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My question(s) for you today regard the converting of videos from various cameras for use in Final Cut Pro 7. I have footage of the same event from different angles all shot on different cameras (Sony DV Handycam, Sony Hard Disk Handycam, Panasonic Hard Disk camera) that all shoot to different frame sizes, and, inconveniently, different frame rates.

My first question is (while I know FCP can handle different frame rates within a project by frame skipping, it is not advisable) how should I convert my footage so that they are all same frame rate? Should I convert the Panasonic (that shoots at 50fps) down to 24fps that the Sonys record to, or should I upconvert those two up to 50fps? Obviously I would like to lose as little quality as possible, what is the best plan of action when it comes to this?

My second question is regarding converting formats. I use Compressor, and am very impressed with it, but what common format should I convert the footage from the two hard disk camcorders to? The DV tape is captured into DV by FCP, but what should I use for the others? HDV, Prores, DV?

My third is to do with frame size and aspect ratios: one of the camcorders records to 16:9 1080p, how will that work alongside the 576x720 4:3 footage from the other camcorders on the timeline?

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3 Answers 3

The codec question is the easier one: use ProRes. It preserves quality very well and FCP likes to edit it.

As for what frame rates, image dimensions, etc. the general approach should be to go to the highest resolution of any of the originals so you aren't discarding any data. So, upconvert to 50 fps rather than downconvert to 24 fps. Similarly for image dimensions, conform to 1080p rather than 720p.

But I might moderate the advice above depending on what output format you are targeting. An alternative strategy is to conform everything to a format that more closely matches the output characteristics.

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Thank you for your response! How will upconverting to 1080p and 50fps affect quality on some of the lower resolution clips? And, likewise for conforming to a lower fps rate for final output, how would down-converting to 24fps (for example) affect the footage? Thanks again –  Ali Maxwell Dec 4 '11 at 22:52
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I have done this before a lot of times.

I don't prefer FCP to do that, I use Autodesk Combustion (or better), or After Effects to do ALL my conversion before start working.

Your question is all about: "What format/codec/media is the output of my video?"

So, I advice you to work in a HD timeline and upres low-resolution videos, even if the final product will be in SD format, and you have a extra work to go to SD resolution in the end of the job. This way you ensure best quality, in my opinion.

Question 1: Go to 50 fps. More frames, more area, more information, more quality.

Question 2: use Adobe After Effects(if you can't rent some Autodesk Station for this part of the job) to get best quality and control, not be impressed by well polished interface in Compression. But you can do there too as well, at your own risk.

Question 3: The 16:9 1080p footage will "work" alongside the 576x720 4:3 footage, as FCP auto-adjust the 1st to the 2nd. But I don't think this is the best way, so I advise small tests in After Effects, and playback in FCP to see if its all right, and then do the big job.

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Convert the 50fps down to 24fps. You cannot convert it the other way around, the data is simply not there. Actually, I think there is a way to do it, but it's pointless. Think about it. You have 24 frames a second. That's what you recorded - that's what you have. By converting it to 50fps you are essentially doubling the information, but gaining no quality.

As for codecs, Apple ProRes or DV work well in FCP. I use ProRes when I'm handling DSLR footage (which is originally .MOV h264) and I use DV when I import footage off a miniDV tape. (These two formats are the only two I have experience with.) To convert the footage I use mpeg streamclip. It's free and very good. I prefer it over Compressor.

For your last question, I'm not exactly sure how to go about it. I would need more information to give a specific answer. However, it sounds like you have some HD footage and some SD. Inevitably you will have to downres the HD if you want to cut it alongside the SD footage. For the aspect ratios you'll pretty much always want to go 16:9. You can get your 4:3 footage to 16:9 if it was shot anamorphic or if you letterbox it.

Hope that helps. I'm not an expert on any of this, just an amateur. The point I want to stress, mainly, is that converting from 24fps to 50fps is just wrong. The above two answers
have given you incorrect advice.

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