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Old January 24th, 2010, 09:51 PM   #1
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What is "Uncompressed?"

I'm presenting some of my videos at a national conference and was asked to bring the conference coordinators "uncompressed" .mov files for them to compress into a format suitable for their presentation system.

Here's the workflow I used, which I understood to generate an uncompressed file:

Import footage from my Sony EX-1 using XD Cam transfer. Drop the clips onto FCS timeline. I edit in the native format. Export using File>>Export>>Quicktime movie, make self contained, current settings.

The conference coordinator said he could not open the file (on his PC) to compress it because it "had already been compressed by something" he could not open. Checking the file with "get info" shows the codec to be XDcam-ex so maybe his computer did not have the XD-Cam plug in. He tried Premier and DiVix.

So, I'm confused about my own workflow (which I've never had an issue with before):
1) Is the file "compressed" as described in my workflow? I always understood it to be not compressed when exported as QT mov, current settings. But the "current settings" are the native XD-Cam EX codec.
2) Is it really a "raw, uncompressed .mov file" if it is in the XD-Cam codec?
3) What should I do differently to produce a truly uncompressed file that can be opened by other computers?

Thanks
Bob
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Old January 24th, 2010, 10:05 PM   #2
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The term "uncompressed" is often used improperly to describe a "camera native" format, prior to being re-compressed for final output from editing.

In it's purest form "uncompressed" video is a 4:4:4 color space whether it's SD or HD, has an extremely high bitrate and very few cameras shoot that format as the actual output (although you can get the same uncompressed signal from either SD-SDI or HD-SDI).

All "affordable" video cameras shoot various compressed formats with color spaces ranging from 3:1:1 (HDCAM) 4:1:1 (miniDV) to 4:2:0 (HDV and XDCAM) to 4:2:2 (DVCPRO, AVC-Intra and high-bitrate XDCAM).

If your people are asking for "camera native" footage then all you need do is give them what you did, which are the raw, unedited files. It's up to them to have the proper software to decode/re-encode the XDCAM format.

However you can import your XDCAM footage into a "uncompressed" timeline in FCP, render it (since it's not uncompressed to begin with) and then output it directly from the timeline with "self-contained, current settings" and they'll get an .mov file in an uncompressed format.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 10:20 PM   #3
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Thank you Robert. I'm actually in Phoenix!

What do you suggest I do (in the future) to get to "uncompressed." What settings should I apply to the timeline prior to importing?

Incidentally, the only other time I've had issues similar to this was when someone said they absolutely could not open the .mov files. It turns out they did not have their software up to date, didn't know why/how that was important and tried to make it my responsibility to know what software they had on their system?

My other favorite "My PC doesn't play Quicktime," simply because the person can't be bothered to get the free download!
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Old January 24th, 2010, 10:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Kerner View Post
So, I'm confused about my own workflow (which I've never had an issue with before):
1) Is the file "compressed" as described in my workflow? I always understood it to be not compressed when exported as QT mov, current settings. But the "current settings" are the native XD-Cam EX codec.
Yes the file is compressed. And it's compressed with the same codec that your camera shoots. This is not what they appear to want. QT mov, currents settings simply means compress the rendered file with whatever my current settings are. It does not mean it's uncompressed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Kerner View Post
2) Is it really a "raw, uncompressed .mov file" if it is in the XD-Cam codec?
No, it's not. And "RAW" denotes something else altogether, so don't start tossing that word around either.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Kerner View Post
3) What should I do differently to produce a truly uncompressed file that can be opened by other computers?
Export the file using .MOV Uncompressed (may be listed as "none") instead of compressing it with a codec.


Oh, and depending on how long your presentation is, you may want to invest in some hard drives... And yes, I do mean plural.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 10:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Kerner View Post
Incidentally, the only other time I've had issues similar to this was when someone said they absolutely could not open the .mov files. It turns out they did not have their software up to date, didn't know why/how that was important and tried to make it my responsibility to know what software they had on their system?
There are certain steps you should take when you are going to hand off your work to PC users. Just like PC users need to take certain steps when they need to hand off to Macs. One of those steps is to understand what system the person recieving the files is using, and learning to give them something they can use. It only takes a bit of care, and knowing what to ask to avoid potential problems.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 10:55 PM   #6
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Thank you both. This is an instance where following someone else's workflow demonstration without scrutinizing it for one's self can prove troublesome.

I based my exporting workflow on a video tutorial which prescribed the steps I listed above. Having watched the tutorial again, nowehere does the person mention to take into consideration that your data started out compressed from the camera and that you're not really saving an "uncompressed" file. You're just not adding additional compression. The person was probably just being loose with his language but it stuck in my head-displacing common sense, I'm afraid to admit.

Makes sense when you talk it out. And proves that not every video tutorial on editing is valid.

Thanks again.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 11:20 PM   #7
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Let me shift gears. Maybe my whole mental model is wrong.
I ve imported my footage, edited, graded etc. I now want to output a reference mov file that I can save and later open with other apps or Compressor to put it into other formats as the situation arises.

What is the best way to do that? I was taught to always export a reference mov file so that if the FC project file or individual clips get lost I can still have something to work with. Is this correct or should I be doing something differently?

(yes, I understand now that what I have been creating are .mov files in my camera's native file format, not uncompressed)

Thank you for re-educating me.
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Old January 25th, 2010, 03:05 AM   #8
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Bob, whilst you can go down the 'uncompressed' format or 'none' on export from quicktime. The files will be massive and if you have a handful of films over 5 mins long this might be a pain to you and the event personal.

Have you thought about the universal 'Photo–Jpeg' codec. You can very the data rates via the quality set this to 'best'.

James,
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Old January 25th, 2010, 10:30 AM   #9
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Common Problem

I've been sharing a lot of footage with PC users recently and this is a common problem when coming from a Mac/FCP system. I doubt your user truly meant "uncompressed" in it's most strict form. More likely, their asking that the file be delivered in a high quality format they can use. I normally ask what format they are used to working with and then use either Compressor or the free MPEGStreamclip to transcode the footage to that format.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 03:38 PM   #10
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1) an Uncompressed movie, in your situation, means the camera's original format, the highest quality you can get the original footage in. In your case, the word "uncompressed" is a bit wrong. Yes it's uncompressed in the sense that it hasn't been compressed again after it has been shot on disc, but it's also not really 'uncompressed' footage, because that's what Robert tossed at: then you're maybe looking at 1.4 Gbps/second.

2) What Final Cut and your XDCAM Transfer Software does is import the XDCAM footage in it's original codec, but puts it in a Quicktime Container because otherwise Final Cut can't work with it.

3) If you want to be able to render and re-compress your file afterwards even if you have erased the FCP project and the original scource files you SHOULDN'T be exporting as a reference file, but as a self-contained movie.

4) The whole Mac/PC thing... We have the same problem at work, where we have a Mac-based editing-workflow and many clients only use Windows XP computers without any additional software, and installing a Quicktime or a VLC is too much.
It's very annoying, but on the other hand: even if they install Quicktime, there is no guarantee they will be able to read the files. I tested XDCAM Quicktimes on a Windows computer with the newest Quicktime and it COULDN'T read the files. No way. It did read Prores however. (Only reading, I don't think you'll be able to edit with it).

I also think it's a bit Apple's fault, although I agree it can get very tiresome to have clients refusing to do any effort. But they are the client, of course. But it's something you have to prep for.
Why I say it's Apple's fault too? The other hand we shot footage, and a client wanted to edit it himself in iMovie. We captured the HDV-tape in Final Cut as HDV 50i, the original codec. His (recent) Macbook couldn't read it. OR we had to convert it to AIC or he had to buy the whole Final Cut Suite (1000 dollars) just to be able to work with these files. Probably Final Cut Express would have done it too, but I'm note sure. Still. That's at least a 200 dollar investment just to read a codec that's very common these days. And it's a legit Quicktime File, but the Macbook couldn't read it. No way to 'just install that codec' somewhere.

The whole being stuck with what Quicktime can do is sometimes slowing down the evolution of Final Cut Pro.
On PC (and I wouldn't want to use Windows any more in my life unless I really have too), I can just open an native XDCAM file, without putting it in any container.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 03:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathieu Ghekiere View Post
4) The whole Mac/PC thing... We have the same problem at work, where we have a Mac-based editing-workflow and many clients only use Windows XP computers without any additional software, and installing a Quicktime or a VLC is too much.
It's very annoying, but on the other hand: even if they install Quicktime, there is no guarantee they will be able to read the files. I tested XDCAM Quicktimes on a Windows computer with the newest Quicktime and it COULDN'T read the files. No way. It did read Prores however. (Only reading, I don't think you'll be able to edit with it).

I also think it's a bit Apple's fault, although I agree it can get very tiresome to have clients refusing to do any effort. But they are the client, of course. But it's something you have to prep for.
Why I say it's Apple's fault too? The other hand we shot footage, and a client wanted to edit it himself in iMovie. We captured the HDV-tape in Final Cut as HDV 50i, the original codec. His (recent) Macbook couldn't read it. OR we had to convert it to AIC or he had to buy the whole Final Cut Suite (1000 dollars) just to be able to work with these files. Probably Final Cut Express would have done it too, but I'm note sure. Still. That's at least a 200 dollar investment just to read a codec that's very common these days. And it's a legit Quicktime File, but the Macbook couldn't read it. No way to 'just install that codec' somewhere.

The whole being stuck with what Quicktime can do is sometimes slowing down the evolution of Final Cut Pro.
On PC (and I wouldn't want to use Windows any more in my life unless I really have too), I can just open an native XDCAM file, without putting it in any container.
I want to address a part of this as I am on the PC side and do quite a bit of PC <-> Mac handoff work.

1. If a PC user installs a modern version of Quicktime, they will be able to read as well as edit ProRes. However, they will get the same Gamma shift that Apple users are familiar with.

2. Some of it being Apple's fault. Yea, a lot of it is. The fact that FCE can't round trip with FCP smacks of the problem. Even on their own platform Apple won't let their software communicate. What has Apple to lose by letting FCE or even PCs write in ProRes? Nothing. They could remove a significant obstacle to collaboration but refuse. Do they really think this is going to drive more sales of FCS?

3. I am not certain about what you offer up in your first point. And I'd certainly clarify that with the client. Uncompressed and native are two VERY different concepts, and not one I'd want to guess at.

4. For Mac <-> PC collaborative work, Avid have solved it. Their DNxHD codec (which ProRes is built from) is offered free to read or write on both platforms. And it does not suffer the Gamma shift problems of ProRes. I recommend it a lot because it's good, it works, and it's free. And it's what Apple themselves should have done years ago.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 04:18 PM   #12
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"Do they really think this is going to drive more sales of FCS?"

I don't know if that's the reasoning, but it actually does... Not a lot, but I already know of 2 clients who bought FCS just to read files from production companies they are getting...
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Old January 26th, 2010, 04:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mathieu Ghekiere View Post
"Do they really think this is going to drive more sales of FCS?"

I don't know if that's the reasoning, but it actually does... Not a lot, but I already know of 2 clients who bought FCS just to read files from production companies they are getting...
Well there you go. The rest of us live in frustration as Apple get incremental sales. YAY Apple.
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