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Discussing the editing of all formats with FCS, FCP, FCE


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Old May 25th, 2005, 02:39 PM   #1
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Itching to Switch

I currently work on PC in XPOS, using adobe creative and video suites for DV. I also have a Video Toaster for uncompressed SD. Now that Im switching to an HD solution, Im wiping the slate clean and considering all options.

So far there is the poor-man implementation known as HDV. Then theres middle of the road DVCPRO HD (similar, but higher color space for post). Then its HDCAM SR and uncompressed HD.

Since I work in corporate video environment, and most likely will not do any film-outs, broadcast quality will suffice, and DVCPRO HD seems the most economical.

I gather that DVCPRO HD is at best, the least common denominator for shooting, and best left to edit and master in an uncompressed or higher quality codec to avoid recompression (i.e. dont master back to DVCPRO HD tape).

For the PC implementation, there is no DVCPRO HD codec, only a few implementations that are similar in quality, such as cineforms 10bit prospect codec, or the Canopus codec option. An HD-SDI capture card and about 2TB of raid/storage. Just plug in a pany 1200 deck and capture to one of these codecs in realtime. The advantage of these codecs, the CFHD codec for instance, is a visually lossless 10 bit quality, without the pixel image recompression known with DVCPRO HD. Ill also have files that run just under 60gig an hour, and thus I can store projects on an IDE hard drive.

So Im looking at about $20K US for a PC based machine and adobe software.

However, there has yet to be 24p support for any of the DVCPRO HD clones, and if I go with HDV (for video shoots that require cuts only i.e. training and power point stuff), then I also have to endure an interim rendering step before I can work with the media in Real Time (Hmmm).

I understand that FCP HD on a mac will handle all of this natively, i.e. no initial rendering of the HDV media? How also then is DVCPRO HD handled? Does it remain DVCPRO HD, and each time I render (i.e. export an avi/mov to AE), I endure a destructive recompression? Or is that only when I go back out to tape? Does FCP use an interim lossless codec?

Is the learning curve from PPro to FCP a no-brainer?

Bottom-line, it seems to me that FCP HD is simply a better implementation of working with HD? If I get a used Varicam, or go with the Pany 200 with P2, are there directly advantages vs. using a PC solution?

Id like to hear some professional opinions (and please no childish flame-wars about Mac vs. PC), as Im seriously considering a switch. Not because I want a Mac, but because Im considering the best workflow to meet my HD editing needs.

Thanks in advance.

Pete
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Old May 25th, 2005, 07:14 PM   #2
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The current release of FCP is version 5 and it handles DVCPRO HD and HDV natively with recompression. It has native support for just about any format. The prior release, FCP HD (v. 4.5) only handles DVCPRO HD natively.

We use FCP HD for uncompressed SD. Haven't started HD of any flavor yet, but, my experiences with PCs and Macs are about even. I can honestly say the Mac beats the pants off of the PC. In the last year we switched from a dual Xeon PC/Premier/Digisute setup to FCP HD/AJA IO/dual G5. We recently setup another G5 edit suite and are looking into Xsan and Xserve raids for shared workgroup editing. With Mac OS X you simply start using the computer and basicly have very littel to worry about after that. It just works.
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Old May 26th, 2005, 12:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Perry
The current release of FCP is version 5 and it handles DVCPRO HD and HDV natively with recompression..
So the media keep in the DVCPRO HD codec is recompressed (as in up and down rezzed) when saved, mixed or rendered? I though the downsampling, (going from 1920 to 1280 pixels) only occurred if I went back out to tape?

That's why I'm looking at the Cineform codec for PC, apparently it has similiar quality but avoids the downsampling as with DVCPRO HD.

Bottom line, is there a quality difference between an edited DVCPRO HD file on a mac vs. one in CFHD on a PC? I assume that my only other alternative would be to render an uncompressed HD file for key/post work in AE?

[QUOTE=Dave Perry]...With Mac OS X you simply start using the computer and basicly have very littel to worry about after that. It just works./QUOTE]

That I can believe. Our layout artist are using G5's with the 23" apple displays. I also have an old G3 barly running OSX 10.2, for format and testing my mac version director media, etc. I have a Dell 650 dual xeon 3gig. That things taught me more about settings, configurations and hardware conflicts...

Thanks for the help.

Pete
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Old May 26th, 2005, 12:40 PM   #4
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My bad. I meant to say withOUT recompression. "natively with recompression" is an oxymoron.
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Old May 26th, 2005, 01:12 PM   #5
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No problem.

In the meantime I ran across this thread:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/archive/i...p/t-43501.html

About 3/4 way down, Steven White points out the details that DVCPRO HD is actually more compressed and possesses more artifacts than NTSC DV 25.

So in a windows case, I need to pull an uncompressed source for post. But in a mac, recompression does actually occur because effects are native DVCPRO HD and therefore a render is not required while on the FCP timeline? When I do perform an output, I can just render to something else of higher quality for master. I assume such exists for the mac side of things? Would this be the new quicktime7 h.264 codec? (Forgive my uneducated questions, I'm in unfamiliar territory here. Perhaps theres some reference that you can point me to?)

Thanks.

Pete
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Old May 26th, 2005, 01:48 PM   #6
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Found my answer here:

http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/vt3/326

"Native DVCPRO HD support allows capturing, editing, and output in the same HD format without recompression."

Wow. Wonder if that's also possible in post within AE or motion?

Pete
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Old May 26th, 2005, 02:01 PM   #7
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Peter,

My understanding is that if the source footage is DVCPRO HD and you capture via firewire to a DVCPRO HD timeline, then there is no recompression. Just as when capturing MiniDV from a MiniDV camera via FW, it's just a straight data transfer. The compression happens in camera.

Obviously if you are capturing uncompressed HD as DVCPRO HD then recompression is occuring.

Likewise, if I capture DV footage then export as uncompressed, all I've done is create a larger file with out increasing quality.

The new QT H.264 codec is AMAZING but highly compressed.

I'm certainly no expert on HD. We don't even shoot it yet but will in the future. I am pretty familiar with Macs and Mac software though and have witnessed many real life "switcher" stories. My employer is one of them. I think, if you haven't already, you should visit the FCP 5 site. There's lots of good info there.
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Old May 26th, 2005, 02:06 PM   #8
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With DV, there is no recompression if you do not apply effects of cross dissolve. Firewire transfer means you are just copying 1s and 0s for the image data. Also, DV compression is low enough that there's no visual difference between 1st and 2nd generation DV (unless there is a codec misconfiguration). There definitely is a difference between 0 and 1st generation DV though.

I am guessing DVCPRO HD is similar. Again, no recompression if you do not apply effects. Firewire transfer means lossless editing.

The compression of DVCPRO HD may also rock because you lower your storage costs. You do not need a really fast drive array to deal with DVCPRO HD (100mbps for image data, instead of 25mbps; there's sound data too). RAID 0 with 2 drives is probably sufficient.
I believe it also works natively over firewire, which means no expensive capture card and lossless transfers.
There may also be workflow savings because you do not need an intermediary codec.
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Old May 26th, 2005, 02:45 PM   #9
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What throws me off in the following quote:

"Native DVCPRO HD support allows capturing, editing, and output in the same HD format without recompression."

Is the use of the word "editing", which implies herein that editing will not incur a recompression. Well, that could be cuts only then? So adding a title or simple cross fade would have to incur something at that point. If so, then only one generation should not produce noticeable artifacting when viewed on a HD monitor? For straight video that should be okay. Bear in mind that I'll go uncompressed (capture DVCPRO HD as uncompressed, or direct from Cam) if need be for VFX shots, weather in windows or mac.

What I'm reading so far on the FCP5 site looks promising.

I'll have to factor in other incidentals that I rely on my PC for (i.e. windows media output, and windows specific programs, etc.).

I also have to factor in editing and capture in the field, or away from the studio, something that was easy with DV25.

My boss is concerned about what the pridominant platform is in the field right now (i.e. FPC on Mac, or PPro on windows). So I can be compatible with outside production resources. (I'm thinking the Macs a winner here).

Should I go the Mac route, it'll be sometime in the fall. I'm curious as to apples answer to intels/AMD's multicore processors.

I also have a drawer full of prior projects on windows formated IDE drives. It's gonna be a long haul to get those formated for use with the Mac.

I do appreciate your help.

Pete
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