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Old September 7th, 2011, 02:51 AM   #1
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Premiere can handle h.264, but is it wise?

I wanted to know what you guys thought about editing natively with H.264 on the timeline.

I've always transcoded it to either ProRes or similar and i've read that is a process of "unpacking" the footage, as H.264 is really a presentation codec.

Should i still do this? Or is there no loss of quality when editing natively with h264?

Thanks!

Neil
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Old September 7th, 2011, 03:00 AM   #2
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Re: Premiere can handle h.264, but is it wise?

Hi
I save some of my footage in H264 - and I see no quality loss when using that later in the timeline.
Nor do I see any problems for Premiere in handling the files.
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Old September 7th, 2011, 03:43 PM   #3
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Re: Premiere can handle h.264, but is it wise?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Rostance View Post
I wanted to know what you guys thought about editing natively with H.264 on the timeline.
I do it all the time. Not a problem. Premiere Pro merely references the original file -- it's not recompressing the file every time you use it, like Photoshop does (or at least, used to do) to a JPG every time you open/close the file. So unless you are doing lots of color grading and effects it doesn't seem like it's worth the effort to transcode. Making cuts and pushing clips around on the timeline is pretty quick and easy with full 1080p AVCHD (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264) if you have a computer that's up to the task and CS5 or higher.

Once you start using dynamic link and sending files to AE, even a high end computer and the latest software is going to feel the pain though. At that point, I'd want to seriously consider transcoding to a more edit-friendly codec. But I'm not there yet ;-)
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Old September 8th, 2011, 07:37 AM   #4
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Re: Premiere can handle h.264, but is it wise?

Thanks guys,

That's a really good point about sending to After Effects, although Premiere seems absolutely fine when just doing rough cuts with no effects using H264...when we start layering grades/effects on top it seems to lag.

Maybe a transcode would just be a catch-all good option then
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Old September 8th, 2011, 10:50 AM   #5
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Re: Premiere can handle h.264, but is it wise?

If editing H.264 natively is stable enough for you, there's no reason to transcode. However, the "unpacking" refers to the GOP (Group Of Pictures) because H.264 is not intended as an I-frame only codec. This is what can bring compute power to its knees.

I wrote some more about it here What You Should Know About CODEC and Transcoding | DearCinema.com

Short version - if you can edit GOP like a warm knife through butter then there's no particular argument to transcode other than if it brings your system to its knees or crashes your NLE.
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Old September 9th, 2011, 09:13 AM   #6
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Re: Premiere can handle h.264, but is it wise?

Im still switching from FCP so am new to PP, but I am having no trouble at all with the original 5DII files. The only AE work I've done is the Warp Stabilizer effect and it renders fast, works very well. On the other hand, on the same computer, FCP won't play H.264 worth a damn. Computer is a new 8 core Mac Pro with the standard video card.
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Old September 10th, 2011, 03:20 AM   #7
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Re: Premiere can handle h.264, but is it wise?

We too are switching from FCP to Premiere Pro CS5.5 & are very pleased to be able to edit native 5DII files without transcoding. Our Mac Pros do indeed edit these files "like a warm knife through butter" & it is very pleasing to see that when we do any rendering or export the final video that PP maxes out all eight cores.
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Old September 11th, 2011, 11:18 PM   #8
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Re: Premiere can handle h.264, but is it wise?

to separate things -

FX which can be rendered via CUDA / nVidia GPU will help you a lot in taking the load of the CPU's

otherwise you can generally edit native and not worry about it
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Old September 12th, 2011, 03:01 PM   #9
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Re: Premiere can handle h.264, but is it wise?

Yes, remember that CUDA does not help h.264 decoding, It relies solely on CPU power.
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Old September 12th, 2011, 03:47 PM   #10
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Re: Premiere can handle h.264, but is it wise?

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Originally Posted by Bart Walczak View Post
Yes, remember that CUDA does not help h.264 decoding, It relies solely on CPU power.
But CUDA can help if you then apply effects to that H264 because the effects will be offloaded to the GPU instead of the CPU having to handle decoding + the effects. H264 can become a problem if the CPU is having to do everything but CUDA can free up CPU cycles when you start to apply effects which is an advantage.
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