Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Caldera grading, Apple Color, and framerates

I'm very happy to report that we've begun color grading on the new short Caldera. It's a real treat to be finessing it at this level, as each shot is absolutely gorgeous. Let me share a still before I get to the geekier point of this post.

Now, Caldera is natively a 24fps production, however, when we dragged our Apple Prores 4444 QT clips into Color it locked the project framerate to 23.98 for no apparent reason. The number appears in what looks like an editable value box, but you just can't edit the value. Of course this throws a wrench into our pipeline, which involves grading and then reconnecting to the graded .mov files inside FCP. FCP doesn't like it (properly so) when the key properties of a .mov file (rate, duration, etc.) change after a reconnect, so it is very unhappy when I try to swap a 23.98 file for a clip it's expecting to be at 24.

What a pain. Luckily, some simple hackery seems to have fixed it. The actual Color project is itself a folder, and one of the items therein is an XML file (in our case, called "calderaGrade.pdl"). The top of the file looks something like this (note I had to paste an image because I can't figure out how to get the XML tags to pass through blogger... sorry!):

A screengrab showing the XML tags in one of Apple Color's pdl files. Note that the framerate in this image has already been changed from 23.98 to 24 fps.
As you might guess, changing the tag to 24 and restarting (AND rerendering) seems to make 24fps files just as we hoped. Phew. This narrowly averted my having to take the movies through an extra Compressor pass like I had to do on The Incident at Tower 37 (see here for some of the gory details of that conforming process).

More to come as we push the film through these last phases of production!