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Best practice for handling .MXF Files

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Matt Atkinson
Best practice for handling .MXF Files
on Mar 4, 2019 at 4:45:15 am

I'm relatively new to the world of video production, and while I've learned enough to get by, I'm still largely unfamiliar with the more pragmatic side of many practices.

In that vein, I've been given a number of MXF files containing footage that I need to place in After Effects, remove the green screen from, and perform basic movements with. I understand the fundamentals of MXF as a format, but concerning implementation, is it bad form to place it straight into my project? Should I convert it to another format beforehand? It seems rather cumbersome in its unprocessed form.

Any insight would be very appreciated!


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Walter Soyka
Re: Best practice for handling .MXF Files
on Mar 4, 2019 at 6:35:45 pm

There's nothing wrong with using supported MXF footage directly in Ae, but what kind of MXF files are you dealing with? What strikes you as cumbersome about them?

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Matt Atkinson
Re: Best practice for handling .MXF Files
on Mar 4, 2019 at 6:45:11 pm

Thank you for your response! I may have been mistaken in attributing any shortcomings to the file format itself as it's likely just a limitation of After Effects, but the quality of MXF files naturally makes them rather large, and it seemed to bog down my system substantially more to process all that data with effects such as keylight and color correction than on a similar file in a smaller format. Given that I'm running a Core i9 with 64 gig of ram, I assume it's not a hardware bottleneck?


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Walter Soyka
Re: Best practice for handling .MXF Files
on Mar 4, 2019 at 6:51:48 pm

MXF is a container format that can several different codecs -- some of which may be easier or harder for your computer to process on-the-fly. Can you be more specific on where these MXF files are coming from, and what kinds of other files you're comparing them to?

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Matt Atkinson
Re: Best practice for handling .MXF Files
on Mar 4, 2019 at 6:57:59 pm

Sure can. This may be where the gaps in my knowledge start making themselves evident. The files I've been provided are raw footage from a production company of some sort. They were created with a Sony FS5 in 4K, and I'm importing them into 1440x1080 project. As far as I'm aware, the codec is h.264


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Matt Atkinson
Re: Best practice for handling .MXF Files
on Mar 4, 2019 at 7:01:25 pm

An example of the format I experimented with would be something a little lossier like mp4.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Best practice for handling .MXF Files
on Mar 4, 2019 at 7:07:47 pm

If you're used to working in HD, then remember that 4K files have 4x as many pixels -- which can make for significantly longer renders than you're used to.

Long-GOP 4K formats can be quite difficult for your computer to decode quickly -- especially if you're shuttling around a lot. You could do a quick experiment to see if transcoding one or two of those files to a high-quality mezzanine codec (like CineForm, DNxHR, or ProRes) makes them easier for you to work with.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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