Looks like there are lots of ways to do this - several codecs to choose from. Any preferred output formats from DF you all like?

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I never do that. I open the images in another program, re-size them and do any rig removal or effects, then export a QT for that shot. Then all the shots go into Final Cut Pro 6 for editing and adding sound, before I export a QT.
I use Uncompressed 24 bit (8 bits per channel) HD for my master copy, and X264 (a form of H264 that doesn't make the images look pale and washed out) for uploading to youtube or vimeo. So I don't know what option you have for exporting directly from Dragonframe.

Thanks Nick - I'll give that shot and report back with any related issues.

Is there a particular reason you avoid exporting a movie out of DF in lieu of opening them as an image sequence in QT?

There are things I want to do to the footage before I export it.
On a film I did some animating on, the director did export a small preview version from Dragon (previous version of dragonframe) as soon as the shot was finished. But there was a problem getting the size right, I would specify 1024 x 576 pixels (Pal widescreen) but it might come out at 1026 x 577 or some other slight variation. Often QT Pro would crash when I tried to open them. So I opened them in TV Paint, adjusted the size and exported a new version, then they were ok.
I haven't tried exporting with Dragonframe on my Mac, because I usually animate with Stop Motion Pro on an old PC. I dragged the Mac to the studio to shoot Raw images for someone else, but I had a lot of rig removal, compositing, and cropping to do before I sent a preview of the shots to the director. Then I sent the full res raw files, so no exporting from dragonframe.

Gotcha - I used the method you described: open the hi-res images in QT as an image sequence, and save that movie file out for import into Final Cut. It works well - now I just need to figure out how to change my aspect ratio to 16:9 in Final Cut...

Thanks for your help!

I don't know if you can in Final Cut.  I think it's really geared towards working with standard video resolutions, not odd-sized 3:2 DSLR images (could be wrong).  I re-size in TV Paint, and I think After Effects could do it.  Photoshop can, on individual images.  

Or, if I want a post-production camera move,  I do it in Lightwave 3d by mapping the whole image onto a 3:2 rectangle, and setting the virtual camera to 1920 x 1080 and doing a pan or zoom.  It only saves whatever the camera sees.  But that's because I have that program for other things, you wouldn't buy it for that.

But Dragon (-frame) did crop and re-size to 16:9 to save those preview movies,  so it may be worth persevering.

I've been trying various workflows out in my tests, and didn't have great results exporting a QT movie from Dragonframe. So this is what I'm doing now: Export cr2 image sequence at full size with no mask (into X1 folder). This produces huge files, but allows for cropping and resizing. Then open the image sequence in either Photoshop or After Effects, which puts them into a Camera Raw processing window. Cropping and developing the images can be done here, using the sync button to make changes to all frames, rather like Lightroom. The crop tool can be adjusted to give 16:9, and I can choose exactly which bit of the big image I want. At the bottom of the image is a description of the pixel numbers and some other stuff. I click on that to open an export dialog box,  give a size from the options that is a bit bigger than 1920 x 1080, and choose export as a tif sequence. I press 'save', which then takes some time to process the sequence. When it's finished I don't press 'open', just 'done', because the images are not actually going into Photoshop.

Then I open the cropped and resized image sequence in After Effects, shrink it down to fit a 1920 x 1080 comp, add any effects, which could include a camera move if the image sequence was saved at a higher resolution, then render the comp into a QT file. I'm using the Animation codec, because I don't know anything about the different codecs, although I did read about Apple ProRes having better colour.

Then the .mov file can be imported into the editing suite, in my case Premiere Pro. Finally the whole scene gets rendered again for export. I don't know if going through 2 iterations of rendering into QT degrades the image a lot - haven't got that far.

I can also import the image sequence into PrPro. One I imported was at 2600 x 1400 or something, so I scaled it to fit the frame. Comparing the rendered import with the image sequence suggested a bit more detail on the latter. But if I am applying effects I can't move a comp out of AE and keep the effects unless I render it. So it seems to me that one should probably try to be consistent where possible and render all cropped images into .mov files before editing. That way, if there is some image loss, it happens right across the piece.

Playback in QT does seem to wash out the colours. I don't know if this is just the playback or whether they get rendered like that. Opening in the editor shows no colour loss, so I suspect the latter.

I hope this helps. I am only just starting out and have been struggling with learning AE and PrPro for the last few months. I ran this workflow past another filmmaker and he seemed to think it was fine. His best comment was that everyone finds it frustrating! Good luck!

 

 

Thanks Simon - I'm just getting into the thick of my shooting now, so any info helps. I've gotten my first big scene shot, and have been trying to work out the kinks with my workflow. Ultimately, whatever I figure out is going to have to be done to all 10 minutes of footage, so it's best to figure this stuff out as early as possible to help streamline my process.

I'll give the image sequence export option a try next. I like the idea of being able to apply a crop to all images at once, rather than one at a time for each of the 14K+ shots I'll likely have when this thing is done.

Have a look at an earlier thread I started, called Frame Rates, Exporting and Workflow. There is some great advice in there from the experts (not me!), and a link to Strider's excellent tutorial on using Lightroom to 'develop' your images all in a batch. This program seems to be a more user-friendly version of the Camera Raw box that pops up in AE and Photoshop. All of them will apply crops and lots of colour fiddling to every frame in a batch. Just look for the Sync button. 

I am in the same position as you, although I haven't got the first scene shot yet. I've just been fiddling around with odd shots and tests (for my pasty-throwing scene). I reckoned that I needed to get the whole workflow sorted out before I even started on something serious. 

One little tip (probably blindingly obvious to everyone except the terminally untidy like me) is to sort out folders in advance where you are going to put everything, otherwise retrieving becomes a nightmare. I have got an external 2TB HD with separate folders for all the scenes, then subdivided into folders like audio inputs, image sources, projects, output movies, stills. Whatever works for you. I've just done it for my project and it has transformed my efficiency! I got this from a great book called 'An editor's guide to Premiere Pro', which does a lot more than just tell you how the buttons work.

I make folders as I go, but I have a system. I start with a project folder, and in that is a folder for originals, and one for HD.
As soon as I have re- sized and fixed up the shot in TV Paint, it goes into a folder like A-ExtHouse in the HD folder, and the frames are called A-ext0001 and so on. (I can't use numbers for shots, TVP thinks that the first numeral in a name is part of the frame numbering.) When i reach Z I will have to call them ZA, ZB etc. This way they stay in the right order, but they also have a name to remind me what they are.
At the moment I am loading each shot into AE for colour grading, because what looks fine, even a little bright in the cinematography window of Dragonframe, is coming out too dark. I have to lift the shadows a bit, and reduce the saturation for the look I want. AE outputs a Lossless QT mov file, a bit big but should not get degraded by saving it several times. For the shot i am processing today, I had to do the colour grade on the full size image Which is 3888 pixels wide, so I can do some zooming in, so at 270 frames it's huge and slowing the computer right down.

Thanks, Nick, it's good to know I am on roughly the right track! When you are colour grading, is that on the image sequence imported into AE? Is it necessary to have access to a calibrated monitor to get the grading just right? I was given a tip that apparently the old Sony Trinitron widescreen tube TV is almost as good as a calibrated industry one...

I had a couple of thoughts - one was to try to export RAW files from Dragonframe at a smaller size - but it won't do that. And the Canon 600D only takes RAW at 5184 x 3xxx, ideal for showing in the local IMAX cinema!

So unless you are happy with a JPEG or TIF, which can be scaled down before export but can't be fiddled around with as much, the sequence has to come out at humongous size.

Which leads to the second thought. I have just heard from another filmmaker (not stop-mo) whose hard drive has died. She has lost 2 years' worth of data, including a lot of film footage. A friend told me that HDs have a maximum lifespan of about seven years, and he recommended storing everything on two separate external HDs. (My Mac is about 5 years old...). I have bought a Seagate 2TB Firewire 800 HD. It's called Go-Flex, and has two sockets, so I have piggy-backed a Seagate 1TB HD onto it, which I am using for duplicates. It seems a bit belt-and-braces, but the alternative would be too awful to contemplate. The HDs seem to be selling for half their original price just now.

I've also just figured out the importance of being well-organized. I don't have my process really dialed in yet, but I'll definitely be starting on my next scene better prepared with my folder structures.

Unfortunately, I don't have any experience with the color grading, so I'll probably have to start thinking about that soon as well. I haven't worked w/ AE much - when you color grade there, are you able to do it to a full scene, or does it have to be done one cut at a time and then, those cuts edited together later?

So much to learn...

May I add one more comment to the whole "get organized" sub-thread? 

Make sure you document your organizational structure on paper. I found it extremely helpful to have a printed diagram of where my files were going (or supposed to be going) taped to the wall while I was editing. I also made sure my production notebook included a spreadsheet with check boxes for each shot, showing every step in the process. As I finished each step, the box would get checked and I had an easy to read visual showing just how far along I was and what steps still needed to get done. 

Keeping all this data off-line was so much more efficient than trying to keep the same records on the computer. 

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