Render settings for 7D footage
I'm having a bit of a hard time nailing down the proper render specs to get my 7D footage back out of AE once I've worked with it. I am mostly just doing some mild CC and ideally I'd like to export back to a file with identical specifications as far as codec/bitrate/wrapper/etc but I'm not sure what I need to do to replicate the files that come out of the 7D. Is anyone familiar with these cameras who can help me?
Two words: you can't. You can't use it in AE, and you can't output it from AE without a quality hit.
That camera records video in H.264, a well-known AE toxin:
Dave's Stock Answer #1:
If the footage you imported into AE is any kind of the following -- footage in an HDV acquisition codec, MPEG1, MPEG2, AVCHD, mp4, m2t, H.261 or H.264 -- you need to convert it to a different codec.
These kinds of footage use temporal, or interframe compression. They have keyframes at regular intervals, containing complete frame information. However, the frames in between do NOT have complete information. Interframe codecs toss out duplicated information.
In order to maintain peak rendering efficiency, AE needs complete information for each and every frame. But because these kinds of footage contain only partial information, AE freaks out, resulting in a wide variety of problems.
But wait, there's more!
[Scott Clark] "...I'd like to export back to a file with identical specifications as far as codec/bitrate/wrapper/etc..."
You'll lose quality. Here's why, and what you should do about it:
Dave's Stock Answer #3:
Don't use AE to compress files for final delivery. The various compressors are there only to make quick 'n dirty files showing a project's progress to producers, clients, the kids, etc. AE is incapable of doing multipass encoding, a crucial feature that greatly improves the image quality of H.264 and MPEG-type files in particular.
Render a high-quality file from AE, and use a different application to do the compression. Popular ones are Adobe Media Encoder, Sorenson Squeeze and Apple's Compressor, which comes bundled with Final Cut Suite. Even compressing in Quicktime Pro is better than compressing in AE.
Making good-looking compressed files is almost as much an art as it is a science. It is NOT straightforward at all. I recommend asking a few questions at the COW's Compression Techniques forum.
....and I really DON'T advise going to H.264 since it's an acquisition and delivery codec, most decidedly NOT an editing and intermediate codec. For the sake of your images, you'll want to figure out a Plan B. .. and since you haven't revealed how you're going to use this footage, we're of little help to in with the formulation of that plan.
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA
Dave, thank you for your response.
As far as final delivery, this is going to be a web-based video, and so I would like to finish in h.264, but if I am going to need to go to an intermediate format for working in AE then I'll do that.
I work on a PC, and on this project I'm using Vegas Pro 9.0c 64-bit. It handles the footage well enough for my purposes in this case. I'd love to take the easy route and buy Cineform's NeoScene but this project is on a very tight budget so I'd like to explore another option first-- converting the files via Vegas or another program I have already, ie MPEG Streamclip or AVS.
So then my question would be: what filetype (and specifications) would you recommend to convert these files to for use in AE, and likewise for exporting before delivery?
The clips were shot in 1080/24p -- I'd assume I would bring them in as uncompressed AVI files and export them in the same fashion?
Let me know your thoughts.
To build on Dave's final point. You don't say what you will be editing/have edited the footage on. Do a quick search on these forums for 7D and 5D workflows, there are many good posts.
Here's my simple (and simplified) workflow for dealing with this footage:
i) Transcode original H264 to a codec I can work in - usually Apple ProRes
ii) Cut, colour correct, composite in that ProRes family of codecs (depending on the job)
iii) Deliver to client's specs, be that to tape, file, DVD, web, whatever
Don't work in H264 and don't keep compressing to H264 (or any highly lossy codec) throughout your workflow. Save that for the end.
Thankfully there's a couple of plug-ins coming down the line soon that will make this workflow easier with FCP, and DSLR ingest like working with other solid state media.
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I've replied with updates-- any thoughts?
[Scott Clark] "I've replied with updates-- any thoughts?"
I really don't know what you want our thoughts on. All I can say is convert that footage to a lossless codec like Quicktime's Animation or PNG codecs and likewise render in something lossless.
I don't know beans about Vegas -- I'm A Mac/FCP GUY -- so I can't help you there. If there's any way to transfer H.264 footage from that camera and convert it IMMEDIATELY to a losssless codec, that's your best bet.
I presume you'll be adding music and such. Do it in Vegas. When done, use one of the compression applications mentioned above to turn it into H.264.
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA