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Old March 30th, 2007, 04:48 PM   #1
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Windows Avi Files in Final Cut?

Okay I'm a PC guy and need some advice about Mac editing. I'm helping a guy that's just getting into film making with a short film he wrote. We're shooting on mini DV with a Canon XL1s. The guy who is editing for him doesn't have a camera or deck to capture, but is editing on a mac with Final Cut. I captured tape the first day of shooting onto my PC with Premiere Pro 1.5 and burned the files right to a couple of DVD's as AVI files. I gave him the DVD's and he was trying to tell the director the files aren't the highest quality because they're went captured right into his Mac. I realize you're supposed to convert AVI to MOV files to make it easier to edit in Final Cut, but why would there be any difference in the quality of the footage? If the AVI files are converted to MOV files in Compressor wouldn't the quality be just the same as capturing the footage to the Mac?

In case you're wondering why we don't capture from my camera to his Mac. He wants to capture the footage take by take instead of capturing the entire thing and then cutting it down from there in Final Cut. I don't really like the idea of putting all that extra wear and tear on my camera's heads, starting and stopping the tape between ever take. I personally just hit record and play and let it go and wait till the footage is in the computer before I start cutting it down.
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Old March 30th, 2007, 10:30 PM   #2
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I've never had the opportunity to do a bit-for-bit comparison between AVI and MOV files but it's really more of a bitrate question, not format. In theory, both should provide about the same quality of image at the same bitrate.

One of the programs that will convert AVI to MOV or QT is "Flip4Mac"; the pro version will do the conversions, the free version will simply allow playback.
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Old March 31st, 2007, 04:09 PM   #3
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The quality of the DV AVI and DV MOV files should be the same, but don't re-encode between the two! It's a waste of encoding time and will probably decrease the quality. I've edited AVI files in Final Cut Pro, and besides a warning popping up that AVI isn't the optimal codec for FCP, it seemed to work just fine for me.
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Old March 31st, 2007, 04:29 PM   #4
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I'm going to second what Chris said. Remember, both AVI and Quicktime are essentially "wrappers" for a data stream that uses any of a number of actual data codecs.

So if you're taking, for example, a plain vanilla DV-25 file and putting an AVI wrapper on it, it will be exactly the same quality of taking a plain vanilla DV-25 file and putting a Quicktime wrapper on it.

I market an editing skills training program (www.starteditingnow) aimed at the education market and I was originally worried I'd need to double the content into both Quicktime and AVI to hit both the Mac and PC markets. I learned in the first volume that I could take the original Quicktime files, simply change the header info to AVI and the DV clips would play back on both PCs and Macs. Clearly since it's the SAME FILE with the SAME DATA, there's no difference in quality.

The problems come if you use an particular codec inside the "wrapper" (DIVX, Spark, H-264, etc) that isn't present on someone's machine.

That's where most of the "hey, I can't play this file" problems come up. Somone uses an interior codec that's either really old or really new and the people who need to play those files haven't installed the correct codec to parse and display the video file.

Newer codecs are more efficient and provide higher quality at reduced bit rates, but using them also makes your files less universally compatible.

Welcome to the fun of distributing digital video files!
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Old April 1st, 2007, 09:01 PM   #5
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My guess is that the editor is either a snob or uneducated or just plain lazy. If they are unhappy with the way you captured it, just give the editor the tape and say good luck re-doing all the work you've already done.

I've edited AVI on the FCP timeline and it's fine. It's just a matter of changing the settings. If AVI was that terrible, it would have been abandoned years ago.

I've also coverted an AVI files to Quicktime. There is a degradation, so I'd just edit it natively if possible.
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Old April 1st, 2007, 10:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Chris Harris View Post
I've edited AVI files in Final Cut Pro, and besides a warning popping up that AVI isn't the optimal codec for FCP, it seemed to work just fine for me.
Same here. I was using Canon's PCDV Recorder for the XL2 doing a direct to laptop (Windows only) capture. The resulting AVI files loaded just fine in FCP with the warning that Chris mentions about the files not being optimized.

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