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Managing large ProRes 422 files

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David Zentz
Managing large ProRes 422 files
on Nov 30, 2010 at 6:34:22 am

I am new to Final Cut Pro and am having a problem dealing with file sizes after converting my raw footage from a 5D MK II to Apple ProRes 422 using MPEG Streamclip. I read that it's best to render your raw footage before editing, but my project is large and I'm afraid of running out of space. I have 128 gigs of raw footage. If I render all of it to ProRes, the footage will likely go over the 500gig limit of my external hard drive. Can someone suggest a more efficient workflow that doesn't take so much space?

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walter biscardi
Re: Managing large ProRes 422 files
on Nov 30, 2010 at 10:03:27 am

128GB is actually a very small project quite honestly. 1TB drives are $89 at Fry's Electronics and 2TB are $129 these days so my first suggestion would be to get a larger hard drive. We run the WiebeTech RTX series of hard drive enclosures here that allow us to simply purchase bare hard drives and slap them into the box for archiving and remote editing.

Short of that, pull selects from your original media, don't convert everything. ProRes is a very small file size compared to uncompressed HD media which would require you to get many more hard drives.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
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Shane Ross
Re: Managing large ProRes 422 files
on Nov 30, 2010 at 3:28:30 pm

Acquisition codecs like H.264 and AVCHD are highly compressed...and their form of compression, to take up such little space, makes the format very difficult to edit. Therefore you need to convert it to an editing format...editing codec. Unfortunately this conversion takes up a lot more space, but it allows for smooth and relatively pain free editing.

You can convert to ProRes LT...that will save a little space. But yes, 1TB hard drives in suitable enclosures are under $ getting more space shouldn't cost and arm and a leg.


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David Zentz
Re: Managing large ProRes 422 files
on Nov 30, 2010 at 7:40:28 pm

Thanks for the replies. I understand that space is cheap, but I was wondering if there's still a more efficient way of editing. Do people usually convert all of the raw footage or just portions they intend to use? If just what they intend to use, is there a best way of doing that?
What if I shot 500 gigs of raw and had to convert. Even a 1 or 2 TB drive would fill up. Do people just keep filling up hard drives or is there a way to work with smaller files and only convert the final footage for color correction and effects?
Then, do you end up keeping the intermediary codec when the project is finished? It just seems like a lot of storage space is required for each video.

The reason I have a 500 gig hard drive is that it's the largest portable drive I could find with both Firewire 800 and a 7200rpm drive. Should I give up on the idea of portability?

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ross daly
Re: Managing large ProRes 422 files
on Dec 1, 2010 at 8:54:09 pm

Hi David,

If you really wanted to then you could render out a half res (or lower) proxy in prores, edit, and then reconnect the full res prores versions of the footage used at the end. The problem is that you are trading hard drive space for time and potential frustration. Both of those cost you money, it's up to you to see which one is cheaper.

You can also (i believe) set ins and outs in the log and transfer window if you know what selects you specifically want.

Lastly, I would say that the external drive speed isn't necessarily all that important. That ought to open up the options a bit. Also, how large is your internal laptop drive? That's generally a pretty cheap/easy upgrade.

I hope this helps,

•You Down With FCP?

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Grant Gomm
Re: Managing large ProRes 422 files
on Dec 4, 2010 at 5:28:46 pm

Like others have said above, the codec you're using produces relatively small files because they are so highly compressed. When it comes to editing, you need a more robust codec and so you really do need to convert at least the clips you're using to something else, ie one of the proRes codecs. Sure this takes up more hard drive space, but that's just the nature of the game. Ross is right. When you ingest footage using log and capture in FCP, you can set your ins and outs on the clip which should help with hard drive space.

Portability is great, and when I go out into the field, I take a glyph 320gig hard drive and my laptop. I use that just for storing footage, and when I get back I transfer everything over to a macpro for editing. Sorry to say it, but I do kinda think that expecting to edit HD from a 500gig external FW hard drive is not realistic. Multiple large internal drives are the way to go (aside from expensive raid systems like these:

Alternately you could do an offline edit with small proxy files on your hard drive and try to find a very good friend willing to share their macpro to make the online and finish.

Other than that, I'm not sure what to suggest that doesn't have "headache" written all over it. Best of luck.


-Grant Gomm

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