11 June 2008

Over Cranked... DV?!

Today while reading over some theories of how to produce good looking slow motion (most of the posts were from before the advent of P2 and SxS formats) I found that many people had been using filters and proprietary (read: expensive) means of transcoding footage in an attempt to gain acceptable results. Now don't read me incorrectly, I love Twixtor; it's a fantastic product, if you have bundles of cash sitting around. Most of these products require long render times, which is frustrating. Equally frustrating, whether you're dealing with Avid or Final Cut, is the joke they refer to as motion control / duration. Although, as you will see these features become important later on, they are used solely for scratch.

The more interesting articles I found involved the use of transcoding footage (in the particular article involved using Apple Compressor to make the footage DVC Pro 720p, 59.97) and then using a conforming software (Cinema Tools). So imagine taking a clip running at 60 frames per second and playing it back at 24 or 30. Poof. Slow motion right?

Sure, why not.

With my skepticle hat on I loading in some 29.97 DV footage into FCP (my reasons for choosing FCP will appear in another article), and did the follow:

  1. File - Export - "Using Quick Time Conversion"
  2. Set the output compression as DV NTSC - Anamorphic (same size / dimensions as the native footage)
  3. Changed the frame rate to 59.97 and exported the clip with a new name
    (clip A3_01.mov now saved as A3_01b.mov)
The export itself was about a 1:3 wait time on my dual 2.0gig G5. So imagine what you people who have an editing station newer than 6 years can do!

Now we have a 59.97 clip of my original. For this particular project I've been working on we're going to be cutting in a 29.97 environment. So, going into Cinema tools, I added the clip to a new database I created and conformed it to 29.97. The result, a 50% slow down!

To top this, we can now record the slow-motion clip to tape for backup. Wow, who would have thought, my good-ol' XL-1s can now shoot "over-cranked" footage!

I was stunned at how good it looked. Having seen a lot of slow motion done poorly, this process really held up, particularly when combined with a little motion blur filter here and there. I now use the duration feature for scratch speeds and to tweak the 50% slow down.

Now, shooting without a fancy solid state camera can't be an excuse not to use some fun motion effects.

Go forth, peasant, and acquire slow motion!

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