View Full Version : Intermediate codecs for Windows editing?


Werner Wesp
January 18th, 2006, 12:30 PM
I was just wondering wether there is an alternative intermediate codec available for editing on a windows system besides the cineform solution (Connect HD, Aspect HD)?

Chris Barcellos
January 18th, 2006, 01:02 PM
I ve started fulling around with Pinnacles Studio 10 plus, which appears to capture in its own codec, with and extension of .m2v. Studio 10 is supposed to be based on Liquid editing systems, though it is sold as consumer editor. Version I purchased is Studio Plus, which I believe is the one with HD codec. The codec seems to provide a clean intermediate file that equals Cineform. However, so far I cannot use that file in Vegas or Premiere Pro to edit. Studio has had some stability problems, but with a recent Beta upgrade, those issues seem to be reduced.



Chris Barcellos

Guy Barwood
January 18th, 2006, 05:48 PM
Studio 10, like Liquid 6 & 7 are native HDV NLEs, they don't use any intermediate codec. m2v is the video component of the transport stream output by the 1394 port.

Chris Barcellos
January 18th, 2006, 06:12 PM
Studio 10, like Liquid 6 & 7 are native HDV NLEs, they don't use any intermediate codec. m2v is the video component of the transport stream output by the 1394 port.

So what you are saying is that m2v is not intermediate, and essentially, in Studio 10 Plus you are editing m2t files. It didn't seem like it to me because it seemed to render pretty fast... but I didn't check files size. I did notice that I renamed the m2v files and I lost sound as a result.

Thanks for the information.

Chris Barcellos

Guy Barwood
January 18th, 2006, 06:36 PM
when you capture you will end up with mv2 and wav files. m2v are the pure video component, and the wav files are the mpg2 audio converted on capture to uncompressed PCM audio.

m2t files are transport stream files, which are a special file format for containing the video and audio in a single file (like program stream). Liquid and Studio (I do assume a bit here basing my knowledge from Liquid not Studio) just seperates the video and audio components and saves them as seperate files (and converts the audio to uncompressed).

If you renamed the audio file as well (and any other file with the same name, sometimes there are index files) you will not loose any audio etc

Stephen L. Noe
January 18th, 2006, 06:54 PM
Also, Liquid keeps the video that is un-edited in it's pristine camera codec fresh state all the way through to output. For Edits, FX and color corrections, Liquid uncompresses the HDV to 2VUY 422 8bit for processing. So, what that means is that the datastream is handled in the most efficient way. It leaves the untouched GOP's just that, untouched. The edited GOP's are rendered uncompressed which is an ideal method across the board.

It is lightning fast and you can edit HD-100 material as easily as DV25 on an off the shelf PCIexpress computer. Liquid really is a match made in heaven for ProHD. 24p film does require a workaround but it is not hard.

My wish list for Liquid later this year is 10bit processing uncompressed and 24p native (and the pull down tools as well for variable frame rate).

I do like the Cineform method as well for non native HDV editors. They have done a really nice job with their implementation and they are already working in 10bit and variable frame rates extracted from 60p but Liquid really is a great marriage with HDV.

have fun...

Chris Barcellos
January 18th, 2006, 07:22 PM
Stephen and Guy:

Thanks for update on that. I will mess around with Studio 10 Plus a little more and see how long it takes to render incomparison to Premiere and Vegas. Premeire uses the intermediate Cineform codec, while Vegas will not, unless we add Cineforms HD Connect at $200. And I understand Aspect from Cineform at $500 will bring the editing speed up to near real time in Premiere Pro. I used the trial versions and was impressed, but haven't settled on where to put the cash yet. Incidentally, I am under the impression that Studio 10 uses the same "engine" as Liquid, but I will follow that up too...

Chris Barcellos

Chris Barcellos
January 18th, 2006, 10:02 PM
This is from one of Pinnacle's promotional pages:

"It combines the power of the highly esteemed professional Liquid Edition Engine with the familiar Studio three-step workflow that you know and love. Studio Plus version 10 means more power , more control , more supported formats, more connectivity to the popular consumer devices including HDV video cameras and more reliability."

So it looks like there are at least some elements of Liquid in Studio Plus 10.

Chris Barcellos

Chris Barcellos
January 18th, 2006, 10:56 PM
Well Okay. I captured 4 minutes of identical HDV footage in both the Pinnacle Studio Plus 10 and with the Cineform intermediate codec on Premiere Pro 1.51. The Pinnacle capture resulted in a total of 780 mgb of files, including the separate sount files. The Premeire capture was 2.7 GB in one .avi file. It looks like the Pinnacle capture is about 1/4 to 30% of the space.

Chris Barcellos

Guy Barwood
January 19th, 2006, 02:26 AM
yes the intermedite codecs hog much more HDD space. I believe they use variable bit rates but it isn't uncommon to get up 100Mbps (you got about 90Mbps average) vs HDVs 25Mbps. While I.C's take the strain of the CPU (easier to decode) they put it back on the HDD subsystem.

Studio has the guts of Liquid but with the much simplier consumer front end. It has the same rendering and RT engine as Liquid, and also features like Instant Save which is amazing in such an entry level product, but then I hear you only get one video track to work with and the first release isn't particulary stable (but that should improve quickly as you mentioned).

When you outgrow Studio you move on to Liquid.

Chris Barcellos
January 19th, 2006, 11:01 AM
[QUOTE=

but then I hear you only get one video track to work with and the first release isn't particulary stable (but that should improve quickly as you mentioned).

[/QUOTE]

Guy:

Actually, there are two tracks that will actually take video. Also the Beta update recently released has helped the stability issues. Thanks.

Ultimately, I think if you are looking for a cheap entry into HDV, this is not a bad way to go..

I did try a render of a four minute capture to DV through Studio Plus 10 (HD to DV) and through Vegas 6 (HD m2t to DV), and note their render times are are almost identical at 7 minutes on my system.

Chris Barcellos

Werner Wesp
January 20th, 2006, 04:11 AM
Sorry to intterupt this (interesting) discussion, but no one knows any alternative to Cineform? The problkem is that I really need the speed, and m2t-files don't give me that....

Guy Barwood
January 20th, 2006, 05:44 AM
Speed for what?

I get multilayer RT performance with m2t and you render less going back out to tape.

This is HD remember, rendering is not going to be anywhere near DV performance anyway you attack it.

Werner Wesp
January 22nd, 2006, 06:53 AM
I know, but I can't even get my m2t preview running somewhere realtime in Vegas.... it is like one frame /second... (even without any filters or transitions....)

Guy Barwood
January 22nd, 2006, 08:03 AM
what are your PC specs?

I am not sure why vegas performs so poorly with Native mt2
I guess there is not alternative if you want to edit in Vegas.

Werner Wesp
January 22nd, 2006, 05:31 PM
Athlon64 3.2 GHz with 1 Gb RAM and lots and lots of fast SATA-drives... it is enough for worry-free DV editing, but it seems to perform below any standard with m2t. (Windows XP Pro SP2, just that and vegas, no internet, nothing to bring down the performance...)

Stephen L. Noe
January 22nd, 2006, 05:39 PM
Athlon64 3.2 GHz with 1 Gb RAM and lots and lots of fast SATA-drives... it is enough for worry-free DV editing, but it seems to perform below any standard with m2t. (Windows XP Pro SP2, just that and vegas, no internet, nothing to bring down the performance...)
What is the motherboard and what is the chipset? VIA? nVidia? Intel?

Steve Mullen
January 22nd, 2006, 08:15 PM
Sorry to intterupt this (interesting) discussion, but no one knows any alternative to Cineform? The problkem is that I really need the speed, and m2t-files don't give me that....

Why do you need an "alternative?" CineForm is VERY RT and directly supports 24p. Adobe has just released Premiere Pro V2.

You've a got a ready to go solution!

Now if you need native TS go with Canopus EDIUS, but don't expect a lot of speed. For that you need FCP.

Guy Barwood
January 23rd, 2006, 01:48 AM
For whatever reason he is looking for an alternate option within Vegas, not another NLE. If he wanted another NLE for native HDV support Liquid is still the best option without spending a packet on NX or if 100% 24p support is needed (which the minority use in reality). His system already supports multilayer RT 720p with the number of RT FX dependant on his video card capabilities (or a $150 upgrade to the video card). Any HD NLE will do better with a bit more than 1GB too (little point going over 2GB though at the moment).

"what is the chipset? VIA? nVidia? Intel?"
Without knowing anything about the motherboard I still know upfront with an Athlon64 in it, it aint an Intel chipset ;-)

Werner Wesp
January 23rd, 2006, 02:15 AM
I don't know from the top of my head, but I'll look it up. Perhaps it also has to do with the videocard (ATI radeon - just 64 Mb, but dual screen...)

And, indeed, I'm not looking to switch NLE, and I'm even considering less (not at all, that is) to switch platform.

I recently found that VASST has an alternative (to a sony YUV intermediate codec. Don't know about the quality, but perhaps worth checking out - not so sure it does 720p...)

Guy Barwood
January 23rd, 2006, 02:20 AM
64Mb really is scraping the barrel with Liquid, certainly not enough for HDV whitch requires 128MB for 720p and 256MB for 1080i.

I doubt your video card would effect the rendering speed in Vegas though, that would be more CPU dependant. I am not sure how the RT engine of Vegas works, however without any effects a single stream of HDV should play in RT even with a 64MB card, just like it would with a media playerlike WMP.

Werner Wesp
January 23rd, 2006, 06:52 AM
Well, I have the problem that video (HD, at least) and audio goes out of sync in media player also. So could a video-card-upgrade do the trick? And - if so - any recommandations? (I would like to stick to ATI, and it needs to have 2 outs for dual monitor usage)

Graham Hickling
January 23rd, 2006, 11:09 PM
Commonly used windows codecs for video intermediates prior to Cineform included Picvideo and MorganMultimedia (both lossy mgpeg), and Huffyuv (which is near-lossless). I think they all support HD resolutions.

There's also a little-known "Aware" codec that is wavelet based, like Cineform's.

Googling will get you more info on all of them.

Werner Wesp
January 25th, 2006, 07:24 AM
The mainboard is a MSI K8T Neo with a VIA K8T800 chipset... What does that tell you (I don't know what to think of that...)

Guy Barwood
January 25th, 2006, 08:54 AM
not a terrible lot, but when was the last time you updated your motherboard BIOS (check www.msi.com.tw for latest version or run their live update)?

Have you tried different players or just Windows Media Player so far? Try VLC media player.

It is very difficult to diagnose without spending an hour or so on your system.

Kevin Shaw
January 25th, 2006, 10:45 AM
If he wanted another NLE for native HDV support Liquid is still the best option without spending a packet on NX or if 100% 24p support is needed (which the minority use in reality).

Personally I'm not fond of Liquid and am editing HDV in Canopus Edius without the NX hardware card, which is only necessary if you want real-time HD monitoring to an HDTV display. You do need a lot of computing power to edit HDV effectively in Edius: a minimum of one dual-core or two single-core processors. The Cineform solution sounds like the best bet to me for use on single-processor computers, but my brother tried it and wasn't particularly impressed. If you're using Vegas software you might as well download the Cineform trial version and see what you think of that; if it doesn't meet your needs then consider other options.

Guy Barwood
January 25th, 2006, 04:34 PM
You should be able to edit 720p with a single 3GHz processor and get 2 RT sterams.

We had a demo of Edius with NX hardware a few months ago and while it looked nice enough, the RT capabilities weren't really that good in that it only seemed to pre-render into a RAM buffer for 'RT' playback, until the buffer emptied. That is not RT in my opinion.

Its RT slo mo was very nice though and it did seem to be able to sustain that. It was tempting but I also didn't want to have to learn a new NLE as well and Edius lacked too many features Liquid has. Then the NX card was only PCI-X as well, which is going to be a dying interface just like AGP in favor of PCI Express. Now I believe they have a PCI Express version, but my current system doesn't support PCI Express. So it is a bad time for me to be buying expensive I/O cards if I can avoid it.

Then there is the fact that at the moment, I don't actually need to edit HD anyway, so why worry about it at all. I doubt I'll go HD until JVC release their second gen HD100.

Kevin Shaw
January 25th, 2006, 05:03 PM
Guy: the Edius real-time capabilities are dependent on the amount of processing power you put behind them, and I know people who are editing four streams of HDV (converted to the Canopus HQ format) in real time on high-end dual processor systems. Unlike Liquid or most other editing programs, Edius is designed to deliver full-resolution, full frame rate editing without any rendering (e.g. background rendering), and works great so long as you don't exceed the limits of its capabilities for that. Edius NX is also the only out-of-the-box HDV editing solution I know of which delivers full quality HD monitoring output in real time -- last I checked Liquid could only produce SD component output via its expensive BOB. As you noted there is a PCI Express version of the NX card now, and that is arguably a more realistic investment for many than the PCI-X version, but it's not like the PCI-X interface is going to vanish overnight.

So Edius software-only version is fine if you don't need to monitor your HDV projects on an HDTV, and Edius NX is the best value currently available if you do need to do that. Plus once you start playing around with mixed SD and HD footage and alternating between SD and HD output, Edius has some great features for dealing with all that simply and effectively. It is still limited in some regards in terms of advanced editing features, but you can use Boris FX plugins to solve some of that, and plenty of award-winning videos have been produced with software simpler than Edius.

Guy Barwood
January 25th, 2006, 05:43 PM
Fortunately you can do more with Liquid than you are aware.

"the Edius real-time capabilities are dependent on the amount of processing power you put behind them, and I know people who are editing four streams of HDV (converted to the Canopus HQ format) in real time on high-end dual processor systems"

The Canopus rep had a high end Dual Xeon box with NX hardware and editing HD you could watch it pre-render the effects and playout the buffer, trying to re-fill by rendering it as it played, but not being able to keep up the buffer emptied and RT playback failed. This is not RT, it is pre-rendering. I am not saying all effects occur in this way but the effects they were demoing definetly were.

."Unlike Liquid or most other editing programs, Edius is designed to deliver full-resolution, full frame rate editing without any rendering (e.g. background rendering)"
You totally missunderstand the concept of background rendering (BR). BR is not about rendering for RT playback although it is great for that when effects exceed the systems capabilities, it is about preparing for output while you are still editing. With NX, you have to render everything back to HDV before you go back out to HDV tape don't you? Well BR does that in the background while you are editing, there is often no need to wait at the end of the project to 'render it out' as such, BR has already taken care of that. You can just as easily turn BR of real time effects off then only effects that are not RT such as dynamic timewarp (which Edius does not have) are rendered in the background as you continue to edit.

"Edius NX is also the only out-of-the-box HDV editing solution I know of which delivers full quality HD monitoring output in real time"

Liquid 7 can do this without any dedicated hardware. You can specify a video output (such as a DVI or VGA connection) to a full screen display, which you then connect to a broadcast monitor with either DVI or VGA and monitor HD in full quality at full framerate. This can be done with the software only Liquid, no Pro-BOB needed. Much better value than NX.

Also, the Pro BOB is not expensive. Liquid also supports the even cheaper moviebox deluxe. NX hardware is expensive.

Liquid had multiformat timelines well before Edius. Theare no limitations, mix PAL, NTSC (DVCPro 25 or 50, DV/DVCAM, MP@ML, MPG I frame, uncompressed etc), 720p, 1080i etc resolutions all in one sequence in RT.

It is interesting how people trash talk Liquid without even knowing much about it.

Kevin Shaw
January 25th, 2006, 09:08 PM
It is interesting how people trash talk Liquid without even knowing much about it.

I bought and used Liquid Edition for one project a couple of years ago and went back to Edius as soon as they upgraded some features I needed. For my purposes Edius works better with no need to wait for "background rendering" before I can see the results of most of my changes, and rendering back out to HDV at the end of a project is an unattended process which doesn't tie up my time. In Liquid I spent a lot of time waiting for basic things like color correction to render, which interfered with my workflow much more than having to pre-render a few complex segments in Edius. (So a lot here depends on exactly what you want to do in real time.)

As far as HD output is concerned, if you use a standard video card for that you're converting your video stream to a YUV colorspace before it goes to your HDTV, which means you're not getting accurate HD monitoring. The NX hardware is a bargain for what it does because there isn't a better alternative for professional HDV editing on the PC platform. If you don't need true HD monitoring, you can do the same thing from Edius software you described for monitoring from Liquid.

It is interesting how people trash talk Edius without even knowing much about it... :-)

Guy Barwood
January 25th, 2006, 10:29 PM
"I bought and used Liquid Edition for one project a couple of years ago and went back to Edius as soon as they upgraded some features I needed."

So what you are saying is you are commenting on Liquid from a version a few years old? How would Edius stack up if I reviewed it only from a version a few years old? All Edius up until the latest have been feature bare and unreliable from what I have heard from other Edius users.

"For my purposes Edius works better with no need to wait for "background rendering" before I can see the results of most of my changes"

You still don't understand do you. Liquid RT effects work like any other programs real RT effect, they work in RT without any pre-rendering to RAM or HDD. This has NOTHING to do with background rendering.

"and rendering back out to HDV at the end of a project is an unattended process which doesn't tie up my time."

Yes it does, it ties up your system for many hours meaning you can not edit on that system during that time. You have to plan these exports around when you need to use your system. You simply can't continue to edit while your system renders no matter how much you want or need to.

"In Liquid I spent a lot of time waiting for basic things like color correction to render"
Colour Correction has been RT for some time now, including some of the CX colour corrector (arguably the best colour corrector of any NLE).

The only non RT FX in Liquid now are dynamic timewarps (linear are RT) and some complex CX colour corrections. The classic FX are still there and need rendering, but thats because the quality you get from these effects, with their subpixel (and I believe 12 or 16 bit processing) rendering is beyond any effect you get in any other NLE in this market segment. You certainly arn't forced to use them, they are just there for those who want absolute quality over speed.

"you're converting your video stream to a YUV colorspace before it goes to your HDTV"
Clearly the process of displaying HD video over DVI connections is not an issue, its how pretty much all HDTVs work now and the only way formats like BluRay and HD-DVD will work using HDMI. Connect the HD TV output of your video card like I have and your outputing via analogue component, just like NX does. I don't see the difference.

"It is interesting how people trash talk Edius without even knowing much about it... :-)"
;-) but I never trashed Edius, just defended Liquid.

Peter Ferling
January 26th, 2006, 11:06 AM
Interesting conversation. I didn't think about Liquid in my future plans to upgrade to HD. I'm wiping the slate clean and will factor the liquid software in my decision. One thing though (at the risk of going off topic), I understand Avid now owns this software, and if so, any hint towards it's future?

Nevermind. I found some info.

Kevin Shaw
January 26th, 2006, 04:38 PM
So what you are saying is you are commenting on Liquid from a version a few years old? How would Edius stack up if I reviewed it only from a version a few years old?

Fair enough. My experience with Liquid was sufficiently dissappointing to disregard all further comments about its real time abilities as potentially misleading, but I suppose it couldn't hurt to check out the latest version. So can you do a two layer PIP with HDV in Liquid without having to do any rendering or wait for background rendering to view the results? How powerful a system would you say is required to do this particular task effectively? (We could discuss lots of other examples, but this seems like a particularly useful one.)

Guy Barwood
January 26th, 2006, 04:41 PM
The smartest thing is to consider all options. You may not like Liquid and you may go with Edius or Premiere with PulgIn etc, BUT, at least you have made an informed decision and evaluated all your options.

Avid have publicly announced their continued support for Liquid with version 8 development being hinted at by Avid. To stop support for Liquid would be a pretty stupid thing for Avid. They still have to support Studio which adopted the core processing engine of Liquid with version 10 so there is a huge overlap in support of those two products, then there are the higher end broadcast brother Chrome HD which are the same software as Liquid but with higher end hardware I/O options. This also makes upgrading to a full SDI HD NLE very simple if you are editing with Liquid (no learning a new NLE).

So Studio development helps Liquid, and Liquid development helps Chrome HD. Its a win win arrangement in a product line that goes from mums and dads up to broadcast studios. No other product has that.

Guy Barwood
January 26th, 2006, 04:52 PM
"So can you do a two layer PIP with HDV in Liquid without having to do any rendering or wait for background rendering to view the results? How powerful a system would you say is required to do this particular task effectively?"

It depends on if you are editing 720p or 1080i. 720p requires much less processing power which makes the HD100 even more attractive.

720p: My tests showed I can edit two video streams of 720p with a single 3GHz Pentium IV and a 128MB Video card (NVidia 5900). I could do full real time dissolves and picture in pictures which was about all I tested before I upgraded my system to dual Xeon. You can also add quite a number of graphics/titles layer with effects (such as fades in/out, roll in/out etc) without any problems. It has been a while but I think I get 4 layers of 720p video with my Dual Xeon.

1080i: This requires a dual processor system (3+ Ghz) although you MIGHT just get away with a 3.6GHz PIV for dual stream (not tested though). With my Dual Xeon 3GHz I currently get 3 streams of Video + effects and titles etc like in 720p. No dropped frames. For 1080i you do need a 256MB graphics card (to buffer and process the larger frames) and while PCI Express is recommended I have it running fine on an AGP 8x system.

Kevin Shaw
January 26th, 2006, 05:03 PM
With my Dual Xeon 3GHz I currently get 3 streams of Video + effects and titles etc like in 720p. No dropped frames.

That sounds about right and suggests that dual processors running at higher clock rates would be helpful for working with 1080i footage, consistent with what we're seeing in Edius. With a dual-core processor running at 3 GHz I can do a two-layer PIP at 1080i from a single hard drive, depending on how the computer's feeling. People with dual 3.4+ GHz Xeons and better hard drive setups are reporting more comfortable results, as high as 3-4 layers of 1080i in real time (no dropped frames).

P.S. Sounds like the Canopus sales team needs to put together a better demo, demonstrating their strengths rather than their weaknesses...

Kyle Edwards
January 29th, 2006, 01:06 AM
You could look into Pic Video's Wavelet 2000, Lossless JPEG and MJPEG-3. They preform pretty well.

Jeff Baker
January 29th, 2006, 03:17 PM
Just to chime on vegas performance. I also get slow playback on cineform codec material (stuttering and low rez playback) compared to Premiere 1.5.1.
Now since I only have Aspect HD I think that it may only help my premiere performance but not Vegas.
Is this true?
I am editing on a dual core amd system right now.

What about Avids new HDV support - how does it work? Not the liquid app.