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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Still Image Sequences
on Jun 6, 2007 at 2:48:54 pm

Sigh... I'm wondering if anyone at Aja ever has to actually sit and EDIT.

We just received our Aja Xena-based system back from ProMax where it was being repaired (I think there must be a time-warp between here and California, as our "48 hour service" took almost three weeks... but that's another issue).

Anywho, one of the MANY problems I was having was the inability to import many still images into PremierePro, they would come in as a sequence no matter what you did. Well, the XENA Version 2.6 seems to have fixed that...to a degree. I can now import a single file, as LONG AS IT IS NOT SEQUENTIALLY NAMED. Listed in their notes under "Resolved Issues" is "The XENA importer will look for other files with the same naming convention in the given directory. If it finds other files with the same naming convention it will import all the files as a video sequence rather than importing the single file as a still image."

"Resolved"? Well, Thanks for the solution, nimrods.

Does anyone have a workaround this?...other than the obvious, REnaming files without numbers? We have literally tens of thousands of graphics files that are NUMBERED. Seems to me that Aja is saying "You can check out any book in the library... but whichever one you pick, you have to also take home every other single book filed to the right of that one."

Not to be harsh, but their products sure seem to be designed by a bunch of engineers who have never had to sit and actually EDIT a project in their lives.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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AJA Xena Support
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 6, 2007 at 5:25:20 pm

Hi Todd,

Actually in the 2.6 release there are TWO new ways to work around the situation you've described.

The first of course is the automatic handling of individual files based on their name, which doesnt seem to meet your needs, as you've clearly stated in your post above.

The second is a new feature allowing the Premiere Pro importer to do the file importing for some still image types, rather than using the AJA importer. You'll see this described in the release notes stating:

"Users can enable or disable certain functions of the XENA importer in Premiere Pro. By default, the XENA importer will import bitmaps, targas and tiffs. These importer features can be disabled, allowing the Premiere Pro importer to import these files instead. This function can be useful for importing still images rather than file sequences."

To use this new feature, go into the Playback Settings in your Premiere Project. You'll find the importer controls on the bottom right hand side of the playback options screen. Choose the file type which you would like to have imported by the Adobe Importer, and then select 'Enable Adobe Importer'. This will cause all files of that type to be treated as still images rather than individual frames in a sequence.

AJA XENA Support


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 6, 2007 at 7:42:48 pm

Thanks, I'll give that a try, hopefully it will work.

I did indeed find that mentioned in the release notes, but I didn't notice it buried there before (and neither did the company who built my machine, we've be trading emails about it all day).

I apologize for my harsh tone earlier... it was out of frustration, I'm usually a peach... ask anyone.

It's just that I've been tearing my hair out for weeks with this machine (not just the stills, but a looooong list of issues). The problems start with the fact that this POWERFUL system which should be SMOKIN' fast is slow as molasses compared to our much weaker Canopus suites... plus a bunch of specific operational bugs. My frustration goes back to the company who built the system, where the salesman (who incidentally is no longer there) touted Aja as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then the guy there I was dealing with today said "You really should have probably bought an AXIO." Grrrrr.

I guess I long for the good ol' days when everything just worked....easily, and well. Actually, what I long for are the days when Canopus and Adobe were getting along.

Sorry for the previous venting,

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Jeron Coolman
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 7, 2007 at 3:03:38 pm

I think most editors can relate with your frustrations, Todd :)

I haven't used AXIO, because I swore off Matrox a while ago. (Stories which can fill other threads...)

I've had problems with my Xena card, but every time I have had a problem, I've been able to get resolution by dealing with Aja's support. I can't say that with most of the other hardware and software vendors I deal with.

I highly recommmend contacting their support if you have any other issues with your Aja product(s).

P.S. I think my Xena is the best thing since sliced bread too, but I come from an Avid background where you either spend 10x the price of the Xena, for an equivalent piece of hardware, or you are stuck with a lame, over-priced, firewire-device-that-needs-an-entire-pci-bus, Mojo that only supports SD.



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David Mack
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 8, 2007 at 1:24:55 pm

Hi Guys,

Just want to jump in here and ask a quick question. I have a Black Magic card (bear with me) and I've had no luck AT ALL with image sequences. Can someone confirm or deny that the Xena system will play back 1920X1080 progressive image sequences (BMP's or TGA's) straight off the Premiere Pro timeline without the need to render them (or import them as a folder)? I've got a raid that can handle the data rate (it'll do uncompressed AVI's etc) but the Black Magic system just won't do it. I'm thinking of jumping over to a Xena based system but thought I'd get this vital to me info first.
Thanks in advance!


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AJA Xena Support
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 8, 2007 at 4:47:12 pm

David,

The image sequence support that we have is the exact reason that Todd has voiced his frustration above. Our Premiere plugins have been specifically designed to handle images as video sequences, for users like you.

This being the case, we dont handle image files in the same way that Todd(who started this thread) is used to in Premiere Pro, and have since had to add some workarounds for the use of images as long duration stills, rather than as individual frames in a sequence.

So that is the long answer. The short answer is that BMP and TGA sequences should in most cases play in RT off the premiere pro timeline. If you want to be sure, you can send like 3 frames zipped to xenasupport@aja.com and we'll be happy to double check that those frames will work correctly.

AJA XENA Support


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David Mack
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 8, 2007 at 6:39:14 pm

Thanks for the reply. Got to say the 'should in most cases' concerns me!* Surely it either does or it doesn't?!?! In what circumstances does it work and in what doesn't it? BMP's and TGA's are fixed formats, we're talking uncompressed it can't be the level of detail in the images - so where does the variance enter the equation?


*Excuse me if I am a little wary, I'm possibly moving over to Xena because the BM system I currently have doesn't seem to do image sequences despite it being splashed across the website as a feature! I've asked others and no one has managed to get it to work. It's the ONE feature I really need in the system so I've got to get it right. I can't go through all this again!


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Jeff Brown
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 11, 2007 at 1:32:42 pm

I'd like to add, for clarification, another question:
Will the Xena (HD or 2K) support capture to image sequences (up to HD1080)? I think the answer is yes, but as a potential "former DeckLink user", a confirmation would be nice.

-jeff


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David Mack
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 11, 2007 at 1:49:04 pm

Hi Jeff,

I'm curious - have you also had no luck on the Blackmagic card using image sequences?


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AJA Xena Support
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 11, 2007 at 4:19:50 pm

Jeff, the answer is yes.

You can capture to any of the following file sequence formats in HD formats.

BMP, TGA, TIFF, YUV, DPX, CIN

Uncompressed AVI and Quicktime are also supported in addition to the sequence types.

Of course the support of all of this is contingent on having a good disk system that can support the capture.

AJA XENA Support


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Jeron Coolman
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 11, 2007 at 2:50:19 pm

David,

I think the "should in most cases" comment is more of a "general computing comment" than one specific to images with a Xena card; e.g. I should be able to use use a RAID 5 for a media drive, but every time I've tried, it never worked very well :)

Being a software developer of over 20 years, I NEVER say "It will work" :) The best I give is "It should work". There are just too many factors involved that could make it not work; e.g. maybe an image sequence won't playback smoothly because the media drive hosting them is a USB drive on an oversaturated bus causing jerky playback.

I create TIFF animation image sequences in 1080i resolution in particleIllusion and import those into After Effects and Premiere Pro and they've always played back in real time on my PPro timeline.

I don't have experience with Blackmagic products, but when I was trying to decide between them and the Aja ones. I ended up going with the Aja hardware because it seemed to offer more "hardware acceleration" for the media I use.

Jeron



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AJA Xena Support
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 11, 2007 at 4:02:09 pm

David,

The reason i stated 'should in most cases' is because we clearly dont control the source of creation of all BMP's and TGA's. While there is a standard for these formats, not all software appli9cations create them in the exact same way.

For sequences that were either captured or rendered using AJA software/codecs, they will play fine. However there are actually many ways that the data can be stored inside the BMP or TGA file. This is why I suggest that if you have files created by some other rendering application, you send a few frames zipped to xenasupport@aja.com. This way you can make sure that the files you are using will work, before you buy. If you'd rather not do this, it is also important to note that AJA has an excellent return policy, so you can buy one, and if it isnt living up to your expectations, return it. I'll spare you the details of the policy, but your dealer can explain it in full.

AJA XENA Support


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David Mack
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 11, 2007 at 4:37:27 pm

Thanks Xena support,

Apologies, I didn't realise that bmps and tga's could vary?!?! I've tried my blackmagic from After Effects and my 3D app (Lightwave) and both failed in both bmp and tga format. Lets see what the Xena can do - it sounds like a plan! I'll talk with my supplier and see if I can arrange a Xena and an HDP on a sale or return basis and see if it all works for me. If the HDP doesn't map pixel for pixel, then I could try the blackmagic hd-link - I know that does map pixel for pixel. If I can play SD and HD bmp and or tga sequences off the timeline without rendering and it displays pixel for pixel on my lcd without stretching, then you have a sale. I shall report back in due course!

Just one last question, with the hdp (HDSDI to DVI) converter, what signal does it give the LCD monitor? Does it refresh at 50Hz for 1080P or less, does it do it progressively or interlaced?


Thanks again.


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Jeff Brown
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 12, 2007 at 2:03:41 pm

David:
The only way file sequences work in PPro w/ DeckLink stuff is as you have found: as a string of 1-frame still images, which of course is pretty much impossible to edit with. There is a BlackMagic document which specifies this (and only this) procedure of importing 1-frame stills from a folder, but they don't really talk much about it... wonder why?

BTW, thanks to the AJA folks for the confirmation. I'm hoping 4Gb Fibre channel gets a wee bit less $$ in the fall...

-jeff


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David Mack
Re: Still Image Sequences
on Jun 12, 2007 at 2:28:02 pm

If that is the case - and interestingly Black Magic have not once answered my question directly, then I think the website is about as misleading as you can possibly get - I'm not going to accept that!

Time to speak with my reseller!

Thanks.



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