Post-production: GoPro Cineform Studio Professional

Cineform is both a video codec and a business belonging to GoPro. The Cineform codec is recognized as one of the highest quality codecs available; it is used by cinematographers. The GoPro Cineform Studio Professional software is a workflow app for high-quality, cinematographic 3D and 2D post-production. It integrates with your Non-Linear Editor (NLE) and offers ease-of-use as well as powerful non-destructive editing capabilities.

The whole story has some 3,300 words or 6 pages. I have prepared an ePUB version that comes with extra material, such as links to tutorials. You can buy the ePUB version on Amazon.com.

GoPro Cineform Studio Professional is a 3D editing workflow application for both Windows and Mac OS X. It is compatible with Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Pro X on the Mac, as well as Avid Media Composer 6, and Adobe Premiere. On Windows, Sony Vegas is also supported. If you’re going to use the software to edit GoPro HD Hero2 footage, you can do so with clips from one GoPro camera or from two combined in a 3D Hero housing.

A Cineform Studio Professional workflow starts with creating the 3D media in the Cineform Intermediate format. The claim is that when you create your first 3D (or 2D) clip and then edit that clip in Cineform Studio Professional, the NLE will automatically and in real-time reflect the edits made to the footage. This was the first feature I was eager to test with Final Cut Pro X, as I couldn’t imagine it would work. But it did. Apparently, Cineform Studio (all editions) will not change the clip itself, but will “describe” edits and write these to the clip’s metadata.

Preferences

I tested it by drastically changing a clip’s colour saturation in Cineform Studio, with the Final Cut Pro X screen visible behind Cineform. The only thing I had to do to see the changes actually being applied, was switch to FCPX.

One remark on Cineform Studio Professional’s performance in general: if you’re thinking of using this app side-by-side with Mac OS X’s Screen Sharing, then think again. As soon as I launched Screen Sharing before, during or after a Cineform session, the app would become unstable and eventually crash.

GoPro Cineform Studio Professional really wants you to only run video apps, which shouldn’t be a problem for most pro and semi-pro users.

The Cineform Studio interface

The GoPro Cineform Studio interface is a simple one: you get three columns of which the centre one is the viewer. The left one initially holds your original clips; after converting, it holds the converted source clips. The right column contains the Conversion list — i.e. the list of clips ready to convert. After conversion and in the Editing Room, which you access by clicking on the large button centre right, you’ll find all the editing tools here.

The Cineform Studio Professional application allows you to first set your frame rate and a couple of settings the app needs to know before converting to 3D can start. For example, you can set “Filter 420 to 422”. In the main window you’ll add In and Out points; this part of the interface lets you scrub and view your clips they way they were shot. Rename them and save them to any folder you like; it’s all done in this window part — with large, clear buttons, I might add.

Once you’re satisfied with the conversion preparations, markers being set, etc., you can add the clip to the Conversion list. As you may have guessed, one shot can result in multiple clips for converting, using the In and Out points in the interface.

Conversion is quite fast. When the process has finished, you end up with 3D clips, with the red and green channels set up as per the settings in the Preferences. Now it’s time to switch to the Edit Room. Here, the left column gives you access to a plethora of options and parameters, including a large collection of “look and feel” presets you can choose from.

GoPro Cineform Studio Professional
Metadata driven overlay tools

In the Edit room you’ll forst need to decide on how you’re going to view your 3D clips. There is a rather long list of viewing modes, including anaglyph — if you have the GoPro 3D Hero housing, you’ll already have 3 pairs of anaglyph spectacles. However, as Cineform Studio Professional is professional software, it also supports exporting 3D movies to other 3D formats than anaglyph, such as passive polarized, active shutter, etc. It even supports Open GL page flip 3D, which is a format you’ll only be able to use if you have a nVidia Quadro display card installed in your computer.

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