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Old July 10th, 2009, 01:01 PM   #1
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Difference between Native files or Cineform files?

I have a few questions.

1.What is the difference between native and Cineform files?

2.What is the difference in selecting the "Main Concept MPEG PRO" or Cineform HD 4?

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Mikael Bergstrom
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Old July 10th, 2009, 09:04 PM   #2
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It depends on how you're using the term "native". Sometimes that means the format used when recorded in a camera. If that's the definition you intend here, then native files were never intended for editing. You *can* edit them, but they were not intended for that purpose. Instead they were intended for recording your onto media. Usually that means a constant bit rate (tape formats) or files as small as possible (AVCHD on flash media). Both are compromises when you take your media into post production.

Editing native files can be done but usually at reduced performance compared to a format intended for editing (like CineForm) and also at reduced quality. With rare exceptions all camera formats are 8 bits, and you're better off taking a 10-bit file through post because of increased precision at render stages.

Consequently CineForm recommends converting camera formats into CineForm files for the highest quality and highest performance workflow.

Main Concept is one of the MPEG codec providers. MPEG is an acquisition and distribution format. CineForm is a Wavelet-based post-production format.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 07:39 PM   #3
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Hi David (and anyone else who would like to answer),

I thought I'd just jump on this thread as it seems appropriate. I'm relatively new to HD and am trying to clear up a question or two I have. Any help appreciated. Please forgive any stupid questions I may ask.

I'm using Adobe PP CS4 on a QUAD Core Q9650 rig with 8GB RAM and a PROAVIO SAS RAID5 6TB array under Windows 7 64-Bit OS. This provides HDV to the system at around 700MB/sec. The video card is an nVidia 8800GTS 640MB. Clearly, it is very fast. I shoot 1080 25p with a SONY HVR-Z7P so am capturing both MPEG2 to tape and MT2 to CF Card simultaneously. I hope that's enough info on the setup.

So far and especially now that I dumped Vista, things are running extremely well. I edit using a DELL 30" and monitor on a 2nd DELL 24". CS4 has no problem playing back at full screen with no jitters or any other issue. So all is well.

Around 6 months ago I weighed into the forum, trying to understand the Cineform Prospect HD debate. In the end I gave up because of the RT Engine issues (still not resolved I see) and the ImporterProcess crash issues. Essentially, with Cineform I could not get a stable system under CS4 and without Cineform, I did. After speaking with ADOBE who couldn't understand why I would want/need to use an intermediate CODEC anyway, I went back to editing natively with MT2 and MPEG.

Now, I will mention again that using this setup and formats, things are fast and to my eye, the results are spectacular. I can deliver to any format I choose - for me FLV/FL4, MPEG-DVD, H.264, down-sampled SD, whatever. No problem. Yes, as I do a few transitions in the edit I need to render them but that's no big deal as it is very fast (usually sub 60sec for a 5 min sequence with multiple transitions and audio effects). I can even edit using maximum display quality with smooth playback and never need to use the draft setting.

So what am I going on about this for? Well, today I get an email from Main Concept about their new MPEG Pro™ HD 4 CODEC and I got interested and installed the trail and it looks great, works and everything is fine. I get some more options when exporting and all that but essentially, the end result looks the same without it. I had the same experience with Cineform (when it worked). My question is why on earth would I need or want to spend money on a CODEC like Cienform or Main Concept when there just doesn't seem to be any advantage? What am I missing here? I just don't get it, particularly when ADOBE tell me the same. I see no degradation in the video quality over successive renders either. One thing is that Main Concept (advanced feature) spits out AVCHD which I understand is the next big thing in formats, so maybe that's good, but I don't know.

All over the internet are constant references to CODEC this and Cineform that. That you have to have the product to edit HDV. That you need a QUADRO CX card as well or you wont get far. Added to this is constant reference to having to use a 3rd Party card like AJA or BlackMagic to monitor, but I monitor fine with no such card. Capture comes via Firewire (or the CF card) so no need for RCA's or HDMI either (unless I had to monitor out to a HDMI screen but why would I really need to). I also combine AE comp's, titles, HD audio coming in off MOTU interfaces and other effects like grading and audio sweetening from VST's. Again, no problem, even with SoundBooth and AE and other app's open at the same time.

Do you know what it is that I am totally not getting here? The Cineform Prospect HD CODEC resulted in massive file sizes that were hard to push around when I used it and it kinda sucked having to convert everything each time using the standalone app, etc. Fine if the result was worth it but I couldn't see it. There must be some reason that it gets rave reviews? You mention in your post that "MPEG is an acquisition and distribution format. CineForm is a Wavelet-based post-production format" which I understand but at what cost? Is it that amazing and will my system suddenly running faster than it already is? Am I missing out on some incredible quality and degrading my video and I am just really naive? I just don't get it.

Thank you so much anyone who can clear this up for me once and for all.

Cam

Last edited by Cameron Smeal; November 17th, 2009 at 08:19 PM. Reason: typo and additions
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:07 PM   #4
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If you want to stick with HDV quality, your approach is fine on today's computers. While CineForm is fast, faster than most native solutions, we also know that is less of a factor on newer hardware (who really needs 6+ real-time streams anyway?) So you have 8-bit 4:2:0 1440x1080 HDV workflow, and CineForm entry point is 10-bit 4:2:2 1920x1080 going up to 4K+ 4:4:4 12-bit, not much crossover. Some with monitoring hardware, your typical graphics card is not color accurate for finishing, whereas HDSDI cards, bypass all potential colorspace issues and deliver untouched 10-bit native YUV or RGB to calibrated monitors (NVidia cards with HDSDI cost over $5K.). Also HDSDI is the method professionals use to distribute and master their productions. As professionals move to a IT approach, more and more are use CineForm as a mastering/facilities delivery format, and mezzanine achieve, simply as it preserves more quality than all the possible end distribution mediums. This is just a few of the many factors than make CineForm successful today.

Error you have made is thinking CineForm is the alternative to HDV/native camera compressed editing (that was 5 years ago,) when today it is an alternative to uncompressed deep 10/16-bit DPX/TIFF based editing and finishing. We have both aspiring filmmakers and established post facilities using CineForm tools, but it is not for everyone. Generally if you are a user using multiple camera types, awkward formats like AVC-HD, 24p in 60i sources, multiple resolutions, need aggressive color correction (and fast,) or simply concerned about the best quality, we are an excellent fit.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 09:11 PM   #5
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Well that cleared that up.
Thanks David.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:09 PM   #6
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BMD Intensity + Cineform + CS4 + 10-Bit

Hi again David, (and anyone else please your opinion is highly valued),

Following your response I have been thinking very hard about changing format and workflows. Work is good so it's time to move out of the HDV arena most probably into the XDCAM EX soon. During this transition phase, I will be shooting HDV still for some productions but recording to the Nanoflash via HDMI. This should mean 10-Bit 422 at 35mbps-50mbps depending on the job. I am thinking of monitoring on LCD via BMD Intensity. I have a question or two about this setup and Prospect HD. Once again all this is PPro CS4 64-Bit WIN7 7TB RAID5.

1. Using Prospect seems like the right way to go here, but do you see any problems with this set up? I've read so much on all this that I think I now know less! The note on the CF Tech Blog:

"At present CineForm software does not use the Intensity card to play out, nor can Intensity be used to monitor the editing timeline (using CineForm presets) in Adobe Premiere Pro. We’ll be investigating playback through Intensity in future software releases. In the meantime, Intensity combined with Prospect HD/4K or NEO HD/4K is a great way to ingest footage originating through HDMI."

Is this still correct? What alternative is there?

2. I have also heard that the Intensity card does not support 1080 25p and as I am in PAL land, that is a concern too.

Thanks David or anyone who can help or has experience with BMD cards and 10-Bit footage.

Last edited by Cameron Smeal; March 11th, 2010 at 10:10 PM. Reason: Change heading
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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:30 PM   #7
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Nanoflash is 8-bit only. Blackmagic Intensity is designed in Australia, so I would think they would get PAL source correct. I expect you can use Blackmagic edit modes with CineForm file, just as you can with Matrox MXO2 -- I have not attempted that.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 11:02 PM   #8
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Yes, sorry, right you are about Nanoflash being 8-bit.

My question was about the statement "At present CineForm software does not use the Intensity card to play out, nor can Intensity be used to monitor the editing timeline (using CineForm presets) in Adobe Premiere Pro". Are you saying that's not correct anymore?

The BMD site says, "HD Format Support - 1080i50, 1080i59.94, 720p50 and 720p59.94." but not 1080p25 exactly.

Anyone had any experience with 1080 25p and the BMD cards?

Last edited by Cameron Smeal; March 12th, 2010 at 06:44 AM.
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