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Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte

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Mark Warren
Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 20, 2009 at 12:51:52 am

Hello,

My name is Mark Warren and I am getting ready to make the jump from an SD workflow to an SD workflow...and I could use some advice.

My budget is approx. $10,000 and I need to get:

a. HD Camera (I'm looking at cameras such as Panasonic AG-HPX300, JVC GY-HM700UXT).

b. Ability to ingest the uncompressed 4:2:2, since I am doing green screen, matte work. I know there are cards out there (e.g. AJA) that can help with this...but not necessary if I get a camera with a P2 card, right? My goal is to get the cleanest matte key.

I own a new MAC PRO, 32 GB RAM, 4 internal hard drives (1 TB each). Running Snow Leopard, using Final Cut Studio 2.

I could use some help with which HD camera you might recommend, and also which capture card (if necessary) and with workflow in Final Cut. For example, bring in as XDCAM, convert to Apple Pro Res codec..etc.

Thanks for your time.

Mark


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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 20, 2009 at 4:17:58 am

If you want to skip compression, you wouldn't bring in footage as XDcam, you'd bring it in uncompressed and then write the file (and compress) to ProRes.

If you ingest directly to your Mac, the IO HD would work if you want a portable external solution, but an internal Kona card would be less expensive. You'd want a camera that outputs HDSDI (I think the Sony EX1-now discontinued for newer models, and the Panasonic HVX170 may be the most cost-effective options...someone else might have knowledge of something else).

For Green screen work, ProRes should be fine as long as you have the chops to shoot with the proper lighting, etc. I've also used 100 Mbit MPEG from Convergent Design's NanoFlash (from an EX-1) and that works pretty well.

If you prefer uncompressed, you'll need a pretty good RAID system to keep up with the recording...




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Mark Warren
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 20, 2009 at 5:45:12 pm

Tim -

Thanks for your time and advice.

I like the idea of an internal Kona card...although from my research, it looks like a Matrox MXO2 card would also work...is that correct? Do you have a preference on internal cards for the MAC?

Another question about Green Screen Work...you said that "ProRes should be find as long as you have the chops to shoot with proper lighting, etc." Don't I have to use proper lighting no matter what codec I use? I take your comment to mean that some codecs are more forgiving than others? If so, would you recommend I stay away from ProRes and opt more for some other codec? And are you also saying that the 100 MBit MPEG from your NanoFlash is better than ProRes, correct? At least as far as green screen work goes?

I spent some time on the Convergent website and saw their cool products. The NanoFlash sounds awesome..although a bit pricey for me. It sounds like I could accomplish my goals with either their HD-Connect MI or their NanoConnect. In fact, I don't see the difference between the two. Any ideas?

And sounds like I don't need to go to the full uncompressed route, as the 100 MBit compression is apparently undistinguishable as uncompressed.

Take care.

Mark


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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 20, 2009 at 8:28:20 pm

I don't have any experience with the Matrox product...so no meaningful advice there. I have experience with AJA equipment.

(Don't get an IO HD without checking on whether or not the drivers are out for the latest version of Final Cut...right now the IO HD works with FCS 2)

As far as greenscreen...I'm not saying that either format is better than the other...what I'm saying is that you can use compressed options like ProRes, or even 100 Mbit 4:2:2 MPEG to do that sort of work. What I meant by my remark was that I hear of all kinds of people who say "format X is no good for greenscreen" and when you do some follow up you find out that they took a shot of an African person in front of a roll of green construction paper with no lights...obviously in those cases, the format has nothing to do with the failure to pull a solid key.

If you got a Kona card and had the Mac cabled via SDI to the camera, you wouldn't need anything else...just a serial digital capable BNC cable.







TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 21, 2009 at 2:39:02 am

...of course you could always get a KiPro and compress to ProRes on that and simply file-transfer into your system if a Kona in a workstation is inconvenient to lug into the studio...

I use an IO Express on the PC side, but it also works on a Mac...but it doesn't have the same collection of I/O capabilities as a Kona card.




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Mark Warren
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 21, 2009 at 2:58:55 pm

Thanks, Tim...your advice is much appreciated.

Mark


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gary adcock
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 21, 2009 at 3:23:24 pm

[Mark Warren] "If so, would you recommend I stay away from ProRes and opt more for some other codec? And are you also saying that the 100 MBit MPEG from your NanoFlash is better than ProRes, correct?"

If your working in FCP, do not work in MPEG based workflows, Tim in a PC guy and while those 8 bit Mpeg files my play well on a PC, ProRes is always 10bit color and designed from the ground up to be optimized for FCP.

And Contrary to Tim's comment about the IoHD only being available for FCS2,
The IoHD software has been updated for FCS3. The AJA Software update had to wait for a fix available in the 7.01 FCP from Apple.

gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows for the Digitally Inclined
Chicago, IL


http://library.creativecow.net/articles/adcock_gary/AJAIOHD.php




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Mark Warren
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 21, 2009 at 5:54:10 pm

Gary - thanks for the update...very helpful.

Mark


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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 23, 2009 at 4:28:51 pm

[gary adcock] "And Contrary to Tim's comment about the IoHD only being available for FCS2,
The IoHD software has been updated for FCS3. The AJA Software update had to wait for a fix available in the 7.01 FCP from Apple."


As you said, I'm a PC guy and I can only go by what is on the website...and it says "For use with Apple Final Cut Studio 2 on Mac OS X" ...I just double checked.



TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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gary adcock
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 23, 2009 at 4:41:35 pm

[Tim Kolb] "As you said, I'm a PC guy "

One of the best "PC" guys I know too.



gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows for the Digitally Inclined
Chicago, IL


http://library.creativecow.net/articles/adcock_gary/AJAIOHD.php




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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 24, 2009 at 2:34:45 am

[gary adcock] "One of the best "PC" guys I know too."

I'm guessing that you don't mean 'politically correct'...

:-)

Seriously...the IO HD now runs with FCS 3, or is it waiting for Apple? Or did Apple do their thing and it now works?

People from the dark side of the force want to know...






TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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gary adcock
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 24, 2009 at 3:44:50 pm

[Tim Kolb] "Seriously...the IO HD now runs with FCS 3, or is it waiting for Apple? Or did Apple do their thing and it now works? "

Yes,timmy the IoHD now properly works under FCP 7.01 and OSX 10.6.1 and later.

It is my understanding that the "hooks" into FCP to allow for the IoHD to remotely process ProRes (independent of the host CPU) had to wait for both the the FCP and Snow updates before Aja could update their software.



gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows for the Digitally Inclined
Chicago, IL


http://library.creativecow.net/articles/adcock_gary/AJAIOHD.php




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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 24, 2009 at 4:52:53 pm

[gary adcock] "Yes,timmy the IoHD now properly works under FCP 7.01 and OSX 10.6.1 and later."

Hmmm... AJA needs to update their website.

Just for the record...very few get away with calling me "Timmy".

:-)



TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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gary adcock
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 24, 2009 at 5:26:53 pm

[Tim Kolb] "Just for the record...very few get away with calling me "Timmy". "

please think of it more as a "Cartmanesque" salute as in "Timm-AAHH"

gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows for the Digitally Inclined
Chicago, IL


http://library.creativecow.net/articles/adcock_gary/AJAIOHD.php




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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 24, 2009 at 10:27:53 pm

[gary adcock] "please think of it more as a "Cartmanesque" salute as in "Timm-AAHH""

LOL...




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 23, 2009 at 4:51:06 pm

[gary adcock] "Tim in a PC guy and while those 8 bit Mpeg files my play well on a PC, ProRes is always 10bit color and designed from the ground up to be optimized for FCP."

Funny...PPro is incapable of handling MPEG over 35 Mbit, but 100 Mbit runs very well in FCP.

However, there is no question that 10 bit beats 8 bit for compositing work hands-down.



TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Matthew Causon
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 22, 2009 at 8:46:14 pm

Hello Mark


I think an AJA Ki Pro with an Io Express would be a good route.

That would give you 10 bit with 220Mbit ProRes HQ, - and without hanging a large RAID and Tower/Kona type system for uncompressed HD, you can't get better quality HD.

Ki Pro captures to ProRes, which is a codec that is optimised for editing with FCP.

220 Mbit ProRes HQ will give better results than 100 Mbit Mpeg.

10bit is much better than 8bit for green screen and keying work. (4 times the color shades)

What's more if you choose a camera that can output 10bit on the SDI you would have a 10bit workflow from lens to post.

Alternatively you could capture to 10Bit Pro Res HQ with the AJA IoHD (it does this via hardware within the unit like the Ki Pro), but it would be tethered to the computer (unlike the Ki Pro).

Matty Causon


Phosphor

EMEA Business Management for AJA Video Systems Inc.




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Mark Warren
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 22, 2009 at 11:01:56 pm

Hello Matty -

Thanks for your time and info.

So, I would need both an AJA Video Ki Pro and an AJA Io Express....correct?

I'm not sure what the difference is (other than the price...$4,000 vs. $1,000).

Mark


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Matthew Causon
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 23, 2009 at 12:56:05 am

Hello Mark

The Ki Pro is a video recorder.

The Io Express is an Io Card.

I would suggest you take a look at the AJA website, there are really supportive brochures and videos to take you through the products.

Then if you have queries you can post back here or perhaps visit a reseller who can take you through the product face to face?

Kind regards

Matty Causon

Phosphor

EMEA Business Management for AJA Video Systems Inc.





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Matthew Causon
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 23, 2009 at 1:09:51 am

Meant to say Io Express is an io Device (box) not card.

Apologies

Matty



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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 23, 2009 at 6:08:08 pm

[Matthew Causon] "I think an AJA Ki Pro with an Io Express would be a good route."

Technically, if you had a KiPro, you would simply transfer your footage into your computer as a data transfer. You wouldn't need the IO Express for ingest. If you have an HDSDI monitor on your editing system, the IO Express would be helpful.

If you are running a monitor from your computer's display card, the IO Express would be useful to introduce other types of footage onto your system.

Otherwise...you would want a KiPro to make a portable ProResHQ recording system with a camera...OR you could add an IO Express to your desktop system and use it to ingest HDSDI from your camera live in the studio (but a desktop system isn't very portable). For the purpose of ONLY ingesting into your Mac, they would be somewhat redundant.




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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gary adcock
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 24, 2009 at 3:12:22 pm

[Tim Kolb] "Technically, if you had a KiPro, you would simply transfer your footage into your computer as a data transfer. "

People forget that the KiPro is both a 10bit recorder and Player.
The recoding unit can play out the files over SDI/ HMDI or Component into systems that are not ProRes friendly like PPro is. This is the recommended workflow for say an Avid System.

I know that this workflow is essentially no longer tapeless- but by maintaining the 10bits when using the unit as a player device keeps quality at a significantly lower cost than using an HDCamSR or D5 decks deck- the only other mainstream 10bit recording devices.

gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows for the Digitally Inclined
Chicago, IL


http://library.creativecow.net/articles/adcock_gary/AJAIOHD.php




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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 24, 2009 at 3:37:35 pm

[gary adcock] "People forget that the KiPro is both a 10bit recorder and Player.
The recoding unit can play out the files over SDI/ HMDI or Component into systems that are not ProRes friendly like PPro is."


I didn't forget, Gary. I've used the KiPro as a master HDSDI 'VTR'.

My comment was based on Matthew's recommendation to pair a KiPro and an IO Express...but Mark outlined in his original post that he was using FCP.

So for Mark, the direct route via file transfer from the KiPro's drive would be the easiest...adding an HDSDI (or HDMI) real time transfer between the KiPro and the IO Express into FCP (not to mention the unnecessary decode-reencode step) would be a waste of time.

...right?



TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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gary adcock
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 24, 2009 at 3:55:14 pm

[Tim Kolb] "So for Mark, the direct route via file transfer from the KiPro's drive would be the easiest...adding an HDSDI (or HDMI) real time transfer between the KiPro and the IO Express into FCP (not to mention the unnecessary decode-reencode step) would be a waste of time. "

Correct.



gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows for the Digitally Inclined
Chicago, IL


http://library.creativecow.net/articles/adcock_gary/AJAIOHD.php




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Matthew Causon
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 25, 2009 at 1:14:23 pm

Hello guys

My thinking was to use the Io Express to for video output and monitoring, (not between the Ki Pro and computer) the Ki Pro does not do this.

thx

Matty Causon
Phosphor
EMEA Business Management for AJA Video Systems Inc.



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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 25, 2009 at 2:16:25 pm

[Matthew Causon] "My thinking was to use the Io Express to for video output and monitoring, (not between the Ki Pro and computer) the Ki Pro does not do this."

Well in that case, I'd agree.

Since in the earlier discussion the IO Express was tossed about as an alternative for the acquisition side (between the camera and ingest computer), I was still locked in to that line of thinking.

My bad, I stand corrected...










TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Steve Oakley
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Nov 30, 2009 at 10:09:15 pm

this is really a very expensive way to go.

a MXO2 base model is $1595 which comes with both PCIe tower interface and PCIe/54 laptop interface. it will run on battery power - common 12V. the MXO2 LE is $1k and would work well here.

it takes HD in on analog component, HDMI and HD SDI - another words anything your camera puts out it takes, plus audio. its 10 bit. of course if your camera only puts out 8bit SDI digital, moot point about 10bit. ProRes can be either 8 or 10 bit depending on what you feed it. SDI and HDMI can be either 8 or 10bit depending on your source.

the problem with the IO HD is all the extra compression hits you take every time it goes in and out of the box. can't avoid it. I don't like adding extra compression hits for no really good reason.

with the MXO2 series product plugged into a tower, it can capture uncompressed video thru its interface, and compress to ProRes on the CPU. even standard prores should be more then good enough for most key work - assuming decent lighting.

also for the total $10k budget, there was no mention of anything else - like a tripod, audio, ect. I'd say a JVC 700 + MXO2 LE + basic camera support gear should squeak in for about $10k with careful shopping. ....and no one even mentioned lights and CK background.

Steve Oakley
DP • Editor • VFX Artist
http://www.practicali.com


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Mark Warren
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Dec 1, 2009 at 12:10:05 am

Hi Steve -

Thanks for the helpful info. Savings money is always appreciated. The MXO2 base model for $1,595 is definitely cheaper than the AJA box...although it sounds like I will need to purchase a Windows based laptop, so I can put the MXO2 card in. I only have a MAC Book Pro and MAC Pro. That's fine...and it will still be cheaper than the AJA box.

Questions:

1. Will a standard laptop with 7200 RPM hard drive work for me? If not, will I need something faster? How big of a hard drive should I get?

2. Will I need any additional software to make this work? Other than what comes with the MXO2? My plan is to simply capture the uncompressed HD video on this new windows-based laptop with the MXO2 card and then transfer it to my MAC PRO for editing. Not sure how I will transfer at this point, but I'm sure I can find something that will work at a decent rate (firewire?).

In terms of my budget, I will have 10K...and I already own a great tripod, lights, green screen background, etc. All I need to buy with the 10K is an HD camera (with 10 bit audio and 10 bit HD/SDI output) and the ability to get the highest quality video to Final Cut Pro.

3. Once I get the uncompressed *.mov files from my new laptop to my MAC PRO, into FCP, do I simply set the Sequence Settings to Pro Res 422 and I'm good to go? Will it need to render the files in order for me to edit them?

Thanks again for your help.

Mark

P.S.: I'll go check out the JVC 700.


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Matthew Causon
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Dec 1, 2009 at 2:02:29 pm

The advantages of the Ki Pro and IoHD are that they encode Pro Res in hardware.

This means that the IoHD is qualified to capture Pro Res HQ on a MacBook Pro and that's unique.

Given that you are doing Matte work the quality of Pro Res and it being 10bit I think would be important?

If you don't want the Pro Res hardware encoding then the AJA Io Express is a great Io box that is cross platform and codec independent, runs off 12v power if you like and has and SRP of $995.

Best regards

Matty Causon

Phosphor

EMEA Business Management for AJA Video Systems Inc.



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Tim Kolb
Re: Help with trying to go HD, emphasis on key matte
on Dec 7, 2009 at 2:24:31 pm

[Mark Warren] "1. Will a standard laptop with 7200 RPM hard drive work for me? If not, will I need something faster? How big of a hard drive should I get?"

Work for what?

If you're ingesting uncompressed, you'll need about 170 MegaBYTES/sec throughput (that's for Y'CbCr...you'll need closer to 260 MBytes/s for RGB in the case of dual link in an HDcam SR sort of work flow)...that's RAID subsystem territory. No single 7200rpm drive will keep up with that...particularly a laptop drive.

I'm not as familiar with the Matrox products as I am with the AJA products, but a device that doesn't have the compression function on board, moves that function to the computer.

You could get away with a laptop with the IO HD because it's changing the incoming uncompressed signal to ProRes (about 25 MegaBytes/sec) before the laptop has to deal with it.

If you go with something that just brings the incoming signal in and passes it to the computer, the computer has to ingest the massive uncompressed bitrate and also encode to something in real time if you plan on using small drives. Even a stout laptop will have some challenges with that. Your tower could likely encode a stream of uncompressed to ProRes.

As far as the IO HD re-compressing on output...I don't see how that would happen as the signal has to be uncompressed to travel out over SDI... Playing a ProRes timeline out through the IO HD via SDI would actually convert the ProRes to uncompressed.

...or am I missing something? I need the hardcore Mac folk to step in here and correct me if I'm off-base.





TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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