BACKGROUND: I'm making a documentary, shooting with a JVC HM750, several hours of footage a day shooting verite style. This creates XDCam EX files in a .mov wrapper. On location, it's very convenient at the end of the day to take the camera's SDHC cards, slip them into my MacBook Pro's slot, and copy them to a small G Raid harddrive (and then to a second one for backup). These play fine when just viewing them in FCP 7 on the laptop or doing very simple editing.
PROBLEM: After several weeks shooting, I go back home to edit on my Mac Pro (2 x 3 GHz Quad Core with 8 GB RAM, OS X 10.6.8), I copy the files to a larger eSata G Raid and begin editing. Simple editing works fine, but as soon as I start really moving things around inevitably FCP slows down and the clips only play in slow motion, or FCP crashes when playing a long timeline, or other strangeness. I save the program, quit FCP, then reopen the project. Everything now works fine for a while, until it happens all over again.
QUESTION: My assumption at this point is that this has to do with the GOP structure of the files, and that I would be better off transcoding the files to Pro Res 422. The question is, exactly how would I best do this?
At this point I have already assembled one hour of footage from the first shoot's 42 hours, and doubt I would use very much if any of the footage not in the assembly. Would it make sense to use Media Manager to do a Recompress to a new harddrive in order to transcode just the assembled footage to Pro Res (maybe with handles)? I assume I will be needing to get a larger and faster harddrive (G Speed eS ?)
Going forward, I have two more shoots for this project, each with about the same amount of footage. My thought would be to copy the footage as native HDCAM EX files as I have in the past on location (I need to travel light and don't want to carry a large harddrive), but then when I get home to transcode all the files to ProRes 422 and bring these into a ProRes Easy Setup project. Does this make sense? And if so, would using Compressor be the best way to do this? Any special advice or suggestions about using Compressor?
Forest Knolls, CA
Thanks for the response, Shane. I had initially done just that, creating a Pro Res sequence and just pasting in the footage. The problem is, if I then decide to change one of those clips, say shorten it and then change my mind and lengthen it back, I then need to rerender all the part that I bring back - quite a drag at the begging of a long editing process. I think I'm better off doing a regular transcode to Pro Res. But thanks for the suggestion.
Or, if you do want to transcode to ProRes, use the ProRes preset in Compressor that you'll find in Other Workflows>>Advanced Format Conversions, and create a "droplet" which will allow you to drop and batch as many files as you want overnight.
Be sure to run a few tests on a few single small files to make sure you're doing things properly and sending the files to a folder that you designate. Reading the Compressor manual on the subject can't hurt either...
Thanks for the response, David. Where is "Other Workflows" ? - I can't seem to find it anywhere (Compressor 3.5.3). I tend to think the easiest thing for me to do is simply select all my EX files and then do a batch Recompress in Compressor (after testing first as you suggest). Someone recommended that before I do this, I should go into the files in the FCP browser and create a reel name for each of the clips (perhaps based on original cards, or maybe dates).