Production Still from short film Stull by filmmaker J. OttI’m making a big push to finish my short, “Stull”, the one about the reputed gate to Hell in eastern Kansas. I won’t bore you with the details of postproduction. Actually, I will, because there’s not enough in Google about the technical problems I’ve been having. Ya been warned.

I’ve spent a couple nights trying to online this sucker and kept running into difficulties. I’ve been working in an Avid project that can flip from 720p/23.976 to 1080p/23.976. My DVCProHD Varicam footage is at 720p, but I plan to upconvert to 1080. The upconvert was fine at the deck level — when I had the project at 1080 and was coming in HDSDI, Avid could see it just fine. The problem is that the original offline clips are in the Avid at 720p/23.976 and so batch capturing them kept bringing up a ‘can’t capture at 1080p because the clip is not 1080p’ error message.

No worries, I can use the modify command to maker them 1080p, right? Wrong. Format can only be modified on sequences. And no matter what format the project or sequence, the clips always decompose to 720p/23.976.

And I wasn’t getting a clean signal if I switched is switched the project to 720p/23.976. Something about a PassthroughInterface error. This would’ve been fine, except if I happened to close MediaComposer after this error, it would crash and not re-open. Only a complete uninstall and reinstall would even get me back into Avid!

Finally, I put pride aside and asked from help from my technical-minded co-worker, Adam. Adam was able to figure out some settings on the Panasonic AG-1400 deck to get signal to work at 720p. Only when the deck is in 59.94 frequency will it allow you to output a 720p signal. That said, the display on the face of the deck said 60 not 59.94. Anyway, I was able to capture.

But the problems weren’t over. About two-thirds of the clips had a pronounced stutter to their motion due to not starting on an A frame in the standard pulldown cadence. So I had to go through and modify the start times to end in a 5 or a 0. This didn’t take too long, actually, but it might’ve gone faster if Avid had a way to disable the ‘Are you sure you want to mess up the keycode?’ warning that popped up after every one. (Luckily I had read about this problem in the forums while I was looking for help with my first issue, so was able to recognize it quickly.)

Anyway, I got in all the standard speed footage and my next challenge will be to get in my variable speed footage, which I believe must be done by Firewire (Host-1394). Let’s hope I don’t encounter Avid’s usual ‘Flamethrower’ errors.

Adventures with the Varicam
Editing while spooked