The Best File Types for Layoff to Tape

Posted in on November 21st, 2012 12:09 am by admin

There are many different file types in use today in video productions. At LAPost we see many different formats on client’s hard disks provided for us to export a timeline from an edit session in Final Cut Pro (FCP), or Avid.

People often ask us what we think is the best file type to use for a lay-off to HDCAM or HDCAM/SR digital tape. The best way for us to do the layoff is to have the client export the session to a self-contained QuickTime file using either the Apple Pro Res 422 HD, or the 10 bit uncompressed codec in FCP. In video post these are really the best file types to use today. We can also work with Avid files, but the FCP files are just much more effective to work with. Pro Res 422, and 10 bit uncompressed are the easiest for playing back through digital monitoring equipment. This helps us get accurate signals to digital reference scopes so proper signal quality can be confirmed during layoff to tape, plus enabling accurate quality control (QC).

Other file types such as H-264 are compressed, and do not give the best quality for hi-def digital tape.

We advise our clients to provide the file on a timeline set up exactly the way they want the final product to look, with black at the head followed by reference video Bar and Tones that accurately reflect the program levels. A correct slate, and more black are next, all back-timed before the hour so the program starts exactly at the hour. This is the same standard formatting used for video tape and the procedure still applies to file based systems.

Use the timecode you want on the tape such as 29.97 drop frame or 23.98 as this will allow us to do the layoff without having to do any extra editing, which can add additional costs. Following these simple steps will make the tape layoff process go smoothly and easily.