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Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP

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Cherin Bower
Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 6, 2017 at 10:32:17 pm

This is my first post and I am new to editing, so bare with me....I shot 4 TB of footage on a Sony PXW-z150 4K XDCAM camcorder mostly in 4k, and I am combining multiple clips in FCPx 10.3.1. The native mxf files are too large for import to FCP and I don't necessarily want to create proxy media for every clip. I prefer to "copy files to library" on import into FCP so I will end up creating large FCP libraries. I'm not too concerned about storage space, but I am concerned about FCP crashes, which I've already experienced in the first two minutes of creating my timeline. I can play each original mxf clip using VLC, but I am unable to scan through the clip to see what is in the video to decide if I want to import to FCP for use, playback is slow and jumpy even though I have a new imac with a fast processor. I ran all 4 TB of footage through compressor and lowered the bit rate just to be able to view the clips quicker in Quicktime. I have now been convinced to re-compress all 4TB of footage in compressor using "4k sharing services" to downsize the original but have a usable clip for editing in FCP. This is ok, except there will be a loss of quality (which I am ok with some, remember I want smaller clips to work with) BUT to compress in compressor I have to import all 4TB of footage into FCP (left files in place on import for this purpose) and manually click on each clip individually, go to file>send to compressor then start a batch. I have spoke with the Apple pro team and Compressor won't except mxf files directly (and I have tried). This is labor intensive and I have already done it to all 4TB and lowered the bit rate (unusable for editing, for viewing purposes only) and it took a very long time for a laptop I designated the task to to process. I can re-wrap the mxf files in compressor on direct import, but again, I have too large of files. Anyone out there have any ideas on how to more efficiently deal with 4TB of mxf files for use in FCP? It is all stored on an external 6TB Promise Pegasus Drive r2+

I would be ideal to be able to view a usable, converted, or compressed mxf clip outside of FCP in Quicktime and I would also trim out the portion I plan to use in FCP with Quicktime and make it smaller, then import to FCP. I have just started manuallt compressing all my footage with "4k sharing services" but I am limited on time. I am ready to import footage into FCP now and have a deadline for my project. ANY IDEAS?


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Noah Kadner
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 6, 2017 at 11:51:07 pm

Why are your MXF's so large?

Noah

FCPWORKS - FCPX Workflow
FCP Exchange - FCPX Workshops
XinTwo - FCPX Training


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Cherin Bower
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 6, 2017 at 11:53:34 pm

Individual mxf clips range from a few hundred MB to 30 GB. Most were shot in 4K. I shot 4 TB of footage over a 6 month period.


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Noah Kadner
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 7, 2017 at 1:42:03 am

The workflow would depend greatly on how powerful your Mac system is.

Noah

FCPWORKS - FCPX Workflow
FCP Exchange - FCPX Workshops
XinTwo - FCPX Training


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Cherin Bower
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 7, 2017 at 2:14:45 am

I'm running three Apple computers:


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Noah Kadner
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 7, 2017 at 2:26:07 am

My suggestion would be ingest and edit proxy mode.

Noah

FCPWORKS - FCPX Workflow
FCP Exchange - FCPX Workshops
XinTwo - FCPX Training


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Cherin Bower
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 7, 2017 at 3:51:51 am

I am aiming to keep the libraries small. If I import original mxf media to FCP and create Proxy media those libraries would get out of hand. I am looking to find out ideas on how people compress, convert, transcode original mxf media for ease of use in FCP. I would rather make smaller files and trim them to the desired portion and import that into FCP and create proxy to keep my libraries and processing power to a minimum. I don't think FCP would handle all that footage very well. It's too large, it needs to be smaller. Thanks for your help BTW!


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Noah Kadner
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 7, 2017 at 4:22:14 am
Last Edited By Noah Kadner on Jan 7, 2017 at 4:24:45 am

You'll be adding tons of extra work, complicating media management and and generation quality loss- proxies are tiny by comparison to your originals and performance is excellent. And you can blow them away when you're done if space becomes an issue.

Proxies are half resolution pro res proxy- really minimal data rate.

Noah

FCPWORKS - FCPX Workflow
FCP Exchange - FCPX Workshops
XinTwo - FCPX Training


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John Rofrano
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 8, 2017 at 12:35:02 am

Have you tried importing with Create optimized media checked? This will create full resolution ProRes files in your Library instead of copying the MXF files and should be much easier to edit. Then just work with the ProRes files in full resolution.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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Joe Marler
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 7, 2017 at 2:00:58 pm

[Cherin Bower] ".. I am new to editing...I shot 4 TB of footage on a Sony PXW-z150 4K XDCAM camcorder mostly in 4k, and I am combining multiple clips in FCPx 10.3.1. The native mxf files are too large for import to FCP and I don't necessarily want to create proxy media for every clip. I prefer to "copy files to library" on import into FCP so I will end up creating large FCP libraries."

You are walking down a path of ever-increasing time and workflow complexity. With older, slower editing software lacking asset management tools, the standard procedure was evaluate the material before import and only import what you really want.

FCPX is so fast and has such good organization tools, it is often better to just import everything using "leave files in place". That does not require any additional space for transcoded media and import is lightning fast. Make sure all analysis options are turned off on import. Then inside the editor, use skimmer, rating, keywords, etc to evaluate and classify the content in a single pass. The library will remain quite small except for cache files, which can be located elsewhere if you want.

If you have 4k multicam content, that may require transcoding to proxy for smoothest editing performance. However in general camera-native H264 4k content can be skimmed and initial selects done within FCPX after importing with "leave files in place". Normally copying the content to a library, or creating proxy or optimized media is not needed.

I normally don't work with MXF but I imported some DCI 4k MXF content to FCPX 10.3.1 with "leave files in place", added it to a timeline and it worked fine. It was 10-bit 4:2:2, encoded at 240 mbps. Skimming and playhead movement in the timeline was pretty quick and responsive.

This is the procedure I use for other large documentary projects in the 5 terabyte range. My 2015 top-spec iMac 27 handles it well, although the media is on several Thunderbolt 2 drive arrays, one of them SSD RAID-0.


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Anton Antokhin
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 8, 2017 at 6:01:36 pm

I have just finished editing a large 4K project shot with a Sony and MXF files. I used the "Leave files in place" option on import and did not create optimized media. The edit went smoothly, no issues at all.

Keep it as simple as you can.


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Fred Turner
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Jan 9, 2017 at 5:50:44 am

[Cherin Bower] "The native mxf files are too large for import to FCP and I don't necessarily want to create proxy media for every clip. I prefer to "copy files to library" on import into FCP so I will end up creating large FCP libraries."

Couldn't you use a sort-of 2-pass approach, where you first "leave media in place" as you add clips to FCP, but create proxy media for each clip as you import; then once you've narrowed down what you want to use, tidy up your library and consolidate the media in it, copying only what you're going to use? I know you say you don't want to create proxy media for every clip, but as long as you're keeping the originals in place, the proxy-only library would only add a fraction of add'l usage relative to the disk space already in use by the originals. Then you can toss the proxies (and links to originals) you don't want once you've had a chance to scrub through everything, hopefully scrubbing w/ much better performance and stability as ProRes Proxy.


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Ross Harrison
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Feb 20, 2017 at 7:44:25 pm

Hi all, and Fred, Anton in particular maybe...

Any idea why my 'leave files in place' option is greyed out and cannot be clicked?

I just shot my first footage with an FS7 and have copied the whole XDROOT directory from the card to an external drive. I would like to leave the files in place on the external drive. They're too large to ingest to the internal hard drive, which is where I always keep my Library files.

Anyone know why I'm unable to choose 'leave files in place'? Or should I just create my FCP library file on the external drive. But even then I would still have to copy to Library and be forced to duplicate them unnecessarily.

Curiously, when I take the 'clip' folder with the mxf files out of the original card directory, the 'leave files in place' option becomes available on FCP import, but something goes weird with the levels: they do not display the slog image, but something overexposed and nasty-looking.

Excuse all my non-technical descriptions... first post! Tips appreciated.

Cheers


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John Rofrano
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Feb 20, 2017 at 11:33:54 pm
Last Edited By John Rofrano on Feb 21, 2017 at 1:13:11 am

[Ross Harrison] "Anyone know why I'm unable to choose 'leave files in place'?"
Because FCP X is seeing the complete card structure and so it assumes that it is a memory card. It has no way of know that its not.
[Ross Harrison] "Curiously, when I take the 'clip' folder with the mxf files out of the original card directory, the 'leave files in place' option becomes available on FCP import"
As you have seen, if you drag the MXF files out of the Clip folder it will just see loose files on the filesystem and let you leave them in place.

I'm not sure why this is a problem. Are you saying that you work without any backups of your original media? Because most editors have some sort of camera archives as a backup and we are always working on a copy of our media and if you are not working this way, you should think long and hard about what would happen if one of your original media files got deleted or corrupt and you could not get it back!

What you really want to do is have a backup drive with your original camera media in the original folder structure and then have another drive that you work on your active project media. If one goes bad, you always have the other. You are playing with fire if you are working without any backups. This is why FCP X will not allow you to edit your original camera media and forces you to make a backup. It's just enforcing best practice.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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Ross Harrison
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Feb 21, 2017 at 7:39:01 am

Thanks, John.

Yes, I do always have backups. I've just never worked with XDCAM footage before, so files have always come straight as .mov from a camera and then those are saved plus backed up.

So if I save the MXF files separate to the card file structure, then import with 'leave in place', what happens to the levels? It ends up with levels shifted overexposed as in the following:

How footage should look in slog:


How it looks after I 'leave files in places' for MXF on external drive:


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John Rofrano
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Feb 21, 2017 at 1:00:56 pm

[Ross Harrison] "Yes, I do always have backups. I've just never worked with XDCAM footage before, so files have always come straight as .mov from a camera and then those are saved plus backed up."
What I do is have a separate drive for all of my Camera Archives. Usually these are 1TB USB 3.0 drives and as soon as I finish shooting I plug the card into my MacBook Pro, plug the USB 3.0 drive in and use Create Camera Archive to archive the entire card to the external drive. Now I have a drive will all of my camera cards. (this also gets backed up btw so that I have 2 copies of all of the cards before I start working).

Then when I'm ready to start work on a project, I attached the camera card archive drive and have the files copied into my Library on my working drive. This ensures that I am always working on a copy of the original media and that I always have all of the metadata that was recorded on the camera card. It is NEVER a good idea to take raw files out of the camera card structure any more than it was a good idea to take DV tape out of it's cartridge! 😉 The camera card structure is the cartridge.

I like the fact that FCP X keeps me honest and requires me to work on copies of the original camera card media. I also don't import the whole card or even the whole clip. I use in and out points to just take the sections of the media that I need which is also why it needs to be copied. That leaves me with smaller Libraries.
[Ross Harrison] "So if I save the MXF files separate to the card file structure, then import with 'leave in place', what happens to the levels? It ends up with levels shifted overexposed as in the following: "
I cannot reproduce this. I downloaded one of the XDROOT HD Log files from the link earlier in this post and I copied one of the files and placed it outside the camera card structure and renamed it. When I import media, both the file inside the camera card structure and external to it come in looking exactly the same (flat as you would expect).

Something is not right on your end. Are you using the latest FCP X 10.3.2? I'm not seeing this behavior and cannot reproduce it.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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Keith Mullin
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Feb 21, 2017 at 3:51:14 pm

I've been working with Catalyst Browse lately and really digging the media management tools. It will let you set in and out points for clips before copying or transcoding them, basically letting you keep only the clips and portions of clips that you want. You can also do basic color eval and correction if needed. Renaming clips is super easy. With a few clicks you can copy the card to your backup (including in/out and renamed files), and you can output any number of ProRes varieties for import into FCPX. This gets around the need to make optimized media and lets you leave files in place when importing.

One limitation is that Browse will only output 2k ProRes, but with Catalyst Prepare you can do 4k. But you have to pay for Prepare.


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Ross Harrison
Re: Convert or compress mxf files for easier use in FCP
on Feb 21, 2017 at 6:03:44 pm

Good tips on workflow. Thanks for those.

Yes, I'm on the latest version of FCP X.

Can't see where there is a link in this post to any other XDROOT HD Log files? I would download and test with some others if I could...

If anyone else has ideas about this colour shift I'm seeing when importing separated MXF files, please chip in.


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