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Final Cut Express 4 project to HD to Blu-Ray??

596 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Feb 6, 2013 7:07 PM by Alchroma RSS
rockstarbd82 Calculating status...
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Feb 5, 2013 12:16 PM

So long story short, I'm nearing the end of a sci fi fan film I'm making off of Final Cut Express 4 and am wanting to get the best results out of my final product on Blu-Ray if possible. Alot of what I'm going to say is going to seem "senseless" in a way but I had to do it this way for the fact that when I started working on it, I kinda started it wrong and didn't realize too late into it but also it helped save a ton of time/memory space in doing so (esp on my external harddrives).


ANYWAYS. I shoot on a Cannon Vixia H21 or whatever. Put all my files through my G-Drive Externals and Final Cut express. The final cut project is set at a 480 widescreen with the bars as I wanted it to have that look. I also work with FX Visionlab Studios as this project has a ton of visual effects i'm putting into each clip. I've learned through the process that exporting to animation (millions of colors) or using the HD clips (green/bluescreen composites mostly) along with the deinterlace feature within Visionlab has spared me alot of quality problems thus far. Moving on. For some of the trailers I've made, to counter the 480 to 1080 export problem, I found that stretching/distorting the clips up/down through final cut express helps bring back the aspect ratio for a better result after much experimentation. I usually, for my final export, use h.264 at 1920x1080 HD at the 29.97 frames per minute rate to .mov. When I burn them (through I DVD) on DVD-R's and play them back, they look pretty **** good through my plasma/ps3 (even though I know they probably would've looked better had I gone the full HD route with everything). I've already been looking into blu-ray burners for my MAC since mac as I've learned isn't very Blu-ray friendly and may have to get an external Blu-Ray Burner. Many have said that my HD files would look better on Blu-Ray than on the DVD-R's I use now. Now my actual questions are as follows. If I go with the settings that I've described above for my final HD exports, should they "theoretically" look better on a burnable Blu-Ray/BD-ROM than on the DVD-R? or would I need to go back to my export settings and tweak them further??

Final Cut Express 4, Mac OS X (10.5.8), FX Visionlab Studios
  • Alchroma Level 6 Level 6 (16,910 points)

    "The final cut project is set at a 480 widescreen with the bars as I wanted it to have that look"


    If this is an NTSC standard definition FCE Project, bluray will change nothing except your bank balance.


    You would have to shoot the original footage in HD and edit to an FCE HD Sequence, then you will gain the benifit's of bluray.



  • Alchroma Level 6 Level 6 (16,910 points)

    Bank balance means spending $$$ on software and hardware.



    Vision Lab project set for 480


    What does 480 refer to?


    Regarding DVD:

    A DVD (red ray) is always going to be Standard Definition even if you have a High Definition source file.

    A DVD authoring program such as iDVD will compress the file to conform it to the DVD standard of Mpeg 2.

    iDVD for does not care about the original file size but rather Timeline length, it can absorb around two hours.

    In short, DVD is always SD.


    However some software (Toast or FCP X) will allow burning of Bluray quality to a regular DVD disc, in this case the Timeline would be less than 20 mins or it won't fit. A bluray player is required to view the final result.


    For your one hour Timeline your only option is a Bluray burner with a Bluray disc.


    This is where the $$ comes in to get the necessary hardware and software.



  • Meg The Dog Level 6 Level 6 (9,385 points)

    At the point you downsize your frame from 1920x1080 to 640x480, you throw away all the pixel information not needed to display the 640x480 frame size - that was contained in the original file - regardless of codec.


    A 1920 x 1080 frame is approx. 2 Million pixels, a 640 x 480 frame is about 300K pixels - meaning you loose about 1,700,000 pixels/frame.


    When you then upscale that 640 x 480 back to 1920 x 1080, the software has to attempt to add pixels to make up those missing 1,700,000 pixels, and does so by replicating the existing pixels to "fill in the gaps". It does not refer to nor is it able to use the original HD media since it can only work from the downscaled image. It creates an "HD" image in the sense that is in compliance with HD frame size specifications, not HD image quality.


    The only advantage Blu-Ray can bring to this process is that the artifacts of your resizing process may be less highlighted in Blu-Ray as the codec Blu-Ray uses is a more modern codec than the MPEG an SD DVD uses.


    On the other hand, the lower quality SD DVD may mask some of this artifact.


    However, you have written:


    When I burn them (through I DVD) on DVD-R's and play them back, they look pretty **** good through my plasma/ps3


    So it is really in the eye of the beholder. You need to experiment and see what you are happy with.



  • Alchroma Level 6 Level 6 (16,910 points)

    I'll second MTGs advice by saying it's best to work with HD from start to end rather than shrinking it down and attempting to blow it back up in the work flow.


    Unfortunately, as you say, HD footage swallows large amount of drive space.

    That's why most of never buy a drive unless it holds Terabytes these days.




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