How to Output?

You’re almost finished with the post-production of your program. After finishing and mastering, all that remains is to output the final master to a format that you can deliver to the client. Final Cut Studio is able to accommodate just about any professional or consumer, video- or film-based format and workflow. For more information, see:

Outputting to Tape

Tape output is a requirement for nearly all programs that are going to be broadcast. It’s also highly recommended as a safe means of archiving your program in its final, finished state. Distributors and broadcasters typically have specific requirements about which formats they’ll accept. These usually include:

  • Betacam SP and Digital Betacam for standard definition (SD) programs

  • HDCAM, HDCAM SR, and D-5 for high definition (HD) programs

Although these formats are the most common, some networks request masters using other tape formats. Check ahead to see what’s required.

The only application in Final Cut Studio that’s suitable for outputting to tape is Final Cut Pro. If you’re outputting a tape master, there are nearly always strict guidelines about when the program should begin relative to the timecode on the tape, as well as about the type and timing of leader elements that appear before the beginning of your program. For this reason, it’s typical to use the Edit to Tape command to perform an insert edit of your program onto a specific section of tape that’s been “pre-striped” (had timecode and black recorded onto the tape in advance).

It’s typical for a tape being sent to broadcast to start at 00:58:00:00, with sections of bars and tone, black, a title slate, and more black culminating with the actual beginning of the program starting at 01:00:00:00 exactly. Specifications vary, so check with the distributor in advance before doing your tape output.

For more information about using the Edit to Tape command, see the Final Cut Pro documentation.

Tip: Although the Edit to Tape command in Final Cut Pro provides the means to create automated leader elements, many editors prefer to change the sequence timecode to begin at 00:58:00:00 and use color bars, text, and slug generators to build their leader elements right in the Timeline prior to the beginning of the program at 01:00:00:00.

Creating Standard Definition DVDs

If you need to deliver a standard definition (SD) DVD, you can use DVD Studio Pro to create a DVD project to suit your specific needs. If you just need a simple screening disc for festival play, you can author a DVD that plays as soon as it’s inserted. If you’re creating a distribution disc that you’ll be selling to your audience, you can create a multimenu experience with your program, including chapter menus, extra features, closed captions and subtitles, commentary tracks, and all the other features audiences have come to expect. After the DVD Studio Pro project is created, you can either burn a disc yourself or deliver the project and media to a facility that’s capable of replicating your disc in quantity.

When preparing a program for authoring in DVD Studio Pro, keep the following in mind:

  • You can add chapter markers to the Timeline ruler of your sequence in Final Cut Pro in order to place chapter dividers at specific points of your program. These chapter markers are encoded in Compressor or DVD Studio Pro and can be used to automatically create chapter titles in DVD Studio Pro.

  • You can encode your program into MPEG-2 media using either Compressor or DVD Studio Pro. If you use Compressor, you have more options for adding closed captioning, making adjustments to the MPEG-2 encoder settings, and adjusting other properties of your program prior to importing it as an asset for your DVD Studio Pro project. The ability to use Compressor with Apple Qmaster for distributed rendering can also speed up the process.

  • Using Compressor, you have the option of using third-party MPEG-2 encoding components, if they’re installed on your system.

  • You can use Compressor to encode Dolby Digital surround sound media for your DVD Studio Pro project.

Instead of using DVD Studio Pro, you can use the Share command in Final Cut Pro and Motion to quickly create and burn a simple DVD to hand off for screening. The Share window provides options for creating a simple play menu, adding a title graphic, and using any chapter markers in the Timeline to create subtitles with which to identify different parts of the video. For more information about using the Share command, see the Final Cut Pro documentation.

Creating Blu-ray Discs

You can use the Share command in Final Cut Pro and Motion, or the batch template feature in Compressor, to create and burn a simple Blu-ray disc. You have the following options:

  • Choose whether the disc plays immediately or displays a play menu.

  • Choose a template for the menu.

  • Choose a title graphic, logo for superimposition, and background graphic.

You need to use a third-party Blu-ray burner to create Blu-ray discs. However, if you don’t have a Blu-ray burner, you also have the option of creating an AVCHD disc by choosing your SuperDrive (or any standard DVD burner) as the output device. AVCHD discs can be played on a subset of Blu-ray players that are specifically compatible with the AVCHD disc format.

Note: DVD Studio Pro cannot author or create Blu-ray discs. However, you can use Compressor to encode an H.264 movie for Blu-ray authoring in a third-party application such as Adobe Encore.

Exporting Movies for the Web

If you’re preparing your program for web delivery, Compressor lets you create high-quality, multipass videos in the popular H.264 format. In addition, you can use third-party QuickTime components to add the ability to compress to other formats, if necessary.

Compressor can work with an Apple Qmaster cluster to use multiple processing cores on a single computer and multiple computers on a network to process a single batch of media files. This can speed up your compression workflow substantially. For more information about setting up a cluster for distributed processing, see the Distributed Processing Setup Guide, available in Compressor Help or Apple Qmaster Help.

You can send an edited program or QuickTime movie to Compressor in one of two ways:

  • Using the Share command in Final Cut Pro or Motion

  • Exporting a QuickTime movie (either self-contained or reference) from any application and adding it to Compressor manually

When one or more media files are queued up, Compressor takes the following steps to prepare your program for the web:

  • Changing the frame rate, removing 3:2 pull-down, and deinterlacing programs for optimal onscreen web playback

  • Applying video filters for color adjustments, noise removal and sharpening, and watermarking

  • Resizing and cropping the frame dimensions as appropriate for your presentation and bandwidth requirements

There are a variety of presets available in the Settings window that are appropriate for creating web media. You can use these settings as they are or customize them for your own particular needs.

To make web sharing even easier, Compressor also has built-in templates (similar to the Sharing options found in other Final Cut Studio applications) for publishing compressed H.264 media files to MobileMe and YouTube for automated video hosting. The Publish to MobileMe and Publish to YouTube templates have post-transcoding actions that facilitate automatic uploading, as long as you already have accounts set up.

A third template, called Create Web Reference Movie, automatically creates three compressed versions of your program for the web (small, medium, and large), along with an accompanying reference movie that’s linked to each version. Whenever a viewer goes to a webpage that contains the embedded reference movie, the appropriately sized movie for a given device and connection speed is displayed automatically.

For more information about creating movies for the web, see the Compressor documentation.

Printing to Film

In any digital intermediate (DI) workflow involving Final Cut Studio, the final deliverable is typically a single, continuous DPX image sequence of your entire program. Because it’s an uncompressed RGB 4:4:4 format that’s capable of containing 10-bit log data, DPX is usually the preferred data format for delivering image sequences for film printing.

Unlike workflows in which a Color project is sent back to Final Cut Pro for output, you use Color to render the final deliverable image sequence, collating it for film output using the Gather Rendered Media command.

If you’re outputting an image sequence from Color for printing to film, here are some things to remember.

Render incompatible effects as self-contained QuickTime movies before sending to Color

Because Color is rendering the final media, you need to make sure that every clip you send to Color is in a compatible format or uses compatible effects. Effects that aren’t compatible with Color for purposes of rendering film output include:

  • Filters

  • Generators

  • Embedded Motion projects

  • Certain Final Cut Pro Motion tab settings, including Crop, Distort, Opacity, Drop Shadow, and Motion Blur

  • All keyframes applied to Motion tab settings in Final Cut Pro

  • Superimposed clips using opacity or composite modes

You need to export every clip in your Final Cut Pro project that uses an effect that isn’t compatible with Color as a self-contained QuickTime file. You then reedit these exported QuickTime files into the Timeline of your sequence to replace the original effects before you send your sequence to Color.

Note: If your program requires effects work such as titles and superimpositions, these may be created as self-contained QuickTime movies and edited into your program either before you send it to Color, or after you export your final image sequence from Color using a compositing application that can import and output DPX image sequences. If you insert effects after the final render, make sure to carefully maintain the frame naming and numbering of each shot you process.

Render speed effects as self-contained QuickTime movies before sending to Color

Although speed effects are compatible with Final Cut Pro–to–Color roundtrips, they should be exported as self-contained clips and reedited into your Timeline to replace the original effects, as described in the previous section. If you’re preprocessing slow-motion clips, you’ll achieve a better result by sending these clips to Motion and rendering them using the optical flow analysis features in Motion. For more information, see Creating High-Quality Slow-Motion Clips Using Motion.

Make sure that cross dissolves are the only transitions you use

When you render 2K or 4K DPX or Cineon image sequences, all video transitions are rendered as linear dissolves when you use the Gather Rendered Media command to consolidate the final rendered frames of your project in preparation for film output. This feature is intended to support only film output workflows. Any other type of transition (such as a wipe or iris) is rendered as a dissolve instead, so it’s a good idea to go through your project and change the type and timing of your transitions as necessary before sending your project to Color.

Create any animated pan and scan effects in Color

When you render DPX or Cineon image sequences, all the transformations made using the Geometry room’s Pan & Scan tab are rendered and output. This includes effects that were keyframed in Color.

Make Sure to Check the Color Documentation

Digital intermediate workflows can be complicated. Make sure you read the Color documentation for more information about Color workflows, including how to organize scanned film material and native RED QuickTime media, how to prepare Final Cut Pro projects for sending to Color, and how to render media that’s appropriate for film printing.

Digital Cinema Mastering

The process of creating a digital cinema master is similar to film printing, in that you typically render a DPX image sequence as your final deliverable. However, you usually send the consolidated image sequence that Color produces to a facility that’s set up to encode and encrypt your program to the exacting standards required to create a digital cinema distribution master.

For more information about outputting an appropriate DPX image sequence, see Printing to Film.