Maintaining Quality - Dragonframe / Premiere / After Effects

Hi,

I have been shooting some stop-motion in Dragonframe. I wanted to work with the RAW files to keep it as high quality as possible. I will need to do some rig removal in After Effects CS5, and I was planning to edit in premiere pro CS5.

I have been unable to import the Raw (CR2) image files into premiere pro CS5.

Do I need to convert somehow, and if so how can I maintain maximum quality whilst moving between all 3 programmes? Or would I need to use later versions of the same programmes?

Any help would be appreciated.

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No, frame rate doesn't affect aspect ratio. Your still photos reflect the size/ shape of the sensor in your camera and it isn't 16:9. In AE you can make the aspect ratio you want. 16:9 is a very standard video aspect ratio, so people use it to conform to TV screens, online video players, standard video formats, etc. I like Vistavision aspect ratio ( here is a whole show reel of work I did in Vistavision - https://vimeo.com/70278679 ) and there are many, many other "standard" formats out there: Cinemascope - 2.35:1, Cinerama - 2.35:1, Hard Matte - 1.66:1, Panavision - 2.40:1 ( 1.85:1 ).

Go crazy and enjoy creating your own window to see/ show the world..... ( depending on how it gets played, be prepared for letterbox.... )

Your Frame Rate Question is a bit confusing as FPS in Dragonframe and FPS in video editing software are 2 different things. Totally "related" but technically different. In Dragon frame you can think of it as an increment of the registration of motion, but as you are creating many still images, there isn't any actual "baked in" frame rate. In AE, PR, FCP frame rate refers to a "baked in" frame rate of the video format you are working with. ( and this is also flexible when you think about "slow motion" eg. shooting 1,000 fps on a phantom camera to play back at 24fps to achieve a slow motion look ).

I think you should focus on getting down a simple workflow to get your footage out there in "standard" way with a basic understanding of formats, codecs, aspect ratios and colour space. Knowing there are lots and lots of fun options once you get the basics down....

Again, gotta love 1920 x 1080, 23.976 framerate, apple prores HQ as a standard video editing format ( export in in Quicktime and export to whatever iphone, ipad, etc H.264 upload version you want for vimeo... ).

24fps ( 23.976 ) reference standard 35mm film frame rate and is the standard frame rate for 1080p video files

Thanks Stephen and thanks for all the time you've taken to help with this.

It all makes sense now. I didn't think frame rate should affect aspect ratio, but thought it may be something to do with the settings. I've done a few tests and I'll be using the settings you've suggested this time. I've read up on the different frame rate settings as I thought this was more a US thing, but I see it's Universal with HD.

By the way, I love the showreel.

Hi Suraya

The mistake you made when the aspect ratio went wrong was to select HDV in the Project Settings. This uses non-square pixels, so squashes your (square pixelled) picture to fit. I made the same mistake! Use the DSLR preset or Custom as Stephen says.

I went to a pro for some tuition on workflow, and he recommended rendering out only at the end of the process. In other words, keep everything as image sequences until you create the master. (I hope this isn't going to confuse - it's an alternative to Stephen's method.) This is what he recommended.

1. Shoot in DragonFrame.

2. Open Photoshop (or AE). Open the RAW frames you want from the DF folder. A dialog box comes up, where you can crop and change exposure settings, and sync all the images together. Don't open images from this dialog box, just save them to another folder, as uncompressed TIFFs with dimensions slightly bigger than 1920 x 1080 (it offers you several sizes, but not 1080p.) Then exit PS or AE.

3. Open PPro and import the Tiff sequence into your project. Resize it a little to fit the HD frame in PPro. Edit footage.

4. Then bring it into AE for color grading, effects, rig removal etc.

5. When all is complete, make an uncompressed master, then strike compressed exports off that as needed for different platforms.

This way you only render out once, which should maintain maximum quality. The disadvantage is that you can't go backwards easily. If you add an effect in AE, then want to re-edit, PPro doesn't recognise the effect. But if you have Dynamic link, going back to edit should update in AE.

The pro I consulted suggested using 25 fps right through the workflow, and I must admit I am a bit confused. His suggestion made good sense, to keep everything the same right through - you could as easily choose 24, I suppose. His argument was that most export media use 25.... But the experts here use 24 for animation. The really important thing is to make sure PPro doesn't stretch 24 frames to fit 25, or vice-versa.

I'm still experimenting with all this myself, and will try Stephen's method too.

Thank Simon,

Near the end of my project now, but I'll certainly be doing some more tests and messing around within the software afterwards.

Thank you so much, Stephen Dirkes! You've just answered so many of my own questions! I've never been able to find a standard workflow to follow. Those screenshots were a big help as well! I don't think I would have found the prores HQ in After Effects without them. Thanks for posting the question, Suraya!

stephen dirkes said:

Hi,

I'm on set today so can't give you a complete answer... I would highly recommend a tried and true After Effects workflow:

1- Open new project ( "custom" 1920x1080, 23.976 fps, square pixel )

2- "import", "import file", select first still image in folder, select "jpeg image sequence" ( or Raw image sequence, depending on how you shot it in camera ), select "force alphabetical order", "ok"

3- that sequence appears in AE bin, drag it to your timeline

4- Open that layer to "transform" options ( or command t ) "scale" it down to 35% ( if you shoot on a full frame camera ( Canon 5dmk3 for example ). Otherwise manually scale it to fit 1920x 1080 composition

5- You loose a bit on the top and bottom. Drag image to crop as you like.

6- Click "Composition" tab, then "add to render queue..."

7- Select the render queue tab, click "Output module" tab and choose "Custom, apple prores HQ, 1920 x 1080, square pixel, 23.976 fps, click "ok"

8- click "Output to" tab and name and determine where you want to save the video, click "render"

9- After it renders, you will have a large, standard, pro format video clip in 16x9 aspect ratio to just drag into Premiere, Final Cut, whatever....

Hope this helps!!!! Back to set for me.....

Glad it helped!

Steve said:

Thank you so much, Stephen Dirkes! You've just answered so many of my own questions! I've never been able to find a standard workflow to follow. Those screenshots were a big help as well! I don't think I would have found the prores HQ in After Effects without them. Thanks for posting the question, Suraya!

stephen dirkes said:

Hi,

I'm on set today so can't give you a complete answer... I would highly recommend a tried and true After Effects workflow:

1- Open new project ( "custom" 1920x1080, 23.976 fps, square pixel )

2- "import", "import file", select first still image in folder, select "jpeg image sequence" ( or Raw image sequence, depending on how you shot it in camera ), select "force alphabetical order", "ok"

3- that sequence appears in AE bin, drag it to your timeline

4- Open that layer to "transform" options ( or command t ) "scale" it down to 35% ( if you shoot on a full frame camera ( Canon 5dmk3 for example ). Otherwise manually scale it to fit 1920x 1080 composition

5- You loose a bit on the top and bottom. Drag image to crop as you like.

6- Click "Composition" tab, then "add to render queue..."

7- Select the render queue tab, click "Output module" tab and choose "Custom, apple prores HQ, 1920 x 1080, square pixel, 23.976 fps, click "ok"

8- click "Output to" tab and name and determine where you want to save the video, click "render"

9- After it renders, you will have a large, standard, pro format video clip in 16x9 aspect ratio to just drag into Premiere, Final Cut, whatever....

Hope this helps!!!! Back to set for me.....

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