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Temp Finals - which format to render to?

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Marc NiborTemp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 6:55:46 pm

Hi,

I am looking for an alternative to lossless format which comes close to uncompressed quality, but without the huge filesize


when working on projects I often render certain parts to reuse them at a later time in variations of the project etc.

since I have limited storage space available I do not use uncompressed AVI format most of the time - so I used high bitrate mp4.
for example 17mbps on 1280x720 projects.

but somehow I had trouble with "jerky" playback and it seemed that the colors were a little less vivid (maybe it was just be my imagination ; )
right now I watched an uncompressed avi which played supersmooth and a mp4 version of the same clip. the mp4 was jerky. (maybe the bitrate is too high???)


anyhow.... back to the question.
what is a good alternative to lossless when filesize is an issue?



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Dave LaRondeRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 7:05:47 pm

[Marc Nibor] "anyhow.... back to the question.
what is a good alternative to lossless when filesize is an issue?"


Easy: get more storage.

I'm not joking; if you're going to re-use elements, you DO NOT want to compromise image quality. Unfortunately, almost anything less than lossless will compromise image quality. If file size is an issue, solve it with more storage. Since a 1 TB external hard drive is $100 or less, it's a pretty painless fix.

A few almost-lossless possibilities exist, but they're all found in Quicktime and in Final Cut Pro 7. The lone Windows solution MIGHT lie in Avid's DnxHD codec, which is a free download. I've never used it, I simply know it is highly recommended, but a little complicated to use for the uninitiated. Like me.

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


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Walter SoykaRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 7:20:37 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "The lone Windows solution MIGHT lie in Avid's DnxHD codec, which is a free download. I've never used it, I simply know it is highly recommended, but a little complicated to use for the uninitiated. Like me."

Once you install DNxHD, you can render to DNxHD-wrapped QuickTime. It's comparable to ProRes in many regards.

It's not really difficult to set up -- just run the installer. If you want to change any of the settings, you do it all through the "Codec Settings" button in your output module.

DNxHD Pros:
  • Free!
  • Cross-platform (Mac/Win)
  • Great quality in reasonable size
  • Suitable for mastering or intermediates over a few generations
  • Supports 10-bit video
  • Supports alpha channels


DNxHD Cons:
  • Must be wrapped in QuickTime
  • Only works properly for standard HD frame sizes and frame rates


CineForm is another option. You'd have to pay for that, but it can be wrapped in QuickTime or AVI (and you can rewrap as necessary with the included HDLink utility), and it supports arbitrary frame rates and frame sizes (provided the frame size is a multiple of 16).

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Walter SoykaRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 7:41:17 pm

Yes, DNxHD supports alpha channels -- and gives you the option of storing them as compressed or uncompressed.

Alpha channels are not on by default, so you have be sure to set your AE Output Module to RGB + Alpha, and you have to be sure to enable alpha in the codec settings.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Dave LaRondeRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 7:45:55 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Only works properly for standard HD frame sizes and frame rates"

I'll assume this includes 1280x720, 59.94 fps. It sounds like a very good alternative to Apple's ProRes family of codecs.

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


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Walter SoykaRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 7:54:08 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "I'll assume this includes 1280x720, 59.94 fps. It sounds like a very good alternative to Apple's ProRes family of codecs."

True, and true.

As an aside, DNxHD is picking up some of the acquisition momentum that ProRes used to have. ARRI ALEXA and Blackmagic's HyperDeck SSD recorder have both announced DNxHD support.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Dave LaRondeRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 8:09:31 pm

I'm straying way off topic here, but you got me thinking, Walter...

Due to near-terminal Engineering Myopia at my TV station, we have no other option than to continue cutting in FCP 6 for the forseeable future: we can't upgrade the OS! I'm always looking for a better way to take work home for use in AE 10.5 on a Windows machine; not only are we stuck on FCP 6, but AE 8 as well.

I currently export from FCP in either PNG or ProRes HQ, do my AE voodo, and render PNG image sequences to take back to work.

I wonder if FCP 6 and DNxHD would play nice together? It would certainly make the round-trip from work to home a little easier.

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


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Marc NiborRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 8:26:07 pm

sorry to interrupt.

Thanks, I got both messages!
DNxHD sounds very promising especially because it also supports alpha - although the HD only "limitation" is a bit of a showstopper since I don't work in HD exclusively.

so one more try... I probably should have been a bit mores specific in the first post.
a "semiprofessional" alternative will do. I use lossless for important stuff. But often I render several versions in different colors etc. This fills up even a 1-2 TB disk rather quickly.

I'm not doing broadcast quality stuff. If a "normal" person can't tell the difference immediately when viewing it's ok.

Under those circumstances - is there anything else you can recommend ?



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Kevin CampRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 8:43:56 pm

quicktime photo-jpeg is very good and a standard part of quicktime (like lossless animation, so anyone with quicktime has it, pc or mac).

at 95 quality, it is nearly lossless (i doubt even a profession could tell the difference) but the file size for a typical video clip could be nearly one third the size of lossless -- note that lossless sizes can be quite small if there are large areas of flat color or transparent areas.

do some testing of your own and see how low you can go before you notice any problems. you might be able to get down to 75.

photo-jpeg isn't tied to a video standard, so any frame size/frame rate should be fine. it does not support alpha though.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Walter SoykaRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 29, 2012 at 3:32:24 am

[Kevin Camp] "photo-jpeg isn't tied to a video standard, so any frame size/frame rate should be fine. it does not support alpha though."

You could always render a separate alpha pass (also with PhotoJPEG) by adding another render setting to your render item in the render queue.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Dave LaRondeRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 8:46:29 pm

For personal use only?

I'd run the lossless file through Adobe Media Encoder to make H.264 files, best quality. AME is capable of multipass encoding, whereas AE is not, which results in equal image quality but a smaller file size than single-pass.

The resulting file will be WAY smaller than its lossless counterpart, and the image quality will be... well, good enough, I guess. Since file size is the primary consideration in your case, It would seem a good compromise.

But be warned: H.264 WILL NOT stand up to repeated re-rendering. You can't expect to import H.264 into AE and render out to H.264 without taking a visible hit to image quality. That's the price you pay.

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


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Marc NiborRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 9:54:44 pm

Thanks for all the suggestions.

It helped alot!



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Walter SoykaRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 29, 2012 at 8:10:38 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "I wonder if FCP 6 and DNxHD would play nice together? It would certainly make the round-trip from work to home a little easier."

I haven't tried it. I'd think it should work, but I'd certainly do a test to make sure there aren't any gamma issues or the like.

If you do give it a whirl, I'd love to hear a bit more about your experience. I was all Mac for a long time, but I've started working cross-platform and I'm still testing workflows. I can't use DNxHD for a lot of my work (because of the custom raster sizes), but I am very intrigued by the possibilities for standard HD material.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Dave LaRondeRe: Temp Finals - which format to render to?
by on Mar 29, 2012 at 8:49:33 pm

I'll keep you posted, that's for sure, but I can almost guarantee it won't happen quickly.

The problem at my end is sweet-talking a member of the station engineering department into making modifications (GASP!) on one of our editing machines. The engineers hold the System Administrator privileges. The editors do not.

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


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