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XDCAM to ProRes workflow

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Bob Cole
XDCAM to ProRes workflow
on May 10, 2012 at 10:43:22 pm

Until lately, I've been transferring my XDCAM EX 1080p30 footage into FCP7, editing natively all the way through. That has worked fine for simple edits. But lately I've had to deal with multi-layered sequences, and I've encountered intolerable render delays. The only way I was able to finish the job on time was to transcode all the footage to ProRes in mid-stream. (as an aside: Even then, it wasn't enough to TELL FCP that the sequence was a ProRes sequence; I had to "fake it out" by dragging a transcoded ProRes clip into a sequence, allowing FCP to set the sequence to the clip's codec, then copying the rest of the edited clips into the re-set sequence.)

I am now considering a different workflow: transcoding all my footage to ProRes immediately, then deleting the XDCAM version if necessary (while of course keeping the BPAV folder intact).

What is the most efficient way to transcode from XDCAM to ProRes as a batch operation? I don't mind making my computer work overnight, especially if it makes my edit go faster once I start editing in the morning.

Thanks.

Bob C


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Don Greening
Re: XDCAM to ProRes workflow
on May 10, 2012 at 11:17:51 pm

It would be nice if log and transfer within FCP 7.0.3 would convert during ingest like it does with other formats such as AVCHD but it's not set up for XDCAM EX files. So, if you don't want to spend money for a 3rd party solution then you're left with Compressor. It does a good job and does it faster than FCP will do it. You can also modify the preset so that it works relatively fast. The speed of conversion is totally dependent upon whether you're doing a straight 1080p to 1080p convert or if you plan on downsizing to 720p or even 480p (standard def) at the same time. With a straight cross-convert you can turn off frame controls and that speeds up the process quite a bit.

- Don

Don Greening
A Vancouver Video Production Company
Reeltime Videoworks
http://www.reeltimevideoworks.com


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Bob Cole
Re: XDCAM to ProRes workflow
on May 11, 2012 at 2:31:31 am

Thank you Don.

Compressor sounds fine, as long as I can learn to automate the procedure, use batch processing, and the quality is top-notch. (If there is guidance available as to how, I would appreciate hearing about it.) I have never used droplets but guess I'm about to learn how.

More questions, I'm afraid:

1. Why should I even consider a 3rd party app for the transcode?
2. What do you think of my new approach of just biting the bullet from the beginning and transcoding everything to ProRes?
3. Given that I will have to move from FCP7 to something else, most likely Premiere Pro or Avid, how would their handling of the XDCAM files influence your choice?

Thanks again!

Bob C


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Don Greening
Re: XDCAM to ProRes workflow
on May 11, 2012 at 4:31:23 am

[Bob Cole] "1. Why should I even consider a 3rd party app for the transcode? "

It's just an idea. Something like Episode would most likely do the job and is easy to set up with a custom preset e.g. more automated. With Episode you can create a watch folder, then whatever you drop into that folder will automatically be transcoded to the customized preset. But Episode costs money and you already have Compressor.

[Bob Cole] "2. What do you think of my new approach of just biting the bullet from the beginning and transcoding everything to ProRes? "

If your workstation is having trouble displaying and editing multiple tracks of Long GOP MPEG2 then you need more processing power. Editing XDCAM EX natively is very processor-intensive but easy on the data Transfer rates between the computer and the separate drive where the actual media resides. That's why firewire drives are okay to use for this scenario.

Conversely, Pro Res doesn't need nearly the same processing power but you do need higher transfer rates between hard drive and computer. Editing multiple streams of Pro Res probably requires an eSATA connection.

The solution for you at this time is to convert your EX footage to something that's easier for your processors to handle. That's what Pro Res is for. A lightweight but high quality "I" frame codec.

[Bob Cole] "3. Given that I will have to move from FCP7 to something else, most likely Premiere Pro or Avid, how would their handling of the XDCAM files influence your choice?"

Both PP and Avid MC handle native EXCAM EX just fine. When choosing a successor to FCP 7 how they handle XDCAM files will be the least of your worries. Remember that even with another NLE there's still going to be the basic issue of processing power vs. Long GOP.

- Don

Don Greening
A Vancouver Video Production Company
Reeltime Videoworks
http://www.reeltimevideoworks.com


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Bob Cole
Re: XDCAM to ProRes workflow
on May 11, 2012 at 12:52:30 pm

Thank you Don for the excellent explanation. It all makes sense. I have the CalDigit HDOne 8-disk array, and an early Intel MacPro ("MacPro 1,1"), so my hardware suits ProRes quite nicely - and the XDCAM not as well. I'm hoping that Compressor can give me a droplet which approximates the ease of use of the Episode watch folder.

This is a bit OT for this forum, but thanks for the comment about alternatives to FCP7 and how that choice interacts with hardware. I hesitate to jump to the PC side, though that seems to be the better choice for more powerful desktops. I understand that some editors are going to iMacs. Perhaps if I can keep my MacPro going for ingesting the occasional tape source, I can use a more modern iMac for editing.


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Don Greening
Re: XDCAM to ProRes workflow
on May 11, 2012 at 6:37:22 pm

There are a whole lot of folks in the same boat as you and I, wondering if there's going to be another Mac Pro on the horizon. Most think not, but others believe that if Apple is going to cease production they would have done it already.

At this year's NAB there was nary a Mac Pro in sight. Anyone that was demonstrating anything at all that was Mac based were doing it on an iMac. For the benefit of all, I'm just about ready to buy the Mac Pro that's still available. As soon as I do that you can be sure they'll come out with something new. They always do :)

Don Greening
A Vancouver Video Production Company
Reeltime Videoworks
http://www.reeltimevideoworks.com


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Bob Cole
Re: XDCAM to ProRes workflow
on May 11, 2012 at 7:33:19 pm

[Don Greening] "'m just about ready to buy the Mac Pro that's still available. As soon as I do that you can be sure they'll come out with something new. They always do :)"

Now that's being a public servant. Thank you for that! I'll wait and see what happens after your purchase.

Bob C


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