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Old March 30th, 2006, 10:06 AM   #1
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Native HDV in FCP 5 (...and in PP2)

I have been looking into the various HDV capable NLE options, and am hesitating between PP2 and FCP
I have been a PC user for 20 years, but am now considering moving on to Mac and FCP. (Due to HDV I need to upgrade my computer hardware anyway). But before making such an investement, I would like to clarify for myself the following points:

1) Does FCP handle HDV natively without problems (on a G5 dual core 2,3Ghz, with 2G RAM for instance)? By "without problems" I understand editing which is basically as smooth as DV editing?

2) Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 (for Win) is also supposed to handle HDV natively also, but people seem to have a lot of problems with it even with very powerful computers. Apparently the only truly smooth way to edit HDV in PP2 is still the Cineform Aspect 4 plugin (additional 500$).

So is there really such a major difference between how PP2 and FCP handle HDV natively?

3) Is there an advantage in editing compressed HDV files natively? Could it be that an intermediate codec would actually maintain image quality better than editing MPEG2 compressed HDV files natively?

For this: http://www.sonyhdvinfo.com/showthread.php?t=4043

4) Do FCP 5 users here edit rather natively or do you use Lumiere plugin (I assume it is an intermediate codec like Aspect)?

Any input from FCP users working with HDV would be appreciated.

Thanks,

-Maukka
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Old March 31st, 2006, 09:30 AM   #2
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Maukka,

Which HDV camera do you primarily shoot with? The camera type will affect the answers to your questions.
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Old April 1st, 2006, 02:59 AM   #3
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Actually I am only moving in to HDV. I am hesitating between Sony FX1 and A1.

But why would the choice of camera affect the performance of FCP? HDV is HDV whether it was shot on a Sony, Canon or JVC, right?

Maukka
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Old April 1st, 2006, 08:14 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maukka Pasanen
But why would the choice of camera affect the performance of FCP? HDV is HDV whether it was shot on a Sony, Canon or JVC, right?
Actually all three are very different (Canon is similar to Sony only in 1080i50 or 1080i60 mode, but 24F and 25F are not yet supported) Sony and Canon use "HDV2" which is 25Mbps at 1920 x 1080 with a 15-frame GOP. JVC uses "HDV1" with a 19.2Mbps stream at 1280x720, 6-frame GOP. The JVC HD100 is fully supported in 720P30 mode, but required 3rd party support in 720P25 and 720P24 modes. The HD100 can also shoot 480P60 and 576P50.
If you had said JVC HD100, then the answers would be phrased like "if you shoot 720P24..."

But since we know that you will be shooting Sony 1080i60 or 1080i50, then the answers are simple:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Maukka Pasanen
1) Does FCP handle HDV natively without problems (on a G5 dual core 2,3Ghz, with 2G RAM for instance)? By "without problems" I understand editing which is basically as smooth as DV editing?
Yes. No problems. Completely native in FCP5 with 1080i60 or 1080i50 support.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maukka Pasanen
2) Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 (for Win) is also supposed to handle HDV natively also, but people seem to have a lot of problems with it even with very powerful computers. Apparently the only truly smooth way to edit HDV in PP2 is still the Cineform Aspect 4 plugin (additional 500$).
As far as I know, Adobe PP2 will natively support 1080i60/1080i50 HDV - no 3rd party required.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maukka Pasanen
So is there really such a major difference between how PP2 and FCP handle HDV natively?
In FCP, the mpeg2 stream is "wrapped" in quicktime to allow editing. I'm not sure how PP2 does it, but I imagine they wrap it in avi or wmv.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maukka Pasanen
3) Is there an advantage in editing compressed HDV files natively? Could it be that an intermediate codec would actually maintain image quality better than editing MPEG2 compressed HDV files natively?

For this: http://www.sonyhdvinfo.com/showthread.php?t=4043
With 1080i60/50 and the 15 frame GOP, it seems that editing natively is the best solution. JVC's 6frame GOP seems to work well with the Apple Intermediate Codec, but the Sony FX1/A1 not so well. The advantage to converting to an intermediate codec is that you won't need to create "constant frames" each time you edit a clip within a GOP - therefore less render times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maukka Pasanen
4) Do FCP 5 users here edit rather natively or do you use Lumiere plugin (I assume it is an intermediate codec like Aspect)?
Lumiere HD hasn't been required for 1080i60 or 1080i50 since FCP5 was released. You won't need it.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 03:49 AM   #5
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Tim, thanks for such detailed answers! Very useful info. Now I have a pretty good picture of what native HDV editing in FCP requires. That was precisely what I needed.

Thanks again,

Maukka
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Old April 14th, 2006, 02:40 AM   #6
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A few more notes

I edit with FCP 5.0 and HDV. I use a cinema display for monitoring and I do notice a quality loss while editing. This is definitely an issue.

Everything I've read suggested that using an intermediate codec is the way to go. Apple has theirs, Adobe and Sony use the CineForm and Canopus Has its HQ.

I have a Canopus system as well, and the quality of their codec is very good, but the editing interface is a joke (compared to Apple) Sony is not much better, actually a bit strange when it comes to doing basic stuff, like jumping to a certain point in the timeline or adding a simple 1 second dissolve.

Adobe is the unknown for me as an editing tool. It looks like a close alternative to FCP, but on the PC plateform. It also has the largest support for an Editing tool on the PC side. The CineForm codec looks very promising, and maybe the best way to go for all around image quality.

Here's the rub, the cost is expensive, but comparable to a full blown FCP system that does the same thing (minus the CineForm codec).

I was trying to find talk about if Apples Intermediate Codec is equal, better or worse than the CineForm Codec, and all I could find was a basic "not as good" answer.

I do agree that working with the native HDV stream works fine, but the quality is not quite as good as an Intermediate Codec (my first hand experience is with Canopus HQ).

I suggest you put quality aside, and really look at if you can edit with the tool you are going to choose. Find someone who has a system of each and then take some time to play around with the interface. I can tell you first hand, that they can REALLY differ. Also, consider the training material out there, FCP and PP2 both have tons of training solutions. Canopus has NONE! and there manual is an absolute joke.

Good Luck,

Dan
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Old April 14th, 2006, 08:14 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Ohara
I have a Canopus system as well, and the quality of their codec is very good, but the editing interface is a joke (compared to Apple)
Edius has its share of problems, but apparently has some practical advantages over FCP in terms of things like mixing different types of footage on the timeline. I compared Edius to FCP a couple of years ago and couldn't find any compelling reason to switch: they both edit video effectively once you learn how to use them.

Quote:
Also, consider the training material out there, FCP and PP2 both have tons of training solutions. Canopus has NONE! and there manual is an absolute joke.
The Edius manual isn't very good, but there is a free tutorial disc available and Canopus has some tutorials on their web site at the following link: http://www.canopus.com/support/tutorials/EDIUS.php
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Old April 14th, 2006, 12:46 PM   #8
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So what codec

So do you convert to quicktime in FCP and then edit??
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Old April 24th, 2006, 08:05 AM   #9
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Dan, thanks for your thoughts. Quality loss during editing is definately something I'd rather avoid. So I am now reconsidering using some intermediate codec. Isn't it a bit strange that FCP, Avid Express Pro and PP2 all boast about being able to edit HDV natively, if it then turns out that editing natively means a noticeable loss in image quality?!

I know that Cineform Aspect is the intermediate codec to use with PP2, and if I stay in the "PC world", that is what I will use.

However, meanwhile I have had the opportunity to familiarize myself a little bit with FCP, and I must say it seem like a very nice tool. So I am still considering moving on to Mac...

Now I have a couple of further questions:

1) Is there an inermediate codec available for FCP 5?

2) Has anyone used this workflow:
First you batch capture your HDV footage and downconvert it to DV (I have a Sony A1 cam, which takes care of this) and then edit in DV. Then, once you're done editing, you batch capture the same tapes in HDV (no downconversion this time) and render your project in HDV using the HDV footage. There is no intermediary codec involved here, I suppose this is using your downconverted DV files as "proxy" files. Apparently this works if your tapes have no breaks in time code. Does this sound like a reasonable workflow?

Thanks again,
Maukka
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