One of the most important features that many of us look for when buying a camera is undoubtedly variable frame rates, especially 60p. We want to be able to capture slow motion, and the only way to properly capture it is by cranking it. This means that you take more pictures than you need so you can slow them down in the mail without skipping pictures. Unfortunately, many great cameras like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera or the Canon C100 don't have a 60p option these days and make our lives more difficult as we are forced to rent special equipment when we need slow motion. The good news is that for many cameras that lack 60p, a 60i option is available. Even if you avoided this as in the past, this post shows you how 60i can become your new best friend.
Let me briefly explain the difference for those of you who have never shot in 60i or 60p. 60i represents 60 nested FIELDS (no frames) – Well actually 59.94 to be exact. 60p, on the other hand, represents 60 individual FRAMES these are complete pictures in themselves. They may sound similar, but they are very different. If you've ever taped anything onto your computer and you probably know what fields look like. You may have seen an image that looks like this during the break:
If you're working with real 60p footage, you can slow it down to 40% on a 24p timeline. It is played back in perfect slow motion and delivers wonderful results. 60i, on the other hand, cannot simply be pasted into a 24p timeline and slowed down because two fields are required to create a frame. That means you initially only have 30 frames, not 60. Trying to slow down a 60i picture to 40% would look as bad as slowing down a 30p picture to 40%. There would simply not be enough frames to cover the speed reduction, and you would get very nervous footage.
Despite everything, there is a way to get around this, and in FCP X it's ridiculously easy.
All you have to do is select your clip for the event, click on the inspector and change the view to "Settings". From there, just click on "De-Interlace" and voila. Your clip can now be treated as a 60p clip. In fact, the inspector is automatically updated to show the clip as a 59.94p file rather than a 29.97i file.
You can now insert your newly converted 60i / 60p clip into your 24p timeline, slow it down to 40% and you will have a really nice slow motion.
The principle behind it is that FCP X de-interlaces your footage and effectively converts it to a 60p clip before you slow it down in your timeline. You can do this manually with just about any software, but FCP X really makes it easy.
Is it as good as using a real 60p clip? Not really, but it's not as far away as you might think. The image contains less information than a 60p clip (since fields and no frames are used), but the movement should be almost as smooth as each field is different, so FCP X can interpret these fields really well and effectively, making new frames out of them .
However, keep in mind that when shooting 60i footage, you need to set the shutter to at least 1/120, just like with 60p shooting. If you don't, you can't effectively slow down your footage.
I will be releasing a commercial next week that was mainly shot in 60i on the C100 and will update this post with the end product so you can see how this works in action.
Be sure to read my last post for your editors Achieving the blockbuster look with color correction.
Noam Kroll is an award-winning filmmaker from Los Angeles and founder of the boutique production house Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television and in various publications around the world. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!