Finding A Better Workflow

Posted on by Larry

[This article was first published in the July, 2011, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.]


David Morgan asks:

I am looking for a specific workflow instructions. Since I’m dealing with HDV, XDCAM EX, anamorphic SD, recaptured DVD assests and stills, I needed an in depth step by step workflow. My plan at present is to cut everything into SD pre res sequences. Downconversion will be necessary as well as format conversion. The final delivery will be SD-DVD. So it makes sense to me to output the finished pro res sequence(s) or master directly to compressor to create SD mpeg assets.

Larry replies: David, thanks for writing.

There are two big issues in your project: What format to edit and what format to deliver.

If you don’t see any long-term use for the program, editing SD makes sense. However, if you think there will be a market for this in the future, it may make more sense to up-res everything to HD and edit HD.

That way you have a single, HD master which can be output to a variety of formats. 18 months ago, I would have agreed that editing SD is best. Now, I lean strongly toward HD – simply for the purpose of “re-purposing” your assets.

If this is a zero-budget project, editing SD will be cheaper. However, there is a lot of good technology on the market that can up-res SD to HD and make it look reasonably good — for example, see my newsletter that came out this morning, I have an article on deinterlacing with some links that are relevant.

I agree that you need to transcode all your assets to a single format / image size / frame rate prior to editing. Working with multiple formats in one timeline will drive you nuts and not deliver the quality you are hoping for. Given the assets you are working with, I would standardize on ProRes 422.

As for the process of HOW to conform everything to a single format, that depends upon the technology you are going to use.

Compressor is a better choice than FCP. Third-party programs – Nattress, Amberfin, RevisionFX – may do an even better job.

If possible, standardize on 1080p. If that is not possible – and giving your HDV, it probably isn’t, then 720p is a solid second choice. Don’t edit interlaced, it will only lead you slowly and surely down the path to destruction – and a complete loss of self-respect.

All my work is 720p / 60. Then, I downsample to SD for DVD release.

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One Response to Finding A Better Workflow

  1. Mike "The Duke" Deluca says:

    Larry as always, I believe I cannot go wrong with a WORD you say! Unless you tell me to give up…lol.. I recommend all your FCP knowledge to any serious living being on this planet!

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