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Old March 24th, 2014, 01:41 PM   #1
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Transcoding

Does FCX transcode from H264 to ProRes 422 when you choose "optimized" or should I convert the MOV H264 file to ProRes 422 HQ using a third party application.

Thanks
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Old March 24th, 2014, 02:51 PM   #2
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Re: Transcoding

Yes, in FCPX optimizing means transcoding to ProRes 422, although depending on the speed of your Mac you may not need to do so. Unlike "classic" Final Cut, many people have no need to transcode any more. Either way, no third party solution is required for h.264. If you're trying to keep the absolute best quality, then don't transcode at all.

If you want to use ProRes HQ, for some reason you can't choose that when importing. However, you could import without transcoding and then set the rendering setting of any Project to any flavor of ProRes you want. That would control Project rendering and export. Assuming you're on 10.1.1, just highlight the Project in the Browser, go to the Info panel of the Inspector pane, and click Modify Settings.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 03:06 PM   #3
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Re: Transcoding

Thanks David.
So, if I edit without transcoding, doesn't it make it more difficult for FCX to edit> I thought the the Apple Pro Res 422 HQ was the best format to bring in?

Are you suggesting that I edit the MOV and then transcode when I am all done?

I am a little (a lot) confused!

Thanks

John

PS I am running 10.1.1
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Old March 24th, 2014, 03:40 PM   #4
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Re: Transcoding

I'm hesitant to tell you what would be best for your workflow, but in FCP7, almost everything had to be transcoded. With FCPX many things do not have to be. It depends on the format of the clips and your processor and ram. Because of the more modern code in FCPX, many formats can be edited natively. Then there are things like Sony EX cams and my Canon XF series that are MPEG-2 422 in a wrapper - those require a plugin from Sony or Canon for FCPX to be able to import, but once the plugin is in place, I'm not even given the option to transcode - it always imports native.

HQ422 is a higher bit rate than 422, and I am not an expert at this, but the general consensus seems to be that the tiny extra quality that you might not even be able to see with HQ vs. 422 is not worth the huge files created by the transcoding. Like I said, some people don't even want to deal with the file sizes of 422 and so they edit native. Unless your Mac is older than 2-3 years, most people find they can even do AVCHD native with FCPX. I'm sure there are some exceptions with some types of motion graphics files or something where HQ makes a real difference.

I recommend just trying it and seeing if it makes things too sluggish. Lots of RAM helps. And if you edit native, then export a master file, it does all the work in the background for you.

I've never used proxy files, but some people use that instead of transcoding also. Before you export you just have to change the Project back to "Original or Transcoded" (depending on how you imported) from Proxy and it does the rest. People are doing pro level work on MacBook Pros.

Then there's the whole render thing. Even if the orange render line is showing, it will often play back well enough for editing purposes. Again, I've read that some people turn off rendering while editing. I don't - because I'm editing native I have it set to render any time I stop for 3 seconds :-)

Just try it and see how it works on your setup.
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Old March 24th, 2014, 06:58 PM   #5
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Re: Transcoding

A 2009 MacPro with a decent video card doesn't need to transcode in most circumstances. A 17" 2010 MacPro doesn't either. A four year old iMac probably doesn't if you are editing single standard AVCHD in a single track project. Once you start using filters, titles or multi-cam your mileage will vary using un-transcoded files.

ProResHQ files are about 30% larger than standard ProRes with little improvement to show for the size if you are transcoding from AVCHD. AVCHD is so compressed compared to standard ProRes, it's like pouring 50 marbles into a container for 75, there is lots of room left over. ProResHQ is great for projects coming from high end cameras or computer generated animation but for standard camera files it is overkill.
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Old March 25th, 2014, 03:28 AM   #6
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Re: Transcoding

Yeah just give it a shot without transcoding first, and see if the edit lags or is slow. You can always "optimize" directly in FCPX, which transcodes your clips to ProRes 422, even after you've started editing.

On my Macbook Pro Retina I could always edit .H264 MOV files natively without any lag, except during multicam edits with 3-4 clips at a time. But with a C100 and AVCHD files, native editing starts to lag once the project gets a little complex, and that's when it becomes a little annoying and not so snappy. Still possible, but slower. So in that case, optimizing the clips in FCPX fixes that lag, or you can transcode to ProRes 422 even before you import into FCPX, using a number of different media transcoders. I use ClipWrap, but any of the 3rd party transcoders will work.

And finally, when you export your final file, even if you edit your files un-transcoded in native H264 MOV files, FCPX will default to exporting a ProRes 422 MOV for the master edit. Of course you can change this in the export settings. But typically I would export (no matter what the import settings) to this default ProRes 422 MOV file, which becomes my master, and then MPEG Streamclip that down to whatever format and resolution I need to upload to Youtube, Vimeo, broadcast, etc. For example for Vimeo, you could Streamclip your master down to an MP4 at 720p, 100% quality, at 5000kb/sec bit rate limit, default audio, and uncheck "Interlaced Scaling".
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Old March 25th, 2014, 07:17 AM   #7
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Re: Transcoding

Thanks so much to all of you for making this very clear.
I think that I will try transcoding with a 3rd path app before importing and compare the performance to optimizing in FCX

My MacPro has plenty of RAM so I'll put it to the test.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your experience and knowledge with me.

Best,
John
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Old March 25th, 2014, 10:50 AM   #8
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Re: Transcoding

ClipWrap is the best with transcoding AVCHD files, especially if you expect to use the files in other programs that don't recognize raw AVCHD or share the files with other people. ClipWrap can re-wrap the AVCHD as QuickTime mov files without turning them into much larger ProRes files if you choose, but I would experiment with direct ingest of files into FCPX first just to save time.
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