Thursday, February 16, 2012

T3i / Cineform Preliminary Notes

Quick Update:

I will have a much longer post in the future about my experiences actually shooting and editing a project with the T3i and Cineform, but here's some of my initial thoughts:

  • Cineform has an odd issue where it changes its gamma setting during playback in Adobe Premiere Pro. Supposedly, this is an issue with the video overlay function of NVIDIA graphics cards, but that seems a little strange to me, since no other codec that I've used has this issue. You can mitigate this effect a bit by playing with the image controls in the video overlay section of NVIDA's control panel settings, but it doesn't really go away. A more annoying quirk is that there is a slight pause between hitting the playback button on the timeline and having the footage start playing. This drove me a bit bonkers after a while.
  • My computer is not fast enough to edit DSLR footage natively (even if Premiere Pro CS3 could handle it), so my current workflow is a little odd, but seems to work:
    • Transfer Quicktime H.264 .MOVs from SD card.
    • Convert .MOVs to DV25 ("MiniDV") .AVIs
    • Edit project using DV25 .AVI files (cuts and basic transitions only for picture).
    • When project is finished, clean up project so only footage in use is in project file.
    • Make a note of footage files used, then convert .MOV originals of footage to Cineform .AVIs - into subfolder of project folder (I call it "Cineform Transcodes").
    • Move DV25 .AVIs into subfolder of project folder (I call it "DV Proxies").
    • Move Cineform transcodes into main project folder.
    • Create new Cineform project file in Premiere Pro.
    • Import DV25 project file into Cineform project.
    • Add all needed transitions, effects work and titles.
    • Render out project to Cineform master, Blu-Ray and DVD.
So yeah, I'm essentially doing an old-fashioned offline/online edit. It's not great if you desperately need to save storage space, but the DV25 .AVI files will play back buttery smooth on any computer from the last 7 years or so. In the future, I'm looking to upgrade to a current computer and version of Premiere Pro so that I can do all my editing natively and then export to Cineform for color correction and such. The monthly leasing option for CS6 looks like the way to go for me, but we'll see.

As to the T3i, the 3x "digital zoom" ends up being a lifesaver when you quickly need to switch over to a longer lens; or in my case when I need the image stabilization of the 18-55mm kit lens on a subject that needs more zoom. Do not zoom in any farther than 3X, though, or you will start to see the image artifacts of an actual digital zoom that will be almost as bad as zooming the image in post.

I will also look into renting some better quality (and image stabilized) lenses for my next production, so stay tuned for updates.