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Old January 25th, 2006, 08:27 AM   #1
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My experience with HC1, capture, edit and export... help?

Hi all,

My first posting, so please bare with me, I'm reasonably new to DV/HDV editing. I've read alot over the last few weeks regarding HDV capture/edit/export, but i'm still facing some issues. I wanted to communicate my experience as a newbie and get some help on exporting issues.

I bought a HDR-HC1 just before xmas and went off to Africa... I shot about 4 hours of footage.

When I got back I decided that I would try out all the major editing suites before buying.

I have two PC's at home. The first is a 2.6Ghz Pentium 4 1GB RAM, RADEON X800 card, 60GB disk. The second is a 2.0Ghz AMD Athlon 64 3000+, 512MB RAM, 120GB disk, RADEON 9600SE with TV Tuner card. I'm reasonably confident that both of these machines could handle the editing, but I opted to try it on the Athlon machine as that has about 100GB free and more importantly has a firewire port!

The first suite i downloaded was Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5. Unfortunately this didn't appear to be able to capture from the camera. I couldn't install the 1.5.1 update as this is not available for the trial version!

I downloaded and installed the Aspect HD 3.4 plugin and this seemed to work (although I thought it only worked with 1.5.1?). My first mistake was to capture about 80GB of footage using the Cineform High Quality option (I hear Medium is more efficient on the disk). I found that capturing within Premiere using the plugin had major problems, particularly when getting to the end of a tape i.e. it crashed the machine. I used the HDLink app instead and this worked fine.

My experience with Premiere then started to get frustrating. My goal was to produce a quick 3 minute collage of shots (with a view ultimately of a 20 minute HD film), add a little music and export it as a High Def data file I could play back in either WMP, Divx or VLC. I quickly found that Adobe would hang in the middle of previewing clips or the sequence. The preview monitor just wouldn't play back my sequence. So, I thought I would try the other packages...

Ulead Video Studio 9 - Downloaded it, installed it, ran it, couldn't capture from the Camera. Saw, that i needed to download their HDV Plug-in - the problem is this doesn't install on the trial version! Crap. How on earth are they going to sell a product if you can't try it out??

Sony Vegas 6 - Downloaded it, installed it, ran it, I could capture from the camera, but when finishing a capture Vegas would report a missing or problematic DLL. Ugh.

I stopped there and figured I will try to carry on with Adobe!

After a cold reboot, stopping of various processes (down to about 100MB RAM being used in memory by OS and default services etc), some coffee and a new perspective, I started to learn Premiere a little more. I added in some fade ins and outs, changed the speed of some slow panning shots, added some titling, some music and generally got used the interface. I like Premiere alot, its quite intuitive, but I found the preview monitor simply couldn't playback the footage (probably my machine?). I even rendered certain parts of the footage. The crashing appeared to stop though. Finally, I put together my 3 min short.

Ok, so, good to go. Now this is where it gets confusing for me. Export.

I tried numerous exports using the Cineform Codec and others and everytime i get either:

1. Distorted picture - looks like a widescreen image being squeezed onto 4:3
2. No picture, just sound
3. Widescreen picture but poor quality with lots of multi coloured blotched over the image.

Then my Cineform Aspect HD trial ran out!

4. Finally, I exported using Intel Indeo 5.1 codec with default settings (1440x1080) and I got an AVI file that is playable - BUT the quality is bad. The images suffer from "interlace artifacts" such as blurring and jagged edges where there is motion, a car moving, monkeys wrestling, a fast pan etc. The film is "jumpy" and doesn't appear to be smooth at all. I'm not really getting what I see in the preview (well you know what i mean).

The Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5 doesn't appear to offer export to WMV HD format either (yes I know, download the trial for 2.0).

What am I missing here? Pixel Aspect Ratio... should it be square pixel? When does this matter? Which codec is recommended? I see in 2.0 there are various WMV export templates... which is best for HDV? Anamorphic what!?

I've the searched the web high and low for a decent tutorial on exporting HDV, but there isn't much. Does anyone have any tips? or a workflow that erm... works?

Would it be easier to capture my footage (again!) in M2T format? (I've read the stuff on free tools etc. But that workflow looks like too much hassle!). Should I have used the Cineform Intermediate?

Ultimately I am going to purchase a solution that I feel is reasonably easy to use, efficient and value for money. I'm not sure I can afford (or really need) Premiere Pro, so I will probably switch to a cheaper package, possibly Vegas if I can get it to work.

Any suggestions?

Thanks, Matt.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 10:51 AM   #2
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I suggest you also take a look at Canopus Edius here:
http://www.canopus.com/canopus/technology/hdv.php
which offers some useful information on HDV and then click on the products tab for the various Canopus Edius options - starting with working with firewire only.

Canopus offer a free demo but I am not sure if this covers HDV formats. The current version is now at 3.61 and supports all the HDV formats (ie Type 1 and Type 2); it also includes ProCoder Express which enables output to a variety of formats.

It looks to me that your pc is not really fast enough for a comfortable editing expeience with HDV. It is also desirable to have a separate, large hard drive dedicated to capturing your footage. You appear to be working with a single drive, which will compromise what you can do.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 11:04 AM   #3
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Thanks David, I will check that out.

I figured my PC is not quite up to scratch. It seemed reasonably ok with the Aspect HD intermediate codec.

When talking about a separate hard drive, do people recommend an external firewire hard disk? a Slave drive on the same IDE controller? a RAID controller? Admittedly I want to keep the cost down!

My big problem though is understanding why i can't export a good quality final "product". Its frustrating to record in HD yet be unable to adequately export...

Cheers, Matt.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 03:16 AM   #4
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My second drive is internal, but some use external drives successfully. The key is to achieve adequate read/write speeds. Raid is needed if your storage requirements are very high but I would think that would be a lower priority for you at this time.

The only way to preserve your HDV quality right now is to export back to tape. An alternative is to export back to WMV-HD on DVD-R provided you have a player that supports it. Otherwise you need to wait for, and choose between, HD DVD and Blu-ray. It may be that MPEG4 H.264 will soon be available as an alternative, but that too will require a suitable player.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 10:12 AM   #5
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Hi this is in haste but:

>>1. Distorted picture - looks like a widescreen image being squeezed onto 4:3
2. No picture, just sound
3. Widescreen picture but poor quality with lots of multi coloured blotched over the image.

The HC1 produces a 1440x1080 image. For this to view correctly as 16:9 image you need to specify non-square pixels. Similarly, if you are trying to produce DVD-compatible footage from it (i.e 720x480) you again need to specify non-square pixels.

Regarding the multicolor blotches, this is most likely your video card struggling to play back HD footage, rather than inherent in the footage itself. How much memory does your card have? Does the problem go away if your render out to a SD (standard definition) file?

>The images suffer from "interlace artifacts" such as blurring and jagged edges where there is motion, a car moving, monkeys wrestling, a fast pan etc.

You have the field order the wrong way around. You can adjust this in the export menu.

Regarding crashes, the minimum spec for Cineform is a 2.8GHz P4 which is why you can (just) capture with HDLink, but not reliably from within Premiere. I had that same problem with my earlier machine. Upgrading to a 3.0GHz has meant I can do every smoothly from within Premiere.

Trying to do native HDV 1080i editing from such an underpowered machine using one of the other editors with be hugely frustrating! Cineform is definitely your best option at present. That said, for the $500 to buy Cineform you could buy a faster processor and the Native HDV NLE's would be more feasible.

Meanwhile, CAPDVHS (google for it) is a freeware capture utility that will provide a replacement for HDLink, and if you bought Premiere 1.5 you would get the free Cineform HD plug that comes with the 1.5.1 upgrade.

You havent really said what form you want to output in. If you want HD, render to an HDV file and export it back to your camera and then use the camera as a playback deck.

Otherwise, render to an SD file format for playback on your machine or burning to DVD.

Gotta dash - can answer further this evening if necessary.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 12:57 PM   #6
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Graham,

Awesome thanks for your insights, this is exactly the kind of information i was looking for.

I'm going to have another crack tonight. I have some people coming over tomorrow that want to see some footage... so really I just need to output to the best quality I can(!)... I want avoid using the camera as a playback mechanism. So, basically I have 3 minutes of footage that I want to get to DVD or hard disk (in file format not DVD-Video) for playback on my PC.

As for fields, being in the UK, I just assumed that the field order was Upper first for PAL? This bit is confusing for me.

I downloaded the Premiere 2.0 and Aspect HD 4.0 trials last night and had a quick go at exporting Cineform HD and WMV 1080i 24p - both crashed... Is this something to be expected with Adobe with my config.

Ugh... i need to get WinXP 64bit and see if that helps seeing as I have an Athlon 64! Anyone done this before?

Anymore information would be superb. I'm going to be online and working on this problem in about 2 hours - gotta hit the running track first though!
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Old January 27th, 2006, 01:57 PM   #7
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Hi - me again.

OK let's go through this step by step.

First, I gather you already have your footage on your computer as Cineform .avi files. Correct? (If not, you would be able to capture it using CapDVHS as raw HDV mpeg - and then there is freeware stuff to do things with that...which we can discuss another time).

Second, you want to output it as a file that you can play from your hard drive or a DVD (but as a file not as an authored DVD). However your machine and/or card is struggling to play HD files?

Third, your machine is presently crashing on your attempts to export either WM9 or Cineform HD. (By Cineform HD I assume you mean Cineform HD avi's, not Cineform HDV .m2ts? Both are available as export options).

-----------------------------------------------------

OK I'm going to assume the essence here is speed, rather than a longterm fix to your system. First, I would install the Huffyuv codec from :
http://neuron2.net/www.math.berkeley...g/huffyuv.html

This gives you a 'lossless' codec to export to, until you get get the whole Cineform export issue sorted out.

Open Premiere and go to Export\settings\General\Microsoft AVI

Then settings\Video\Huffuv211

Try exporting? Does it work, or crash? If it crashes we will have to rethink!

Hopefully now you have a LARGE avi on your hard drive. You wont be able to play it - but dont worry about that.

Next step is to encode that into something playable. Best options are probably WMV, DixV or MPEG2. I know there a DivX encoder but havent used it. So let's try the Windows Media 9 encoder:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/win...r/default.aspx

Will it load the avi? Is so it should give you a bunch of options/templates to export to. Try a SD one to begin with, and since you are viewing on the computer, select "deinterlace" if it gives you that option.

(If THAT doesnt work, we can try exporting to MPEG from something like TMPGEnc. But try WM9 first.)

If you can at least output a SD file that plays OK, we can then experiment with HD output templates to see what your computer can handle. (Oh yeah - we may have to tweak the pixel aspects too, but that's fairly trivial if we can get the rest working.)

Let me know how it goes...
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Old January 27th, 2006, 04:09 PM   #8
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Graham,

I can't thank you enough.

I'm currently exporting via huffyuv 2.1.1. I tried it at first and ran out of disk space? I have 30GB free... would it really be this big? The processor seems handling the export fine.

The project has about 45 imported files, of which I've "cut out" and put together 3 minutes of footage, a few titles, and music (btw what is the best format to work in for audio?). My concern is maybe Premiere or the codec is trying to use all of the files rather than just the slices of clips i've put into the sequence? That doesn't make sense to me though.

Have downloaded WMEncoder... we shall see how it goes.

Cheers,

Matt
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Old January 27th, 2006, 04:24 PM   #9
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ahhh.. i still get the disk full error. Looks like Premiere thinks my disk is full? I still have around 25GB free when it errors out..

Hmmm. Any other suggestions?

Matt
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Old January 27th, 2006, 04:27 PM   #10
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Project Manager reckons the size of the project is 13GB... gonna use Project Manager to copy this into a new folder and will try again? Wondering if I will be able to trim the clips once copied (using Project Manager again) and then try to use the Huffyuv codec.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 07:13 PM   #11
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Ok, so I used Project Manager and trimmed the project down to a much more manageable 1.3GB of footage.

I then attempted to export using the Huffyuv in Premiere... once again it stopped about half way through stating the disk is full... I have a feeling it does this when the file gets to about 4GB. THEN I REALISED... my disk is formatted to FAT32, FAT32 doesn't handle files bigger than 4GB.

So, back to the drawing board? Going to go off and see how much effort it is to convert to NTFS on the disk...

One last question... if Cineform AVI files only amount to 1.3GB... what is Huffyuv doing to get a file bigger than 4GB?
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Old January 27th, 2006, 07:34 PM   #12
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Yep, FAT32 will kill you fast with HD files. Do you have any partion management software like Partition magic? They can convert FAT32 to NTSC easily enough. Or you could shrink your current FAT32 program partition and then create a new NTFS data partition in the freed up space.

Partition Magic which I use would achieve that easily - I'm not sure if there are XP or freeware tools that do the same thing.

Yes, huffyuv files ARE about 4X the size of Cineform - but about 0.5 the size of uncompressed. Thats why Cineform isnt freeware!

If the only reason you are crashing is the 4GB limit, then by all means swop back to encoding to cineform.
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Old January 28th, 2006, 06:24 AM   #13
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Ok well its quite easy to convert FAT32 to NTFS in WinXP

go to cmd.exe

convert C: /FS:NTFS

and voila.

ok so, I tried the render again.... but this time it hung the system (no mouse movement). I'm going to try my other faster pc and work off of the hard drive over the LAN...
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Old January 28th, 2006, 02:09 PM   #14
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Ok.. done it!

Converted my PC to NTFS... but it couldn't output the Huffyuv export. So this is the solution I came up with.

I networked my other PC which is a 2.6 Ghz 1GB RAM PC with a 256MB Radeon X800 in it (only has about 5GB free though). After trimming the project down to its actual 1.3GB size, I copied this to my faster PC.

I then ran the Huffyuv export on this PC but pointed the output to my other PC on the network (the one with 30gb free). This worked fine and took advantage of using a processor and 2 disks on two difference pc's rather than reading and writing to one.

This gave me a 7GB avi in Huffyuv format. From here I could simply use Windows Media Encoder to convert the avi to a wmv file. The WMV had these properties - file download (playback on computer), high definition CBR video, no cropping, no resize, deinterlace. This took about 1 hour to create a 95MB wmv file.

To my horror Windows Media Player couldn't play this file back very well - lots of stuttering etc. BUT VLC saved the day and could smoothly playback the file... mission accomplished.

Thanks Graham for your help and hopefully others will find this information helpful.

Looking at the longer term... any suggestions?
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Old January 28th, 2006, 07:18 PM   #15
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Longer term

I'm glad some of those suggestions worked out for you!

Longer-term there will of course be as many options for you as there are people to ask, contingent of course on your budget.

Here's my $0.02 ... all PC oriented. Basically, there are three main routes into software-based HDV editing.

The first is to use "proxy" files, whereby you create low-bite rate equivalents of each HDV clip, do all your editing with those, and then swap back in the HDV clips for the final render.

The second is to convert from processor-intensive mpeg to high-quality intermediates like Cineform or Huffyuv for your editing, and render directly from those (e.g. Premiere 1.5.1).

The third is to directly edit 'native' HDV (e.g., Liquid 7, Edius, PremierePro 2).

Proxying is the least demanding on your system, but is also the least convenient. Intermediates require LOTS of free disk space (as you discovered!). Native editing requires powerful processing.

I started editing HDV with Premiere using DV proxies. A while back I invested in AspectHD and really enjoy editing with it. However, I mainly do short (5-10 min) clips - think music video length. Projects like that fit happily on a 120GB drive ($49 on rebate at Best Buy). If I was into 2 hour projects disk space would loom as a problem.

The future is obviously bright for native HDV editing, as processing power ramps up. Although...this link - on the quality benefits of intermediates for multi-generational editing - is something to consider:
http://www.cineform.com/technology/H...ysis051011.htm

If I was you .... and assuming this is more a sideline than a business for you -a cheap option right now might be to upgrade to (say) a Pentium 4 3.0 or 3.2 800FSB (~$170) on a $50 motherboard - and then use that with Vegas with ConnectHD, or the Premiere+AspectHD "bundle" that Cineform offers for a bit more. Then save your pennies for a nice new multicore system in a year or so. There are lots of new processors on the near horizon.

Or, if you are a) impatient and b) have more cash, consider an Athlon 64 X2 4400 dual core - at ~$480 that processer is about at the cusp of the price/power trade-off right now. With that system, the Cineform products will run NICELY and the native editors will also be a lot more responsive.

Hope that helps.
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