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Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?

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Niko Kuehnel
Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 11, 2010 at 11:57:44 pm

hi there,

i'm currently working on a film i'm shooting with my canon 7d. i'm editing in fcp, so far i've only been dragging the native files into fcp and editing with them. for a rough cut this has been working fine. but now i'm getting to the point where the slight jitter during playback, especially on quick cuts, is a problem.

i've found out all about converting my material to apple pro res before i start editing. unfortunately i found out only now. so since i've already done the rough cut of almost every scene of a 90 minute film in native h.264, i was wondering if anyone knows of a way to change only the material in my timeline to a codec that fcp is more happy with any will playback smoothly. converting all the material i have is out of the question anyway, it's about 500gb.

also i was wondering if converting the files to an apple pro res codec will do anything to the picture quality of my footage, compared to the native h.264 files i just pull from my cf card. trying really hard to get the highest quality look here, so converting is always something i feel a bit dubious about.

help would be much appreciated.


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Shane Ross
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 12:42:02 am

Converting H.264 to ProRes causes VERY LITTLE loss in quality. Nothing you'd be able to see. Don't be dubious, it is what professionals do...convert to ProRes or to DNxHD (on the Avid side). Because H.264 is not an editing codec. And now you see why.


[Niko Kuehnel] " i was wondering if anyone knows of a way to change only the material in my timeline to a codec that fcp is more happy with any will playback smoothly."

Yes...use the MEDIA MANAGER and the RECOMPRESS option. Choose ProRes 422 (NOT HQ! too much for this format) as the codec. This will recompress the footage used in the sequence ONLY. Now, if you want ONLY the small bits used in the sequence, and not the FULL CLIPS that you used part of, then choose DELETE UNUSED, and give yourself 2 second handles. Now, that means that ONLY the footage already used in the cut will be converted. Want to add more footage to the cut? Gotta convert it first.

[Niko Kuehnel] "converting all the material i have is out of the question anyway, it's about 500gb."

DOn't see why...it is what you SHOULD do. But it will balloon to about 1.5TB or more. So yes, you need bigger drives. If you want to go about things the right way, you need to bite the bullet and get the stuff you need to do it right.

And I HOPE you backed up all those CF cards FULLY. Those are your archives.

Want to know the proper workflow for this? Watch this tutorial: Tapeless Workflow for FCP 7 Tutorial

Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 3:39:28 am

To expand on Shane's comments:

Do you remember videotape? Would you have bulk erased the tapes from your camera after you had captured the video in your system?

No? Why?

Because you wanted some sort of backup in case everything went wrong.

Then why would transfer the video on your card to FCP without doing exactly as Shane recommends? Do you now have some magic way to reconstruct the video in case everything goes wrong?

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Phil Balsdon
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 7:50:34 am

Ha!
Coincidently I'm right now putting a project back together where something did go wrong, lost the drive with the ProRes conversions on it.

Fortunately I have two duplicated copies of the original cards on seperate drives, created as New Images dmg. files from the original CF cards using Disk Utility.

The original Log and Transfer into FCP was done using the Canon Movie Plugin so time of day data is translated into time code which has helped a lot. Whilst its a bit of pain everything is falling back into place quite easily.

Take Shane's words seriously, watch his workflow tutorial, watch all his tutorials and absorb the information he's an expert with a lot of experience.

By the way you'd probably be working much more efficiently if you'd converted the H264 to ProRes before you started.

Shane you are remarkably patient with your time and replies, I can't believe how often this is coming up.

Wonder if people buy cars and after they crash them read the manual (or then go for a driving lesson).

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.
http://www.steadi-onfilms.com.au/


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Niko Kuehnel
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 9:36:11 am

hey guys, thanks for all the help,

i have already realized that there would have been a better way to do what i did, but when i saw i could just import the files i shot into fcp i was quite excited to have no kind of capturing time. also i'm doing the rough cut on a 3-year-old macbook and originally figured it's probably too slow to handle all this hd-material anyway. so i was quite happy when i ended up with only a little jittering. like i said, it's really not bad at all for only a rough cut.

but i'm really glad to hear there's a way to transcode from the timeline, so thanks a lot for that.

by the way, of course i made back-ups of my material. i got all my movie files on three different drives, but obviously they're all in the h.264 codec, not the pro res. so don't worry too much. i might not have read all the way through the manual, but at least i got my driver's license before i got behind the wheel.

one last thing i was wondering about though, shane, what did you mean that the HQ pro res codec is too much for this format? so with the smaller pro res codecs there also won't be much loss in quality?

and yes, i will have a good look at those tutorials. it's just not always easy to know what problems will come up before you meet them.

thank you guys a lot.

niko


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Shane Ross
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 3:19:23 pm

[Niko Kuehnel] "one last thing i was wondering about though, shane, what did you mean that the HQ pro res codec is too much for this format?"

DSLRs shoot an 8-bit format. ProRes HQ is for really high end 10-bit formats like RED, or AVCIntra...meant for much higher bit rates. ProRes 422 is perfect for 8-bit formats. There is ZERO quality gain between ProRes and ProRes HQ in your situation...even when you color correct. All you do is increase the file size.

My favorite analogy is this. YOu have a can of beer. If you pour that can of beer into a KEG, you still only have a can of beer, but it takes up a LOT more space in the refrigerator.

[Niko Kuehnel] "so with the smaller pro res codecs there also won't be much loss in quality?"

Only if you go to ProRes proxy. ProRes 422 is the standard high quality codec...there is no loss in quality. And if you intend to make a DVD or go to the web, ProRes LT is recommended.

Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Dennis Radeke
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 3:33:04 pm

[Shane Ross] "Because H.264 is not an editing codec. And now you see why."

<iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/16723448" width="400" height="225" frameborder="0"></iframe><p><a href="http://vimeo.com/16723448">CS5: Cutting off the Card</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/clintmilby">Clint Milby</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>


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Shane Ross
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 3:52:56 pm

Dennis, we aren't talking about CS5. And that does it because of the Mercury Engine, which is cool. But we are talking about FCP

Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Rafael Amador
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 4:09:00 pm

[Shane Ross] " And that does it because of the Mercury Engine, which is cool."
Up to the next doc, the famous "mercury Engine" doesn't work with QT files:

"QuickTime isn’t 64 bit.......Adobe seems to have worked around the problem by spinning off a 32 bit thread for QuickTime support so you lose that Mercury Engine goodness".

http://www.philiphodgetts.com/2010/09/what-should-apple-do-with-final-cut-p...

rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Dennis Radeke
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 13, 2010 at 2:17:59 am

[Rafael Amador] ""QuickTime isn’t 64 bit.......Adobe seems to have worked around the problem by spinning off a 32 bit thread for QuickTime support so you lose that Mercury Engine goodness"."

Well, I took this and forwarded it to one of the GPU engineers at Adobe to actually get the scoop on this. I've read Philip's entries with a lot of interest and he seems like a terrific person.

Nevertheless, Philip's statement is his thoughts or supposition and not necessarily what is going on. Below is essentially a cut and paste from the email response I received from one of the GPU engineers actually writing the code on Premiere Pro's Mercury Engine (the GPU part anyway)...

"It is true that the QuickTime libraries provided by Apple are not 64-bit and we spin off a 32-bit helper process to talk to QuickTime. The slowest piece of this is QuickTime itself and it simply cannot deliver frames fast enough for many formats.

To work around this we have written our own QuickTime parsing library and where possible handle the QuickTime files with our native codecs as we would for other file types. We have made this work for what we have judged to be the most important QuickTime files, as an example this is how we achieve good performance for Canon 5D footage, which are QuickTime files. There are some limitations to this, if we do not have native support for the codec (such as ProRes) we cannot use this native path and have to talk to the out of process 32-bit QuickTime server.

Beyond that the Mercury Playback Engine still can provide plenty of other benefits when using QuickTime files. Despite the QuickTime process being 32-bit, we immediately bring all frames into the main 64-bit process so we can continue taking full advantage of a 64-bit address space. While QuickTime is single threaded, once the frames are brought into the main process we will render and apply effects on multiple threads taking full advantage of all cores using technologies like Apple's Grand Central Dispatch. Also if a CUDA card is present all supported rendering and effects will be moved to the GPU. This can lessen the CPU load allowing more time for decoding. Even if the performance of the QuickTime files in this setup isn't great, having a CUDA card will allow adding many effects essentially for free."


I'll use this as an opportunity to mention again that MPE is in fact 3 distinct features and not just GPU: 64-bit native code, 64-bit memory addressing and the GPU goodness. Everyone is getting two of the three when using CS5.

Again, to reiterate – this is meant to give clarification around Premiere Pro, Quicktime and GPU interaction


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Rafael Amador
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 13, 2010 at 11:05:06 am

Hi dennis,
Thanks for this info.
Many of those topics are mostly related with programming and some times I get lost.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Dennis Radeke
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 4:09:06 pm

With apologies - I posted when I meant to 'preview'

My point was only to counter that you CAN edit H.264 and that the video I posted happens to be timely in the context of this statement.

I would say in a general sense that any temporally based codec does present more challenges for editing in general. 10 years ago, we didn't think we could edit MPEG-2 effectively. Even 5 years later, editing MPEG-2 was a non-issue. H.264 is just more of the same. An issue now, but less so as time goes on.

Let me also thank you for your patient replies on the forums for years. I've monitored this forum for at least a year and I'm amazed at your even handed replies.

Cheers, Dennis


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Shane Ross
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 4:22:23 pm

[Dennis Radeke] "My point was only to counter that you CAN edit H.264 and that the video I posted happens to be timely in the context of this statement."

True...and it is a good point to make. SOME NLE's can edit H.264 natively. But it is a troublesome codec.

[Dennis Radeke] "Even 5 years later, editing MPEG-2 was a non-issue."

No, Editing MPEG-2 is an issue. Yes, you can do so natively, but it isn't without pitfalls....pitfalls you don't have with regular I-Frame codecs. Like don't add a ton of graphics, don't mix with other codecs on an MPEG-2 timeline...stuff like that. Convert away from MPEG-2 if you can.

Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Michael Gissing
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 9:55:51 pm

Just curious Dennis. In the past, did FCP fanboys hang around the Premiere Pro forum and snipe from the sidelines? I am wondering if your constant reminders of just how great CS5 has become, are payback for someone's previous indiscretions on y8ou8r favoured boards?

Yes I am impressed with CS5 and am seriously considering it. And hasn't AVID stepped up to the plate again. All very interesting but in posts where people are asking for advice on the best way to achieve a result in the editing ap they currently use, it is becoming a bit tired to hear you blowing the CS5 bugle.


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Dennis Radeke
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 13, 2010 at 2:23:34 am

[Michael Gissing] "Just curious Dennis. In the past, did FCP fanboys hang around the Premiere Pro forum and snipe from the sidelines? I am wondering if your constant reminders of just how great CS5 has become, are payback for someone's previous indiscretions on y8ou8r favoured boards?"

Definitely not Michael and I try to go out of my way to be as straightforward and honest as I can be. My goal is to be a part of the community and address questions that may come up with Adobe - whether with FCP or by itself. Am I passionate about my products - only as much as many are with other creative products such as FCP - in short - most definitely.

My honest apologies to you and any who feel I am 'sniping'


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Michael Gissing
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 13, 2010 at 5:43:46 am

[Dennis Radeke] " My goal is to be a part of the community and address questions that may come up with Adobe - whether with FCP or by itself."

Not only did this post make no mention of Adobe until you posted, Shane also pointed out that the post was about what was best to do with FCP, which the OP specifically asked about.

I don't want you to apologize and think it OK to keep doing the CS5 sales routine from within this forum. By all means sing the praises on the appropriate forum. I am more than happy to read what you contribute to the debate in the appropriate place. I just don't think it appropriate to bloat threads here with posts about CS5 when posters are not specifically asking about comparative features. I can't spruik my commercial services on this forum so what gives you the right to?


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Paul Jay
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:14:05 pm

Composting/Editing with H264 will give you loads of crap sooner or later.
I've seen H264 performance in CS5 and it's pretty good, but you can do so much more with i-frame codecs. Even in Premiere.
I-frame codecs are far more reliable and give faster rendering in a production pipeline.


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George Monteiro
Re: Canon 7D in FCP - Codec transcoding?
on Nov 23, 2010 at 11:49:21 pm

You Seem to be very knowledgeable on FCP. I have a similar issue, several hours of 5D & 7D raw footage for a single 30 second spot. Rather than transcode all that raw footage, what happens if if I do a rough cut on H.264 timeline and drag the clips or the entire timeline into a Prores timeline and render it out will the transcoding done in the renderer be as good as if I went back and transcoded the raw files first?

Secondly the H.264 timeline plays back fine on my computer screen but chokes going through my BlackMagic Multibridge Pro box. Is that because it can't process the H.264 output of the timeline in real time?

Thanks


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