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Old January 2nd, 2015, 04:24 PM   #1
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Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

I have posted about a level shift I have been having when transcoding XAVC to ProRes in Catalyst Browse. This issue never happened when ingesting AVCHD directly to FCP X. Well, I did some investigating to try to figure out why this is happening.

I rolled off color bars in XAVC and AVCHD, then transcoded both to ProRes in Browse, selecting a separate export for no color adjustments and for all color settings, just to see if that makes a difference. For reference, all my previous off-level transcodes were to ProRes LT with the all color settings selected.

Well, after transcode and ingest into FCP X, all the files look not only proper leveled, but all identical. I then repeated the test with a scene shot through the lens, but the same thing, all looked fine. So I went back to my old project from yesterday with the odd level, and Catalyst/transcoded one specific file. Sure enough, the newer transcode looked perfect, but the old one still had the same odd levels.

This makes no sense to me, as both the old file and the new file were transcoded with the same settings in Browse. I am including a frame grab so you can see the huge difference in levels. The old transcodes are seemingly compressed. Just a warning to look out for this in your transcodes, as there are really no settings in Browse that can or should change these levels, so obviously there is some strange issue present here that may pop up for someone else.

Paul
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Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue-screen-shot-2015-01-02-2.18.41-pm.png  
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Old January 2nd, 2015, 04:51 PM   #2
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

Found the problem. I reingested (batch) all clips in batch mode for the story that the above clip came from. Problem reappeared! I then retranscoded the same clip back into this newest project in FCP X, and the problem disappeared again!

This appears to be a definite issue with the new BATCH CONVERT function in Browse. I am including a screen grab showing that even the file size for the two clips when ingested individually and in batch are different sizes.

I also tested this using the PC version, which only transcodes to XAVC Intra, as well as on my Mac again transcoding to XAVC Intra instead of ProRed. This issue exhibits itself on both platforms on ProRes as well as XAVC Intra in BATCH CONVERT. Individual file transcodes are not affected on either platform. Forwarding this concern to Sony, so that we can begin batch transcoding and editing our XAVC L footage by sometime in 2017. :-\

Paul
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Old February 13th, 2015, 05:17 PM   #3
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

Sony finally responded to my official support request on this problem.

Response Emily B. via Email 02/13/2015 12:24 PM

Hi Paul,

The QA team has also reproduced this issue in the Catalyst Browse software. It has been escalated to the development team so that a permanent solution can be found. Once that solution is found, it will be implemented in a future update of the software.

If you still have a follow-up question on this particular incident, please feel free to update it. If you have a completely different question, please create a new incident.

Sincerely,

Emily B.
Customer Service
Sony Creative Software Inc
Sony Creative Software - Vegas video - ACID & Sound Forge audio editing

Response Emily B. via Email 02/13/2015 09:43 AM

Hi Paul,

Thank you for contacting Sony Creative Software. I apologize for the lengthy response time to your technical support inquiry. We have been experiencing an increase in support demands from new product launches and we have fallen a bit behind on service requests. We have been working diligently to answer as many emails as possible in the order that they were received. I hope you understand and sincerely appreciate your patience.

I was able to reproduce this issue on my system, and I have forwarded the details of the problem to our QA and Development teams for further investigation. While I wait for a response from them about this problem, I will set this email incident to Development status to prevent it from automatically closing after 48 hours. Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention, and please let me know if you have any additional questions about this issue in the meantime.

If you still have a follow-up question on this particular incident, please feel free to update it. If you have a completely different question, please create a new incident.

Sincerely,

Emily B.
Customer Service
Sony Creative Software Inc
Sony Creative Software - Vegas video - ACID & Sound Forge audio editing

Customer Paul Andreregg via CSS Web 01/02/2015 05:08 PM

Batch converting results in levels compression on both Mac and PC versions of this software. Individual convert/transcode is not affected. ProRes and XAVC Intra transcode are both affected.

See forum post and attached picture for additional details.

MAJOR ISSUE with Browse XAVC batch transcoding - Sony Catalyst Browse and Catalyst Prepare Forum
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Old March 8th, 2015, 03:33 PM   #4
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

Sony posted a new March 5th release of Browse. It did NOT resolve the levels issue. They also closed out my case online.......ruh roh.

Paul
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Old March 9th, 2015, 02:53 AM   #5
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

The batch convert not only exhibits this strange level shift, but BROWSE transcodes single and batch clips in different bit rates as well. I found same clips to be up to 20 MBits/s apart. It seems, that Sony released the XAVC-L codec a bit premature. No NLE support and their own Catalyst Browse software messes things up.
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Old March 9th, 2015, 04:33 AM   #6
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

The only positive change I noticed in the new version, is that the upper % remaining lists the total number of clips and progress bars is now a grand total, not just a constantly updating 1 file transcoding per clip.

Paul
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Old March 9th, 2015, 04:46 AM   #7
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

Have you guys tried Edit Ready.
EditReady : Transcoding Without The Hassle - divergent media
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Old April 18th, 2015, 06:44 AM   #8
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

I just started the trial of Catalyst Prepare. I don't have the X70 yet, but am working with a sample XAVC-L 1080p/29.97 clip.

The trial software included Browse and Prepare (both at version 1.2.0).

Didn't use batch, but in transcoding this single clip to ProRes LT 1920x1080 29.97, Browse exports something different than Prepare.

Also, selecting 'Include Color Adjustments' vs. 'No color' made no difference at all.

Here are my findings:

Both exports from 'Browse' results in a slightly flatter looking image. Each file identical in size (409,611,960 bytes; 409.6 MB).

Both exports from 'Prepare' are not as flat. Each file identical in size (403,922,920 bytes; 403.9 MB).


As to the color vs. no color, not sure what's going on; could be that there's no 'data' there and thus both settings are producing the same output.

Resultant bitrate of the ProRes LT was a tad higher as produced by 'Browse' (107.33 Mbps vs. Prepare's 105.84 Mbps)
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Old April 18th, 2015, 07:16 AM   #9
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Denny View Post
Just tried EditReady with the same clip as in my prior post with Catalyst and Browse. Thankfully the clip is only 31 seconds, so could be exported fully with the trial version.

The resultant ProRes LT file is smaller (and has a lower bit rate). EditReady also the slowest:

EditReady: 19 seconds to convert; 387.2 MB file output; 101.46 Mbps
Browse: 11 seconds to convert; 409.6 MB file output; 107.33 Mbps
Prepare: 9.7 seconds to convert; 403.9 MB file output; 105.84 Mbps


EditReady produced the same looking output as Prepare (studying the frames, appears the black-level is a bit higher with Browse-produced clips). This I believe is what Paul Anderegg also observed in this thread.


Other differences:

EditReady produced files including one video track, four audio tracks (all 24-bit 48kHz Mono), and one time code track. QuickTime Player 7's inspector of this file "freaked out" with the time code track though. It was constantly trying to display info about the track, but kept flashing different garbled characters in the track's start and end data columns. Possible corrupt data?

Browse and Prepare produced files including one video track, eight audio tracks (all 24-bit 48kHz Mono), and one time code track. QuickTime Player 7's inspector didn't show any signs of bad data as with the EditReady file.

Is this a fluke with this one clip? Or does EditReady mangle the time code track?

As much as I don't like it, looks like I may need to shell out $200 for 'Prepare'. Although I will play a bit with grading both 'Prepare' and 'Browse' files now in FCP X. Perhaps the 'Browse' footage will be OK.

Equipment notes:

* 2012 12-Core Mac Pro
* ATI Radeon HD 5870
* OS X 10.10.3 (with supplemental video driver update)
* Final Cut Pro X 10.2
* Browse and Prepare both at version 1.2.0
* EditReady version 1.2.3
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Old April 18th, 2015, 10:11 AM   #10
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

The sample footage transcoded from 'Browse' is actually much better than 'Prepare'.

I did a batch process from both 'Browse' and 'Prepare' with three sample clips. And, exported each three times: ProRes 422 LT, 422 and 422 HQ.

In FCP X, I'm finding the Prepare transcoded footage having some minor crushed blacks and a decent amount of clipped highlights. With some very minor exposure adjustments to shadows and highlights, I got the 'Browse' footage looking extremely good; all without crushing blacks or clipping highlights. The 'Prepare' footage, while it does look more like a final result, is not very gradable due to the lost info.

As a secondary check, I also exported the same frame of each clip as an 8-bit PNG and then brought into Adobe Lightroom. Sure enough, when checking both the white and black levels, the 'Prepare' version had many more values already beyond their maximum.
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Old April 18th, 2015, 01:08 PM   #11
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

The batch processing levels issue is just simply retarded.......as in the slur. I reported the issue to them, got a response back, then they continue to release updates that fail to rectify the issue, while pumping out brand new cameras for the codec they fail to correctly account for.

Is it really that hard to have one file automatically Q after the first one without every files levels being altered? I mean seriously, if I run through and right click each clip t transcode as fast as possible, they all get put into the Q, but multi-selecting them is an issue? Get your act together Sony. And while you are at it, stop putting dust into the internal optics of every X180 I but from you. :-P

Paul

Switched to XDCAM on my new camera, have abandoned XAVC
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Old April 22nd, 2015, 11:23 AM   #12
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

I have found that I don't get problems with transcoding multiple clips at once when they are selected in the browser, however, I do get a huge difference in color when All color Settings is checked. That creates blown out whites. When No Color Adjustments is selected in the drop down, the color is much truer and imports fine. I think they chose a weird verbiage and also I am surprised that it appears as the default since it really alters the clip integrity. I was quite unhappy with my clips until I discovered the problem.
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Old April 26th, 2015, 10:42 AM   #13
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

Performed an exhastive test today with factory Picture Profile settings on my X70.

Recorded 6 clips of the same subject; PP1 through PP6. White balance was set to manual (dialed in to 3200 K as confirmed by my EOS 6D and white balance card). At the end of the shoot, actual white balance increased to 3300 K (while office lighting was primarily used, some spill from closed blinds came into play). But that small difference shouldn't be noticable.

Software: Catalyst Browse, Catalyst Prepare, Edit Ready.

Original codec: XAVC-L 50 Mbps, 30p

Transcoded codec: ProRes 422 29.97p

Permutations: Batch import, individual import. For CP and CB, also did imports with 'No color settings' vs. 'All'.

For a given software package, I found zero differences in levels between batch vs. individual imports.

CP and EditReady produced transcoded clips with identical (to the eye) levels.

CB consistently produced transcoded clips that used flatter levels. For the following images, I used PP#5 as that produced the most accurate colors (what my eye saw). This first image shows ungraded ProRes footage. Note the flattened levels in CB. The second image are shows graded footage. I was able to match (to the eye) each image. But of course had to stretch the CB footage more.

Is this the same levels issues as others are seeing? I'm assuming I'll want to purchase either CP or EditReady as they produce levels closer to what the actual camera captured (I monitored the histogram in camera to get a proper exposure)

While I don't see any issues in this particular clip, I believe by pushing levels more in the CB footage, I increase the possibility of banding.
Attached Thumbnails
Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue-ugraded_pp5.jpg   Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue-graded_pp5.jpg  

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Old April 26th, 2015, 11:09 AM   #14
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

The levels issue presents itself in all versions of Catalyst Browse, old and new, Mac and PC. In all tests I conducted, the "squashed" levels only occurred in batch processing, and individual clip processing was not affected as you can see in my first post histogram.

I will test CB with my X180 XAVC L footage to see if the batch processing levels error is due to some specific file attribute in X70 XAVC L clips.

Paul
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Old April 28th, 2015, 11:29 AM   #15
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Re: Strange Catalyst Browse levels issue

Paul,

I spoke to Sony Support yesterday and they acted surprised about the levels issue when transcoding in Catalyst Browse. After sending them stills they confirmed the issue and said it's a high priority. Based on your long history of trying to get this fixed I see it is not.

I've been using the Catalyst Prepare trial which transcodes without black level issues but it expires soon and I refuse to pay them $200 to solve an issue they created.

So I have a Sony Camera that uses a propitiatory Sony Codec, I'm editing with Sony Vegas Software and yet I cannot use the files. But Adobe CC, Edius and others can use them fine. Not a good sign...
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