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Transcode AVCHD for FCP

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Duffer Schultz
Transcode AVCHD for FCP
on May 21, 2009 at 7:07:06 pm

I work with FCP and usually shoot with a Sony EX3 and HMC150. I just spent a week transcoding 16 hours of AVCHD footage, so I decided to do some simple tests to see what I could speed up.

First, I currently use a 17" MBP 2.16 core duo with 2 GM DDR2. My scratch discs are a mirrored Firewire 800 drive and an eSATA drive using the Firmtek Express 34 card.

First, I used Log and Transfer within FCP to transcode a 5 minute test clip shot 1080/60i to Apple Pro Res 422. Then I tried using Toast Titanium 10 to transcode the same raw clip to Apple Pro Res 422, DVCPRO HD, and XDCAM.

Here are the results:

Log and Transfer to Pro Res
Time: 14:05
File Size: 5.14 GB
Duration: 5:00.25

Toast to Pro Res
Time: 15:32
File Size: 4.98 GB
Duration: 4:59.29

Toast to DVCPRO HD
Time: 12:21
File Size: 4.07 GB
Duration 4:59.29

Toast to XDCAM
Time 46:05
File Size: 1.27 GB
Duration: 4:59.29

So the DVCPRO HD was marginally faster, and the file was about 20% smaller than Pro Res. The XDCAM made a relatively small file size, but took almost 3-4 times as long.

Also, not during this test, but while I was transcoding long clips during the weekend, the Log and Transfer method several times gave me only partially completed files with no warning or error messages (durations of 35:00, say, instead of 48:00 of the original).

SO, this brings up several questions:

I'll be upgrading to a new MacPro soon -- what options will give me the best performance boost in transcode times? Faster processors? More RAM? Internal drives? External devices (AJA, Blackmagic, Matrox)?

Is the difference in duration because of how the pulldown is handled?

Anyone else have Log and Transfer complete only partial clips?

Any other settings or workflows that are better?


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Noah Kadner
Re: Transcode AVCHD for FCP
on May 23, 2009 at 2:24:29 am

Just with the Mac Pro you'll see a massive upgrade in speed to transcode- stick with ProRes.


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