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Information overload...codecs... Back from a long break and things have changed.

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Mark Moss
Information overload...codecs... Back from a long break and things have changed.
on May 13, 2015 at 3:16:22 am

I am just getting back into this side of media, and there are a whole lot of new things going on that are just confusing the tar out of me. I have really searched the forum for this information and I think I am getting more confused on conflicting info than finding answers. I know it's my lack of knowledge on this stuff, but if someone can dumb it down for me, I'd feel a lot more at ease. I am REALLY confused on formats/codecs. I shoot with an HMC 150 and HMC 80 in AVCHD, and I think it looks great from the camera. I suppose it's only downhill from there.

I have read so many questions and answers, that I have just confused myself.

1. I have read that I only need an intermediate codec if my computer is too slow for the source files. (My old computer was, but my newer one i7 seems to handle it fine. I used to use Cineform Neo Scene as an AVI)

2. I have read that intermediate codec files will hold up better than the source AVCHD files, so to preserve quality, or if I plan to color correct, I should use one.

3. I have also read that I should edit from the source files and not use an intermediate because using one would degrade the video quality.

4. Cineform Neo Scene is no more, and is now a free download from Go Pro?

5. Is there a general storage/output file that that it should be? I would like as high quality as possible. Pro Res 422? or Avid DNxHD? MP4? (I know I can't do Pro Res 422 with a PC)


Sorry about the confusion, but I am trying to figure out how to keep the quality as high as I can throughout the process.

Thanks for your help. I really have tried to come up with the answers myself, but there's just too much info (and lots of incorrect or outdated info on the web)


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John Rofrano
Re: Information overload...codecs... Back from a long break and things have changed.
on May 13, 2015 at 3:51:08 am

[Mark Moss] "1. I have read that I only need an intermediate codec if my computer is too slow for the source files. (My old computer was, but my newer one i7 seems to handle it fine. I used to use Cineform Neo Scene as an AVI)"
This is correct. The reason is because most modern codecs use a lot of sophisticated compression that produces small files but requires a lot of compute power to decode. Digital intermediaries use far less and simpler compression which results in requiring less CPU to decode at the expense of requiring more disk space to store (i.e., larger file sizes). This makes them easier to edit.
[Mark Moss] "2. I have read that intermediate codec files will hold up better than the source AVCHD files, so to preserve quality, or if I plan to color correct, I should use one. "
This is also correct. Again the reason is that part of the algorithm for encoding formats like AVHCD is something called "Long GOP" which stands for Long Group Of Pictures. Instead of encoding full names, Long GOP only encodes a full frame every 15 frames (I-Frames) and the rest are delta (D-Frames) and predictive (P-Frames) frames that require decoding the surrounding frames to complete the picture. Digital intermediaries (DI) encode entire frames for every frame. This means that when color correcting, the frame you get with a DI will always be the same frame while the frame you get from Long GOP may look slightly different depending on how it is reassembled from the delta and predictive frames. So editing with a DI is more accurate.
[Mark Moss] "3. I have also read that I should edit from the source files and not use an intermediate because using one would degrade the video quality."
This is not always true. Some Digital Intermediaries like ConeForm can actually improve the picture quality by using greater color depth while grading. While it is true that an extra render may degrade quality, the operative word is "may". It doesn't always degrade quality. Also if you use a lossless codec it will not degrade the quality. If you can edit from source, most people will recommend that this will yield the highest quality and they are correct but most DI's preserve the original quality, if not lossless, then visually lossless.
[Mark Moss] "4. Cineform Neo Scene is no more, and is now a free download from Go Pro? "
I don't know if Neo Scene is a free download. Neo Scene was more than just a codec. It was also an HDV capture and batch converter. I do know that the CineForm codec that shipped with Neo Scene is now offered for free as part of GoPro Studio.
[Mark Moss] "5. Is there a general storage/output file that that it should be? I would like as high quality as possible. Pro Res 422? or Avid DNxHD? MP4? (I know I can't do Pro Res 422 with a PC) "
I would stay away from QuickTime formats when working with Vegas Pro because Vegas uses the 32-bit version of QuickTime on Windows. I always edit the original source files. If you think you need a Digital Intermediary codec, I would suggest CineForm is still the best DI codec to use for Windows because it uses the native AVI container and not a MOV container.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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Mark Moss
Re: Information overload...codecs... Back from a long break and things have changed.
on May 13, 2015 at 3:57:06 pm

Thank you very much John. I think I understand....at least that part. I feel safe just using Cineform....if I can still get it. I downloaded the free Go Pro Studio and for some reason it doesn't work with AVCHD files. Not sure why. It looks like they are discontinuing the Pro version etc. They are saying that they will continue to support Cineform, but I'm not sure how to get it, or if it is something that can even be purchased. If anyone has an idea how to make Go Pro Studio work with AVCHD files, I would be eternally grateful


Thank you for all of your help John. You are such an incredible asset to this field.

Mark


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Mark Moss
Re: Information overload...codecs... Back from a long break and things have changed.
on May 13, 2015 at 9:41:19 pm

So let's say I can't use Cineform and wanted to make all my source footage as AVI or HD422. Would I just put all of my clips on the timeline and hit "Render as with the appropriate format selected?" Or is there a way that I can change them BEFORE putting them on the timeline? I have about 200 clips, so would I need to do them one at a time or just throw them all on there at once?

I'm sorry if this doesn't make sense. I'm struggling through all of this, so any help is really appreciated.

Thanks

Mark Moss
Mossman Productions


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John Rofrano
Re: Information overload...codecs... Back from a long break and things have changed.
on May 14, 2015 at 12:31:43 am

[Mark Moss] "I'm sorry if this doesn't make sense. I'm struggling through all of this, so any help is really appreciated. "
It makes perfect sense. I answered your other post to show you how to make a template for CineForm so that you can render CineForm from within Vegas Pro.
[Mark Moss] " I have about 200 clips, so would I need to do them one at a time or just throw them all on there at once? "
You might want to invest in a productivity plug-in like VASST Ultimate S Pro. It does lots of things to help you edit more quickly and one of them is a batch render capability where you could load or 200 files into Ultimate S Pro and it will render them to CineForm for you (once you create the CineForm template)

In the interest of "full disclosure" I work for VASST and I co-authored Ultimate S Pro. ;-)

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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John Rofrano
Re: Information overload...codecs... Back from a long break and things have changed.
on May 14, 2015 at 12:24:42 am

You can convert your AVCHD files to CineForm using Vegas Pro. Just make a CineForm template like the tutorial on my web site:

Creating CineForm Templates

Then drop an AVCHD file onto the timeline and render with that template.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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Aaron Star
Re: Information overload...codecs... Back from a long break and things have changed.
on May 14, 2015 at 4:01:57 am

John has done a great job of answering your questions. I would do your own experimenting with conversions to the following Sony formats for optimization reasons in vegas:

Xdcam-ex.mxf for avchd 20 mbs or below.

Xdcam 422 for HD 10 bit color

Hdcam-sr-lite which is optimized in vegas, and comparable in bit rate to ProRes422 HQ. This codec is often over looked because of the high bandwidth, but at the same time people will sling around prores hq as a standard bite rate.

XAVC-intra as support for this is pretty much just beginning and so will be around for sometime into the future. Plus it's pretty much just mp4 in a higher form. In my opinion Xavc may just be the 4k evolution of hdcam-sr-lite, supporting up to 600mbs for 4k 60p footage.

As for batch rendering, there is a script I altered over on the Sony creative forum under vegas scripting. That script uses the defualt batch render script and uses "region names" for the file names. You can do mass filename changes by cutting and pasting the file names into the edit details region name column. It's a free solution.


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Mark Moss
Re: Information overload...codecs... Back from a long break and things have changed.
on May 14, 2015 at 4:08:09 am

I really appreciate all of the help on this forum. You guys are the best.

Thank you again,

Mark


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