• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Lesson 4. Gathering and Editing Film > Organizing Film Projects

Organizing Film Projects

As with a video project, before you begin, you need to establish a framework for your project—a clear path from beginning to end. Planning is beneficial for any project, and taking time to organize your post-production process during the pre-production of a film will help you determine your best approach.

Planning a Film Workflow

To ensure success, begin your planning early. When you edit film on a nonlinear system there are many considerations. You will need to decide which film format to use, which frame rate to use for the telecine transfer, which editing timebase you will use, what sound recorder and sound timebase to use, and how to sync the sound with the film.

Aside from the technical preparation, you need to have an idea of who’s who. Introduce yourself to everyone involved in the production process. Make sure to introduce yourself to the personnel at the facility who will develop your film, work prints, and release prints; the telecine operator; the negative cutter; and the audio post-production team. An early dialogue with anyone directly involved in handling your film will establish communication and help you streamline your process.

Determining Film Specifications

Consider which film format you use. Cinema Tools supports 35mm 4-perf, 35mm 3-perf, and 16mm-20 film formats.

Determining Telecine Specifications

You must decide on video frame rates, how and what to transfer, and what aesthetic look to apply to your film. Telecine machines are expensive and have to be used in a facility that provides a trained operator. Any decisions regarding your transfer process should be made prior to your session, so you should run a couple of tests prior to committing to an entire process.

When deciding how much to transfer during a telecine session, you will need to choose between transferring by complete camera roll or selectively by scene-and-take:

  • Camera roll— If you decide to transfer an entire roll of film continuously, you need only one event for Cinema Tools to establish the metadata link between the film and video. Although Cinema Tools will generate an accurate cut list from a camera-roll clip with a single event, if you prefer, you can create additional records in Cinema Tools at any time during the course of your project. Camera-roll transfer has its drawbacks, however. Syncing the audio onto the videotape during the telecine can be difficult. When a film is shot, typically you will begin the audio recording before and after the film starts and stops rolling, which means you won’t be able to maintain sync from the beginning of the camera roll through the end. In the case of transferring by camera roll, you will need to sync the audio in Final Cut Pro. (See Lesson 3 for sync steps.)

  • Scene-and-take— If you decide to transfer only the scenes and takes you need, your telecine can be a little more expensive than if you telecine the camera roll. The benefit of transferring scene-and-take is that your audio is easier to sync during the telecine. Also, an event will be logged for each clip, minimizing your manual data entry in Cinema Tools.

Film runs at a frame rate of 24 fps. Video runs at 29.97 fps NTSC; 25 fps PAL; or 24 fps (24p)—depending on your video standard. You can choose among a number of options for the distribution of film’s 24 fps among the frame rates of NTSC and PAL.

  • NTSC— Performing a 3:2 pull-down is the most common way to transfer film to NTSC video. This is also known as a pull-down pattern of 2:3:2:3. (See the section on 24p in Lesson 7 for further technical details.) Since there is no neat calculation for squeezing 24 frames of film into 30 frames of video, the 3:2 pull-down gives you the right equation to transfer the film.


    In the preceding illustration, the A frame is a complete frame of film in a video frame, which makes it a perfect frame to begin a video clip. For simplification, you will usually ask the telecine operator to set the A frames to start at non-drop-frame timecode numbers ending in 5 or 0.

    With the 3:2 pull-down, a film frame is added or subtracted to the video frames in order to make them match.

    In order to edit film at it’s native frame rate of 24 fps, you can use the Reverse Telecine feature in Cinema Tools. The Reverse Telecine feature restores a one-to-one correlation between the film and video.

  • PAL— Because PAL is 25 fps and closer to the film frame rate, the calculation is more straightforward. You can either transfer the film by running the film at 25 fps, commonly referred to as the 24@25 method, or by using the 24&1 method. The 24&1 method adds two extra fields per second. One extra field is added to the 12th and 24th film frame.

  • 24p— This is the ideal frame rate because it has a one-to-one correlation with film. Other factors make 24p an ideal format: its progressive frame rate and high spatial quality replicate film’s aesthetic. You will need the right hardware (24p VTR) to capture 24p.

You need to bring a variety of materials to your telecine sessions—typically, the work print, sound files, paperwork, and an electronic file that contains a list of all the events you want the telecine operator to record. You will also need to consider how you want to adjust the color and contrast of each scene. During the telecine session, you will set your basic color and contrast, and after your picture edit is complete, you will fine-tune your color adjustments with a colorist.

When you complete your telecine, you’ll receive two critical pieces of material: your videotapes and an electronic file called a telecine log file, which contains the metadata recorded during your telecine session. You should also ask for a printout of the telecine log file. Be sure to check your information as soon as possible. Make sure you have the correct tapes, files, and number of events, and that your sound is in sync.

Determining Sound Specifications

When you begin a film project, the task of defining your sound specifications is similar to that of a video project. For film, sound is recorded on separate media, so the main factors you need to be concerned with are frame rate, sync, and final mix.

During the film shoot, you will usually have your choice of timecode standards: 30 fps, 29.97 fps (non-drop-frame and drop-frame), 25 fps, or 24 fps. Ideally, you should choose your recording timecode standard based on your video transfer timecode standard. Matching the audio timebase to the video transfer timebase is standard practice because the sync process is easier. This standard is especially true if you are syncing during the telecine.


If you are editing in NTSC, use non-drop frame timebase for both video and audio.

When you achieve sync through the telecine transfer, you need to maintain the original audio timecode records. Capturing your original audio timecode information will be imperative if you plan to export the audio information in an EDL for a professional audio mix. Check that your original audio timecode is recorded in the event log during your telecine session. You may also need to compensate for a particular format; NTSC and PAL transfers can alter how you transfer your audio in order to maintain correct sync.

  • NTSC audio transfer— During a telecine session, film must be slowed down 0.1 percent (from 24 fps to 23.967 fps) in order to compensate for the NTSC actual frame rate of 29.97 fps. If the film must be slowed, audio must be slowed down also to maintain sync.

  • PAL audio transfer— If you use the 24@25 method of video transfer, you will speed up the video from 24 fps to 25 fps. Your audio will need to be sped up by the same amount. However, if you are using the 24&1 method of video transfer, you should run your audio at 25 fps.

If you do not sync during the telecine process, you will capture separate video and audio files and sync your clips directly in Final Cut Pro. (See the exercise in the “Capture Media By Complete Tape” section of Lesson 3.)


Using the Conform feature in Cinema Tools will let you achieve a change in audio frame rate. You can also modify the speed of an audio clip directly in Final Cut Pro. To achieve a speed change in Final Cut Pro, simply select the clips you wish to change, choose Modify > Speed, and apply the appropriate speed change. For example, for NTSC you will apply a speed change of 99.9%. This will slow down the audio by 0.1%.

Organizing Media

Film projects share the same rules of media organization as video. (See the section on organizing media in Lesson 3.) However, because the clip names in Final Cut Pro film projects are a result of your Cinema Tools database, you need to consider the appropriate film clip naming conventions:

  • Scene and take— Cinema Tools creates a clip name by using the scene and take number. If your clip is from scene 50, take 1, it will be named 50-1.

  • Reel and timecode— Where no scene and take number exist, Cinema Tools will use the reel number and timecode of a clip. Therefore, a clip with a reel number of 003 and timecode of 01:01:01;01 would be named 003-

  • Unique names— Cinema Tools identifies clips with identical names, which may be created when you are shooting with multiple cameras. In these cases, Cinema Tools adds the roll or reel number to the end of the clip. If you have multiple angles, let’s say you’ve shot roll 3A and roll 3B that both captured scene 23 take 2, then your clips will be named 23-2 and 23-2B. Where no roll identifiers exist, a number will be added to index the second clip. For example, the second occurrence of the identical clip name 23-2B would become 23-2_1.

  • Database accuracy— Always check your database before exporting it to Final Cut Pro. In List view, sort by Slate, and ensure your clip names are unique. If you find any duplicate names, modify the record in the Scene or Take fields. Do not modify clip names once they are captured.

  • Burn-in accuracy— Check the accuracy of your window burns. You’re relying on this information throughout your project, so it’s important that the information is correct. Spot-check each record against your logs, and compare the displayed video timecode against the timecode displayed on your deck.

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint