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Old November 3rd, 2008, 05:16 PM   #1
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Best Codec for Least Quality Loss

I'm trying to decide on a codec to convert to using mpeg streamclip. Of the following, which is the best for not losing video quality (or for minimal loss)?

Apple Planar RGB
H.264
Sorenson 3 Video
Apple Cinepak
Apple Motion JPEG A
Apple Motion JPEG B
Apple PNG
Apple Video

I realize there are other better options, but those seem to be the ones I'm stuck with considering I can't afford Cineform. Any ideas? I'd like to just do a lossless conversion from the Apple Intermediate Codec to another codec, but I'm kinda stuck using mpeg streamclip unless someone knows of a really cheap lossless converter that can produce files for Mac and PCs. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 05:59 PM   #2
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I may have answered my own question. None of those codecs are too good for lossless... animation could be lossless at 100% but it's best for animation as implied by the title.

However, I found BlackMagic codecs, which look to be really nice 10 bit codecs that people have compared to Apple Uncompressed.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 06:14 PM   #3
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AJA Kona Uncompressed Codecs for Mac and PC at bottom of link:
AJA Video - Serial Digital Video Interface and Conversion

Also free and easy to use with MPEG Streamclip.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 11:03 PM   #4
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Convert for what purpose? Archival, vfx work, output to tape, DVD master?

-Noah
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Old November 4th, 2008, 06:46 PM   #5
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It's conversion to be able to use Mac captured clips on a PC. It's a long story, but I'm editing another individual's film, and it'd probably just be easier to get a Mac (and I really should have one)... however, I'm broke right now.

The AJA Kona codec works great except the file size is way bigger than with the Apple Intermediate Codec, which is not surprising. The conversion time also is 7x longer than real time, which again is not surprising. But any suggestions on the best codec for converting with minimal to no quality loss given the list of codecs I posted above or another codec I can get fairly inexpensively? If it's compressed, you lose quality, but what is the best compression as far as these codecs?

AIC is a pain to work around.

We're trying to avoid quality loss since we want to edit the master (ie the highest quality that could then be downconverted for DVD or whatever).
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Old November 5th, 2008, 12:55 AM   #6
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I guess a simpler question might be can you use H.264 and not have any quality loss (ie if you don't limit the bit rate, quality to 100%, audio uncompressed)?
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Old November 5th, 2008, 02:33 AM   #7
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You can use ProRes if FCS2 is installed on the machine doing the transcoding. There are free (decode-only) ProRes codecs that can be downloaded for both Mac and PC. You'll be able to read and work with the files on your PC, although you won't be able to output back to ProRes to send back to the Mac.

I think the only true cross-platform HD codec that can go back and forth is Cineform, but it is a bit expensive.

Very high bitrate H.264 or MPEG-2 would be a last resort. There will be some quality loss at any bitrate, and the compression will take a long time.
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Old November 5th, 2008, 02:35 AM   #8
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ProRes works great for cross-platform. I'm working on a project right now where I'm editing in FCP and the special f/x guy is using After Effects on a PC. If you're using HDV, another way is to capture the standard .m2t files for the PC, and then use ClipWrap to re-wrap the files into QuickTime for FCP. This creates mirror images of the original HDV files for both platforms.
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Old November 5th, 2008, 04:52 AM   #9
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AVID DNxHD is very good and probably going to cause you less trouble than pro res on a PC.
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Old November 5th, 2008, 10:51 PM   #10
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Compressing with H.264 via MPEG Streamclip actually doesn't take much time at all... it's very fast, and the quality seems to be the same... the file size is exactly the same as the original Apple Intermediate ones. I'm going to compare though between raw uncompressed clips and the H.264 ones. I would imagine there would be some quality loss, but so far...

Thanks for you guys' help.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 03:24 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Hanlon View Post
Compressing with H.264 via MPEG Streamclip actually doesn't take much time at all... it's very fast, and the quality seems to be the same... the file size is exactly the same as the original Apple Intermediate ones. I'm going to compare though between raw uncompressed clips and the H.264 ones. I would imagine there would be some quality loss, but so far...

Thanks for you guys' help.
i've not tried it but can imagine editing h.264 will be very painfull
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Old November 6th, 2008, 10:21 AM   #12
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Why would editing that be painful? It's just a codec in an AVI container, and I'm actually editing on a PC in Sony Vegas... I can set the preview window to whatever quality I want so it shouldn't be slow or not playback correctly. I think the truth is I need to get a Mac especially with Vista out now... ugh.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 10:43 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Hanlon View Post
Why would editing that be painful? It's just a codec in an AVI container, and I'm actually editing on a PC in Sony Vegas... I can set the preview window to whatever quality I want so it shouldn't be slow or not playback correctly. I think the truth is I need to get a Mac especially with Vista out now... ugh.
I don't have any experience with MPEG Streamclip but h.264 is a delivery codec, it was not intended for editing. I would have thought the conversion to be very time consuming and lossy, especially if the encode is done using keyframes.

If you have the files on a mac and need to get them onto a PC you could convert them using Compressor or Quicktime Pro, both come free with FCP studio.

For PC/Mac compatibility, again i can highly recommend Avid DNxHD.

Alternatively, if the footage is on a tape you could re capture it.

Best of luck, if you do go down the h.264 route i'd be keen to know how you get on.

Stick
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Old November 6th, 2008, 07:25 PM   #14
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If your interested in "lossless" compression check out BitJazz: Products: SheerVideo
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