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What codec is used in MP4?

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Patrick Cooper
What codec is used in MP4?
on Jun 14, 2018 at 12:56:02 pm

At the moment, I'm submitting stock footage to a few online agencies. What I usually do for my workflow is trim and adjust contrast and colour saturation in Sony Movie Studio and then export the files as MP4s and bring them into Shotcut. Once the MP4s are in Shotcut, I can convert them into MOVs with the Prores codec, ready to be submitted to stock agencies. I select the Prores codec because I believe it's one of the preferred choices for editors as it offers them more flexibility in colour grading.

The thing is when I export them from Sony Movie Studio initially, Ive no idea what codec they have (it doesn't actually specify.) So I don't know if they're being compressed in some harmful way before they make their way over to Shotcut. Ive tried looking online but can't find the answer there. Would anyone know what codec is used in Sony Movie Studio's MP4 files? It does say 'Main Concept AVC / AAC' in the heading in the export panel - would that give a clue?

Don't know if it's better to import the original camera files directly into Shotcut and do the trimming and colour grading there but I'm more used to using Sony Movie Studio (even though their contrast and colour correction tools are rather crude.)


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Francois Pénzes
Re: What codec is used in MP4?
on Jun 14, 2018 at 11:57:38 pm

Hi Patrick

You may have more luck finding your answers on this forum:

https://www.vegascreativesoftware.info/us/vegas-movie-studio-forum/

Cheers !

PC Win 10 Pro 64-bit 16gb Intel® Core™i7-2600k Quad Core 3.40GHz
Cameras: Canon XF305 + Canon XH-A1
Blackmagic HyperDeck Studio Mini
Vegas Pro 14, User since Vegas 3.0

''When the cutting stops, the editing begins...''


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John Rofrano
Re: What codec is used in MP4?
on Jun 16, 2018 at 1:00:20 am

[Patrick Cooper] "Would anyone know what codec is used in Sony Movie Studio's MP4 files? It does say 'Main Concept AVC / AAC' in the heading in the export panel - would that give a clue? "
MP4 files use the MPEG4 Codec. It has AVC video with AAC audio.
[Patrick Cooper] "So I don't know if they're being compressed in some harmful way before they make their way over to Shotcut. "
Yes they are. MPEG4 uses very high compression and I would not use it for delivery to a stock video house.
[Patrick Cooper] "Don't know if it's better to import the original camera files directly into Shotcut and do the trimming and colour grading there but I'm more used to using Sony Movie Studio (even though their contrast and colour correction tools are rather crude.)"
You would absolutely produce better results by avoiding the extra MPEG4 compression and edit the files in Shotcut. I'm guessing that agency you are sending them to assumes that you are shooting Apple ProRes and maintaining that quality throughout your processing (which you are not). By rendering to MPEG4 you are degrading the footage and it should be avoided.

You may also get called out for using Shotcut because it does not have a license Apple ProRes codec and the ProRes files that it creates are a hack that don't perform well on a Mac. In short, the files are "illegal" and the agencies might not appreciate that if their customers start complaining that they were sold files that didn't use a licensed Apple ProRes codec (I know I would).

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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Patrick Cooper
Re: What codec is used in MP4?
on Jun 17, 2018 at 9:05:59 am

Thankyou John for your detailed reply. I will stop exporting videos in MP4 with Sony Movie Studio.

My gosh, I had no idea that the prores codec used by Shotcut is ilegal. In that case, I won't use that codec. Among the codecs that a lot of stock sites accept are h264 and photojpeg. I admit that h264 is more attractive to me due to the smaller file sizes. Though I guess photojpeg would be the preferred option for clients due to supposedly less compression? I'll have to check if Shotcut offers photojpeg as an option.

Thanks again.


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John Rofrano
Re: What codec is used in MP4?
on Jun 17, 2018 at 1:37:11 pm
Last Edited By John Rofrano on Jun 17, 2018 at 2:10:44 pm

[Patrick Cooper] "My gosh, I had no idea that the prores codec used by Shotcut is ilegal. In that case, I won't use that codec."
Yea, maybe "Illegal" is too strong a word but they are not "licensed" and it's "illegal" to reverse engineer the Apple ProRes codec to get around paying licensing fees so that's why I say they are illegal. The problem is also that they perform poorly because they are a "hack" from reverse engineering. When you place one of these files on your timeline line they cause playback problems and as soon as I experience this I check the codec in the file and it's always the ffmpeg ProRes files that cause the problem.
[Patrick Cooper] "Among the codecs that a lot of stock sites accept are h264 and photojpeg. I admit that h264 is more attractive to me due to the smaller file sizes. Though I guess photojpeg would be the preferred option for clients due to supposedly less compression?"
When I buy stock footage I expect the highest quality possible. PhotoJPEG is much higher quality than highly compressed h264. As a professional, I don't care about file size, I have a 12TB RAID 5 for my footage. I care about quality! A lot of stock footage is delivered as PhotoJPEG if it can't be ProRes.

If you are considering doing a lot of this, you might consider buying a Mac and creating real Apple ProRes files so that you can deliver in the formats that professional expect. BTW, I don't use Vegas Pro anymore or even use a Windows PC. I've been on the Mac for that past 4 - 5 years using Final Cut Pro X and use Apple ProRes for most of my work.

Alternately, you could buy Vegas Pro 15 which includes a licensed Apple ProRes codec but that's a big jump in price from Movie Studio. Of course for the price of Vegas Pro 15 you could buy a Mac Mini instead. ;-)

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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