In an earlier tutorial, I addressed removing pulldown from 3:2 and 2:3:3:2 (24pA) sources. You can find this information all over the web pretty easily. But recently I found that I needed to ADD pulldown to a 23.98 edit to deliver it in NTSC SD. Many modern video cards like the AJA Kona 3 can automatically add a pulldown to 23.98 source material when it’s being output to 29.97, at either HD or SD resolutions. But I needed to deliver an electronic master to DG Fastchannel for Fuel TV, and not print a tape. Since 99% of the work I’m doing right now is 23.98, and we’re all moving toward tapeless delivery, I can see this workflow becoming more necessary in the future.
I’d like to thank Matthew Boyland over at the Creative Cow forums for posting this How-To. He originally wrote it for SD delivery to DG Fastchannel as an MPEG-2 file. I’ve modified the workflow slightly to deal with HD output too.
1. In FCP, select your sequence then choose FILE > SEND TO > COMPRESSOR. Or you can export your sequence to a video or reference video then open that in Compressor.
2. In Compressor, select your video then right click and choose NEW TARGET WITH SETTING > APPLE > FORMATS > QUICKTIME > APPLE PRORES 422 (HQ). Or pick whatever codec you like to work with.
3. Click on that newly created compression setting to open it in the Inspector window. Click the Encoder tab. Click the Video: (Settings…) button. Make the frame rate 29.97. Check the interlaced box. If you’re outputting SD, select Lower Field First in the drop down; if you’re outputting HD, select Upper Field First. Click OK.
4. Click the Frame Controls tab. Set Frame Controls to On. Set Output Fields to Bottom first if SD, Upper first if HD. Leave Deinterlace on Fast. Leave Adaptive Details checked. Leave Rate Conversion set to Fast. Leave the Set Duration to: on 100% and make sure it’s radio button is selected and NOT the “so source frames play at 29.97 fps” button.
5. Make changes to the Filters or Geometry sections as needed. If you’re outputting SD letterbox, set the Padding to Preserve Source Aspect Ratio. Those settings listed above are the ones critical to getting the proper 3:2 pulldown added.
6. Submit the compression, then bring the resulting video back into Final Cut Pro. Place it in a 29.97 timeline and make sure you watch it on an NTSC monitor to verify that it looks good. If you step through it frame-by-frame you should see the familiar pattern of 2 split/interlaced frames followed by 3 whole frames. This is a very important step. I tried many solutions that looked OK playing back on the computer monitor, but looked terrible on the NTSC monitor.
Thanks Matthew. I should add that it’s critical that if you’re adding pulldown for NTSC SD output, you need to have an NTSC SD monitor. No HD TV or computer monitor will show you that you have done this correctly or not. If you’re outputting 1080i29.97, then you need to have a real 1080i HD TV and not a computer monitor. All computer monitors are progressive. You need a monitor capable of interlaced output to make sure you got the pulldown correct.
Another thing I use this workflow for is adding pulldown to Super 8 footage. Most Super 8 footage is/was shot at 18fps. If you drop 18fps footage into a Final Cut timeline set to 23.98 or 29.97, it will just add duplicate frames instead of the proper pulldown. The same problem we addressed above. If my client wants the footage at 23.98, I will run the 18fps source through Twixtor to add new frames. It’s not a perfect process, but it works and I think it looks better than speeding up the footage to 23.98. I have to do this because 23.98 can only be progressive. Adding pulldown only works if you’re delivering 29.97 interlaced. So if I’m dealing with a client that wants 29.97, it’s even easier than using Twixtor. Before starting the above process, I run the source files through Cinema Tools to change their timebase from 23.98 to 18fps. This is because I have my telecine software set to output 23.98 files because Final Cut just won’t deal with 18fps. Then I can color correct in Color and other steps while keeping it at 23.98. Changing the playback speed is the last step. After Cinema Tools, I drop my clips into Compressor and use the workflow above.
Interesting additional use for this: Most monitors can’t accept 1080psf23.98 over Component HD. If you’re dealing with a video monitor that only has Component inputs for HD, such as an older projector, you probably won’t be able to feed it a 23.98psf source. I ran into this issue projecting 23.98psf HDCAM. We didn’t have a Sony J-H3, which is the only HDCAM deck that can automatically add pulldown to 23.98psf tapes. So we had to reprint the tapes at 29.97. This is also an effective workflow for HDV tapes since you can’t print them through a video card.
You will also want to use this workflow if you’re working on a 29.97 project and adding 23.98 elements. They will look way better if they have a proper pulldown applied instead of duplicate, stuttery frames. In fact, if you’re working on a multi-source project that will NEVER see a film-out, go with 1080i29.97. Just add pulldown to all your 23.98 sources. You’ll still have the look of 23.98, but all your footage will work in the same timeline without anything looking stuttery.
EDIT: I would like to remove the last suggestion to master at 1080i29.97 if your piece has multiple sources and will never see a film out. I’ve now worked on 2 higher budget documentaries that were destined for TV and DVD/Blu-Ray. So we decided to do 1080i29.97 so it would look better with mixed formats. What happened? Well one ended up going on iTunes (which is ALL progressive, and the conversion looked terrible) and the other had projection issues trying to make the projector work with an interlaced source (modern projectors are progressive displays, even though they accept just about anything). If you have the right tools to conform your mixed sources to 23.98, it will look much better in the final delivery. I can’t wait to test the new Teranex converters to see how they deal with this.