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My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?

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Nathaniel J Opgenorth
My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 25, 2014 at 10:22:39 pm

Ok so I've had this question going through my head and I sort of put it off...its sort of a big chunk of text I typed up one night after finishing a UHD edit and said "I need to post/ask this on creative cow!". I'd like to say SORRY for the giant paragraph in advance but I would REALLY appreciate some insight on this!

-So in FCP X there is an option to create separate proxies via ProRes Proxy in addition to the timeline format that you choose (i.e.: ProRes 422, ProRes 4444, 10-bit 4:2:2 Uncompressed, etc.), however I have a somewhat strange hatred for ProRes Proxy and in general the traditional offline edit process, I've used it and I definitely see its merits and its saved allot of time for me but quite frankly relinking files is sometimes a mess the traditional way. SOOO I have done another approach. Lets say I'm editing footage captured in 4K 1.89:1 for 4K 1.89:1 delivery (4096x2160 DCI) what I do is make a 2048x1080 project (2K 1.89:1 DCI) and instead of using ProRes 4444 I select ProRes 422 LT as my timeline format. I do all my edits at 2K 1.89:1 in ProRes 422 LT, including the use of plugins (that can be scaled to 4K properly and what not), color correcting, etc. This makes editing on my mere mortal retina MacBook Pro's Quad Core i7 with Nvidia GT 650M smooth as butter. Also this lets me monitor footage better using a capture card since my card does not output 4K so a reduced resolution timeline lets me monitor using a capture card. Anyways once I am done I go to Project Properties and change the resolution to 4K 1.89:1 4096x2160 and the timeline codec to ProRes 4444. Once I do this and go back into the timeline I notice obviously the orange render bar is back and things are a tad slower but as I only do this when the edit is done I can just let it render out. So far I've gotten good results with it and it looks very clear and proper. Is this an okay way to edit? The resolution is the same aspect ratio and half of the dimensions so it seams okay but I just want to make sure its not just taking the 2K ProRes 422 LT files and up-scaling them…I highly doubt it is and it probably sounds like I'm answering my own question but I just like to be sure since I'm pretty much a lone wolf editor and the internet is mainly where I look to find advice from others. So is this a good way to edit? Also does anyone edit this way? I love the workflow for this and enjoy FCP X so I'd really appreciate some insight! Thanks!

-Also overall what do you guys think of ProRes4444 as an overall finishing codec? I've read a couple of threads on here that discussed comparing ProRes4444 with HDCAM SR which might sound like Apples and Oranges (no pun intended!) but I think the idea of a visually lossless 12-bit codec is great. I don't really see it as only an offline codec anymore.


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james Lackleter
Re: My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 25, 2014 at 11:36:41 pm

ProRes4444 is just fine for a finishing codec. Try using Resolve Lite using an XML to get it in, and it'll relink with your original files. I wouldn't use FCPX to relink, that's personal preference.

Downscaling the project resolution and upscaling it again is fine. You can go lower than 1920, I would with your hardware, maybe go for 720. Then yes bring it back to 4k to render.

Hope this helps, it was one huge paragraph and I'm tired too, if it doesn't just ask in more concise way and I'll try to help.


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Nathaniel J Opgenorth
Re: My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 26, 2014 at 5:55:25 am

James, Thanks that answered my questions perfectly...BUT,

Only reason I go with 2K for the offline part is because in FCP X 10.0.9 it offers all the same aspect ratio options of 4K, so If I edit 2K 2:1 I can go to 4K 2:1 or 2K 1.33:1 to 4k 1.33:1...If I'm doing 16:9 then I will definitely use 720p to make life allot easier. I would totally jump on FCP X 10.1 but I have some obscure audio and programming software that will not work on mavericks and it is no longer being developed, I already had to dig high and low for a version to work on Mountain Lion, *Sigh* I wish FCP X 10.1 didn't REQUIRE Mavericks, I really am not a fan of updating an OS as I swear everytime I do it I loose functionality of at least one program.

As for Resolve...Unfortunately Resolve Lite fails to function on my system, I had a problem with the discrete graphics card and it turned out it was faulty so Apple fixed it...however Resolve Lite still fails to load 50% of the time even after getting everything fixed, making sure CUDA was up to date, etc. Frustrating! Sometimes it gives me a CUDA error but more often it says not enough vRAM which I understand, Ideally if I had some type of real income (LOL) I would be running a 2011 Mac Pro Tower with a GTX 680 (or two), I don't expect realtime playback what so ever in resolve but its like it won't even let me in the gates >:( I really like Resolve too so I may have to dig into this later...it sure would make importing Magic Lantern RAW DNG sequences easier than using After Effects. When/If external GPU's via thunderbolt is fully functional I will likely by something like a GTX 680 or 760, Thunderbolt doesn't have the bandwidth for the full speed but It works fine if you just want to leverage CUDA cores, its clunky but I've seen it work well.

Again thanks for the response.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 26, 2014 at 12:01:34 am

[Nathaniel J Opgenorth] "I don't really see it as only an offline codec anymore."

I'm not sure that ProRes 444 was ever an offline codec, why waste the resources if you're off lining?

You can go ProResLT for offline (or Proxy if you can stand it).

Where are your finished products ending up? If it's broadcast or lower, ProRes 4x4 is plenty.

What format/codec is your source footage? For instance, putting a 4k RAW clip in a 2k ProResLT timeline still requires 4k raw playback.

Jeremy


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Nathaniel J Opgenorth
Re: My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 26, 2014 at 6:23:45 pm

@Jeremy, Well ProRes 4444 certainly doesn't seam like an offline codec but allot of people believe than anything less than a 16-bit TIFF stack/sequence is not enough, of course they are talking about film outs but I guess my point about ProRes 4444 is I think its sufficient for a DCP or even a film out. None of my stuff is headed for DCP let alone a film out (yet :D) but in addition to enjoying the artistic aspects of film I love the technical ones. I just hear allot of people questioning whether ProRes is "enough", I think I actually prefer the idea of cameras recording ProRes and RAW vs RAW only as outlined by Arri's motto "shoot > edit" its so simple. I think RAW is amazing but feel as though it can encourage lazy habits (ie: "We'll fix it in post!") and ProRes 4444 offers the image quality with the bit depth and the chroma rez on par with RAW, Of course I don't deal with Alexa footage often but I can still dig the concept pretty easy as I remember the dark ages when I was transcoding everything prior to import. BUT I don't want to get off topic into RAW vs other (although it is a cool topic!)


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 26, 2014 at 9:39:56 pm

I am speccing a film out (it's a spot, not a feature) and the deliverable? ProRes (HQ accepted, 444 preferred).

Sure, it's not Prometheus, but 16bit TIFF stacks are for specific situations.

I would refrain from using ProRes 4x4 for offline and stick with any 422 variant, it'll be easier on your computer and fcpx has controls to account for the differing frame sizes.

What is your source footage? That helps to determine what's possible in terms of workflow with fcpx when it comes to relinking. Red's raw workflow is probably the easiest with fcpx.

RAW recording will finally replace film, and cameras everywhere are generating editable proxies. Arri has
ProRes or DNxHD. Sony has XAVC. Sony's CineEI modes are more like shooting film than video, and it's now available for compressed recording, not just RAW.

Your workflow outlined in the first post should work OK. It's not a true proxy workflow, just a scaled output from the original. To truly lighten the load, you'd make transcoded proxy files and relink elsewhere (or use FCPX's . Fcpx 10.1 allows you to relink to red raw even when the proxies have been transcoded outside of fcpx. I hope that other raw workflows will gain this capability in X.

Jeremy


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Bret Williams
Re: My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 26, 2014 at 3:39:26 pm

I think by changing the project size, you're certainly helping the system by letting it sample only a 1/4 of the pixels for it's RT processing. But it's still having to read the 4k footage file. The codec of the sequence from your example is probably pointless unless you're rendering. X is like premiere in this regard. It plays pretty much whatever you put in it. The sequence codec is only for rendering. Whereas legacy actually had two codecs for a sequence. The render codec, and the sequence codec. The latter usually being the same as the first in most cases, except things like XDCam or HDV, where your sequence could be native to the footage, but you could render in ProRes and then have a mixture of two codecs. In X, you could have a multitude of codecs that play natively in the sequence. h264, ProRes, HDV, etc. and have a separate render codec. Flipping the codec to 4444 only makes a difference when you render or output. It shouldn't affect playback performance.

Why not just let X create proxies? I think perhaps from your post you don't understand how X deals with proxes. It's not like other NLEs. There's no relinking involved. When you import, you simply check the create proxies box. It'll create them in the background. Then, swap between the original 4k and Proxy at will. It's right there in the pulldown menu at the upper right of the viewer. MEDIA-Optimized/Original or Proxy. If you didn't create proxies on import, you can just highlight all your media in the bin, right click and choose transcode>create proxies. Now if you wanted to move your library to another laptop you could just move the library, even if your originals are external because for now, proxies are only internally managed. So, once again, no chance of relinking involved. When you're done, just flip the switch to original/optimized and output. No relinking.

(Insert Bill-type comment gushing about X's database merits here.) :)


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Nathaniel J Opgenorth
Re: My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 26, 2014 at 6:14:16 pm

@Bret, Thank you for your response! I know its not like other NLE's but I guess I just had a bad experience on the early versions of FCP X where I used proxies and ended up having to relink EVERYTHING manually when it somehow lost everything despite the original media being in the proper place and me not messing with it in finder (I learned early on NEVER try and move events or projects in finder! :O). I guess I will have to try the normal proxy workflow on a test project or less important one before I give it a whirl on something big to feel confident with it again. But yes I do love mixing codecs in the timeline, something that when done in Avid was a mess, honestly some of the features in FCP X are like "Duh!" in that they should have been in NLE's years ago! But none the less I'm very happy to see them now.

BTW I'm very impressed with how my machine and FCP X handle large formats, I'm working on a sort of vintage logo intro thing for my videos in the future and I did it at 5K 2.40:1 and while After Effects CS5.5 choked on it pretty hard I put it in FCP X to add some extra stuff and with no rendering at 5120x2160 its working pretty nicely...I wouldn't do this on anything more than a <30 second intro but still, the integration is great with Apple software and Hardware.


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james Lackleter
Re: My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 26, 2014 at 8:58:17 pm

The original XML was broken. XML is no longer a problem, it functions fine. Read my posts to see the slew of problems that remain.


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Bret Williams
Re: My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 26, 2014 at 10:50:32 pm

I don't think XML has been discussed?

Anyway, adobe has pretty much admitted that the AE playback engine is archaic. I seem to recall that an update is planned to install the mercury playback engine in AE. My guess is that it'll perform more like Motion after that. Which would be pretty awesome.


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Bill Davis
Re: My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 26, 2014 at 11:39:38 pm

Nathanial,

I think it's always dangerous to allow your thinking about any technology to become "stuck" on it's operability at a particular point in time. 10.1.1 X is has come a long way from the X of a year or two ago.

And for the record I'm going to take a whack at my favorite dead horse here. The whole underlying concept of X simply sequestering multiple versions of your source media clips within a media pool - Original "whatever-rez" files , then ProRes transcodes, and/or Proxy, most commonly - and having a system where the software can access any version inside the storage pool by simple metadata reference switching.

Even using Proxy, if you simply park your playhead on a frame, the software appears to reach back and resolve a display version of that frame at whatever resolution your display system has available, even if that's 4 or 6k.

I know you're goal is to provide the highest resolution experience as possible while you're editing, but I've got to say that with all the work I watched yesterday in LA from the truly big outfits using X in extremely high dollar facilities, I didn't hear of anyone saying that their workflow required doing anything like what you're talking about. And these organizations have all the dollars anyone could wish for to create whatever workflows would eek out any qualitative enhancement in their processes.

Azteca Network in Mexico alone is posting 1200 deliverable episodic and standalone programs a year via X - for distribution all throughout Latin America - and with a mathematical average of 23 shows a week to get out - the idea that they would be doing multiple transcodes of that monstrous gusher of incoming content just doesn't make sense. And their production quality is second to none - I can attest to that after watching a solid sampling of it on a Christie 4K projector yesterday.

Only you can see and judge the quality of what you're working on - but there's simply almost no talk among the high end users of X in production workflows I was around yesterday, about having to do the kind of transcoding workarounds you're exploring..

Again, I honor the idea of pushing toward maximum quality. I'd just make sure you're gaining some real qualitative advantage before you give up on the central workflow X was designed to be most efficient with.

Do the tests, by all means. And for sure do them with the precise monitoring solution you'll be working directly with. If you can see a difference along your workflow that justifies taking all the extra time to work outside the easy, straightforward Original - ProRes - Proxy system that X is built around - have at it.

But if you can't see a significant difference in real world use, then the theory is just that. Theory.

Keep us up to date on what you discover.

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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James Ewart
Re: My weird way of proxy editing, is it proper?
on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:22:42 pm

If you create proxy files you never have to relink. Just change the playback preferences and you're straight back into your original or optimised media.

It's not like the old "tai Media offline, reimport proxies, take that offline and reimport full rez workflow.

It's a simple as pushing one button to take you between the two.

I don't work in 4K but my workflow is always to edit in proxy first. It works beautifully simply.


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