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What's the relationship between QT Ref movies and render files?

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Allynn Wilkinson
What's the relationship between QT Ref movies and render files?
on Dec 12, 2009 at 5:54:15 pm

And has it changed since FCP 5?

Ok, short back story... I'm pulling my hair out trying to get QuickTime reference movies to transcode on a Final Cut Server. They get to about 75% and then fail. I'm also going nuts trying to get QT Ref's to export on FCP 6 in a reasonable amount of time.

I work at a University and most of the video we do is long format (over and hour). It's all shot on mini-dv on a Panasonic HVX200 in squeeze mode (which I believe is the same as dv-anamorphic). The extent of our editing is adding a 6 second .png title slide, a small (100px x 30 px) .png bug in the lower right and maybe animating the audio levels to tease out audience questions. I suspect it's the bug that causing a steel gray render line on the video track. It takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to render and export the QT ref (or a self-contained QT for that matter).

Here are the results of a test using FCP 5, 6 and 7. The video was about 50 minutes, mini-dv anamorphic with a 6 second png as a title and a small bug throughout. The same project file was used and just updated and re-saved for each version. The goal was to output a QT Ref. In all cases Render --> Full was not checked (as it isn't by default).

FCP 5 on a mirror front G4 with 1.5 gig of RAM - 2.5 gig file in about 35 minutes
FCP 6 on a PPC G5 with 2 gig of RAM - 9.9 gig file in about an hour
FCP 7 on an Intel Mac Book Pro with 2 gig of RAM - 9.9 gig file in about 45 minutes

So... the mirror front wins?!?!? Fastest time and smallest (relatively speaking) file. I'm guessing that the 2.5 gig was **just** the embedded render information. In no case were there any render files on the scratch drives. In the other two cases the QT Ref seems to contain the complete video file, not just the render info.

If Render --> Full **is** checked, then the rendering takes an hour but the QT Ref is small (a few hundred meg) and there **are** render files on the Scratch disc.

Can anyone tell me what changed between FCP 5 and 6 and 7? Any tips for speeding up the render process? It's killing our workflow. I did suspect that the drop shadow on the bug might be the culprit but I flattened it and made it a jpg. No difference. Render times were still an hour or more.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Allynn


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walter biscardi
Re: What's the relationship between QT Ref movies and render files?
on Dec 12, 2009 at 6:14:59 pm

If you export a QT Ref file and there are items that need rendering in the timeline, FCP will first render out everything and then start the Export process.

If you export a Self Contained Movie, it's going to export and render at the same time, so it takes a bit longer than that first item.

If you export a QT Ref file from a timeline that is fully rendered, it will export very quickly.

Keep in mind that whenever you export a reference file, you absolutely cannot change anything in the timeline or the renders that the reference file points to or it won't work any longer.

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John Pale
Re: What's the relationship between QT Ref movies and render files?
on Dec 12, 2009 at 9:34:40 pm

To underscore what Walter said...Reference Movies should only be used for short term reasons....really only if it is going to be used in another program right away...such as a quick MPEG2 encode. If its something that you might need to go back to, for additional work or revisions...its probably better to use a self contained file. A lost render file, which can happen because of the smallest change, will render the Reference file unusable.


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Stace Carter
Re: What's the relationship between QT Ref movies and render files?
on Dec 14, 2009 at 3:43:08 pm

Allyn, what are your sequence settings?

Cheers,
Stace

Apple Certified Trainer


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Allynn Wilkinson
Re: What's the relationship between QT Ref movies and render files?
on Dec 15, 2009 at 7:53:13 pm

Hi Stace,
I wanted to double check before I replied. NTSC-DV Anamorphic - the preset. When I made the original in FCP 5 I set the sequence manually. For a test in FCP 6 & 7 I let the auto-conform take over. Same result - NTSC-DV anamorphic.

What really confuses me is why the G4 mirror front made a smaller file in less time than the other two machines. Obviously, something has changed between FCP 5 and FCP 6&7


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Allynn Wilkinson
Re: What's the relationship between QT Ref movies and render files?
on Dec 15, 2009 at 7:46:13 pm

Thanks for the response, Walter.

I know that ref files need to be rendered. What I really want to know is why the ancient mirror front G4 running FCP 5 made the video smaller and faster than either of the newer machines. Something has changed in the way FCP 6 & 7 deal with rendering and ref movies. Instead of just embedding the rendered content into the ref, it now seems to make a self-contained file if there is anything that has to render. This is bad enough but Render --> Full is unchecked by default and this results in my students always making honking huge files, even when they remember to uncheck the self-contained box.

Just a massive workflow nightmare that I've only consciously noticed since we upgraded to FCP 6


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Stace Carter
Re: What's the relationship between QT Ref movies and render files?
on Dec 15, 2009 at 8:01:31 pm

Hi Allyn,

Unfortunately I don't have an answer for you but am sure the brighter minds on the forum here will. I was struck by your need to do such a large render until I re-read your post and noticed you're adding a bug throughout, which means you need to render the entire sequence. Have you considered using the Watermark feature of Compressor for this instead? I haven't had cause to use it but it may speed your workflow a bit.

Cheers,
Stace

Cheers,
Stace

Apple Certified Trainer


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Allynn Wilkinson
Re: What's the relationship between QT Ref movies and render files?
on Dec 15, 2009 at 8:25:51 pm

Yeah... darn bug on a three hour concert is **really** a killer. I'm going to look into the watermark feature but our Communications folks are really fussy about their bug (of course they also want their video delivered over night so...!)

I'm also considering "bugging" after the movie is finished using "add to selection and scale" in QT Pro. I might even be able to script that but the file would be an mov, not a m4v - probably not a big deal. The lack of fade up/fade down would be more problematic.

Oh well....


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Stace Carter
Re: What's the relationship between QT Ref movies and render files?
on Dec 15, 2009 at 8:30:05 pm

Just a bit, eh? ;-) Allyn, what's your delivery system? I wonder if there's a server-side solution for the branding.


Cheers,
Stace

Apple Certified Trainer


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Allynn Wilkinson
Re: What's the relationship between QT Ref movies and render files?
on Dec 15, 2009 at 8:36:52 pm

Well I had thought about setting up a bug in a Flash player but then I realized we are heavily committed to iTunes U and, anyway, I hate Flash video! Especially long format pieces. Whatever we do should, ideally, be H.264, m4v for iTunes though I suppose the mov extension would be ok.

Mostly, I have to make sure an ever changing group of student workers can make a consistent product and justify all the money we just spent on the Final Cut Server (which is what started this problem in the first place!


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