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Final Cut Suite
Discussing the editing of all formats with FCS, FCP, FCE


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Old December 8th, 2006, 03:31 PM   #1
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New to Mac, Lots of HD (HDV) questions,

Iím not sure I should try to tackle so many questions in one thread but since Iím new to the Mac I didnít want to inundate this forum with a lot of uneducated questions. Hopefully we can break any insightful discussion out into its own thread.

Probably the place to start is to explain my situation and what Iím hoping to do. Currently I have two edit suites built on PCís using Adobeís Production Studio Pro. I convert all HD, HDV and SD to the Cineform Intermediate codec which is stored on 5TB of shared storage [SAN]. So all five PCís [two edit, two graphic and one ingest and file system management] have high speed access to the data.

Two friends of mine have a production company which has two FCP edit suites and an Avid suite. They initially asked me to join them to work with the Avid. After some discussion they decided they would like to scrap the Avid in favor of another FCP system and asked if I could build a similar workflow with the Mac that I currently have with the PCís.

After talking with an engineer at Apple regarding XSan and Xserve RAID it appears that it is possible, albeit a bit pricey, to build this type of system using Macís. Is anyone on this forum running XSan and/or Xserve if so how well does it work?

Regarding working with a common file format, it appears that Apple relies almost exclusively on the DVCProHD codec for HD work. If you connect an HDV camera via firewire to FCP will it capture and convert the footage to DVCProHD?

If it doesnít can any of the Kona cards capture HDV via firewire and convert to DVCProHD?

Blackmagic cards are big with PCís does anyone have experience working with these cards on a Mac?

Are their any converter boxes that convert HDV to DVCProHD that work with FCP?

Is there a Quicktime codec that would be better to convert all of the DVCProHD, HDV and SD into that would work very well with FCP?

I tried to find documentation about the Apple Intermediate Codec but it was limited and appears to be strictly an 8bit codec working in 4:2:0 so it wouldnít appear that this would be a good solution for working with 4:2:2 HD. Does anyone care to share their experiences working with the Apple Intermediate Codec?

I hope Iíve provided enough information that you can get a sense of what Iím trying to accomplish. Also this is definitely not a PC versus Mac thing, if I end up working with these guys it will be with FCP. Iím just trying to figure out how I can make the facility more scaleable and efficient and the only experience I have developing a workflow like this is with PCís. I feel like the fat guy in those Mac commercials Ė does anyone want a C++ GUI Guide for the holidays?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old December 8th, 2006, 05:37 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Spaulding
Regarding working with a common file format, it appears that Apple relies almost exclusively on the DVCProHD codec for HD work.
Mmm, I wouldn't say that. In HD, you have the choice of working in DVCPRO HD, Uncompressed, Native HDV, and Apple Intermediate Codec. The one that you use will depend on how you capture. Oh, and native XDCAM HD.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Spaulding
If you connect an HDV camera via firewire to FCP will it capture and convert the footage to DVCProHD?
[edit: Maybe I was drunk when I wrote this originally. Below is an edit]

If you are trying to capture from an HDV camera via FW, you have Native and Apple Intermediate Codec as options. that's it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Spaulding
...can any of the Kona cards capture HDV via firewire and convert to DVCProHD?
No.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Spaulding
Blackmagic cards are big with PC’s does anyone have experience working with these cards on a Mac?
I have a Decklink card working with FCP. Functionally, the Decklink and Kona cards are almost identical when working in FCP, except Kona allows a few more options with cross conversions, downconversions, and I/O. Having used both, I prefer the Kona setups.

Editing native HDV in FCP and monitoring via Decklink works beautifully. The Decklink also gets used to layoff to Digibeta or HDCAM.

I edit HDV natively, and then when I've got a locked edit, I render it out to uncompressed. This makes sure all your effects and graphics, and your MPEG footage stays as pristine as possible. This uncompressed QT is what gets laid off to tape.

That way you get the speed and convenience of native HDV, and the highest possible quality for your final product.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Spaulding
Are their any converter boxes that convert HDV to DVCProHD that work with FCP?
Not directly. Miranda makes a device that inputs HDV via firewire and outputs HD-SDI. Coupled with a Decklink/Kona card that would get you to DVCPRO HD without an analog conversion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Spaulding
Is there a Quicktime codec that would be better to convert all of the DVCProHD, HDV and SD into that would work very well with FCP?
I'd vote for DVCPRO HD. The only thing going against DVCPRO HD is the compromised frame sizes (1280x1080 for 1080, 960x720 for 720). I've toyed around with making custom sequences with full raster resolutions with the codec, and if I remember correctly it worked. In other words, making a custom preset to work in 1280x720/DVCPRO HD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Spaulding
I tried to find documentation about the Apple Intermediate Codec but it was limited and appears to be strictly an 8bit codec working in 4:2:0 so it wouldn’t appear that this would be a good solution for working with 4:2:2 HD. Does anyone care to share their experiences working with the Apple Intermediate Codec?
Operationally, it's identical to DVCPRO HD. It's DCT based, so it's fast. I'm pretty sure the Decklink and Kona cards won't digitize to it in real-time, though. I should investigate this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Spaulding
I hope I’ve provided enough information that you can get a sense of what I’m trying to accomplish. Also this is definitely not a PC versus Mac thing, if I end up working with these guys it will be with FCP.
Frankly, the state of PC/Mac interchange when working in HD right now is about nil. If you really look closely, the only universal format that has ever existed is DV, because it was so ubiquitous. Even higher quality SD has been hard to work back and forth with.
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Last edited by Nate Weaver; December 9th, 2006 at 03:07 PM.
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Old December 12th, 2006, 09:23 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
Mmm, I wouldn't say that. In HD, you have the choice of working in DVCPRO HD, Uncompressed, Native HDV, and Apple Intermediate Codec. The one that you use will depend on how you capture. Oh, and native XDCAM HD.

If you are trying to capture from an HDV camera via FW, you have Native and Apple Intermediate Codec as options. that's it.
Thanks for getting back to me, sorry it took so long for my reply - I've been researching some of this stuff...

I don't want to mix native and non-native HDV so I'm looking for an intermediate codec that I can use as a common format [much the same as Cineform on the PC]. I was hoping that either Apple Intermediate Codec would do the trick, but what I've gleaned from the little documentation I could find it appeared to be a temporary product until FCP could edit HDV natively. And as you've mentioned it is not currently possible to capture via firewire and convert from HDV to DVCProHD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
I have a Decklink card working with FCP. Functionally, the Decklink and Kona cards are almost identical when working in FCP, except Kona allows a few more options with cross conversions, downconversions, and I/O. Having used both, I prefer the Kona setups.

Editing native HDV in FCP and monitoring via Decklink works beautifully. The Decklink also gets used to layoff to Digibeta or HDCAM.
Do you think the cross and down conversion is worth the extra money?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
Miranda makes a device that inputs HDV via firewire and outputs HD-SDI. Coupled with a Decklink/Kona card that would get you to DVCPRO HD without an analog conversion.
This sounds promising, thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
I'd vote for DVCPRO HD. The only thing going against DVCPRO HD is the compromised frame sizes (1280x1080 for 1080, 960x720 for 720). I've toyed around with making custom sequences with full raster resolutions with the codec, and if I remember correctly it worked. In other words, making a custom preset to work in 1280x720/DVCPRO HD.
When comparing F900SR to the same footage converted to DVCProHD I noticed a considerable difference. The DVCProHD appeared softer. I'm not sure I would be that dissapointed if I weren't doing a side-by-side comparison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
Frankly, the state of PC/Mac interchange when working in HD right now is about nil. If you really look closely, the only universal format that has ever existed is DV, because it was so ubiquitous. Even higher quality SD has been hard to work back and forth with.
I agree with you there. Fortunately we realized the problem and decided to pick one NLE over the other [I lost]. I don't mind as long as we can develop a seamless workflow, allbeit all MAC.

Obviously building any system there are trade-offs, which graphics card do you think would work better with Motion2 and After Effects 7, dual nVidia GeForce 7300 GT's or the ATI Radeon X1900?
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