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dallas kruse
Sony a7sii files ... need to convert to ProRes for FCPX?
on Oct 13, 2017 at 4:50:38 pm

I just gave up my 5D for a Sony a7sii.

The files are AVC (Standard Sony) .mp4 files.

What i used to do with my Canon was copy the footage onto my work drive, then convert with Apple Compressor to Apple ProRes.

Compressor can't open these files (I'm using an old version of Compressor).

I know I don't "NEED" to convert to Pro Res if I just use FCP proxy settings.

But whats the best workflow? Should I get the latest Compressor and just convert to Pro Res to make workflow easier?

Noob here.

Music Producer dabbling in Video.
FCPX. Adobe CS6.
Canon 5D Mark III, T4i.

Small recording studio.


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Joe Marler
Re: Sony a7sii files ... need to convert to ProRes for FCPX?
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:24:57 pm

I've edited terabytes of 4k XAVC-S video from the A7RII and A6500; they use the same codec as the A7SII.

You do not need to create optimized media. You can just import with "create proxy" option. When using 4k you need proxy for good editing performance. Optimized media does not help quality, and it consumes a lot more space.

A significant factor is achieving import with "leave files in place". FCPX will not allow that if the card folder tree is copied to disk. Without that import option the media is copied to the library which takes a lot more time and space.

The only option is to copy the .mp4 files outside the folder tree before import. That is considered poor practice but we are forced to do that because FCPX does not have an override to allow in place import, and it does not interrogate the storage device to determine it's not an SD card.

Another issue is these cameras do not permit customized in-camera filenames or a non-repeating filename sequence. Each time you insert a new SD card the filenames start over with C0001.mp4. Even if these are kept in separate folders before import this primes FCPX for a duplicate clip bug which happens if importing event XMLs. The only way to avoid it is rename all your files before import to maintain complete uniqueness. I use the tool "A Better Finder Rename" to assign a unique numerical suffix to each file before import: http://www.publicspace.net/ABetterFinderRename/

I also recommend using Sony's vertical battery grip on the A7SII and A7RII. It greatly extends operational time. If you have any Canon L lenses they work fairly well on the A7 cameras using the Metabones IV adapter. A lot of the video I shoot in the A7RII is using the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II. However we also use the Sony 70-200 2.8 G-Master which is excellent and avoids the adapter.


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Bret Williams
Re: Sony a7sii files ... need to convert to ProRes for FCPX?
on Oct 14, 2017 at 1:35:06 am

Even with the folder tree in place, try just dragging the files to the browser event or keyword collection.

_______________________________________________________________________
http://BretFX.com FCPX Plugins & Templates for Editors & Motion Graphics Artists


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Eric Santiago
Re: Sony a7sii files ... need to convert to ProRes for FCPX?
on Oct 17, 2017 at 4:22:00 am

I inherited a problem project due to the AVCHD (a7sii) file structure.
For the brave ones that don't convert, I tip my hat to you.
If I ran into this file format again I would convert to ProRes period.
Just too many issues with that format.


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Joe Marler
Re: Sony a7sii files ... need to convert to ProRes for FCPX?
on Oct 17, 2017 at 1:39:42 pm

[Eric Santiago] "I inherited a problem project due to the AVCHD (a7sii) file structure.
For the brave ones that don't convert, I tip my hat to you.
If I ran into this file format again I would convert to ProRes period.
Just too many issues with that format."


I think the OP is using XAVC-S not AVCHD. Those are two different long GOP formats. AVCHD is limited to 28 megabits/sec at 1080p, whereas XAVC-S can handle 4k at much higher bit rates and chroma sampling.

There are definitely issues with AVCHD under FCPX such as a significant I/O performance problem if the bare files are imported with "leave files in place". This can happen even if a small % of this AVCHD content is imported to a library containing mostly other formats. I always rewrap AVCHD externally before import using EditReady. If that is done it can be safely imported with "leave files in place" and performance/reliability is very good. Or the AVCHD content can be imported from the original folder structure and FCPX will rewrap that and copy it to the library. That also works but I prefer using EditReady. If you have any libraries where bare AVCHD files were imported with "leave files in place", I suggest those be rebuilt and re-imported using one of the two above methods. Transcoding the already-imported AVCHD material to optimized also might work.

By contrast XAVC-S works very well without transcoding to optimized media or rewrapping in FCPX -- even at very large library sizes. I'm editing a documentary that includes a large amount of XAVC-S content which was imported with "leave files in place" by copying the bare files to another folder. It is currently about 6,000 clips or 200 hr of 4K H264 material, equating to 8TB of original media and 5TB proxies. This will eventually be about 30% larger. It is running on a top-spec 2017 iMac 27 and a 32TB RAID-0 Thunderbolt array (with identical backup), and performance is generally very good.

The problem with transcoding to ProRes optimized media is it does nothing to help image quality -- FCPX is always editing on a ProRes buffer, no matter what the original codec. Optimized media consumes a huge amount of space. It does help editing performance but so does proxy at a much smaller size and conversion time.

The space penalty for proxy over XAVC-S is an additional 50%. By contrast, the space penalty for optimized ProRes is about 6x. The transcode time for optimized ProRes is 2.7x longer than proxy. So if I transcoded all our H264 media to optimized, that would increase the size from 8TB to 48TB. It must be backed up to equivalent performance RAID storage so the actual hardware cost would be for 96TB.

The backup is required because optimized media takes over 2.7x the time to generate vs. proxy. The fastest Mac for transcoding from H264 to optimized media is the 2017 iMac 27 -- it is 3.5x faster than a 12-core D700 Mac Pro on this task. Despite this it would take about a week to re-transcode my original media to optimized, IOW one week of downtime despite not losing any source media. The Mac Pro would take nearly a month to do this. Even recovering from LTO-6 tape would take about 3.5 days. To avoid this large downtime potential the ProRes version must be backed up, not just the original H264 media. So there is a cascade effect of time, cost and storage issues when transcoding to optimized media for large projects with high shooting ratios. Fortunately FCPX generally handles original H264 media very well, and is very fast at generating proxies.


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dallas kruse
Re: Sony a7sii files ... need to convert to ProRes for FCPX?
on Oct 18, 2017 at 3:39:31 pm

I have to admit, I'm a noob...especially to Sony files.

Here's a screenshot of the Quicktime info for the format.



I dragged my footage from my Video Drive into FCPX using Proxy. Seems to be no issues.

But as an earlier entry mentioned, the file names for future projects might have the same name? I'm hearing that Sony doesn't automatically parse the file names into sequential order?

For future reference, which format SHOULD I be filming in when renting a Sony a7s ii?

Music Producer dabbling in Video.
FCPX. Adobe CS6.
Canon 5D Mark III, T4i.

Small recording studio.


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Joe Marler
Re: Sony a7sii files ... need to convert to ProRes for FCPX?
on Oct 18, 2017 at 8:30:31 pm

[dallas kruse] "Here's a screenshot of the Quicktime info for the format...I dragged my footage from my Video Drive into FCPX using Proxy. Seems to be no issues....the file names for future projects might have the same name? I'm hearing that Sony doesn't automatically parse the file names into sequential order?...For future reference, which format SHOULD I be filming in when renting a Sony a7s ii?"

That is XAVC-S HD. You do not need proxy for that, as almost any computer can edit H264 1080p without transcoding. It also does not require rewrapping with EditReady. However FCPX will not import with "leave files in place" from any tree-oriented file format. To achieve that you must copy the .mp4 files out of the folder structure and import from there. That is considered a poor practice but in my experience it causes no problem with files from the Sony Alpha E-mount series. That should never be done with AVCHD media.

The A7SII will reuse filenames starting over with C0001.mp4 whenever you insert an empty SD card. That cannot be overridden, however it's only a problem if you will be doing metadata transfers via event or library XMLs. In that case it can create spurious duplicate clips in the Event Browser. However as a good operating practice, it's often a good idea to rename the files before import to (1) Make them unique and (2) Add additional info such as camera type or owner. This is useful in multi-camera shoots when you have several cameras producing similar filenames.

Re what format to use, I would generally suggest using XAVC-S 4k, whether you will be distributing in 4k or not. Admittedly that will require creating proxy files to achieve good editing performance, but FCPX handles that very well. Just remember to set the viewer from proxy back to optimized/original before exporting, else the output file will be at proxy resolution.

Using 4k gives you the ability to crop and recompose in post without losing resolution for 1080p distribution, each frame is an 8 megapixel still so it's useful for frame grabs, and also some 4k cameras don't produce good-looking 1080p.


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Martin Phillips
Re: Sony a7sii files ... need to convert to ProRes for FCPX?
on Oct 18, 2017 at 7:37:50 pm

I just plop the camera files into EditReady (https://www.divergentmedia.com/editready) and it churns them out as ProRes files. Worth letting it do its stuff while you take a lunch break. Just import those straight into FCPX and it works a treat. You have the choice to resize etc. too if you need to. Think there is a free trial - found it to work very well.


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