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Old November 14th, 2012, 06:18 AM   #1
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MKIII - FCPX H264 vs ProRes 422

Hi All,

I had a great day at BVE North yesterday and spoke to a lot of experts. BlackMagic and Canon were obviously the stands that stood out and the C500 is a monster! I spent an hour speaking with the guys at Black Magic and working on DaVinci Resolve. I must say it's an amazing piece of software and it has opened my eyes in the world of color grading along with opening my eyes into what areas in which I can improve.

While working with the guys at Black Magic a debate broke out regarding H264 and Pro Res and if we should convert H264 to ProRes before we begin to edit in FCPX. I personally copy my files from my camera onto my hard drive then directly into the FCPX without any conversion. I have no issues in editing but apparently I am missing a step. If I convert my footage to ProRes I will have more information when I color grade but I am not sure if that is true.

Is the video not already compressed into H264 and how much information can converting the video to ProRes will I actually get back? I always thought of it as just another file extension e.g jpg to bmp as essentially the quality of the image is the same (I may be wrong)

As we all know the 5DMK3 compresses video using the H264 Codec and we do loose a large amount of information (which is essential for better quality color grading). Unknown to me (as I must have been on a different planet) was that there are many recorders out there which enable us to get the most out of our DSLRs and directly recording as ProRes.

But leaving that to one side am I right or wrong in thinking that I will have more information available to me if I convert my H264 footage to ProRes?
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Old November 14th, 2012, 04:45 PM   #2
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Re: MKIII - FCPX H264 vs ProRes 422

You won't have more information available to you - as you mentioned, once it's compressed to h.264 in camera you've already thrown the information away - but you may better preserve the info you get out of the camera. You will have more space to push the information around in (assuming you're using a 10-bit format like ProRes) - so as you grade you won't be throwing any additional information away.

As a practical concern though I'm not sure this is really necessary anymore with FCPX - presuming it decompresses the h.264, renders in a high-bit color space, then saves the rendered parts back to ProRes rather than h.264. That was an option in previous versions when using formats like HDV, I think it's just the standard behavior now in FCPX, so the only practical reason to do the conversion ahead of time would be to take load off the processor during playback for a general performance improvement while editing.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 11:26 PM   #3
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Re: MKIII - FCPX H264 vs ProRes 422

To confirm what you say Evan, I was mainly concerned with the issues of working with h.264 in the timeline s far as transcoding all of our work.

We had a real quick turn around piece a while back and I just worked direct with the files and haven't looked back.
Plus I keep playback at "Best Quality" and I have no problem working with all straight h.264 in short and long format projects.

You have to remember to regularly delete your project render files to keep bloat down and speed up, but if you do, it works very smoothly and we do a lot of grading and creative color work and there's no advantage to pro res in that regard.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 06:40 PM   #4
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Re: MKIII - FCPX H264 vs ProRes 422

Great info guys. What software do you use to color grade?
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Old November 16th, 2012, 12:26 AM   #5
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Re: MKIII - FCPX H264 vs ProRes 422

The color board is really fast in FCPX, I love that you can throw several corrections and masks on a clip in a couple of minutes - they still need to make the masks keyframable - (but I just got a great plug called SliceX that allows for that and a lot more.) I use Magic Bullet for a lot of post and I'm becoming fond of a new film stock emulation called FilmConvert.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 02:50 PM   #6
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Re: MKIII - FCPX H264 vs ProRes 422

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Giberti View Post
.... they still need to make the masks keyframable
They are key framable already......
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Old November 17th, 2012, 04:41 PM   #7
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Re: MKIII - FCPX H264 vs ProRes 422

Dave, the color masks in FCPX are not key framable.

It's been one of our biggest requests for Apple.
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Old December 31st, 2012, 10:33 AM   #8
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Re: MKIII - FCPX H264 vs ProRes 422

The size and position of the masks are keyframable, but not the colours. Yes I'd love to see the colours keyframable too.... that would be awesome and something they surely must add!
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