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Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?

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Sean Whitaker
Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 9, 2009 at 8:04:56 am

Hey Everyone,

I'll be working on a project where my effects editor is on a mac and im doing my editing on my PC in PProCS4. I'll be shooting on my HMC150 so ill start out working with AVCHD files. Was wondering what my best options were for a workflow where i can give him some files to work on, then bring them right back onto my PC (PProCS4) with the least headache. Even though i can edit native native AVCHD im guessing this wouldent be a good format for effects work / color correction, so i think our options will have to be after a transcode has taken place. I'll also be doing green screen in this project so if the codec could maintain original shooting resolution and allows for 4.2.2 color space that would be ideal. Let me know what you all think. Thanks!

- Shawn


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Gord Stephen
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 10, 2009 at 7:54:27 am

Hey Shawn,

I don't have any actual experience with a cross platform workflow, but I know that it's a fairly simple process to rewrap CineForm files back and forth between .avi and .mov for going between Mac and PC. Transcoding to CineForm would be my suggestion for dealing with AVCHD anyways. The format's 10-bit 4:2:2, and essentially visually lossless, so no worries about quality loss.

The trickier part is that you would need to buy licenses for both yourself and your effects editor if you both need to be able to transcode/render out the CineForm files. NeoScene is the cheapest option at $129 a license... Depending on your budget that could be an issue.

Hope that helps a bit,

Gord


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Sean Whitaker
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 10, 2009 at 8:34:29 am

Thanks Gord,

However it looks like Neo HD is the least expensive option for re-wrapping between Mac and PC as neoscene's HD link does not have that feature activated. So with two copies of Neo HD ($499 each), i would be paying about $1,000 for something im being told i can achieve just as well with DNxHD codec. Unless im missing something?


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Noah Kadner
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 10, 2009 at 3:12:11 pm

Wouldn't bother with Cineform- ProRes is support on both Macs and PCs and it's free with the QuickTime Player.

Noaoh

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera! Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio.
Call Box Training now featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 7D, and Panasonic DVX100.


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Sean Whitaker
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 10, 2009 at 10:32:58 pm

Can i batch convert / transcode my AVCHD files on my PC to ProRes? What programs do this? Do they require the original file structure off the SD card? It would be a bonus to me if they could just work with the raw .mts file and batch convert as i would like to organize and rename my original ,mts files. Thanks!

- Shawn


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Noah Kadner
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 11, 2009 at 12:02:15 am

It depends what editing program the person on the other system is using. They may be able to simply use your original camera files. You can't encode ProRes on a PC- only play it. Animation is a codec you can read/write on both systems but takes up a lot of space.

Noah

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera! Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio.
Call Box Training now featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 7D, and Panasonic DVX100.


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Gord Stephen
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 11, 2009 at 2:48:42 am

[Shawn Whiting] "Neo HD is the least expensive option for re-wrapping between Mac and PC as neoscene's HD link does not have that feature activated"

Oh, wow, my bad... yeah, that's going to be expensive for a temporary workflow. (Actually... if you think about it, only one of those licenses needs to be able to re-wrap, not both... but you're still looking at a lot of money.)

What exactly is your back-and-forth process going to be? You capture off the SD card, potentially transcode, edit, send your effects editor clips to work with, he or she works on them and renders them back out, sends them back, and then you drop those clips back into your timeline? Or something totally different? Knowing the exact process (particularly who needs to be able to encode and who, if anyone, just needs to play footage back) should help in developing a good solution to your problem.

[Noah Kadner] "ProRes is support on both Macs and PCs and it's free with the QuickTime Player."

For the record... CineForm playback is free and cross-platform too - it's just encoding that you need a license for - and you can encode to it on both Macs and PCs. (I'm not a fanboy, honest! :p)

Gord


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Sean Whitaker
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 11, 2009 at 10:12:45 am

"What exactly is your back-and-forth process going to be?"

You pretty much nailed it.

- capture files off SD card onto my PC. I would like to drag the .mts files into separate folders and rename them at this point, and also delete clips that i know i will not use. This is why i like both DNxHD and Cineform codecs as they do not require the entire folder structure.

- Transcode to Cineform or DNxHD.

- Edit down to rough cut in PProCS4

- Send transcoded files that need green screen keying over to my friend on his Mac, i think he will be using shake.

- Get files back from him, put back into PProCS4, Make final cut, export.

- send to my friend on his Mac, insert text / motion graphics / effects. Export to DVD and web.


Although now that ive written this out it seems silly to have sent the files to my editor after the rough cut for green screen keying. Perhaps I should just edit a semi final cut in PProCS4, export, then bring the whole cut onto my friends Mac for green screen keying and everything else?


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Noah Kadner
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 11, 2009 at 2:04:59 pm

To be completely honest- cutting a project back and forth between Mac and PC, especially with a lot of greenscreen- is going to add a significant layer of complexity to the gig. Not to mention quality loss every time you run a shot through another compressor. It's a lot of extra work. I'd suggest simplifying wherever you can and remove any less than essential steps. Also test some shots start to finish before committing to a particular codec or workflow.

Noah

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera! Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio.
Call Box Training now featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 7D, and Panasonic DVX100.


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Sean Whitaker
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 11, 2009 at 9:21:46 pm

Yeah that's good advice Noah.

If I could get my friend to buy and do the effects editing on a PC would that make it any better in terms of avoiding quality loss? or is any transfer of footage from one computer to another going to lead to degradation?

I could try to argue for doing all of the editing on my PC, but it would require frequent trips to my place for my friend.

- Shawn


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Gord Stephen
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 12, 2009 at 4:42:59 am

What if you do your edit and then give him the original AVCHD files (with timecode references) for the clips you need effects work done on? Then he can do whatever works best for him as far as acquiring the footage and working with it. If he does that and the final titles, etc, all at once, it should at least cut out a few re-encodes. Does Shake import EDLs?

In a perfect world, you'd be going between Premiere and AE, or FCP and Motion, etc, and could fire sequences back and forth without ever needing to render anything out (Automatic Duck can help with going renderless between software packages... but I don't think that there's a Premiere to Shake version). Any time you need to render something to send it to another software package (on the same computer or not), you're going to take a recompression hit. Your choice of codec can help to minimize that though - the good ones won't degrade image quality too much after a few re-encodes...

All that to say that the bigger problem here isn't going between machines or platforms, but different software... So no need for your friend to buy another computer.

How long-term does this workflow need to be? Is this just for one project, or is it a more permanent partnership? If you're going to be working like this for a while, than you can look at streamlining the fundamental process - but if it's just for one project, I would just pick a cost-effective, cross-platform, high-quality codec, give the back-and forth procedure a test run like Noah suggests, and if the whole process checks out as 'good enough'... just muscle through it.

Then the question becomes what codec to use... hmm... why does that seem so familiar?

Gord


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Sean Whitaker
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 12, 2009 at 9:42:52 am

hahaha thanks for the input Gord, I think I will have to sit down with my friend and see what we can work out and run some tests.

As far as codecs you know that can withstand the most re-encoding, which would you recommend? Doesn't matter if their mac or PC only, just want to know what codecs can stand the most wear and tear.


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Noah Kadner
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 12, 2009 at 2:44:54 pm

Uncompressed is the only codec that will stand many generations of re-encoding without adding noise- because there is no compression.

Noah

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera! Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio.
Call Box Training now featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 7D, and Panasonic DVX100.


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Sean Whitaker
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 12, 2009 at 7:22:37 pm

right, but are all the lossy codecs equal at handling re-encoding or might some codecs stand up better than others?


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Sean Whitaker
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 14, 2009 at 9:23:02 am

Anyone on the question of what lossy codecs can stand the most wear and tear?


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Noah Kadner
Re: Best codec for a workflow between PC and Mac?
on Nov 15, 2009 at 8:01:21 pm

Test them for yourself please- it's your eyes that need to be satisfied. And all of those codecs are available for demos. Personally as I said, ProRes is fine for any sort of workflow, especially the 4444 version. You go beyond that codec's capabilities and you should be doing everything uncompressed.

Noah

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera! Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio.
Call Box Training now featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 7D, and Panasonic DVX100.


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