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Uncompressed HD Video to SD DVD - Quick and Simple

Let's take a look at a quick and easy way to create SD screening DVDs from HD projects for your clients to approve By Kevin McAuliffe

These days, I find that many editors are "over simplifying" things.  What I mean by this is that in a lot of cases, if you sit down and think through the daily procedures that editors have, there are usually two or three different ways of doing many of the tasks we take for granted. One thing I find myself doing a lot of is creating SD DVDs from Uncompressed HD projects. This can be an EXTREMELY time consuming process if you don't think your way through it first. 

Let's take a look at a quick and easy way to create SD screening DVDs from HD projects for your clients to approve. The thing to keep in mind about this tutorial is that it can be modified depending on your needs. For example, if you are working on HDV instead of HD or XDCam instead of HD, the process in this tutorial will still apply to what you are doing.

In most cases, when editors have completed their HD projects, the first thing that happens is it is output to tape. In the ideal world, your client will ask you for a DVD screener at this point. Or, in our real world, your client will ask for a DVD screening copy as soon as you have typed in the last show credit. Most editors at this point will do one of two things. They will select their entire sequence in their FCP timeline, and then they will select FILE>EXPORT USING COMPRESSOR.  

By doing this, you are basically making a QT reference file of your entire sequence to have Compressor "downconvert" and make an MPEG2 file for you. Or, on the other hand, what the editor might do is mark the entire sequence, and simply select FILE>EXPORT, and export the sequence to their media drive, to drop into Compressor. For projects that are less than 5 minutes in duration, both of these may be feasible options, but take my word for it, there is nothing like waiting for Compressor to create an MPEG 2 file from a QT reference file of an hour long Uncompressed HD show. You are looking at about three to five times real time, so in this case about three to five hours (at least) to create your MPEG. Also, the problem with this is that it ties up FCP, and you are stuck until it's done.


With the second option of exporting your entire sequence to create a "new" piece of media, you need to make sure that you have the 200-500GB of storage it will take to "clone" your show onto your hard drive, and will have to sit and wait for FCP to export the file, and then for Compressor to stream it. So what do you do?

Here's where a little brainwork pays off. 

Your show needs to be output anyway. So, if it's not on tape, output it! Once you have it on tape, recapture your show in DV resolution back onto your system. Now you have taken your show from 200-500GB down to 2-5GB, which is a much easier file size to deal with. Now that you have it back in Final Cut, don't bother exporting or "exporting to compressor," simply navigate your way to your capture scratch, select your DV rez file, open compressor and drop the file in. There it is, quick and simple, and the best part is that once compressor is running, you can quit out of the Batch Monitor, and let it stream the file in the background while you work on other projects. 

The last thing to remember is that since this is a screening DVD, you can simply select Single Pass Variable bit rate, and you are ready to go.  For an hour-long HD show, it should take you no longer than two hours to create a DVD out of it. The great thing about creating your discs this way is that if you are using a Sony F-500 or SRW 5500, and have the SD-SDI output option on the VTR, you can even capture your SD downconverted show in the "squeeze" format, so that way in Compressor, you can select "16x9" for your aspect ratio, and you can create a true anamorphic screening DVD.  

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at [email protected]

Related Keywords:Uncompressed HD Video to SD DVD , video editing, NLE,

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