Thursday 13 February, 2020

macOS 10.15 Catalina support for Avid MC and Premiere Pro

If you're planning on getting a new MacBook Pro 16", or any Mac that's pre-loaded with macOS 10.15 Catalina, and plan on editing with Avid Media Composer, here are the limitations of running Avid Media Composer 2020.2 (beta).
Bear in mind that Avid ver 2019.12 or previous versions (like 2018.x versions or even older 8.x.x versions) will not not even install (or launch) in macOS 10.15 Catalina.
Also, note that if your Mac originally had an earlier macOS (like macOS 10.14 Mojave or macOS 10.13 High Sierra or earlier) and you've upgraded to macOS 10.15 Catalina, then you will be able to 'down-grade' your Mac from macOS 10.15 to macOS 10.14 or earlier.
But the MacBook Pro 16" will simply not let you down-grade.
It might be a good idea to get the older MacBook Pro 15" while stocks are still available.
Avid recommends Shutter Encoder to convert incompatible types of files to Avid NDxHD OP-Atom for use inside Media Composer running on macOS 10.15 Catalina
Or, you can use Apple Compressor or Adobe Media Encoder both of which can create MXF OP-Atom files for use in Avid Media Composer.
And this is Adobe's note on 

Wednesday 28 November, 2018

Fixing Sony DSLR and other cameras repeating file names

Sony A7 and other cameras create MTS or MP4 clips called C001, C002, C003…. And these names repeat every time the card is formatted. So, in a long project one has multiple clips called C001, multiple clips called C002 and so on. And what makes it worse is that these clips also have repeating timecode.
If the project is finished on the editing system then this is less of a problem. But if the project has to be taken to another system for colour correction or effects work, then relinking the AAF or XML or EDL to the original files is a huge problem. 
One way around this, while shooting, is to not format the card in the camera. Instead, in the camera, delete all clips except the last one. The camera will now begin recording from the next number and not go back to C001. So, if the last clip on a card is C028, then you delete C001 to C027 in the camera and start shooting. The camera will automatically shoot clips from C029 onwards. And so on.
But if that’s always possible. In that case, the only way to prevent conflicts is to rename the original Sony files BEFORE beginning the edit. What I do is to highlight the MP4 clips, (on a Mac) right-click on them, and select ‘Rename … items’. 
The folder containing the clips often have other files. The best way to highlight only mp4 files in that folder (on a Mac) is to see the folder in list view, and then click on the 'Kind' column. So that MP4 files get grouped together. You can now highlight just the MP4 files.
Once you highlight the MP4 files in one folder, right-click them and select 'Rename 62 items...' (where 62 is the number of files you've highlighted)
Then in the window that opens, choose to add text before clip name as date. So you type in the box 20180224 - for clips shot on 24 Feb 2018 (for example).
Now your clips will look like this
20180224-C001.mp4 20180224-C002.mp4 20180224-C003.mp4 20180224-C004.mp4
Clips from the next day will be like this 20180225-C001.mp4 20180225-C002.mp4 20180225-C003.mp4 20180225-C004.mp4 And so on.
Date is set for year-month-day so that they all get sorted neatly by date. If you set it as date-month-year then it goes crazy when sorted.
For example, if you have clips shot on 24 Feb, 28 Mar, 16 Aug, 02 Oct, and you name them as date-month-year, as 24022018, 28032018, 16082018, 02102018, then, on the disk they will appear like this. 02102018 16082018 24022018 28032018 So the order will end up being Oct, Aug, Feb, Mar.
Which is why, you name them as year-month-day, so then your clips will get named 20180224 20180328 20180816 20181002
And in the finder they will appear in the right chronological order as.
20180224 20180328 20180816 20181002
Feb, Mar, Aug, Oct. 
If you have multiple cameras shooting simultaneously, then you will end up with multiple clips called 20180224-C001.mp4 20180224-C002.mp4 20180224-C003.mp4 all on the same day.
In this case, you can also add the camera letter or name. So you rename the clips in two steps.
First, rename C001, C002, C003 etc with the date prefixed and then highlight them and add a letter before the name. So, you will get clips called A-20180224-C001.mp4 A-20180224-C002.mp4 A-20180224-C003.mp4 A-20180224-C004.mp4
for all A camera clips, and B-20180224-C001.mp4 B-20180224-C002.mp4 B-20180224-C003.mp4 B-20180224-C004.mp4 for all B camera clips, and so on for the other cameras.
Further, if there are multiple cards on the same day, you may want to add card numbers to the camera letters. So, for all A camera clips on the 24 Feb 2018 from the first card, you rename them as A01-20180224-C001.mp4 A01-20180224-C002.mp4 A01-20180224-C003.mp4 A01-20180224-C004.mp4
And for all A camera clips on the 24 Feb 2018 from the second card, you rename them as
A02-20180224-C001.mp4 A02-20180224-C002.mp4 A02-20180224-C003.mp4 A02-20180224-C004.mp4 and so on.
The basic idea is to ensure that within a project no two clips have the same name. In this method, it does not matter if timecode is repeated, because whatever you do, every 24 hours of time, timecode is repeated anyway. A timecode repeat along with a file name repeat is disaster when an edit needs to be moved from one system to another.

Friday 13 July, 2018

Fixing an exFAT drive on a Mac

I have tested this with macOS 10.13.6 on a MacPro cylinder
On a LaCie Quadra 4TB drive which was exFAT and was not mounting on the Mac, but appeared in Disk Utility. First Aid in Disk Utility could not repair this drive.

Quoting from various resources on the net...

Looked like crazy on the net for solutions but couldn't find any. I started to poke around in the terminal and ran this:

fsck_exfat -d disk0s4

The -d flag is the debug flag and it gave me hope. I saw all my files flashing by and after a while I got this question:
Main boot region needs to be updated. Yes/No?

I picked yes and it said that it repaired the drive. It didn't appear on the desktop though. I ran fsck_exfat again and now it said that the disk was ok. I fired up Disk utility and tried to repair the drive there once again and now disk utility could repair it! =))) 

Just wanted to share this lil advice since it seems common that exfat partions gets corrupted in OSX. I have no idea why Disk Utility doesn't call fsck and instead says that the disk can't be repaired. The tools for repairing it is in the OS and apparently and obviosusly it was fixable ( my case).

sudo fsck_exfat -d disk0s4

where diskos4 is your ExFAT partition.

It then asks:

Main boot region needs to be updated. Yes/No?

to which you reply Yes. You can then run repair in the OSX Disk Utility and the partition should be restored!

From comments at the bottom of the article

Another tip I discovered:

When you run fsck_exfat on your drive and it comes up “Resource Busy” you can use the following commands:

This will give you a list of processes using your disk:
ps -ax | grep disk2 (but your disk)

You will get something like this:
13699 ?? 11:52.83 /System/Library/Filesystems/hfs.fs/Contents/Resources/./fsck_hfs -y /dev/disk2s2

Run this to kill that process
sudo kill 13699

Repeat until it lets you fsck_exfat your drive 

Friday 8 June, 2018

Back after a long time

Its been a while since I have posted here. In fact, its almost 2 years.

These have been busy 2 years, with lots of travel, new projects, and other distractions. 

I started this blog to post musings which were to be studied writings, not instant posts like Twitter and Facebook posts. So, its not as if I've been away from the action, just that I make smaller posts on my Facebook page. 

Please visit my Facebook page, read up new and old posts, and feel free to ask something. I answer more quickly there. If you like it, please join so you get updates as I post them. 

Link here.
'Neil Sadwelkar's Tech Corner'.

Wednesday 2 November, 2016

In defence of the new (late 2016) MacBook Pro

"Hello Again"
On the 27th Oct 2016, at a small event, Apple showed their new upgraded MacBook Pros. Referred to as the late-2016 MacBook Pro. At the event, Apple showed only MacBook Pros, and there was no word on new MacPros, iMacs, or Mac minis. Not even a mention. And, over the next few days, there was an uproar of critical blog posts and articles slamming Apple. Particularly coming as it did, just a day after Microsoft announced their Surface Studio and Surface Book i7.

I read many of these criticisms in the past few days. I studied the spec of the new MacBook Pros. Particularly in comparison to the MacBooks I own or regularly use. A MacBook Air 11” (2014), MacBook Air 13” (2014), MacBook Pro retina 13” (2015), and two MacBook Pros retina 15” (2014, 2015). I regularly use the MacBook Pro 13” and 15” in real world pro use cases. and, I have to say, I’m not dismayed with the new MacBook Pro. At least until I actually use the new MacBook Pro for exactly the same situations that I’m currently using. 

And, for reasons that I’ll elaborate, these new laptops from Apple, won’t make me go looking to switch to a Windows laptop. The Microsoft Surface Book i7, the Dell XPS or Precision, Alienware, Razer and other models being considered, all fall short on one account or the other. For me at least. 

The CPU in this new MacBook Pro is the Intel Skylake i7, considered to deliver better performance than the existing Haswell CPUs while consuming less power, so less heat too. RAM is still 16 GB max. The reason is that Intel simply don’t have a CPU which provides better performance for equivalent power draw. So, if the CPU was any better, it would mean battery performance in the 2-3 hr range, which with a heavy duty app like Premiere Pro/Avid/Resolve may drop down to an hour or under. That wouldn’t work for my use. So also for the RAM. There’s no RAM above 16 GB which draws the same power as the existing one.

My existing  MacBook Pros have 2 Thunderbolt2 ports, 2 USB3 ports, one MagSafe power port, and an HDMI - six ports. For Firewire and GigE use converters, but rarely.

For my current use these six ports let me connect, a professional Codex transfer station, a Thunderbolt RAID, to transfer 500 GB raw camera data in under 30 mins twice over. USB3 can’t match that. Also, with Thunderbolt I can connect a Blackmagic or Aja video card to capture or playback HD video even 4k. Can’t do that over USB. USB RAIDs are much slower than Thunderbolt RAIDs that professionals simply have to use, especially for 4k video. The HDMI port lets me connect an external monitor. If I need more USB devices - like a keyboard or mouse, I use a USB hub anyway.

There are criticisms for the ‘just’ 4 Thunderbolt3 ports and no HDMI/GigE/USB3. But I can get all of those with cheap converters. Besides, the Thunderbolt3 in my use case would be connected to a monitor, or a Thunderbolt RAID, both of which will also charge my MacBook Pro, so I really won’t miss the dedicated power port. I’ll even have one less cable.

SD card is absent in the new MacBook Pro. But I seldom use it anyway. I have USB3 card readers which are fast enough and support CF and CFast cards, which I use more often than SD cards.

Connection cases
In my current MacBook Pro, one Thunderbolt goes to a Codex transfer station, the second to a RAID, and then daisy chained to a Thunderbolt2-PCIe adapter running a SAS card connected to an LTO tape drive. And the two USB3 ports go, one to a card reader, and the second to another portable drive. The HDMI port may be connected to a larger monitor. And the MagSafe to power.

So, for me, with the 4 Thunderbolt3 ports in the new MacBook Pro, one Thunderbolt3 would go (via a TB3-TB2 adapter) to a Codex transfer station, the second to a RAID (which would also charge my MBP), and then daisy chained to a Thunderbolt2-PCIe adapter running a SAS card connected to an LTO tape drive. The third Thunderbolt3 port would go to a card reader (via a TB3-USB-A adapter), and the fourth to another portable drive. If I need HDMI, I could daisy chain that from any of the existing TB3 or TB2 ports on my drives of PCIe expander. I could also use the OWC or Akitio Thunderbolt dock.

Besides, with Thunderbolt3 cum USB-C ports, I can connect anything to any port. At the moment I need to connect thunderbolt to Thunderbolt and USB to USB. Now they are the same port. And they connect any way around. 

As fas as I can tell, the new MacBook Pro will be the only laptop with 4 Thunderbolt cum USB-C ports. Other laptops have one or the other, but none seem to have 4. Maybe Apple could have made 6, but I’m sure there is a technical reason like bandwidth limits (40 Gbps x 4 = 160 Gbps)  

In the coming year or two, there will be a proliferation of professional level Thunderbolt 3 add-on devices - Thunderbolt3 RAIDs,Video I/O devices from Blackmagic/Aja, Thunderbolt3-PCIe expanders, Thunderbolt3 external GPUs, Thunderbolt-40GigE adapters and many more. So, Apple has paid more attention to ‘forward compatibility’, than get stuck with older USB-A ports. We moved on from Firewire800, we’ll move on from USB3 too.

A few Windows laptops now come with an nVidia 1060 and some even with a 1080. But none are as light or have as less power needs as the AMD Polaris GPU that the new MacBook Pros offer. Even Microsoft chose to go with the older 960 series GPU for their Surface Book and Surface Studio. And the Razer needs an external GPU with power to deliver performance. So, unless the AMD 455 in the new MacBook Pro isn’t as fast (for my video processing needs), as the GPUs my current MacBook Pros have, I should be fine with this new AMD GPU.

There are already solutions for an external GPU over Thunderbolt2 for the current MacBook Pro. But they are limited by Thunderbolt2 bandwidth. With 40Gbps available over Thunderbolt3, its just a matter of time before someone comes up with an external Thunderbolt3-PCIe expander which will accommodate and run GPU cards like the nVidia 1080 at full bandwidth. That’s an elegant solution, and it will also charge the MacBook Pro.

Display and touch
Like the new 2016 iMac, these new MacBook Pros have a P3 colour space display. This us huge if one is going to watch video destined for professional delivery - like cinema DCPs, and other deliveries. Finally we have a calibrated display while working. I haven’t come across a comparable Windows laptop with this feature yet.

Many Windows laptops have touch screens. I’m not sure this is a very desirable feature. For one thing, with the oily food we eat, my screen will be one mess of finger smudges, and the other, you really can’t do any serious editing with your fingers. They simply come in the way. The Touch Bar might be a better idea. And the keyboard an mouse work fine too. Have been since 1993 anyway.

Operating System
My current MacBook Pros run MacOSX or macOS which no other laptop will run. There is at least one application I use regularly, which is Mac only. the Codex Production Suite or Codex VFS. And I regularly need to read and write ProRes files. And run FCP. Some Windows laptop may let me do one or more of the above, but none will let me do all of that. 

So, all things considered, if the new MacBook Pro offers me better performance for the video and data work that I do, I’m all for it. And I’m sure it cannot be slower than existing models I have. If anything, its lighter and thinner, and has better battery life. And, has 4 ports Thunderbolt cum USB-C, P3 display, a large trackpad, Touch Bar, faster SSD, which isn’t all there in any other laptop yet.

So, new MacBook Pro, as far as I’m considered “Bring it on”.

Monday 26 September, 2016

Sharing a drive between a Mac and a PC

Best practices that I follow when I need to share a hard drive (or even a USB 'pen' drive) between Mac and Windows.
I format the drive depending on which platform (Mac/PC) is going to do the maximum read and write with data on the drive.
So, for example if I'm going to do a lot of work on a Mac, I format the drive on a Mac (as HFS+ with GUID Partition Table), and then on Windows use HFS Explorer or MacDrive to do the occasional read/write on a PC.
Conversely, if I'm going to do a lot of work on a PC, I format the drive on a PC (as NTFS), and then on Mac use Paragon NTFS to do the occasional read/write on a Mac.
This applies to editing with FCP7/X or Premiere Pro on Mac, or even working with Photoshop or Excel/Numbers.
If at all I run into a problem with files on a drive, I usually repair it on the native platform. Meaning, if an NTFS drive has problems, I repair it on a PC. Or, if a HFS+ drive has problems I repair it on a Mac. Never vice versa. To repair a drive on a Mac I use Disk Utility, or if that fails, then I use Disk Utility.
And, all my data is usually backed up in two places. I use Carbon Copy Cloner or ChronoSync to keep two drives or even folders on drives synchronised with the same data. For smaller files (like FCP/Prem projects or spreadsheets, documents, or even pictures) I use DropBox, Google Drive, or iCloud to keep a copy safe.

I completely avoid MS-DOS or ExFAT for shared drives, as they are problematic over a long period.

Tuesday 24 May, 2016

Importing custom built (CTO) Mac systems - are they worth it?

In countries where Apple does not have an official online store, like in India, Apple sells Mac computers of certain fixed configurations. These can be seen on their country specific web site. So, if you wish to buy a Mac - MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, or MacPro - in India - you will need to choose from these configurations. 
But, in places where Apple has an online store, you can buy higher configurations called CTO (configured to order) systems.

First let's look at the highest configuration Mac you can get in India (with comments on upgradeability by the user)

MacBook Pro 15”
2.5GHz quad-core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
 - Rs 1,99,900
(You can’t upgrade RAM or GPU but you can upgrade the SSD yourself)

iMac 21.5
3.1GHz quad-core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB 5400rpm drive, IrisPro 6200 GPU shared VRAM
 - Rs 1,23,900
(You can upgrade the drive but you can’t upgrade the RAM, CPU or GPU yourself)

iMac 27
3.3GHz quad-core i5, 8GB RAM, 2TB fusion drive, R9 M395 GPU 2GB VRAM
 - Rs 1,88,900
(You can upgrade RAM and drive but you can’t upgrade the CPU or GPU yourself)

3.7GHz quad-core XeonE5, 12GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Dual AMD D300 2GB VRAM each
 - Rs 2,49,900
(You can upgrade RAM and SSD but you can’t upgrade the CPU or GPU yourself)
3.5GHz six-core XeonE5, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Dual AMD D500 3GB VRAM each
 - Rs 3,29,900
(You can upgrade RAM and SSD but you can’t upgrade the CPU or GPU yourself)

But, from an Apple online store (Dubai) you could get

MacBook Pro 15”
2.8GHz quad-core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD
 - AED 12,699 - Rs 2,33,045

iMac 21.5
3.3GHz quad-core i7, 16GB RAM, 2TB fusion drive, IrisPro 6200 GPU shared VRAM
 - AED 8,799 - Rs 1,61,480

iMac 27
4GHz quad-core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB fusion drive, R9 M395 GPU 4GB VRAM
 - AED 12,799 - Rs 2,34,880

3GHz 8-core XeonE5, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Dual AMD D700 6GB VRAM each
 - AED 27,199 - Rs 4,99,120
2.7GHz 12-core XeonE5, 64GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Dual AMD D700 6GB VRAM each
 - AED 38,399 - Rs 7,04,640

There is no dealer who sells these CTO Mac in Rupees here in India. The only way to get one of these is to either import them from a dealer in, say, Dubai, Singapore, or Hong Kong - the nearest online Apple store to India. Or to fly out to one of these countries and bring them back with you. You will, however have to pay customs duties on return and even possibly excess baggage on the flight (in the case of the iMac). The MacPro could be carried as hand baggage, since its small and not too heavy. (5 kg)

Customs duty is between 17%-28% as far as I can ascertain from websites like or duty calculator. Depending on what the machine gets classified as. That is, 17%-28% of the value as fixed by the customs person on arrival. If you have an invoice they may consider that as the value, or else they will do a lookup and fix a value to it. So, for instance if they fix a value of Rs 2 lakhs, then you’re looking at Rs 34,000 - Rs 56,000 customs duty. 

So the price of the above CTO configs with 28% Customs duty will be…

MacBook Pro 15”
2.8GHz quad-core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD
 - AED 12,699 - Rs 2,98,298

iMac 21.5
3.3GHz quad-core i7, 16GB RAM, 2TB fusion drive, IrisPro 6200 GPU shared VRAM
 - AED 8,799 - Rs 2,06,694

iMac 27
4GHz quad-core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB fusion drive, R9 M395 GPU 4GB VRAM
 - AED 12,799 - Rs 3,00,646

3GHz 8-core XeonE5, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Dual AMD D700 6GB VRAM each
 - AED 27,199 - Rs 6,38,874
2.7GHz 12-core XeonE5, 64GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Dual AMD D700 6GB VRAM each
 - AED 38,399 - Rs 9,01,939

So, is getting a CTO iMac really worth it?

In my opinion, for a MacBook Pro and iMac 21.5” the extra cost is not worth the performance boost you will see even in the most demanding applications. However, in the case of the MacBook Pro 15” you’re most likely to get out of Customs without paying duty as one laptop is duty waived. Even then, it’s not such a good deal.

In the case of the iMac 27” you’re going to have to pay Customs duty. But you may have to pay only 17%, or the Customs officer may assess it as the highest value iMac available in India since he cannot see the machine spec without turning the machine on which he’s unlikely to do. In which case it could cost as less as Rs 2,21,000 including duty. That is a good deal and the performance increase with an iMac i7 with a 4GB GPU is noticeable.

However, compared to carrying an upgraded (CTO) iMac 27” for 3,00,646 from Dubai to India, against getting a 4-core MacPro in India for Rs 2,49,900 and adding even a 4k display, I would go with a MacPro 4-core against a CTO iMac 27”

By the way, there are resellers who sell the iMac i7 in India on eBay. I saw two
Apple iMac 27” Retina 5k Display 4.0ghz i7 3tb Fusion 32gb, M395X 4gb - Rs 3,31,398 all incl
27" APPLE iMAC 4.0Ghz i7 RETINA 5K 512GB PCIe+6TB HD (6512GB) 32GB RAM M395X 4GB - Rs 4,20,353 all incl
Straight to your home by courier.

Here too, for these prices, a 4-core MacPro bought in India against Rupees is a better deal.

One more thing. Buying a CTO iMac in foreign currency and carrying it in, or even buying it online, may not let you claim depreciation or income tax benefits in India. This could be a big consideration. Besides, maybe there are warranty issues to consider for self-imported Mac systems.

So, bottom line. Most CTO Mac configs aren’t worth the trouble and expense of importing into India. 

What about a hackintosh - meaning, an assembled PC hacked to run the MacOS. Is that a good deal? Many say they are, and some say they aren’t. I have very little direct experience and the few occasions I saw a hackintosh running an editing software like FCP or Avid, it was not stable enough. This was a few years ago, and maybe things have changed now. One of these days I might find time and build one myself. If and when I do that, I’ll share the experience. 

Till then, my vote is for getting a ‘real’ Mac made by Apple. In India and in Rupees.

Friday 15 May, 2015

What is this 23.98 fps and 24 fps confusion?

First off, 23.976 fps and 23.98 fps is the same thing, One is just showed as rounded off to two decimals.

There is some confusion on this 23.98 fps frame rate. Many, if not most prosumer cameras - like the Canon 5D MkII and MkIII, Nikon, Sony, Olympus HDSLRs, GoPro, Sony XDCam and NXCam, Panasonic cameras and such like record 23.98 fps, not 24 fps. What makes it confusing is the the menus in some of these cameras show 24p or 24 fps but actually shoot 23.976 fps. 

Further, even some NLEs like FCP or Avid, have 24p settings which are actually 23.98. And, in forums and articles particularly those originating in NTSC countries like the US, people refer to 23.976 fps as 24 fps. 

So, why 23.98 fps? What purpose does an odd frame rate like that serve? This is a question many in the PAL world, or those coming from film (24 fps) backgrounds ask. 

The short answer is that 24 fps video does not play on 29.97 fps TV sets or TV monitors. But 23.98 fps can be made to play on 29.97 fps monitors. But the whole world does not have 29.97 fps TV monitors, only the US and NTSC countries have 29.97 fps TV monitors. That’s why people from NTSC countries cannot fathom 24 fps video. They only understand 23.98 fps video. And people from PAL 25 fps countries cannot fathom 23.98 fps. They only know 24 and 25.

Where did 23.98 fps come from?


Television originated in the US. Initially, there was only live TV (video recording came later). So, there needed to be some way to ensure that TV cameras in studios and TV sets at home remained in perfect sync. The only way for the technology of the day, was to sync to electrical mains. And mains in the US was 60 Hz. So the original fps of TV was set to 30 Hz or 30 fps. 

When colour TV came about, a small adjustment had to be made to transmit the colour reference signal. This needed the frame rate for colour TV (in the US) to be set to 29.97 fps. Which is why NTSC is still 29.97 fps. And there’s no such thing as 30 fps any more. Even in HD, 1080i60 is actually 29.97 fps.

In the PAL world, meanwhile, TV began as 25fps since electrical mains in UK and other European countries, was 50 Hz. So, PAL countries adopted 25 fps for TV.

Coincidentally, all cricket playing countries, also have 50 Hz mains - England, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, UAE, Netherlands, even Afghanistan are all PAL and 25 fps. Canada isn’t PAL, and they play cricket, but who really cares about watching Canadian cricket.

Film and TV

What happens to film which is 24 fps? Film has always been 24 fps. Exactly 24 fps.

When film was shown on TV, it was shown using a machine called ‘Telecine’ which converted film to Television. In NTSC countries, this was done by repeating 6 frames every second so 24 fps became 30 fps in the Black & White TV days. For colour TV (NTSC - 29.97 fps), film was run at 23.976 fps and 6 frames repeated every second to get 29.97 fps.

In PAL countries, film was either run at 25 fps (4% faster) to get a 25 fps TV signal, or one frame was repeated every second to get 25 fps from 24 fps. So, in PAL countries film was 24 fps in a cinema and 25 fps on TV. No in-betweens like 23.98 fps.


When video became digital, it still had to follow existing frame rates. And when SD got upgraded to HD, we still followed old frame rates so that old SD material could be used for HD TV. Today, we have TV sets which can play any frame rate, so there’s no need to have a distinction between video and film rates. But its too late to change now. 

So now, we have 
1080i50, 1080p25, and 720p25 all at 25 fps
1080p50 at 50 fps
1080i60, 1080p30, and 720p30 all at 29.97 fps
1080p24 at 23.98 fps
1080p50 at 59.94 fps

and there’s also 1080p24 in the PAL world at exactly 24 fps. 

Movies are watched in cinemas on digital projectors showing DCPs (Digital Cinema master files) playing out of DCP ‘servers’. These servers support all frame rates, but theatrical ‘film’ is generally 24 fps. At least in all Indian cinemas, and in most film festivals worldwide.

Blu-ray disks are either 24 fps or 23.98 fps. Or even 25 fps.
DVDs are NTSC or PAL, so 29.97 fps or 25 fps.

Professional video cameras like the Arri Alexa/Amira, Red Epic/Dragon, Sony F65/F55/F5, Blackmagic Ursa/Production 4k, Aja Cion and others offer 23.98 fps, 24 fps, 25 fps, 29.97 fps, and higher frame rates. So they offer 23.98 and 24 fps as two different menu items.

How about 4k?

4k also preserves this 23.98 and 24 fps distinction and both exist. 4k cinema DCPs are 4k at 24 fps. And 4k TV, also called UHD (the TV form of 4k) will exist as 29.97 and 25 fps. And even as 50 fps and 59.94 fps.

So that’s the story. 23.98 fps, is not the same thing as 24 fps. Both will be around and both will co-exist. And depending on who you ask, or what you read, some will distinguish between the two and some will refer to only one. And those that refer to only one, will most likely mean 23.98 fps. That’s just the way it is, and for the foreseeable future, that’s how it will remain.

Saturday 11 April, 2015

NAB 2015 - what I'm looking out for

It's NAB time once again, and I'm back in the US. Spending the weekend away from Las Vegas, unwinding, reading up, preparing, and getting over jet lag just before I go into Vegas tomorrow.

This year, the things I'm paying attention are...

4k - where are we so far? 4k Recorders, recording software, formats, codecs.
New cameras for prosumers, docu and independent film-makers Canon XC-10, C300, and others.
Wireless video - not the streamed low-res stuff, but full res HD and uncompressed.
Disk Storage - of course, disks will be larger than last year, faster perhaps, but what's new?
10 GigE - faster networking and sharing for small groups.
VFX software - what's new in this field where no one seems to be making money.

Tuesday 6 January, 2015

FCP 7 on Yosemite and new Macs

FCP 7 still works, and can be installed on any new Mac even one which ships with Mac OSX 10.10 Yosemite, as this link shows...

FCP 7 on Mac OSX 10.10 Yosemite

I've tested this on new MacBook Pros, older MacPros, and new cylinder MacPros, iMacs, and FCP 7 continues to work. So, while Apple officially discontinued selling and even developing for FCP 7 (and Final Cut Studio), the software still works. Of course, any bugs or issues present in FCP 7 as of June 2011, will still be there and never get fixed.

I've found some issues in DVD Studio Pro like colours of buttons aren't visible in the drop down menu, and Cinema Tools is often unstable. But otherwise it works.