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Old September 1st, 2006, 01:05 AM   #1
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Desperately Need a Lossless HD Intel Codec

Hey folks,

So we're shooting a film with a Canon XL-H1 into a Mac Pro with a BlackMagic Multibridge pro card in SDI at full 4:2:2 1080p24 uncompressed. We have an internal SATA RAID of 3 250GB drives, and filled it up very quickly.

We need a good lossless capture / timeline codec that does HD at 4:2:2 24p, and works on the Intel macs. All the codecs I've been able to find only work on the PowerPC macs.

Does anyone know of a good solution to this? MJPEG seems to be the only option, but it has some issues with pulldown I think.

-Brian Critchlow
Digital Media Factory
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Old September 1st, 2006, 09:30 AM   #2
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Have you tried the bitjazz codec? I'm not sure if it works with the mac pro yet or not but you can try out the free demo. This is a lossless codec that should cut the bandwidth in half. It may even do better if the shots have a lot of blank color such as green screen shoots. This is known as one of the fastest codecs right now and is perfect quality. If you are doing 8 bit 1080 HD then usually the video will be around 120 MB/S. With this codec you might be able to get around 60 MB/S with the same exact quality. If you are using photojpeg see if your system can handle photojpeg at 100%. This actually is a 4:4:4 codec when at 100% and it may preserve the quality a little bit better.

I know for SD photojpeg at 75% works very well so I would be surprised if it didn't work well for HD as well.
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Old September 1st, 2006, 01:43 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response. We have installed the bitjazz sheervideo codec into the machine with no luck. Hopefully a universal version is in the works.

Photojpeg was our next thought. The macpro has no problem running at 100%. Our source footage is 10bit 4:2:2 1080i. Is there any noticable change by going to 75% on the codec so it matches the same color sampling? Are we going to loose other information as well?

Cheers
Brian
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Old September 1st, 2006, 02:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Critchlow
Thanks for the response. We have installed the bitjazz sheervideo codec into the machine with no luck. Hopefully a universal version is in the works.
The BM card has to be able to support encoding to the chosen codec in real-time. They've only ever claimed uncompressed, DVCPRO HD, and photojpeg.

I doubt the Bitjazz codec will ever be something you could digitize to live.
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Old September 1st, 2006, 02:14 PM   #5
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Forgive my ignorance, but why not use Avid DNxHD for the timeline? It is touted as being "specifically designed for nonlinear editing and multi-generation compositing, including collaborative postproduction and broadcast news environments"

The 220 version can reduce the XL-H1's 10 bit 4:2:2 output from 1.485Gbps to 220Mbps. Sorry if you already considered this; I'm just regurtitating my online research.
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Old September 1st, 2006, 02:23 PM   #6
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Hello,

Capturing uncompressed is the only way not to loose any information. The best HD intermediate format for FCP (your using a Mac Pro, so I assume FCP) is DVCPro HD. That codec is fast, offers 4:2:2, but only 8bit. The other option would be Avid's DNxHD. That codec is available for OSX, but not with an intel chip set. You'll probably have to use Boot Camp and Windows XP Pro to make that work on your existing workstation. The last option would be to use CineForm, but they don't have an .mov option yet (sorry). Using some other codec combination would be experimental and may carry rendering and compression penalties. HDV takes longer to render and compress compared to DVCPro HD, for example. You should experiment with a small clip first before using a custom configuration for a complete project. The only other option would be to use a much larger stroage system and go uncompressed. I hope this helps out.

CJ Rogers
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Old September 1st, 2006, 03:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
The BM card has to be able to support encoding to the chosen codec in real-time. They've only ever claimed uncompressed, DVCPRO HD, and photojpeg.

I doubt the Bitjazz codec will ever be something you could digitize to live.
Actually the Blackmagic cards can capture to any quicktime codec as long as it is fast enough. Blackmagic only supports certain formats because those are the formats built into FCP. Most other codecs are not fast enough or will not work with HD material. The bitjazz codec is actually faster than a lot of uncompressed codecs and can easily handle capturing HD. I know people have done it with older dual G5's so a Mac pro should have no problem at all. The problem right now seems that the codec has not been updated for the Intel hardware so it will not work. From what I remember the codec would edit and play in realtime in FCP but none of the realtime effects would work in realtime because Apple wouldn't add direct support for the codec yet.
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Old September 1st, 2006, 03:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Critchlow
Thanks for the response. We have installed the bitjazz sheervideo codec into the machine with no luck. Hopefully a universal version is in the works.

Photojpeg was our next thought. The macpro has no problem running at 100%. Our source footage is 10bit 4:2:2 1080i. Is there any noticable change by going to 75% on the codec so it matches the same color sampling? Are we going to loose other information as well?

Cheers
Brian
While you will not gain any extra color information by using 100% photojpeg since you are starting with 4:2:2, you will still gain less compression by going with 100%. At 100% each frame is compressed less and will be of higher quality. Yes some of it is wasted in the extra chroma data but a good chunk of that extra bandwidth is going towards the overall quality.

At this point it all comes down to how it looks to you. Capture a few scenes as 75% and 100% and see if the tradeoff is worth it. You may not be able to tell the 75% is a little bit more compressed. One thing is for sure that even 75% would look a lot better than DVCPROHD.

DVCPROHD only uses 1280x1080 pixels and isn't very good at compressing even that. Remember DVCPROHD is the DV codec of HD. Photojpeg at 75% for SD uses 2.7 MB/S compared to DV at 3.2MB/S and is light years ahead in terms of quality. With that said a photojpeg video at the same datarate as DVCPROHD will be of much higher quality. DVCPROHD may give you more realtime effects and more layers of video in realtime but the quality really suffers.
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Old September 2nd, 2006, 07:59 PM   #9
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Thomas,
Thanks, this is in line with what a lot of other local pros have been telling me. DVCproHD is great for offline, but the data rate and resolution just dont compare to photojpeg. We have made the choice to go photojpeg, our only issue now is that it wont capture in real time (14-18fps roughly), so we are having to capture uncompressed & go to photojpeg overnight.

We are using an internal 750 gig software RAID 0, getting 187MBps
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