Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Deadline: Thanksgiving

We're targeting Thanksgiving for completion of this beast. To get there, the production effort continues this term in a number of ways.

First, there's a team of three working to fix the high-priority CBBs and color-correct the show. This includes returning to Maya for some lighting and animation changes, but also a lot of post work like sky painting, tracking out problems, adding flourishes here and there, etc.

One of the issues facing this team is that up to now we've worked entirely with H.264 files for everything. Now that we're building what is the truly final picture cut, we need something lossless. I dug a bit, hoping for some progress since I used the QuickTime Animation codec on Catch for this same output phase, but it doesn't look like there have been many advances in lossless encoding. I'm going for now with the QuickTime PNG codec for editing in Final Cut. If anyone has suggestions of a better route, I'm all ears.

Anyway, what this codec thing means is that every shot needs to be, at the very least, re-collated into a lossless movie. That's easy using the HELGA system, but then I have to drop in the new movies on top of the H.264 movies in FCP. Short of copying over the old movies, does anyone know of a great way in FCP to bulk-replace a bunch of clips with a bunch of other clips?

Here's a shot that's been transformed by the CBB effort:


The custom sky and color tweaks finally give this composition a bit more of the vastness the shot always needed. And now the colors of the tower and the office match the surrounding shots, too.

Another line of effort surrounds music and sound. I recently heard Evan's latest which now includes live cello, guitar, and piano, and I'm very excited about the direction the soundtrack is going. The difference between the live recordings and the sampled/synthesized instruments is phenomenal. Also, we have a Foley recording session scheduled at Hampshire on October 10th which should be fun and allow us to flesh out the audioscape quite nicely. I believe we'll be open to (quiet) visitors - contact me if you'd like to come by.

Finally, producer Daniel is preparing for festival submissions from his new location out on the West Coast.

That's all for now!

1 comment:

Schuyler Thorne Kelly said...

Hey Chris,

As far as lossless editing in FCP goes, Apple ProRes 422 HQ is what I used for all my animation on Hourglass. I converted Targa image sequences to ProRes HQ without any visual loss in quality. Filesize is roughly 1 GB/minute. Apple likes to say that ProRes is "visually lossless." I'm not sure what is lost; it's hard to tell.

Here's the whitepaper: http://images.apple.com/finalcutstudio/resources/white_papers/L342568A_ProRes_WP.pdf

DCT codecs such as H.264 and ProRes are based on decade-old MPEG technology. From what I've read wavelet technology is much better. The Dirac codec developed by the BBC and the open source community is the most exciting of these. Currently it "works" in FCP, though it's unusable due to unoptimized playback. Here are some links:

http://www.schleef.org/blog/
http://diracvideo.org/

I suspect that the Schrodinger implementation of Dirac will work in FCP within the year, but it sounds like that may be too late for your show.

Hope that helps,
Schuyler