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Old August 19th, 2004, 07:40 PM   #1
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PC requirements for edting?

Hi all, I am the proud owner of a new JVC HD10EX (donít ask me what the EX stands for?).

I have only had it for a few weeks and have just ordered the DVD as discussed here from Darren Kelly.

However, first impressions tell me my system will just not cut it, my old 2.8GHZ (non hyper threaded) P4, 2GB 333 Ram, 720GB HDD and ATI 9000 is just too slow. So far I am using the Ulead plug in, which works OK, but their MSP is a bit dated now, poor colour correction tools etc. I am anxiously waiting for support to become available for Premiere (Cineform looks overpriced for a codec, and most NLE vendors will support HD soon anyway) or Vegas (I did manage to change the mts extension to mpg and Vegas recognized it but failed to render transitions properly, a system speed problem I think).

Therefore it is time to upgrade, however, I am a bit confused so would appreciate some advice from others with these cameras.

I want to achieve two things, speed up mts editing and improve After Effects performance. I have spoken to a number of local (New Zealand) vendors and had some conflicting or confusing advice, they obviously not familiar with this camera, and I do not think it was even sold here by JVC (I purchased mine from Australia).

After some searching on the internet I came across the Black Magic Decklink cards, they indicated they speed uncompressed editing and render AE in 16 bit trillions of colours, however, the local distributor tells me they provide no hardware assistance for uncompressed or AE in Windows and only limited support in MAC. As he was using a machine with one of their cards while he was talking to me I tend to believe his user experience rather than the manufacturerís marketing hype. Anyone used these cards?

Another vendor suggested Edius and Storm. I note they have a HD version of Edius, but I get the impression it is solely software based and the Storm would have little or no influence? Also I am not very familiar with the Canopus or Pinnacle software interfaces and really donít what to have to learn another NLE system.

More advice suggested three things influence AE, processor speed, RAM and Open GL performance, there is no hardware assistance available. Therefore I was considering the Nivida Quadro FX PCI express cards, however, all information I have seen on the new bus indicates it does not improve performance at this stage, probably later as vendors optimise their software. Though I can not find specific information of AE performance and graphics cards!

Reading some of the posts here, a 3.4Ghz P4 seems to be a satisfactory editing system for the mts streams. I realise faster is always better, but would I really see much difference between a P4 3.4 (or 3.6) and a duel Xeon or Opteron with MSP or AE?

My usual PC supplier has recommend a dual Xeon, Quadro FX 1300, 4GB RAM, but as you can imagine, this is not cheap. Does a dual system provide, 50% or 10% better performance? What are the advantages of the Opteron 64 cpus, I know there is no true 64 bit OS yet, but they seem fast, improve floating point calculating (AE uses this a lot) but P4s are recommended for video encoding?

I want to get something quick that will provide satisfactory performance for the next 18 months to two years, but donít want to spend double want I need to for bleeding edge technology that only improves performance by 10%.

I could ask more but this post is already very long, so any feedback or discussion would be most welcome.
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Old August 20th, 2004, 03:34 AM   #2
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You already have a pretty fast system and I can't imagine adding
more RAM or changing the video card will help you in anyway.

So the main performance gain (if any) will be CPU/mainboard
related perhaps.

Is it THAT slow that you want to spend a lot of money? How slow
is slow?

While I can't help you much with the AE performance have you
taken a look at Sony Vegas 5? I've heard others say it does HD
editing in real-time (depending on effects and your computer,
ofcourse). Not sure if it handles your camera's files very well
(being MPEG2 in HD, so you might need to extract the MPEG2
first from the DV and give it that), but I would try out the demo.

What is your main performance issue with AE? Is it a specific
filer for example or just whenever it works on HD footage?

I think AE is multi-processor aware so that should be good. I
heard great things about the new AMD64 processor in speed
terms and the old debate that AMD's had poor floating point
performance is not true these days.

XEON's are basically Pentium 4's or 3's with more cache etc. I
would probably go with a normal dual CPU system or a dual
AMD64 before going with an XEON. Those things are really
expensive (last time I looked) with special mainboards and

What operating system are you running with all of this? Are you
running any virus scanners or other behind the scenes software
that takes a lot of resources and CPU time? Harddisk(s) in DMA
mode etc.?

Rob Lohman, visuar@iname.com
DV Info Wrangler & RED Code Chef

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Old August 20th, 2004, 04:17 AM   #3
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Hi Rob, thanks for the reply, I guess AE is just slow in general, I haven't even really tried HD with it yet, but SD projects with lots of effects, filters etc can be slow. Rams previews limited to 10 seconds and take 3 minutes to render, rendering times of 6 hours for 10 minutes of footage. It all depends on the number of effects etc you are using, but some projects can have 50 layers with effcets on each etc. It is usually stuff created mostly using stills and some video segments, not really editing of HD. Overall I am just looking to speed it up, version 6.0 and 6.5 now support Open GL rendering, and it likes LOTS of RAM. I noticed a significant diffrence when I went from 1GB of RAM to 2GB. I did try to import an uncompressed HD stream of 100GB and AE just spat the dummy and crashed, it liked a smaller file sub 4GB, bigger than that it crashed.

Ulead list the minimum spec for the JVC HD format as a 3.06 CPU, and I notice "real time" playback is a bit of a struggle, with effects showing poor colours during realtime playback.

I have Vegas 5, and have tried changing the mts file extensions to mpg. Veags recognised these and played them back fine. However, when I rendered the video to a HD Mpeg2 file, it omited the transtions it had showed during timeline playback. I have only tried this once, perhaps it was a glitch, though I assumed it had trouble decoding the renamed mts file and could not render the transtion, but now I think about it, if it showed in the time line, that indicates it can decode the video stream?

I was looking at Tom's hardare reviews and some specs indicated that a 3.06 Xeon perfomed at about 1.5 - 2.5 times the speed of a 3.4 P4 (dual Opteron 1.8s where not far behind). If you buy the latest 3.6 Xeon, prices are high, however, older 2 x 3.06 Xeons or 1.8ghz Opterons are less than one new P4 3.4. Still motherboards may be an issue pussing price up. So a dual older cpu and perhaps the new ATI 9800 card may be a cheaper effcetive option.
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Old August 23rd, 2004, 12:12 AM   #4
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Hi Peter - hey is that HD10EX a PAL camera?

There was some weirdness a while back about the UK version not having a true HD mode, but it had a quite different model number from yours.

Here in the States I have an HD1, but my home town is Christchurch so the PAL issue is on my mind...

And regarding your questions..... my 2 cents would just be that if you'd like to buy a little time to ponder better systems, or to wait for new hardware to come along, then it is actually quite painless working with proxy files in the timeline of Premiere of Aftereffects while you do all your editing and effects, and then switch your mts files back in right at the end and let the final version render overnight. I'm doing that successfully with a P4 HT 2.8C (overclocked to 3.0) and 1gig RAM, though mostly in Premiere rather than AFX (which is certainly more sluggish).
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Old August 23rd, 2004, 01:34 AM   #5
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the JVC HD10EX is an US model with 240V power supply.
Sorry no PAL or 25 fps.
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Old August 23rd, 2004, 03:29 AM   #6
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No the camera is NTSC, 1280x720 29.97fps. Their PAL version has a strange frame size, something like 1150 x 685, not sure why.

I usually output to DVD or CD, in the last three years only one project to tape, so PAL vs NSTC is not much of a problem for me, I therefore wanted a progressive camera and liked the higher frame rate and frame size. All PAL DVD players play NTSC, computer also play either.

We have no HD here yet and indications are it will be a while, for a country of "early adopters" we are going to be well behind in the HD stakes, Australia is already broadcasting HD, last I heard it will be 2008 - 2010 before NZ gets it! TVNZ and Sky do not want to spend the money and therefore the competition isn't going to bother either.

Interestingly I was in Edmonton Canada two weeks ago and tried to buy a DVD player as a gift for the people I was staying with. There are NO decent DVD players available in the North American Market!!! They are all expensive, low feature Japanese brands and when you ask about Chinese made, PAL, NTSC, region free etc they look at you like you have come from another planet! I came back to NZ and bought a DVD player for about $50US. This player has PAL, NTSC playback, is region free, Macrovison free, takes 110 or 240 volts, component, S-video, composite, VGA outputs progressive scan plus 5.1 analog, optical and coaxial audio, plus it plays all VCD and SVCD Chinese formats and things like KVCD and high data rate SVCD (DVD data rates). Basically it plays everything (except MPEG4) with every output you could want with no crippled features for around half the price of DVDs on the North American market. The family I was giving it too where from Holland so Region 1 NTSC only players would be mostly useless to them.

Regarding your two cents, I am aware of proxy files but have never used them, do your render low resolution versions and use those or does AE create something, how do you create proxies? AE doesn't seem to like mts files either, it just says file type not supported, so I guess I would have to render out to uncompressed.

I had some feedback from a vendor saying Vegas supports these cameras, although I have version 5 mine doesn't recognise them, I will have to see if there is an update, they also said to get real-time playback minimum spec is 4GB memory. I would be keen to know what specs others are using to edit their mts files. I have exaggerated my specs a little, I really have a 2.53GHZ machine over clocked to 2.8.

It looks to me like older dual processors would be cheaper and better options than a new P4, plus if I can find a 8 DIMM board it will be cheaper to add 4GB. I think waiting few months would also be advantageous, I am confident over the next year Matrox, Canopus and Pinnacle will come out with real-time boards for this type of editing.
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Old August 23rd, 2004, 09:01 AM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Peter Bircham : I would be keen to know what specs others are using to edit their mts files. I have exaggerated my specs a little, I really have a 2.53GHZ machine over clocked to 2.8. -->>>

I have 2 networked machines & a laptop (for field monitor use) as my HD gathering/editing/output set-up.

The first machine is a P-IV 2.8Ghz (non-hyperthread) with 512Meg RAM, 3 X 40Gig Hard drives, 19" Viewsonic G790 graphics monitor, Matrox Parhelia AGP4 and VisionPlus DVB-t HD PCI. I use this machine for recording HD and SD Free to Air broadcasts that I'd like to edit and record to DVD. It's obviously fast enough to handle the HD 1080i channel Nine & Ten, Sydney Australia broadcasts.

My second machine is a P-IV 3.4Ghz Hyperthread with 1Gig RAM, 3 X 120Gig Hard Drives (2 on SATA RAID 0), 17" Samsung WS TFT and 256Mb 3D-Labs AGP8. This machine is used for the majority of HD10 capture and editing, as well as some HD and SD networked Video streaming from machine 1.

The Toshiba P-20 laptop I use primarily to provide on-line 17" widescreen real-time video direct from the HD-10 via i-Link (firewire) to VLC for checking video prior to recording.

I think it's easy to become convinced that you need a massively powerful computer to handle HD streams, but my experience has shown it's not necessarily the case. Despite some of the derogatory statements made regarding the supposedly meagre 19.3Mbit p.s. data-rate of the HD10's HDV stream, I haven't experienced any greater bit-rate from the 1080i broadcast MPEG2 PS streams from the FTA stations I mentioned above.

The major problem that I have encountered with HD playback and editing has been the meagre support for 1920x1080 HD level in most appz (Vegas 4/5 excluded), while 720p seems to be close enough to upper level DVD standard it plays back and edits fine in most new generation NLEs and DV editors.

The best thing anyone considering the sort of computer hardware they need to match to their HD10 to, too do is; "what do you want to make with the camera, and how cost effectively can I put it together"..... If you want to make great home videos, you won't need more than a basic to reasonably well configured machine. If you want to make more serious professional videos with the intention of making money, then you'll need to 'up the ante'. You must also consider additional equipment because the computer is only one piece in this puzzle, so check the many other threads here for suggestions on mics, filters, tripods, etc.
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Old August 23rd, 2004, 02:28 PM   #8
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>I am aware of proxy files but have never used them, do your render low resolution versions and use those or does AE create something, how do you create proxies?

A quick way to create proxy files is to load your mts files into TMPGExpress3, as it accepts the files directly, and has a convenient batch encode feature.

However. if I only have a few clips I just load the files straight into the premiere timeline (I have the Mainconcept MPEGPro plugin which allows me to do this - indeed Mainconcept recommends the proxy process when using their plugin). I then export each clip out to an avi file that I use as the proxy.

In AFX, it's a 2-step process because the timeline won't accept the mts files: I render first to uncompressed using TMPGExpress, and then create a small proxy from that.

In Premiere the command is to link/unlink media in the project window. In AFX the command is make/set proxy, again in the project window.

Thanks for your other comments!
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Old August 23rd, 2004, 05:52 PM   #9
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We edit footage from the HD10 on a meager Athlon XP 2000+ machine (I think that runs about 1.6 GHZ, supposedly equivalent to a Pentium 4 2GZ) with 1GB of memory.

We convert the M2T files to AVI's using Cineform's ConnectHD ($500, or bundled with Vegas 5 for $800), then edit in Vegas 4.

Please note that if you are editing the .M2T files natively, it will make almost any system seem slow. MPEG2 is a very inefficient editing format even in SD, so once you add HD into the equation that makes for a very slow editing combination. Not to mention the potentials for generation loss inherit with editing MPEG2.

My advice is to spend your money on ConnectHD and not on new hardware, that computer you specified is pretty fast. Then you can use the .avi files in any program that supports HD resolutions (After Effects, , and the speed increase is well worth it.

Here is what sold us on their product . . .

1) We took a single .M2T file, put it on a Vegas timeline, and hit play. No effects, no transitions, nothing. We had the preview window at half size. Vegas would only playback at about 10 fps on our system.

2) We downloaded the trial version of ConnectHD, converted the above file to the Cineform .avi format, and repeated the process. It played back at 30 fps without a problem.

That was all the convincing we needed.

I think they have a 15-day trial version you could try.

Just have a lot of hard-drive space. The ConnectHD .avi files run about 40Mb/s. We use a new 250GB Maxtor firewire drive (7200 RPM, 8MB Buffer) for each paying project, they are about $225.00 each.

Hope this helps.

P.S. Don't get me wrong, we would still like a faster computer :)
Ben Buie, Producer
"On Our Way Up" - Shot Completely in HDV

HD Articles and Reviews at HDSource!
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Old August 24th, 2004, 05:55 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the information guys,

Graham, what codec do you use for the proxy files?
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Old August 24th, 2004, 10:02 AM   #11
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1) In Premiere, the proxy has no effect whatsoever on the end result (because the final render links back to the mts files) so I just render out to a medium-quality mjpeg avi using the picvideo codec.

2) For Aftereffects, my first step is to convert to an avi in a format that AFX can load - so depending on the length of the project and how fussy I am being I'll either render out to Huffyuv (see http://neuron2.net/www.math.berkeley.edu/benrg/huffyuv.html for more info) which is close to uncompressed but large, or to Picvideo at quality 19 or 20, which is smaller but still OK qualitywise. The Picvideo link is: http://www.pegasusimaging.com/picvideomjpeg.htm

(By the way I assume that given its price Cineform's ConnectHD codec must provide much better quality/filesize than a $14 codec like Picvideo or MorganMultimedia, however I've not seen any direct comparisons.)

From there I'll only bother making smaller proxy files - in the same way as for Premiere - if I plan to have a LOT of layers and tweaking and filters in the AFX project..... otherwise I'll work straight from the big avis.
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Old August 24th, 2004, 10:19 AM   #12
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To answer your question regarding the ConnectHD codec . . .

The ConnectHD codec is basically lossless (the resulting .avi's look identical to the original .m2t files, at least from what I can tell, and we've converted several hundred files now) and hovers around 40 Mb/s and 50 Mb/s in file size.

So roughly 350 MB per minute, or roughly 3 minutes per GB.

Cineform guys, do you have any more info on this?
Ben Buie, Producer
"On Our Way Up" - Shot Completely in HDV

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Old August 25th, 2004, 05:38 AM   #13
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Yes I am familiar with HuffYUV and PicVideo, I started my editing days with a trusty Matrox Marvel back in 98 with Mjpeg hardware compression, PicVideo and Morgan Mjpeg codecs for capture, playback and editing on another PC. Later software hacks enabled YUV output and recompression with AVI_IO with file splitting for FAT32 drives. I remember buying a massive 4GB HDD and now I feel restricted by 740GB!

I have tried HuffYUV in AE, but it crashed with the 100Gb file. I think my install of AE could be a little flaky, it would not start with ATIís Hydravison installed and even after uninstalling and disabling certain services at start up it crashes more frequently than normal. I had not though about Mjpeg codecs, but they would make good proxies, thanks for the reminder.

With no disrespect for Cineform, I would suggest the price has little to do with the relationship to quality verses a $14 codec or a free one (HuffYUV) it is based on supply and demand.

This is how I perceive the current and near future HDV marketplace (note this is a speculative opinion only and not intended to criticise or offend any manufacturers or vendors).

Currently Cineform have a superior product in a small niche market. Therefore they can charge a high premium with a low volume, a good business practice.
More manufacturers will soon produce HDV cameras (Sony, Cannon and Panasonic) the market size will grow.
However, current hardware and software producers are well aware of the impending changes and will either be developing their own HDV products or including suitable third party products.
Current hardware DV manufacturers are desperately looking for the boom products they had a couple of years ago with real-time DV cards (that are becoming less attractive due to faster PCs and real time software).
I would speculate by the end of this year Matrox, Canopus, Pinnacle, Avid and others will have hardware solutions for HDV and mts streams. Most already offer real time Mpeg2 encoding, it shouldnít take too much to boost their cards (?) now that they have had over a year to plan with them. They will all see this arena as the next money maker.
I would guess within 6 months Cineform would be lucky to get $100 for their product, not because is not good, buy all reports it is excellent, but because it will not be essential, only useful and will have many similar (pre-enabled software) and superior competitors (hardware). Still they will probably be selling 10 times as many.
I expect Cineform are probably already negotiating with the likes of Adobe and Sony to supply pre embedded versions with their next software updates, or the software vendors simply develop their own.
Look for the Sony HDV launch to kick off the revolution, I think they are targeting the end of the year. I would expect a new version of Vegas, Pinnacle I believe have already announced a hardware HDV card, Adobe will probably follow, then Canopus and Matrox etc.

Remember this is speculation, maybe there is some hardware issue with mts that is trickery than expected, all HDV software will carry a premium to start with also.

I must admit I havenít tried the Cineform codec yet, I have downloaded the trial but not installed it, I would probably like it too much and want to buy it! Therefore I will hang out until absolutely necessary as I expect to get a hardware solution for the same price soon or at least a cheap upgrade that includes an equivalent. Time will tellÖ
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Old August 25th, 2004, 08:09 AM   #14
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Regarding the future, there was an interesting post on the forum a few weeks ago that included a cut-and-paste from an email from an Adobe rep, who seemed to be suggesting that Adobe were happy enough seeing HDV1 (720p) support in PremierePro provided via third-party solutions (Cineform, Mainconcept), and that their own plans for providing native HDV support within Premiere were focussing on the HDV2 (1080i) spec.

Haven't time just now to find the precise link, sorry...but it's out there somewhere.
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Old August 25th, 2004, 09:44 AM   #15
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Hello All,

CineForm is not positioning itself as a codec company, we build software acceleraters for high definition processing. True much of that is codec related, yet you will not find other codec solution that matches CineForm in the way we solve the NLE problem as a whole. We designed a workflow first then built software components to match. Hardware vendors many try and compete but that will lose, as the days for custom hardware for NLEs is nearing an end. As CineForm can deliver real-time with software, no hardware can beat us on price or flexibly. As PCs get faster our software gets faster, hardware just stays the same.

CineForm is not comprising quality to do all this. Our Prospect HD product hugely slashes prices over an equivalent Avid system, yet it the advantage of a compressed workflow greatly eases huge film project. Prospect HD is current being used to on-line a film at Laser Pacific as a digital immediate system, the output of which will be put back to a 35mm print. Prospect HD and Aspect HD share the same codec core.

Comparing CineForm to other codec only solutions really misunderstands what we are working to achieve. I hope people don't mind my little outburst. :)

David Newman
CTO, CineForm
David Newman -- web: www.gopro.com
blog: cineform.blogspot.com -- twitter: twitter.com/David_Newman
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