film to betasp to computer to betasp process?



hello! I'm shooting on 16mm, editing on FCP, then going to finish on betaSP for festival projection. Here is what I think needs to happen, but I have a few questions as well:
1 - shoot film, get developed,
2 - negative transferred to betaSP
3 - beta SP data transferred via ? to my Mac for editing
4 - Edit on computer
5 - get that info back to the tape?

Am I missing anything? My questions are:

a - I assume I need a beta SP deck to get the data to my computer. I was thinking I'd just bring my machine into the post house. Do SP decks have mac-compatible outs like firewire/USB, or is there something else I need to know?
b - how much storage will I need to hold onto all that beta SP tape data on my computer? I seem to recall there's a system where you give your FCP EDL to the post house and they can apply those changes to the betasp master. Is this the way to go?

thanks much!!


New member
First off, it seems like you're on the right track.

To answer your questions, here's what I know (based on my own 16mm film experience).

A. When you're ready to digitize your film footage on Betacam SP into FCP, you have 2 choices. You can either rent a Betacam SP deck with FireWire I/O or with BNC I/O - Component. (No composite.)

Via FireWire: Apparently Sony recognized the small but existing demand from some people, like you, who need a deck that can be just plugged into Mac via FireWire, and introduced J30SDI. Basically, it works like Mini DV via FireWire would. Only problem with this deck is that it is expensive to rent because it is fairly new. You better check with local rental houses, but last time when I checked it, it was the insurance that forced to give upon it.

Via BNC: Even portable Betacam SP decks are fine in terms of capturing footage into FCP as long as it has BNC I/O. So, if money is the issue, this is the option to choose. Call local rental houses to get quotes. Some models are dirt cheap to rent. Downside of renting one of those decks is, though, it requires a capture card with a breakout cable in your Mac, which varies depending on your needs. It may cost you quite a bit.

What kind of capture card do you need? Ask yourself. What kind of output do you have in mind? Just Betacam SP tape? No up-converting to HD?

I guess another question to ask yourself is if you'd like to sped money upfront to set up your machine or at your post house. Either way, it comes out of your pocket.

B. It depends on what kind of resolution you're going to work on your film at. Do you want 8 bit or 10 bit without compromising capacity? Or are you going to edit it at the lowest res and later re-digitize it at the highest by importing EDL files at the post house?

How much will your footage be? One hour? Two hours? Five hours?

If you're going to edit it at 10 bit, you need 250GB for 2.5 hours of footage, which means you need more than 250GB. This is an example. However, the key point here is that you need external hard drives via eSATA cable. No FireWire, which would not be able to keep up the speed FCP needs.

If you're going to just edit at the lowest res, then you do not need much. And you might be even OK with internal hard drives. I am not 100% sure of this one, though, because I've never edited my film on internal hard drives.

Unfortunately, no USB for Betacam SP decks. Can't imagine anything slower than FireWire to transfer data.

Hope these answer your questions a bit. Good luck on your film.


thanks for the tips!
Lots of stuff I'll need to check on -- I think the lab is pretty good at helping low budge filmmakers so that'll help.
best regards