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Old December 20th, 2008, 11:59 AM   #1
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Compression Codec - A happy discovery.

The move to a 64-bit OS for use with Vegas was pretty simple. I installed 8.0c and everything was terrific. However, installing and using Vegas 8.1 wasn't so great. I love the increased speed, but a MAJOR problem reared it's head.

Vegas 8.1 only supports .avi codecs that are 64 bit native. So all my wonderful codecs from the 32 bit program were now unusable to me. No more Cineform, Blackmagic/Aja, no more HuffYUV. Everything needed to move around as uncompressed now. The other alternative was to embrace a quicktime workflow instead of an avi one. And I did that and was pleased. However, since I do a lot of work in Virtualdub, it meant I had to render out to an avi file to do anything.

In searching around today, I was pleased to find that Lagarith offers a 64 bit version. So I decided to try it. It uses some HuffYUV code, but departs from there. I tried it in Vegas 8.0c and it was fine. I tried it on Vegas 8.1 and it read and could render to the codec. And lo and behold VirtualDub likes it too! So this is my new 64 bit intermediate.

One more thing. There was some discussion as to whether 8.1 was faster and that got knocked around a while when it was released. I loaded a 5 second 1080p clip on the timeline in 8.0c and rendered a 1080p lagarith file from it. It took 1:58. I then loaded the same 1080p file in 8.1 and rendered a 1080p lagarith. Time 0:26.

Yea, it's faster!
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Old December 27th, 2008, 11:23 AM   #2
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I realized I needed to update this information for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the .avi file type on the PC is tied to the Video For Windows (vfw) specifications, which only allows 8-bit color. This is a huge drawback for anyone wishing to do precise color correction or grading on the PC. It also forces us into a workflow that utilizes quicktime if we want the best results.

Secondly, the Lagarith codec is not all I had hoped for. In testing this week, I found the codec to be unacceptably lossy in Chroma information. So it will no longer be my mastering format. It looks like I'll be moving to Quicktime mastering instead to get to 10-bit color.

And finally, a positive. Avid has developed some new codecs built just for what we are doing. They have found success in Hollywood and my tests have shown that they are viable for amateur work as well. The DNxHD family of codecs seems efficient, and loss is perfectly acceptable. In fact, rendering my MXF material out to uncompressed and to DNxHD 220 was virtually identical.

The Avid Codecs are available for both PC and Mac and both operate under quicktime so you can have 10 bit RGB color space. They move well on the timeline also. The DNxHD 36 codec has been used as a DI codec for Iron Man, The Darjeeling Limited, and several other Hollywood projects. In my tests, coming from the XDCamEX codec, the DHxHD 36 codec was nearly lossless. The added benefit is that it cuts as easy as SD.

For file size comparisons, I took a mock interview that I did a couple of weeks ago that was 1 minute and 2 seconds long, and encoded it to uncompressed, DNxHD 220 (Mastering quality) and to DNxHD 36, the proxy size. This was an MXF XdCamEX 1080p original

Original 1080/24p 282,021 KB
----------------------

Uncompressed 1080p 12,194,176
Uncompressed SD 1,724,920
Avid DnXHD 36 276,740
Avid DNxHD 175 (1080p/24) 1,359,354

Render times on my laptop are about 5:1 for the proxy format and about 6:1 for the mastering format. Or about the same thing I was seeing going to uncompressed or to mp4. Both are significantly faster than my QT PNG encodes.

If we look at this critically, the ability to go from an originating format at 5:1 on a core2 Duo laptop, cut on that laptop at the speed of SD, and have file sizes 1/44th size of uncompressed, 1/6th the size of SD uncompressed, and even smaller than the original in the case of the EX1 is stunning. The Mastering format is even smaller than Uncompressed SD. This means I will be able to save most of my masters on DVD instead of BluRay, saving me a small fortune in media costs right now.

The fact that this codec is a free download for both Mac and PC users and works on 32 and 64 bit OS's and software is icing on the cake.

Goodbye AVI, hello Quicktime.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 03:08 PM   #3
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Couple of questions:

How well does the QT codec work? I have heard that Quicktime is a little slow in Vegas compared to avi. Is there an interface that downloads with it or does it only work in programs like TMPGEnc Xpress or VirtualDub? Thanks in advance.

Thomas
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Old December 27th, 2008, 03:14 PM   #4
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Thomas, I am not sure I understand your questions.

You drop a quicktime encoded video onto the timeline in Vegas just like it was anything else. You don't notice anything different. When you go to encode something, you simply select Quicktime (mov) and then choose the installed codec you want to use. Works just like AVI in that regard. It's seamless.

If you have Vegas already, give it a shot. A number of quicktime codecs come standard with Vegas so try it out on a short video. Maybe 5-10 seconds worth.

I am really enjoying the 10bit support of Quicktime though. No more 8-bit limits working with Vegas.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 03:31 PM   #5
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I was mainly worried about QT codec. I have not transcoded to a QT file for editing in Vegas before because I have read from others on the forum that editing with a .mov codec is a nightmare on a PC. I will definitely give it a try.

As far as my other question, I have an HV20 and must remove the pulldown before I edit and I use TMPGEnc to do that. I was hoping it had its own interface like Cineform HDlink.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 04:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Barthle Jr. View Post
I was mainly worried about QT codec. I have not transcoded to a QT file for editing in Vegas before because I have read from others on the forum that editing with a .mov codec is a nightmare on a PC. I will definitely give it a try.

As far as my other question, I have an HV20 and must remove the pulldown before I edit and I use TMPGEnc to do that. I was hoping it had its own interface like Cineform HDlink.
Don't worry about the codec. Work's just fine. Just use a codec designed for editing, and not one designed for finishing!

Why do you need to remove pulldown? I never did with my DVX.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 05:12 PM   #7
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It is complicated, but the DVX adds "flags" that the NLE can then remove. The HV20 is a consumer camera that does not add flags and therefore must be removed, as the NLE can not figure out the proper cadence. Plus, working with an intermediate rather than M2ts, as I'm sure you know, is a lot less degrading of the footage.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 07:15 PM   #8
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Perrone, just a heads up. You probably knew this already but it was a discovery for me. If you drop your MXF onto the Vegas timeline, you can smart render it back out to the same MXF format with no recompression to XDCAM-EX HQ 35 mbps 4:2:0.

It will re-encode the frame on either side of a cut-edit, and no-recompress the rest. The exception of course would be your color graded edits.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 07:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tom Roper View Post
Perrone, just a heads up. You probably knew this already but it was a discovery for me. If you drop your MXF onto the Vegas timeline, you can smart render it back out to the same MXF format with no recompression to XDCAM-EX HQ 35 mbps 4:2:0.

It will re-encode the frame on either side of a cut-edit, and no-recompress the rest. The exception of course would be your color graded edits.
In what scenario would you do this? I am generally in a hurry to get my files OUT of the 4:2:0, mpeg2, MXF format.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 07:58 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
In what scenario would you do this? I am generally in a hurry to get my files OUT of the 4:2:0, mpeg2, MXF format.
Two scenarios:

1.) Fast, lossless edits, where I want to shorten or combine mxf clips.

2.) I want to author in AVC a 23.976p Blu-ray project in DVD Architect without encoding the source twice. The Vegas AVC Sony template doesn't support 23.976, and the Vegas mainconcept AVC template does support 23.976 but won't pass through DVD Architect natively without rendering it for a second time.

For example, you put your 23.976p mxf clips on the vegas timeline, do your cut/splice/join edits, render back out losslessly to mxf, it takes no time, no loss in quality.

In DVD Architect, open the mxf you just rendered and author a 23.976p Blu-ray project in AVC at 18mbps. DVD Architect takes it's sweet time, but outputs a *Beautiful* AVC 18mbps average vbr encode that will peak between 2 and 34 mbps. I haven't seen that range of variability from other input codecs, nor the quality of the encode. DVD Architect really likes mxf.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 08:11 PM   #11
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GREAT info! I wish I could use it! Practically everything I shoot needs titles, or other work. Including color balancing, skin tone work, etc. So I am nearly always pushing my stuff around. Hence why I choose 10bit codecs whenever possible.

But for cuts only, this is really terrific info. I've burned a number of BluRays, but none for movies yet. Hopefully in a few months time...
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Old December 27th, 2008, 08:27 PM   #12
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It's just something to be aware of. Vegas is very fast rendering titles. That along with your color grading may only be needed for certain parts of a clip and not others. So if those are the circumstances, (you know best) Vegas will speed through some sections without recompressing, and slow down for others, only rendering what it needs to. When it reaches a part of the timeline it doesn't need to render, it will indicate this to you on the edit window, which will go black and display "No Recompression," so you will always know.

Anyway, just a tip...
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Old January 8th, 2009, 03:44 PM   #13
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What am I missing?

Perrone,

I downloaded and installed this codec, but don't see it as an option when I want to render the video.

What am I missing?

Regards,

George
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Old January 8th, 2009, 04:03 PM   #14
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Never Mind, I found it...

Thanks for posting the link!

GP
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Old January 11th, 2009, 08:25 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
Just use a codec designed for editing, and not one designed for finishing!
Perrone - which DNxHD codecs would you recommend for converting 1080i m2t files to edit with in Vegas Pro? Have you noticed a huge performance gain by going VP8.1 64 and the DNxHD codec as opposed to editing with VP8?

I'd like to have files that could me dealt with in something like an Avid MC situation if needed.
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