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Old March 8th, 2005, 04:35 PM   #1
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Can FCP Express output to MPG2?

Hi all. Looked on the Apple site, and searched around but can't find a definitive answer on whether I can do MPG2 output with FCP Express. I'd assume I can, but can I?

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Old March 8th, 2005, 04:46 PM   #2
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I'm not so sure about that, unless there's a third party solution. I had some MPEG 2 files which I needed to convert, and I needed to buy a separate CODEC for Quicktime 6 Pro to do this:

http://www.apple.com/quicktime/products/mpeg2playback/

It's only $20, but it only supports playback of MPEG 2 files (and transcoding with QT Pro). You can't export the audio track from an MPEG 2 file evidently (wouldn't let me do it, which agrees with their FAQ).
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Old March 8th, 2005, 05:18 PM   #3
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Aaron,

No. You have to export a Quicktime movie to a program like iDVD or Compressor (with FC Pro) to create a Mpeg2 file.
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Old March 8th, 2005, 05:49 PM   #4
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Wow, that's really stupid.

With iDVD then, can I output a simple MPG2 (with audio and video streams), or can I only generate finished VOB files, VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS directies etc. i.e A finished DVD format?

The reason for these questions is this - maybe this will clarify.

We do technical presentations here at work among our organisation, where sites from around the world present technology to each other. Now seeing as I'm "The video enthusiast" here I was asked if I'd film and edit them for our site (We don't want to teleconference cause it's slow and ugly). I said sure and did the last one with Vegas trial (I use Vegas at home). Now I have a Mac Mini, and we have a Mac's lying around at work and I was thinking, Hmm, if It can be budgetted to get some software (which really, we need anyway) I'll get some Mac software and I can get some skills with FC. Of course we can't fork out $$ for FCPro, but Express maybe. That all said, we need to deliver in a simple MPG2 file format.

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Old March 8th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #5
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Aaron,

It's not stupid, just a matter of practicality. There isn't a demand for stand alone MPEG2 encoders in the consumer markets. Tools for consumers such as iDVD are aimed at people who niether know nor care what an MPEG2 is. They just want a DVD to share with friends and family documenting their vacation or JRs 1st steps.

iDVD will not output an MPEG2 file. It will create the VIDEO_TS folder and files and/or creat a disk image for burning to DVD later. It's amazing, though, how iDVD has worked its way into many professional workflows.

I'm not sure why you need MPEG2 files. They are primarily used for DVD creation, not general playback over a PC or Mac. As a matter of fact, a Mac won't even playback MPEG2 unless you have FCP installed which by default installs the QuickTime MPEG2 playback component, or you can buy the QuickTime MPEG2 playback component as a stand alone QT plugin for $20.
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Old March 8th, 2005, 07:05 PM   #6
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You could use BitVice Lite for $149US or the Pro version for $297 if you wanted a stand alone program but like Dave said, there isn't much call for MPEG-2 as a stand alone format. Most people use Sorenson Video or MPEG-4 or even MPEG-1.
If you want a compression program you are probably going to have to buy one because Final Cut (both Pro and Express) are primarily "editing" programs.
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Old March 8th, 2005, 08:31 PM   #7
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Dave, I wanted mpg2 for a good quality at good filesize with an easily (Freely) available codec on the PC that others can install to view the files. We need smaller file sizes for transfer over FTP to other sites. It seemed to me that quality of MPG2 was great with a small file size (presentations are normally about 10 mins) and that it was easy for people to install an MPG2 codec on their Windows machines and view them.

If there is another, equally easy solution I'd love to know. I guess I'm pampered on the PC, cause with Vegas I can export to almost any video format whatsoever.

Also, I wouldn't have considered FCE as a Consumer version, iMovie for sure so it does seem stupid and strange to me.

Rhett, are you saying Final Cut Pro as well doesn't export to MPG2?!?

Boyd, thanks for that. I think that might be the best low cost solution (Short of staying with Vegas on a PC). Render to XXX format (What is the render format of FCE anyway?!?) and transcode with QTPro and the MPG2 plugin.


Cheers for all the answers
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Old March 8th, 2005, 09:19 PM   #8
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Actually FCP doesn't do the encoding. It is Compressor. Which is a fancy QuickTime Pro front end. Before Compressor, it was QuickTime Pro that did the encoding. Compressor adds other features and some ease of use and power. But Compressor COMES with FCP and DVDSP, currently it's not for sale as a standalone app. It does a nice job as well.

QuickTime has some nice choices for playback but for encoding, MPEG-2 isn't one of them and to play MPEG-2 you have to buy the extra plugin. Check it out here
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Old March 8th, 2005, 09:23 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Aaron Koolen : transcode with QTPro and the MPG2 plugin. -->>>

That plugin only plays MPEG 2; it doesn't write MPEG 2 files. It will let you open an MPEG 2 file and export it in another format however.
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Old March 8th, 2005, 09:30 PM   #10
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Aaron,

I too am pampered.. but because I'm using a Mac :) I can export to most any format necessary with FCP.

By the way, the QuickTime MPEG2 playback component is for play back only. You can export the MPEG2 streams as other formats. However, QuickTime Pro does alow you to export to many different formats, MPEG4 being one of them and from what you described, that would be the perfect file type. MPEG2 is definitely not the best choice for sharing and transfering files the way you are wanting.

Final Cut Pro does encode MPEG2 if you have Compressor installed which comes with it. FCP and I gues some versions of Vegas are pro apps so they will have this ability.

Rhett's suggestion of using BitVice is an excellent one, that's what I use.
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Old March 8th, 2005, 09:38 PM   #11
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Wow....OK, so for what I'm doing you suggest I get FCExpress + QuicktimePro which will then allow me to encode output from FCE into MPG4? I know you guys are Macheads but is there an MPG4 codec freely available for the PC? (windows media player is what they all use)

BTW, what is the native output from FCE then, or is this a one step process. e.g when it comes time to render out a project, it is done with the FCE interface but goes through Quicktime so I get whatever options Quicktime offers me?


Cheers again all
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Old March 8th, 2005, 10:06 PM   #12
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FCE is strictly DV...well now it does HD as well so I guess it uses the AIC for HD (Apple Intermediate Codec).

Prior to moving from a G3 Mac to a G4 Mac, my work flow was FCE, export a DV master, encode to MPG2 with BitVice, author DVDs in CaptyDVD.

Now it's FCP HD, export DV master, encode to MPG2 with BitVice, author DVDs in DVD Studio Pro 3.

My suggestion is to get FCE HD which now comes bundled with LiveType, a great annimated title generator, and Soundtrack, a great looped based music tool. It might even come with a key to unlock QT and make it the Pro version. That's how it's done with FCP HD. If not then you'll have to get one from Apple. Get BitVice for MPEG2 encoding if you need it, but I don't really think you need it. You can use QT Pro to export MPEG4 files.

For DVD authoring just use iDVD which will use your DV files but not MPEG2 since it ecodes to MPEG2 on its own.
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Old March 9th, 2005, 01:08 PM   #13
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Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Toast Titanium give you MPEG 2 encoding as well? Just drop your DV file onto it and it creates a folder where it stores the converted MPEG 2 file... right? I'm not at my Mac to check that out... but BitVice might be the better way to go.
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Old March 9th, 2005, 01:23 PM   #14
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Mark,

Toast will make a VIDEO_TS folder and burn a DVD but not save MPEG2 files to the hard drive. It will also burn a disc image as well.
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Old March 9th, 2005, 03:15 PM   #15
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<<<-- Originally posted by Aaron Koolen : Wow....OK, so for what I'm doing you suggest I get FCExpress + QuicktimePro which will then allow me to encode output from FCE into MPG4? I know you guys are Macheads but is there an MPG4 codec freely available for the PC? (windows media player is what they all use)-->>>

For Windows encoding you might try looking at this one. I don't know much about it but It looks free. I have DivX Doctor and few other tools on both my Macs and PC's but I rarely use them because Compressor seems to do a decent job.
Here is the developers site for 3ivx

Also if you are looking for an industrial strength encoder for Windows Cleaner XL is a very nice choice. It has a ton of options and produces some very fine images, it's not free though.

<<<-- BTW, what is the native output from FCE then, or is this a one step process. e.g when it comes time to render out a project, it is done with the FCE interface but goes through Quicktime so I get whatever options Quicktime offers me? Aaron -->>>

This is pretty true as far as I can tell from your explanation. I don't use FCE so I am not certain but that is how it usually works. (QuickTime is doing the encoding but you don't see it because Final Cut is based on QuickTime) If you have QuickTime or Quicktime Pro rather, you would be able to encode to any one of the formats available to it. MPEG-2 though is set up such that the program that encodes it pays a royalty to the MPEG-2 consortium. I'm not sure how it works or who gets the money exactly but the reason there aren't many, if ANY, free MPEG-2 encoders is because someone has to pay the royalties for it's use.
The same thing happens with MPEG-4 but but I think it has some different variables concerning the money side of it since there are quite a few different variations of the MPEG-4 codecs.
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