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I need to send my footage to South America. Which codec should I use?

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Tom Eckblad
I need to send my footage to South America. Which codec should I use?
on Jun 25, 2013 at 5:35:09 pm

I have 5 hours worth of 1080i .mov footage captured on an external Hard Drive. The codec (.mov) on the external Hard Drive (an older DTE) is no longer supported by Apple (a Quicktime/iTunes/OS update issue that took me forever to figure out), but I have access to an older Mac (with older version of iTunes/Quicktime/OS) that opens the clips and I can convert the footage to Prores 422 using Compressor for my use.

However, the client in South America also wants access to all the footage to do some additional editing on their end. I haven't yet converted the footage to Prores 422 because the footage file sizes will be rather large when converted to Prores 422.

Is there a codec I can convert to using Compressor that will allow me to edit in Final Cut 7, but not be such large files as Prores 422 so that I can share the clips via a file sharing site such as Box.com?


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Craig Seeman
Re: I need to send my footage to South America. Which codec should I use?
on Jun 25, 2013 at 6:05:19 pm

[Tom Eckblad] "The codec (.mov)"

Clarification, mov is not a codec, it's a container and can contain any number of codecs such as H.264 or ProRes and many other codecs.

[Tom Eckblad] "Is there a codec I can convert to using Compressor that will allow me to edit in Final Cut 7, but not be such large files as Prores 422"

ProResLT which is a lighter version with a bit more lose but may not be noticeable in some cases.

[Tom Eckblad] "share the clips via a file sharing site such as Box.com"

The issue may be whether Box.com has a file size limit and whether you or your client have tolerable connection speeds to transfer files in a reasonable amount of time.

Compression is lossy which means there may be a quality lose, if not by eye in the first generation, cumulatively in compositing for example.

Basically you have to make a decision. The best answer for you and your client may be different for someone else.

Modern NLEs such as recent versions of Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X, can handle H.264 natively but that doesn't mean it's a good way to go as an intermediate codec for post work.

Another possibility might be an MPEG2 IFrame variant. It's not as efficient as H.264 but easier to handle because there's not GOP structure (B and P frames) to decode. I'm not sure how FCP7 handles these but I know those on various Windows NLEs use MPEG2 IFrame AVI and I believe MXF as well.

In short, ProRes 422 is near universal for playback. H.264 is supported by many modern NLEs. Each has a cost. You have to decide. You don't mention your client's NLE and that can be a big factor.



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Tom Eckblad
Re: I need to send my footage to South America. Which codec should I use?
on Jun 25, 2013 at 6:38:33 pm

Thanks for the the quick and in-depth response!

mov is not a codec - Sloppy writing on my end... I meant to write that the codec is HDV 1080i60. It should open on any Final Cut system, but the manufacturer of the external Hard Drive posted a note on their site that with the latest Mac updates that there were issues, otherwise I'd just send those clips to the client.

Since it's corporate work, I may just go the H.264 route since it's more universal, small file size and I don't know what software the client intends to use for editing. I'll do a little research on MPEG2, but think the file size may be prohibitive.

Thanks!


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Craig Seeman
Re: I need to send my footage to South America. Which codec should I use?
on Jun 25, 2013 at 7:20:09 pm

H.264 would certainly yield best quality at smallest size.
If they're using PremierePro (for example) that would probably work. It would also work in FCPX. If they had FCP7 they'd probably want to transcode back to ProRes. I'm not sure how Avid Media Composer AMA would handle it so, in that case, they'd probably want to transcode to DNxHD.



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Tom Eckblad
Re: I need to send my footage to South America. Which codec should I use?
on Jun 25, 2013 at 7:22:26 pm

H.264 it is... thanks!


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Rich Rubasch
Re: I need to send my footage to South America. Which codec should I use?
on Jun 30, 2013 at 1:44:32 am

And if you have access to it, I am finding I can encode to x264 at 1/3 the bitrate with the same quality as h264, so when I have a lot of footage or a long clip for YouTube or Vimeo I go x264 and it makes the transfer a lot easier. I am a huge x264 fan!

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Tom Eckblad
Re: I need to send my footage to South America. Which codec should I use?
on Jul 2, 2013 at 1:03:47 am

Thanks for the heads up on x264; I'll check into it!


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