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D5-HD vs. DigiBeta (telecine workflow options)


Ben Hayflick
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Hi all, first time poster. I recently shot a short film on s16 7217 and now am entering post. I have a few questions about HD and telecine.

 

1. Is D5-HD a good HD format to finish to? I don't have infinite funds here, but I do have an affordable way to finish to D5-HD. Without doubling my budget, is this format my best HD option?

 

2. Can anyone recommend a place to get D5-HD tapes? I found www.cheaptapes.com, and they seem to have the best deals on the web. Has anyone bought from them, or can recommend somewhere else? And also, does the brand matter? Fuji or Panasonic?

 

3. Is there a difference between standard def D5 and D5-HD? Which are exactly the right ones to get? Are the tape formats/names a little confusing or is it me?

 

4. Finally, can anyone comment on why I'd want to have all my footage telecined to D5, DVCam EDL, and then finish with a tape-to-tape color correct (D5-HD to D5-HD), rather than going the somewhat less costly (and seemingly more reasonable) route of negative -> DigiBeta + DVCam, DVCam EDL, and do a SECOND supervised selects telecine from negative -> D5-HD, and finish on that?

 

Is there any creedence to the notion that the first scenario will give better results, because it will be a tape to tape color correct which occurs when the film is ALREADY ASSEMBLED (and thus the colorist/I can be more precise in the color correction session), versus the second scenario, in which it would be a supervised telecine of selects from the negative -> D5-HD?

 

To help unpack my own question for you guys, my thinking is that the only reason I'd want to have all my footage on D5, rather than all of my footage on DigiBeta, is if I wanted to recut the HD version of the film. In this case having all my footage on D5 would prevent me from having to do yet another telecine. But obviously I do not want to do my tweaking in the HD online room! Because Ouch. The only time I want to be dealing with HD is for one final assembly session (and possibly the color correction session), period, so this advantage to having all the footage on D5 seems somewhat unnecessary.

 

So then the only other argument I can think of for having everything put on D5 would be what I mentioned above; that a tape to tape color correct session would yield better aesthetic results than a supervised telecine of selects. But I realize this second argument is also somewhat flawed. Why? Because I could always do a tape to tape color correct session from the supervised telecine of selects, if that supervised telecine proves unsatisfactory. In effect, the choice is as follows:

 

Scenario #1

s16 negative -> D5-HD and DVCam (all footage) -> DVCam EDL -> D5-HD to D5-HD (color corrected) finish

 

- or -

 

Scenario #2

s16 negative -> DigiBeta and DVCam (all footage) -> DVCam EDL -> return to the s16 negative -> D5-HD supervised selects telecine -> if needed, D5-HD to D5-HD (color corrected) finish

 

In the end scenario #2 is considerably cheaper. Even with the extra tape to tape color correct it's still cheaper. But please disabuse me of any misconceptions/logical flaws I am having in any of the above, or if there are any other questions I should be asking at this phase!

 

thanks

ben h.

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HD-D5 has been a popular choice for mastering movies to HD. The only real competitors are HDCAM, which is worse, and the brand new HDCAM-SR, which is better but so new as to be difficult to know even which post houses are set-up to use it. I'd stick to HD-D5.

 

You may transfer selects from the negative to HD after offline editing in SD, but you will still need to conform them into an edited HD master and then do a tape-to-tape color-correction anyway. You can't really accurately color-correct the shots completely out of order unless there aren't that many shots to begin with. Whether this is cheaper than transferring all of your footage to HD right from the start all depends on the deal you get for HD telecine.

 

The other option is to edit the film in such a way as to allow the negative to be cut and answer printed, then create a Super-16 IP and telecine that to HD. Then you wouldn't have any HD online costs or additional tape-to-tape color-correction.

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You may transfer selects from the negative to HD after offline editing in SD, but you will still need to conform them into an edited HD master and then do a tape-to-tape color-correction anyway.

He should be able to use the SD edl to online his HD selects, right? You should be able to lay down the same time code for the HD transfer as the SD tranfser by starting it at the same punch hole of the role? Or is this not possible and a whole new HD edl is needed?

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No, a new EDL isn't needed, but if you pull selects from the camera rolls, then obviously they will be out of sequence until conformed -- I'm sure there must be some sort of auto conform system to do this, similar to an online session, following the EDL (but probably using keycode instead of time code as a basis?) Dominic or Mike Most?

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If you want to do the offline and online yourself in the simplest way I'd forget about Keycodes. Spirit can work happlily with timecodes so keycodes are one extra hassle unless you are scanning individual shots for FX purposes. Assuming your working at 24fps I'd recomend TK to DVCpro at 24fps, firewire this into your computer and do your offline. Then on Spirit re-TK the select takes onto HDCAM, D5 or SR with the same timecodes as your original TK (you'll end up with blank spaces on your tapes) reconform to your project from the new tapes and your good to go on your HD online.

 

Keith

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Costs savings aside the problem you run into is that you will want or need to do an HD tape-to-tape CC no matter what route you take. It is your mastering format so you really can't avoid it and it doesn't make sense to do so. Especially if effects and title sequences were created in HD resolution by someone at a post house who isn't sitting in on the editing. It's likely the director, editor or maybe you dialed in some CC in the offline and you wonder how the D5 compares. I find it convenient to just transfer everything to D5-HD and consider that your digital negative. They can simo roll the TK session to DVcam to save downconversion costs and time. Do an offline edit, then conform with titles and effects and tape-to-tape CC on the D5. In my experience the tape-to-tape CC hasn't been time consuming at all because most of the work was done in the original TK.

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No, a new EDL isn't needed, but if you pull selects from the camera rolls, then obviously they will be out of sequence until conformed -- I'm sure there must be some sort of auto conform system to do this, similar to an online session, following the EDL (but probably using keycode instead of time code as a basis?)  Dominic or Mike Most?

Thanks David. Interesting - so you mean it might be possible to effectively combine the second selects telecine and the assembly session? Or would the results still need fine tuning in an assembly session (this is my hunch - but the process you speak of would doubtless streamline the assembly session)?

 

Regarding Keycodes, I am having those added to the DVCam footage as well, in the event that I will want to cut the negative for a blowup sometime down the road. I figure it's a good thing to have on my working footage.

 

But plain and simple, besides the two original arguments I've put forth, would anyone recommend against my Scenario #2? What would I be missing by not having all my footage transferred to HD?

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Costs savings aside the problem you run into is that you will want or need to do an HD tape-to-tape CC no matter what route you take.  It is your mastering format so you really can't avoid it and it doesn't make sense to do so.  Especially if effects and title sequences were created in HD resolution by someone at a post house who isn't sitting in on the editing.  It's likely the director, editor or maybe you dialed in some CC in the offline and you wonder how the D5 compares.  I find it convenient to just transfer everything to D5-HD and consider that your digital negative.  They can simo roll the TK session to DVcam to save downconversion costs and time.  Do an offline edit, then conform with titles and effects and tape-to-tape CC on the D5.  In my experience the tape-to-tape CC hasn't been time consuming at all because most of the work was done in the original TK.

I just read this, thanks. But as I mentioned, even if I go with Scenario #2, which includes that final tape-to-tape CC session, I think it still comes out cheaper. And the end product would be identical (negative -> supervised selects telecine and HD-D5 assembly -> D5-HD to D5-HD final color correct).

 

How can I lose by going this route?

 

The other way ends up being more expensive, because of the relatively high cost of D5 stock, as well as the high cost of HD telecine.

 

They can simo roll the TK session to DVcam to save downconversion costs and time.

 

Really? I will look into this, maybe this will bring down the price enough to compete with Scenario #2.

 

In my experience the tape-to-tape CC hasn't been time consuming at all because most of the work was done in the original TK.

 

In the event I go with Scenario #2, which involves that supervised transfer of selects to HD, I agree with this statement; the tape-to-tape CC finish should take less time, because of the color correction work done during TK. But with Scenario #1, the one and only TK (to HD, of all my footage) would have to be a one-light/best light, so that would actually make Scenario #1's tape-to-tape CC finish work LONGER. Scenario #2 wins again, right?

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I've talked to two post houses about this and here's what they had to say:

 

1) You cannot use your SD edl unless you cut on an Avid. A program exists that can read the keycode and and re-assemble your new transfer. This however cannot be done with FCP.

 

2) A second alternative is to up-rez your SD dailies to HD and then re-transfer your HD session on top of this. Although in theory this would work, no one was crazy about doing it. They seemed to think the time spent fixing single (or multiple) frame errors in an online edit would offset any potential savings.

 

Basically the safest way to do it is telecine to HD with a Beta or DVcam simul/dub, selects if you like, and then re-edit it. Take this new edl and do an online edit and CC. It doesn't sound like this would save more time or money than simply transferring to HD from the beginning.

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It might just be that particular post house prefers Avid but I would think they could work with any EDL. If they couldn't I'm sure you could convert it into Avid format. EDL's are just a list of timecode, when you do the TK they will lay timecode down on the D5 and an exact match on the DVcam. There shouldn't be any problem "fixing...frame errors" unless you're talking about trying to match your EDL to a second TK in your scenario. That of course brings into play keycode.

 

However, I think some (or all, I don't know) telecine machines have the ability to roll live to a master timecode. If you laid down a master tape, you would start the timecode at the punch frame, then after an edit you could pull selects off of the OCN by rolling the telecine from the punch at the same timecode, just recording the selects. Thereby skipping keycode altogether.

 

If money is the deciding factor, you obviously go that route. I'm just wanting to point out that more often than not, in my experience, and HD tape-to-tape session gets done. It's just how you put the finishing touches on, to get the best final product. Like David says, in your second scenario the second TK will be out of sequence, actually I guess it could be in sequence with scenes on the same roll if you shuttled around but you don't have to, the colorist can get good matches with the frame store but you always want to make changes when you see the edits/shots side by side in the finished cut. Try searching the archive on this issue I know we discussed it last year and it seemed every possible route is taken by different people for different reasons. The one thing I will say you should do is shop around, if you have options look at all of them and don't pay retail.

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I'm sure there must be some sort of auto conform system to do this, similar to an online session, following the EDL (but probably using keycode instead of time code as a basis?)

Personally, I think a "retransfer selects" approach is insane for anything but a commercial, and even then, I question its value. You can't color correct properly without continuity, and you only have continuity when the piece is assembled.

 

The only tricky part of finishing via a tape to tape correction is the need to have your dailies transferred within acceptable bounds so that you have enough latitude to do what you want to do. Other than that, it's pretty straightforward and very efficient. Essentially every network television drama is done that way, and I think for the most part, network dramas look pretty darned good.

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Hi,

 

> Yes, but isn't this how Digital Intermediates are done? Initial transfer to SD for

> offline editing, generate an EDL, then scan selects at 2K or 4K, do a digital

> conforming session, and then a color-correction session?

 

In almost all circumstances with which I have been connected, yes.

 

I'm sure there would be variances on this in practice - if you were shooting a tight ratio, you could do transfers to D5-HD, then make downconversions for dailies and the offline, then go back to the D5 for the grade and you might save money - but that wouldn't be full 2K, and you're paying for HD transfers of everything you shoot, or at least every take you you "print."

 

Certainly it works as you described it with non-realtime film scanners - it more or less has to, since they're so slow.

 

> timecode... keykode

 

Keykode is frankly preferred, since it provides an explicit reference to each frame. Timecode is based on nothing more than a mark on the film indicating the start point and the possibility for error is... well, small, but much bigger than with keykode. Buy the film tools addon for FCP!

 

Phil

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Thanks everyone. A few new questions:

 

1. If I have a keycode burn in, but don't have a corresponding Ale/FLEX flie created, is the keycode still useful in the event that I want to cut the negative later on?

 

2. For a one-light, I was initially quoted 8-10 hours of transfer time for an MOS transfer of 4.5 hours of s16 footage. Does this sound right?

 

3. How much time should it add for a transfer of the same exact footage, but with sound from DATs synced to match the smart slate?

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Hi,

 

> 1. If I have a keycode burn in, but don't have a corresponding Ale/FLEX flie

> created, is the keycode still useful in the event that I want to cut the negative

> later on?

 

Yes, if you can find a neg cutter who is willing to work from your VHS tape. Even if he or she insists on having a neg cutting list, it's still a useful check.

 

> 2. For a one-light, I was initially quoted 8-10 hours of transfer time for an MOS

> transfer of 4.5 hours of s16 footage. Does this sound right?

 

Sounds quite fast actually.

 

Phil

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In the end scenario #2 is considerably cheaper

It depends mainly on the ratio of printed takes to the length of the final show. We routinely telecine circled takes only to HD, fast forwarding on the Spirit thru the B neg. Our ratios are probably in the 4:1 to maybe 10:1 range.

 

If you were doing a nature documentary where you have to burn film all day until the animal decides to do what you want, then an SD offline and re-transfer of selects might be worth doing. But for scripted storytelling, one session to HD rather than one each to SD and HD turns out to be more cost effective.

 

In either case, the right way to handle color correction is tape to tape in HD. Timing selects in telecine would be sort of like trying to make a jigsaw puzzle picture by cutting up the blank board, and then drawing the picture on the individual loose pieces.

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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Yes, but isn't this how Digital Intermediates are done? Initial transfer to SD for offline editing, generate an EDL, then scan selects at 2K or 4K, do a digital conforming session, and then a color-correction session?

Yes, but out of necessity.

 

Features are not television, and digital intermediate is not television post production. There is little difference in cost and no difference in time between transferring on a telecine to SD or HD. Tape stock costs are about the same, as well. So for television, it is economical and sensible to do an HD transfer of all dailies (print takes, in the case of most scripted productions), assemble from those sources, and tape to tape color correct for the final product. With digital intermediates, it is not practical (at the present time) to scan all print takes at the daily stage, so video is used as a substitute for editorial purposes. For the final finish, the scanning starts once the picture is locked (or close to locked), which keeps the cost and time factors for this step sensible. The final timing is still done from assembled material, which allows for continuity color correction as I previously mentioned.

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I have informed my post house as to what path to take.

 

I want to thank everyone for the input - this forum rocks!

 

One more (easy) question - in selecting DVCam tape stock, what is the difference between the tapes with a chip versus without? And between the more costly "Digital Mastering" kind versus the normal kind of DVCam?

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Hi,

 

> One more (easy) question - in selecting DVCam tape stock, what is the

> difference between the tapes with a chip versus without?

 

The memory chip is used for tape titles and various other proprietary Sony things to define and name clips. I've never felt a need for it.

 

> And between the more costly "Digital Mastering" kind versus the normal kind of

> DVCam?

 

No idea, but I would suspect very little...

 

Phil

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