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Old May 1st, 2007, 10:47 AM   #1
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Vegas and Cineform

Hi all, I'm trying Vegas 7.0d out with footage captured from my new Canon A1, and am a little confused as to how to best create and work with Cineform intermediate files. My m2t HDV files don't play back very smoothly at all, so I will need to work with the Cineform intermediate. Questions:

1. I dragged all my captured m2t files into the timeline, select "Render As" from the File menu... selecting the default HDV 1080i 24p Cineform preset... and a new file is successfully created that incorporates all the footage in the timeline into one gigantic Event. I drag this new file into the timeline, and the good news is, it does play back much smoother than the m2t files. The bad news is, now I don't have individual clips/events to manipulate, instead, I have one long dump of all the footage. This is less than ideal; even if I razor the long cineform clip/event down to individual clips/events, the clip/event names are lost. Am I doing something wrong? Is there a better workflow?

2. What advantage does the $200 Connect HD (soon to be Neo) hold over this free Vegas/Cineform codec?

3. Would the addition of a BlackMagic Intensity Pro card enable me to monitor and edit m2t and/or Cineform footage smoothly via an external HDTV monitor?

4. Can anyone comment on my CPU's specs, and whether I would be able to better cut m2t and/or Cineform files if I just upgraded something:

-Core 2 Duo 6300 (want to upgrade to 6600)
-1.5 GB Ram
-128 MB Video Card
-320 GB, 7200 RPM System Drive (16 MB Cache)
-320 GB, 7200 RPM Media Drive (16 MB Cache)
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Old May 1st, 2007, 11:30 AM   #2
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1. VASST has a very nice product to ease this particular workflow, called gearshift. There is a timeout demo you can use to try it out, basically, it will render a group of M2T to cineform and preserve filenames. An alternative is to put all those clips on the timeline and set regions for each one, then use the batch render script that comes with Vegas (a very handy utility). Files will be named sequentially, and if you "render by region" they'll still be individual clips.

2. ConnectHD allows you to transcode to Cineform on ingest. Very simple, can be very powerful in pro workflow. Oh, it's also got a batch encoder that will preserve clips and filenames.

3. As I understand it, Vegas cannot address an Intensity card as a preview device. That might change soon. However, as you may know, a windows secondary display can be used for preview, I am and I think most people are doing this for HD.

Note that difficulties displaying HD content have nothing to do with graphics processing, and therefore another graphics card, HDMI or not, only gets you another video spigot, not increased performance (except some third-party vegas plugins may benefit from specific gpus). For M2T the bottleneck tends to be processor. For Cineform, it tends to be hard drive speed.

4. I'm no expert, but, I think you ought to have good M2T performance from the timeline with that machine spec. It's worth spending some time to see if other programs/utilities/processes are eating processor cycles.

There is some info in the sony knowledgebase articles about what processes to kill to optimize performance. Videoguys (a forum sponsor) has this interesting page:

TweakXP at your own risk...
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Old May 1st, 2007, 12:31 PM   #3
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Thanks so much Seth, excellent info which clears several things up. A few followup questions:

1a. How much does the full version of Gearshift cost? The VASST website seems to have it for free???
1b. How do I set regions in the timeline in Vegas? (Sorry, I'm coming from FCP/PPro). Would this mean just speeding through the timeline and placing timeline markers delineating the end of each clip, or something like that? This might not be too painful (especially since each new Cineform clip would then be rendered with its own unique name, right?).

2a. So the $200 Connect HD actually sounds like an even better solution - you just capture directly to Cineform files and m2t files are never captured, correct?
2b. If the above is true, is there any reason to capture the original m2t files and replace the Cineform files after editing for finishing "online"? I know the Cineform files are much larger than m2t files, but are lossless, much more robust for cc and post, and are 4:2:2... So is there a good reason to ever go back to the m2t's besides saving space?

3a. Hmm. In the Vegas 7.0d trial it gives options under Preferences/Preview Devices for "AJA Video Device" and "Blackmagic Design DeckLink." Neither of these, I presume, cover the Intensity Pro card?
3b. I tried using the Windows Secondary display, and it's very blurry and low res on my CRT display. None of the settings really fixed this. So for the moment, I'd be more content to view and edit Cineform files at half size on my CRT - i.e. not "Preview on external monitor." This gives a smaller image, but a much nicer rez, and the motion playback seems fine.

4a. I get decent M2T performance, but it's too choppy for my taste. Do you think an upgrade to the 6600 (with its nice 4mb L2 and higher clock speed) would make even M2t files smooth and workable? I could also set up a RAID or get some more RAM.

Thanks again for helping!
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Old May 1st, 2007, 01:06 PM   #4
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I remember Gearshift as being a $40-50 product, but my memory isn't what it used to be.

To set a region highlight the area of the timeline you want to be a region. In the case of individual clips on the timeline, you can just double-click the clip (aka event in vegas-ese), then press the "r" key. This is probably just a keyboard shortcut for something on the insert menu.

Right, with ConnectHD/NeoHDV you capture as Cineform, and there is no particular reason to go back to M2T. You use the term "lossless", Cineform is not a lossless codec... it is just very, very good and not very lossy at all through multiple generations. Yes indeed, it is what you want for any kind of multi-gen work, cc, etc. However, M2T timeline performance has gotten so good, it is also a very reasonable choice for many projects.

3a. as I understand it, no, intensity is not supported. I have no such card, I'm just repeating what I've been told. I also have no real info, but I'd not be surprised to see intensity support show up in the future.

***something is going on in your setup, capture, project***
You should address this before moving on to anything else. HDV footage captured as M2T should be razor-sharp on windows secondary display preview at any of the "full" preview quality settings. At "full", Vegas preview gives you the full rez (to the limits of your card/monitor), dropping frames if needed to keep the rez full. Why isn't it better rez?

Step one: Confirm that your project properties match your media.

This can have a dramatic impact on preview performance.

Sorry, I don't have direct experience with the 6300 proc, but I'd think you should be able to get at least one M2T stream to play back acceptably.
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Old May 1st, 2007, 01:56 PM   #5
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I downloaded the Gearshift trial... it's 14 days and then the product is $49. Not bad. I got it to work, it's a pretty smooth workflow. What is the difference between the "Gearshift" HDV and the "HDV intermediate?"

Also, the Gearshift trial seemed to have killed my Vegas trial! So I had to un/reinstall both. The Vegas trial has been reset back to 30 days so it's ok.

Regarding the blurry image, that would be because I was Previewing under "Auto." I changed this to "Full" and the image is now very crisp on my secondary monitor - however playback is still choppy both with M2T and with HDV Intermediate files (and yes, my project matches the media, HDV 1080i 24F Canon A1 footage). Any thoughts? I am going to restart my computer and try again, that may fix.

I was able to set regions and Batch Render. This is pretty painless, though worse than the workflow of Gearshift.
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Old May 1st, 2007, 02:23 PM   #6
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So I can only seem to get truly smooth playback when using the Windows Secondary Monitor, if I drop the Preview quality to Quarter. Full is really bad, and even Half is pretty choppy. This occurs with Cineform Intermediates generated by Batch Render in Vegas, as well as M2T files.

When I quit Vegas after trying to playback as above, I notice that my computer is very, very slow. Maybe I have to wait 20-30 seconds after Vegas closes fully, to release any RAM it's using? I have never seen anything like this with my computer, which is only a few months old and in great shape.

Any thoughts? Is 1.5 Gigs of Ram just not enough?
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