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Anatoly Zak
04-06-2005, 02:06 PM
Can anybody recommend a Mac-compatible software to import Lightwave rendered frames for processing and following output directly to a FireWire DV camcorder? Not sure, if this can be done from Adobe After Effects.

Huge thanks in advance!

etyrihje
04-06-2005, 03:22 PM
The cheapest is to buy Quicktime pro to make your fil sequence from the still images that LW generates. But After Effects can do this as well (If you already own it, it is of course cheapest).

To output to camcorder via firewire the cheapest and simplest is to use iMovie, which comes free with new macs (and have for some time) or can be bought for a modest price in the iLife pack.

Good luck!

Anatoly Zak
04-06-2005, 06:40 PM
Thanks a lot. So as I understand, I will need to compose LW frames in After Effects or QuickTime Pro and then bring rendered files into iMovie? I am not sure, however, that iMovie will take anything except video from a camcorder, or will it?

Ozzie
04-06-2005, 07:03 PM
imovie will import Quicktime movies, however the quality seems to drop from the original QT.

The best way to do it would be to use FCP Pro but that is a more expensive option.

CHEERS.

Mark

Anatoly Zak
04-06-2005, 07:55 PM
Absolutely, all Lightwave-originated files appear heavily distorted in iMovie, so it looks like Final Cut Pro is the best option. I am wondering will it both -- import LW image sequences and output directly to DV camera, so I do not need to bother about After Effects?

toby
04-06-2005, 09:43 PM
Pretty sure that iMovie converts imported files into DV files, and always at D1 - 720x480, so if your frames are a different resolution they will be distorted to fit. DV is also slightly compressed, and in Quicktime it's displayed at Low Quality by default - switching to High quality improves the image a lot, perhaps iMovie is the same way?

Anatoly Zak
04-07-2005, 08:21 AM
Pretty sure that iMovie converts imported files into DV files, and always at D1 - 720x480, so if your frames are a different resolution they will be distorted to fit. DV is also slightly compressed, and in Quicktime it's displayed at Low Quality by default - switching to High quality improves the image a lot, perhaps iMovie is the same way?

I believe when iMovie imports from the DV camcorder, frames are 640 by 480 pixels and anything but LW-originated files at this size looks fine in iMovie, so I am not sure where is the problem.

toby
04-07-2005, 11:45 AM
iMovie ( and most compositing apps ) will display D1, 720x480, at 640x480, so that you know what it looks like on TV. If iMovie files and dv from your camcorder were actually 640 wide they'd be distorted when you watched them on tv.

If you're rendering for anything related to tv you need to render at 720x480 with .9 pixel aspect ratio, there is a camera preset for this called D1 (NTSC). Which application you use to create the frames has nothing to do with whether they get distorted in iMovie.

Anatoly Zak
04-07-2005, 02:51 PM
iMovie ( and most compositing apps ) will display D1, 720x480, at 640x480, so that you know what it looks like on TV. If iMovie files and dv from your camcorder were actually 640 wide they'd be distorted when you watched them on tv.

Thanks, yes, I realize that, however I am talking about heavy pixelization of frames in iMovie rather than proportional distortion. In a few tests I tried, it seems that LW-generated frames, either 720 by 480 or 640 by 480, looked really bad in terms of aliazation. I can't quite figure out why and what format/compression rendering method (if any) to use in order to import LW footage into iMovie.

toby
04-07-2005, 05:47 PM
I see - I've seen that a lot with dv in Quicktime, except when the quality setting is set to 'high'. You may need QT Pro to access that though, and I don't know if that helps iMovie. I have watched my own renders on tv using iDVD with no loss in quality so this must be do-able -
As far as codecs, I always render to frames ( usually png ) and make a qt from those if I need to - Animation or jpg2000 codecs at high quality, if I know I'm going to convert them again. (If not, Sorenson3 at medium with anywhere from 6 to 240 keyframes)

inquisitive
04-08-2005, 02:50 AM
get a video toaster4

one of the cool features of this release is that you can render an animation as individual frames.. then import the first frame into Vt-edit and bam.. instant playback of animations (the way the DPS Perception used to work - that of course means you need a PC) then you can save to DV format and transfer back to your camcorder.

I have been able to place a 3d animation on top of DV footage I imported into VT4.

allanBook
04-08-2005, 05:28 AM
Thanks, yes, I realize that, however I am talking about heavy pixelization of frames in iMovie rather than proportional distortion. In a few tests I tried, it seems that LW-generated frames, either 720 by 480 or 640 by 480, looked really bad in terms of aliazation. I can't quite figure out why and what format/compression rendering method (if any) to use in order to import LW footage into iMovie.

Anything you import into iMovie is converted into DV codec, so any render to frame that is done in a lossless codec is converted into a lossy version by iMovie internally.

If you are rendering in animation codec or some other lossless codec, if you truly want to prevent adding noise (ex. pixelization from DV conversion) into your images and animations, use a compositing program (ex. After Effects, Motion, Combusion), Final Cut Pro 4.X/HD (or Premiere on the PC), or even just Quicktime Pro because they all will respect your lossless codec as you edit your footage together.

Afterwards, you could take your completed footage and drop it right into iDVD (DO NOT go through iMovie, because that will convert all the footage into DV before going into iDVD) and get a much better approximation of your original renders.

If you have the Apple Production Bundle already, you could always just export your lossless codec edited reel through Compressor and drop it straight into DVD Studio Pro 3 for distribution.

Sorry for being so wordy, but my bottom-line is that iMovie will add lossy compression to anything you give it (due to its DV internal nature).

Anatoly Zak
04-08-2005, 06:32 AM
Thank you everybody for great comments and suggestions! I now see I have a number of options to try.

Anatoly Zak
04-08-2005, 06:50 AM
To summarize: In order to get LW animation to TV from the Mac, workflow options are these:

LW render to JPG frames --> Compose footage in Motion, or After Effects or Final Cut Pro or VT --> Export to iDVD or DVD Studio Pro.

From there it can be copied to VHS or DV tape. No other options, right?

allanBook
04-08-2005, 12:50 PM
If you're final output is for VHS tape, you have another option:

* if you are able to play your edited animations fullscreen with no dropped frames on your mac, then you could just connect your computer straight to a VCR (via an Apple video adapter) and just simply play your animation from your computer and press record on your VCR.

If you're final output is for DV only, then you have two other options:

* (this isn't really a new option, but) just take the whole thing into iMovie (make sure that you're frames are rendered @ 720x480, pixel aspect ratio of 1.2) and send it to your camcorder via firewire cable. The fact that putting your footage onto a DV camcorder means that it will be lossy compressed into DV no matter what, so then it really won't matter that you're using iMovie.
* if you are able to play your edited animations fullscreen with no dropped frames on your mac, then you could just connect your computer straight to your DV camcorder (via an Apple video adapter, NOT through a firewire cable) and simply play your animation from your computer and press record on your camcorder in VTR mode. This is especially helpful if your animation renders are not in DV format already, because the camcorder (if it supports analog inputs) will convert your footage to DV format on-the-fly, as opposed to taking the extra time to convert your animation render from your lossless codec down to DV codec inside iMovie, etc.

Please allow me to restate that the DV codec is not the best codec for animation and will add some of that noise (i.e. pixelation) mention in that previous post.

Going from your video editor/compositor to Compressor for DVD isn't really necessary if all you want is something on VHS or DV. However, if you do decide to go the DVD route, then you can use the subsequent DVD to make your VHS or DV copies so that you don't have to keep your big animation file(s) on your computer and just archive those for later repurposing instead.

Again, sorry for being so wordy - I just want to make sure to state that there are other options, depending on what you want to do with your footage. :D

toby
04-08-2005, 02:01 PM
To summarize: In order to get LW animation to TV from the Mac, workflow options are these:

LW render to JPG frames --> Compose footage in Motion, or After Effects or Final Cut Pro or VT --> Export to iDVD or DVD Studio Pro.

From there it can be copied to VHS or DV tape. No other options, right?

I wouldn't use jpg's unless you're running out of disk space, and iDVD will take any Quicktime and convert it straight to MPEG2 for a dvd. Looks great on TV.

Like he said, there are many ways to do it, this is what I do :

Render D1 frames ( .psd, .tga, .tiff, or .png )
Import frames into Quicktime Pro
Export Animation-codec movie
Open movie in iDVD
Burn DVD