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spritelyjim

23.98, 24, and 29.97

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My boss is very unhappy with me because until I arrived, two months ago, the company had done everything in 29.97. I insisted we do things in 23.98 fps and add a pulldown later, and so they agreed to it. On our first project, I used Cinema 4D for real for the first time. I discovered that C4D doesn't render out in decimals and so we had to go with 24fps, so I switched everything in my AE comps to the same frame rate. The first project we did seemed to work out well, so I decided to keep this as a standard. On our current project, however, things are going very wrong. The final output was supposed to be a BetaSP played to a projector, and we got a call back from the projectionists (2 states away) saying that the image looks like crap, as if the interlacing from the pulldown is somehow being exaggerated by being projected so large and therefore killing the image. We sent them a 24fps file that they are going to play from FCP, but my boss seems certain it will look like crap because when you play the file in Final Cut, it's choppy because it's 24fps. He seems to be blaming me now for all these problems because I was the one who insisted on 24fps.

 

The question is: was I right to insist on 24fps? Or even 23.98fps? Isn't that a standard practice in this business?

 

In my last job, I made the horrible mistake of doing a massive project in 29.97. I'm embarrassed to even look at it now on a real TV because on a computer it looks great, but on TV it feels like annoyingly-smooth video-y broadcasty crap. That made me vow to never do anything in 29.97 ever again. Is that wrong? Are there reasons to choose one over the other, other than "artistic" reasons? The biggest problems were happening during horizontal scrolls, which I was sure would be okay. I know about vertical credit scrolls and their special needs, but horizontal? How many little issues like these are there, and are they catalogued all in one place, somewhere?

 

I'm really frustrated, because I've been working in this business for two and a half years, I've been to school for this for 4 more, and I've read almost every mainstream book I can find on these subjects, but I can't seem to recall ever having anyone or any book explain to me the exact right process to get the best results on final output and exhibition. All the answers I have seen or heard are anecdotal, shifty, and uncertain. They go somewhat like this:

 

Me: I used 29.97 on a project once, it looked like crap.

 

You: Haha, that was pretty stupid. 23.98 all the way. Duh!

 

Me: Now I'm doing 24 because of C4D.

 

You: Oh, well that shouldn't change anything.

 

Me: But now the interlacing from the pulldown makes horizontal scrolling look like crap on a projector 2 states away.

 

You: Um....

 

 

Anyway, you get the point. Are there real answers somewhere? Thanks in advance.

Jim

Edited by spritelyjim

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lol - you crazy film lovers and your fascination with the 24 fps film like "look".

 

I think that you were just trying to make your animation look good and unfortunately it doesn't look good on this particular projector. I don't know much about projectors but I'm guessing that this one is probably refreshing at a low refresh rate, at like 60Hz or something and that's why the video doesn't look very good on their screen. I'd ask the projectionist if they can increase the refresh rate, that might help.

 

I'm worried that since it's playing from an NTSC source, that maybe they won't be able to adjust the refresh rate since 60Hz is what works best for NTSC video (29.97fps interlaced = 60 fields per second).

 

If you knew that the final deliverable was going to be Betacam SP on a projector, before starting the project then I think you might have made a mistake in insisting on a 24fps framerate for this particular project.

 

I'd see if the projector can be switched to a higher refresh rate. If you can set it to a higher refresh rate then you'll lose some of that flickering that you're talking about. (That's if I'm right about video projectors)

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Jim

 

I think what you're talking about is more of progressive vs. interlaced related rather than frame rate.

That smooth video look you mentioned is caused by the interlacing. Not directly related, 24p (progressive) does introduce flicker sometimes. As you know, film is 24p, but to deal with the flickering, every film frame is printed twice, sometimes 3 times, and the cinema projector is actually playing back 48 frames per second.

 

If you're doing NTSC, I would try to set your editing/compositing app to 29.97p, which will play back 30 progressive frames per seconds on supported players and 60 fields per seconds on other devices.

 

Hope this helps

Oren

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you are totally over complicating things. I've no idea what kind of work you are doing, but unless it's high end for cinema there's not a huge amount of point. I doubt Joe public will really appreciate the finer points of 23.98fps on a shopping mall commercial. Why don't you just stick to the standard to what your boss is used to and render at 29.97fps. For your personal website you could pre-comp and Posterize the time to 23.98 if you so wish.

Edited by james w

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Guest Sao_Bento
you are totally over complicating things. I've no idea what kind of work you are doing, but unless it's high end for cinema there's not a huge amount of point. I doubt Joe public will really appreciate the finer points of 23.98fps on a shopping mall commercial. Why don't you just stick to the standard to what your boss is used to and render at 29.97fps. For your personal website you could pre-comp and Posterize the time to 23.98 if you so wise.

Yes, it's a lot to explain, but the frame rate you work at should be determined by the output format rather than by a manifesto. What you're doing is akin to working in PAL on everything, then trying to convert it to NTSC at the end. Of course it doesn't look as good as it would have if you had worked at the target frame rate from the start.

 

This has nothing to do with fields vs. frames. People watch fields on TV all day everyday and no one freaks out (unless it's done improperly).

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Yes, it's a lot to explain, but the frame rate you work at should be determined by the output format rather than by a manifesto. What you're doing is akin to working in PAL on everything, then trying to convert it to NTSC at the end. Of course it doesn't look as good as it would have if you had worked at the target frame rate from the start.

 

This has nothing to do with fields vs. frames. People watch fields on TV all day everyday and no one freaks out (unless it's done improperly).

 

 

Sorry yeah, forgot to mention your output should be primarily dictated by what you are outputting to.

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Not that it helps now but C4D r11 will allow you to render 29.97 + 23.975.

 

So if we've determined that the format should be determined by the output, is there a huge table somewhere online that lists the relationships? As a C4D artist I have almost never had to worry about it because I just hand my files off to a someone who adjusts it in AE/FCP.

 

-m

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Guest Sao_Bento
Not that it helps now but C4D r11 will allow you to render 29.97 + 23.975.

 

So if we've determined that the format should be determined by the output, is there a huge table somewhere online that lists the relationships? As a C4D artist I have almost never had to worry about it because I just hand my files off to a someone who adjusts it in AE/FCP.

 

-m

If I had time, this would be a good thing to do for Mographwiki.net

There are some general rules about common formats like NTSC, PAL, and various flavors of HD, but when it comes to video walls or projectors, you really need to get your Columbo on. Asking the editor or producer is a place to start, but they don't always know the technical details, so even if they tell you something, try to confirm it with a second source.

One universal rule is that if you have live action footage, you want to match the picture size and frame rate in your final comp. If you need to seamlessly match elements into that footage, then you need to field render.

 

The problem comes from the tape days, where the equipment only worked in one format, at one resolution, and the tape heads only move at one speed - you don't have to know anything about the formats in that situation, so the producers and editors don't. These days, they try, but they still get it wrong a lot of the time.

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I have a quick 2cents and a question to throw into the mix. I usually feel very comfortable with the fields/frame rate/tech stuff of video and film work, but I have come into an interesting situation where I currently work. We are producing ads for cinema which is display on DLP and other digital projectors that can change their projection frame rate. We show a lot of content from other movies and tv, which is sent to us on Beta tape and we capture and then "upconvert" to 59.97. we that do animation work using this frame rate and for final output turn on frame blending and export at 59.97. The higher ups say that this just looks "better and smoother", but isn't what we are doing just duplicating frames and blending them. When I look at it I see the ghosting and weirdness from the frame blending. I think what we are doing is being confused with using interlacing to make 60 fields per second and therefore smoother animation.

 

I am I way off on this??????

 

Thanks

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The playback device determines the format. Tape? Beta? DigiBeta? Hard drive? DVD? Unless you've been given the complete spec and trust that whoever gave it knows what he's doing, you must contact the people farther down the line -- usually the video editor, motion graphics artist or whatever. They're they guys who'll throw it back at you if it's wrong, so you must talk to them first. Sao_Bento is right.

 

Choose 29.97 progressive as James recommended ... it's also known as 30p. I can only think of three reasons to render 29.97 interlaced (60i):

- to match interlaced footage

- when working with pulldown

- when you're stuck with a design that calls for a horizontal scroll and it looks too jerky.

 

In short, 29.97 progressive should be the default means of thinking. In my opinion. :)

 

So if the playback is Beta or Digibeta, go 29.97 progressive.

Edited by SteveR

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Thats what I would think too, but trying to figure out why we are rendering finals at 59.97 frame blended from a beta source. One guys says it just looks better, but I always want to know why and dont honestly believe the looks better thing

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Thats what I would think too, but trying to figure out why we are rendering finals at 59.97 frame blended from a beta source. One guys says it just looks better, but I always want to know why and dont honestly believe the looks better thing

 

You mean 59.94, right? We post guys have to be anal about that sort of thing. :)

 

Let's see... shall I assume the original footage was 60i, or 29.97 interlaced? So what you're doing is separating fields then rendering at 59.94 progressive, or 60p. I suppose that would give you the smoothness of 60i, but with full frames. However ... the fields have probably been interpolated (hopefully not just doubled) to produce those "full frames".

 

So. Comparing 60i and 60p? It sounds like you're trading one kind of ugliness (interlacing) for another (loss of vertical resolution) but I'd reserve judgement until I've seen the final product. If the source was interlaced, and you're showing on a progressive monitor, then going to 60p sounds like the right thing to do, since deinterlacing (separating) to 29.97 would lose the smoothness they want. The quality would depend on the quality of your field separation, I suppose.

 

Ideally, I'd have preferred 29.97 progressive source with no need to double to 59.94, but that's just me. Personal preference.

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Hmmm.... I think I'm gonna have to call you all out on this one.

 

I know I'm not completely crazy for trying to do things in 23.98. So I downloaded tons of spots showcased on motionographer. I ignored everything 25fps (and 24.98 fps?). It seems that Psyop, Motion Theory, Buck, Brand New School, and Digital Kitchen ALL have their work posted in 23.98. Well, there was one interesting exception. Psyop had a 29.97 file, but when I stepped though it, instead of an interlaced pulldown, Psyop just duplicated every fourth frame. 4/5 of 30 is 24, so it seems there is another solution. A few smaller companies had projects posted at full 29.97, including that horizontal scrolling timex commercial that looks just like those Microsoft Sync spots. Hmmmm. I'll have to check the Microsoft spots. K, just did. They were done by Eyeball NYC and they were done in 29.97

 

Now, I understand that a majority of projects by these high-end companies also include live action, which is probably shot in 23.98(HD) or 24(35mm), so graphics must be conformed. Also, 3D animation companies follow in the same vein as their 2D hand-drawn traditional roots: 24fps, period (I'm not talking about when they animate on 2s or 4s, etc, just their base frame rate). Also, many examples come from film titles, and those were made to conform with 35mm projection (always 24fps). So really, do you think all these things are re-rendered at 29.97 when converted to television? I don't. Do you think they look bad when conformed to 29.97 with a pulldown? I don't. Maybe 29.97 is a better "canvas" for things like horizontal scrolling, among other things. I'm not sure. But I do know that 23.98 isn't just me going for that "filmic look." It's going for that "not cheesy video" look. After going through film school, I am highly sensitive to the difference between those two. It's not just a look, it's a feel. It feels more professional, I think, at least most of the time.

 

Thank you for your responses. I don't mean to bash them. If 29.97 is better for motion graphics that aren't conformed to footage, aren't made using traditional animation techniques, and aren't meant for film prints, then I'll definitely take all this into consideration. Either way, I'm still convinced that there is much uncertainty and therefore much to be said on this topic. Thanks,

 

Jim

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No, you're not crazy, and you clearly know what you're talking about. And no, I don't think those 24-ish situations are re-rendered -- just pulldown is added.

 

23.976 (not 23.98 -- that number is inaccurate shorthand used by Apple and others) is fine when played back and shown on hardware that can handle it such as DVD or hard drive. Can't speak for today's digital broadcast. But if the playback hardware is locked to 29.97, you have to add pulldown, and that means interlacing, which is ugly on progressive monitors. That's why I was against doing it unnecessarily -- if the client doesn't like it, it's bad, and I think the client didn't like it ...? (Just thinking about the original post.) Now, there may be progressive monitors that can handle interlacing well -- just not sure about the client's projector. This is weher a few phone calls can help.

 

I wasn't aware that Psyop found duping frames acceptable -- that's news to me. Hey, we can get used to anything.

 

Yes, I like the look of 24 and 23.98 too. I don't mind pulldown. But if there's the risk of seeing interlaced lines on a progressive monitor, I run away from it.

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No, you're not crazy, and you clearly know what you're talking about. And no, I don't think those 24-ish situations are re-rendered -- just pulldown is added.

 

23.976 (not 23.98 -- that number is inaccurate shorthand used by Apple and others) is fine when played back and shown on hardware that can handle it such as DVD or hard drive. Can't speak for today's digital broadcast. But if the playback hardware is locked to 29.97, you have to add pulldown, and that means interlacing, which is ugly on progressive monitors. That's why I was against doing it unnecessarily -- if the client doesn't like it, it's bad, and I think the client didn't like it ...? (Just thinking about the original post.) Now, there may be progressive monitors that can handle interlacing well -- just not sure about the client's projector. This is weher a few phone calls can help.

 

I wasn't aware that Psyop found duping frames acceptable -- that's news to me. Hey, we can get used to anything.

 

Yes, I like the look of 24 and 23.98 too. I don't mind pulldown. But if there's the risk of seeing interlaced lines on a progressive monitor, I run away from it.

 

 

Thanks for continuing the discussion, Steve. You're right, the client didn't like the interlacing on the projector problem. We actually just got word back that the 24fps progressive file we sent them looked great and everything in the world is well again. I see what you mean about the problems of interlacing on a progressive output. I've talked to my last work place about this, and it seems they had a similar issue sending 1080i to a 720p projector. Apparently, they had to run the signal through an HD deck to convert it to 720p, then send it to the projector, and then it looked just fine. The projector was supposed to have been able to convert it, but unfortunately it was not up to snuff.

 

Well, I still plan on researching and experimenting on this. I'll probably start with horizontal scrolls in 29.97 to see if I can do them well enough to look good on a TV. Thanks. :)

 

Jim

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There are several things to take into account. If your working in 525, you can work in either 29.97 or 23.976

(in apple products they round to 23.98, but in the frame rate of AE MAKE SURE YOU ENTER 23.976). When you lay your project off to tape (beta, digi, dvcpro50, VHS, DVD...) your I/O card can handle the conversion from 23.976 to 29.97 with ease. I do it on an almost daily basis. In 720p its more or less the same, only instead of going from 23.976 to 29.97 you're going from 23.976 to 59.94 (59.94 is the only SMPTE standard that exists for 720p). Now I'm going to skip 1080i because I never work in it and really don't know much about it (and I hate it). However 1080p is a little different because SMPTE does recognize 1080psf 23.976 as a broadcast frame rate. Once again if you need to lay off to tape (HDCAM, SR, D5...) there is no conversion, you can also down convert to 525 29.97, AND 720p 59.94 easily using your I/O without having have AE do any pulldowns or any of that, your I/O card should be able to do the heavy lifting for you. Basically, what I'm saying is that if you want to work in 23.976 there's no reason you shouldn't. Get as much information up front as you can about what the broadcast format is and then you can make an informed decision that satisfies your aesthetic desires and the technical requirements of the project. I realize that all this started because C4D couldn't do 23.976 but now that v11 is able to, everything seems to play together nicely.

 

Happy animating.

 

Also I would avoid working at 24 (there is a difference between 24 and 23.976) at all cost, unless its specified by the client expressly. It just makes things a pain.

Edited by ianfreeze

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Not enough people have said it so I'm going to say it for the thousandth time:

 

- You can't judge if a company does 24fps because of the QT on their site. It's very common to post movies at 24 that were originally done in 30(29.97) because it saves bandwidth.

 

- Unless you are doing graphics for a projection in a theater, or need to REALLY save some render time, don't use 24 for TV. If the filed order ever gets reversed after the pull-down, you're fucked.

 

- 24 is not a magic frame rate that makes a film like motion. Interlacing is what gives a video motion or that overly smooth look. I shoot 35mm for my job and roll the cameras at 30fps since I shoot TV commercials and trust me it still looks like film.

 

- If you're doing stuff for American TV. You can't lose with 29.97 progressive renders (use motion blur if you don't like any stuttering). This way you have a frame per frame and no problems.

 

my .02

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Yep, NTSC sucks.

 

Avoid horizontal scrolls whenever possible. There's a little thing called "judder", that most of the time, cannot be fixed without redesigning the animation by adding distracting elements, making the speed irregular, that sort of thing. Sometimes going interlaced helps, but then you get that look.

 

As I said, avoid them whenever you can. There's a scene in Inside Job, maybe the opening titles, where the camera pans across a wall. Awful. The same goes for a bridge shot in Bourne Supremacy right after the "Gilberto de Piento" scene. Yuck. Judder city. But hey, they let it go, so why can't we? :)

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Guest Sao_Bento
Yep, NTSC sucks.

 

Avoid horizontal scrolls whenever possible. There's a little thing called "judder", that most of the time, cannot be fixed without redesigning the animation by adding distracting elements, making the speed irregular, that sort of thing. Sometimes going interlaced helps, but then you get that look.

 

As I said, avoid them whenever you can. There's a scene in Inside Job, maybe the opening titles, where the camera pans across a wall. Awful. The same goes for a bridge shot in Bourne Supremacy right after the "Gilberto de Piento" scene. Yuck. Judder city. But hey, they let it go, so why can't we? :)

Temporal artifacting is not limited to NTSC, chances are if you are noticing it in a film, the artifacts originated in the film rather than being introduced by it's conversion to NTSC.

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Temporal artifacting is not limited to NTSC, chances are if you are noticing it in a film, the artifacts originated in the film rather than being introduced by it's conversion to NTSC.

 

Sorry for the misunderstanding -- the second half of the post wasn't NTSC-related. My point was: ignore horizontal scrolls no matter what the medium. The only way to make them look good is to avoid them entirely, introduce distracting motion, make the pan irregular, or make it really slow or fast. Or hope the viewers won't notice.

 

Whatever the medium. :)

Edited by SteveR

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Sorry for the misunderstanding -- the second half of the post wasn't NTSC-related. My point was: ignore horizontal scrolls no matter what the medium. The only way to make them look good is to avoid them entirely, introduce distracting motion, make the pan irregular, or make it really slow or fast. Or hope the viewers won't notice.

 

Whatever the medium. :)

In general, yes. As a related anecdote - the reason they can do them well on the news channels is because much of the CG (character generator, in this case) hardware is specifically designed to solve the usual problems with horizontal scrolls and vertical credit rolls. Dropping something into a comp and animating it's position is not the same.

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