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Converting h.264 footage

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Brett Vanderbrook
Converting h.264 footage
on Jan 8, 2014 at 5:29:44 pm

I'd noticed recently that I was having trouble editing footage in Final Cut 7 (needed rendering constantly, even for basic filters) and after asking around discovered it had to do with the h.264 codec that most DSLRs use these days. I used to edit mostly footage from a Panasonic HVX-200 which uses DVCPro, and Final Cut seems to like. My solution was to convert the footage to ProRes 422 (HQ) so that Final Cut wouldn't have a heart attack.

Now the problem is space. For instance, a project I'm working on now started with 60GB of video, but the conversion makes the files 4x larger, and now I have a 300GB project folder (including the original files.) Am I just doomed to have to invest in more external drives, or is there a solution I'm missing? I can't seem to find any information regarding whether it's possible to change the type of compression the camera uses to something FCP likes better (which is doubtful, anyway.) Anything I'm missing?

Mac Mini (Late 2009)
2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
OS 10.6.8
Final Cut Pro version 6.0.6


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Craig Seeman
Re: Converting h.264 footage
on Jan 8, 2014 at 5:39:17 pm

[Brett Vanderbrook] "Am I just doomed to have to invest in more external drives, or is there a solution I'm missing?"

Both FCPX and PPro CC handle H.264 directly.

With FCP7 you're not only dealing with space but conversion time before you can start to edit. As time goes on and EOL NLE is going to be more problems with more modern codecs.

You could switch to either Blackmagic Cinema or Blackmgagic Pocket cameras for shooting within a "DSLR budget" as both shoot to Apple ProRes directly (you'd still need the storage space sans H.264 files but with time saved sans transcode as well).



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Brett Vanderbrook
Re: Converting h.264 footage
on Jan 8, 2014 at 6:02:29 pm

Hmm, good to know. Might have to revisit FCPX. I tried it a few times and finally abandoned ship because I just felt like I was editing on iMovie. I have Premiere Pro CS 5, but it deals with h.264 as poorly as FCP 7. Switching cameras would be a solution for me, but I often edit for other people, too, and mostly the footage comes from DSLRs.

Mac Mini (Late 2009)
2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
OS 10.6.8
Final Cut Pro version 6.0.6


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Craig Seeman
Re: Converting h.264 footage
on Jan 8, 2014 at 6:22:04 pm

[Brett Vanderbrook] "Might have to revisit FCPX. I tried it a few times and finally abandoned ship because I just felt like I was editing on iMovie"

Personally I think the best way to learn FCPX is with Ripple Training tutorials. It's a major rethink. Roles take the place of tracks for the equivalent organizing.
One might say FCPX was designed to help DSLR editing issues. It has a sync audio feature for linking DSLR video with external audio (sort of like Plural Eyes). It has a great multicam feature that, with the decent computer, you can have multiple H.264 shots playing together.
Of course PPro is much like an improved FCP7 but there's the subscription requirement that some find off-putting.



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Michael McIntyre
Re: Converting h.264 footage
on Jan 8, 2014 at 6:24:13 pm

Storage is cheap. Many affordable options out there.
I realize Final Cut is technically 'end-of-life' but I have clients still using it.
They're riding it into the ground and so will I.
No one's ever asked me for FCPX compliance or projects.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Converting h.264 footage
on Jan 8, 2014 at 6:48:29 pm

[Michael McIntyre] "No one's ever asked me for FCPX compliance or projects."

I guess it depends on the client base but I don't give anyone my projects. As a Compressionist they get files. As an editor they get edited product at what ever stage or stages they pay for.
If I were a freelance editor (I don't do that lately) I'd edit on whatever NLE the project started on so I guess that's your workflow.
Also as a compressionist, the bill for transcoding a day's worth of H.264 files to ProRes would easily be enough to have them consider another NLE.
Again PPro is another option. You're not limited to FCPX.
I can see sticking with 7 for "in house" projects where you don't have time (transcode) and storage issues if that's where a project originates from as moving NLEs itself can be a major time factor.



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