Well my Hell is over.I have been trying to figure out a sure-fire method of creating a NTSC DVD from a 1080i50 HDV source. I think I have finally discovered the best method. If you are trying to do this and its driving you crazy, then try following these steps. (this requires Final Cut Studio 2)

1. Export your final movie as a 1440x1080 50i Prores 422 file. Do this by going to file->export->quicktime movie and then selecting the Apple Prores 1440x1080 50i setting.

2. Open this quicktime in Cinema Tools. Select conform->23.98. This changes the frame rate by making the video playback 4% slower. This will be perceivable in the audio and will be fixed later.

3. Drag the conformed quicktime to into Compressor. Drag the Apple ProRes preset onto the file. Change the settings to:

  • In the frame controls pane select
    - Resize Filter: Better
    - Output fields: Progressive
    - Deinterlace: Better
    - Everything else at its defaults
  • In the geometry pane
    - Dimensions: Select 720x480 from the drop down
    - Pixel Apsect: Select NTSC CCIR 601/DV (Anamorphic)
4. Submit your compression job. For me this took approximately 4x realtime.

5. You now have a NTSC 24p ProRes 422 file. Import this into final cut pro, make a new sequence and drag it in. When it asks if you want to match the sequence to the file say yes.

6. Double click the audio in the sequence and apply the audio filter AUPITCH. Change the first setting called 'pitch' to 80. Leave everything else alone.

7. Export this file as a quicktime movie with the default settings

8. Bring this file into compressor. Drag the default settings for DVD encoding onto your movie (either 90min, 120min or 150min Best -- pick the one that your movie is less than or equal to)

9. The automatic settings should work but double check that it is making a 16x9 progressive NTSC movie. Submit you job.

10. Congratulations. When you are done this should make a nice NTSC DVD. It is not that commonly known that DVD NTSC can be 24p but in fact most commercial DVDs are 24p. All dvd players are able to convert the video to 29.97 in real time.

A couple of notes:
This work flow was for a project shot on a Sony Z1 your camera may vary.
If you have extra time you can de-interlace with the "best" method. But this takes MUCH longer and I think the benfits are negligible.
If you have ALOT of extra time you can do this all in one step by importing your HDV into compressor and changing the framerate to 29.97 with Framerate conversion set to 'Best.' But this take A VERY LONG time. My 55 minute project was going to take over a week on a top of the line Mac Pro. I have used this method with shorter projects at the results with this new method are the same if not better.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. I a relieved to have figured this out and am happy to have shared it.


DVD Creation Hell

Pal? NTSC? HDV? Prores422? 23.98p? 60i? 50i? This is what I am dealing with right now.

What I am trying to accomplish sounds quite simple. I want to make a 16x9 NTSC DVD from the PAL HDV master QuickTime for my new documentary Legacy of the Great Aletsch. However this is not as simple as it sounds. There are several thing to consider.

First is the frame rate. I need to convert the original frame rate of 50i (50 interlaced frames per second) to either 60i or 24p. However both options have their problems. Increasing the framerate means that we need to create new frames out of no where. This is not a simple process and often introduces stutter artifacts. Lowering the frame rate means we lose some frames here and there. This can introduce a different kind of stutter.

The next thing I need to consider is frame size. HDV has a framesize of 1920x1080. NTSC 16x9 has a frame size of 720x404 Actually, even this is not so simple because both of these formats use non-square pixels. So HDV's real dimensions are 1440x1080 with wide rectangle pixels and NTSC is 720x480 with squished pixels. So I have to go from one non-square pixel format to another.

The final problem is interlacing. HDV is an interlaced format, meaning that each frame is seperated into two fields made up of the odd and even lines of the frame. With NTSC we have two choices. I have to choose interlaced or progressive.

So I have a multitude of choices to make. Do I convert from 1080i to 480p or 480i? Do I change the framerate first and then downconvert or the other way around? I also have to decide which piece of software to use during the conversions and which codecs to use. It is maddening to figure out which gives the best results. I will update when I have found the best workflow.