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Old July 20th, 2008, 04:10 PM   #1
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FCE4, MBP and Hard Drive Camcorder for Noob ??

Hello,

I am strongly considering the switch from PC to Mac for the reported “better video editing capabilities” of the Mac. Here is my information and questions (I apologize in advance for the length). I have not done any video editing in about two years (active duty Air Force and have not been home in a while).

Anyway, I was using Adobe Premier 5.1 on a 3GHz, 2GB RAM PC. Also, I shot my videos with a standard handheld JVC Mini DV camcorder. I am a hobbyist primarily shooting family videos, vacations and the occasional b-day party.

Here is what I intend to buy: a Mac Book Pro and here are its specs 2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM - 2x2GB with a 200GB Serial ATA @ 7200 rpm.

I am thinking about buying the Sony HDR-SR11 Handycam. It is a hard drive based high definition camera.

Also, the Apple store will pre-load my MBP with Final Cut Express 4.
So here are my questions:

1. Can my PS3 Blue Ray disc player play the discs created on my MBP with FCE 4?
2. Are hard drive high definition camcorders compatible with MBP and FCE 4?
3. Is the MBP “robust enough” to edit videos?
4. Is FCE 4 user friendly for a PC user with Adobe Premier experience?
5. Are there any “major” negatives to using a hard drive camcorder?
6. What is a P2 card?
7. Can I edit and view 1080 video on the MBP w/o an external hard drive?
8. What is H264?
9. If the video is on a hard drive within the camera, do you still need to "import or
capture” the video? Can’t you just copy the video file to the Mac?

I did a search on this forum and found some information, however, if anything it just confused me more. Interestingly, the MAC HD Workshop is going to take place about 10 miles from my house in SoCal - $795 (ouch). Thanks for any and all help for this noob!

Paul
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Old July 20th, 2008, 04:28 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jeannel View Post
1. Can my PS3 Blue Ray disc player play the discs created on my MBP with FCE 4?

Yes.

2. Are hard drive high definition camcorders compatible with MBP and FCE 4?

Depends which one. I'd recommend an AVCHD camera. Also Apple can tell you which cameras are compatible.

3. Is the MBP “robust enough” to edit videos?
Yes.

4. Is FCE 4 user friendly for a PC user with Adobe Premier experience?
Only if you like not having to waste time fixing your computer all day long.

5. Are there any “major” negatives to using a hard drive camcorder?
No easy backups of footage.

6. What is a P2 card?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P2_(storage_media)

7. Can I edit and view 1080 video on the MBP w/o an external hard drive?
Sure.

8. What is H264?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264

9. If the video is on a hard drive within the camera, do you still need to "import or
capture” the video? Can’t you just copy the video file to the Mac?
Copy, then import into FCE.

I did a search on this forum and found some information, however, if anything it just confused me more. Interestingly, the MAC HD Workshop is going to take place about 10 miles from my house in SoCal - $795 (ouch). Thanks for any and all help for this noob!

Paul
Hope that helps -Noah
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Old July 20th, 2008, 07:24 PM   #3
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Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jeannel View Post
Hello,

I am strongly considering the switch from PC to Mac for the reported “better video editing capabilities” of the Mac. Here is my information and questions (I apologize in advance for the length). I have not done any video editing in about two years (active duty Air Force and have not been home in a while).

Anyway, I was using Adobe Premier 5.1 on a 3GHz, 2GB RAM PC. Also, I shot my videos with a standard handheld JVC Mini DV camcorder. I am a hobbyist primarily shooting family videos, vacations and the occasional b-day party.

Here is what I intend to buy: a Mac Book Pro and here are its specs 2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM - 2x2GB with a 200GB Serial ATA @ 7200 rpm.

I am thinking about buying the Sony HDR-SR11 Handycam. It is a hard drive based high definition camera.

Also, the Apple store will pre-load my MBP with Final Cut Express 4.
So here are my questions:

1. Can my PS3 Blue Ray disc player play the discs created on my MBP with FCE 4?
2. Are hard drive high definition camcorders compatible with MBP and FCE 4?
3. Is the MBP “robust enough” to edit videos?
4. Is FCE 4 user friendly for a PC user with Adobe Premier experience?
5. Are there any “major” negatives to using a hard drive camcorder?
6. What is a P2 card?
7. Can I edit and view 1080 video on the MBP w/o an external hard drive?
8. What is H264?
9. If the video is on a hard drive within the camera, do you still need to "import or
capture” the video? Can’t you just copy the video file to the Mac?

I did a search on this forum and found some information, however, if anything it just confused me more. Interestingly, the MAC HD Workshop is going to take place about 10 miles from my house in SoCal - $795 (ouch). Thanks for any and all help for this noob!

Paul
1. Shouldn't be an issue. Don't have one though.
2. Yes. FCE 4 does both HDV and AVCHD (most HDD are the later),
3. Yes. I use a regular macbook. Although I added a 200GB(internal) HDD and 2GB RAM. MBP is only moderately better. Except if you use Color or Motion with FCS. Compare the specs. I decided on a reg. MB because I only use FCE.
4. I have use Adobe 6 and 7. I like FCE a lot better. I rolled through a wedding vid in record time with far better results.
5. No personal exp here. But, Limited space. Potential for failure w/o simply grabbing another tape. I have taped tapes together to save them. I dunno not yet personally sold. I use Minidv and HDV. Thinking about the solid state SD type. Need another HDV to backup my main cam.
6. Dunno.
7. Depends on the size of your HD. I have 200GB thinking about getting a 320GB. I put 1 hour of HDV which FCE 3.5 converted to AIC codec. Took 90 -110 GB.
8. A form of MPEG4 I believe Part 10. Its predominantly a distribution codec.
9. My understanding that it is the great benefit.

One thing if you are going from Windows to OS X. I would consider Parallels or VMware Fusion with XP home or Pro. Or if your cheap Suns Virtual Box. I find it helpful. I have edited on Windows, Linux (ugh that sucked) and OS X.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 01:01 AM   #4
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1. It can play the standard definition DVDs you create. However there is currently no good way to create a high definition Bluray disc on a Mac. Even though external Bluray burners are available, the software is just not there yet. Search this forum for "bluray" to read about some of the failures and complications that users have run into while experimenting with various Bluray workflows on the Mac.

2. Yes, although the support for AVCHD devices is a bit of a kludge, because your video has to be transcoded into AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec), which requires about 3-4x the disk space of DV/HDV video, and 8-20x the storage space of the original AVCHD video as shot by the camera. (i.e. if you filled the camera's 40GB drive with video at the lowest quality 5mbps setting, it would require about 800GB of disk space to capture in AIC).

3. Definitely. I'm just finishing up a feature length movie in HD (shot in HDV) on my MBP, complete with tons of special effects, color grading, subtitles, etc..

4. Yes, very easy. I switched from PPro to FCP and would hate to have to go back.

5. You are limited to the space on the camera's hard disk, and if you run out before you are able to offload the clips to another disk, your only choice is to delete some of your footage. With tape, you just pop in a new tape (which you can buy almost anywhere). Also, there isn't any long-term archival media available for hard disk cameras. Optical disks and hard drives do not store data reliably for more than a few years. With tape-based cameras, your tape becomes your archive. Tape technology is proven to be viable for archival for 20+ years. There is also the problem of editing AVCHD which was really meant to be a consumer format and not designed for serious editing.

6. Already answered above.

7. Yes, but if you are using AVCHD/AIC, you will run out of space quickly. An external disk is strongly recommended.

8. h264 a codec similar to MPEG-2 but theoretically even more efficient. It allows good quality high definition video to be squeezed into the same number of bits that MPEG-2 needs for standard definition. However, the h264 encoders used in camcorders have space and power constraints which means they can't take full advantage of all the efficiencies of the h264 codec, so for now the quality does not live up to the theoretical full potential.

9. Well you could just copy the file over to store it locally, but to actually edit AVCHD video, FCE needs to transcode it to AIC first, which takes time and lots of disk space.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 01:53 AM   #5
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Thanks To All!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Livingston View Post
1. It can play the standard definition DVDs you create. However there is currently no good way to create a high definition Bluray disc on a Mac. Even though external Bluray burners are available, the software is just not there yet. Search this forum for "bluray" to read about some of the failures and complications that users have run into while experimenting with various Bluray workflows on the Mac.

2. Yes, although the support for AVCHD devices is a bit of a kludge, because your video has to be transcoded into AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec), which requires about 3-4x the disk space of DV/HDV video, and 8-20x the storage space of the original AVCHD video as shot by the camera. (i.e. if you filled the camera's 40GB drive with video at the lowest quality 5mbps setting, it would require about 800GB of disk space to capture in AIC).

3. Definitely. I'm just finishing up a feature length movie in HD (shot in HDV) on my MBP, complete with tons of special effects, color grading, subtitles, etc..

4. Yes, very easy. I switched from PPro to FCP and would hate to have to go back.

5. You are limited to the space on the camera's hard disk, and if you run out before you are able to offload the clips to another disk, your only choice is to delete some of your footage. With tape, you just pop in a new tape (which you can buy almost anywhere). Also, there isn't any long-term archival media available for hard disk cameras. Optical disks and hard drives do not store data reliably for more than a few years. With tape-based cameras, your tape becomes your archive. Tape technology is proven to be viable for archival for 20+ years. There is also the problem of editing AVCHD which was really meant to be a consumer format and not designed for serious editing.

6. Already answered above.

7. Yes, but if you are using AVCHD/AIC, you will run out of space quickly. An external disk is strongly recommended.

8. h264 a codec similar to MPEG-2 but theoretically even more efficient. It allows good quality high definition video to be squeezed into the same number of bits that MPEG-2 needs for standard definition. However, the h264 encoders used in camcorders have space and power constraints which means they can't take full advantage of all the efficiencies of the h264 codec, so for now the quality does not live up to the theoretical full potential.

9. Well you could just copy the file over to store it locally, but to actually edit AVCHD video, FCE needs to transcode it to AIC first, which takes time and lots of disk space.
Jason,

That was very detailed, thank you. It sounds like a Mini DV tape camcorder is the way to go, however I am not seeing very many of those manufactured anymore. Can you buy a camcorder that records to tape in the high definition format?

Also, it seems that AIC is not very efficient, do all Hard Drive High Definition Camcorders record in the AVCHD format? Lastly, is there a another recording format that does not require so much disk space once transcoded into AIC? Many, many thanks to you and all who have replied!

Paul
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 05:35 AM   #6
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camcorders

> It sounds like a Mini DV tape camcorder is the way to go, however I am not seeing very many of those manufactured anymore. Can you buy a camcorder that records to tape in the high definition format?

Yes they are called HDV. Most major manu. has one. I personally use the Canon HV-20. Great picture quality. A little more noise in low light than my Panasonic gs-300. Same MiniDV tape uses a form of MPEG-2. You still end up using AIC at some point. I personally use an external hard drive alot. USB/Firewire type. USB is good enough in my view for SD. I only do HD for personal vids. Like of the kids. Weddings I record in HD and downrez on the fly to SD.

My 2 cents.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 12:37 AM   #7
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more questions

A few more questions:

1. What is video noise?

2. When you convert MPEG-2 to AIC, does it double or even quadruple the file size like AVCHD?

3. Do all Hard Drive High Definition Camcorders record in the AVCHD format?
Thanks
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Old July 27th, 2008, 11:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jeannel View Post
A few more questions:

1. What is video noise? [...]
There's a long and complicated answer (the video engineering answer) which I will not attempt, however, simply put, noise is unwanted signal that is superimposed on the video signal. All electronic circuits exhibit some random noise, and when you crank the gain setting on a video camera, you amplify not only the video signal, but the noise portion of the signal right along with it. Attached below is a frame enlargement (taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/kino-eye/2690826880/) with demonstrates video noise. The frame is from a clip shot with a Sony PMW-EX1 with the gain set to 9dB. The video noise (which originates from the image sensor and is amplified through video gain) is manifested as colored specs in the dark areas which should be black without any color given the image and exposure. There's another type of noise evident in this frame enlargement, and that's macroblocking, which is an MPEG compression artifact which manifests itself as "blocks" of pixels. That's a short answer. A longer video engineering answer can be found through a few Google queries (if you're interested). But from a practical point of view, the more gain, the more noise in your video signal. If you can shoot with enough light as to not require any gain, the video will have very little noise, except for whatever compression artifacts from the format the camera is encoding the video in.
Attached Thumbnails
FCE4, MBP and Hard Drive Camcorder for Noob ??-noise-macroblocking.jpg  
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Old July 28th, 2008, 07:01 AM   #9
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Oh, and by the way, Final Cut Express provides a really good value for a basic editing system at low cost. And one of the best things about it is if you ever need the power and versatility of Final Cut Studio, when you upgrade, the user-experience is quite seamless, as you will not have to learn a new interface to use Final Cut Pro. Final Cut Express is the perfect gateway to Final Cut Pro (now only available bundled in Final Cut Studio), if you ever need it.
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