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Transcoding with MPEG Streamclip vs Compressor

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Justin Priestly
Transcoding with MPEG Streamclip vs Compressor
on Jul 8, 2010 at 2:39:46 am

Hey guys,

Long-time reader here, but first-time poster. I've been doing a lot of research over the past couple of days about the 7D workflow and have learned a lot. I still have one question that I haven't located a sufficient answer for, but I'll apologize in advance in case it's a stupid one or one that has been asked before.

So I'm currently editing a short film that was shot on a Canon 7D and I'm going through the process of transcoding the footage in order to edit in FCP. 1080p H.264 at 23.98 to ProRes 422. Normal stuff. I'm working in a campus editing lab and I'm being forced to use MPEG Streamclip because Compressor simply will not work on any of the computers. It always responds with the same error message about needing to restart or be reinstalled. Restarting doesn't help. Getting the tech guys to reinstall anything is damn near impossible. In addition, these computers do not have the Canon L&T Plug-In installed...oh well. Fortunately, MPEG Streamclip works fine and it's fast. My question is this:

Am I losing any quality by transcoding with MPEG Streamclip instead of Compressor?

It probably goes without saying that I'm transcoding at 100% quality full resolution and maintaining progressive format. Obviously, I know Streamclip doesn't allow for frame controls, but as nothing is being resized, de-interlaced, or retimed, using frame controls wouldn't really affect quality anyway, correct? And I shouldn't think I would want Compressor to run more than one pass...if that's even possible when transcoding to ProRes 422. The only other possible method I have for transcoding is to recompress the footage using the Media Manager, but I'm sure that's a lot slower and am not convinced that FCP would be able to do a better job.

The only issue I'm having with this process is that in MPEG Streamclip, there's two settings listed simply as Apple ProRes 422. I'm assuming one is the regular flavor and one is HQ, but I'm having trouble gleaning which is which. Based on my research, I would prefer NOT to transcode to HQ, but other than file size, I'm not so certain that HQ would hurt much.

Again, sorry for the possibly annoying question. In case you can't tell, I'm really concerned with getting the best possible quality out of the footage I have. Any insight you guys have would be very much appreciated.

And thanks in advance!



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Mark Spano
Re: Transcoding with MPEG Streamclip vs Compressor
on Jul 8, 2010 at 3:56:29 pm

[Justin Priestly] "Am I losing any quality by transcoding with MPEG Streamclip instead of Compressor?"

In my experience, doing what you're doing will result in virtually identical quality files. You are most likely correct in assuming that since you wouldn't use Frame Controls for this conversion, you're not missing out on anything awesome that Compressor would have done that Streamclip isn't.

[Justin Priestly] "I'm assuming one is the regular flavor and one is HQ, but I'm having trouble gleaning which is which."

This is easy to determine. Open a clip in Streamclip and set an in/out point of a few seconds. Go to Export to Quicktime and choose one of the Apple ProRes, and make movie. Go to Export again and choose the other Apple ProRes and make movie, call it a different name. If you open each resulting file in Quicktime Player, look in the movie info window at Data Rate. Whichever one is higher is HQ. On my system, the first one in the list is HQ, and the second one is standard ProRes.



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Justin Priestly
Re: Transcoding with MPEG Streamclip vs Compressor
on Jul 8, 2010 at 4:33:33 pm

Thanks for the response.

I don't know why it never occurred to me to take a look at the individual Quicktimes. I guess I never said I was smart.

Apparently, the labeling issue occurs for most people using FCP 6.


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