Saturday, March 24, 2007

Combustion + Premiere

A match made in... well, some place where a crude pidgin is spoken and the inhabitants, while all being kind of the same shape, are nonetheless wildly different in their outlook on the world.

Hmm... did I just compare digital film post production to being some kind of Dutch East India Company Trader doing business with the natives of some exotic land? Is there no subject into which I cannot inject some form of oblique reference to pirates, or at the very least, the world of their romanticised heyday?

No, there is not.

Anyhow, what I'm actually here to talk about is doing low budget digi film making, and specifically how not to lose quality as you export your DV footage from Premiere, import it into Combustion, then out of Combustion, back into Premiere, then out again to your DVD authoring tools.

I've been doing some stuff on this for the last few months, and I was losing colour depth at every step of the way it seemed, so by the time I got to watching a DVD, any shot I'd done any sort of vfx work on (down to colour grading) stuck out like a sore thumb.

I tried different codecs, I tried changing the 3:2 pulldown modes, I tried switching the upper and lower fields' firstness... everything looked just not quite right.

The solution? (or at least - my currently workable solution - I'm sure there's a real, correct way, but I'm a self-taught compositor/grader, so bear with me) is this:

Use TGA's.

It's actually been that simple for me - exporting from Premiere as a sequence of TGA files, then importing and exporting from Combustion as the same (I use 32-bit even though at those stages, I'm not actually screwing around with alpha) then finally re-importing into Premiere, I don't lose/change the colour quality I'm after, and the shots look infinitely better.

There are size issues - a shot exported this way seems to be a little bigger than a DV file, but it's not huge, and hell - if you're dealing with digital video, you'll have enough storage/bandwidth to deal with it!

I hope this helps anyone who's been bashing their head against a similar problem, and if there's anyone reading this who can tell me the correct method for doing this stuff, I would be most pleased to learn how.

At this stage, it's very rudimentary, and the footage on show doesn't have the benefit of being put through any of the above described process, but this is what all this is heading towards:

The Course!

Neeeeeaaaarly finished!

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