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Old October 24th, 2009, 05:00 AM   #1
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compressor transcode 90 hours???

I just completed editing a 3 minute music video combining HDV footage from a XH-A1 and a HV30 at 30f/p with a lot of photoshop layers that were animated with basic motion in FCP. I also added tons of effects and some motion blur. Much of the time I would do a complex 10 second segment, transcode it pro res and bring it back into the main sequence timeline 'glued' together, sometimes adding further effects and layers or video.
It seemed a good workflow as early in the process the really complex layered bits would crash the FCP so i made the pro res mini movies...
i tried a transcode of the final with compressor, and at 'best' motion compensated and 'best' frame etc, the transcode showed and estimated time of some 90 hours! i stuck with it and it reduced to about 40 hours after 4 hours, but i thought something was wrong and abandoned. then i tried with lower setting for motion estimation etc. it took 4 hours, but the quality was horrible, lots of artifacts and bad motion skips. i then did a 'better' setting transcode that took 16 hours. it looks pretty good, a little soft and one or two less than smooth transitions/motions.... but i want GREAT quality. trouble is, power in Burundi cuts all the time, and with my MBP, I only get 2 hours max battery power... very stressful!
anyway, two questions:
1. is my workflow sound, and is there any potential trouble areas that could cause the ridiculous transcode times? or is this just an inherent pain in animating with photoshop layers?
2. is transcoding sections to pro res, only to be transcoded again a bad method for quality video?
3. will a 40-90 hour transcode yield exponentially better output, or will it just waste my time?
i will experiment with outputing a quicktime 8 bit uncompressed movie 'glued together' and then try to transcode that with compressor for DVD and hi qual youtube, but i think that might make me take a hit in quality?
any input and suggestions and experience in this would be greatly appreciated!
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Old October 28th, 2009, 02:36 AM   #2
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I dont know FCP too well, but unless you have a really old system and an unbelievably complex edit i cant imagine a 3 minute render taking 40+ hours.. Thats slower than 1/800th of realtime.. Im sure someone else will have a better answer but it sounds like a bug..

If your workflow is to render direct from FCP to compressor id be suspicious thats where a problem could exist.. Id try rendering out to uncompressed and see what the ETA is.. If thats acceptible then thats where all the rendering is being done so encoding with compressor after that shouldnt take too long..
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Old October 28th, 2009, 04:20 AM   #3
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I wouldn't use FCP for doing complex compositing. The render engine isn't all that great, especially if you're doing anything with stills that involve vertical motion.

Motion would be a better tool.

Or After Effects.

As for Compressor, you should export a QT file from FCP first. When exporting, choose "current settings" and turn off "recompress all frames" and "make movie self-contained".

Take this "Quicktime Reference" file and drop it into Compressor.

In your System Preferences, go into your Apple Qmaster settings and see if you have set up your "options for selected service..." with more than one "instance". If you have a multi-core Mac, choose 8 instances. One for each processor. Have "Quickcluster with services" selected, and turn "sharing" on.

When you run Compressor, it should max out all eight processors if that's how many you have. You can take a look at your Activity Monitor utility to see if all eight bars are full green.

If you try to run Compressor from within FCP it won't make full use of the power of your Mac and render times will be longer.

Again, if you're going to do complex composites, do it in something other than FCP. It's a great editor, but for specialized tasks, you will need to rely on tools that are better suited for the job.
Dean Sensui
Exec Producer, Hawaii Goes Fishing
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Old October 29th, 2009, 12:29 AM   #4
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thanks for your replies. i agree about using Motion, but i'm stuck at OS 10.5.3 because of my Pro Tools version, and my Motion version has the dreaded freezing bug... more things to sort out.
I have posted the 16 hour medium settings transcode here:

YouTube - Nobody Home (Roger Waters) - Brian David Melnyk

it is soft and has some artifacts, but for youtube, i guess it is passable...
i tried the 40 hour transcode and, while crisper, there is jittery, skipping motion in spots and interlacing problems (but playing the original sequence looks perfect...??? i'm missing something!). i think i have to go back to the original complex edits and use motion blur and deinterlace . so my question is do i edit all the complex sequences into a single timeline as is and then transcode all, or will transcoding each mini sequence to prores and then putting that into the timeline yeild the same result? because my render is set to prores in the timeline, is it the same process, or is it just an extra, quality diminishing transcode?
my brain hurts and i need a magical technician fairy to appear and make it all work!!!
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Old October 29th, 2009, 12:32 AM   #5
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oh, and i tried the QT uncompressed 8 bit and also current settings, and both had the same problems as the 40 hour transcode...
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Old November 5th, 2009, 05:41 AM   #6
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the solution

so i finally figured it out! the field dominance was 'lower' in all the sequences, which messed up all the photoshop layers. i set it to 'none' and it is a new, crisp world! i had to go back and re-render all the mini sequences and output with compressor, and then re-edit the whole final sequence... what a lot of time! painful lesson, but i am now outputing the final with compressor at 'best' settings, and it is a 2 hour transcode compared to the initial 40 hour one!
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