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FCP to Compressor for AVCHD footage

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Nina Hasin
FCP to Compressor for AVCHD footage
on Feb 11, 2012 at 1:33:11 am

I’ve been combing the web for answers, but haven’t seem to come across what is probably a common question:

FCP's Log & Transfer converts the AVCHD footage from a Canon vixia camera automatically to ProRes 422. The original video is 1080i 29.97fps, 1920x1080. The FCP timeline settings are HDTV1080i (16:9) aspect ratio: Square, 29.97, Field Dominance: Upper (odd), Compressor: ProRes 422

I export to QT self-contained .mov file and bring it into Compressor. Will I get the best quality for a dvd by just dragging the MPEG-2 setting into the batch window, or do I pre-compress to ProRes 422 first, then to MPEG-2? My other questions are:
is Compressor better than MPEG Streamclip for this?
When to use ProRes 422, ProRes 422 LT, or HQ and what is the difference?
If original footage is interlaced, is it better to transcode to progressive, for dvds, or is that just for web?

Thanks,
Nina


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Jeff Greenberg
Re: FCP to Compressor for AVCHD footage
on Feb 27, 2012 at 9:55:11 pm

First thing - after the ingest transcode of log and transfer, you're working with 1080 HD 30i footage.

>Will I get the best quality for a dvd by just dragging the MPEG-2 setting into the batch window, or do I pre-compress to ProRes 422 first, then to MPEG-2?

Well, it's already ProRes 44 at the moment you're in FCP. If you export a QuickTime from FCP based on your timeline settings, it's not going to recompress your footage on export. You can go directly into MPEG-2 from there. Highest quality is something else. You need to "Send To" compressor and FCP will communicate directly with compressor, skipping your render files, and re-rendering directly in the final output.

>is Compressor better than MPEG Streamclip for this?
Yes, no and maybe. MPEG Streamclip will be generally faster, as it doesn't communicate with FCP.

>When to use ProRes 422, ProRes 422 LT, or HQ and what is the difference?
It's about data rate. ProRes 422 is approx 140. LT is approx 100 and HQ is approx 220. Your AVCHD footage...well, it depends on the camera, but usually we're talking from 25-50 or so.

It's the general consensus by the Pro Community that you're not getting any real benefit from HQ. LT was designed to be smaller than SD uncompressed; ideal for existing infrastructures, like news, where millions of dollars had been invested for SD pipelining.

If original footage is interlaced, is it better to transcode to progressive, for dvds, or is that just for web?
Deinterlace everything for web.
Do the Send to and let Compressor talk with FCP and about it being deinterlaced. It'll do that automatically.

The end result DVD is always going to be interlaced - and likely FCP/Compressor is going to analyze and down convert each field.

Best,

Jeff G


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