Field Dominance & Stills – June 14th, 2009

I just wrapped a gig and had the strangest issue pop up. I’m gonna share in the hopes that someone out there might be able to shed some light.

The gig: I was hired to edit a Spanish language medical video. The project was shot on the HVX200,1080i, 29.97 fps. I was using the latest version of Final Cut Pro (FCP). As the edit progressed, I was also given some animations (HD QT), layered Photoshop images, TIFF drop-ins to replace corrupted frames and 4K JPG stills from a DSLR. The final delivery was a high-quality SD DVD for client approval and then a native (1080 DVCproHD) QT to be sent to the DVD replication house.

Everything worked wonderfully until I started doing some minor color correction with Colorista. At this point I learned that my new favorite plugin (which I like much more than FCP’s 3-Way Color Corrector) is GPU based and as I’m editing on a 2.33 GHz MacBook Pro with 3GB RAM, the plugin can’t handle 4K JPG stills.

Okay, a minor setback but I had a solution. I only had two sequences of stills, one to open the industrial and one to close it.  Solution: why don’t I export each sequence of stills as a native DVCproHD QT. I’ll then re-import these two QT clips into my project, apply Colorista, export and I’m golden.

Not quite. I first noticed a problem after I exported my final edit (the full industrial with the two 4K JPG stills sequences transcoded to DVCproHD) via Compressor for DVD Studio Pro (DVDSP). The “closing” QT stills clip wound up looking like this:

bad-pp

Here I should note that 1) the rest of the industrial looked perfect and 2) both 4K JPG still sequences were exported with the exact same settings:

sequence-settings.png

These settings matched the original DVCproHD sequence settings perfectly, but I only had issues with one of the QT stills clips, not both. Also, the problem only cropped up when exporting from FCP. The entire industrial looked great in FCP.

Time to trouble shoot.  First I thought it must be Colorista. I removed the plugin, exported the corruption-prone section of my final edit to QT but the resulting clip still had the same problem.  I went back to the original 4K JPG stills sequence and tried exporting another DVCproHD QT with the hope that it was a one-off issue.  Nope.  I tried different export settings but still had the exact same stumbling block.

Again, I went back to my original 4K JPG stills. As the problem looked like a field dominance issue, I tried exporting another DVCproHD QT movie with one exception–I set the field dominance to “none”:

sequence-settings-fdn.png

I then imported this closing QT stills clip with the field dominance set to “none” into my final edit project and something weird happened. The QT stills clip suddenly had its field dominance set to “upper” (which is what the HD video was set to):

item-properties-whl.png

Okay, I started to freak out but my inner empiricist convinced me to follow through with my experiment. I applied Colorista to this new QT stills clip and exported the entire final edit to a native DVCproHD QT. Bingo, it worked:

good-pp.png

I then sent the sequence to DVD SP via Compressor and that worked too.

Why? I have no idea. Do you?

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