give changes, and I wanted to do the changes in real time…so I opted to render as ProRes HQ, and playback in FCP.
Yes, this is adding adding a layer or two of compression. DNxHD175 to ProRes 422 HQ, rendered again as ProRes HQ. And then exported out as a self contained file (when all the color notes are done), and then using AMA to bring that into Avid MC, transcode to DNxHD220 (the delivery requirement, and because we would be adding titles in MC), again, being able to avoid the gamma shift (the AMA clip and transcoded material matched exactly). That’s three conversions (DNxHD to ProRes HQ, render to ProRes HQ, transcode to DNxHD)… but that is fine. DNxHD and ProRes are very good compressed formats and hold up well after many conversions. And, this is not any less than I would be doing if we, say, output to tape, color corrected on a DaVinci, then output to another tape, captured that tape in Avid again for titling. It might be one more than I’d get with Resolve (as it reads the Avid media, and renders back out Avid media)…but it did hold up VERY well.
Slightly tricky? Yes…but it worked. FCP was used in this case only as a means to get the footage from Color to Avid (export self contained QT file)…and as a means of playback. Well, that’s not true. I did do the blurring required in FCP, with Andy’s Region Blur. Because it is far better than the blurring the client was able to do (more subtle). But other than that, just an in-between option. So it looks like I can get a bit more mileage out of COLOR while being able to move to Avid Media Composer. And I was able to convert 23.98 to 29.97 inside the Avid with very good results. Something I couldn’t do inside FCP…and if I used Compressor, would end up taking quite a while rendering.