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Old June 24th, 2009, 01:55 PM   #1
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AVCHD to SD workflow to a Powerbook G4, via PC - possible?

AVCHD Footage (via Panasonic HMC-150 camera)

to

Dual/Quad-core PC for conversion to SD DVCPRO (a $500 converting box w/ free Panasonic utility)

to

Mac PowerBook G4, FCP 4 (sunk cost)



Will it work?
Is it crazy?
I want that Panasonic cam. I don't want to buy a tape-based cam on the cusp of tapeless workflow becoming dominant and increasingly feasible. While waiting for the processors to catch up, why not buy a fast multi-core PC just to convert AVCHD into nice old fashioned SD, for now. Let the cards settle, let reliability become determined, and THEN I'll buy into the rest of the HD chain.

Most important question: do you guys anticipate that I will encounter file formatting issues?


Theoretical Process:
- AVCHD source files copied to fast/cheap PC
- AVCHD files stiched together.
- Transcoding occurs (on PC)
- Transcoded files go to an external HDD, probably NTFS
- Mac copies files to Mac-OS-Formatted External HDD
- Sneaky man edits HMC-150 footage in FCP4


My Powerbook G4, 1.5Ghz, 2GB ram, is taking 30 minutes to transcode 10 seconds of AVCHD footage. That 3hrs transcoding for 1 minute footage. 180hrs transcoding per 1hr footage, or over a week running 24/7.

She may be too slow for AVCHD, but she ain't ready for the glue-house, yet!
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Old June 25th, 2009, 03:34 AM   #2
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If you are on a tight budget but want to run FCP then a Mac Mini (starting at $599) would be a nicer option than spending $500 on a PC just for media conversion.
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Old June 25th, 2009, 09:52 AM   #3
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Thanks, Nigel.

I already own the PowerBook G4, so that's why I was looking at the PC. And I can get four cores at higher processor speed w/ more ram, etc for the same cost. When I upgrade my Mac system, I want AVCHD native with all the kinks worked out. I'm going to buy the second generation of whatever supports that.

But.... in the meantime, a little PC in the workflow may bridge the gap.

So has anybody done cross-platform transcoding?
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Old June 26th, 2009, 02:39 PM   #4
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Fitz,

Feedback from former clients and other indie producers from the past 4 months has indicated that there is a strong movement building away from professional Apple applications and has given me reason to post this response to your thread:

One thing to consider before plunking down more cash for a newer Mac-based system is whether or not staying on the Mac is wise - especially if you're already thinking of putting a PC into the mix.

The past 2 years Apple has disappointed the loyal *pro* user-base consistently with boneheaded decisions both in software and hardware (no need to rehash all the points well documented all over the 'net). FCS3 is supposedly just around the corner but it's a complete crap-shoot as to whether it will just be a small core-tweak a mini-feature-upgrade like Snow Leopard or a complete re-work of the suite.

The main issue on the hardware side is that you just never know with Apple what they'll choose to add - or take away - from the next iteration of their hardware either. You could get very set with a workflow that you're happy with only to find out that buying a new Mac would force you to redo that workflow completely because the hardware connections are no longer available on the machine of your choice.

At least with the PC side you're guaranteed you can get exactly what you need either from an off-the-shelf manufacturer or DIY and for significantly less money than an Apple system. In fact, unless you're tied-at-the-hip to using FCP there's no compelling reason to stay in the Apple-camp anymore - especially now that the hardware components have 100% parity on both PC or Mac. People will immediately say things like, "well, what about PC viruses...?" If your edit system doesn't touch the 'net - and it shouldn't - then it's a non-issue.

Don't get me wrong, the FCS suite of apps has certainly proven itself to be a worthy professional application, unfortunately Apple in the past 2 years has done little to really support it's professional user-base and sometimes worse, hurt it's users by *purposely* not addressing professional needs while the PC side has all but been given every grace of technology available.

Let me be very clear: This is NOT the age-old "which is better" debate between PC or Mac, simply that if you're on the cusp of updating your system in the near future you'd be wise to consider ALL options, not just the ones available from Apple.
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Last edited by Robert Lane; June 26th, 2009 at 03:32 PM.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 04:01 PM   #5
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Not to get into the debate about Apple's interesting/befuddling hardware experiments of the past year but I don't think that any of your questions will be affected by an another Apple surprise in the future. And I've heard nothing about a strong movement to PC editing in my circles, actually I've heard more about PC users just getting their first Mac edit systems (but they keep their PCs for other work). That, however, could just be the circles I travel in.

The real question is whether you'll be able to create QuickTime files in a PC that will work in FCP without another transcoding session. According to Apple, QuickTime Pro for PC is able to make DV codec QuickTime files. The next question is if the Panasonic utility you mentioned is able to do this at all. It might just make PC based AVI files which you do not want or it might require QuickTime or QuickTime Pro to be installed.

Can QuickTime Pro for PC be set up for batch conversions? Anybody have an answer?
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Old June 26th, 2009, 05:01 PM   #6
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Thanks, Robert. I'm definitely not wedded to a platform. It's alway good to have helpful input on different sides of the picture.

When you see the cost of quad mac vs quad pc's, it puts things in a different perspective, for the small business. Also, the sheer volume of user base on the PC changes the playing field as well - land line tech support is not the only option available, as opposed to 10 ys ago. But, the question is already answered since i have the hardware/software I need for editing, and it WORKS, for sure. I just need cores for transcoding only.



>The real question is whether you'll be able to create QuickTime files in a PC that will work in >FCP without another transcoding session.

Willam - Yes, that's the crux, here.
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Old June 27th, 2009, 10:33 AM   #7
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Look around here. Perhaps someone has uploaded files from that camera in it's original AVCHD form (not Vimeo). Download those and see if a PC enabled friend is willing to let you experiment, first with the Panasonic utility and second with QuickTime Pro (it might be worth a $20 experiment).

Yes, it's frustrating to see Quad-cores all over the place in PC boxes. Apple put themselves in a corner with making the iMac the middle computer in their 3-tiered desktop line up. Heat is always an issue with the faster processors and the iMac has a limit to the amount of heat the chassis can handle. That and the recession. BUt on the other hand I have decade old G4s still working great and the equivalent PCs from that time are all scrape now.
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Old June 29th, 2009, 02:27 AM   #8
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This isn't going to be a popular response but I thought I'd share my thrifty results.

I just bought my MSI Wind (Code name MacBook Mini because of the ease at which OS X installs on it). I paid less than 300 dollars for the computer, installed OS X and FCP ST2. I can edit SD (all resolutions except uncompressed - duh) and some compressed HD formats (DVCPRO HD 720 works [no 1080 DVCPRO HD]).

The reason why I mention this is your SD (doesn't support SDHC) memory cards fit right into the Wind native and show up in OS X. How's that for drag and drop?

Yet understand the limitations before you jump in (no firewire ports, no support if you hackintosh).

I overclocked the Atom processor to 1.9 and FCP sings (to my utter shock) and this really could be an "added value" if you are pinching pennies and need something faster than your G4 powerbook.
-C
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Old June 29th, 2009, 04:09 AM   #9
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Wow! I am amazed that FCP would be useable at all on the MSI Wind. I too have one running OS X 10.5.7 but have found that the small screen & slow speed a bit limiting. My regular system is an 8-core Mac Pro with a 30" 2560x1600 monitor & my laptop is a MBP with 1920x1200 screen so I may find lower powered systems & smaller screens difficult to get used to:-)

The other problem I have is the twitchy trackpad. AIUI the WInd may have one of two different trackpads & I have the less desirable Sentelic rather than the Synaptics.
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Old June 29th, 2009, 01:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
Wow! I am amazed that FCP would be useable at all on the MSI Wind. I too have one running OS X 10.5.7 but have found that the small screen & slow speed a bit limiting. My regular system is an 8-core Mac Pro with a 30" 2560x1600 monitor & my laptop is a MBP with 1920x1200 screen so I may find lower powered systems & smaller screens difficult to get used to:-)

The other problem I have is the twitchy trackpad. AIUI the WInd may have one of two different trackpads & I have the less desirable Sentelic rather than the Synaptics.
Nigel - I upped the RAM to 2 GB and it's OC'd. Hard Drive spindle speed is also an issue (some opt for a 7200 rpm). You should give it a try - I offline on it when working with full HD stuff. I just like the idea of bringing a project with where ever you go without A/C. I get about 5 hours of editing time per charge.

Installation was a breeze because I already have a Vanilla install on another hack. I cloned and then added the driver pack.

-C
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Old June 30th, 2009, 04:15 PM   #11
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Thanks for the replies, all. I think I just need to sit down and test it out, plain and simple. :) I'll post results when/if I get my hands on a quad pc.

Hackintosh sounds like fun, but... oh the possible headaches...
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