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Old May 4th, 2006, 03:54 PM   #1
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HDV or Apple intermediate Codec

By mistake I have captured from my Canon XL H1 25f footage in the setting "HDV" instead of Apple intermediate Codec - my feeling is that the HDV setting is slow, compared to Apple intermediate Codec in FCP5. Or is it my new nice Nattress filters who slows it down? Could it be like that? And what do you think about quality - is there any difference? And can I change the sequense setting to Apple intermediate Codec, rerender and crack on with good results? Or must I capture it once more?
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Old May 4th, 2006, 05:41 PM   #2
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If you're going for speed, AIC is better than native HDV. It is also better for render quality. However since you're so far into the project, you'll probably want to finish with the native format and when you're ready to export, change the sequence to AIC, render, and export. It will help you retain the quality.

Your other option would be to take all your source media and put them into an AIC timeline and render each one out, then export it as a seperate file. If you are careful to keep the in and out points the same, you can then "reconnect your clips" and select the new AIC files as the source media. The later might work fine, but I can't say I've actually done it. It'd probably be best to stick with the first solution I gave.
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Old May 4th, 2006, 06:00 PM   #3
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Have done it before

I agree with Chad. If you're on a G5 the slow-down shouldn't be terribly bad. On a G4 you might be grinding a little bit. One advantage of what you did is when you finish the project you will be able to go back to tape without having to first transcode back to HDV!! You should certainly, however, output a AIC final version that will have FCP re-render the project into the much more durable AIC codec.

Also, look at it this way. Capturing with the AIC conversion is very basic: no clip names, no timecode, no anything. The computer just plays the tape and breaks each clip into an individual file. It makes bringing a few clips in a project back online impossible. I've never tried to re-open a finished project that was captured in AIC and I don't want to especially one with a lot of media. With an HDV project yon can just select all the clips you actually used in the timeline and then do a batch capture and you'll only bring in the footage you need to re-link the timeline.

You could argue it was better you made the mistake. God if screwing up only worked out this well all the time!

Last edited by Nathan Troutman; May 4th, 2006 at 07:10 PM.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 07:42 AM   #4
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Do I understand correctly: using AIC helps to retain quality if compared to editing HDV natively - no matter how powerful a G5 one has?

In other words, if I am looking for optimum image quality in exported HDV video, AIC is still the way to go. Right?

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Old May 5th, 2006, 09:22 AM   #5
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From what I've heard the general recomendation is to use AIC. HDV is very compressed and requires the computer to decode other frames to display just one frame (slower in a timeline.) It also makes it degrade during rendering of multiple effects. However, on paper this is all true. In reality AIC has some downsides. 1. It takes more space. 2. And this is a huge #2 NO TIMECODE, NO LOGGING. This is not a big problem if you expect that you'll never need to re-capture and bring the project back online. I've also messed up and captured the first project I did in HDV. Since that time I've done numerous other projects in AIC and HDV. I've had good results capturing HDV doing the edit and the dropping everything in a new sequence using AIC. This will require FCP to render to AIC (which is what you're doing when you capture AIC from the start.) Then I applied effects and exported. It seemed to work very well. It was almost like doing an offline edit. The HDV is smaller and allows you more capture control, then when you're ready you go to AIC. The only thing I'd like to know for sure is how FCP handles that rendering when you apply your effects in the AIC timeline. I'm assuming that FCP would first take the HDV footage transfer it to AIC and then render effects after that. But I can't say I know that for sure.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 03:54 AM   #6
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Thanks for your input everybody. I think will go on with the "HDV" setting this time. Next time I will use AIC, from the start.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 03:59 PM   #7
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Would I be correct in asuming there's a quality hit when capturing using AIC as opposed to HDV?

To maintain the highest quality possible should we stick to HDV or use AIC- I was under the impression AIC footage isn't quite as good as HDV footage- am I mistaken?

If we want to output back to the camera to save the finished final edit/project- is it better to use the native HDV (guessing so) or can we send the video back via firewire if the project was captured using AIC?

Thanks guys.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 09:54 PM   #8
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Hey again Steve. I've heard the opposite - that you should import with AIC rather than HDV because AIC is supposed to be better quality and at the very least less compressed and more editing friendly. That being said I've never seen any real difference quality wise. Apple recommends to import with the AIC conversion as well. AIC isn't as compressed as HDV and therefor renders better and also runs faster in a timeline (because HDV requires the computer to decode several frames to display one. AIC compresses each frame independently from eachother.) All that being said AIC import is very rudimentary and it take more HD space. If you're not doing lots of effects HDV has worked just fine for me and let's you log clip names and timecode just like a normal capture. When you export back to tape from HDV you can do it immediately. An AIC timeline will require you to conform the video back to HDV and then you can go to tape so there's an extra step and extra time.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 12:20 AM   #9
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Man, there's so much misinformation flying around about native HDV editing.

Bringing in via HDV means you're capturing the original MPEG-2 stream off the camera. Yes, the computer has to work harder to playback and process (but not to capture, that part is easier), but on a newer G5 it should be alright. If you add effects in a native HDV timeline, it re-compresses back to MPEG2 which is not the best thing you can do, but it's an easy way to work. When you're finished with the project you can keep your native timeline and render out to a better codec for full quality to tape (or whatever).

Bringing in via AIC is harder for the computer on ingest, because it's putting your footage through a recompress on the fly. It also loses timecode, and there is no batch control. The AIC is easier for any Mac to handle while actually cutting, and adding effects in a AIC timeline (causing a recompress) is slightly better looking than recompressing MPEG2.

However!

You can ingest and cut in a native HDV timeline (if your comp works fast enough to suit you), doing all your effects, color correction, graphics in HDV, and THEN when you're finished render out an uncompressed movie. Or DVCPRO HD. Or AIC. Doing things this way defers any damaging recompression to the end (saving trouble), or if you do uncompressed out, avoids it altogether.

In other words, the only reason NOT to do native HDV on your mac is if your comp is too slow to suit you.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 06:12 AM   #10
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Great info, thanks.

If my Intel iMac can work as smoothly as I believe it would - I'll keep the entire project in HDV. If I notice slowdown and general quirkiness- I'll use the AIC method from that point on on newer projects.

Thanks for the posts, guys.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 10:21 AM   #11
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I always work in Native HDV and then at the very end render to the AIC codec. I usually do so by selecting "Export Quicktime Movie" and choose the AIC codec. I see here some are saying to make a new AIC sequence and drop the HDV one into it, then render from that. Is there a reason to do it this way as oppossed to just exporting from the HDV sequence?

Is it a quality or speed issue or both?

Thanks
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Old May 9th, 2006, 12:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frederick
I always work in Native HDV and then at the very end render to the AIC codec. I usually do so by selecting "Export Quicktime Movie" and choose the AIC codec. I see here some are saying to make a new AIC sequence and drop the HDV one into it, then render from that. Is there a reason to do it this way as oppossed to just exporting from the HDV sequence?

Is it a quality or speed issue or both?

Thanks
I'd like to know if somebody really has a real answer to Paul's question, not a guess. I'd say no need to do that but that's because I haven't been able to see any difference. I really don't know for sure.

Paul I was the one that said to drop it into a new timeline. That wasn't my suggestion for how you should do it. It was only a comment on how I did it for one of my projects. I had finished my edit and wanted to do effects work next so not knowing exactly how final cut handles going from HDV to rendering and then saving it in another format I decided to put it in a new timeline. This seemed to assure that Final cut would have to first convert to AIC (I had to render the timeline to see the sequence again.) and then render effects. In the end I can't SEE any difference between that and just doing an export, or just doing the whole thing in HDV from start to finish, or importing AIC from the start. The quality all seemes the same, but this is all from trial and error experience not because I actually know for sure. If you read the final cut manual Apple's line is to use AIC from the start. It seems others like Nate and myself (also a Nate no less) and you Paul have been using HDV just fine.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 01:40 PM   #13
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Nathan,

I was asking because I've heard to render to an SD file, taking your HDV sequence and dropping it in a SD sequence, then rendering, produces a better looking movie then doing it using Export to QT or Compressor. Again, I'm not sure if this is based on FACTS or if it's just another way to achieve the same goal. Sounds like you have good workflow, I'm just curious if it looks better or is quicker.

Once I finish this current project I'm doing, I'll try it both ways with a difficult sequence of clips, time the renders, and see whats quicker and looks better!

I think the main thing is, unless you're going back to HDV tape, it's best to make your final render to AIC codec and play out to an external deck (via KONA LH for me). HOW you render to AIC is the question I'm asking and would love to hear peoples opinions! Thanks for the input Nathan.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 01:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frederick
Nathan,

I was asking because I've heard to render to an SD file, taking your HDV sequence and dropping it in a SD sequence, then rendering, produces a better looking movie then doing it using Export to QT or Compressor.
I would think going to SD it would technically be better to export out to compressor to take advantage of it's high end scaling abilities in the frame controls panel and to avoid a generational loss? I don't know if it really "looks" better, this is the text book answer. I can say FOR SURE that you'll have to tweak the compressor settings a lot to produce a result that exports in a rational amount of time. Compressor produces great results at painfully slow speeds when using the frame controls. Also, if you have a lot of effects exporting to compressor forces compressor to rerender and then do all the recompressing to avoid generational loss. This is better but longer. You could bite the generational bullet and export an HD AIC final cut movie and then bring that into compressor and use the better frame controls to scale the movie back down to SD. Apple touts compressor as the far superior way to compress and resize as compared to doing it in final cut pro. I've had good results, but it takes longer and you have to jump around between programs. I guess it just depends how anal you are ;)

When you do the different tests make sure you post back here with your results!
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Old May 9th, 2006, 02:45 PM   #15
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For going to SD, I've found scaling in After Effects to be the fastest and best looking. But you need to have an AIC rendered file to start with. Just import it, make an SD sized Comp and then drag the AIC HD file in, resize and render. It gets the field order right every time, something I find isn't always every time using compressor.
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