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Old January 1st, 2013, 08:55 AM   #1
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XDCAM EX and Avid Media Composer 5.5

Being one of the folks who decided to migrate from FCP (on account of not accepting FCP X) I am wandering which way to go, Avid or Adobe PP. I used to edit wit Avid, and it is fairly familiar to me. But, if I am not doing something wrong, it seems I can not export an EX sequence in its original format XDCAM EX, but have to select one of other format options. I made several tests and it took me good 15 minutes to export 30 seconds sequence, and the quality just does not seem equal to the input.

Then, importing of EX footage is not as swift as in FCP or PP. Now, I do not intend to change my shooting EX format in the near future, so I wander is AVID really best option for me. I like editing in Avid, it is great experience, but if final output is nor all it can be - I wander...

So, I would really appreciate if someone working with EX format in AMC 5.5 to advice me regarding this match. Thanks.
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Old January 1st, 2013, 12:35 PM   #2
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Re: XDCAM EX and Avid Media Composer 5.5

What output format are you exporting to?

Can you provide a bit more info on your workflow?
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Last edited by Chris Medico; January 1st, 2013 at 02:18 PM.
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 08:37 AM   #3
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Re: XDCAM EX and Avid Media Composer 5.5

Chris, thank for reply and apologies for insufficient info on my behalf.

OK, what I usually do is shooting with EX-3, import and edit in FCP, having appropriate sequence setting for EX format, and when done I export the film again in EX codec, keeping the entire process in EX format. Then, according to demand of the client, I export film in any given format or deliver on DigiBeta, but I keep my master in native format.

In Avid, I can edit EX, but when I want to export the film, I get message that long GOP formats can not be exported, and am offered other options. Which means encoding once more to whatever codec I decide - other then the native one. I suppose the loss of quality is neglectable, but still...

The other thing that puzzles me is that export takes ages. Today I exported finished 52 minutes documentary out of FCP and it took 14 minutes. My tests with AMC took, as I said, some 15 minutes for 30 seconds test. That surely can not be, and I suppose I was doing something wrong.

I used to edit with Avid some 10 years ago, and always liked it. But, I wander if Premiere Pro (and I am not by any means trying to start yet another nonsense discussion which is better) would not be better option, given this preliminary results I have got from AMC.

So, I guess my questions are:
1. How should I export finalized movie out of AMC as my master;
2. Is this export time normal?
3. Should I go to AMC 6 and 64 bit setup? (Some hardware upgrade would be need, I guess) Is AMC 6 playing nicer with EX files?

Thank for your time.

Daniel
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 09:10 AM   #4
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Re: XDCAM EX and Avid Media Composer 5.5

Hi Daniel,

I'll give it a try on my system tonight (I have v6) and will see if I can export "same as source" with xdcam material. I suspect that I can't with the new version either. I'll do a few tests to see what happens.

A workflow to try is to create a "video mixdown" of the sequence before an export. It is in the "Special" menu. Make sure you have your render codec set to DNxHD145 (best for XDCam sources). From there you can do a "same as source" export and it won't render again for the export. The output file will be DNxHD145. Have you used Squeeze? It should have been included with your MC bundle. Squeeze is MUCH faster than MC for final export. The quality is better as well. Especially if the final format is H.264.

On my machine doing a mixdown goes pretty quickly. It is faster than doing an export to DNxHD.

Another plus of doing a mixdown is you then have the option create a "QT Reference" file for Squeeze. You will need to do both a video and audio mixdown of XDCam material before you can make a reference file.
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 09:57 PM   #5
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Re: XDCAM EX and Avid Media Composer 5.5

Ok. I did some testing. I used a sequence that I had already put together that contained XDCam video.

An export using "Same as Source" failed with the "LONG GOP" error. That won't work in v6 either.

Secondly I did an export as a "QT Fuse" with the codec set to DNxHD115. The sequence was exactly 60 seconds and the export took 1:04/m:s. Just a tad slower than real time. CPU utilization fluctuated between 20-30%.

Next I did a "Video Mixdown" from the special menu and used the same codec as the QT Fuse export (DNxHD115). It took 15 seconds to complete with CPU utilization at 90%.

Based on this test doing a video mixdown is the fastest way to get a sequence transcoded into DNxHD. From there you can drop the video and audio mixdowns into a new sequence and export them in any way you wish including a "QT Reference" file so you can use Squeeze for the final format rendering.

You can also use the "Consolidate" function and move the rendered files into a folder where you can archive them or send them to another machine for additional processing.

Give this workflow a try and see if it improves your wait time.

Edit:
I thought I should include some edit computer info. The machine is a i7-3930k with HT enabled running at 4.2ghz, 16gig of RAM, and Win7-64bit. Rendering was done to a Samsung 840PRO SSD. The disk utilization was around 15% during the render so there was no IO bottleneck.
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Last edited by Chris Medico; January 3rd, 2013 at 10:07 PM. Reason: Added computer info.
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 11:47 PM   #6
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Re: XDCAM EX and Avid Media Composer 5.5

Chris,

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I am overwhelmed with you kindness.

I will do as you told me and let you know of results. I do not have box with Sorensen as I am still in '30 days free test' period. I downloaded both PP and AMC to test them and then decide which way I will go. I prefer Avid style of editing, only I have to settle this codec/format questions and I will set to move on.

Off topic: isn't is amazing how some (I suppose) kids in Apple decided we should forget the way we edited for years and adopt that funny 'IMovie on steroids' FCP X? I mean, I migrated from Windows to Mac when Vista disaster was introduced, believing that was my final move. Now, I am considering shifting back to PC again, given the fact that Apple is turning back to professional community with this I-this I-that concept. How about: 'I just simply want to edit as I always did' concept?! My son tells me this new Windows (8 or what?) works great. Well, the only thing that comes in my mind is that timeless Danny Glover sentence from Lethal Weapon: I am to old for this sh.t!
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Old January 4th, 2013, 10:18 AM   #7
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Re: XDCAM EX and Avid Media Composer 5.5

Chris:

What is the QT Fuse option, and what is it designed to do? I don't recall seeing that option on my Avid 6.0.3, but then I wasn't really looking for it.

My go-to export workflow has usually been exporting to the internal drive as an AVID1:1, then using Sorenson to create an MPEG4 or H.264 for the web.

But I'm open to other options...including looking at QT reference again, which used to be an old school SD DVD tool, if I remember correctly.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 11:51 AM   #8
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Re: XDCAM EX and Avid Media Composer 5.5

The "QT Fuse" is just an export preset. It should be on your export list when you export a timeline from MC. It is an export preset that is configured for "Same as source" in the media codec setting.

I did a good bit of testing and based on what I saw Squeeze creates better looking H.264 files than MC does. It also does it much faster if you have a supported CUDA video card.

I found a lot of banding in dark areas of my H.264 exports in MC that don't happen when I create the same bitrate media in Squeeze. I work with mostly XDCam material so I've learned that mixdowns are my friend. That allows me to do QT Reference files to bring into Squeeze or AvidDVD.
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Old January 6th, 2013, 05:15 PM   #9
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Re: XDCAM EX and Avid Media Composer 5.5

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Ridicki View Post
I can not export an EX sequence in its original format XDCAM EX, but have to select one of other format options.
You can do this at Avid MC 6.5 (export MXF - XDCAM). I make the mixdown in AvidMC 5.5 (DNxHD185Mbps is ok for Europe's HD1080/50i) and export as QT ref (in QT Pro you can save this links as files - QT mov).

For quick work you can use AMA link to files or volume (it is not the import). Look for AMA plugins for MC5.5 on avid.com. With AvidMC 6.5you can make the AMA export so it is another option to MXF export.
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Old January 7th, 2013, 07:30 PM   #10
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Re: XDCAM EX and Avid Media Composer 5.5

Thank you all for replies.

I did as Ia was advised and solve part of the issues I was puzzled about. Sill, after trying both AMC and PP for a couple of weeks, I decided PP was after all better suited for my needs. The deal breaker for me was the way I can import EX files to PP and start working immediately. I am making documentaries with virtually thousands of shoots. Import and export time in that framework becomes very important. I will miss fantastic AMC interface, but I it is tradeoff I will ahve to make.

Thanks again for great support offered here.

Daniel.
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Old January 22nd, 2014, 06:35 AM   #11
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Re: XDCAM EX and Avid Media Composer 5.5

Provided your project settings match your XDCAM EX footage, it should "fast import" since XDCAM is a native format for Avid.

*edit* dang... just noticed this post was from 01/13 :D
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