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Ingesting UHD footage into Avid - questions about project settings, transcoding, and system requirements

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Deborah Libby
Ingesting UHD footage into Avid - questions about project settings, transcoding, and system requirements
on Nov 17, 2016 at 8:26:47 pm

Hello community,

First time poster here. I am a newbie editor researching the set up of a rather complex editing project. I’m hoping a few of you can offer some guidance on best practices as I fumble through the set up. Also, apologies in advance if I am asking too many questions in a single post - I am happy to break this up into separate questions if that is more appropriate.

The project is an hour long documentary composed mainly of interviews. We have roughly 50 hours of footage shot on six different cameras. The bulk of the footage is UHD 3840x2160 shot on the Sony Fs7 and a7s cameras, with some additional HD footage from Panasonic and Canon DSLRs.

We are planning to edit in Avid MC 8.3.1 (but not committed at this point). I am using a 2012 MacBook Pro laptop with 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and 8 GB of memory, with a NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 1024 graphics card. This system doesn't seem sufficient and we're looking into renting a more robust system just to do the transcoding (more on that below). Although we plan to output the final film at 1920x1080 HD, we'd also like to:

A) have the option to keep the high res UHD files for zooming in and recomposing the interviews, and 
B) have the option to output the film at UHD at some point in the future

I have specific questions about system requirements, Avid project set up, and ingestion process.

Project set up
I am not 100% clear on which resolution to use for the timeline setting. The bulk of our footage is UHD, and we are outputting at 1920x1080 (at least for now), but would like to be able to zoom, pan, and recompose interview shots. I currently have the timeline set to 3840x2160 29.97 - is this the best setting?

Ingestion
Really struggling with getting the Fs7 clips into Avid. I have attempted to AMA Link to the footage and then transcode to DNxHR SQ but my laptop apparently isn't powerful enough to handle the transcode.

Also tried Robert Ober's Resolve to Avid workflow and found that it worked if I transcoded from UHD to HD, but Resolve crashed if I tried to keep the UHD source resolution. If we end up scrapping the UHD idea and just transcoding everything to HD, I am not clear on what should be done with the .AAF files that are imported into Avid through this method (I’ll end up with around 30 of them if we go this route).

I cannot access the a7s footage at all via AMA and from what I’ve researched it looks like we need to invest in the $99 Drastic.tv plugin. Is this still the go-to plugin for a7s? Tried Adobe Media Encoder but it didn’t work for me.

System Requirements
We are considering renting a more powerful Mac Pro 12 core 2.7 GHz 64 GB Ram 1 TB SSD Dual D700 graphics w/ 6GB system to get through the transcoding, but would like to exhaust all options on our existing system before we spend this money.

Any advice or suggestions would be very appreciated!

Thanks again!

Deborah


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Glenn Sakatch
Re: Ingesting UHD footage into Avid - questions about project settings, transcoding, and system requirements
on Nov 21, 2016 at 10:43:01 pm

If you can upgrade to the newest MC version, i would recommend it. I'm not sure when it started, but it is pretty easy now to switch your project from 1080 to 4k and back again if you wanted to.

In your situation, you said you have a 4k 29.97 project setup...is your footage at 29.97 or 23.976?

If 23.976, than set your project to that....either 4k or HD...your choice.

If you think there is a chance of a 4k output, then i would link to the footage in 4k and transcode to a lower res for editing.
Keep your original links in their own bins...you will want them later.

At this point you can then switch to HD, or simply monitor HD and edit in 4k, or edit in 4k proxy mode (which is essentially HD)

If at the end of it all they want a 4k master, relink your sequence to the original 4k links and re-transcode your show to high quality footage, or simply create a list from the links and send that list to your color program (Resolve?) along with the original footage. (The online process should be discussed now as well...test your workflow now, not in 3 months)

Yes you can use 4k material in an HD project and have it maintain its original size, but be aware this is also a good way to see that the focus may have been a bit soft during the interview. Sometimes it works great...sometimes you go "hmmm that shot is soft)

When you say your laptop isn't powerful enough to handle the transcode, what do you mean by that? Is it crashing or just taking a long time? What is your drive setup that you are transcoding to and from...that could be where your bottleneck is occuring.

Consider background transcoding with Avid. For larger jobs i set up the transcodes, exit Avid and let it run all night.
You get a nice view of any clips that may have failed, and you can setup a nice batch that spans several bins, so you can organize your project as you go.

As for transcoding in Resolve and editing in Avid, that is certainly an option, and typically way faster. Test your workflow, before getting carried away. (can resolve relink your timeline out of Avid back to the original files in Resolve)

The AAFs that are created are simply there to bring into avid to help your identify where all your clips are. Of course you have to put your resolve created media into the AvidMediafiles/MXF/ folder structure in write enabled folders, for Avid to be able to use those aafs properly. From there import the aaf into avid and organize your bins.

Can't speak to a7s footage. Never seen it.

Glenn


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Deborah Libby
Re: Ingesting UHD footage into Avid - questions about project settings, transcoding, and system requirements
on Nov 22, 2016 at 3:59:38 pm

Thank you Glenn, this all makes sense. And yes, my footage was shot at 29.97.

All the best,
Deborah


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Shane Ross
Re: Ingesting UHD footage into Avid - questions about project settings, transcoding, and system requirements
on Nov 22, 2016 at 6:17:28 am

OK....my advice might differ from Glenn a little. You said that the target output is 1080p...and that you want to be able to do moves on the video...reposition it. Therefore you should be using a 1080p project, and then the footage can be adjusted via FRAME FLEX.

Depending on the version you have, you can either import the footage into a 1080p project and retain the source dimensions...or if earlier than 8.3, you'll have to import the footage into a project with matching dimensions and bring the bin into your main project.

[Deborah Libby] "I am using a 2012 MacBook Pro laptop with 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and 8 GB of memory, with a NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 1024 graphics card. "

That's like the bare minimum you'll need for this. At least you won't be editing 4K at 4K. Still, 8GB of RAM is very little, you need at least 16. But...

[Deborah Libby] "This system doesn't seem sufficient and we're looking into renting a more robust system just to do the transcoding (more on that below). "

Yes...do this. You will also need a LARGE RAID array to hold all of this media, native dimensions...for smooth playback. And I mean, A LOT. 4K/UHD converted footage, which you WILL have to do...transcode to DNxHR...will take up a LOT of space.

[Deborah Libby] "A) have the option to keep the high res UHD files for zooming in and recomposing the interviews, and 
B) have the option to output the film at UHD at some point in the future"


If you plan on outputting UHD in the future...don't do a lot of repositioning of the footage. Once you then go to UHD, those pushes will be over 100% of the image size, and might not look well. 25% is the typical max to enlarge.

[Deborah Libby] "Project set up
I am not 100% clear on which resolution to use for the timeline setting. The bulk of our footage is UHD, and we are outputting at 1920x1080 (at least for now), but would like to be able to zoom, pan, and recompose interview shots. I currently have the timeline set to 3840x2160 29.97 - is this the best setting?"


Again, because the timeline is UHD, and the footage is UHD, you can't recompose by much. If this was strictly HD, you could. So bear that in mind. That is the best setting for EVENTUAL UHD output though...you can always downconvert the master you export to 1080p

[Deborah Libby] "Really struggling with getting the Fs7 clips into Avid. I have attempted to AMA Link to the footage and then transcode to DNxHR SQ but my laptop apparently isn't powerful enough to handle the transcode."

The only options for this are, as you mentioned, the Drastic plugin, or Resolve. That's it.

[Deborah Libby] "System Requirements
We are considering renting a more powerful Mac Pro 12 core 2.7 GHz 64 GB Ram 1 TB SSD Dual D700 graphics w/ 6GB system to get through the transcoding, but would like to exhaust all options on our existing system before we spend this money."


That or a good PC running windows. Sorry, but when dealing with UHD, you are going to need horsepower.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Glenn Sakatch
Re: Ingesting UHD footage into Avid - questions about project settings, transcoding, and system requirements
on Nov 22, 2016 at 3:07:47 pm

Nothing wrong with Shanes method as well...I would simply say one more time...discuss with your producer what the output is. Going down one path, and then switching to another path is going to be more of a pain in the butt.

Is the producer paying for a UHD finish or an HD finish. Decide so we can setup and test the process and move on.

Glenn


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Shane Ross
Re: Ingesting UHD footage into Avid - questions about project settings, transcoding, and system requirements
on Nov 22, 2016 at 4:11:29 pm

You need to find out if you need that UHD finish. That's a big thing to know going in. I does change a lot about how you proceed.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Deborah Libby
Re: Ingesting UHD footage into Avid - questions about project settings, transcoding, and system requirements
on Nov 22, 2016 at 3:57:36 pm

Thank you very much, Shane!


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