Christ, there are so many damn festival deadlines approaching/passing. The Sundance deadline was just a few weeks ago but recently there’s been the Berlinale, Slamdance, the Miami International Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival, SXSW and Tribeca. By the end of the month I’m looking to submit to the Cleveland International Film Festival, the Independent Film Festival of Boston, the Dallas International Film Festival, Rooftop Films, the Seattle International Film Festival, the Sarasota Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival.
Lucky for me, I have a locked cut of my film to submit.
Still, being the neurotic perfectionist that I am, I want to hold a few screening before proceeding with the sound edit/mix and color correction. Now, I could just screen my SD DVD but I shot high-def, I have a nice TV and a PS3, why the Hell shouldn’t I screen the best possible version I can? Really, what’s stopping me?
Well, nothing but time, technology and storage space.
Warning: I’m about to peg the geek/nerd/techie meter.
I shot my film with the Panasonic HVX200 so my footage is all 1080p/23.98 DVCproHD. I color corrected my locked, festival submission cut in After Effects with Colorista and Looks. So far, so good.
Now, the PS3 can handle H.264 but wants that in an MPEG-4 wrapper. That’s straightforward, right?
Yes… and no. After Effects won’t output a multi-pass codec so I needed to create an intermediary version. I went with ProRes. Why not the Animation codec or ProRes HQ? While those codecs deliver a higher quality image, the trade off in time is crippling. My After Effects ProRes output of a five reel film took 60 hours! ProRes HQ is roughly 20% larger than the vanilla ProRes I used, so that would have taken 72 hours. I couldn’t afford to tie up my computer for three full days. The Animation codec is lossless so God only knows how long that would have taken.
With my ProRes version in hand the next step was to create an H.264 version with AAC audio in Compressor. I think that took about a day, can’t really be sure because I farmed this work out to another computer; like I said, I have other work to complete, work that requires the use of my MacBook Pro.
After that it’s an easy passthrough in QTPro to wrap the file as MPEG-4 (thank you Stu for this tip).
Done. Next, I had to transfer the film to my PS3 and I’m done. Not quite. My film is about 30GB but I only have 20GB left on my PS3 HDD. Solution: buy a new HDD (thank God the PS3 makes swapping the HDD easy). After hours/days of research I learned that I needed to purchase a 2.5″ 5400rpm 500GB SATA II HDD with a 16MB cache. I found a nice Hitachi on Amazon and I’m golden.
Well, no. See, they send me a drive with a 8MB cache. I send the drive back but in the meantime I do a bit more research. It looks like no one makes a 2.5″ 5400rpm 500GB SATA II HDD with a 16MB cache. You either get a 5400rpm with an 8MB cache or a 7200rpm HDD with a 16MB cache. I’m thinking I really could use the 16MB cache in regards to the heft of my file’s data rate but boards suggest that some folk have had issues with the 7200rpm drives in their PS3s. Ugh. Fine, I’ll go with an 8MB cache HDD.
The new HDD arrives and I immediately make 2 backups of my PS3 HDD before swapping it out for my new one. I pray this will go without a hitch. It almost does. I had to have the PS3 OS on a USB stick in order to properly format my new 500GB HDD. I then restored my original PS3 files but that took close to 5 hours. Once I verified that all my files were restored and worked, it’s finally time to transfer my file to my PS3. I can’t use my 30GB USB stick (formatted, it’s less than 30GB and we’re all experienced that pain/agony) but I have some space on the external HDD I use to back up my PS3. I hook that drive up to my MBP and…
Failure?! Yup. See, the HDD I use to backup my PS3 is formatted FAT 32, which restricts file size to 4GB or less. What’s worse, the PS3 won’t recognize a drive formatted any other way. FUCK! How the hell am I supposed to move this 30GB H.264 file from a Mac formatted HDD to my PS3?
The answer is PS3 Media Server. It’s a Mac app that lets your PS3 browse your Mac for playable media. At first I was worried that I’d have to always stream the media but there’s a “Copy to PS3” function.
Did it work?
Hell yeah! My film transferred to my PS3, it plays in all its HD glory.
Now I need to organize a pair of screenings this weekend (all the while praying that work doesn’t ask me to come in Saturday or Sunday). Was this worth it? I think so but I’ll confirm after the screenings. Meanwhile, if you’re trying to do the same thing with your Mac/PS3, feel free to shoot me your questions.