Upresing Without Tears

I’m thinking about the process of upresing a sequence. If we’re all going to be working in some form of HD in the future, is there going to much need for this?

For larger-budget feature films, if we cut at DNxHD 36, are we going to screen and preview that way? My guess is that we will. Video won’t look as good as it would at a higher bitrate but the hassle factor will outweigh the quality improvement and we’ll go with what we’ve got. We’ll leave the final upres to 2K or 4K to a DI house.

But for television and for lower-budget features, we’ll see some productions upresing in their “offline” cutting rooms and producing a conformed master for color correction.

So, given that many of us are still going to be working in multiple resolutions, my question is whether the tools we have for this are adequate. I recently came across this post that describes the two main procedures. I’ve never done it myself, so this is partly a question for the assistants in the audience, but I wonder whether these methods are really adequate. Aren’t they pretty darn geeky? The second procedure is certainly an improvement, and there’s nothing here that can’t be learned, but shouldn’t the machine do more of the work?

It seems to me that what you want is to be able to select a sequence and then simply tell the system that you want to upres it. You select your resolution and the rest is handled automatically. All the media management, all the clip management.

You shouldn’t have to make multiple sequences — you should be able to view the one sequence at whatever resolution you prefer. And if you make changes to your sequence, the system should figure out what media is available and what isn’t — at each resolution. You should be able to view the sequence (or any other sequence, for that matter) at low res with all media present, at high res with “media offline” showing as needed, or at “best res” where you get the best quality available for each clip.

Am I missing something? Does upresing really need to be so complicated? And does FCP do any better in this regard?

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13 Comments on “Upresing Without Tears”

  1. Liam Says:

    In FCP it is super easy. If u have captured each take seperately u will have a much easier time. If u have subclips and the like it will be a bit of a pain but not too painful! I prefere to capture individual takes so when the time comes i just select all the video in the timeline and hit right click “make clips offline” then right click on the clips again and select batch capture there i select my new folder or scratch disk and the required resolution. Only problems u really run into is incorrect logging info like wrong tape number etc.

  2. Doug Says:

    There’s really no “Uprez” for feature film … It’s just a digital conform of scans of the neg.

    Also, in the blog article, the reference to acquisition at 15:1 is a bit outdated unless you’re working on an older Avid … The newer codecs give you extremely high quality video at data rates close to, or below that, of standard def video. And yes, you can preview from the edit station with DNxHD.

    One workflow (another FCP analogy) for HD-based acquisition would be: Ingest and cut as DVCProHD 720p (or the new Apple ProRes codec)… You can previz all of your VFX, drop in your finals and plug the output of your workstation into a large monitor or projector for Previews. It’s beautiful.

    There is no Online, only a digital conform … In FCP the conformist can either just re-acquire at Uncompressed HD, or on a Lustre, import Apple XML and then ingest the uncompressed HD. From there it’s just a question of outputs … Film, HD Video, DCinema Master, etc. You can do final audio layback at whatever point is most convenient.

    The same type of simplified workflows are possible on Avid … Just not as easy and a bit more expensive.

  3. Martin Baker Says:

    That’s exactly what DS does (or certainly did when I last worked on it four years ago). It was incredibly smart at automatically handling uncompressed and compressed versions of media in the same source clip.

    You just changed the sequence setting and it would know which frames of media weren’t captured at the selected resolution. If you asked it to capture them, then they’d automatically be added to the original source clips. So as you scrubbed through a source clip it might look like this in compressed mode:


    and like this in uncompressed mode:

    [no media] [media] [no media] [media] etc

    So blindingly obvious when you think about it, but why has no other mfr done the same?

  4. Steve Says:

    Sony’s Xpri could handle multiple resolutions on the same sequence, too. I don’t know if it could do my idea of “use best resolution available,” though.

    In FCP, I assume that you end up with two sequences, one for low res and one for high. What happens when you go back to work with the low-res version, make some additions, and then want to upres again? Will it find the hires media and use it? Will it automatically digitize what’s missing?

  5. L.R. Pebler Says:

    Nah, upresing as descirbed above in FCP is a one-time deal, essentially.

    The answer to all this, it seems to me, is to do the offline cut in a format that’s good enough to preview on the big screen. DNxHD fits the bill, as does DVCPROHD (or ProRes). That’s the goal of big beefy new edit machines and high-quality offline codecs, right? To be able to avoid this conforming nonsense? Otherwise we’d be better off still cutting in DV or 14:1, saving storage space and enjoying better day-today editing performance.

  6. Norman Says:

    Back in the Good Old Days, I edited a television show for which we had to do a 1:1 output for air on cable. This was, of course, all about redigitizing a decomposed sequence, but it seems to be pretty much what everybody is doing today with video. P2 workflows might help with this, at least if the demo that I saw at Avid Burbank is any indication. We’re probably going to be going to P2 on some of our classes in the Fall so I’ll let you know.

    Timewise, it would be great if we could cut at the resolution that we’ll need for finishing but, if we did that, that would be called film. Also, I agree with L.R. — sometimes the sacrifice in editing speed and machine performance, is just too painful to make it worth my while.

  7. Grant Says:

    Read this post the other day, and didn’t even twig to the fact that it referenced my site. This post is a bit out of date, and it applies to the sort of episodic TV that I work on, so probably isn’t relevant to the film end of things.

    I’m onlining on an Adrenaline, taking cut sequences from 3 offline suites that work at DV420 and then hi-resing to 2:1. It wouldn’t really be practical to us to ingest at 2:1 in the first place because our shooting ratio is between 10 and 15 to 1 and we’d need a 15 Terabyte Unity instead of the 2.7 tB one we’ve got.

    I guess the procedure in my post is a bit geeky – but I’m an online TV editor – we’re sort of born that way.

    By the way – thanks for the link.

  8. Steve Says:

    Grant — many thanks for the useful tips on your site. I didn’t mean to be disparage the procedures you described as geeky, but rather the fact all those steps are necessary to do something that can be described in one sentence.

  9. AndrewK Says:

    I can ask someone to “change the characters shirt from light blue to dark blue so it separates better from the light blue wall he is walking in front of” in one sentence too but that doesn’t mean it can be done in one or two steps. ;)

    I found that many of the things I do/did do as an assist could be done in a more direct way, but at the cost of working w/o a safety net. Which might be faster in the short term, but if something ever went wrong we would be totally up a creek w/o a paddle. We always duplicated, made copies, back-ups, etc., so that if some procedure, no matter how mundane, ever messed up there would always be a current copy of the sequence/media/project available and if we were doing a multi-step procedure we would do it in such a way so we could “back track” to fix the problem w/o having to go all the way back to square one. More steps, more complicated, but more safe and well worth it, IMO.

    On one hand I’d love for more things to become automated or “push button” but on the other hand I don’t trust the computers not to muck things up. :)

    On different industry sites I’ve seen a lot of people working in various niches of the industry (event videos, episodic TV, movies, reality tv, etc.,) and each niche has it’s own work flow that suites its specific needs. We all do the same basic thing (story telling for an audience) but there are so many different roads that lead to that same destination. It’s quite interesting to “compare notes” sometimes. I recently assistant edited on a doc w/a couple of guys who typically work big budget features (I come from a mainly reality tv background) and our skill sets were so different you’d of thought we came from completely different jobs instead of just different facets of the same job.

    It’s very nice working at places where there is no “up-rezzing”, but I think there will always be niches in the industry that deal w/so much footage they’ll always need an offline/online workflow. Reality TV, for example, last year I worked on a reality TV show that shot 2500hrs of tape for 8 1hr episodes.

  10. Grant Says:

    Steve – absolutely no offence taken – geeky is a badge of honour, and I get your point about improvements to this side of Avid’s UI, but my own personal bugbear in Avid is titling, the whole Title Tool / Marquee option is just not mature enough for my liking. I’ll have to take FCP / Livetype for a spin one day just to see what I’m missing out on.

  11. Steve Says:

    The title tool is woefully out of date and Marquee is way too complicated and awkward for what it does. Frankly, I’m sick of rendering titles and managing render files for them, being unable to match frame and then load what you match into a monitor, etc.

    I want a pure vector title model that needs no rendering. Just change the text or the attributes and the title changes. Period. And if you had that you could have real title styles. Change the style and all instances of the title change automatically. I generally create a complete main title, which means about two dozen cards. If somebody wants to change the font by one point, I have to redo the whole bloody thing. Way too much work.

    For more, check out this post:

  12. Grant Says:

    Amen to that! Your title card requirement is my single biggest bugbear – why doesn’t one of the leading NLE’s on the market allow me to quickly and easily amend the style of a group of titles? It’s almost as if none of the developers at Avid has ever worked on a longform series with multiple titles, or at least spoken to someone who does.

    It’s not good enough that I can go to Photoshop / After Effects / Combustion and hack together a system that generate multiple, consistent, easily revised titles outside Avid – this needs to be a tightly integrated, brand new UI that works right inside the software with little or no rendering.

    In fact Steve, you’ve inspired me to look up where this is at in the Avid.com wishlists, and start a bit of agitating. I’ll keep you informed…

  13. Steve Says:

    Please let us know what you find out.

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