Choppy playback with Xuggle
First of all I want to say I'm falling in love with CatDV! I've been playing with a demo version of both the standard and professional versions and the feature set of both are quite impressive. We have been using the Final Cut Server and, of course, need to transition to something else. Cat DV is at the top of my list.
But enough glowing praise... onto a problem. I've installed Xuggle (how *do* you pronounce that?!) on both the standard and professional machines and, in both cases, playback of AVCHD is quite choppy. I know there's a lot going on to decode it so I was wondering if there is a setting somewhere I could change to improve playback. I tried changing the "Preview format" to "Speed" and dropped the size down to 160x120 but that didn't help. Should I be transcoding the preview movie on import? I'm not interested in speedy import. It can take all night if the previews work well.
There's so much to learn about this thing but I think, if I can just get my head around it, it will save me so much time and trouble!
I assume it's pronounced "Zuggle" but I don't know for sure.
Unfortunately transport stream formats such as MPEG, HDV and AVCHD don't really support random access and aren't optimised for computer playback or editing, which is why QuickTime likes to put a wrapper round them. Xuggle provides a way to preview native .mts and .m2ts files you wouldn't otherwise be able to play in CatDV but performance is a bit choppy, yes (and there are other limitations, such as not being able to seek in HDV files).
The preview settings in CatDV's preferences relate to building proxies, which isn't relevant to AVCHD because you can only build previews from QuickTime-supported formats I'm afraid. You could build proxies using an external tool such as FFmpeg, FlipFactory, Compressor, Rhozet, etc. If you name the proxies appropriately CatDV will use them quite happily instead of previews it has generated.
That makes sense. I think I might try some sort of watcher folder with something to make little QT videos for proxies. I'm sure I'll have lots of questions when I try that but, of course, I actually have to come to grips with the software first.
Cat DV will be perfect for my personal video collection. Currently I store all the SD archive on a an external hard drive. With Cat DV I can just build a collection with the hard drive plugged in and still have access to the proxies after I put the drive back on the shelf.
For the University purposes I'm thinking Cat DV Server will be a good alternative to our Final Cut Server. It's not exactly the same thing of course, but in some ways, it's more flexible. I think you'll be seeing me around here a lot in the next few months!
Can I ask how many assets you have in FCSvr? I'm currently working on a migration solution and am trying to get a feeling for how much, how many and what sort of data people are running inside of FCSvr.
Thanks and glad you are loving CatDV, it only gets better with the Server installed.
bryson "at" hidefcowboy.com
I can't wait to demo the server version (but I have to really get to know the program first)
I'm not sure how many files we have on the FC Server (and it's down right now!). I work at a University and we do mostly public lectures and some promo pieces. We started with the server in August of 2009 and put mostly standard def, mini-dv projects on it. I'd say we had around 50 long format (1 hour +) projects in standard def. We also had a few HD projects in P2, XDCAM and, more recently AVCHD. The latter (especially) spawned hundreds of ProRes 422 files that eat space! We have, literally, thousands of those files. About 90% of our files are video (probably 30% DV, 70% ProRes). The other 10% are music files, stills, things like that. The one thing I really liked about the FC Server was that it could ingest and fcp project as a bundle and upload all associated media into a folder named the same as the project. Really sweet for archiving (though a space hog!).
I'm not sure our set-up is typical. We used the server mostly for it's edit-in-place capabilities. There's an 18 terabyte RAID attached and it's about half full. Our management was always project based. We never looked for assets or uploaded them individually. Everything was in an fcp project and got uploaded as a bundle. It was easier for the students (and me!) to understand and it was an organization that worked for us. Now that we're looking at Cat DV, I'm looking at changing to an asset based workflow.
I can barely imagine the headaches you're having trying to create a migration system (though you will be praised beyond measure if you can do it!). FC Server was a beast that tried to do so many things and it was **so** close to being successful. We call ours "Conan" because he's really powerful, kind of dumb, and half naked! In the end, however, it was never well supported and I don't think most places that had one used it to anything approaching it's full capabilities.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with. I'm really rather passionate about metadata and data management and I think content creators need something powerful, flexible and, most of all, useful! Have you looked at the metadata underpinnings of FCP X? Wow! (shame about the rest, of course!).
And as to my original question.. I have successfully gotten QT proxies of my AVCHD files to be seen in Cat DV! Now if someone wants to write a nice scripting feature to make it easier.... ;-)
First, thank you for the detailed data.
the FCSvr export isn't too hard for a good FCSvr admin so I've partnered with a couple of solid guys and we will handle the import into CatDV. (they speak nicely to each other over XML).
Secondly, there are plenty of folks who can help you script that proxy delivery out here but if you tackle it yourself, know that CatDV can easily export the path along with the file you are transcoding in an XML and with a little magic you can make sure it lands right where it's supposed to land.
The Server and Worker make automations like that possible whereas the client is strictly a manual, albeit powerful, piece.
bryson "at" hidefcowboy.com