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In search of the perfect Canon DSLR to Avid workflow

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Guy Ducker
In search of the perfect Canon DSLR to Avid workflow
on Oct 1, 2012 at 10:14:14 am

I'm trying to find a workflow to deal with material shot on Canon DSLRs so that I can output from Media Composer 5.5.2 a Quicktime that will have every ounce of picture quality from the original.

Okay, to be honest I've found such a workflow, but it's pretty long-winded (transcode rushes to ProRes422 via Squeeze, link to these files via AMA and then transcode again to DNxHD, relink to ProRes at the end); what I'm hoping for is a one stage process.

I've tried importing the camera's h.264 files via AMA, but that loses details in the blacks. Changing the settings to "Compress graphic levels to video levels" seems to help to pull back some of the detail in highlights and shadows, but there's still detail loss.

Has anyone tried the Sorenson Squeeze MXF conversion workflow, whereby it supposedly creates Avid-ready .mxf files from your camera originals? It needs Sorenson Squeeze Pro, which is pricey, so I'd like to know that it works before forking out for it.

Is there any other 3rd party software out there that might help?

Many thanks,


Guy Ducker


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Michael Phillips
Re: In search of the perfect Canon DSLR to Avid workflow
on Oct 1, 2012 at 12:43:54 pm

What does the histogram show you when you AMA link directly to the files? The two white lines are video levels (16-235) and anything beyond that is full range. Even if clips are full range, there is no truncating or clipping once brought in to the system. Check internal scopes and compare. But - if you are monitoring over hardware I/O, there may be a clipping or pass-through for only 16-235 video range which would remove any expected detail in the deep shadows.

But the histogram will tell you if anything is being lost or not depending on selection of the three levels. I suspect the transcode to ProRes is the same as "do not modify" in the AMA settings.

Michael


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Guy Ducker
Re: In search of the perfect Canon DSLR to Avid workflow
on Oct 1, 2012 at 1:14:57 pm

The histogram shows the ProRes footage to have peaks sitting within the 16-235 range, as with the h.264 file, when set to 'Compress graphic levels to video levels'. The peaks are lower and smoother on the ProRes footage.

By eye, however, there is noticably more information in the shadows and highlights of the ProRes footage. I guess it's possible that this is because it's hidden in the gloom and glare of the full 0-225 range of the h.264. Monitor-wise, I'm looking at all this on a DVI computer screen, rather than an external video monitor.

Just to be clear, my objective is to work out the best way of giving the grader the flattest, most malleable image possible.


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Shane Ross
Re: In search of the perfect Canon DSLR to Avid workflow
on Oct 1, 2012 at 4:05:07 pm

What will the grader be using to grade? What application/system? Note that H.264 is an 8-bit format, and not all that great for grading. ProRes is a 10-bit format...and the X codecs of DNxHD are also 10-bit, so those are your better choices.

Shane
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