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Old June 30th, 2011, 08:55 PM   #1
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Don't be hoodwinked twice

An interesting experiment has cropped up, where people disappointed by FCP X are thinking that the new, $49 dollar Compressor add-on will make their FCP 7 encodes faster.

It won't so don't waste your time and money.

Compressor 4 won't talk to FCP 7 - or any other earlier version.

C4 is also not 64-bit so it's not capable of using all the cores you might have (like a new 12-core system), so no blistering speed increase.

And the output times are just as painfully slow as Compressor 3, so there's been no code-monkey tweaking of the actual encoding engine.

It's the same old Compressor with a few more presets and a minor interface tweak - and that's it.

As I've posted before in my encoder shoot-out, the fastest software-based encoder today for the Mac is Episode Desktop from Telestream. Sorenson comes in second by a wide margin and then there's Compressor with a molasses-slow 3rd place.

If you've got the cash to afford the external hardware, the fastest and highest quality encoder is unfortunately PC only. It will run on a $300 Win XP box but the hardware/software package will set you back around $3K to $6K depending on who's solution you purchase.

Ah, but what can a dedicated encoder like that do for you? How about taking an MPEG-2 encode that would normally take Compressor 20 hours to complete would be done in less than 3 hours with these kinds of rigs.

How about that.
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Old June 30th, 2011, 09:55 PM   #2
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

Thanks for the info. I was actually considering that.
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Old June 30th, 2011, 10:01 PM   #3
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

Matrox MXO2 MINI with MAX is a fast hardware H.264 encoder and it works with both old and new versions of Compressor. IIRC it was about $800.
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Old June 30th, 2011, 11:51 PM   #4
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

I'm sorry, my experience so far is that C4 is faster for certain codecs after I set up the QuickCluster. Converting to ProRes is remarkably fast. Converting to H264 is faster as well. QuickCluster seems to be under better control so I have been able to increase the number of rendering instances. Tonight's job of rendering 25 minutes of HDV to DVD took about 10 minutes. I seem to recall that HDV to DVD used to take longer. But some codecs don't seem to be different, DV-NTSC for example.

I still have to export from FCP 7 as QuickTime files as I always have had to do with C3 when using the QuickCluster anyway so that part of my workflow isn't changing. But with FCPX I can send a project direct to Compressor and use the QuickCluster without having to export a fully rendered QuickTime file first. The numerous deficiencies of FCPX aside, it's already been useful in assembling rough footage and making DVDs and web files for clients quickly.
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Old July 1st, 2011, 03:10 AM   #5
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Douthit View Post
Matrox MXO2 MINI with MAX is a fast hardware H.264 encoder and it works with both old and new versions of Compressor. IIRC it was about $800.
If you just need the H.264 encoder then the Matrox CompressHD card is under $500
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Old July 1st, 2011, 03:12 AM   #6
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

In my case I use it with both my notebook (Express/34) and my Mac Pro (PCI).
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Old July 2nd, 2011, 01:02 PM   #7
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

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Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
If you just need the H.264 encoder then the Matrox CompressHD card is under $500
Or an Elgato Turbo for under $100.
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 01:13 PM   #8
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

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Originally Posted by Arnie Schlissel View Post
Or an Elgato Turbo for under $100.
Gets my vote.

Although don't buy the dongle version if you have a Mac Pro tower or the latest Macbook. Encoding is quicker with the dongle unplugged!
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Old July 4th, 2011, 03:09 AM   #9
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

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Originally Posted by Marcus Durham View Post
Gets my vote.

Although don't buy the dongle version if you have a Mac Pro tower or the latest Macbook. Encoding is quicker with the dongle unplugged!
Not that I have seen using the dongle on my Mac Pro. It takes far longer to use Compressor or MPEG Streamclip. Using the Elgato dongle converts in almost real time. I am also bemused why you think it would it be slower on the latest MacBook.

We only use the Elgato dongle for proofs & such like where time is importatnt as the quality while very decent is not as good as when using Compressor or MPEG Streamclip.
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Old July 7th, 2011, 03:47 PM   #10
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

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Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
Not that I have seen using the dongle on my Mac Pro. It takes far longer to use Compressor or MPEG Streamclip. Using the Elgato dongle converts in almost real time. I am also bemused why you think it would it be slower on the latest MacBook.
Because I've actually found this to be the case and had it confirmed by someone else?

The marketing documentation makes you believe it's a hardware assist when the dongle is plugged in. But actually it takes over the entire H264 encoding process. Fine if you have a 3 year old Macbook Pro like me, but a colleague with the brand new topline Macbook Pro finds that the encode is faster without the dongle plugged in. The same is true with my own dongle when used on my 8 core tower.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 05:25 PM   #11
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

I agree with Robert on his views of Episode. Very nice and speedy encoder. I recommend it to everyone that processes mpeg2 files on a daily basis.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 05:39 PM   #12
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

But to be fair, lets compare like with like: Compressor 4 in the UK is 30 and Episode is 329. Probably money well spent if you encode very regularly but expecting software to be as good as a similar product 11x as expensive is unrealistic.
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Old July 8th, 2011, 09:03 PM   #13
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

A common theme of all Apple's pro video editing products, they are good but could be improved. Subsequent new versions add features but the code base remains the same and the product stagnates. Smaller more focused companies like Episode can only sell their products if they are better.

Apple can sell Compressor for less because they can make money in other areas, have volume advantage, as a result aren't as driven to provide software that uses the latest and best methods. I get the feeling there are a lot of internal politics driving decisions. If you can't convince the higher ups that updating Compressor to 64 bit or developing better encoding methods are going to result in more sales then I doubt its going to happen. Current trend is to sell to more users at a lower price.
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Old July 14th, 2011, 02:53 PM   #14
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Re: Don't be hoodwinked twice

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Originally Posted by William Hohauser View Post
I'm sorry, my experience so far is that C4 is faster for certain codecs after I set up the QuickCluster. Converting to ProRes is remarkably fast. Converting to H264 is faster as well. QuickCluster seems to be under better control so I have been able to increase the number of rendering instances.
So you're saying it actually is faster than 3.5 with a quickcluster? Or without the quickcluster? I just got a new quad core macbook and I'm trying to figure out how to maximize encoding performance, on my old system MPEG Streamclip was about twice as fast as compressor but on the new one it can't seem to use more than a couple of threads. With an 8 instance quickcluster I'm able to max out all four cores/8 threads and get dramatically better performance than anything else I've tried - an hour of 5D footage converted to prores takes about 30 minutes, 5 minutes of 1080p prores to two-pass 720p h.264 runs about 9 minutes. I'm just wondering if there's anything significant to be gained performance-wise by upgrading to 4. I always output to a self-contained ProRes master file from FCP, so I'm not particularly concerned with compatibility/integration issues with FCP7, just raw performance.
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