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Advanced Final Cut Pro Techniques: Converting footage to 24p and more

The ways to achieve a film look in digital cinema will always evolve, but 24p will always be the basis of that look By Heath McKnight

The ways to achieve a film look in digital cinema will always evolve, but 24p (24 frames per second, progressive-scan) will always be the basis of that look.  This articles goal is to help you convert your non-24p footage, be it 60i or 50i/25p, to 23.98 fps, or 24p.  For more on film looks, check out my article here.  Converting 30p video is trickier, and not recommended.  Shoot in 60i, 50i or 25p.

Apples Cinema Tools is a great place to begin, especially if youve shot in 50i or 25p (PAL, in both cases if the video is standard definition, SD).  If your video was acquired in 50i, deinterlace before exporting the QuickTime Movie, then open in Cinema Tools.  You can conform this footage easily to 23.98 fps and youll have QuickTime (QT) Movie clips or an entire QT Movie that is running at 24p.  But keep in mind that the movie was ?slowed down by 4%, so the dialogue will be a little lower, but not by much.

If you shot your film in 24p, likely the progressive signal was packaged into an interlace stream via either a 2:3 or 3:2 pulldown.  You can also remove this pulldown to extract the 24p signal to edit or output.  Unless youre outputting to film or creating a progressive-scan DVD (or QT Movie), you dont always need to remove the pulldown.  You can keep the pulldown and still create great DVDs and QT Movies without losing that film look.

You cannot, however, use Cinema Tools to convert 60i footage to 24p.  The resulting video will look and sound like slow motion.  For that, youll need to use plug-in applications, such as those by Nattress, DVFilm Maker, or Magic Bullet Suite, Mac or PC, but this is a plug-in for Adobe After Effects).    

Nattresss Film Effects and Standards Conversion, along with the Magic Bullet offer more than just tools to get to 24p, but also deinterlacing options, special film-style image effects (like warm, cool, bleach bypass and more), cine gamma settings and much, much more.


Follow the instructions with any of these applications to create the 24p footage with or without the pulldown (for example, Nattress G-Film will add a pulldown, so the footage stays at 24p, while the G-Film Converter will not add the pulldown).

Keep in mind that Nattress plug-ins are found within the Effects tab in Final Cut Pro, but youll need to use Magic Bullet Suite with Adobe After Effects and DVFilm Maker with QuickTime Pro.

When using Nattress G-Film or G-Film Converter (or any of the Image Effects that have the G-Film option), set the ?De-Interlace Options to Normal, not Smart; Ive seen jerky video if its set to Smart.  Change your ?Source and ?Destination Field Order to Upper if youre working in HD, Lower if youre working in SD.  All other settings should stay at their defaults.  For G-Film Converter, dont forget to drag the original clip from the browser into the Source Clip well.

For all three applications, you have the option of converting any DV or HDV footage to ProRes 422 or ProRes 422 (HQ) in your timeline/sequences Sequence Settings and then in the QuickTime Video Settings.  Doing so will convert your footage to a colorspace of 4:2:2, which is easier to work with than 4:1:1 (DV) and 4:2:0 (HDV), especially with graphics and keying/greenscreen work. 

If youre using Nattress, when youre done working with the plug-ins in the FCP timeline, export the final QT Movie from the timeline/sequence thats set to ProRes 422.  If you plan on going back to tape vs. DVD or streaming/digital download, keep that file at the original spec (DV or HDV), then output to tape.  For the other two apps, export the ProRes 422 QT Movie prior to working, then import into DVFilm Maker or Adobe After Effects.  Again, this is just an option.

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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.

Related Keywords:digital cinema, NLE, video editing, film look

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