Camera Review and Cinema Tools

December 23, 2002

Working with the Panasonic AG-DVX100, Final Cut Pro and
Cinema Tools

by Andrew M. Lau

With the release of the Panasonic AG-DVX100, independent filmmakers have a DV camera that can acquire footage at 24 frames per second, the same as a film camera. This ability allows film prints of AG-DVX100 footage to match frame for frame and preserve the filmmaker's original vision. While the current versions of Final Cut Pro and Cinema Tools don't offer full support of the AG-DVX100, the current versions of software can be used to edit footage from the camera at 24fps.

AG-DVX100 24p Overview
The AG-DVX100 can shoot video in two 24fps modes: 24p Mode (2:3 pulldown) and 24p Mode Advance (2:3:3:2 pulldown). In either mode, the video is written to the DV tape in regular 29.97 NTSC video with the 24 frames being pulled down using one of the two pulldown cadences.
The camera offers the filmmaker flexible delivery options. The video can be:

  • Broadcast in regular NTSC at 29.97fps
  • Printed to film at 24fps by removing the pulldown fields before
    striking a print
  • Upconverted to 24p high definition

In all these cases, the filmmaker will be delivering a 29.97fps NTSC tape
with pulldown.

Final Cut Pro, Cinema Tools and AG-DVX100 Interim Workflow
When working with Final Cut Pro, Cinema Tools, and the AG-DVX100 the
filmmaker should shoot and edit in 24fps. While it doesn't matter which pull down cadence is used, shooting in the Advance mode will make these procedures easier to perform. When delivering the finished video, the goal is to deliver 24fps footage pulled down to 29.97fps.

The steps to working with AG-DVX100 footage, in general, are:

1. Acquire footage in either 24p mode.
2. Capture clips in Final Cut Pro as regular DV-NTSC.
3. Use Cinema Tools to remove the pulldown fields from each clip.
4. Create a 23.98fps project, import the processed clips into it, and edit.
5. Export the completed project as a Final Cut Pro movie.
6. Add the pull down fields back into the movie using After Effects or Cleaner.
7. Reimport the movie back into Final Cut Pro and output the movie to tape.

Workflow Details: Acquiring Footage
Pulldown Patterns
The AG-DVX100 can acquire footage in 24p with either a 2:3 or 2:3:3:2 (Advance) pulldown pattern. The representation of the 2:3 pattern is AA:BB:BC:CD:DD. The representation of the 2:3:3:2 pattern is AA:BB:BC:CC:DD. AA represents the A frame, or the start of a pulldown pattern. The BC and CD frames will show interlaced fields on an NTSC monitor.

In a normal film-to-video telecine process using a 3:2 pattern, the A frame of the telecine pattern is located at a video frame with a timecode ending in 0 or 5.

However, because the camera does write to tape as standard 29.97fps NTSC video, both Final Cut Pro and Cinema Tools can work with the footage as if it were regular DV video.

Shooting with a slate or clapstick will make the work of capturing the clips later on much easier.

Shooting to Ensure Post Production Success
During normal operation of the AG-DVX100, video is written to the DV tape with a stream of unbroken timecode using the Record Run and Regen features on the camera. The A frame of the pulldown pattern will end up on 0 and 5 timecode when these features are turned on.

However, it is possible to start recording so the pulldown pattern starts on a
frame other than 0 or 5. This makes it tedious to apply a reverse telecine to all the clips because it will have to be applied on each individual clip instead of in a batch. It is also possible to record so that the timecode on the tape is not continuous and contiguous.

With these facts in mind, follow these recommendations:

  • Black and stripe each tape with timecode using Edit to Tape in Final Cut Pro
  • Turn the Record Run and Regen features on in the AG-DVX100
  • While shooting, after calling "cut," let the tape run a few seconds to
    provide a buffer
  • When reviewing footage during a shoot, start recording again in the
    buffer you've created (this will allow the pulldown pattern to start on a 0 or 5 frame again)

Workflow Details: Capturing Clips
Use Final Cut Pro to log each clip starting at the slate or clapstick and batch capture the clips for later processing in Cinema Tools.

Ensure the A frames fall on 0 and 5 frames on each clip. Do this by viewing the video on an NTSC monitor. Position the video at a 0 or 5 frame and advance two frames and ensure the displayed video now has visible interlaced fields (this is a BC frame in either pulldown pattern). If this is the case, then the A frames are on 0 and 5. Mark the in and out points as usual.

If you have clips that do not have A frames on 0 and 5, make a note of the clip name. Reverse telecine for these clips will have to be done on a clip-by-clip basis.

Batch capture all the clips when logging is completed.

Workflow Details: Removing the Pulldown Fields in Cinema Tools

Batch Processing Clips Whose A Frames Are on 0 and 5 Frames

1. Locate the folder with the clips to process.
2. Move any clips that do not have the A frames on 0 and 5 to another folder.
3. In Cinema Tools, choose the File->Batch Reverse Telecine menu item and choose a movie file in the folder containing the clips.
4. In the dialog box, choose F1-F2, conform to 23.98, and check the Keep Original and Standard upper/lower check boxes. (This will make new 24fps QuickTime files.)
5. Click OK to process the clip.

Manual Processing of Clips Whose A Frames Are NOT on 0 and 5 Frames

1. In Cinema Tools, open a captured clip.
2. Identify the A frame by stepping through the clip and finding the first interlaced frame. (In the 24p pattern, there are two interlaced frames. In the Advance pattern, there is only one.) Step backwards two frames. This is the A frame.
3. Click the Reverse Telecine button.
4. Set the capture mode to F1-only if the footage was shot in Advance mode and F1-F2 if it was shot in 24p mode.
5. If you are in F1-only mode, choose the "Same File (faster)" option if you don't need to have an unprocessed backup file.
6. Click the radio button for the A frame.
7. Set the conform frame rate to 23.98.
8. Click OK to process the clip.

Workflow Details: Importing the Processed Clips
Once all the clips have been processed, create a new 23.98 project in Final Cut Pro and import the clips. Edit as usual.

Workflow Details: Inserting Pulldown Fields for Delivery
Once the movie has been edited, export a self-contained Final Cut Pro movie and import that movie into Adobe After Effects or discreet Cleaner. In After Effects, open the Make Movie dialog box and the Render Queue will display. Change the render settings to introduce 3:2 pulldown. Ensure the movie is rendered using the DV/DVCPRO NTSC compressor. (Consult the After Effects documentation for more details.)

In Cleaner, process the file to use the DV/DVCPRO NTSC codec, uncompressed audio, and turn on the Telecine option. (Consult the Cleaner 6 documentation for more details.)

Workflow Details: Delivery
In Final Cut Pro, import the rendered movie into a DV-NTSC sequence and
output the resulting movie to tape. Because the pulldown introduced in After
Effects is in a standard pattern, a post production facility should be able to
prepare the video easily for a film printer or for upconversion to 24p high

copyright © Andrew M Lau 2002

Andrew M. Lau is a freelance editor and FCP and Film Logic/Cinema Tools fan working mostly in Industrial films. He rented the DVX100 to see if it might be right for his first DV feature.


This article was originally published at LAFCPUG and is reprinted here with permission.
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