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Old June 1st, 2005, 08:26 AM   #1
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Was itching to switch

In putting together my HD budget, I was considering an uncompressed prospect HD with an AMD muli-core BOXX workstation. (Such a beast has yet to be released, and I know cineform will have to test that). Since I have few months, I've been exploring the possibilities of wiping the slate clean and switching to a mac.

This is not a mac vs. pc war. Both have advantages, and I use software that is cross-platform (adobe, macromedia, and lightwave, etc.) so switching won't be as high a learning curve for me. My real question is working with the DVCPRO HD format.

I've have quotes on two systems based on the BOXX and a dual G5 system, both with HD-SDI uncompressed and large arrays. The mac actually worked out to be the cheaper system.

However, before I make the plunge, and ignoring the mac vs. pc stuff. I'm faced with working with much of my video in DVCPRO HD, cuts only, basic titles, and some fades, etc. In the PC side of things, I cannot work directly with DVCPRO HD, but have to render to CFHD. I've been told this happens in real-time if I go via HD-SDI (and the file size will be smaller than uncompressed?). Not sure about firewire either.

On the Mac, it's all native, and nothing to render both HDV and DVCPRO HD are realtime and easily transported by firewire. However, I don't think DVCPRO HD, even on a Mac, is the best format for editing? I'd still have to render or capture to something other than DVCPRO HD? Maybe for cuts only or simple crossfades and titles, it'll suffice? But what then do I render to? From what I see uncompressed is the only solution, and that's a huge file for same qaulity. Not efficient for video that won't see compositing.

This brings me to storage. I don't dare go back to DVCPRO HD tape in the PC world, it'll be a recompression. If using CFHD, the 60meg/Hr file size is small enough to store on an IDE drive. Not sure if the Mac will recompress if I go back to DVCPRO HD tape?

In both platforms, I can rent a deck for D5 or HR for the occasional stuff that I need to hand off for broadcast or other. No worries there.

So my question is one of efficiency. I can edit and product excellent stuff on both platforms. FCP looks enticing, and the studio will give me project sharing that I now realize in the adobe suite with DV25.

Despite all this, I'm seeing the advantage of sticking with a PC solution and using cineform files to keep projects manageable. So my question comes to this: Even on a mac, I have no quality advantage of working with DVCPRO HD?
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Old June 1st, 2005, 10:49 AM   #2
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I think you already understand the problem. If you editing DVCPRO-HD your quality is the highest only while you are cuts-only. If that is the type of post work you do, you don't even need an expensive Mac. Once you consider rendered elements, any color correction or compositing and HDSDI exports to D5 or SR, the native editing proposition loses its charm.

Working uncompressed is the quality winner -- you get to work at the full HD resolution 1920x1080 (even though your DVCPRO-HD source is lower resolution.) Yet you disk space is exhausted quickly and real-time multiple stream is mostly unobtainable (I think Matrox Avio and a high-end Avid can to two streams on uncompressed HD.)

CineForm Intermediate get you the option to work in full resolution 1920x1080 and in 10-bit processing (just like uncompressed.) Visual quality is the same, yet multi-stream performance is higher. You don't need a multi-core AMD system to do it (but that would be very nice.) You also don't need a RAID capable of uncompressed speeds. If you are looking for a cost effective workstation, using CineForm's Prospect HD will greatly lower your costs. For a 10-bit 1920x1080 24p workflow we only recommend a dual Opteron 248 system will two SATA drives in RAID-0 -- this would be less than half the cost of the system you are pricing out.

Clearly you know my recommendation :)
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Old June 1st, 2005, 12:08 PM   #3
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Peter: for what it's worth, you may also want to check out the Canopus NX/SP products with their optional DVCProHD codec. Cost of that solution is somewhere between a G5 Mac and a Boxx workstation depending on how you configure it, and I think it would give you a choice between working in native DVCProHD or converting to the Canopus HQ codec, which is functionally similar to Cineform. Main downside would be having to learn the Edius editing interface, but that's not too bad once you get past the initial quirks of their design. Up side would be some impressive real time capabilities, which you'd want to compare carefully to the FCP5 and Premire Pro/Prospect HD solutions. (With HD we're back to second-guessing what marketing departments really mean by "real time.")

If you're not comfortable with native DVCProHD editing than the PC platform offers a wider variety of alternatives, but if you decide to work directly on the native files then the Mac platform may be a better way to go. Either way, get the most powerful computer you can reasonably afford.
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Old June 1st, 2005, 12:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Newman
I think you already understand the problem. If you editing DVCPRO-HD your quality is the highest only while you are cuts-only. If that is the type of post work you do, you don't even need an expensive Mac. Once you consider rendered elements, any color correction or compositing and HDSDI exports to D5 or SR, the native editing proposition loses its charm.
I like answering my own questions with a question : )

I managed to have the same discussion with a local editor whom uses FCP 4.5, but for DV25. He tells me that DVCPRO native in a mac is never recompressed except for edits. Playing back to tape via firewire will not involve a recomp. He also believes that it's much like DV25 and will survive a few generations without visual loss in quality. That would mean about three or four cycles, (i.e. edit on timeline, comp in AE, render back and final render).

Fine. However, I know what fourth generation DV25 looks like on an SD monitor, and I'm not sure if HD would be as forgiving. Again, I'd have to go uncompressed for 10bit CC, but with 10bit filesize for even simple corrections on straight video.

If I don't need a scsi array to realize 10bit performance with CFHD, then I have some wiggle room with the workstation if need be, and/or offset that amount to a decent lens for my cam.

With prospect, I still need HDSDI to get realtime writes to CFHD codec, correct? (The HDSDI would allow hooking up a highend camera, and outputing to a deck, etc. Not to mention output to an HD monitor for CC).

I suppose I also forgot to mention that windows 64 bit is here, and that a dual-core system will be the deal winner, as Mac has yet to produce a dual-core answer?

Pete
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Old June 1st, 2005, 12:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw
Peter: for what it's worth, you may also want to check out the Canopus NX/SP products with their optional DVCProHD codec..... Up side would be some impressive real time capabilities, which you'd want to compare carefully to the FCP5 and Premire Pro/Prospect HD solutions. (With HD we're back to second-guessing what marketing departments really mean by "real time.")
So a canopus/edius solution has more RT than a Prospect/Adobe one?
I assume their DVCPRO HD codec is also a wavelet compressor, and RT via HDSDI ingest?

Pete
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Old June 1st, 2005, 01:13 PM   #6
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There aren't direct comparisons between Prospect HD and the Canopus HD system due to core differences in the technology. From what I understand the system Kevin indicated is their HDV solution, it is not HDSDI (that has a different model number -- but I know they have one.) The Canopus HQ and DVCPRO-HD compression systems are both 8-bit DCT compressors that subsample the luma image (DVCPRO-HD has 1280x1080 max luma and Canopus HQ has 1440x1080 (from their white paper)). Neither is wavelet based. For full resolution 1920x1080 10-bit compression the choices are CineForm Intermediate with Prospect HD (10-bit wavelet) or Avid DNxHD (10-bit DCT.)
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Old June 1st, 2005, 01:53 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by David Newman
There aren't direct comparisons between Prospect HD and the Canopus HD system..... For full resolution 1920x1080 10-bit compression the choices are CineForm Intermediate with Prospect HD (10-bit wavelet) or Avid DNxHD (10-bit DCT.)
Thanks for clarifying that David. I think Avid would be a more expensive solution, and I'd rather get a decent studio quality camera and lens for the money. In three years time I'd still be shooting with a good cam, and be looking to replace my edit system, (not the other-way around).

Pete
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Old June 1st, 2005, 10:36 PM   #8
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The simplest way in FCP to deal with your problem is to capture and edit your DVCProHD native. If you don't like the quality of the recompression to DVCproHD on any effect or dissolve (although it does look very good still, and more than good enough) the traditional approach is to change the timeline setting to "uncompressed", render to uncompressed, and then output over SDI to your high end HD deck. If you can't play back uncompressed HD, the next best thing is to use PhotoJPEG codec at 75% which looks excellent and is more than visually lossless. If you're feeling the need for > 8bit quality, I'd do a cuts only DVCproHD edit, and go to an uncompressed 10bit suite for finishing.

Graeme
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 11:43 AM   #9
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Graeme, I guess I was able to communicate my issues with "native" DVCPRO HD on a mac. My only problem, is that I don't have a means to properly demo this process on either platform and compare the quality. (Much less speak with someone whose already editing in this format -which I gather you are?)

I do like the idea of prospect giving me a "middle ground" file that gives uncompressed results, 10bit, without the file size. However, your saying that in Mac, the quality is sufficient or comparable without the need for an interim file? Only for 10bit, I'd have to render out uncompressed -that's my beef. With Prospect, I'm already 10bit, in a manageable file size.

OK, then how much of my stuff needs to be 10bit anyway? If I setup and shoot correctly and avoid alot of CC, then much of my video would not require 10bit, and even the prospect file size of 60meg/Hr would be overkill?

I need to write this stuff down and examine all the pros and cons of each.

When my budget is approved, I'll have to go somewhere and rent some studio time and get my feet wet. Hopefully settling this matter once and for all.

Pete
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 12:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Newman
From what I understand the system Kevin indicated is their HDV solution, it is not HDSDI (that has a different model number -- but I know they have one.)
If you need HD-SDI I/O then you'd want the Canopus HD package, but both the NX and SP products have an option to support DVCProHD footage. If the final decision is to work in native DVCProHD it probably makes sense to consider using a Mac, since they've done so much work oriented around that format, but for an intermediate solution it sounds like Prospect HD would be a good way to go. Bottom line is that you have more options on PCs, including native DVCProHD support, but Macs have some good options too.
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 01:36 PM   #11
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... Bottom line is that you have more options on PCs, including native DVCProHD support, but Macs have some good options too.
I agree with more options for PC, but I though true "native" DVCPRO HD was a mac only codec. Hence, the reason for wavelet conversions from Canopus and Cineform. Wavelet files (how I understand it) use a visual, what you see it what you get format. But it's somewhere between DCT and uncompressed. Cineform has the edge by creating a wavelet file that works in 10bit space, (but I think it'll do 10bit CC on 8bit files -not sure).

In favor of the Mac, DVCPRO HD only recompresses in areas effected by edits, otherwise it's a straight 1:1 dub. So the file sizes are smaller than an intermediate file, and the project itself would be smaller. But then I'd have go uncompressed for CC and comps. That's the rub. For me, I'd have to see the difference in quality and speed.

Which brings me back to Cineforms utmost claim with Prospect, 10bit performance on a 8bit file to match uncompressed quality. If I find that to be true, then it's a no brainer. I can forget the mac, as my only recourse would be to go uncompressed. Winding up with files size that would be even larger than Prospects. Whew. My brain hurts. Time for some coffee...
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 02:01 PM   #12
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Peter,

Sorry to make your brain hurt, but a technical correction. Most compression systems are DCT, even the Canopus HQ codec. DCT was selected years ago because it was easier to implement into silicon, not because it was the most efficient. Wavelets are a more efficient compressor that when implemented well they don't produce compression artifacts that can occur with DCT -- blocking and mosquito noise. However DCT can be fine if you throw enough bits are the image. As a result both D5 at 235Mbit/s and HDCAM-SR 440Mbit/s (and higher) produce very nice images. As the CineForm wavelet compression is signicantly more efficient then DCT we achieve an image quality above D5 at around half bit-rate of D5. Wavelets can't do this alone, so CineForm uses temporal redundancy to get the extra compression without impacting image quality.
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 03:10 PM   #13
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Hey david, coffee did the trick.

I was going over the Matrox Axio info. They provide an offline solution suitable for off-site editing on a laptop. A special off-line HD codec at 1/10th the file size.

How would I address similiar suituation (proxy files) with Prospect HD? Obviously I'd save the CC for last on the full rez files. Would I be able to edit prospect files away from the workstation? You mentioned earlier that I wouldn't need a scsi array. Not sure if a firewire alone would be enough? If not, do I just use DV25 and make sure the TC is correct and recapture? Would I need a special plugin or license?

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Old June 2nd, 2005, 03:21 PM   #14
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Don't need proxy files with Prospect HD -- even for the laptop editing, a firewire drive will work fine. All that off-line editing we are trying to make a thing of the past. Prospect HD files will decode on any PC you need, yet for 10-bit integrated workflows with AE or PPro you will need a Prospect HD editing license. With the full Prospect package you get an additional edit-only license for this very purpose:

http://www.cineform.com/products/ProspectHDBundles.htm
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 08:12 PM   #15
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David, that's a great point that there's lots of options available. That's got to be good for everyone.

Peter, rendering DVCProHD doesn't look that bad at all. However, if you're going to the expense of mastering out to a much superior format like D5 or HDCAM SR, you'd probably want to go to uncompressed 4:4:4 10bit over dual link HD SDI. I guess what I'm getting at is that the middle ground is great, but it makes sense to match the quality and effort of everything so that you're not doing one bit of the workflow at a quality that's either far above the capabilities of the source video, or won't do justice to the mastering format. I think you'll get best bang for your buck, so to speak, by deciding to do each element of the production at the appropriate quality so you're not making it better than the master will see, or poorer than the master is capable of - just getting the sweet spot right.

I'm not editing in DVCproHD, but I get footage from customers to test my filters with, and develop workflows around, for them. DVCproHD is a great acquisition format, and for native editing in FCP, the end results look great. I think if you want better quality than which that is capable of, I'd be taking the end result into Final Touch for colour timing, in 32bit float, and making a 10bit uncompressed 4:4:4 master.

But it sounds to me, pretty much all the workflows we've had described will work and work great. I'd just go with whatever you feel comfortable with, and I reckon it will turn out great.

Graeme
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