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Old November 12th, 2005, 11:56 AM   #1
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FS-4 Pro HD M2T file Not Usable by FCP

Must have info for anyone wanting to use the Firestore FS-4 Pro HD in HDV mode:

I just tested my HD Firestore (80GB) shooting from my Z1 in HDV mode; the only file-type option in the FS-4 when used in "HD" mode is "M2T".

When I attempted to import the clips into FCP 5 it gave me an "incompatible/unreadable" error. Thinking the issue might be incorrect settings in FCP I called Apple Pro Tech Support to find out.

The problem as described to me by Apple Pro Tech Support is that an M2T file is a "muxed" file - both audio and video information are combined into one contiguous file, and requires de-muxing before either FCP or Avid could use it.

That means, you would need to import the clip into another program to de-mux it and then reimport into an NLE. How ridiculous!!

Focus clearly advertises both on the website and in the owners manual that this drive let's you shoot directly from the camera to the Firestore and go direct to your NLE - "DTE - Direct to Edit" is the term. That's just not the case at all when shooting in HD on this unit. After waiting two months for this thing to show up I'm completely... pissed.

Using the FS-4 Pro HD was supposed to save me time by not having to capture clips shot in HDV on tape; if I use the FS-4 to shoot in HD mode I'll have to de-mux the clips before FCP can use them - at which point I'm not saving time at all!!

In standard DV mode the FS-4 has multiple file formats to cover all the major NLE's - why the hell they didn't put in the "HD" codecs for those same formats is beyond me and I'm... pissed!!

Between the FS-4 Pro HD unit, extra battery and the camera mount kit I spent more than $2k, and when I return it less than half that will be spent on tape for my project.
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Old November 12th, 2005, 03:37 PM   #2
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I spent close to an hour on hold with support at Focus enhancements on Thursday, before a recorded voice told me to leave a contact number..then the line went dead.

I bought the firestore three weeks ago, assuming it worked with hdv -in part because an announcmeent on the Focus site said it would work "the middle of October". Repeated emails to support bounced back. When I finally did talk to a human, I was told I'd have to pay 300 dollars to upgrade.

I ordered the upgrade the day they were made available, and now this.

I won't deal with this company again anytime soon. we've cancelled orders for two more FS-4s.

But in the meantime, what's the shortest path to getting those m2t files into FCP with timecode intact, and in a format that doesn't bog down the system?




Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane
Must have info for anyone wanting to use the Firestore FS-4 Pro HD in HDV mode:

I just tested my HD Firestore (80GB) shooting from my Z1 in HDV mode; the only file-type option in the FS-4 when used in "HD" mode is "M2T".

When I attempted to import the clips into FCP 5 it gave me an "incompatible/unreadable" error. Thinking the issue might be incorrect settings in FCP I called Apple Pro Tech Support to find out.

The problem as described to me by Apple Pro Tech Support is that an M2T file is a "muxed" file - both audio and video information are combined into one contiguous file, and requires de-muxing before either FCP or Avid could use it.

That means, you would need to import the clip into another program to de-mux it and then reimport into an NLE. How ridiculous!!



Between the FS-4 Pro HD unit, extra battery and the camera mount kit I spent more than $2k, and when I return it less than half that will be spent on tape for my project.
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Old November 12th, 2005, 05:35 PM   #3
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Joe,

After hours of research and help from the Apple Pro Support techs I've determined that:

A. Using the Firestore to shoot and x-fer HDV clips isn't going to happen.
B. Editing in HDV is going to suck because of the huge load it would put on processor power - even if I had a new Quad-Core G5 (I have a dual 2.7 now with 8GB RAM)
C. The best way to handle HDV files (either Sony or JVC spec) is to shoot to tape in HDV and either downconvert the clips to DV-widescreen or convert them during capture to another format.

Originally my upcoming project was based on using DTE technology to shoot HDV and eliminate the capture process thus saving time. However, having now learned that in fact I would not be saving any time at all because of having to convert (render) the M2T files with another application (of which I haven't found yet) into Quicktime HD files. So, the entire idea of a tapeless solution just doesn't exist yet - not for HD anyway.

My new workflow will be thus:

- Shoot to tape in HDV using my Z1.
- Convert the clips during capture to either DVCPRO-25, 50 or HD using a Black Magic card.
- Edit/cut in the converted format.

The reasons for going this route are twofold:

1. Editing in HDV would put too much demand on processor power and "simple" renders like transitions would take significantly longer than SD-DV. The DVCPRO format is "native" to FCP since version 4 especially the HD formats and take no more processing power/time than normal DV.

2. The 4:2:2 pulldown is significantly better color space than the 4:1:1 standard for DV.

There is at least one commercial production that I'm aware of, "Hands on HDV", which used this same technique of shooting HDV and downconverting in DV-widescreen for editing. It looks fabulous. The content of the DVD is a tutorial on the Sony FX1 and Z1 cameras and was shot entirely on the Z1.

If you need a benchmark for how good something shot on HDV can look, take a look at that DVD.

Best wishes.
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Old November 12th, 2005, 06:09 PM   #4
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Maybe I'm not understanding you, but something sounds wrong there. I'm still on FCP 4.5, but will upgrade to FCP 5 soon. According to everything I've read (reviews and user reports) it should handle HDV without any problem.

http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/finalcutpro/

Quote:
Native HDV Support
Unlike other solutions, Final Cut Pro 5 acquires HDV media via FireWire and keeps it in the original format, transferring it into the system without any generation loss. Output via FireWire back to an HDV camera or deck, or transfer your native HDV to DVD Studio Pro 4 for an end-to-end native HDV workflow.
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Old November 13th, 2005, 12:59 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd Ostroff
Maybe I'm not understanding you, but something sounds wrong there. I'm still on FCP 4.5, but will upgrade to FCP 5 soon. According to everything I've read (reviews and user reports) it should handle HDV without any problem.

http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/finalcutpro/


Boyd,

FCP 5 handles HDV well, when it's captured from tape on my Z1U through firewire and on to a hard drive as a quicktime file. However, the firestore writes HDV not as a quicktime file, but as something with an .m2t extension. FCP doesn't accept that file.

Focus support sent me a workaround, which doesn't really begin to address the problem. In fact, the workaround is more time consuming than simply transfering from tape, unless i'm missing something. Maybe there are secret to the FCP transport control that I'm not aware of, but I don't see how you could expect to go through five hours of footage as the workaround suggests

As it is, the only advantage I can see in recording to FS-4HD is being able to use the retro cache function. But then you'd have to find the correct file...

Here's the Focus workaround...



FS-4 HD / FS-4Pro HD / DR-HD100 HiDef NLE Support
Apple Final Cut Pro 5

The following describes the steps required to bring FS-4HD/FS-4Pro HD/DR-HD100 recorded .m2t files into Apple Final Cut Pro 5 for native HDV editing.

NOTE: These application notes assume that .m2t files exist on the FS-4/DR-HD100 device.

1. Place FS-4 into AVC Control mode (CONTROL MENU). Ensure FS-4 is set to HD Recorder mode
2. Connect FS-4s DV I/O port to the computers OHCI compliant FireWire port using a FireWire cable.
3. Launch Final Cut Pro 5. If you have trashed your preferences or it is your first launch of Final Cut, select your desired HDV project type. Select HDV 1080i50, 1080i60 or 720p30. (Ensure your selection corresponds with the format type your footage was shot in)



Alternatively, after the application has launched, select File -> New Project. Then select Final Cut Pro -> Audio Video Settings from the pull down menu.

4. Select the desired Sequence Preset, Capture Preset (HDV) and Device Control Preset (HDV FireWire).


NOTE: HDV 720p/24 and HDV 720p/25 are not supported by FCP 5.

5. From the pull down menus, select File -> Log and Capture. Once the log and capture window has opened, ensure that you see VTR OK below the transport control windows. If you do not, check your settings and connection.



6. Using the transport control keys on Final Cut Pro, locate the clips you wish to capture. To capture, press the Capture Now button in the Log and Capture Window.

NOTE: If your footage was shot to FS-4 using a Sony HDV camcorder without a tape in the transport, it is necessary to press the FS-4s RECORD key once (puts FS-4 into REC-PAUSE) before step 5.
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Old November 13th, 2005, 03:37 PM   #6
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What Joe is describing is using the FS-4 as a video player. That means that you would be capturing to FCP5 in real time - probably also with the start/stop meta data created by a jump in the date time stamp on the tape missing.

This work-around is just short of a disaster.

Just another reason for me to wait a while to get into High Def. It's too expensive to be a beta tester for that stuff. By the time High Definition is practical to use there will be Mega-HD.

I'm sorry, I shouldn't be joking - you guys have good reason to be pissed.
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Old November 14th, 2005, 05:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane
The problem as described to me by Apple Pro Tech Support is that an M2T file is a "muxed" file - both audio and video information are combined into one contiguous file, and requires de-muxing before either FCP or Avid could use it.

That means, you would need to import the clip into another program to de-mux it and then reimport into an NLE. How ridiculous!!
no, it's not ridiculous at all... you are working with a format called "mpeg", and it's ALWAYS had the audio/video muxed together, period.

as near as i can see, what you are telling us is that fcp will not edit native mpeg files(??)... no surprise there, apple has a long and dismal history of not supporting the mpeg format, but that's a whole 'nother rant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane
Using the FS-4 Pro HD was supposed to save me time by not having to capture clips shot in HDV on tape.
let's see, you plug the drive into your computer, and there are hdv clips in a fully hdv-legal format, right there, ready to use, correct? ...you just don't have the proper tools to work with 'em.

this situation sounds exactly like what we went thru figuring out how to get 4-channel audio out of the fs-4 dv files... editing apps always split the second pair of audio channels out for you as part of the capturing process from tape, but no editing app is capable of splitting up the audio from a dv file that's already on the hard drive... it's a situation that's never happened before.

afaik, being able to use the fs-4 as a video player directly into a software editor is not normally possible on the pc hardware side of the fence, so at least you have an advantage there... can you do it in faster-than-realtime, with the workflow focus outlined there?
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Old November 14th, 2005, 06:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Euritt

afaik, being able to use the fs-4 as a video player directly into a software editor is not normally possible on the pc hardware side of the fence, so at least you have an advantage there... can you do it in faster-than-realtime, with the workflow focus outlined there?

If I could use the FS-4 as a video player, and be able to move through the footage, or even be able to "capture now" all the footage on the drive, I'd be happy for the time being.

But this workaround doesn't let you do that, as far as I can see. I have three hours of footage on the drive, in 86 files. The FS-4 has placed those files in two seperate folders. If I follow the workaround provided bby Focus support, one of the files opens (to a clip approximately midway through the 3-hour shoot) . If I press batch capture, that clip is transfered in real time, and then it stops. If I try the same thing in iMovieHD, it seems that all the clips are captured. This might be a workaround, except that the iMovie-captured video doesn't have time code.

So, is there a way to capture all the video on the FS-4 HD instead of just a clip at a time?
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Old November 15th, 2005, 03:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Moulins
So, is there a way to capture all the video on the FS-4 HD instead of just a clip at a time?
I think that this work around stinks, but you should be able to play all clips by going to heading PLAY in your FS-4's menu and scroll down to PLAY ALL and press the select key. If PLAY ALL is already selected, then Idonno.

Dan, Focus has given the impression that they have done Beta testing for the HD software (they even gave that as a reason for it's release being delayed). I don't see any justification for the HD video format that the FS-4 HD delivers not being compatible with Apple. Up until now Focus has taken pains to be compatible with many platforms. Apple's FCP5 is not some obscure NLE program. I don't know what is going on with Focus.
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Old November 15th, 2005, 01:11 PM   #10
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somebody please show me where focus promised to make macs capable of playing back mpeg2 video files... then ask yourself why quicktime doesn't support native hdv mpeg2 playback.

dan, you are sort of alluding to a comparison between the various collective dv avi *standards* that focus supports, vs. the one single hdv mpeg2 standard... re-read again what joe posted: "FCP 5 handles HDV well, when it's captured from tape on my Z1U through firewire and on to a hard drive as a quicktime file."

please show us where a quicktime wrapper on mpeg2 video is a fully legal hdv standard... why should focus support an apple hack job?

when i say "fs-4 as a video player", i mean that i can't hit the play button on the fs-4, and have the video playback seen on the pc screen... that would require you to hook the fs-4 up via it's dv i/o port, and focus has not written a software driver for the pc that will allow that... but it does function as another hard drive, so the windows media player will play back dv avi files located on the fs-4 hard drive... quicktime should be capable of doing the same thing with hdv files on an fs-4 hard drive.

i do agree that focus should have explained this apple mpeg2 situation in their pre-sales literature... just like they should have explained that it's very difficult to get 4-channel audio out of a dv avi file, and in fact, it may require the purchase of their transcoding software.

i can also see that if focus promised to support the apple qt/mpeg2 hack job in order to sell some fs-4's, and they have not delivered on that, you guys have a reason to be upset... but let's not discount the failure by apple to support mpeg2 with the quicktime player... if the qt player worked like it should, you could transcode mpeg2 from the fs-4 hard drive to your mac hard drive, as a quicktime file... it would be a simple copy process, working much faster than real-time video playback.
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Old November 15th, 2005, 03:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Euritt
somebody please show me where focus promised to make macs capable of playing back mpeg2 video files...
You are right about this. I just looked at Focus's web site and I found no information about the HD upgrade except for how one can go about purchasing it.

Quote:
then ask yourself why quicktime doesn't support native hdv mpeg2 playback.
To be honest I don't fully understand what is going on with the slew of new codecs (HDV, DVC HD?, VariCam HD?). Judging from your signature and what I have seen from your web site, this is your area of expertise. I have no desire to defend Apple in any way, but I'm guessing that they just didn't take into account that there would be a product or products like the FS-4 or FS-100 entering the market when they decided to use there own type of HD format. (Although the question remains: if they had known, would it have made a difference) I have no idea why they decided to do that, I don't know what advantages there are to Quicktime having it's own set of rules, for Apple, but there must be an argument. Or do you think it's just plain stupidity - in the sense that they couldn't figure out how to get the M2T file to work with Quicktime.

Quote:
dan, you are sort of alluding to a comparison between the various collective dv avi *standards* that focus supports, vs. the one single hdv mpeg2 standard... re-read again what joe posted: "FCP 5 handles HDV well, when it's captured from tape on my Z1U through firewire and on to a hard drive as a quicktime file."
Like I said I'm just at the beginning of understanding what HD really is in it's various flavors. The idea behind HDV is hard for me to accept, since it is "better quality" than SD with much more compression - but I'm beginning to understand it. Also, if users of FCP5 were paying attention, they may remember that Apple mentioned something about FCP5 using some sort of in-between codec for HDV to enable FCP5 to have a bunch of functions working in real-time for HDV that would have otherwise needed lots of rendering and/or disc space. But this is just a foggy memory of mine - is the compatibility problem between FCP5 and the FS-4 HD possibly due to this intermediate codec?

Quote:
please show us where a quicktime wrapper on mpeg2 video is a fully legal hdv standard... why should focus support an apple hack job?
Why should any company support any other companies hack jobs?.... To make consumers happy? ;') That would be too much to ask.

Quote:
i do agree that focus should have explained this apple mpeg2 situation in their pre-sales literature... just like they should have explained that it's very difficult to get 4-channel audio out of a dv avi file, and in fact, it may require the purchase of their transcoding software.
They should be explaining that right now. But they are not

Quote:
i can also see that if focus promised to support the apple qt/mpeg2 hack job in order to sell some fs-4's, and they have not delivered on that, you guys have a reason to be upset...
As you pointed out - there is no mention of any compatibility with anything on Focus's web site regarding the HD upgrade. In fact, there is no mention on their site (that I found), that it is compatible with the standard mpeg2 codec, but it seems to be, since there have been no PC user complaints so far.

Quote:
but let's not discount the failure by apple to support mpeg2 with the quicktime player... if the qt player worked like it should, you could transcode mpeg2 from the fs-4 hard drive to your mac hard drive, as a quicktime file... it would be a simple copy process, working much faster than real-time video playback.
Apple has been known for doing things there own way, for better or worse. I have no idea why they have chosen not to support mpeg2 in the Quicktime player - but I'm guessing that the FS-4 was not on their radar when they made that decision.
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Old November 17th, 2005, 04:34 PM   #12
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OK, new version of the question...Anyone using FS4 HD with an Avid? Our Avid Xpress ProHD system claims to be able to import m2t files so I wonder if we Avid folks are able to use it simply as a hard drive full of media?

Avid stores captured m2t files as MXF data on the media drives so it's a fair question if this works for us. I have a call in to sales at Focus. I'll report what they tell me here.

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Old November 17th, 2005, 11:35 PM   #13
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DV Rack with HDV pack also records in m2t. I use Canopus Edius 3.5 and it does support m2t as file on timeline. I have the FS-4 without HDV so I am waiting for these reports to see if it's worthed to upgrade.
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Old November 19th, 2005, 08:06 AM   #14
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m2t is the raw HDV file format recorded to tape. All the Firestore is doing is replacing the tape with a hard disc( and unfortunately on a FAT 32 formatted hard drive and hence the large number of files). On the PC there are at least 4 NLE's that will use these files on the timeline, Avid/Pinnacle Liquid, Ulead 8, Canopus Edius Pro 3.5 and Vegas 6. The intermediate formats help in editing with reducing the load on the CPU allowing multi stream editing almost like DV. Premiere Pro1.5.1 and Vegas are able to use the Cineform wavelet intermediate, Canopus has its own codec and some will allow proxy editing ( Vegas and Ulead). You could try one of these until the issues are sorted out on the Mac. It matters very little which platform you use you will need a very powerfull machine.

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Old November 20th, 2005, 06:02 AM   #15
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Hi Ron,

Thanks for this explanation.

I was suspecting something like this.

The point is that FCP5 works with an intermediate codec. This makes editing HDV on an Apple feasible.

The FS-4 doesn't support every intermediate codec (which I find understandable) so there is a no-go on D2D HDV for FCP5. Unless you want to use the FS-4 HD as a HDD player with no savings on capture times.

I personally feel like HDV is being shoved down the consumers throats and being marketed as DV, only much much cooler and with much better resolution - the part about the resolution seems to be true - but the part about being cooler... I'm not convinced. Anyone who makes the switch to HD right now is going to be at the vanguard, but will also be walking on unexplored territory, and should be prepared for some unpleasant surprises. I'm sure that the best ones are yet to come.
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