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FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?

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Chris Annese
FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 25, 2013 at 9:16:39 pm

I recently finished an edit in FCP7 using ProRes 422 on my timeline for quicker edits. I exported as 422 but file size is to large, imported the file into compressor to convert it to h.264 6.75 mbps and the estimated finishing time is longer than 1 day. What am I doing wrong? Is there another way to do this? The project is a about 48 mins and is 11.8 GB before putting it into Compressor. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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David Eaks
Re: FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 26, 2013 at 12:54:29 am

It's just really, really slowwww. What is the Mac are you using?

Matrox MAX accelerates H.264 encoding on its own hardware, to just under real time. The file your working on now would take about 50 minutes (a couple minutes added for the audio encode) You'll need a Mac with either an available PCIe slot, an expresscard34 slot or thunderbolt. And at least $500 if you're on a Mac Pro, or $1000 if you're on an iMac/MacBook Pro.


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Chris Annese
Re: FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 26, 2013 at 8:14:03 am

Hi David,


Thanks for the response! I am Currently using a Macbook Pro 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 4 GB RAM DDR3.







-Chris


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Rafael Amador
Re: FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 26, 2013 at 12:17:24 pm

Are you making Multipass and "Frame Control ON" with Best settings?
If you are doing a plain transcoding (no resizing, fields managing, time-base changes),
try directly with QT.
No advantage with Compressor.
rafael


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Chris Annese
Re: FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 26, 2013 at 7:37:20 pm

Yes multipass, fram control and best settings is what I was exporting it as. I orginally exported out of FCP just as a regular QT movie with current settings. It exported very quickly and was fine until I previewed the clip and none of the transistions were working. I figured it was because it was in prores 422 format which from what I read was not a reccommended format for playback. I then used the QT conversion to h.264 out of FCP although it took about 10 hours it finally worked and the playback is flawless. Where my problem is occuring now is that I am trying to make it playable on a dvd player at 1080 quality and have failed twice and being able to do this. I tried burning it regualarly by right clicking and using the internal burner, but obciously that did not work. Should I use compressor or dvd studio pro? Also what is the best format for the output?


-Chris


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David Eaks
Re: FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:40:19 pm

Whoa whoa whoa, lets back up. You can't make a DVD with 1920x1080 video for playback in DVD players. There is a way to put HD content on a DVD but it only plays In Blu-ray players and you only get like 20 minutes or something... I've never bothered to try. That's what Blu-ray is for. Oh, and there is also the dead format called "HD-DVD". It lost the battle against Blu-ray Disc. DO NOT use the HD-DVD setting in DVD Studio Pro.

There is no reason for you to be creating H.264 in the workflow from HD in FCP7s timeline to burning a DVD. H.264 is great though, for Blu-ray, iOS/mobile devices, YouTube/web etc.

Editing with all Prores files and exporting Prores self-contained current settings should be an absolutely pristine version of your edit. No "not working" transitions or anything odd. Are you sure you don't have any other codecs in the timeline? Namely H.264? FCP7 does not work well with h.264 and doing so anyway will cause unpredictable behavior.

Do it like Larry Jordan says, here-
http://www.larryjordan.biz/convert-high-definition-to-standard-definition-v...

Article's method in a nutshell-

1) Export self-contained with current settings from FCP (not "send to" or QT Conversion)

2) Import to Compressor, apply the Apple ProRes 422 codec to the HD source. Select the setting.

3) In the Inspector, (if you need the best quality and are prepared to wait for it, click the frame controls tab, enable by clicking the gear icon and choosing on, set resize to best (and deinterlace to best if necessary) adaptive details on). Click the Geometry tab (To convert a 16:9 HD master file to NTSC 16:9)-

Set Crop to Custom and make sure all numeric entries are 0
Set Frame Size to 720 x 480
Set Pixel Aspect to NTSC CCIR 601/DV (16:9)

4) Submit. This will make an SD Prores file which, while much smaller than HD Prores, is still much too large for DVD.

Then-

5) Import the SD Prores to Compressor and apply the Apple DVD Best settings. Set "job action" to burn a DVD automatically when the encode is finished or take the resulting files into DVDSP for authoring.

6) Let me know how it turns out

11) Get a Blu-ray burner, I've got a couple of these but I thought they were closer to $120 when I got them-
http://www.amazon.com/LG-BE12LU38-Lightscribe-External-Rewriter/dp/B005GU0B...



I think I got that all written right...


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Rafael Amador
Re: FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 27, 2013 at 5:55:36 am

Import your Prores master to Compressor, and apply the "Best Quality DVD-90 minutes" preset.
Set the Control Frame ON, to get a better downscaling (resizing Filter BEST).
You will get a 16x9 picture DVD.
rafael

[David Eaks] "
Do it like Larry Jordan says, here-
http://www.larryjordan.biz/convert-high-definition-to-standard-definition-v....."

David, sorry but i see all that unnecessary.
He has already a Prores movie, and he doesn't say he wants a 4/3 DVD.

In the other hand, Larry's Jordan workflows, many times are far from being recommendable.
The linked tutorial is about HD>SD conversion and he do not even mention Compressor's "Frame Control".
When he talks about "Changing Frame Rate", he is doing so in the QT window.
A cheap, bad workflow.
He should review many of his papers.
rafael


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David Eaks
Re: FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 27, 2013 at 8:29:39 am

Rafael, interesting comments about Larry's workflows. I don't doubt your expertice and your posts have been very helpful to me and countless others over the years. I am constantly trying to improve my workflow and quality, striving to learn something new everyday. So your comments and corrections are always welcome.

I really should have better indicated that the "article In a nutshell" steps that I wrote were not Larry's instructions verbatim, but my own words. I need a balance of fast turn around and quality, also the move away from DVD is in full swing for the majority of my work.

I'm aware that Chris already has an HD Prores movie exported, and of course he can use it for whichever method he chooses to use. I dont think I mentioned frame rate conversion, I'm not really experienced with the process.

What I posted will make a 16:9 Anamorphic DVD, not a 4:3 letterbox DVD. I found that the method Larry outlines for taking HD Prores video and running it through Compressor to make a 16:9 SD Prores file does an excellent job downscaling. Then, in my own experience, using that 16:9 SD Prores file to burn the DVD just as you said with Apple DVD Best setting ends with better a quality DVD than just putting the HD Prores into Compressor and applying Apple DVD Best.

But, my current workflow for burning DVD from 1920x1080 video is to: Edit in HD on FCPX> change sequence settings to NTSC SD 720x480 Animorphic> export (resulting in an SD Prores file)> Submit Compressor Apple DVD Best. One major consideration in my tests, is how the DVD looks when played back in a Blu-ray player upscaled on an HD TV, not only how it looks when played in a DVD player on a CRT. This is because many of the DVDs I deliver are to people who have an HD TV and "will get a Blu-ray Player soon" but want a DVD now. GRRRrrrr I just want to make sure it will look good in the future too.


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Rafael Amador
Re: FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 27, 2013 at 1:53:15 pm

Hi david,
Sorry but I wrote my post a bit too fast (as so many times :-)
I didn't want to criticize Mr Jordan, but the fact is that many of his tutorials are old and haven't been properly updated.
In fact i've post him a couple of times about things that could been improved and he has shown very receptive.
But it really amaze me that he do not mention the "Frame Control.
Aside few other things, that's what makes the application different than QTP.

[David Eaks] "What I posted will make a 16:9 Anamorphic DVD, not a 4:3 letterbox "
Sorry I got mixed up because you wrote about the "Geometry" tab, and I don't see the need to touch that when the out put is supposed to have the same aspect ratio than the source.
Cheers,
rafael


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David Eaks
Re: FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 27, 2013 at 6:20:11 pm

Thanks for the reply Rafael, have you actually tried the method outlined in Larry's article? For reference, it is not a very old article, posted in April I think.

I'd be interested in your opinion, with real world testing, on the quality of the HD to SD downscale then burning with Apple DVD Best.


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Rafael Amador
Re: FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 28, 2013 at 2:52:40 pm

[David Eaks] " have you actually tried the method outlined in Larry's article?"

David, that's a very poor workflow and I would recommend it only for plain 8b stuff transcoding.
Compressor with the "Frame Control OFF" is like using QT Conversion. Its only adds the Geometry Tab options, the bunch of Presets and the MPEG-2 codec.
The Frame Control ON allows "Floating Point" processing, and the use of the high quality filters for resizing, fields managing and retiming. Frame Control OF means that any 10b stuff will be crunched to 8b because everything is processed at that bit depth.
I'm lucky because I've never been constrained for the need of fast turn over. But I think that even needing to finish thing fast, there are certain processes where you have to forget about the time and allow the one that allows the best quality option, even if takes longer.
One of the most critical processes in postproduction is resizing, because a poor resizing will degrade the picture. So, for me doesn't makes much sense to try to save a bit of time on a process that may ruin a job that may have taken days or weeks or even months.
The same happens with de-interlacing; a process where the quality will depends on the filter you use.

Few years ago I've spent time making some serious tests on downscaling. I tried all tools I had at hand: FC, Compressor, Motion, AE, VideoPurifier and SHAKE.
Since then, I only use SHAKE for downscaling. It has 10 different filters for up/downscaling, and the one I use (Sinc) allows to keep a small web video as crisp as the original HD source.
The process its doesn't take longer than with Compressor.
rafael


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David Eaks
Re: FCP7 Converting ProRes 422 to h.264 using compressor....Why is it taking so long?
on Jun 29, 2013 at 12:30:56 am

Thank you for taking the time Rafael, I appreciate your detailed reply. This is the type of technical info I was hoping for when I commented on Larry's article, but I didn't get it.

For reference, my advice was: Larry's method BUT with Frame Controls (FC) on for producing the "best" quality (not necessarily meaning best possible in the world). I still argue that using Compressor to downscale HD Prores to SD Prores (with Frame Controls either on or off) produces a very nice downscale.

I just did a test encode with a custom preset which I made in Compressor when Larry released the article I linked. It follows his method precisely. I applied the setting to a Job with a random short clip of 1920x1080i Prores twice. One of them I left as is, the other I turned on FC resize/deinterlace set to better, not best. Submitted the Batch resulting in two versions of the same video.

With FC off, the encode took about 4 minutes

With FC on, it took about 40 minutes

Both look nearly identical when played side by side.


I also did a test with the same 1920x1080 clip in FCPX with the sequence settings changed to NTSC SD 720x480 Anamorphic. Then exported SD Prores Master File. It exported in 1:15.

Here is a comparison video, Youtube butchers the quality so I also included a screenshot of the QT 7 Player window at actual size. It shows what Larry's "FC OFF" method looks like to me, here on my Mac.











With all technicalities, math and science aside, I must say that Larry's method produces a very good resize to SD, when judged by looking at the results with my eyes. I think this SD Prores gives a great starting point for Compressor to compress and burn with Apple DVD Best Settings.

I DO NOT argue that this is higher quality than your suggestions. I DO argue that the statement "that's a very poor workflow" gives the impression that the Larry's method will produce a low quality, ugly to the eye video. It does not.


No matter what, I'm having fun with this and look forward to more.


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