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Phantom Post Workflow with GlueTools

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I was recently asked to edit a commercial shot with a Phantom high speed camera, so was presented with the task of figuring out some kind of work-flow. The commercials had to be delivered on a tight deadline so whatever method I used, it had to be fast.

After a bit of research, GlueTools Phantom CineToolkit seemed to be the best option for the FCP/Mac OS 10.7 system I am running.

Our camera tecnician transferred the .cine files off the Cinemag using the PC only software. Those files were then ready to be processed.

Once the CineToolkit is installed a new settings pane is available in OSX’s system preferences. I have not looked much into how the plugin works but it seems to handle the .cine files from the Phantom camera on a system level. If you change settings in system preferences, it seems to change the playback settings system-wide, including the Finder preview and QuickTime – so if the colour in your images doesn’t seem right, there’s a good chance you’ve entered the wrong settings in the system preferences preference pane.

To import the files to FCP7 you just need to select file/import/Glue Tools Phantom Cine Import. You have a chance here to change playback/render and colour processing settings. I found that on my 2.5ghz core i7 MacBook Pro, using an image debayer quality of ‘Nearest Neighbour’ made for the smoothest playback. Any setting higher than that did produce a vastly superior image, but meant the playback was very choppy. In ‘camera settings’ I just used the built in white balance and ‘Camera Rec709 Colour Space’. With these settings I could immediately start cutting the raw .cine files in FCP.

To process higher quality images I used Apple Compressor to transcode the files to ProRes4444. Again, make sure your settings are correct in the System Preferences Preference Pane. These effect how Compressor processes the footage.

Using multicore processing, Compressor screamed through the transcoding… when it worked.  The .cine files were quite big so any time I added multiple clips everything started to freeze up and become very laggy.  I eventually resorted to using single core processing. It took much longer but gave much more reliable results.

For the final edit I with worked with the transcoded ProRes4444 files in FCPX instead of the .cine files in FCP7. Everything just seemed so much snappier with the transcoded media. Having built in colour correction and audio processing tools saved so much time and hassle compared to round tripping and waiting for real time playback renders with other software. The 4444 format was also great because it gave so much room to play with while grading.

There are probably better ways of working with Phantom footage but if I was to do this again I would definitely convert to ProRes and edit in FCPX. Once in that environment everything runs smoothly.

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