Presently, to a lesser degree TV program producers are also opting for 24p HD post. Creative Group recently gained ESPN's EOE original entertainment division as a client; its producers shoot in a mix of 720p HD and 24p HD so Creative Group expects to see an increased demand for 24p HD finishing.
"As a high definition format, 24p is unique in that its frame rate is that of film, so its timecode presents some challenges," Castellano notes. "Most editors prefer to use their existing 30-frame [29.97] systems to edit their 24p footage, often requesting downconverts to a letterboxed, standard definition format such as Digital Betacam. When downconverted, 3/2 pulldown is added to get to a standard def frame rate, just as we have been doing with film for years. Some pitfalls exist when converting the 30 fps lists back to 24p for conforming.
"The biggest pitfall is a timecode problem introduced when shooting 24p in a drop-frame timecode mode or accidentally creating and editing from an ill-advised drop-frame downconvert from 24p camera-original footage," he continues. "Matching back to precise frame locations becomes compromised, creating a manual, eye-matching nightmare. Plainly put, drop-frame timecode should never be attached to 24p-originated material. I would actually like to see equipment manufacturers disable drop-frame timecode when 24p modes in cameras are switched on."
For producers who choose to offline at 30fps, Creative Group has had success using its Discreet Smoke's conversion scripts to convert 30fps lists back to 24fps, but the company still prefers to use its Sony HD-9100 for the process when it's available.
Castellano advises producers and editors to "be prudent when using speed ramps on their 24p footage while editing at 30fps. These effects are tricky to conform at times at 30fps. Add to that a list conversion, and you may create a very difficult conform."
He points out that "the tools which exist today in our HD Smoke/Flame suites, have definitely eased the workflow of multiformat projects in just a few years. Projects within Smoke can be switched between HD and SD rather easily, and HD and SD clips can reside together in the same Smoke library. Discreet tools also include the ability to scale multilayered DVE effects between HD and SD, as well as using lower-resolution proxies while creating complex HD effects, which can be viewed much faster than if actual HD was being manipulated."
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH HD EXPERTS
When self-described "film guy" Carlos Hernandez-Adan decided to shoot his new feature, Street Survival, in 24p HD and finish in the same format, he made the wise choice to tap the extensive HD experience of DP Jesus "Chuchi" Rivero and Buenos Aires-based editor Paul Rodriguez Groves. As a result, "the whole experience went pretty smoothly," says Hernandez-Adan. "I surrounded myself with people who know HD."
Hernandez-Adan, who heads Miami's Autumn Lightning Films (www.autumnlightningfilms.com/) shot Street Survival, an English-language action/adventure, in South Florida in 24 days. His first film, the martial arts-themed Mortal Contact, was distributed internationally and went to home video domestically. After taking note of the HD track record of Robert Rodriguez and other filmmakers, and reviewing the previous HD work of Chuchi Rivero, Hernandez-Adan decided to shoot his new feature on 24p HD. "I was able to shoot a lot faster, and it was fantastic to see what I shot right there on the set," he recalls.
Hernandez-Adan began to consider the post process during preproduction. He spoke to Leitch about using the company's VelocityHD editing system, and Leitch recommended veteran editor and longtime Leitch user Paul Rodriguez Groves who owns Argentina-based Irix Producciones (www.irixtv.com.ar/) a post house whose five edit suites include multiple VelocityQ and VelocityHD systems, as well as Avids.
Rodriguez has been posting primarily features and spots in 24p HD for more than two years. In a situation analogous to Canada, Argentina's favorable exchange rate against the US dollar has spurred an influx of production and post. "This has benefitted everyone in the industry, particularly those companies that have positioned themselves for HD," notes Rodriguez. "HD is in its birth state. Indeed, it has been a new experience for my company as well as for myself."
During the shoot, Hernandez-Adan and co-editor Carlos Torres-Fletcher captured SD footage on their laptops' - a Hypersonic and a Sony - 300GB exterior Maxtor hard drive (in addition to the HD original footage). Every night that material was dumped to an editing suite outfitted with an Adobe Premiere offline system. "These were steps I wasn't used to with film," says Hernandez-Adan. "We didn't have to recapture again until we went to HD when we recaptured only the footage we were going to use in the online."
Once production wrapped, Hernandez-Adan and Fletcher spent about five weeks on the rough cut. Then they gave their EDL to Rodriguez, now in Hernandez-Adan's Miami office, who began the online on VelocityHD. "The offline was a timesavings process as it assisted in the base selection of scenes for subsequent online editing, [but it] could have been a much smoother process had the EDL been in 24 [23.97] not 30 [29.97] frames," notes Rodriguez. Although a conversion software was used, "we encountered problems with the integrity of the conversion, [so] the EDL generation for batch capturing was not as efficient as we would have liked.
"Thanks to a 2.4TB dual storage device from Huge Systems we were able to edit in 10-bit uncompressed with excellent performance," he continues. "This was crucial for two reasons: the need to achieve the highest quality possible and the requirement for guaranteed, realtime performance during the editing process without any compromise. Reliable system performance was mandatory, not an option."
Hernandez-Adan was impressed by Rodriguez's ability to handle visual effects and titling in realtime with Eyeon's Digital Fusion and Inscriber's Title Motion HD running on the VelocityHD platform. "All of the sound as well as sound effects were edited directly with the VelocityHD," Rodriguez adds. "For color correction and signal test and measurement, we [employed] Videotek's VTM-450 multiformat HD/SD-SDI on-screen monitor."
Hernandez-Adan says, "a lot of credit goes to Paul for a smooth HD online. I really like the interface of VelocityHD; it's very simple. The process seemed very similar to an SD digital video online to me."
"The evolution of digital camera technology and the feasibility of 24p editing has given tremendous benefits to the industry as a whole," Rodriguez says. "[I think] 24p has changed the industry forever."