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Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro

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rob5150
Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 8, 2005 at 8:23:42 pm

I am looking for a way to take QuickTime movies, exported from FCP 5, encode to MPEG2 on a Windows PC, then author in DVD Studio Pro, for SD or HD DVDs.

I would like to get opinions on the best way, as well as less expensive methods.

The reason for the query is that we are wasting a lot of edit bay time, compressing on our Macs, while we have a few fairly stout Windows XP boxes sitting mostly unused. It would be great to put them to use, compressing for DVD SP.

Thanks in advance,
-Rob


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WTS(JManz)
Re: Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 8, 2005 at 9:28:45 pm

My workflow is close to yours, but I do more editing on my PC than my Mac. With that said, I encode with Canopus' Procoder on a PC, which IMO is one of the best software based encoders out there, and it's fast. You can set up a batch of files to encode and once completed, import them back into your Mac for authoring. I use a external hard drive and transfer the files back and forth. I format the hard drive for a Mac, and use MacDrive to read and write to on the PC.

Jim


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rob5150
Re: Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 8, 2005 at 11:20:06 pm

Thanks! This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for!

However, rather than using a FireWire or USB2 drive, would transfer via Gigabit Ethernet be adequately fast? Also, does Procoder work natively with QuickTime files, or do they have to be converted to avi or some other intermediate format?

Thanks,
-Rob



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WTS(JManz)
Re: Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 9, 2005 at 12:41:23 am

File transfer is slower than over the internet, but it's possible. I started out that way, but found it much faster to use a hot swappable firewire drive. I can output from within my Mac to a hot swappable bay, swap out the drive and plug it into my PC and away I go. I output my Procoder conversions either directly to that drive, or another (I have two dual bays--one dual for the Mac and one for the PC so I can keep the workflow going) and bring the converted files back in a reverse fashion and author on the Mac. While Procoder is encoding, I'm authoring or outputting additional FCP/Motion/Livetype files on the Mac--always in constant motion with little dead time.

Procoder works with the Quicktime files without the need for special conversions.

Jim


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rob5150
Re: Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 9, 2005 at 1:32:20 am

> File transfer is slower than over the internet, but it's possible. I started out that way, but found it much faster to use a hot swappable firewire drive.

Actually, I get very fast transfer speeds between the Macs and PCs, using Gigabit Ethernet. Not quite as fast as FW800, but I suspect it is close to FW400 and USB2.

I do have a FW400 drive that I could swap back and forth, but network seems a lot easier, and nearly, if not equally, as fast.

I am glad to hear that Procoder works directly with the QuickTime NTSC-DV files. Do you know if Procoder Express would work for this function, or will I require the full Procoder version?

Thanks,
-Rob



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rob5150
Re: Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 9, 2005 at 1:54:27 am

One other question: does Procoder recognize the chapter markers set and saved by Final Cut, in the QuickTime file?

Again, thanks,
-Rob



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WTS(JManz)
Re: Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 9, 2005 at 2:40:35 am

If you find your file transfers are fast enough, then go with what works best for you. I have a similar set up, and found that the firewire drives were faster. I also found that with some file types the resource forks that a Mac uses didn't translate well when outputting via the net to the PC for transcoding. To be honest I can't remember the specifics, but I know that I and others struggled with this. It all went away with the set up I posted before, so I haven't tried doing much(any) over the net of late.

"One other question: does Procoder recognize the chapter markers set and saved by Final Cut, in the QuickTime file?"

No.

I would think that Procoder Express would work, but you don't have as many file conversion options. I use the full version, so I'm sorry if I can't be more specific.

Jim


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rob5150
Re: Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 9, 2005 at 3:52:46 am

Thanks, I will try the transfers via network and FW drive. Hopefully they will work equally well, if not I will follow your advice and use the FW transfer method.

How do you go about the placement of chapter points, if Procoder does not recognize the ones from FCP? Is there a function in Procoder that allows the creation of frame accurate chapter points, prior to encoding?

Thanks for all your help,
-Rob



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WTS(JManz)
Re: Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 9, 2005 at 4:06:43 am

You currently can't make frame accurate chapter marks with Procoder. I do most of my editing on a PC, and I can output a text file for my chapter marks and import that directly into DVDSP for automated chapter mark placement. If your project allows, you can output your project in 'pieces'--each piece representing a chapter. You would then encode each separately with Procoder, and place them one after the other in DVDSP's timeline. Since each piece is self contained, you can put a chapter mark between your segments and you will have frame accurate positioning. Obviously, this won't work for all projects, but it's an idea for those projects where frame accurate marks are necessary. I personally find that for many projects being within a few frames is close enough.

Jim


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Dave Friend
Re: Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 9, 2005 at 4:30:33 pm

Rob,

I have used GigE networking frequently and it works perfectly. In fact you probably don't even to move the quicktime over to the PC. Just open the source file over the network in the encoder software. However, have it write the encode to the PC. Use the GigE to move the mpeg files back to the mac. Takes only a few minutes to move 4 GB of files through the GigE pipe - not much longer than moving a FW drive from room to room. During the encode the extra work being done by the mac (as the mov file is read across the network) is seldom noticed. Probably not a good time to record to tape though.

Another software encoder to consider for the PC is Cinema Craft Encoder Basic (CCE). It does not have the versatility of Procoder as it only makes mpeg, where as Procoder is a Swiss Army knife for transcoding. That is nice if you have lots of different transcoding needs, but it comes at a price.

CCE is only about $60 and, IMO, creates better looking mpeg. The quality difference is really minor but is visible to me. Works with avi or mov files, does batches, supports templates and presets, and provides lots of controls to fine tune the output.

The thing that neither piece of software does is make Dolby audio files from the input files so if you want ac3 then you have an additional step to add to your workflow.

Hope this is helpful.

Dave



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WTS(JManz)
Re: Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 9, 2005 at 5:59:26 pm

"through the GigE pipe - not much longer than moving a FW drive from room to room"

But longer than pulling the drawer, spin the chair and reinserting it. ;)

Like I said, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and either work fine with the correct set up. I have CCE basic, and I would agree that with most encodes the differences are not huge. However, I personally find the encodes with Procoder to be superior. I use Procoder for much more than just mpeg encoding, so my bias lies there as well. 'Quality' is in the eyes of the beholder, and how much anyone will tweak the presets to optimize encoding as well as striking a balence between cost differences all factor in to whether or not buying one encoder or another is 'worth it'. I believe there is a trial version of CCE Basic you can give a whirl. Procoder does a great job of HD encoding and is positioned well for future formats, it has a feature called a 'watch folder' where you can set PC to 'watch' a particular folder and start encoding the file(s) based on the parameters you set for that folder. Although there is some automation with CCE, the options for file output and streamlining workflow is superior in PC.

As Dave noted, neither have an ac3 encoder, which is something I would like to see added to PC, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Jim


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rob5150
Re: Edit on Mac, Encode on PC, Author with DVD Studio Pro
on Nov 13, 2005 at 12:38:21 am

Thanks to all for the tips.

I am looking forward to trying this set up. It will be really nice to not have to tie up the edit suite for MPEG-2 compressing.

-Rob



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