News for May 2008

Vimeo is YouTube for HD…

YouTube is an awful website. It’s low-rez, the compression is horrendous, and the interface is badly designed. However, it’s popularity is undeniable.

Website Vimeo… seems to offer all the features of YouTube but with improved resolution and picture quality, ideal for anyone with HD footage to show off.

There are a couple of catches: “HD” is limited to 720p (1280×720 pixels) and you can only upload 500MB of video per week.

Gone in a Flash – HD from Chris Crutchfield on Vimeo.

Posted: May 12th, 2008
Categories: Tools
Tags: , ,
Comments: No comments

Final Cut Pro Batch List Specification…

As far as I can tell, there is no “formal” (nor informal, for that matter) specification for a Final Cut Pro Batch List anywhere, despite being in regular use (this is unfortunately the case for several file types in regular use in post-production). FCP’s manual provides a few hints, but nothing completely definitive.

So here goes:

  1. The first line of the batch file must contain the headings of the relevant fields, separated by tabs. These must be named precisely (see below for possible field headings).
  2. The fields “Name”, “Media Start”, “Media End” and “Reel” are required.
  3. The information for clips must be provided on one line per clip.
  4. Folders in a project are defined on a line by starting with an asterisk (*), a space, and the folder name (e.g. “* AAA_cut_aways”). All clips listed after that label will be placed are in that folder. Strangely though, FCP seems to ignore these labels when importing a batch list.
  5. The file must be plain text.

As of Final Cut Pro 6.0.3, any of the following field headings can be used:

  • Name
  • Duration
  • In
  • Out
  • Media Start
  • Media End
  • Tracks – must be in the form “1V,2A” (for 1 video track and 2 audio tracks in this case)
  • Good – “Yes”/”No”
  • Log Note
  • Label
  • Label 2
  • Audio
  • Frame Size – must be in the form “pixel_width x pixel_height” (e.g. “1920 x 1080”)
  • Vid Rate – must be in the form “25 fps”
  • Compressor
  • Data Rate – must be in the form “2048/sec”
  • Aud Rate – must be in the form “96.0 KHz”
  • Aud Format
  • Alpha
  • Reverse Alpha – “Yes”/”No”
  • Composite
  • Pixel Aspect
  • Anamorphic – “Yes”/”No”
  • Field Dominance – “Upper (Odd)” or “Lower (Even)”
  • Description
  • Scene
  • Shot/Take
  • Angle
  • Reel
  • Master Comment 1
  • Master Comment 2
  • Comment 1
  • Comment 2
  • Master Clip – “Yes”/”No”
  • Offline – “Yes”/”No”
  • Last Modified – Must be in the form “Tue, Mar 4, 2008, 17:19”
  • Film Safe – “Yes”/”No”

Other things to note:

  • Although many people are under the impression that right-clicking on a sequence and choosing Export->Batch List will produce a list that only contains clips used in the selected sequence, this is actually not the case. Exported batch lists will always contain all clips in the project. UPDATE (25/August/09): See the comment by Josh below…
  • Exporting a batch list from FCP will only export field data for columns that are visible in the project. So if you have the “Master Comment 1” column hidden, that data won’t get exported.
  • The frame rate gets determined by the project that the list is imported into, and is not specified in the list directly.

UPDATE (07/April/09): It was brought to my attention that there is an issue with manually creating text files for Batch Lists. It seems that yet another requirement of the Batch List is that every line must be terminated by ASCII character 13 (rather than ASCII character 10). Not doing so will produce the error that one or more headings are invalid.

I have created an AppleScript that will convert files that are producing this error.

Batch List Text Conversion AppleScript

Posted: May 9th, 2008
Categories: Articles
Tags: ,
Comments: 11 comments

Film is superior to digital. Isn’t it?…

Dreamworks is divided over the rollout of digital cinema, according to Variety…

Katzenberg says it’s not happening fast enough, whilst Spielberg is arguing that digital projection is inferior to 35mm film (for anything originating on film), and doesn’t want the latest Indiana Jones movie projected on digital screens.

But they’re both wrong:

On one hand, digital cinema just doesn’t offer any clear advantage to the consumer over film, which makes it difficult to build a case for adoption. But then on the other hand, film doesn’t really offer any clear advantage to the consumer in terms of quality over digital, even when you factor colour space conversion and digitisation. Sure there’s a loss from going from 35mm to digital in terms of colour, dynamic range, and resolution. But that also happens to some extent going from 1st generation film prints to 3rd, 4th and so on generations. There’s also the “second-hand” generation loss that we experience in the UK, where film that has been run through US projectors thousands of times then get debut screenings over here, covered in all manner of dust and scratches.

And as for the resolution and clarity issues, much like David Pogue once pointed out… no-one can really tell the difference anyway.

Posted: May 6th, 2008
Categories: News
Comments: 1 comment