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OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes

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Chris Jacek
OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes
on Apr 22, 2013 at 6:54:13 pm

As a long-time Apple guy who is making the switch to Windows, I have run into one particular difficulty. I have not found a codec on the Windows side that works for me as well as ProRes when it comes to strange frame sizes. For example, I often do a four-sided video exhibit that requires me to play a single video, spanned over 4 external monitors (projectors). My most recent frame size was 5120x800. In the future, I hope to run 7680x1080. To this point, I've been saving out to ProRes, and then playing it out from an iMac sporting 2 Diamond DisplayLink adapters and a Matrox DualHead2Go (and some chewing gum, rubber bands, and hamsters). This is obviously not an ideal scenario. Performance is okay, but not great. I have Windows machines that are a little more robust, and plan to build my first PC soon, with multiple video cards.

My question to the group is this: What are you codec recommendations for similar multi-monitor videos with strange frame sizes? Also, any advice on good cards to use if building a machine. Unfortunately, since this is for education, money IS an object, so frugality is always a goal.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Walter Soyka
Re: OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes
on Apr 22, 2013 at 7:05:16 pm

[Chris Jacek] "As a long-time Apple guy who is making the switch to Windows, I have run into one particular difficulty. I have not found a codec on the Windows side that works for me as well as ProRes when it comes to strange frame sizes. For example, I often do a four-sided video exhibit that requires me to play a single video, spanned over 4 external monitors (projectors)."

I do large, bizarre resolutions all the time. I like GoPro's CineForm codec quite a bit. QuickTime PhotoJPEG may be a passable and less proprietary option.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Gary Huff
Re: OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes
on Apr 22, 2013 at 7:13:00 pm

[Walter Soyka] "
I do large, bizarre resolutions all the time. I like GoPro's CineForm codec quite a bit. QuickTime PhotoJPEG may be a passable and less proprietary option."


Then I'd advise Cineform (that was my initial reaction, but I've never done a wonky res in Cineform). Really, any QuickTime file is, by and large, going to work like crap on the Windows platform.


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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes
on Apr 22, 2013 at 7:07:54 pm

try cineform maybe? Its a well regarded intermediate codec (gopro own it now) and it will do any dimension as long as both are divisible by 16?
I just looked that bit up mind you.

http://vimeo.com/user1590967/videos http://www.ogallchoir.net promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Frank Gothmann
Re: OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes
on Apr 23, 2013 at 5:07:39 pm

Yep, either Cineform (which has the advantage that you can render as an avi which is much, much faster than QT and the simply have the Cineform utility rewrap it as a mov if you need it) or use Canopus HQX (which is the native Edius codec) which is cross platform now, does frame sizes to gusto, is higher quality than Prores and it is free and both encode/decode on win and mac.

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Chris Jacek
Re: OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes
on Apr 24, 2013 at 1:15:54 am

Do you have a preference between the two? For me, performance during playback from a computer is probably issue number one, followed closely by quality, encoding time (especially in AE), and preview playback performance. Size is only an issue to the extent that it might affect playback performance.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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Frank Gothmann
Re: OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes
on Apr 24, 2013 at 7:14:18 am

It depends what your workflow and usage scenario is. Basically, anything Quicktime under windows is somewhat slow.
Both Cineform and HQX demonstrate this so well because both can also render to avi (and in case of HQX also to MXF) and both do so at much, much higher speed.
I use HQX AVI a lot because we switched to Edius as our main NLE and the render performance is breathtaking, outperforming any other codec no matter what the container or platform is. Exporting a 90 minute 1080 Prores HQ file to an HQX AVI in Edius takes me 15-20 minutes, saturating every core of our machines at nearly 90 percent and you can manually increase the highest quality settings going even way beyond what HDCAM-SR can deliver. It also supports alpha channels. Going out to HQX mov is also fast, faster than DnxHD for example, but nowhere near as fast as AVI.
Cineform on the other hand allows you to work very fast when you choose avi and, if you need to then move work to a Mac, you can quickly rewrap to .mov.
It also seems to work better with Premiere than HQX.
As usual, my suggestion is to try them both out and see what works best for you. You can get HQX for free from the Grassvalley site and Cineform is available as a trial.
I'd also suggest to look into Edius if you have the time and regularly edit on windows (or play with the idea of maybe editing under windows), It is an extremely versatile and powerful NLE that can make your life a lot, lot easier and it is a textbook exampe of how stable and reliable windows software can be, no matter what your hardware environment is. If you're coming from FCP7, you should be up and running within a day or two, they're very, very similar in approach.

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"You also agree that you will not use these products for... the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons."
iTunes End User Licence Agreement


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Walter Soyka
Re: OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes
on Apr 24, 2013 at 4:56:58 pm

[Gary Huff] "Really, any QuickTime file is, by and large, going to work like crap on the Windows platform."

[Frank Gothmann] "Basically, anything Quicktime under windows is somewhat slow. "

Gary and Frank are both correct with their generalizations and correct to qualify these statements. Not all applications use Apple's native QuickTime libraries. You don't need to use Apple's QuickTime libraries to parse a QuickTime container, and you don't need Apple's QuickTime libraries to decompress open and non-proprietary codecs. For example, PhotoJPEG QuickTime which I mentioned is readable by non-QuickTime based systems with excellent performance.

However, for proprietary QuickTime-implemented codecs like CineForm and Canopus/GV HQ/HQX with no open codecs available, decode must be performed through Apple's QuickTime libraries and performance can suffer.

This stuff is all kind of edge-case, but since we're talking about ultra-wide resolutions, we are in edge-case land.

Since you are on a tight budget and since Canopus HQ encode is free and CineForm encode is paid, it seems reasonable to me to test the GVG solution first. I've used Canopus HQ for some standard raster work, and it seemed like a great codec.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Gary Huff
Re: OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes
on Apr 25, 2013 at 1:39:51 am

[Walter Soyka] "However, for proprietary QuickTime-implemented codecs like CineForm and Canopus/GV HQ/HQX with no open codecs available, decode must be performed through Apple's QuickTime libraries and performance can suffer."

Cineform is wrapped in an AVI container on the Windows platform, and thus won't suffer from that issue. Apparently Canopus does so as well.


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Walter Soyka
Re: OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes
on Apr 25, 2013 at 1:54:02 am

[Gary Huff] "Cineform is wrapped in an AVI container on the Windows platform, and thus won't suffer from that issue. Apparently Canopus does so as well."

Yes! Apologies for being so terribly unclear here. AVI is the way to go for these codecs on a PC for sure.

I was just trying to illustrate where the performance penalty on QuickTime comes in. I didn't mean to imply that CineForm and GVG HQX had to be wrapped in QuickTime add I did above.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Chris Jacek
Re: OT Question: Is there a I-Frame Windows video codec that allows for exotic frame sizes
on Apr 25, 2013 at 9:37:48 am

Regarding Cineform, is the codec available to GoPro owners? Or would you still need to buy it? We recently purchased 4 of the Hero 3 Black Editions.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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