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XDCAM HD Sequence to letterbox SD sequence

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  • XDCAM HD Sequence to letterbox SD sequence

    I have 4 finished programs, all over 1 hour in runtime, cut in XDCAM HD that need to be downconverted to SD 8-bit Uncompressed at the request of the DVD duplicator. I made one file yesterday (4.5 hours) using Compressor and the results looked "okay", kind of soft, not great. It was, at least, letterboxed. I set up the other 3 files to cook overnight and when I checked one this morning, it was NOT letterboxed, rather it appeared to be anamorphic. I didn't change any settings from my "test" file and I'm not sure what I did wrong. I've been scratching my head over this for a couple of hours and have decided that I'm confused.

    A brief description of my workflow so far:

    1. Import and edit native XDCAM HD files in an XDCAM HD sequence made with Easy Setup. (side note: next time, I'm converting to ProRes 422 HQ ASAP)

    2. Create a 720x480 NTSC DV (3:2) sequence, drop the finished XDCAM sequence into it maintaining sequence settings. DID NOT RENDER!

    <QUESTION: to what codec should I have set the 720x480 sequence? I set it to Uncompressed 8-bit knowing that's where I was headed>

    3. I now have a letterboxed SD sequence.

    4. Compressed the first program with Compressor using the default settings for SD 8-bit Uncompressed NTSC

    <I looked at the Geometry settings to make sure that pixel Aspect was NOT set to DV 16:9. However, the frame size is 720x486 - should I have used the CCIR 601 (40:27) frame size for my SD sequence?>

    5. First file (test run) came out as letterbox 4:3, although it looked just a little stretched.

    6. Subsequent files were NOT letterbox. I retraced my steps starting with the NTSC DV Sequence, looking at all the settings and can't find anything that had changed.

    I've referenced Ken Stone articles and other 2-pop forum posts to establish this workflow, but I'm missing something. Any help would be appreciated.


    Basic info:
    Mac Pro (2) 3.2 GHz Quad-Core Xeon
    OSX 10.5.6
    FCP 6.0.5
    QT 7.6
    Compressor 3.0.5

  • #2
    In FCS2, Compressor will do a MUCH better job of taking your HD material to SD. Don't do it in FCP. I'd recommend the book "Compressor Quick Reference Guide", it's cheap, and explains all the various options in Compressor. It's an easy app to deal with, once you know what the proper controls are.
    Digital Media Instructor for
    Louisiana State University & Delgado College


    • #3
      Thanks, Ben. I ordered the book today. The Pro Training series is great; I'm looking forward to getting a real handle on Compressor.

      So, the intermediate step of creating a letterbox 720x480 sequence for export is totally unnecessary? Should I export my XDCAM HD sequence using Compressor, use Settings> whatever SD codec (Uncompressed 8-bit in my case), and use the Letterbox filter available in Compressor to get my 1440x1080i footage down to a letterbox SD file?


      • #4
        adult continuing education

        In Final Cut, I did an Export>Using Compressor of my unrendered XDCAM 1440x1080i sequences, applied the SD 8-bit Uncompressed Setting, went into Geometry and changed the pixel size to CCIR 601/DV 16:9, leaving all other Geometery settings at the defaults. The result was a pretty good looking anamorphic 720x486 Quicktime movie. I made a DVD with DVDSP using the QT as my asset. DVDSP saw it as a 16:9 file and the resulting disk did just what I wanted - full screen 16:9 playback on a flat screen, letterbox on a 4:3 glass monitor, all from the same file.

        Next time, I'm using reference movies to free up Final Cut while the files cook. I have 4 masters average length 90 minutes and they have been running for 17 hours 40 minutes with another 5 hours 20 minutes before the last file is finished. OUCH!