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Old July 31st, 2008, 02:11 PM   #1
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Why is Procoder Useless with Cineform?

Like many of you, I have been disgusted and defeated in attempting to make acceptable DVD-Rs and even BD-Rs from the 1920x1080 30p output of the Sony EX-1. I am attempting to produce acceptable discs from the EX-1 using, as my main machine, a very powerful and (I thought) well configured Boxx PC, with Premiere Pro CS3, Photoshop, After Effects, Encore, etc.. For disc encoding, I had been using the often maligned
MainConcept encoder, included in Adobe Encore. Earlier, I had been thrilled using Cineform Aspect HD, and then Cineform Prospect 4K with all the Adobe programs in producing superb DVD-Rs and BD-Rs from HDV - Sony FX-1 and similar HDV tape based cameras - and ALL of my customers were similarly thrilled! But then I made a major mistake - I purchased the EX-1, and have spent months of unproductive time in attempting to make an acceptable product from this awesome camera.

I will be writing later of my poor interim solutions (including various levels of Gaussian Blur, etc.), and even though the subject has been beaten to death here and all over the Internet, I will be posting my results and pleading for yours, if they work.

But, to the point! I have read on the Cineform forum here, and on many, many other forums about the notable superiority of Procoder 3 over the MainConcept program in encoding for DVD-R and BD-R. Those writing about this appear to have been unequivocal in their opinion and their unreserved praise. So I purchased what may now turn out for me to be a $470 coaster!

I installed Procoder 3, and brought into it a Cineform AVI, which I had previously used to produce both a BD-Rs and DVD-Rs, via MainConcept/Encore conventional means. This Cineform AVI checked out on the Procoder 3 panel regarding such matters as aspect ratio and pixels, but for some reason, though, it was indicated as progressive, indicated upper field first, which I corrected. I then entered data for the desired coding, hit the button for encoding, and a window popped up stating "AVI Reader. Parameter is incorrect". And that's all the further I have ever gotten, no matter what with any Cineform encoded file - it matters not what the aspect ratio is, number of pixels, frame rate, fields versus frames, etc., etc.. In contrast, I have no such problem of any sort with non-Cineform file conversion of any kind so far with ProCoder 3. But of course, I do not wish to and will not drop Cineform in order to use ProCoder 3.

In reading over (three times) the 200 plus page ProCoder 3 Manual, the only related reference I can find to AVI files indicates that the horizontal and vertical pixel count for AVI must be even versus odd. Well, of course, my files conform to even. In reviewing the Grass Valley Procoder 3 forum (on which I just posted a similar query) I find one thread which title directly references the pop up window I receive, "AVI Reader. Parameter is incorrect". Yes, the very same identical issue! And the subsequently identified problem and solution? Well three writers all were stopped with the same pop up, and all three took the identified problem, and sailed successfully away! The problem? A conflict between ProCoder 3 and Nero 8 (HELLO, WHAT!?). Can you believe it? The solution? Uninstall Nero 8 (and yes, there is a work around for a reinstall of only the BD-R, DVD-R burning segment). So, of course, I uninstalled Nero 8. Did that work. Well no, or I wouldn't be writing this.

And after several contacts with the Tech Department of Grass Valley (Engineer's), any solution from them was denied to me by them! Initially they thought the issue was transcoding of the original BPAV files. When I sent them a very small Cineform file, they said, what's that - they had never heard of Cineform (WHAT!) I don't think they were Indians, they sounded like North Americans. They asked if it was a proprietary program. I wrote back, and gave what I thought was a good summary of the Cineform codec and operation as well as plaudits to its functioning and its integration as a basic program in Adobe Premiere. Well, that did it! I was informed that they could only guarantee compatibility with codec's that are provided with Procoder 3. Third party codec's are not guaranteed to work. I was also told that if I could play my file in Windows Media Player, then it should work in Procoder 3, though again, there are no guarantees. Well, of course Cineform AVIs work (and mine specifically) just fine in WMP. But so much for ANY solution from Grass Valley, as long as I continue to use Cineform.

Now, what is so puzzeling to me about all of this is the fact (yes, FACT) that so many posters, here on the Cineform forum, and on video editing and processing forums around the Internet have 1) spoken so positively about Procoder 3, and 2) have not indicated any problem similar to one I have been having - and the factor that particularly interests me about almost all of these posters is that almost without exception, they give every indication of being basically quite intelligent, certainly knowledgeable first rate professionals, who apply their considerations in thoughtful, well organized, quite pertinent ways. While I certainly do not always agree with their choices (excuse me, choosing Apple over PeeCee ;<) ), I largely trust their integrity, judgement and application of their skills. And some of them are my heroes. And I don't see anyone of them apparently tearing their hair out about this kind of problem I'm having with ProCoder (well, yes, there are other issues, such as its usefulness and integration with Encore), and here I am, with the hope that I must be so inadvertantly wrong, that there is some simple solution to my problem. And by the way, my computer appears to be very healthy - just six weeks ago I did a complete reinstall of the Windows OS, all the Adobe programs, Cineform, etc - EVERYTHING else works perfectly except for ProCoder 3 (well, yes, Premiere Pro CS3 does apparently run out of memory and crash now and then when I make the mistake of using its titler).
And of course all hard drives are checked, cleaned up, defragged and just rechecked by a couple of programs to assure, as best as can be, registry integrity.

What a pity, so many of us used to be talented shooters and creative editors, and now so many of us are currently seventh rate psuedo computer mechanics. And if the customer and technical service provided by such companies as Cineform and Boxx were more extant, what a wonderful world it would be.

Excuse me for being off topic, I would be grateful to any of you if you have any useful insights, thoughts, and/or solutions for utilizing Procoder 3 with Cineform AVIs!
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Old July 31st, 2008, 02:32 PM   #2
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If you haven't already, file a support ticket at www.cineform.com/support/ and we'll investigate this issue from there.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 08:26 PM   #3
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1) Are you encoding from the Premiere timeline with the ProCoder PPro plug in (File> Export> ProCoder), or
2) are you rendering a CFHD.avi movie of your edited project and using that as the source for the standard ProCoder stand alone that's opened from your desktop?
If you are doing #1 and having problems, try #2 workflow
If your .avi is 30p, you should be able to set source field dominance to "none"
For m2v Target, the default m2v encoding does default to "Upper Field" and cannot be changed. If you want different settings, use the pull down menu to select generic ISO encoding and try that.
There is not enough specific detail in your description to nail down the exact solution, but I think your problem likely stems from something in your setup/settings. I have used the combo of Premiere/Cineform/ProCoder for 2 years without problems. I also have used this combo with EX1 footage in CFHD 1920x1080 30p and 60i .avi timelines> ProCoder m2v DVDs that are the best looking I've ever made.
As frustrating as this all is, the good news is that it will be figured out if you continue to pursue it.
Good luck!
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Old July 31st, 2008, 10:25 PM   #4
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Mr. Young:

Thank you for your response, suggestions, and thoughts! I rendered a CFHD.AVI movie of the edited project (which in Encore), was MPEG2ed by MainConcept and satisfactorily burned to DVD-RE (for testing). The exact same file was brought into Procoder 3, and as I indicated, locked up. I did set source field dominance to "none", and left the Target at the default "Upper Field, of course.

I may post again, with very specific settings. In the meantime I am very encouraged by your response, both in regard to 1) Procoder working well with Premiere/Cineform, and 2) that it is possible to get good looking DVDs from the process. So far, with Premiere/Cineform/MainConcept/Encore, I have only had garbage for both Blu Ray and DVD from EX-1 files (which files, by the way, play beautifully on my 24 inch high def monitors). And as I indicated, when I previously used Premiere/Cineform/MainConcept/Encore from FX-1 and similar HDV input, both Blu Ray and DVD looked great.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 12:51 AM   #5
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Hmmm.... It's a definite clue that it's only the EX1 material that is a problem. I have gotten great DVDs as well as Blu Ray from EX1 1920x1080 HQ sourced Cineform CFHD files- compressed either with ProCoder or Adobe/Mainconcept.
Are you using Aspect HD or Prospect HD? When I started using the EX1, I upgraded to ProspectHD in order to maintain the EX1 1920x1080 square pixel format. AspectHD is limited to 1440x1080 1.33 par format. Maybe it's worth another look at the exact HDLink settings you use for conversion of EX1 HQ.mpg> CFHD.avi.
I get the very best results by keeping everything as 1920x1080 sq pix. Then no matter what the downstream delivery- DVD, BR, Flash, iTunes-, or whichever the encoder-MainConcept, ProCoder, Sorenson Squeeze, etc.- the quality remains excellent, and IMO significantly better than I was getting from 1440x1080 1.33par HDV. In fact, I like the sq pix format so much that now I import not only EX HQ, but HDV and AVCHD as well, to CFHD 1920x1080.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 09:21 AM   #6
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Dear Mr. Young:

Well, again, thanks for your informative response! I have read many of your posts, previously, and they were amoung the ones which led me to purchase Procoder 3.

I now see that my initial post above was not well formatted and organized, as well as being overwritten (!), since the details evidently got lost in the verbiage. And then I was not at all specific about just what was wrong with the output.

As indicated above, I am currently using ProspectHD 4K. As an aside, for several months now, and prior to purchasing the EX-1, I have saved all HDV movie exports as 1440x1080 60i Cineform files on about 5 terabytes of external drives.

And further:

1) When I purchased Prospect HD 4K, I at once (well, between 7PM and midnight, and weekends) converted all my saved HDV Cineform files to square pixeled 1920x1080 30p Cineform files, using HDLink. Many of thse have then been produced again as DVD-R and BD-R: it is these, as you can imagine, that look so splendid on my customer's flat panels and projectors. I was prompted to go through this exercise because I had read so many shooters that had been getting such excellant results wih square pixels - you were probably one who touted this kind of operation!

2) When I started taking shots with the EX-1 (always in 1920x1080 30p) when I was shooting right, everything looked superb on the camera's little LCD monitor screen, and then after I brought the shots into Premiere, they looked superb on two 24 inch high def monitors - when a clip was played back in Windows Media Player, they looked just as good!

3) It was when I began to make DVDs (initially, no BD-Rs) from the EX-1 (EX-1: copy BPAV files to hard drive; transcode using HDLink; edit with Premier and export as 1920x1080 30p and save for archiving; using HDLink, convert to 720x480 30p; using MainConcept, ISO file as MPEG2, best quality single pass, 8; and burn to DVD-R). When I say these looked horrible, I am referring to the interline twitter related, of course, to very fine detail and hard edges, and a little girl wearing the wrong blouse, which close spaced lines were dancing away - I hadn't seen such obscene garbage for years.

4) For one of my customers, I had been editing and producing a few DVDs with shots taken by her with a cheap, one CMOS Sony camcorder. The final product looked decent to her, and she was quite satisfied.
She had been very pleased with my products for her taken with the FX-1. Then I put together a DVD resulting from my shooting with the EX-1 at a big birthday bash. I ended up with a heavy Gaussian Blur on the original 1920x1080 to get rid of the grotesque interline twitter on the originally produced DVD. She saw the original DVD without the blur, and her comment was "why would you pay money for someting that does this?" The heavily
processed DVD doesn't have twitter, but it doesn't look nearly as good as the DVDs resulting from her cheap camera!

5) It was when I attempted to make my first BD-R from shots taken with the EX-1 that I knew I was in deep trouble. I see all over the Internet that people are having terrible problems in making decent DVDs from the EX-1. But I hadn't heard about and didn't expect problems with BD-R - but there it was again, not nearly as bad, but bad enough to be a bad distraction --- the twittering fine detail - handrails withing 30 degrees of horizontal, hanging telephone and power lines in outdoor shots just so busy, and dancing about in any pans, etc..

6) Particularly with BD-Rs produced with EX-1 footage, I see two major camps - one comprised of professionals such as yourself, that report everythings just wonderful - and I have downloaded high def shots over the Internet, and see that that is true! Then on the other hand, there are those seeing the same twitter I'm seeing, and evidently defeating it by using various blurs, setting PP in the camera with Detail at -40, or even shooting at 60i (thereby loosing half the vertical resolution, but getting rid of the twitter).

7) I am at the point of just going back to HDV, and dumping the EX-1 and the $6,000 worth of SxS cards I misinvested in - I could probably recoup much of my investment on the Internet, and get my life and my sanity back.


In the meantime, thanks again for your thoughts. Right now I'm going back to edit and blur of my latest deadline, and this weekend will spend up to twenty hours trying out different settings for the Procoder 3, and then following your thought "Maybe it's worth another look at the exact HDLink settings you use for conversion of EX1 HQ.mpg> CFHD.avi". I can't imagine setting up anything differently there, because I'm currently in sq pix on everything, am getting beautiful twitter free shots from the FX-1, etc.. But then, you're getting great shots, and I'm getting garbage!

Best regards,

Bill
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Old August 1st, 2008, 10:42 AM   #7
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"3) It was when I began to make DVDs (initially, no BD-Rs) from the EX-1 (EX-1: copy BPAV files to hard drive; transcode using HDLink; edit with Premier and export as 1920x1080 30p and save for archiving; using HDLink, convert to 720x480 30p; using MainConcept, ISO file as MPEG2, best quality single pass, 8; and burn to DVD-R). When I say these looked horrible, I am referring to the interline twitter related, of course, to very fine detail and hard edges, and a little girl wearing the wrong blouse, which close spaced lines were dancing away - I hadn't seen such obscene garbage for years."

This is because EX-1 it too sharp, downconvert to SD introduced these artifacts if the software does not do a good job, click on this link and follow the directions and you will have BEAUTIFUL SD DVD from EX-1 but first you must figured out why PC3 lock up, if you can't then I would still use these procedure but with a different encoder, it might look complicated at first but once you have install everything, it is just a few more clicks, this only work with ProCoder 3.0, the only thing I would recommend is to use Precise bicubic (A=0.60) in resize method instead of lanczos3.
http://ediusforum.grassvalley.com/fo...ht=virtual+dub
I like to add to this, some people that don't use these step might still see a good SD DVD is probably using a good progressive dvd player display on a good flat screen, some see heavy artifacts junk probably watching it on a interlaced monitor, that is why you have 2 different camp, this is exactly what I see if I don't use Virtual dub, looks like crap on my interlaced but awsome on my PS3/LCD that has very good deinterlaced.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 01:18 PM   #8
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It sounds like line twitter is the biggest problem you are experiencing.
When I transcode for DVD, Flash, etc. from 1920x1080 30p CFHD avi, I do not resize the file to 720x480 1.2 par with HDLink. I compress directly from the original CFHD no matter with ProCoder, Squeeze, or MainConcept. I have not seen any problem with line twitter on any of the output. I am only monitoring with flat panel and HDTV, so I can't speak to the issue with interlaced monitors.
Previously, in developing workflows to get from HDV to DVD, particularly from 60i HDV, I would see line twitter as a problem with certain workflows, but have not seen it as an issue with EX1 30p as described above.
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Last edited by Robert Young; August 1st, 2008 at 04:52 PM.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 04:35 PM   #9
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Bill,

Here is something to try and report back. We use a very nice scaler, and it has some options that are not exposed (yet) to the user that might help for very sharp sources.

http://www.miscdata.com/cineform/VideoChange.zip

In this archive are six versions on the scaler filter with a range of vertical filtering defaults.

CFVideoChange.ax -- your current version
CFVideoChange10.ax -- sharpest vertical
thru
CFVideoChange18.ax -- softest vertical

Replace in
C:\Program Files\Common Files\CineForm and restart HDLink for each test.

Which do you prefer for maintaining the best sharpness without interlace flicker on SD.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 05:10 PM   #10
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I will run my EX1>DVD workflow tonight and report back.
I have a 5 min edited short video, shot as EX1 1080 60i HQ. It should be quick and easy to put it out on DVD from CFHD.avi. I'll see what I get and make sure I'm not leaving something out of my workflow discription.
Khoi's frameserving approach to downscaling for DVD has attracted a lot of interest and excitement, but I tend to think of it as one of the things you can use to make a good thing better. It sounds like your problem is that you are getting output that is unwatchable. That makes me think there's something basic that is out of whack that probably should be sorted out before trying to head for greener pastures.
More in due course.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 11:23 PM   #11
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My test run: This particular test is a 5 min short, 60i workflow all the way thru, but the procedures and outcomes are the same as when I use 30p
1) Acquisition: EX1 1080 60i HQ
2) Import clips with Sony Clip Browser
3) HDLink: Quality- High, Frame Format- automatic, Resize Video- none, Keep source aspect ratio- checked
4) Import CFHD clips into Premiere CS3, Cineform 1920x1080 project (60i in this case)
5) Edit, then File> Export> Movie-Cineform Compressor; settings 1920x1080 60i, etc.
6) Open the CFHD movie file as Source in ProCoder 3- check that the settings accurately reflect the parameters of the source footage.
7) Target> Add> DVD>mastering quality
8) Target settings- mpeg2 stream, wav audio, 720x480, 16:9, VBR 2 pass 6 MBs (8 max), field= upper
9) Add filters & special processing (I tweaked the Gamma and color sat)
10) Hit Convert and ProCoder should start working. If you get an error message at this point, my guess is that there is something amiss with the ProCoder install, or some conflict with other software on your system. I have used Procoder vers. 1, 2, and 3 with 720, 1440, and 1920 CFHD.avi and never a problem. To ProCoder, CFHD is simply another generic .avi file
11) Import the m2v and wav into Encore, author and burn the DVD
Results:
1) viewing the m2v file (from HD) on system monitor and HDTV- excellent images
2) viewing the DVD from upscaling HDMI DVD player to 50" HDTV- excellent, detailed images
3) viewing the DVD on interlaced CRT TV with built in DVD player- normal looking letterboxed, old fashioned TV image- I had forgotten how quaint that look is.
Anyway, #2 in particular looks better than anything SD I ever made from small cam HDV (Sony V1, Z1), looks "broadcast" quality, and has enough detail to almost look HD.
There are no noticable artifacts such as aliasing, twitter, blocking, noise, etc. Crossfades and blacks look clean.
I think the EX is a very remarkable camera, really, a new paradigm for inexpensive handheld cameras, that gives many of us the opportunity to produce very high quality programs.
I hope you can figure out the source of your problem. You will be very pleased once it gets ironed out.
Keep the faith!
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Old August 2nd, 2008, 07:16 AM   #12
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Gentllemen:

Goodness gracious, thank you all! It may be a while, and even quite a while before I post anything again here - at this point, I am not just certain what I will do next (and though usually often wrong, I am never indecisive!). I am interested in the commentary provided by you all - Mr. Pham, I of course have seen your procedure on the Grass Valley boards, and a number of other sites, posted by you, or referenced and linked by others - Mr. Newman, I may take a quick run using the files you provided, perhaps shortly, but more likely much later - Mr. Young, at one point or another, I will be taking account of all the helpful advice and outcomes you have provided.

What I may do next is wipe out my program hard drive, just start totally over, reinstall Windows and all the Adobe programs, Cineform, Procoder, etc. The part of that which really frightens me is getting Cineform back on, since I usually end up in a two to three day dance with Cineform in legitamatizing my copy of the program.

Before doing that, I may take one more runs at attempting to get Procoder to work at all with Cineform - if so, I may post some specific project settings here. I may also take a quick run at utilizing the data provided by Mr. Newman, and reporting back on the results.

Before I go, a couple of quick points.

First, I test all my BD-Rs and DVD-Rs on two different set-ups. The first utilizes the Sony Playstation 3 (for playing both BD-Rs and DVD-Rs) feeding a Panasonic 2000U projector onto a 109 inch Stewart Firehawk - if there is a chance that anything will look good, it will look great on this setup - the scaling, deinterlacing, etc., of this combo is awesome! The second setup is the acid test - if it gets by this, it will play out satisfactorily on almost all of my customers systems - a Sony 300S Blu Ray player feeding a 40inch Samsung flat panel LCD. And of course I have had many DVd-Rs that get by on the Panasonic projector, which are also next to unwatchable on the Samsung flat panel. What I had been producing from the FX-1 was almost invaribly great on both setups. What I have been attempting to produce from the EX-1 looks acceptable on both systems as a Blu Ray iteration which has a fairly heavy Guassian Blur treatment. On DVD-R, with the same Gaussian Blur, the twitter is pretty well gone with an obviously very soft picture on the Panasonic - on the Samsung, I just have a very soft picture, with some twitter and other jaggies - again, I get a much, much better DVD playing through the Samsung from the FX-1.

Second, Mr. Young, if I put a vertical Gaussian Blur on a 1920x1080 30p Cineform AVI, and put it into MainConcept for downscaling to a 720 DVD production, I get something that is totally unwatchable - this procedure, instead of using Cineform to downscale, results in the introduction of vertical as well as the usual horizontal twitter.

That's all for now. As I said, I may take one more stab at getting ProCoder to work, and may test out Mr. Newman's program modifications, and then post my results. If I do a total re-install of everything and still can't get Procoder to work, then into the wastebasket it goes! And again, thanks to you all.
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Old August 2nd, 2008, 01:39 PM   #13
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One thing I might add- at one point I had some freeware called ffdshow (a decoding filter) that installed with another application I had purchased (I can't remember which one). This ffdshow program absolutely caused a conflict with ProCoder such that I could not process Cineform .avi files. I don't know why it was a problem- possibly related to settings in ffdshow that I could have readjusted, but I finally just uninstalled ffdshow and the problem was solved. This is the type of thing you might want to look for. IMO you absolutely should not be needing to go through all of the gyrations you describe in order to get excellent transcodes from EX sourced CFHD.avi. Something in your system is creating this problem.
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 10:35 PM   #14
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Dear Mr. Newman:

Quickly, since it is late here, and I have put in over 13 1/2 hours today alone attempting to get adequate test BD-Rs in 1080p or DVD-Rs in 720p, with no success, including trying out the scaler files you were kind enough to provide. None of them worked in BD-R - I may give them one more quick try tomorrow in DVD-R, but in BD-R, none had any significant positive impact. And much more tomorrow, (if I can fit it in with my "normal" work), about other attempts, and finally, for three MAJOR reasons, giving the boot to Procoder 3 in this lifetime. Again, many thanks for your efforts.
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Old August 4th, 2008, 04:01 AM   #15
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Hi William,

Can you please check, when importing Cineform AVI file to Procoder 3, what VIDEO FRAME SIZE do you get?

When ever I import any Cineform AVI file into Procoder 3, I get only half of the original frame size. (this problem does not occur in Procoder 2).


Thanks.

Johnnie
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