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Starting out with HMC150, need workflow/NLE advice please!

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Sean Whitaker
Starting out with HMC150, need workflow/NLE advice please!
on Oct 10, 2009 at 11:15:04 am

Hello everyone,

I just recently bought the HMC150 and a quad core PC to edit with. I'm new to the HD scene so I was hoping you guys could help me with some startup questions. First off here's my PC specs:

OS: vista 64bit - stability issues with some NLE's?
i7 920 2.6GHz quad core processor
ATI radeon HD4850 GFX card
12 gigs DDR3 ram
2) 640GB HDs in raid 0 for OS and media cache
2) 1TB HDs for footage storage and backup, can buy more if needed

I'll soon be starting a project to promote multiple departments within a local college. There will likely be 20 + hours of footage once im done shooting, and then I will work with a friend to add in motion graphics and other effects. I would also like to do minor color correction. Previously I would use my old powerbook G4 for editing in Final Cut Pro, as this is what i learned on, but it was much cheaper to build my own PC that could handle AVCHD than buy a new mac.

So the questions are, what format do you guys think i should be shooting in, and what sort of work flow do you think would work best for this project? I'll be finishing to DVD and the web and fast turnaround is not a requirement, i have quite a while to edit. I haven't committed to any NLE at this point, so recommendations for Vegas or PPro CS4 or anything else are welcome. Im not sure if this is a valid at all as ive never edited on PC, but if any NLE is similar to FCP i would be more comfortable with that.

Im also questioning if I will need to use an intermediate, i have read a bit on cineform. I worry that I may need one, even though it seems my system should be able to handle AVCHD editing, because today as I played back some test footage in PPro CS4 4.1 it had weird artifacts and black shadows / blocks that would pop up during playback. These are not on the actual footage, and also when i press the right arrow and go through the footage slightly slower it plays fine without any artifacts. Then again could this just be a GFX card / GFX drivers problem? (fully up to date), i have had minor issues with it lately on my gaming partition. Let me know what you guys think, Thanks!


- Shawn


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Sean Whitaker
Re: Starting out with HMC150, need workflow/NLE advice please!
on Oct 11, 2009 at 12:08:36 am

basically here are my main considerations.

- This will be a long project, months of shooting

- I will be doing some color correction and motion graphics in post

- I need to be able to store and backup whatever file types i end up editing in hopefully in under 4TB of space. As i think i can only add 2 more Hard drives to my PC on top of the 2TB storage i already have.

Ive read a bit about using "proxies" or down converting to SD to edit, although i dont understand this process well at all. Then also about transcoding footage to a file type that is easier to scrub through and edit with, especially if your considering color correction or effects. However it seems transcoding creates much larger files, which im not sure i would be able to store considering i may have 20+ hours of footage from this project. Im also still not clear on if you export having worked off the transcoded file all along and thats it, or if you revert back to the pre-transcoded file before export?

Someone also mentioned shooting in lower bit rates to save on space and editing troubles. Im not very tech savy on how exactly bit rates translate into quality, but would this also be an option to save space?

- Shawn


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Gord Stephen
Re: Starting out with HMC150, need workflow/NLE advice please!
on Oct 11, 2009 at 7:34:06 pm

Hey Shawn - here's my opinion:

For an NLE/suite - go with CS4. If you choose to edit your AVCHD native, PPro has great support for that (but more on editing AVCHD in a sec). For color correction and effects work, it's dead easy to go between PPro and AE, which is really nice too. Plus it seems like you already have PPro on your machine. There's also an option to switch PPro's keyboard shortcuts to match FCP's, which might speed up the transition for you. And if you don't edit your AVCHD native, and decide to use CineForm, you can get CineForm ProspectHD, which has a 'Real-Time Engine' that accelerates CineForm decoding in PPro. The CS4 version has been missing for a while but it's finally on it's way...

[Shawn Whiting] "transcoding footage to a file type that is easier to scrub through and edit with, especially if your considering color correction or effects"

That's just using an intermediate codec, like CineForm, which you seem to know about already. With 2TB of storage space you'll have lots of room to transcode 20 hours of footage to something like CineForm Medium or High setting (I use Medium personally) - I would recommend going that route, even if your machine can handle AVCHD playback. Once you start applying effects and stuff, AVCHD will really bog things down. With an intermediate codec, the idea is that full video quality is preserved for editing (unlike a proxy, which generally is a lower res/quality version), so you don't need to switch back to your original footage for the final render.

[Shawn Whiting] "shooting in lower bit rates to save on space and editing troubles"

The HMC150's PF mode compression (21 Mb/s) is brutal enough... I wouldn't use any of the lower bitrate shooting modes just to save disk space. 20 hours of footage really isn't much... as AVCHD that's a little over 200 GB, or just 10% of the space you have available to you. Convert it all to CineForm and the footage probably won't even double in size - so you'll still have loads of room left. Besides, hard drives are cheap. As for saving editing troubles... a lower bitrate means more compression, which means more work for your computer, which ultimately means more editing troubles, not less.

For what it's worth, here's my workflow:

1) Shoot with HMC150 (generally in 720p24 or 720p30)
2) Copy card contents to external USB HDD
3) Run CineForm HDLink to convert AVCHD -> CineForm Medium Quality
4) Store converted clips on external RAID 0 eSATA HDD
5) Offline footage in PPro, import sequence into AE for online
6) Encode AE comp to M4V / F4V / DVD-MPEG2, etc.. via Adobe Media Encoder
7) Write the encoded file to a seperate 'output' HDD

Hope that helps.

Gord


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Sean Whitaker
Re: Starting out with HMC150, need workflow/NLE advice please!
on Oct 12, 2009 at 5:46:55 am

awesome post Gord, really helped me a lot. But it gave me a few more questions.

if im ending up on DVD and the web for my project, is there a reason to shoot 1080? or would 720 be fine? also, what are the differences between shooting intermittent or progressive in either mode? would progressive be a better option, as it seems you prefer it.


also i didn't understand what offline footage means in respect to PPro, as the inverse, what is online footage in PPro?
"5) Offline footage in PPro, import sequence into AE for online"

Thanks so much!

- Shawn


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Gord Stephen
Re: Starting out with HMC150, need workflow/NLE advice please!
on Oct 13, 2009 at 12:49:28 pm

[Shawn Whiting] "if im ending up on DVD and the web for my project, is there a reason to shoot 1080? or would 720 be fine?"

Long answer... I shoot 720 for most of my stuff, mostly because the camera's recording bitrate it 21Mb/s whether you're in 1080p or not... so in 720p you have less pixels and, theoretically, more data per pixel. Some suggest, however, that 1080p is the way to shoot because you're getting more pixels of colour data. That might be worth considering if you're doing something like greenscreen work.

Short answer... I shoot for web and DVD too, and find that 720p works fine.

[Shawn Whiting] "what are the differences between shooting intermittent or progressive in either mode?"

Ok, here goes... although a site like this would probably give you a better explanation.

Interlaced video (as in 480i, 1080i) is composed of 'fields' of video. When you look at an interlaced image at any given instant, you'll see two fields at once: all of the odd-numbered rows of pixels in the picture are one field, and all of the even-numbered pixels are another. The first field might appear at 1/60th of a second, and then the second at 2/60th, then the third would be replaced at 3/60th, then the fourth would be replaced at 4/60th, and so on. They alternate in and out. It's a compression technique used for things like TV broadcast. With interlacing you can get a nasty 'combing' effect.

Progressive video (ie 480p, 720p, 1080p) is way more straightforward to explain. It's just your intuitive vision of a moving image: a series of (full frame) pictures being played in sequence. Just like film, flip animation, etc...

Unless you're doing something like shooting for a TV station that wants interlaced, progressive's definitely the way to go.


[Shawn Whiting] "what offline footage means in respect to PPro"

I probably didn't use the term in a 100% correctly... generally an offline edit involves editing proxies of footage in a rough cut. Then the online edit is the final edit with the higher quality footage. In my case, I meant that I edit all my footage in Premiere, get all of the timing right, sync it up with audio, etc... and then import the sequence into After Effects to do 'polishing' work on it like motion graphics, colour correction, etc.

Hope that helps,

Gord


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Sean Whitaker
Re: Starting out with HMC150, need workflow/NLE advice please!
on Oct 14, 2009 at 12:56:04 am

that helps a bunch Gord, thanks again.

can someone explain to me how i would make a "proxy" of my footage in CS4 then switch back to the original files? im not sure how this process works.


Also, if i decide to shoot most of my project in 72030p, then want to use the dynamic range system on the HMC150 and i shoot a few shots in 72060p, would that be a problem for editing?

would shooting everything in 72060p be a bad idea?

Thanks!



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Gord Stephen
Re: Starting out with HMC150, need workflow/NLE advice please!
on Oct 15, 2009 at 5:43:34 pm

[Shawn Whiting] "how i would make a "proxy" of my footage in CS4 then switch back to the original files"

In After Effects there's an actual proxy feature that allows you to link two files (ie low-quality and high-quality) together and switch back and forth for different tasks - here's a tutorial that talks about that. In Premiere, as far as I know, your best bet is to use the replace utility (right click on the file's icon in the Project Panel and select 'Replace Footage') - that will swap out one file for another. I don't work with proxies much though, so there could very well be a better method that I don't know about.

[Shawn Whiting] "f i decide to shoot most of my project in 72030p, then want to use the dynamic range system on the HMC150 and i shoot a few shots in 72060p, would that be a problem for editing?"

60p and 30p work well together given that you can just take every other frame out of 60fps and voila, 30fps. That being said... multiple frame rates in the same project can sometimes introduce extra headaches. If you can, it would probably be simpler just to stick with one frame rate for everything. As for shooting everything at 60p - the only issue I can think of would be that you're sort of cutting your per-frame bitrate (more frames per second of video therefore more compression needed). That could be problematic if you have a lot of motion or detail in your shots. It's ultimately up to you though, your own testing and experience will determine whether or not you like the look.

Gord


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Jeff Baker
Re: Starting out with HMC150, need workflow/NLE advice please!
on Nov 18, 2009 at 10:07:58 pm

Hi,
I am getting a AG-HMC150 and will be editing on a Mac, running premiere Pro cs4. It does not look like prospect HD is an option for me, but I do see a mac version of neoHD though I am not sure that would help or not.

I do tend to add color correction to my footage (magic bullet looks) so I am trying to figure out what the quickest workflow would be in my case.

Any one else with a mac and brave enough not to only run final cut pro on it??

Thanks!
-Jeff


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