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Monthly Archives: July 2009

Since our adoption of Final Cut Pro in order to serve the widest variety of customers, we have come across a problem with P2 MXF DVCPRO HD from the Panasonic cameras. When importing the “rewrapped” .MOV files (Final Cut “rewraps” the MXF files into .MOV files) from Final Cut Pro into After Effects, the overbrights get clipped. However, when importing the original MXF files, After Effects CS3/4 is able to bring back the overbrights with a simple LEVELS or EXPOSURE adjustment.

We never had this problem when bringing our Sony Vegas or Premiere projects into AE because we were using the original media (Raylight for Vegas, Premiere has native P2 MXF DVC PRO HD support) so there was never any issue with transcoding or rewrapping. Final Cut Pro does not natively support P2 MXF, so you have to re-wrap the files using LOG AND TRANSFER.

I came across THIS ARTICLE which I think is rather important. Maintaining the OVERBRIGHTS is VERY important when it comes to color correction. Right now, we are working on two independent feature films, both of which we’ve been hired to do the COLOR CORRECTION / COLOR GRADING. Both of these films was shot digitally in HD – one on the F900 and one on the Panasonic HDX900/RED camera, and both films were edited in Final Cut Pro.

Overbrights are important to maintain because losing them means losing some DYNAMIC RANGE of the footage. Film is known to have more DYNAMIC RANGE than digital HD formats. This being so, when shooting digital, you want to maintain as much dynamic range as possible. This, of course, is subject to argument, as looks such as a heavy Bleach Bypass look will blow out the whites completely, thus causing a loss of detail in the highlights.

But if trying to maintain the overbrights in After Effects is important to you (and it should be), you’ll want to read the article linked to above.

Here’s a quick summary:

After Effects used to (Pre-CS3) rely on Quicktime’s (for the Mac) YUV to RGB conversion. YUV is what your NLE works in. In YUV formats, you can have values outside (above) the 255 RGB limit. When Quicktime converted from YUV to RGB, it clipped everything outside (above) the 255 region (above 255 is called OVERBRIGHT). Clipping these values eliminates a bit of dynamic range that otherwise could have been recovered from the image by a simple levels adjustment, exposure adjustment, curves adjustment, etc.

Now, in CS3 and CS4, Adobe implemented MEDIA CORE, a “shared media space that allows them to more easily translate and exchange material between different platforms — such as Premiere and AE or Windows and Mac.” MEDIA CORE probably was created when Adobe decided to make the DYNAMIC LINK feature for all their apps, but I’m not sure. Either way, MEDIA CORE now handles the conversion from YUV to RGB.

This means that the overbrights are now brought in, and if you change the project to 16-bit or 32-bit color, they can be recovered.

Of course, there has to be a catch…

Only 5 codecs are supported by the Media Core translation. These 5 codecs are:

v210: 10 bit YCbCr 4:2:2 (Apple Uncompressed 10-bit, Blackmagic/AJA compatible)
2vuy: 8 bit YCbCr 4:2:2 (Apple Uncompressed 8-bit, Blackmagic/AJA compatible)
UYVY: Microsoft 8-bit YUV 4:2:2
dvc: DV Codec
dvcp: DVCPro Codec

Now, I’m not 100% sure if Adobe added more codecs to this list since all the CS3 updates and the release of CS4. If anyone knows, please email me, as I’d love to share the information with everyone.

One thing I will say is that since Adobe added support for P2 MXF DVCPRO HD, and the overbrights are maintained in this format, DVCPRO HD may have been added to the list of supported codecs. Don’t quote me on this one, as I’m just guessing here.

So to wrap this up, this is an explanation for the mysterious clipping that occurs when working with P2 media in FCP and After Effects. Keep this in mind when choosing a workflow and take the necessary steps (reconforming, using the right codec, etc) to maintain the the best picture quality possible.

For samples of color correction work we’ve done, check out the FILM AND COMMERCIAL REEL section at http://www.triple-e-productions.net


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