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H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP

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Cory Rose
H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 20, 2010 at 8:49:37 pm

Hi all, I need urgent help. I use FCP 5.0.4. I have footage I imported in FCP. The clips are all in H.264 format, 1080i, 30 fps, square pixels. I have created a sequence with the same exact settings and when I drag the clips to the Timeline it seems fine. No render bars. But I can't play back the clips in FCP in real time. Lots of lagging occur. Although I can play back the clips in Quicktime in real time. I need to output the sequence as H.264 when I'm done. Is there a way I can edit and play back the clips in real time and then output them with the source quality? Thank you for your help guys!


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Michael Sacci
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 20, 2010 at 9:24:09 pm

[Cory Rose] "Hi all, I need urgent help."
Why not search H264 in this forum, it is all over the place.

Short answer, you cannot edit H264 clips on use that as a sequence setting.


- Our software is idiot-proof, if you bought it it proves you are an idiot. - Dilbert


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Alan Okey
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 20, 2010 at 9:32:44 pm

[Michael Sacci] "Why not search H264 in this forum, it is all over the place.

Short answer, you cannot edit H264 clips on use that as a sequence setting.
"


Don't waste your breath, it's a losing battle. This comes up almost every day on the Cow and it's not going to go away. It's like trying to stop a tsunami with an eyedropper.

Despite all of the technical reasons why trying to edit h.264 is a spectacularly bad idea, I fear that the vast wave of consumer gear that uses this as its default recording format is going to force the issue and make FCP support it as an editing codec in some form. I don't agree with it, but the sheer number of posts regarding this indicates that most people A) don't understand, B) don't care to understand, and C) don't want to hear why it can't be done. In their view, FCP is old and inflexible because it can't work with the footage they shoot.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few years.



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David Roth Weiss
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 20, 2010 at 9:28:02 pm

Read this thread: http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/8/1079373

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 20, 2010 at 9:59:03 pm

H.264 is like a PDF, meant to delivery, but not to edit.

I wonder if there is a MS Word forum somewhere that is bloated with questions like "Why can't I move paragraphs. or bold fonts on this PDF a client sent me?"

Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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Cory Rose
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 20, 2010 at 10:03:29 pm

Thank you for the advice David. I think I will use MPEG Streamclip to export all the 62 video clips I have as AIC encoded clips and import them into FCP. I will make an AIC sequence and drag the clips there and edit. After I'm done with the edit, I'm thinking of creating an H264 sequence and pasting everything on there and I'll reconnect each video clips to the source H264 clips and render everything. Then I hope to export the sequence as H264. Do you think that would be a good way?


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Richard Cooper
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 20, 2010 at 11:01:32 pm

After I'm done with the edit, I'm thinking of creating an H264 sequence and pasting everything on there and I'll reconnect each video clips to the source H264 clips and render everything. Then I hope to export the sequence as H264.

No... This is not possible, as FCP does NOT have the option to create an H.264 "sequence". As has been said, this is a "DELIVERY" format, something to encode "to", not an "EDITING" format, something to "edit".

Just try this....Once you have all your clips transcoded to AIC, edit on your AIC timeline and from there just export to whichever "delivery" format that you wish... From the timeline as any number of Quicktime flavors (Including H.264) or through compressor for any number of wonderful delivery formats.

Hope this helps.

Richard Cooper
FrostLine Productions, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska
http://www.frostlineproductions.com


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Cory Rose
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 20, 2010 at 11:12:11 pm

Thanks Richard, that was helpful. So if I export the AIC sequence using conversion (converting to H264), will I be losing quality? The output should be broadcast quality HD. I'm sorry I'm confused a little about H264. It's my first job for editing HD.


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Richard Cooper
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 21, 2010 at 12:34:58 am

For \"broadcast quality\" I would find out the delivery specs of the broadcaster and deliver that particular format which they will reqire. H.264 is a nice codec for web delivery but in general terms if you can export to Prores or ProresHQ for broadcast it will be better. I dont remember if FCP 5.x has that capability. If h. 264 is what you really want just be sure to let it decide on the data rate and don\'t limit it in the settings. A max data rate h.264 will look really good.

Richard Cooper
FrostLine Productions, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska
http://www.frostlineproductions.com


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Cory Rose
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 21, 2010 at 12:51:08 am

Richard, I don't know what the delivery specs are. I don't think my employer has any idea either. I know it's strange. But anyway, you are right I don't have ProRes on my FCP 5.x. Since the source files were handed to me as H264 files, I'll just output it as H264. It's not for web but for TV mainly. When the editing is finished, I will open a new sequence and in Sequence Settings, I will choose either H264 or "None" for the compressor. I'm not sure which one. Then, I will paste the AIC sequence into the new timeline and reconnect all the clips to the original source files and export it without using "using QT conversion". I think it should give me the best available result. Thank you so much for your time.


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Cory Rose
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 21, 2010 at 1:09:15 am

I can see the problem now. I tried to put a dissolve between 2 H264 clips and I wasn't able to render or export it. I've been exporting the H264 clips as AIC files using MPEG Streamclip but I've been using %1 quality to save time. I thought I could eventually replace the low quality AIC clips with the original H264 files later but I won't be able to do it since FCP doesn't allow me to put dissolves etc. As I understand, AIC is a lossy codec. I will start exporting the clips all over again with MPEG Streamclip but this time I'll use full quality. Would AIC be appropriate for broadcasting on TV? Are there any lossless codecs I can use in MPEG Streamclip to convert the source files and use them to edit in FCP? Thank you.


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Rafael Amador
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 21, 2010 at 2:44:15 am


Going from H264 to AIC is a crime.
If you intend make a professional job, go to 8b Uncompress, PhotoJPEG or, at least, DVCPro
Forget about trying to re-connect the h264 or something like that.
Convert, edit and export a decent HD master.

[Richard Cooper] "No... This is not possible, as FCP does NOT have the option to create an H.264 "sequence
"

No really.
You can build a sequence with whatever codec available in QT Pro.

Rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Cory Rose
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 21, 2010 at 4:16:05 am

Hi Rafael, thank you for the response. Unfortunately MPEG Streamclip doesn't have the Uncompressed 8-bit option. Although it has Apple Photo-JPEG and Apple DVCPro50-NTSC. If I use them, would I encounter any artifacts? I need a clean HD output. Using FCP, I exported one of those H264 clips using QT conversion as Uncompressed 8-bit. The clip was four and a half minutes long and it took almost an hour to export and the output file size was almost 30 gigs bigger. Like 1 GB/sec. I have footage of 90 minutes I need to convert. Should I just go ahead and export all of them as Uncompressed 8-bit? Is there anything else I could do?


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Rafael Amador
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 21, 2010 at 6:39:03 am

Hi Core,
You are doing a simple transcoding (no resizing, time-base or field order change) that, whatever the application you use, will be held by QT.
Do it in FC or QT.
If you can manage with 8b Unc, that's your best quality option.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Joel Godin
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 21, 2010 at 4:02:38 am

This explains a lot.
Here's how I've been doing it, and getting away with it (or "How Not to Do it")

Canon 7D, import files with Lexar 800 fire wire CF reader onto Media disk,
Import files into FCP7 browser,
Mark and drop in Sequence,
Find out transitions don't work so do Opacity Ramps manually,
Kind of choppy, but Rendering out seems to work except to Quicktime (there you get some
weird green blanks once in awhile, but using Quicktime conversion h.264 seems to work.
Scratch head and say, "well, I guess they don't have all the bugs worked out of the FCP yet"
and go shoot some more great HD footage.


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Cory Rose
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 21, 2010 at 5:11:25 am

Hi Joel, I'm not sure if I understand correctly. I have a FCP 5.0.4. Do you suggest importing the source H264 files into FCP and then export them again using QT conversion as H264? I don't think I would be able to import them once again and cut them in real time. Or did you mean export them as H264 in the very end as the output? If I convert my source H264 files with the Animation codec, would I be able to edit those clips in real time? I'm guessing that if I export the H264 files as Animation, there would be a generation loss, am I wrong?


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Joel Godin
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 21, 2010 at 12:44:46 pm

Sorry, I didn't mean to confuse. I was explaining how I do it and it works
badly, hence the subtitle "How not to do it".

H.264 is compressed and can't be used in the FC because FC has to uncompress on
playback in the timeline and it will not be able to keep up, and will give you choppy playback (plus other technical reasons).
H.264 has to be converted (or uncompressed) before bringing into FC as an asset.
Here's an excellent tutorial from Chris Fenwick (bookmark his website, lots of great stuff):
http://chrisfenwick.com/home/2010/2/25/tutorial-converting-5d-and-7d-movies...

This is for those that have a Final Cut version less than 6.06 and not an intel machine with OSX 10.6.2 or later.
Those with FC 6.06 (or later) and an intel Mac with OSX 10.6.2 (or later)
can now use the Canon 7D Final Cut Pro plugin on Canon's site here:
http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&tabact=Downlo...


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Cory Rose
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 21, 2010 at 9:48:13 pm

Hi Joel, thanks for your input and the links. I have Intel Mac OSX 10.6.2 SL and FCP 5.0.4. I can't use Compressor. So in FCP I've tried exporting one of those 1920 x 1080 30fps interlaced H264 files to HDV 1080i60. It's still HD and the file size is small. Although the aspect ratio of the HDV file is 1440 x 1020. Could I change it back to 1920 x 1080 in the end? Also would the progressive frame rate screw up my original interlaced H264 videos? The HDV output file looks and plays back fine in FCP, although I can't open it in QT. Should I just edit in a HDV timeline and with only HDV clips? Would the process be lossless? When the editing is finished, I can export it as H264 or something else for HD delivery, right? Sorry guys for all these newbie questions, I just need to start editing right away.


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Cory Rose
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on Mar 25, 2010 at 1:08:23 am

I guess there's no answer


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Warren Elliott
Re: H.264 editing/converting problem in FCP
on May 3, 2010 at 7:34:12 am

You will be right in that statement, I have tried every trick in the book with FCP to do as you seek to no avail. So guess I will be searching as well. Good luck.

Best of Health
Warrenjelliott


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