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Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?

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Mauricio Lleras
Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 12:01:24 pm
Last Edited By Mauricio Lleras on Nov 5, 2015 at 6:11:14 pm

Hello all,

I come here seeking advice on a docu I'll be cutting soon,
this post might get a bit lenghty so I thank you in advance
for taking the time to read it and comment!
First off, let me say I am mainly an FCP7/Avid editor,
and have not cut any real projects with FCPX yet,
BUT I have followed FCPX's development very closely
from the beginning and I know pretty well the program.
So, a docu is coming my way and I thought
it would be the ideal project for trying FCPX more seriously.
Still, I have a couple of concerns that make me wonder
if it would be the right choice and so I'm looking for
your always informed advice.
I haven't got yet a lot of detailed info on the setup,
but the main thing is this:
most footage is old SD footage captured on tape,
some will be HI8, other PD150 DV.
All will be PAL as I am in France.
I might also have some HDV footage from a sony Z7 but am not sure.
So here are my questions:
1) this is the most important one:
what would be your advice concerning
ingest of the footage, knowing a good part (HI8)
cannot (as far as I understand) be ingested directly into FCPX as it will not be through
a firewire controlled device?
What do you guys recommend for this?
We will have a Blackmagic card for capture,
so was thinking of using Blackmagic's capture software.
Anybody using it? Advice?
I haven't had a chance to look at it yet,
but I wonder what the logging capabilities would be there,
and how to pre-organize my footage for FCPX later.
Or if you guys have any other/better ideas
on software for capture/logging
I'm all ears!
I could also log and capture on FCP7
and edit on X...
Of course my worry is that it might get unwieldy
logging the footage outside of the NLE,
as it might be a workflow in which
the director may start taking notes alone
and then maybe we will ingest bits here and there as we go
based on his notes, as opposed to ingesting everything from the go.
This is still not defined, as I don't know yet
how much footage there is or how many weeks
we will have for the edit, so this will get clearer later.
This is the reason that makes me wonder
if I should stick to FCP7 or Avid, or even try Premiere
- any thoughts on how Premiere handles logging and capturing SD footage,
would anybody recommend that solution?-
in order to ingest and log directly into the NLE,
seems easier to organize especially if we capture
here and there as we advance through the edit...
All your thoughts on this will be greatly appreciated.
Also, what codec would you recommend?
I'm thinking simple ProRes422 would be enough,
although I wonder if even Prores LT could suffice
and make for a lighter workflow.

2) How is FCPX handling SD footage these days?
I ask because I remember reading a couple of years ago
here on the cow or maybe over on Fcp.co
people saying that FCPX didn't handle all that well SD footage,
can't remember exactly the issues mentioned,
so I ask those of you with experience using SD footage in FCPX
if they have had ANY issues at all and what
they were, as well as solutions they found if needed.

3) Finally, performance also makes me weary.
Of course I know a lot of big projects have been cut on FCPX,
but I've also read a lot of complaints with FCPX's performance
on bigger projects (by that I mean of course large sequences in the old parlance...),
even recently here on the cow Oliver Peters seemed to complain
about it.
We will have a new machine which they will buy soon,
probably a 5k Imac or maybe even a MacPro,
so I would suppose performance should be more than ok
for sd material, but still, I wonder...
So, your thoughts?

Thanks again a lot for your time,
looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this.
I'm really hoping your answers will calm my fears
as I've been meaning to give FCPX a go for a while
and I'm longing to cut trackless and use
all the wonderful organizational tools it offers...
Just as long as I have a fluid workflow and cutting experience!
Cheers


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Noah Kadner
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 7:19:22 pm

Definitely possible with FCPX but you'll need the right gear and overall approach. Would definitely do thorough testing before committing to a specific platform.

Ingesting into 7 is definitely a possibility but you could also probably do this more efficiently with the right deck and Blackmagic or AJA capture hardware combo. Might be worth bringing in a workflow consultant if the project is important enough. And yes that was a shameless self-plug.

Noah

FCPWORKS - FCPX Workflow
FCP eXchange - FCPX Workshops


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 8:09:57 pm

If you have the budget, working with a team like FCPWorks would be a VERY smart decision. Re-inventing wheels via personal internet search is sometimes fun, but also can be VERY stressful when serious money is on the line. ; )

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 8:33:32 pm

Hey Bill,
what happened to the other post you wrote?
I received one notification on my mail
but don't see it here anymore.
I appreciate your offer and would surely be glad
to talk to someone having gone through that workflow.

[Bill Davis] "If you have the budget, working with a team like FCPWorks would be a VERY smart decision"

Bill, sure, that would be pretty nice, but not in the realm of possibilities for this project.




[Bill Davis] "Re-inventing wheels via personal internet search is sometimes fun"

Well, it is clear I won't be plunging into the workflow based just on some
loose internet search.
I still have some time ahead of me before the start of the project
and will definitely do some testing.
Just wanted to know what the general thoughts on this
kind of workflow from people having done it were...


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 7, 2015 at 5:25:06 pm

Sorry, Maruicio.

I'm moving and my world is in boxes right now. We had a suburban acre with 3 buildings including my dedicated studio and a guest house - but my wife and I got tired of all the upkeep and maintenance hassles.

And as I noted in another thread, technology has changed the rules for video production. My dedicated studio control room had nearly 90 edison outlets around my edit position to plug everything in. Now my edit rig uses ONE quad outlet with ONE 6 position power strip - period. Times are changing.

I started writing that long post during a break, but then the storage POD transport truck arrived and I had to break off. I'd written a long post, but never had time to proofread it or make sure it said what I wanted it to. But in my haste, I hit POST before I wanted to. So I killed it and posted a quickie that didn't need proofing.

Sorry for the confusion.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 7, 2015 at 7:58:32 pm

No worries Bill, and thanks again for your replies


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 8:22:59 pm

Thanks Noah,
did I mention I'm in France?
I'll definitely do some testing as soon as I can.
As far as the gear goes I think we will be fine,
as far as I know the director has the decks required to read the tapes
and has some brand of Blackmagic Design's Intensity cards
that should work OK.
Was wondering more about the fact of capturing using Blackmagic's
supplied software, MediaExpress,
and then getting that into FCPX.



[Noah Kadner] "And yes that was a shameless self-plug"
No worries! All fair game, thanks again!


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Noah Kadner
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 9:05:39 pm

Yep that is fine. I would suggest getting it into ProRes HQ for starters. And of course do some math calculations to determine how much storage you need for ingest/backups/etc.

Noah

FCPWORKS - FCPX Workflow
FCP eXchange - FCPX Workshops


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Michael Gissing
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 10:12:57 pm

Some important considerations are what are you finishing with. SD or HD?
At what stage do you intend to do the upscale and what finishing tool is being used?

With a lot of SD Hi8 footage what does the deck output? If it is just DV then the Decklink card and capture software may not be best choice. If it is SDI then I don't think the cheaper Intensity cards are SDI just HDMI but there will be cheap entry level SDI Decklink cards and their capture software is pretty good.

Import to remember is in SD PAL, DV codec is the only lower field format. Having the ability to capture direct to ProRes via an SDI you can correct the fields to upper. That is really important and I would hope you can avoid DV codec which is awful. Even if you use the old trick in FCP7 of converting firewire capture to ProRes codec, the field order will be wrong for PAL.

Given your source material, I doubt you will see any benefit with ProRes HQ over ProRes422 but bigger files.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 10:19:26 pm

Critical to post planning is to talk to the people who will grade, online and sound post this doco. They will have their own issues that may steer you to how best to setup your workflow and if they have any issues with any NLE choices.

All well and good to ask on a forum like this but lots of editors here do not do complex collaborative workflows with transfer of assets to other finishing systems so some advice may not be keeping that in mind. Many do so don't be afraid to ask about other peoples workflows when assessing advice.

I just do post grade, online and sound post using Fairlight and da Vinci Resolve (12). All NLEs have their idiosyncratic behaviors and Resolve has its own issues. At the moment I am tearing my hair out over naming conventions for still images. Resolve sees stills as a video if the file name uses sequential numbers anywhere in the file name. Knowing things like that will help you setup naming conventions.


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 11:08:12 pm

Thanks for replying Michael,
my guess is we'll probably edit and finish in SD,
although that is not yet definitive.
And I definitely will keep a close eye
on the field order issue,
hoping to avoid DV and go all ProRes.
As far as collaboration goes I have done it before
so I am aware of things to be considered.
Also I may be doing the color work myself,
so one less step to supervise...


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 10:59:09 pm

I think Pro Res 422 HQ would surely be overkill
given the source footage resolution,
as Michael says I'd probably only gain larger files but little else...


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Jim Wiseman
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 5, 2015 at 11:36:37 pm
Last Edited By Jim Wiseman on Nov 6, 2015 at 12:16:26 am

I'm in a similar situation with much footage (over 30 years) in SD, primarily NTSC DV, but also Betacam SP NTSC and even 3/4" NTSC. I've done tests with the Blackmagic Teranex 2D and their MediaExpress capture software. It seems to create good ProRes files. I am using Panasonic DVCPro 640/650 SDI out decks, and Betacam/3/4" Sony decks.. The 640/650 SDI decks can handle mini DV and DVCPro from my broadcast Panasonic AJ-D810 SD camera as well. Even some Nikon DSLR file based, and Sony EX-1 HD NTSC 1080.

I want to bump the SD all to pillar-box 3x4 1080 at the beginning, as that is the primary way people now view video. Saw the Ken Burns Civil War Docs recently, and they were all 3x4 HD pillar box, though they have may have been uprezed after posting in standard SD. At any rate, with the Teranex 2D already in house, I'm thinking of bringing the SD tape in at 1080 ProRes 422 via Blackmagic MediaExpress to begin with and combining that with the file based HD from the Sony EX-1 NTSC HD 1080 and the Nikon footage in a 1920 x 1080 HD timeline using FCPX.

I'm open to any input at this time as I am ready to begin digitizing the tape and doing tests, but that is my approach at the moment. Adobe is not in the picture except for pre or post production, possibly Audition for audio. I do have CS6 Production Premium, but most know my attitude toward rental going forward. Any suggestions would be appreciated here, as well. This is literally a lifetime of work that will end up as quite a few individual projects. Come from a broadcast/feature background, so want to maintain those standards, even if it ends up being mostly streamed.

Jim Wiseman
Sony PMW-EX1, Pana AJ-D810 DVCPro, DVX-100, Nikon D7000, Final Cut Pro X 10.2.2, Final Cut Studio 2 & 3, Media 100 Suite 2.1.6, Premiere Pro CS 5 5.5 and 6.0, AJA ioHD, AJA Kona LHi, Blackmagic Ultrastudio 4K, Blackmagic Teranex, Avid MC: Mid 2015 MacBook Pro Retina 15": 2013 Mac Pro Hexacore, 1TB SSD, 64GB RAM, 2-D500: Helios 2 w 2-960GB SSDs: 2012 Hexacore MacPro 3.33 Ghz, 24Gb RAM, GTX-680, 960GB SSD: Macbook Pro Retina 2015, i7, 500GB, M370X 2GB: Macbook Pro 17" 2011 2.2 Ghz Quadcore i7 16GB RAM 250GB SSD, Multiple OWC Thunderbay 4 TB2 and eSATA QX2 RAID 5 HD systems


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 7, 2015 at 8:08:20 pm

Hey Jim,
your approach seems pretty good
if your finishing in HD.
So now that you've done some tests
how are you finding Media Express?
I wonder how much you can organize your footage there
in a way that translates to FCPX,
can you send out xml's?
Or can you create folders inside the app
that reflect on the finder so you could
then import them into FCPX and get them as keyword collections?
I haven't had the chance to look at it myself,
so sorry if the questions seem a bit simple,
just wondering what I'll be able to do with the software.


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 7, 2015 at 8:26:07 pm

Thanks to all for your answers.
It's a pity though that few of them addressed directly my initial questions,
so I'll sum them up again in hope someone wants to chime in.
- How are you finding FCPX's general performance
with longer projects these days? This worries me the most,
as I've seen a lot of mixed feelings about this.
- Has anybody had any issues working with SD material in FCPX?
If so, what were they?
- Has anybody used Media Express for capturing
and then going to FCPX? Any recommendations
for logging or tips for getting the most out of the app?
Or would you feel a more sensible workflow
would be to go with an NLE that can capture from tape?
Avid? Premiere? What are your preferences?
I for one have done a lot of these workflows with FCP7
so it would be an easy way for me,
but would really like to try FCPX.
I'm thinking capturing and doing a first level of organizing
inside FCP7 and then sending an xml of the whole project
through 7toX might be an interesting option,
so I'd get bins and notes logged during capture
translated into FCPX.
That would be fine if we proceed to capture all the material from the beginning,
as opposed to bits here and there...
I also ask about Premiere because I have yet to try it
but been following it also and getting a pretty good impression so far.

Again, looking for thoughts from people having had similar workflows.
I'm not particularly worried,
I think it will be pretty straightforward
regardless of the NLE I choose in the end,
just wanted to get a general feel
of what people thought on using FCPX in a project like this one.

Thanks again!


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 7, 2015 at 9:53:14 pm

A - X does just fine with long projects. Sure if you have a TON of material, you want a robust hardware configuration to support that - just as with any other system.

B - It's super easy to go from tape into X. Just get a digitizer. I've used the simple Black Magic Video Recorder unit that costs under $200 and have gotten great results inside FCP X directlly to h-264. The resulting files look excellent - provided of course your source deck is putting out a clean signal. If you have very old tapes or similarly wonky sources - you need to do exactly what you've always done. Clean up the signal to the best extent possible. That might mean a full frame TBC or frame shaker in the path - or it might mean keeping multiple source decks around to see what "reads" the old tapes best. If you want to use a different digitizer to go directly to ProRes or another codec, that's easy as well. One way or the other, you need to digitize your tapes. But it's just not that hard a lift.

C - I can't think of a SINGLE benefit to putting another NLE in your workflow other than perhaps on the export side where doing something like working through Resolve for color or as a bridge to another NLE that someone must work with downstream. Workflows based on finder folders manipulation is part of what X blew up when it centered the NLE on a database. Yes, it's still a part of good practices if you are working with others in a network environment and who need to maintain finder/folder systems for collaboration - and that's legit - but when you're in X, non-network accessible folders are dead to the system - ALL that X sees are the smart collections and keywords etc. inside its internal database. If you'll be working with a larger SAN or NAS topology with multiple users- fine. But without that, if you work with other X people - you'll just be sharing your structured databases and desktop folders become largely unnecessary. So why mess with them? I'd personally rather use that time for better database organization.

Generally, X's greatest strength is its ability to precision define ranges and attach instant-recall keywords to the results.That works directly with the magnetic timeline to let the editor call those pre-trimmed ranges directly to the playhead - instantly - so they can be magnetically assembled and simply re-ordered with all their vertical magnetic connections intact.

Anything that diverts too much of your attention from THAT system is a waste of time in a non-networked environment, IMO. And working in other software and messing over much with folders on your local desktop is precisely that - a diversion from getting the work done in X that most benefits you while working in X.

Others may disagree, but that's my 2 cents.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Steve Connor
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 7, 2015 at 10:06:56 pm

[Bill Davis] "A - X does just fine with long projects. Sure if you have a TON of material, you want a robust hardware configuration to support that - just as with any other system."

It does OK with big projects, it does struggle with long timelines


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Robin S. Kurz
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 10:27:47 am

[Steve Connor] "it does struggle with long timelines"

How do you define "long". My current timeline is around 1:40:00 at the moment and growing, coming from an event with around 40hrs. of material and I have no (speed) issues whatsoever.

- RK

____________________________________________________
Deutsch? Hier gibt es ein umfassendes FCP X Training für dich!


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 7:25:41 pm

[Robin S. Kurz] "[Steve Connor] "it does struggle with long timelines"

How do you define "long". My current timeline is around 1:40:00 at the moment and growing, coming from an event with around 40hrs. of material and I have no (speed) issues whatsoever.
"


This is precisely the kind of interchange that worries me
and has kept me watching X grow at a distance,
as it seems it will behave very well for some
and kind of badly for others,
and from what I've read and seen firsthand also
it seems that X's performance issues
are independent of hardware configurations,
as it may behave great or poorly on similar
top of the line new mac pros for instance.
It seems like kind of a hit and miss thing,
although I'm also aware that some of those
performance issues are far from deal breakers
as usually people will still get the job done
and manage them with simple solutions like
quitting the app every now and then
or keeping the inspector closed and all waveforms
off when not absolutely needed.
I will of course test it on the machine
I get assigned to work with as soon as I can.
Still, I have to say performance is a big deal for me,
and I don't mean performance on fast renders
but more like having very fluid basic operations
in the timeline, like having an immediate
response when hitting play/stop,
going from/to next/previous edits or
properly displaying frames when fast forwarding...
I name these as I have seen issues like this and more with FCPX
working with simple light footage (xdcam HD422)
or even prores HQ, on systems on which FCP7
behaved better with the exact same footage...
So Robin, for instance,
you say you don't have any of these issues at all?
Also, I'm not talking about bugs,
as those are expected from any program
there is or probably will ever be...


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Robin S. Kurz
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 7:50:49 pm
Last Edited By Robin S. Kurz on Nov 8, 2015 at 7:56:08 pm

[Mauricio Lleras] "So Robin, for instance,
you say you don't have any of these issues at all?"


No, none. And we're talking for the most part 5K material, too. Have I had similar issues in the (now far) past? Yes. Just not anytime since probably even before 10.1.

And honestly? With SD footage?? I highly doubt it. Unless maybe you're on a(n old) Mac Mini with 4GB of RAM and a FW400 disk.

My experience has also been, that most people that have had such issues were also the ones to install an endless amount of bizarre "oh so smart and useful!" tools that have constant lingering tasks in the background and the likes, that fill even the menu bar of a 27" screen from left to right with ease. So I'm generally very careful to make any one app personally responsible for performance issues.

- RK

____________________________________________________
Deutsch? Hier gibt es ein umfassendes FCP X Training für dich!


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Steve Connor
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 8:08:30 pm

[Robin S. Kurz] "No, none. And we're talking for the most part 5K material, too. Have I had similar issues in the (now far) past? Yes. Just not anytime since probably even before 10.1."

Could we have a show of hands, apart from Bill and Robin, who has NO performance issues with FCPX?


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Robin S. Kurz
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 8:42:28 pm
Last Edited By Robin S. Kurz on Nov 8, 2015 at 8:48:19 pm

[Steve Connor] "apart from Bill and Robin"

Implying what exactly? Why the seeming snark and not just right out say what you mean?


[Steve Connor] "who has NO performance issues with FCPX?"

Never mind that I never said that I have NO performance issues. So maybe try it again sans the insinuations and re-read. Since it was talk of SPECIFIC issues.

- RK


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Steve Connor
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 9:05:09 pm

[Robin S. Kurz] "Never mind that I never said that I have NO performance issues. So maybe try it again sans the insinuations and re-read. Since it was talk of SPECIFIC issues."


Sorry, my bad - so what performance issues do you have?


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 9:01:24 pm
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Nov 8, 2015 at 9:07:48 pm

Hold on.

I HAVE had performance problems along the way with X.

I just looked into and SOLVED every one.

Exactly like the ones I had with FCP v1-v7.

Confining it to X, back in 2012, whenever I stacked a bunch of graphics - like for a title sequence - my old machine performance bogged down massively. Drove me nuts until I figured out that X was trying to composite the multilayered stack with super high rez and all those layers of graphics was bogging things down. Making them a compound clip FIXED the problem. Later, as they improved X, the problem totally disappeared no matter which way I set up my graphics.

Then, there was a period when I was doing a LOT of stills work. I was importing full size DSLR images into my timelines and trying to apply compositing and motion to them...Again, my performance went to hell in a handbasket. After I realized I was asking X to composite literally millions and millions of pixel shifts per second, I switched from just dropping huge DSLR stills into my timeline AS IS - and instead started to pre-resized them to a resonable raster - depending on how much I expected to push in on them. Bingo - the problem totally went away.

And not long ago, I had the experience at NAB where I got those BlackMagic Production Camera files to edit and it was taking FOREVER to process them. When Noah Kadner figured out it was X likely trying to process a bunch of hour-long silent tracks (perhaps frame by frame to look for and preserve any possible audio changes?) embedded in the BlackMagic files, All I had to do was go to the original clips, Open in Timeline, Remove the unused blank tracks and again BINGO - suddenly great performance came back..

So was the software slow? Or had I just not properly faced it's individual quirks, figured out what worked best - and stopped doing what I was doing that was clogging up my performance?

This is the EXACTLY the same "learning curve" I've confronted in every single software program I've ever used.

I could certainly have stopped at any of those three junctions and run screaming to the internet about how SLOW and dumb X was. But I'd kind of prefer to do that if I KNOW there's an actual issue with the software, rather than just how I'm using it. X has had issues. And Apple has addressed many of them. But most of those issues have NOT effected me nor slowed down the work I need to do. So I've had a super positive experience with it. Someone trying to do something different might have a different experience. And there's no way to be sure if what they're complaining about is endemic to the software or SIMPLY how they are using it - as I've expressed above.

Remember, we all use the software differently. Right here on "or Not" a few months ago I shared that "blank audio tracks" discovery with a Chicago editor (iirc) and the conversation went from "this this is SOOOO Slow, to "oh, now it works WAY faster" in the space of a single post.

So IS it slow? Or is it slow for ALL who use it in a particular way? Or is it just slow for YOUR configuration?

They are all fair questions, but they are not the same at all.

It's very, very complex software used by a very complex matrix of user types.

And sorry, but if you want it to be fast and fluid you MUST learn to operate it well. That's true of every piece of software out there. If you do that AND you find a performance problem, then by all means bring it up. But not as "it's ALWAYS SLOW WITH LONG TIMELINES" - because it's not. It may well bog down with certain types of long storylines involving certain storyline building practices that I haven't seen. And on other X centric groups, we talk about that stuff all the time and try to help each other solve specific issues. But that's techniques stuff.

Just clearing what my position ACTUALLY is. Which is not that X is perfect for everyone all the time. It's that all the problems that I've encountered that have have effected my efficiency with it have been solved - or I simply don't prioritize at the same level that others do. (keyframing, for instance, is NOT something I do a ton of, Maybe every few programs - so in X I can do what I need, when I need to do it - even if the X key framing experience is intolerable for someone who's keyframing all day every day - but its fine for my level of use - while I wait to see if Apple improves it in the future.)

Different strokes. That's all.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 10:59:15 pm

Bill,
some good tips in your post
that might come handy, who knows!
Glad to see you've worked most of your issues,
and reassuring to see it's working well for you,
although who doesn't know that
(been reading this forum probably since the beginning ;)

[Bill Davis] "This is the EXACTLY the same "learning curve" I've confronted in every single software program I've ever used."

Agreed, all software has it's quirks and it's particular ways
of handling things that you need to iron out over the years.
It may well be as you say
that a lot of the issues mentioned on this and other sites
have to do with specific workflows were there might be
offending elements (weird clips, slow effects, bad installs, etc...)
that go unnoticed rather than actual problems with the software itself.
It's just that I've also seen reports from people claiming
they had problems on specced out machines
with clean OS installs and everything,
so that makes you wonder,
but of course you can never know what
their project or workflow contains...
Overall it seems to be reassuring though,
and I'll try to do the cleanest setup
I can with what I am given and then do some testing.


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 10:46:50 pm

[Steve Connor] "It does OK with big projects, it does struggle with long timelines"

So Steve,
what are you seeing on your end?
How does it struggle specifically?
On what kind of material/project?
Have you found solutions on your problems
as Bill has for many of his?


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Craig Alan
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 6:38:13 pm

[Bill Davis] "B - It's super easy to go from tape into X. Just get a digitizer. I've used the simple Black Magic Video Recorder unit that costs under $200 and have gotten great results inside FCP X directlly to h-264. "

Do you really want to ingest SD DV to H264? I understand that for export if that is the requested codec on a site.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 8:09:21 pm
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Nov 8, 2015 at 8:10:35 pm

[Craig Alan] "Do you really want to ingest SD DV to H264? I understand that for export if that is the requested codec on a site.
"


Having just taken down a huge tape library with thousands of hours of VHS, Hi-8, and DVCAM material - I've digitized what I want to keep to h-264 and it's not only great for keeping file sizes small - every time I go back to review the content I've stored, I'm reminded that it looks really darn good compared to the analog and 25mbps digital streams I was getting off the original tapes. This is my own work archives, not a commercial system, so there little risk to me in doing so. I know the stakes are vastly different on something like a documentary - but what I'm seeing seems pretty solid and eminently watchable.

Stable colors (right or wrong on capture!), no glitches (unless it digitized one during capture) - and all the material is not only extremely watchable - I'd actually not hesitate to cut what I'm seeing into a program if I had to use something from my archives in a future production. The reason I elected h-264 is that it was small, easy to edit with in FCP X - and it simply looks pretty darn good considering the size of the source files.

The question at hand: IS there a huge gain from storing old analog signals (or even "limited" digital signals like DV, DVCAM) as lesser-compressed or even uncompressed new masters? Or is it more like rolling off VHS onto Digibeta? Just better storage of a lousy signal, but not much of any actual "content signal" improvement at all. Be an interesting question to get a definitive answer on. Anyone know if there's an answer out there? If it's a big quality hit that's one thing. If it's a fractional one, that's quite another.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 8, 2015 at 10:19:14 pm

[Bill Davis] " Anyone know if there's an answer out there? If it's a big quality hit that's one thing. If it's a fractional one, that's quite another."

If you are just archiving material for personal storage with the very occasional use and drive space was an issue then H264 is a good codec. To capture footage for a large broadcast project where the majority of the footage is from old tapes and you want a really smooth trouble free post workflow, H264 is a poor choice.

8 bit processor heavy and not lossless so regardless of source, a poor choice for an edit codec in a large project. In this day and age of cheap drive storage hard to justify it as a choice for the doco workflow being proposed here.


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 2:07:48 am

[Michael Gissing] "8 bit processor heavy and not lossless so regardless of source, a poor choice for an edit codec in a large project. In this day and age of cheap drive storage hard to justify it as a choice for the doco workflow being proposed here."

Look I get the general scope of this. That's always been the safe and sane way to look at these things.

What I'm trying to determine is if it's the technically accurate and mesurable way to look at them.

There's no question that if you have a high rez master, digitizing it via any type of lossy codec is a bad idea.

What I want to know is if the conventional wisdom that suggests that when you start with a relatively poor resolution analog master, applying the same codec if it makes things AS MUCH worse as the drop from high rez to compressed? And how much worse do things get.

This should be measurable shouldn't it? Shouldn't we be able to take a frame from a VHS capture and run it into H-264 and look at the results pre and post encoding and see just how much things change?

And is the change clearly visible or is it just sorta visible?

If it confirms our existing perceptions, fine. But if there's "less visible loss" because we can't easily perceive the difference between relatively low rez original and an h-264 compressed digitization of that low rez original - I kinda want to know that.

Seems like something worthy to explore. That's all.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 3:03:34 am

[Bill Davis] "What I want to know is if the conventional wisdom that suggests that when you start with a relatively poor resolution analog master, applying the same codec if it makes things AS MUCH worse as the drop from high rez to compressed? And how much worse do things get. "

How much depends on the the footage. An INTV with a guy in his living room will most likely be less taxing from a compression standpoint than footage of a campfire (the constantly changing flames) or a red carpet event (flashbulbs going off). The more that changes between frames the harder it is for compression to keep from macro blocking. Footage of running water, leafy trees or tall grass in swaying in the breeze, color gradients (like a wall lit unevenly by a diffuse light source), etc.,. are also good things to look at if you are stress testing a codec.

On a related note, a long time ago I remember reading a very detailed, objective comparison between BetaSP and DV done by Adam Wilt and, long story short, DV had higher image quality than BetaSP (all other things being equal of course). One thing Adam noticed though is that when both formats reached their limits in terms of resolving image detail, the BSP might be perceived as looking better (in a subjective sense) because the fine detail starts going soft as opposed to the blockiness you see with digital compression.

So even when coming from relatively low-res analog sources you might have to aim higher than you think you need to during the digital conversion to avoid the digital artifacting which people find more bothersome than it's analog equivalent. I always try to stay with an intra-frame (ProRes, Cineform, DNxHD, etc.,) since the compression happens on a frame-by-frame basis and is less likely to fall apart as opposed to an inter-frame codec where groups of 12 to 15 frames are all compressed together. I worked at a place once where, due to the extremely high volume of footage they created on a weekly basis, ProRes LT was the default capture codec (prior to that it was DVCPro HD) and our image quality always passed QC for broadcast. I'm not one to automatically suggest taking VHS to ProRes HQ because, at some point, all you are doing is pouring a 12oz can of Coke into a 2 liter bottle.


-Andrew


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 3:33:39 am

[Andrew Kimery] "n a related note, a long time ago I remember reading a very detailed, objective comparison between BetaSP and DV done by Adam Wilt and, long story short, DV had higher image quality than BetaSP (all other things being equal of course). One thing Adam noticed though is that when both formats reached their limits in terms of resolving image detail, the BSP might be perceived as looking better (in a subjective sense) because the fine detail starts going soft as opposed to the blockiness you see with digital compression"

Adam is a friend and I reached out to him for his thoughts on this specific circumstance.

When he gets back to me, I'll post his thoughts.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 3:54:14 am

[Bill Davis] "Adam is a friend and I reached out to him for his thoughts on this specific circumstance.

When he gets back to me, I'll post his thoughts.
"


Cool, I look forward to hearing his 2 cents.


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Craig Alan
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 4:47:55 am

While his answer should be informative, I highly doubt he'd recommend not leaving it in its original codec. That was the beauty of the SD DV days - shoot and edit in the same codec. Compared to any HD codec it takes up very little space so not sure why you'd do this.

My other thought is that the original DV tapes make a great way to archive them. Just play them once in a while and keep them in a temperature controlled place. even make a copy if they are valuable.

All media creators need a better way to archive this stuff. Cheaper/faster/long shelf life.

How ironic that film has longer shelf life.

I also don't get why SSDs haven't become way cheaper. Cheaper than they were yes but any where near HHDs, no. Just looking at them it would seem after the initial R&D of their form that they should be cheaper - no moving parts.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 7:54:20 am

Adam responded and his answer, as I suspected, was extremely interesting! I neglected to ask for permission to quote him here publicly, but remedied that in a follow-up. I expect to get word from him tomorrow and will post the relevant parts his reply as soon as I have permission. I'll just say it seems my eyes were NOT fooling me. Stay tuned.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 9, 2015 at 9:02:12 pm

Just got permission to post my correspondence with Adam on this...

Sounds like once a signal is encoded to any of the relatively “low bandwidth” media like VHS, Hi-8 or even DVCAM, what’s lost is high frequency detail - and that’s not coming back.

So if you’re digitizing that kind of content - h-264 encoding isn’t going to damage the remaining signal very much at all.

Here’s the transcript of Adam’s responses to my questions (minus some irrelevant personal chatting on other topics) for those who want more details...
___________

Bill: Basically, I've been digitizing a lot of my old VHS, Hi-8 and DVCAM tapes through a BlackMagic Video Recorder dongle purely for long term archive convenience and have been surprised that the visual quality after digitization is significantly better than I expected. 

Which started me thinking whether if you START with such a low resolution master - does the TYPE of compression applied have as much effect on visible results as it does on better originals?

Adam: Not nearly so much. Low-band analog masters (and the chroma filtering in 4:1:1 DVCAM) have a lot less compression-unfriendly detail in them than a higher-resolution source, so the compression has an easier job of squishing it down: all the tricky bits have already been thrown away, more or less. You can use a higher compression ratio, or more aggressive compression overall, before you start to see a noticeable quality hit; the recording format has already "compressed" the source image to a certain degree.

Basically will the VISIBLE effect of compressing low rez originals to something like h-264 be as BIG a hit as applying similar compression to a better quality master?

Nope, the quality difference won't be nearly as visible.

Have you ever tested anything like this? Your thoughts?

When DV25 came out I was stunned that I could edit to it from BetaSP or any of the color-under formats and not see ANY generation loss. The "prefiltering" applied, even by BetaSP, had already removed high-frequency detail and chroma that DV25 would have a hard time with.

Cheers,
Adam Wilt
______________
So there you go. If you’re transcoding low rez masters, don’t freak out if you can’t use a totally pristine dubbing chain. It might not get you much actual, visible benefits.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 9, 2015 at 9:47:49 pm

[Bill Davis] "Adam: Not nearly so much. Low-band analog masters (and the chroma filtering in 4:1:1 DVCAM) have a lot less compression-unfriendly detail in them than a higher-resolution source, so the compression has an easier job of squishing it down: all the tricky bits have already been thrown away, more or less. You can use a higher compression ratio, or more aggressive compression overall, before you start to see a noticeable quality hit; the recording format has already "compressed" the source image to a certain degree."

All interesting opinion although I don't know Adam from, well, Adam. Using a long GOP encoding of DV material will of course further compress and DV is known for its blockiness so re-encoding such blocking is going to cause further degradation. But none of this addresses my other concern about having H264 as an edit codec in a long form doco.

I get that he is basically saying soft source without much chroma info isn't hard to encode but it will lose quality and it isn't a suitable edit post codec. Again my advice is ProRes or DNxHD. Life would be easier if H264 is kept out of the workflow until final masters are made for web or bluray.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 9, 2015 at 9:59:05 pm

Thanks Bill.

Lower res formats inherently lacking fine detail (which is hard on both inter and intra frame compression schemes) makes sense. My concern was more about the changes between frames as opposed to the amount of detail in a single frame (so temporal vs spacial I guess). Things like camera flashes going off or a campfire fire dancing in the foreground are much tougher on inter-frame codecs than intra-frame codecs since the space-saving aspect of inter-frame codecs is based on the assumption that not much is changing on a frame-by-frame basis. I've seen red carpet footage from DV cameras that doesn't show any artifacting beside clipping when the flashbulbs go off but red carpets shot with Sony's EX1 (which uses the XDCAM EX codec) can turn into a pixelated mess for a frame or two if a flash lights up what the camera is pointed out.

Obviously the bit rate and the encoder have to be taken into consider as well as the more bits you have, and the better encoder you are using, the more robust the process is to handle rapidly changing images.

So, ultimately I guess my advice would be to prescreen footage and test sections that look like they might be problematic for H.264. Or if one has the storage space just capture everything in a codec like regular ProRes 422 or it's DNx counterpart. It might just be paranoia, but I do share Michael Gissing's concern of if you are essentially making new master copies of the footage why not err on the side of caution?


FWIW I grabbed some high res fire stock footage I have (1080p image sequence), turned it into DV using Adobe Media Encoder and then converted that DV file into H.264 using AME's "Vimeo 1080p" preset and the results were surprisingly good. It was soft, obviously coming from DV, but it looked fine all things considered (no obvious or distractingly bad macro blocking from my quick look at it).


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 9, 2015 at 11:27:05 pm

I think you both are missing the primary PURPOSE of my post.

It Addresses best practices when you ONLY have access to a VHS or DV dub. Nothing better. If that is your inescapable starting point - and you need to use that AS your master source - you gain little to nothing if you capture it as ProRes 444 for your mezzanine codec - rather than just using, say, h-264 before you bring it into your NLE. Adam explained that AFTER the hit to analog VHS or DV25 - digital encoding has little preservable data left that warrants using a beefier codec for storage. That's what I wanted to know. I can use my Black Magic Video Recorder dongle to archive without worrying that I'm tossing out MORE useful information. This addresses NOTHING about how to encode or store files when you have better masters available.

That's all.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 9, 2015 at 11:49:42 pm

[Bill Davis]"I think you both are missing the primary PURPOSE of my post. "

I am considering the PURPOSE of the original post asking advice about formats and NLEs to use on a long form doco. My advice is intended to offer a best practice workflow.

What you chose to do with your old tapes is entirely your business. I don't consider it appropriate advice for the original poster. It seems your purpose is to justify a decision you made but that is not really relevant to the workflow being discussed.


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 12:30:26 am
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Nov 10, 2015 at 1:18:24 am

[Michael Gissing] "What you chose to do with your old tapes is entirely your business. I don't consider it appropriate advice for the original poster. It seems your purpose is to justify a decision you made but that is not really relevant to the workflow being discussed."

I disagree. If the OP (or others reading this thread) encounter historical legacy VHS or DV material and need to incorporate it into a higher rez program - this thread addresses EXACTLY information that could well be useful to them.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 9, 2015 at 11:56:28 pm

[Bill Davis] "you gain little to nothing if you capture it as ProRes 444 for your mezzanine codec - rather than just using, say, h-264 before you bring it into your NLE."

ProRes4444 is not what was being recommended so keep the strawman out of it. I have already explained the limitations of h264 in professional workflows. I don't care whether you agree with me but please don't offer advice on complex workflows unless you are doing them or you end up at the end of them trying to get the best grade and avoid tech rejection by broadcasters.


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Craig Alan
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 12:10:37 am

Bill, unless I missed something in his answer, the question is not whether you can see much of a difference between DV and H-264 when played back, but rather would he suggest ingesting DV footage into a NLE for editing.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 12:21:34 am

[Craig Allen] "Bill, unless I missed something in his answer, the question is not whether you can see much of a difference between DV and H-264 when played back, but rather would he suggest ingesting DV footage into a NLE for editing."

I am not sure why this has become a post about Bill's workflow. The original poster indicated a mixture of Hi8 and DV PAL. Now the question of a suitable codec to edit is really simple in this case. Hi8 needs to be captured. Codecs best suited to editing are ProRes 422 or DNxHD depending on the NLE of choice.

DV PAL is a special case because it is the only codec in the PAL world with lower fields interlacing. This is a major problem and so it is best solved by taking the DV footage via a deck with SDI and capturing it ProRes or DNxHD upper field so it matches everything. It might be tempting to capture it as DV via firewire but years of experience with this approach led many to convert to ProRes and fix the field order.

H264 isn't a wise choice for the edit codec on a long form doco. If you ever find a post supervisor who thinks it is then run. Leaving the DV as DV also isn't a wise choice because of the fields issue which constantly plagues me in post with SD archive material. I am doing a 23.976 progressive feature doco at the moment with lots of archive from DV codec and the fields order issue is a nightmare.


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 1:02:03 am
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Nov 10, 2015 at 1:04:05 am

[Michael Gissing] "I am not sure why this has become a post about Bill's workflow."

Sigh, Michael, It's NEVER been about that.

I wanted a question answered that sprung from this discussion. To wit; Someone hands you a legacy tape to include in your DOCUMENTARY - is there a chance that encoding it in a higher level codec, say ProRes 444 - will yield a better preserved signal than simply capturing it to an h-264 file. And the answer appears to be NO. It will NOT make a visible difference.

And to address your "I don't now Adam from Adam" comment. I suggest you do a simple Google search.He's the very first Adam Wilt Listed. His credentials as someone who's been intimately involved with the technical aspects of DV data streams are widely known as he's been writing about precisely that - both on-line and in magazines for 20 plus years now.

IIRC Andrew brought up his name first as a authoritative source. I just happen to know him from the press room from NAB's past.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Steve Connor
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 7:23:45 am

[Bill Davis] "I wanted a question answered that sprung from this discussion. To wit; Someone hands you a legacy tape to include in your DOCUMENTARY - is there a chance that encoding it in a higher level codec, say ProRes 444 - will yield a better preserved signal than simply capturing it to an h-264 file. And the answer appears to be NO. It will NOT make a visible difference."

Maybe, but in a Broadcast workflow, no visible difference doesn't necessarily mean it will pass a tech check


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 8:36:30 pm

Yeah, I always thought it was odd that I had to learn and meet all sorts of "broadcast standards" with station folk telling me that the ENGINEERS were in charge of all that - then the moment the the crappy Rodney King vs the Police video surfaced it ran on every conceivable network despite its awful tech quality - and nobody blinked. As outside vendors we have to make sure EVERY pixel meets specs some engineer probably wrote for broadcast in the 70s that even the stations themselves don't use anymore. Sheesh!

I'm all for quality standards. I just like ones that apply to everyone for valid technical reasons.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 4:08:21 pm

[Bill Davis] "Someone hands you a legacy tape to include in your DOCUMENTARY - is there a chance that encoding it in a higher level codec, say ProRes 444 - will yield a better preserved signal than simply capturing it to an h-264 file. And the answer appears to be NO. It will NOT make a visible difference."

It may, after processing and re-compression. Input H.264, process, re-encode to H.264 for delivery (which maybe gets re-encoding as MPEG-2 or H.264 at some point for transmission)... that could easily exaggerate the initial compression artifacts.

I'd want to test the whole workflow, including grading and output with lossy compression, before committing.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 1:18:02 pm

[Michael Gissing] "I am doing a 23.976 progressive feature doco at the moment with lots of archive from DV codec and the fields order issue is a nightmare."

Michael,
if I understand you correctly you've had
lots of problems with DV mainly
because you're mixing it with other codecs
that have upper field priority, right?
I could really see the trouble there...
But would you still recommend staying away from DV
if all material was the same?
I remember editing that way a long while ago
and don't recall any issues...
I'm asking because I got the chance to talk some more
to the director and it seems that after all
almost everything is on DV PAL,
most HI8 having been transferred to DV many years ago.
So I would be tempted to stay on DV,
although I know for grading Prores would still be better.
What would you say about going Prores LT
if I should transcode?
It's the same bitrate for SD as DV but I would gain
10 bit and 4:2:2 sampling, so I'm guessing it would be fine,
although I still wonder if it wouldn't be better going Prores 422,
but that would entail a lot more storage space...
Thoughts?
Also, the blackmagic card he has has no SDI,
so I don' know yet if blackmagic's software will
change field priority when ingesting/transcoding to Prores,
will ask them...


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Michael Gissing
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 10:23:57 pm

[Mauricio Lleras]"I'm asking because I got the chance to talk some more
to the director and it seems that after all almost everything is on DV PAL,
most HI8 having been transferred to DV many years ago. So I would be tempted to stay on DV,"

If everything is already DV codec then there is the possibility of having a lower fields project and converting to upper on the final graded output. But as soon as you mix upper and lower in the sequence you will need to shift fields. By capturing via firewire you are doing a direct data transfer and nt transcoding.

In the old days where the show was entirely DV I would still use an Uncompressed 10 bit 422 timeline and then ProRes 422 when it became available to do the grade in FCP4.5 or 5. That meant adding a shift fields filter to everything but grading and outputting uncompressed (or ProRes) upper master. The problem with using shoft fields on every shot was only a problem if a shot was slo mo. I would have to render the slo mo in a DV timeline and output as prores and drop the shot in.

DV usually needs chroma smoothing processing. I used to use Nattress filters to do that but I haven't seen DV in Resolve so I don't know how it grades. It has been so long since I used DV codec. In PAL I really disliked it for the fields issue alone and the blockiness.

If there are not other codecs but DV then firewire is a valid option.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 12:20:54 am

[Bill Davis] "It Addresses best practices when you ONLY have access to a VHS or DV dub. Nothing better. If that is your inescapable starting point - and you need to use that AS your master source - you gain little to nothing if you capture it as ProRes 444 for your mezzanine codec - rather than just using, say, h-264 before you bring it into your NLE. Adam explained that AFTER the hit to analog VHS or DV25 - digital encoding has little preservable data left that warrants using a beefier codec for storage."

I totally, 100% understand what you are saying. My remaining question doesn't have to do with the amount of detail left in the image though. My question has to do with the amount of the image that changes from one frame to the next because big changes from one frame to the next (say flash bulbs at an event or a roaring fire in the foreground) can break inter-frame codecs. Those codecs get their small file size by basically assuming that not a whole lot in the image changes from one frame to the next.

Intra-frame codecs (like ProRes) compress each frame as a stand alone image (for lack of a better term), but inter-frame codecs will basically (and this is a really superficial description) compress a whole frame, then interpolate the next 12-15 frames (typically whatever makes up a 1/2 second), then compress another whole frame, then interpolate the next 12-15, etc.,. If a lot of change happens during those interpolated frames (such as a camera flash) there is a good chance the image will turn into macro blocks because the codec doesn't retain enough image information to recreate such a big change. You can crank up the bit rate to help alleviate those problems, or add more key frames (which reduces the number of interpolated frames) but then the file size goes up which starts eliminating the smaller file size advantage of going with an inter-frame codec to begin with.

I'm also not saying to go to ProRes 4444 (I actually specifically mentioned thinking even HQ was overkill), but just going with a quality, inter-frame codec (which is why I gave ProRes LT as an example) or conducting tests on potential problems areas in the footage to see if they will break whatever 'flavor' of H.264 one is using.

So, in a nutshell, inter-frame codecs have potential problems that intra-frame codecs do not so do some tests with the specific inter-frame codec you intend to use (settings, encoder, etc.,) before converting a ton of footage and getting neck deep into the edit.


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 12:44:57 am

[Andrew Kimery] "So, in a nutshell, inter-frame codecs have potential problems that intra-frame codecs do not so do some tests with the specific inter-frame codec you intend to use (settings, encoder, etc.,) before converting a ton of footage and getting neck deep into the edit."

Andrew, I'm in full agreement with this.

As I've tried to reiterate, my post has marginal value in a case where you have an OPTION about what kind of source files you will be ELECTING to encode - or about the codec you should choose IF the source footage has information you wish to preserve.

My narrow example only addresses circumstances where you have NO CHOICE - AND wish to employ analog historical footage in modern digital workflows.

I'm encouraged that if THIS is the situation an editor finds themselves in, they do not have to worry overmuch that further mezzanine transcoding will damage - or might enhance - what video quality is already on your tapes.

And further, unless they have some OTHER compelling need to mezzanine to a more robust encoding scheme - they will lose little (and possibly gain some ease of file handling) if they just store and use old analog transcodes in something data thrifty and manageable like the extremely widely supported h-264 formats.

I've learned something. And am happy to have shared it with others. That's all.

.

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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 1:05:19 pm

Hello again, sorry, been busy...
Bill, thanks for the input,
but I tend to agree with the others
as to codecs:

[Bill Davis] "Adam explained that AFTER the hit to analog VHS or DV25 - digital encoding has little preservable data left that warrants using a beefier codec for storage"

Even though this is most certainly true, and you will not gain
any quality on your original image by going with a larger/better codec
such as Prores, what you WILL gain is more latitude
for grading, meaning 10bit space and 4:2:2 chroma sampling
will give you the possibility to grade in a smoother way,
even if of course you won't be getting back info
that was lost already from the beginning...
So if you won't be grading the footage it's
probably just about the same, but if you do
better codecs will probably yield better results,
at least they should, as I say this without having done proper testing.
Also, I agree with Michael that although handling
of H.264 files has gotten a lot better over the years,
having long timelines full of them is a good recipe for major headaches.
As far as using them for archiving it may very well be a very sensible solution.


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 10, 2015 at 9:06:03 pm

I must be wording things very badly here. I am not now nor have I ever advocated for using h.264 as an EDITING codec. I'm using it as a STORAGE codec for digitized low rate signals such as those coming off VHS or DVCAM tapes. If I was going to EDIT with it, I'd digitize it, I'd let X wrap it in a nice edit-friendly ProRes hug. My comments are about not needing to second guess the workflow already built directly into X. If X sees s file that needs transcoding, it will indicate that. If not, just leave things alone. I read all the time about people using outboard steps to rewrap this and pre-transcode that before import to X - largely, I think because that's how they've always done things. If you're downrezzing higher quality footage fine, have at it. But if you're handed some grandmas VHS-C cassette and néed to get it into X, you just don't need an expensive Terenex encoder to do that properly. Yeah, you may want or need similar high end gear to handle other types of files - but not captures from low Rez sources. Simple as that.

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Craig Alan
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 11, 2015 at 2:32:12 pm

"B - It's super easy to go from tape into X. Just get a digitizer. I've used the simple Black Magic Video Recorder unit that costs under $200 and have gotten great results inside FCP X directlly to h-264."

Even if you did not mean to edit using this transcode, I don't get the point. If all you are doing is storing the original media then hard drives are a lot less reliable long term than tape. And why would you want to do two transcodes instead of none? X has no problem with SD DV. If the tapes are HDV, or a a mix of different codecs, then pro res 422 would be a better choice than h-264.

To follow your advice above, just get one of these: http://www.apple.com/shop/product/MD464LL/A/apple-thunderbolt-to-firewire-a.... (assuming you have one of the newer Macs that does not have a firewire port.

Instead of asking Adam if it's true that you won't see much difference between h-264 and DV videos, you should have asked him how best to archive DV tapes, assuming you want another copy of them. The tapes themselves will outlast hard drives.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 12, 2015 at 4:41:09 am

At the risk of over-simplifying - and since we're all visual people - here's a diagram of what I want.



I'm tired of dragging hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of nearly obsolete historical tapes around. I want the tapes GONE, yet important content preserved in case I need to revisit it later.

I asked Adam - who is an expert in DV formats - to help me understand if doing the transcode to h-264 would be inferior to capturing it as something better - like ProRes 442. He explained that it won't in any practical sense and told me why.

That is precisely what I wanted to know. And now I do.

If you guys want to keep your old DV tape libraries active - knock yourselves out. I don't.

Simple as that.

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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, Quotes FROM ADAM WILT
on Nov 9, 2015 at 11:31:47 pm

I see that the cow text processing stripped away the color data on what I said verses Adams responses. After his ID'd paragraph, it's back and forth paragraphs. (Can't edit them now that replies have been posted.)

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Michael Gissing
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 9, 2015 at 7:29:06 am

[Bill Davis] "Seems like something worthy to explore. That's all."

Perfectly valid to question what can be seen and what can be measured. When you start grading and watching the result on a 65" 4k monitor 2 metres away is when you notice. I am forever rolling edits a frame to avoid a tiny camera bump or blink when onlining. And when grading you start to notice when the banding starts or the colors go weird. The small monitoring on most edit setups simply don't let you see but eventually on the big screen the differences matter.

The other issue is processor load with highly compressed codecs like H264 or H265. I have a hugely grunty graphics card that lets me grade with high quality debayering on 5k RED files but with H264 it is the main processor, not the graphics card that has to do the initial decoding.

I take the point that there will be diminished returns capturing VHS to uncompressed 4k, but the issue of drive space to processor load is an easy one to solve with codecs like ProRes and DNxHD being perfect to get the balance between drive space, system overhead and quality being totally nailed.


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Jim Wiseman
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 7, 2015 at 11:21:23 pm
Last Edited By Jim Wiseman on Nov 7, 2015 at 11:27:23 pm

Mauricio, I have used the ProRes files generated in MediaExpress in FCPX and they work fine. I have only created folders to export them to and moved them to FCPX where they were automatically assigned roles. I have put them on a timeline and they behave normally. I used MediaExpress software instead of FCPX for capture to ProRes 422 and HQ (test) as it is specifically designed to interface with the Blackmagic Teranex 2D and also the Ultrastudio 4K I have. This was using SDI out from the Panasonic DVCPro 650 VTR. FCPX seemed to me to be more of a file based acquisition program, and I have used it to bring in the EX-1 1080 HD and the Nikon HD files as ProRes 422. Those are also playing well with the tape based SD uprezed video I have tested. FCPX also plays quite well with SD footage on an SD timeline if you choose to go that route. That is about all I can tell you at the moment. Best of luck, let us know how it works for you.

Jim Wiseman
Sony PMW-EX1, Pana AJ-D810 DVCPro, DVX-100, Nikon D7000, Final Cut Pro X 10.2.2, Final Cut Studio 2 & 3, Media 100 Suite 2.1.6, Premiere Pro CS 5 5.5 and 6.0, AJA ioHD, AJA Kona LHi, Blackmagic Ultrastudio 4K, Blackmagic Teranex, Avid MC: Mid 2015 MacBook Pro Retina 15": 2013 Mac Pro Hexacore, 1TB SSD, 64GB RAM, 2-D500: Helios 2 w 2-960GB SSDs: 2012 Hexacore MacPro 3.33 Ghz, 24Gb RAM, GTX-680, 960GB SSD: Macbook Pro Retina 2015, i7, 500GB, M370X 2GB: Macbook Pro 17" 2011 2.2 Ghz Quadcore i7 16GB RAM 250GB SSD, Multiple OWC Thunderbay 4 TB2 and eSATA QX2 RAID 5 HD systems


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Craig Alan
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 7, 2015 at 8:39:49 pm

I've never done anything on the scale that you are tackling. But I've had good luck using a KI PRO to copy the tapes onto hard drives which records in ProRes. I do loose clip devisions since it records them as a single capture. I began the practice because our canon cams (at the time) were hit or miss in terms of the Macs seeing them using firewire 800.

One advantage is u can continue to use the computer since the capture now is done with a different device and is completely ready for the NLE when finished.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Nick Brown
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 11, 2015 at 4:24:29 am

The last project I needed to digitize VHS Hi8 & 3/4" tape was many years ago. I was able to enhance these legacy formats using a Digital Rapids encoder. It has filters that greatly reduced interlaced artifacting and noise. Some of the tape was dubs of Betacam to VHS and I was amazed at jump up in quality. It was a bit more work to set it up but the results were much better than the Matrox RTX card I was using then. I was editing in an early version of Premiere Pro and created 422 MPEG2 files. MPEG2 files work well with PP CS6 and they are easy to scale the 4:3 to HD time lines. I can color correct in PP and can achieve a close enough match to the XDCAM videos saturation and contrast. I still have the Digital Rapids encoder with a DR1500 card ready but rarely use it. Possibly, the Digital Rapids HD encoders would upscale better?


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Mitch Ives
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 13, 2015 at 6:58:23 pm

Just went through something similar. I found myself in a position of having to edit a four camera shoot, that was shot 12 years ago on DV tape... in letterbox, no less. That last part was actually an issue that created some challenges, but I digress.

I have a deck that will play DV, DVCAM, DVCPRO, that happens to have SDI out, which gives a better product than firewire. I really wanted to use FCP X to bring it in, but I wanted the timecode from the tapes to come through. Many of these inexpensive solutions that have been mentioned, don't give us that. A high-end BlackMagic or AJA would certainly be a good choice.

In my case, some of this had been logged way back when in FCP. I used 7toX to bring the project over to X, to save some time, but it wasn't necessary. In the end, for a variety of reasons, I ended up using FCP 7 to Capture all the footage and give me all the timecode. That was an important consideration for me. I then brought all the footage over to FCP X and did all the editing there. FCP X is definitely a lot faster, so I was glad I did that. Rendering quality is also higher.

Yes, as others have mentioned, FCP X does slow down on longer projects. The final length was right around 2 hours, but during editing it was around 3-1/2 hours in the beginning... and kept getting cut down as I went. I agree with Bill to a point, that you can do some things to avoid slowing down FCP X. Where I disagree is that it is a fact that FCP X slows down, even without composited graphics or giant stills. It just slows down as the project gets longer. Given the speed of the machine, we can rule that out. I'll hazard a guess, and say that as the project gets longer, the database approaches some limit... or at least gets overwhelmed more. That's not a criticism as much as an acknowledgement that this would certainly seem like a reasonable consequence to length and complication.

I also think complication is a factor. If you're cutting a single track project with lots of cuts and some graphics, then it may not be as noticeable. Having four camera angles, grading, etc. certainly does haul it down. Still, the speed of X is so much higher than many of the alternatives can offset some of that to a point...

Mitch Ives
Insight Productions Corp.

"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." - Winston Churchill


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Robin S. Kurz
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 13, 2015 at 7:30:28 pm

[Mitch Ives] "that happens to have SDI out, which gives a better product than firewire"

Wait... so you're saying the quality of the 1's and 0's being moved was higher than the ones coming through Firewire? :-D

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Mitch Ives
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 13, 2015 at 7:48:59 pm

[Robin S. Kurz] "Wait... so you're saying the quality of the 1's and 0's being moved was higher than the ones coming through Firewire? :-D"

Yep, and the guys at Sony said the same thing as you just did, until I asked them to run the same test on a DSR-1500 deck. I told them I didn't know why, but it was observable. Maybe it was because you could go 10-bit or something? They were intrigued, because I showed them the same footage done each way.

They came back to me and said... yep, but we don't know why. They said, component out looks better because the TBC was 10-bit and somehow involved, but didn't know why the SDI did. They said that this was the source of a lot of amusement in the engineers over this.

Still don't know why... the only explanation I could come up with must have been a codec difference?

Mitch Ives
Insight Productions Corp.

"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." - Winston Churchill


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Robin S. Kurz
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 13, 2015 at 7:54:44 pm
Last Edited By Robin S. Kurz on Nov 14, 2015 at 8:45:41 am

[Mitch Ives] "Still don't know why... the only explanation I could come up with must have been a codec difference?"

DV is DV is DV. And no version of it is 10bit. If that in fact made some sort of difference, then capturing ANY 8bit 4:2:0 codec as e.g. ProRes 422 would somehow magically breath new, improved life into it. It won't. It's purely subjective at best. (and you apparently lose parts of the TC in the process)

- RK

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Andrew Kimery
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 13, 2015 at 8:11:16 pm

[Robin S. Kurz] "DV is DV is DV."

DV all adheres to DV specs, but the quality of the image that ends up on tape depends, in part, on the quality of the encoding done in camera. And once you get out of camera there are different flavors of the DV codec depending on what you are doing in post. Going back to an old post from Adam Wilt, "Some DV codecs, like Avid's, filter or smooth the chroma on decompression (details here). Others, like Matrox's, let you turn chroma filtering and interpolation on or off as you see fit. But the Apple codec used in Final Cut Pro doesn't give you any choice: it's steppy edges, all the way. "

http://www.adamwilt.com/SteppyEdges.html


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Mitch Ives
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 14, 2015 at 3:08:09 am

[Robin S. Kurz] "DV is DV is DV. And no version of it is 10bit. If that in fact made some sort of difference, then capturing ANY 8bit 4:2:0 codec as e.g. ProRes 422 would somehow magically breath new, improved life into it. It won't. It's purely subjective at best. (and you lose the TC in the process)"

Well, I, everyone who's seen it and Sony disagree with you... but you're probably smarter than all of us.

Why would I lose TC (he asks, since I don't)...

Mitch Ives
Insight Productions Corp.

"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." - Winston Churchill


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Robin S. Kurz
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 14, 2015 at 9:34:24 am

[Mitch Ives] "but you're probably smarter than all of us."

Maybe. :D But feel free to point to which part of what I wrote is factually incorrect.

But granted, I don't know what type of post-processing magic they're (obviously) applying to the one or other port i.e. what the capturing hardware it's going through could be doing. But then we're not talking about the original, unadulterated DV stream anymore, no. In which case it's kinda like saying that my TIFs oddly look better after I run them through Photoshop. :D

But hey, if in fact something is happening post-wise on the port to improve matters, great! I wouldn't know, no, since I always just used the (I guess) crappy DV port and cable back in the day.

[Mitch Ives] "Why would I lose TC "

"… to Capture all the footage and give me all the timecode" So parts of it? Though I don't know what that actually means either, so I guess not? :)

- RK

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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 14, 2015 at 11:10:53 am
Last Edited By Walter Soyka on Nov 14, 2015 at 11:24:18 am

[Robin S. Kurz] "DV is DV is DV."

No two independent codec implementations are likely to produce exactly the same bitstream output given the same RGB input, nor exactly the same RGB output given the same bitstream input. That's because while a codec standard must specify the format of its bitstream, it does not rigorously specify every mathematical detail for creating or interpreting it.

This is especially true with lossy codecs, where decisions must be made about what information to preserve and what to throw away during encoding, or how to try to fill in the missing information during decoding. For example, with DV, two compliant codecs may have different RGB/YUV conversions, or different discrete cosine transform algorithms, or different quantization/inverse-quantization algorithms.

Codecs are a bit like translators. Two independent translations of the same source text can differ, even while both are considered correct.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Robin S. Kurz
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 14, 2015 at 12:14:09 pm

[Walter Soyka] "No two independent codec implementations are likely to produce exactly the same bitstream output"

I was referring to one and the same source of course. I'm aware that there are different DV implementations, yes.

- RK

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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 14, 2015 at 12:43:05 pm

[Robin S. Kurz] "I was referring to one and the same source of course. I'm aware that there are different DV implementations, yes."

Then I'm afraid I don't understand what you meant by "DV is DV is DV."


[Robin S. Kurz] "But granted, I don't know what type of post-processing magic they're (obviously) applying to the one or other port i.e. what the capturing hardware it's going through could be doing. But then we're not talking about the original, unadulterated DV stream anymore, no. In which case it's kinda like saying that my TIFs oddly look better after I run them through Photoshop. :D"

My point is that the bitstream is not the image. It's irrelevant to talk about the "original, unadulterated DV stream," because that's not a thing that you can see, or a thing a computer can apply any image processing to. It needs to be decoded first. The fact that there are different DV implementations means that there are different ways to derive an image from the same bitstream. It's not necessarily "post-processing magic" -- though there certainly can be some of that -- it's also in-process variation.

It's kind of like raw video. You can't look directly at it, because sensor data is not the same thing as image data. The sensor data needs to be interpreted into an image. This is not some kind of optional post-process outside the standard; it's a necessary component of the raw decoding itself and there will be variation across developers. (A lossless TIFF, on the other hand, describes image data directly. Apples and oranges.)

To keep this somewhat relevant, this discussion applies to all kinds of lossy codces, including both H.264 and ProRes, and both encoding and decoding. Different codec implementations will yield different data and visual results, with varying degrees of subtlety.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Robin S. Kurz
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 14, 2015 at 12:45:08 pm
Last Edited By Robin S. Kurz on Nov 14, 2015 at 12:45:58 pm

Then I guess I'll have to take your word for it and stand corrected. :)

- RK

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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 14, 2015 at 10:47:41 pm
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Nov 14, 2015 at 11:08:57 pm

But Walter,

If Adam Wilt was being accurate - the central fact of the original issue was that doing ANY digital encoding of a signal sourced from Low Res VHS or low bitrate (DV 25) tape is BY DEFINITION truncated as to the high frequency data. So no matter HOW you digitize or process it after this stage, you're NOT going to get back what was tossed out in the original capture - nor can you accurately bring back bits lost along the way.

And I just question whether no matter WHAT encoding scheme you employ - it has very much potential to improve the viewable results.

I can see that if you have a high-res source the various methods of encoding can make a difference - but not downstream from the source.

I don't care how high Rez a scan you make of an old newspaper photo - you aren't going to fix the fact that it was half-toned. Period. ; )

Plus, if the new transcoding has ample resolution to accurately capture the already dumbed down file - is't THAT the only thing that matters? As Robin notes, if it's just 1's and 0's - and with a bitstream thus limited - does it really functionally matter how much "extra precision" is being deployed downstream?



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Andrew Kimery
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 15, 2015 at 1:36:15 am

[Bill Davis] "So no matter HOW you digitize or process it after this stage, you're NOT going to get back what was tossed out in the original capture - nor can you accurately bring back bits lost along the way. "

Right, no one is saying that you can. What people ARE saying is that the assumption that DV is DV is DV is false.

Mitch gave a first hand example of this (which was confirmed by the people at Sony). Adam also mentioned how different DV codecs will interpret/display the 1's and 0's stored on a DV tape. If the same DV tape was played back in the same DV deck and captured over the same FW cable you could get one result in FCP Legend, a different result in Avid and a different result using Matrox's DV codec. And if you capture over SDI instead of FW that's another set of different results. To Walter's point, those 1's and 0's have to be turned into an image in order to be viewable and there are variables with regards to how the image is decompressed, manipulated and then displayed.

I know the article I posted by Graeme Nattress is long, but you can just skim through the side-by-side image comparisons to see the different in the chroma. Again, capturing via SDI didn't add in any additional info, but it presented the available image info in a more aesthetically pleasing fashion by smoothing the chroma a bit. If A looks better than B then most people would assume that A is higher quality than B even if the same amount of visual information is being presented.

Adam also highlighted the perceived image quality superiority of BetaSP over DV. It wasn't because BetaSP could retain more image information than DV but because the artificating in BetaSP was more aesthetically pleasing than DV. This made the BetaSP look higher quality even if it wasn't resolving more image detail than DV. My point being that it's not just about retaining the available image quality but also maintaining the perceived image quality by keeping digital artifiacting to a minimum.

Also, your exchange with Adam only touched on one aspect of compression which contained around the amount of detail in the image. Again, I'd like to know what the bitrate threshold is for H.264 not to fall apart when a bunch of flashbulbs go off. VHS won't fall it apart (it will just clip) but when an LGOP codec becomes bit-starved the image turns to macro block mush. Maybe H.264 has improve so much over MPEG2 that it's not really anything to be concerned about anymore. I don't know as I haven't done any tests with it.


And nobody has really talked about scaling even though that's a big part of retaining as much image quality as possible when going from SD to HD. If someone takes an DV tape and makes an SD H.264 file how well would that scale up to HD vs an SD ProRes file scaling up to HD? The best cause would of course be to do the SD->HD scaling during the initial transcode process but if space is an issue then that may not be an option. I dunno, just brain storming.


-Andrew


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Bill Davis
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 15, 2015 at 1:40:27 am

[Andrew Kimery] "I dunno, just brain storming.
"


Which is EXACTLY why these discussions are so valuable.
The benefit of many perspectives.

; )

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 15, 2015 at 9:45:29 pm

[Bill Davis] "Plus, if the new transcoding has ample resolution to accurately capture the already dumbed down file - is't THAT the only thing that matters? As Robin notes, if it's just 1's and 0's - and with a bitstream thus limited - does it really functionally matter how much "extra precision" is being deployed downstream?"

Short answer is yes. Long answer is that a lot of the tech problems created by an encoding technology can be addressed. When such processing is employed it needs to be re encoded at a higher precision of bit depth and color sampling in order to avoid reintroducing errors like banding. Chroma smoothing also improves DV and post smoothing, sharpening can be applied.

So if that processing is happening via an SDI output from a DV deck then that needs to be captured at a higher resolution. Any image manipulation (and that is what we do in post) should be done with the higher bit depth and color sampling of a better codec. Regardless of what people think of digital signals and theory, post people are not deluded when they observe the benefits of capturing and processing low res digital codecs using better codecs.

For years people wondered how I made their HDV look so much better and the secret was using a Canon camera with an SDI output and capturing the files as 10bit 422.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 13, 2015 at 7:50:08 pm

[Robin S. Kurz] "Wait... so you're saying the quality of the 1's and 0's being moved was higher than the ones coming through Firewire? :-D"

Can't speak to what Mitch saw but Graeme Nattress (plugin maker, worked at RED developing their codecs, etc.,) wrote an extensive article a long time ago about chroma sampling, and did find benefits to capturing DV via SDI into an uncompressed codec (this predates ProRes). It obviously can't add any more image detail than what exists on the DV tape, but it seemingly can help smooth out some of the jaggies in the chroma caused by the compression.

http://www.nattress.com/Chroma_Investigation/chromasampling.htm


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Steve Connor
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 13, 2015 at 8:00:40 pm

[Andrew Kimery] " It obviously can't add any more image detail than what exists on the DV tape, but it seemingly can help smooth out some of the jaggies in the chroma caused by the compression.
"


I agree, I spent a lot of time as an Online Editor in a linear Digibeta suite and we saw this a lot. Perceived difference it may be, but it WAS a difference


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Jim Wiseman
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 16, 2015 at 8:45:26 am

Agree. I use the SDI out of my Panasonic AJ-D650 to encode to ProRes 422 and depending on what the other material is encoded in, even ProRes 422HQ if there is not that much material. I can see a difference from Firewire output of the Pansonic mini-DV VTR. Of course all of the DVCPro is SDI out.

Jim Wiseman
Sony PMW-EX1, Pana AJ-D810 DVCPro, DVX-100, Nikon D7000, Final Cut Pro X 10.2.2, Final Cut Studio 2 & 3, Media 100 Suite 2.1.6, Premiere Pro CS 5 5.5 and 6.0, AJA ioHD, AJA Kona LHi, Blackmagic Ultrastudio 4K, Blackmagic Teranex, Avid MC: Mid 2015 MacBook Pro Retina 15": 2013 Mac Pro Hexacore, 1TB SSD, 64GB RAM, 2-D500: Helios 2 w 2-960GB SSDs: 2012 Hexacore MacPro 3.33 Ghz, 24Gb RAM, GTX-680, 960GB SSD: Macbook Pro Retina 2015, i7, 500GB, M370X 2GB: Macbook Pro 17" 2011 2.2 Ghz Quadcore i7 16GB RAM 250GB SSD, Multiple OWC Thunderbay 4 TB2 and eSATA QX2 RAID 5 HD systems


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Mauricio Lleras
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 16, 2015 at 3:20:14 pm

Hello again to all,
my apologies if I was absent,
as I said I live in Paris
and as you may guess things here these past few days
have been difficult, so I hadn't been really available.

Great input from everybody on this topic,
thanks a lot!
Especially interested by the perceived gains
Mitch, Michael, Jim and others have noticed
in capturing low res SD through SDI to a 422 10 bit codec
such as Prores 422.
While I don't know if I'll be able to use this method
- we do have a sony deck that outputs SDI,
but the card the guy has has no SDI IN
and I don't know if he would invest in a different one,
knowing that budget is an issue-
I would be interested in hearing your thoughts
on using Prores LT as opposed to Prores422,
thinking of course about saving some space,
but also the question being,
what, in this case, and having in mind what Bill and Adam said,
would be the gain in going Prores422 over LT,
if LT is already 10 bit 422, captured also through SDI,
what would the extra bits/space bring, if anything?
And keeping in mind that ProresLT's bitrate is almost identical to DV's
in SD formats...
I know we're probably talking about some very minute details here,
but would be interested in your answers all the same!
Could anybody eventually do a quick test to provide feedback?
Anyway, interesting stuff, very glad to have started
this discussion here, thanks again.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Advice on docu workflow with SD tape footage, FCPX or not?
on Nov 16, 2015 at 10:14:15 pm

I suspect you will not see any difference between LT and 422 flavours of ProRes. The big gains are in the bit depth and colour space but it should be simple to do a test on some difficult footage with fast movement and see. Becasue both flavours of ProRes are I frame there should be no difference given the lack of image information in the original codec.

That said your final grade render can be anything and at that point you may as well make your final in 422 to be as lossless as possible in that final render.


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