Converting edited 29.97 Video to 23.98 in FCP

For the past couple weeks I’ve been working for Revel in New York, a very cool new online video series. I started after they had already shot several pieces, and some of them had already been captured and assembled. Almost all the video was shot 24p on a DVX-100 and captured at 29.97. I figured I wouldn’t try to get too fancy, and just kept editing that way since some work had already been done at 29.97. Then I exported an edited video for upload and I took a look at it. As I should have realized, it was full of interlacing! There are a lot of moves on still photos, and it was just unacceptable. So I decided to try something I’d never done before. I took a piece that was edited as regular old 29.97 and converted it to 23.98.

First I media managed everything, so I could always go back if I screwed it up. I made a new project copying only the linked media, with 3 second handles. The handles were very important, because without them I couldn’t properly remove the pulldown on some clips. There needs to be a little bit of leeway at the beginning and end of the clip, since there will be some frames removed.

Once I had my newly created project, I selected all the DV NTSC master clips in the bin and clicked on “Tools/Cinema Tools Reverse Telecine.” Cinema Tools went to work on all the clips, and automatically removed the 2:3 pulldown.

Now I had 23.98 media in a 29.97 sequence, all of which was informing me of a newfound desire to be rendered. So I hit ⌘ + A to select all the clips in the sequence, copied to the clipboard, created a new 23.98 sequence, and pasted into the new sequence. Now I had 24p clips in a 24p sequence, with no need to be rendered. The trouble of course, was thanks to the removal of 6 available frames per second, some of the clips were now off by a frame. Some were even out of sync, but they were nice enough to tell me that. I had to go through manually and make sure everything fit together properly. Since the pieces were only about 3 min long it wasn’t too odious. Every once in a while I had to slide a clip 1 frame forward or back.

Once I was satisfied that I had a sequence that matched my original cut, I exported a fully progressive QT. The moves on the artwork are significantly better now, and there is no interlacing to be found.

Who Says You Can’t Make Money On The Internet?

I complained a while ago about the lack of reporting for advertising impressions on Vuze, but they have come through big time. It seems they switched their advertising network right around the time I uploaded Two Night Stand on June 30, but the reporting system was still looking for data from the old network. I’m kind of surprised it took so long to figure that out, but I guess the producers of VIP Topless Hotties Clip 3 are getting most of their revenue elsewhere and aren’t paying as close attention as I am. After a month or so of pushing, I got a report last night letting me know that in 6 weeks I’ve earned over $1000 from my various videos on Vuze, the vast majority of it coming from Two Night Stand. This is by far the most I’ve earned from my own films, and I’m very happy about it. I haven’t made back my out of pocket expenses on Two Night Stand, but it makes a significant dent. Approximately half of the Two Night Stand downloads recorded by Vuze generated qualified advertising impressions.

Sadly, the glory days of Two Night Stand on Vuze are over. It will probably overtake “Dcmdp: The Package,” a badly recorded, slightly dirty joke, to make it the #4 most downloaded video ever on Vuze, but it doesn’t seem likely to make it any higher.

Archiving to Gmail

Way back in 1998 when I started college, I had two options for email. I could either use PINE via telnet on the university’s servers, or I could use a mail program like Outlook or Eudora. I chose Outlook for home use, and PINE when I was away from my computer. And I never deleted anything. Luckily I had an astronomically large hard drive that I think was 80 GB, but that seems really big for 1998. So after 6 years at my college email address (No, not 6 years of college. I worked there for 2 years after I graduated) I had accumulated about 512MB of email in the proprietary PST format. Then I switched to Gmail, which everyone knows is much, much better than anything else ever.

When Gmail went down for about an hour yesterday, I started thinking about how much I value my Gmail account and how nice it would be to have access to all my old emails. And even though it wasn’t proving especially reliable yesterday, I think Gmail is just about the safest place to keep them. It’s way more accessible than a PST file, which we’ll see in a moment.

I was on my Mac at the time, so I tried to open the PST file on a Mac program. I figured Mail could do it. Wrong. Then I thought Entourage was a natural choice since it’s made by the same company. But astonishingly enough, Entourage has no ability to open Windows PST files. Microsoft has a utility that can convert PST files from Outlook 2001 for Mac only. Then of course I thought of Thunderbird. It’s a great program and I used it for my work emails while I was in Germany. No dice there either. It was obviously time to switch to Windows.

I opened the PST file in Outlook 2003 for Windows. Then I tried to connect to Gmail via IMAP. No luck. It wouldn’t connect to the server. So I opened Thunderbird for Windows and had it import all my Outlook mail. First I had to make Outlook my default mail program. Then I connected to and created a new folder to put all my old messages in. I dragged a huge folder I had informatively called “unsorted archives” into the Gmail folder and Thunderbird immediately started uploading all the messages to Gmail. This took a large part of the night. When I woke up they were done, and since then I’ve been uploading the other, smaller folders. It works most of the time, but sometimes I’ll get an error from the server saying that a particular message can’t be “appended.” Then I go in and figure out where the upload stopped and copy everything into the folder again.

I don’t know how useful my emails from 2nd semester freshman year will be, but you never know when you might need to know something. All of my email only takes up 30% of my quota on Gmail, so it doesn’t hurt to have it available. I don’t have my old high school emails, but I suspect some things are better lost to the ages.

Why It’s Not OK to Repost Videos

Last week Two Night Stand was posted on Dailymotion without my permission and I had it taken down. Now this afternoon one of the founders of posted three of my videos on without my permission, then sent me a YouTube message to ask if it was OK. Of course it was not OK, but I checked out the site just to see if I wanted to post it there myself. It turned out they were showing overlay ads during the movies. Ads that would generate revenue for this guy, but not for me. Why would anyone think that was acceptable? I requested that the videos be taken down, although as of now they are still up.

Wow. I just created a user account to check out Ragtube some more, and it appears that rather than requiring you to go through the trouble of uploading a video yourself, you can just hit a button and Ragtube will steal it directly from YouTube. That’s a clear violation of YouTube’s terms of use. Videos on YouTube are “not intended to be copied, stored, permanently downloaded, or redistributed by the user. Accessing User Videos for any purpose or in any manner other than Streaming is expressly prohibited.” I can’t imagine this will last long.

It might seem like because I’ve posted a video for free in one place that I wouldn’t mind posting it in another place, but that is really not the case. Here, in no particular order are my reasons why it’s not OK to repost videos from one hosting site to another.

  1. It is illegal. This is a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. Posting a video for free on one site does not automatically grant other people the legal rights to redistribute your film. Not only are they violating the copyright of the author of the video, but they are also almost certainly violating the terms of use of the site they’re taking the video from. I might not have lawyers, but YouTube sure does.
  2. Credit is taken away. Sure, there are probably credits in the video itself, but if it’s posted by someone else then it dilutes the authorship. It’s hard enough to get people to pay attention to my films, I don’t want anyone else taking credit without doing any work.
  3. Loss of control. When someone else uploads your video, you can’t do Quality Control on the video and audio, moderate comments, modify metadata, or choose a thumbnail. These are important aspects of the presentation of the film, and make a real difference.
  4. No income. If there is any revenue generated by the video, it should go to the author, not to some random person who happened to like the movie.
  5. There are better options. I understand that usually the motivation behind the reposter is simply to share the video with others. But guess what, that’s what web video is all about. There are better ways to share the video that don’t break any of these rules. The obvious one is to embed the video rather than repost it. You can also write about it and link to the video. There is no shortage of video sharing options.

So anyway, even if your intentions are pure, please don’t repost my videos. Feel free to share them though.

Two Night Stand Dethroned

For the past month Two Night Stand has been burning up the charts at Vuze. It was the “hottest” video throughout that time. But over the weekend, a slickly made clip of sexy girls playing soccer dethroned the scrappy former champion. Perennial contender “VIP Topless Hotties Clip 3” is close behind in third place. A month on top has been enough to get to 324,724 views, almost as many as in two years of underperforming on YouTube. I’m still waiting for a report from Vuze on the advertising revenue the video has generated. I’m trying to keep my expectations low. If every view equaled a qualified advertising impression, that would be over $1600, which would come dangerously close to paying the total production costs of Two Night Stand. I’m expecting it will be less than half that number though.

IMAX is Great

I’ve seen a couple 35mm movies blown up to IMAX. I saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at the Boston Aquarium on opening day. Harry and The Potters rocked the lobby while we waited. Yeah, I saw them before they were cool. Now they’ve sold out and gone all corporate Wizard Rock. Last weekend I went to see The Dark Knight at the only IMAX theater in NYC. I had to stake out Fandango at 2:45pm last Tuesday in order to snag tickets before they sold out.

Simply put, it’s a very impressive experience. I did a little research on the technical specs. I had thought IMAX was just a fancy name for 70mm, but although it uses 70mm film, it actually runs sideways through the camera to get a little extra resolution, like the old VistaVision process that used two sideways 35mm film frames to approximate one wide 70mm frame. Unfortunately, they couldn’t feasibly shoot the whole movie in IMAX, so there are large portions in boring old 35mm, which frankly just doesn’t cut it when projected back to back with IMAX shots. A lot of times scenes will have IMAX establishing shots, then immediately cut to 35mm. The first time it happened it got my hopes up, because I was expecting to see a whole sequence in IMAX, but it just ended up being disappointing. Eventually I got used to the idea.

And the real winner is the sound. There’s no Dolby matrix or anything. It’s totally uncompressed sound. And there are obviously some fantastic speakers involved. When I saw the boring old 35mm version at the Union Square theater on opening night, the subwoofer case was rattling, which was really annoying. It’s kind of par for the course though. In the past few weeks I’ve also seen Wall-E slightly out of focus, and Wanted projected through a spherical lens instead of anamorphic. When the Universal logo came on, the Earth looked like this:

Imagine if someone were actually paying attention to the projection. I suspect that would have been fixed during the trailers. We walked out after the first minute and got our money back.

The downside of the IMAX Experience ™ for me was some weird projection issues. Dark scenes often had what looked like a slightly milky overlay in the center of the image, like someone was shining a large flashlight on the screen. It was subtle, but annoying. There was also a clear vignetting in some scenes, where the image loses brightness as it gets towards the edge. I have a feeling those are related issues, and have something to do with the physics of projecting such a large image. I didn’t see it so much in the IMAX sequences though, just in the 35mm blowup portions.


I’ve been exploring the various video websites over the past few weeks, uploading a few videos at each one. I figured it was worth my time to upload at least to the ones who offer the potential to make some money like, imeem, Metacafe, and Atom. Yesterday I got around to Atom Films. I uploaded Two Night Stand, but for some mysterious reason I got a message informing me that my content had been “banned” for violating the user agreement. After that I tried uploading Getting Laid Tonight, which promptly disappeared with no explanation. I’m not going to waste any time trying to figure out what the story is. It seems buggy. Atom Films has been around practically since the dawn of the Internet, but they relaunched in June as a Comedy Central-branded video site. So I suspect they’re working out some kinks. I’ll check in on them in a few months.