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Bill Ravens October 8th, 2008 11:51 AM

Successful Workflow for Bluray
 
I just completed my first trial bluray. What a screaming success, absolutely beautiful result. Thought I'd post the workflow:

Camera: Sony XDCAM-EX
Intermediate codec: Cineform Neo HD
NLE: Avid Media Composer v3.05
Bluray mpeg encoder: Tmpgenc, bitrate=25Mbps
Burner Software: Avid DVD by Sonic
Burner: LG GGW-H20L

1-Copy EX1 footage from SxS cards to hard drive
2-Convert native SxS files to mxf with Sony Clip Browser v2.0
3-Convert mxf files to avi with Cineform Neo HD(CFHD)
4-Import CFHD file into Avid MC3.05 with RGB color space
5-Edit in Avid, export to Avid QT reference in ITU601 color space
6-Import QTref into Tmpgenc and render to Bluray m2t/ac3 mpeg2
7-Import m2t into Avid DVD and burn bluray

Playback was on a Samsung P1500 bluray player.

Very, very happy with this painless workflow...and the results are stunning! No stutter, colors are bright and vivid, no compression artifacts, despite fairly high horizontal panning, no twitter artifacts.

Christian Magnussen October 8th, 2008 02:27 PM

Is there any reason you choose not to use DNxHD codec as intermediate codec?(just curious)

David Parks October 8th, 2008 03:37 PM

You may have an extra compression hit in your workflow. You cannot edit Cineform AVI in Avid. You can only edit DNXHD, DVCPro HD, DV, HDV (DNXHD).

Unless something has changed that I'm not aware of.

David

Bill Ravens October 8th, 2008 05:25 PM

I've only had passing experience witn DNxHD. There's something I'm not doing correctly with DNxHD because the results are frequently washed out. Cineform always behaves in a predictable way. I haven't had that experience with DNxHD.

Well, I edit Cineform AVI on a routine basis in MC 305. In fact, Cineform is a rather predictable codec that works very trouble free for me.
edit: ahh, the workflow is so painless, I overlooked what you said David. Yes, I have to import Cineform to mxf, however, the process is preferable to importing the "raw" mxf file out of my EX1. The way Avid imports CFHD is different than the mxf file. One area, for example, is that Avid won't export a long form GOP to QT reference. But, after importing the CFHD form, no problema.

Douglas R. Bruce October 9th, 2008 02:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill Ravens (Post 948414)
I just completed my first trial bluray. What a screaming success, absolutely beautiful result. Thought I'd post the workflow:

Camera: Sony XDCAM-EX
Intermediate codec: Cineform Neo HD
NLE: Avid Media Composer v3.05
Bluray mpeg encoder: Tmpgenc, bitrate=25Mbps
Burner Software: Avid DVD by Sonic
Burner: LG GGW-H20L

1-Copy EX1 footage from SxS cards to hard drive
2-Convert native SxS files to mxf with Sony Clip Browser v2.0
3-Convert mxf files to avi with Cineform Neo HD(CFHD)
4-Import CFHD file into Avid MC3.05 with RGB color space
5-Edit in Avid, export to Avid QT reference in ITU601 color space
6-Import QTref into Tmpgenc and render to Bluray m2t/ac3 mpeg2
7-Import m2t into Avid DVD and burn bluray

Playback was on a Samsung P1500 bluray player.

Very, very happy with this painless workflow...and the results are stunning! No stutter, colors are bright and vivid, no compression artifacts, despite fairly high horizontal panning, no twitter artifacts.

Bill, is there a significant difference in quality or in transcoding time at stages 6 and 7?

I use the QT reference files directly into Avid DVD (in may case DVDitProHD) and let that handle the transcoding, after authoring.
Also I set the average bitrate at 30Mbps, lowest at 25Mbps and highest at 35Mbps. The results playback without any glitches.

(However my source material is only HDV - not XDCam)

Regards,
Douglas

Bill Ravens October 9th, 2008 07:07 AM

Hi Douglas...

The big time savings, for me, is in being able to use the QT Reference. That output happens in just seconds. Transcoding in TMPGenc is very slow, probably no quicker than other encoder software. Without much of an experience base, I can't comment on the quality of TMPGenc renders....just that my final disk is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

My earlier experiments with encoding, via Sony's DVD Architect(which allows a menu driven BD) resulted in stutters. I haven't followed thru, but, my theory was that a bitrate of 35Mbps is what caused the stutters. Thanx for your feedback, I'll try 30Mbps next time around.

David Parks October 9th, 2008 12:08 PM

From Cineform FAQ:

Q: Do CineForm files work with Avid - or, how do I convert to DNxHD?

A1: Unfortunately Avid supports no third-party compressed codecs regardless of the file wrapper. If you want to use Avid software with CineForm files you'll need to export them to DPX files or DNxHD files using third-party tools.

A2: CineForm customers have been successful exporting CineForm files to DNxHD files using After Effects and also using MPEG Streamclip. You need the DNxHD codec installed on your machine which you can get from the Avid website.

I believe your MXF files are in DNXHD when importedf, not Cineform AVI...So you're taking a compression hit fairly big time.

Cheers.

Douglas R. Bruce October 9th, 2008 03:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill Ravens (Post 948763)
Hi Douglas...

The big time savings, for me, is in being able to use the QT Reference. That output happens in just seconds. Transcoding in TMPGenc is very slow, probably no quicker than other encoder software. Without much of an experience base, I can't comment on the quality of TMPGenc renders....just that my final disk is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

I am also glad for the time saving (without quality drop) of the QT Reference file.
But next time you have some spare time try a comparison of the time taken for the transcoding in
1. TMPGenc
2. Avid DV

If they are about the same, you could miss out the extra step with TMPGenc.
If you think that TMPGenc is quicker - I may have to reconsider my workflow!

Regards,
Douglas

Bill Ravens October 9th, 2008 06:54 PM

David...

Cineform is 10 bit. I Import cineform to avid with mxf, not DNxHD. Even if I chose DNxHD, I could choose something like DNx175x, or higher, which is as good as, if not better than CFHD. No compression hit. Regardless of any technical mumbo jumbo, I'm VERY pleased with my final output. It just works.

Did you even read my post? Avid won't export long form GOP to QTRef. That makes using native mxf source file absolutely useless to me. I can import Cineform files as 1:1 mxf 10 bit and export these as QT reference files. No compression hit involved. I suggest you reconsider your thinking 'cuz it's wrong. I suggest you study the Avid import options...it's not only DNxHD.

Douglas...

Avid DV has its limitations. Render time regardless, I don't like avid DV, it's quite lossy. I prefer to keep my resolution in HDV until the last encode. I think it results in much better quality.

There's some very inexplicable things going on with DNxHD and other Avid codecs. The CC filter doesn't seem to work in a predictable manner. Extensive testing shows luma values are remapped to result in very washed out and milky looking footage, or just plain incorrect color mapping. Black values come out at RGB38,38,38...white at 218,218,218...that's just wrong. No one seems to get the RGB to REC709(YUV) conversion right. Cineform has it...no luma blowouts, no chroma distortions. Take my word for it, this is absolutely gorgeous....blacks are black, not milky grey, and whites are white, not, a muddle of zero detail.

Best regards,
Bill

Douglas R. Bruce October 9th, 2008 09:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill Ravens (Post 949048)
Douglas...

Avid DV has its limitations. Render time regardless, I don't like avid DV, it's quite lossy. I prefer to keep my resolution in HDV until the last encode. I think it results in much better quality.

There's some very inexplicable things going on with DNxHD and other Avid codecs. The CC filter doesn't seem to work in a predictable manner. Extensive testing shows luma values are remapped to result in very washed out and milky looking footage, or just plain incorrect color mapping. Black values come out at RGB38,38,38...white at 218,218,218...that's just wrong. No one seems to get the RGB to REC709(YUV) conversion right. Cineform has it...no luma blowouts, no chroma distortions. Take my word for it, this is absolutely gorgeous....blacks are black, not milky grey, and whites are white, not, a muddle of zero detail.

Best regards,
Bill

I have been satisfied with my HDV to Blu-Ray workflow since I began authoring Blu-Ray content about 1 year ago, but I am always open to new thoughts...... so I will take a look at your workflow in the near future.
It never pays to be stuck in a rut...... always keep an eye open for improvements.
Regards,
Douglas

David Parks October 10th, 2008 08:44 AM

Bill,

In your original post, you never mentioned what codec or in this case, uncompressed format you were importing into. If I understand you, this is your import flow. Correct me if I'm wrong.

8 bit Sony mp4 to mxf to Cineform avi to Avid 1:1 10bit mxf. Avid 1:1 10bit MXF can be categorized as uncompressed and makes massive files in terms of size. But, it is not Cineform once it is imported into Avid.

Let's be totally clear to everyone. Avid does not directly edit the Cineform compressed codec. Period.

If this workflow works fine for you then great. I like Cineform and have used it to transfer files to and from different edit applications and I really like it for archiving.

DNXHD is a system of compressed codecs that allow you to mix all kinds of formats into a single time line quickly. Like ProRes on FCP, it is very efficient and flexible.

However, I'm not convinced you gain quality by going from 8bit Long GOP Sony XDCAM EX mp4 to mxf to Cineform avi then to uncompressed.

Remember, Avid MC 3.05 edits both XDCAM EX formats (25 mbit and 35 mbit) natively with the MXF wrapper. Yes it is long GOP. But, Avid uses "smart splicing" and only rempresses at transitions. Let me propose another approach.

Sony XDCAM EX mp4 to mxf (rewrap) import straight into Avid (instantaneous).

Then you're editing the native XDCAM EX, it is only been rewrapped to mxf.

Next, transcode into Avid mxf 1:1 10 bit, thereby saving a step and a compression hit.


If you really like Cineform for mastering, I would use it at the tail end of the process and export out from Avid to Cineform 10bit.

My purpose is not to blow away anyone's workflow. Do what works for you.

Cheers.

Bill Ravens October 10th, 2008 09:06 AM

Hi David...

"8 bit Sony mp4 to mxf to Cineform avi to Avid 1:1 10bit mxf. Avid 1:1 10bit MXF can be categorized as uncompressed and makes massive files in terms of size. But, it is not Cineform once it is imported into Avid."

hmmm...never said it was. I will add that 10 bit mxf at 1:1 is overkill. There are other Avid mxf formats that are still compressed and 10-bit...like DNx175X, which is still overkill for 35Mbps EX1 files. Red, at 2k, exceeds DNx220, which is more like 2K. Quite honestly, if a render drive, these days, can't handle massive file sizes, you're better off shooting in DV.

"Let's be totally clear to everyone. Avid does not directly edit the Cineform compressed codec. Period."

I think we all agree on that.


"However, I'm not convinced you gain quality by going from 8bit Long GOP Sony XDCAM EX mp4 to mxf to Cineform avi then to uncompressed."

My point is NOT one of gaining/sustaining quality. At the risk of repeating myself, it's about being able to export from Avid with QTRef. Long form GOP imported into Avid will NOT export as QTRef. With imported mxf files, Avid will export ONLY to a fully rendered codec.This adds a very long rendering step; and, the associated generational loss. Transcoding from mxf to CFHD happens much faster than rendering in Avid, and avoids a lot of incorrect gamma issues. Smart rendering aside, as a personal preference, I don't think mpeg2 formats are designed for cuts/edits, which is probably why Avid won't export QT reference movies with a long form GOP source file like mxf.

Importing 8-bit files into 10-bit buys you nothing. Can't create more than you had initially. However, if you're doing more than just cuts, 10-bit will help you, immensely. Color corrections, dissolves, and other effects will show banding in 8-bit. 10-bit really helps mitigate banding on areas like the sky, where color gradients are very delicate.


"Sony XDCAM EX mp4 to mxf (rewrap) import straight into Avid (instantaneous)."

well...not exactly instantaneous...see comment above about exporting to QTRef

I would guess that your workflow and mine probably result in very similar output quality. There's no point in arguing one better than the other. It would be an interesting test to see which workflow, however, renders faster. In the age of 12 hour renders, rendering time is pretty important.

David Parks October 10th, 2008 01:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill Ravens (Post 949250)

Transcoding from mxf to CFHD happens much faster than rendering in Avid, and avoids a lot of incorrect gamma issues. Smart rendering aside, as a personal preference, I don't think mpeg2 formats are designed for cuts/edits, which is probably why Avid won't export QT reference movies with a long form GOP source file like mxf.

What do you mean by incorrect gamma issues? On Avid? If so, can you output some stills as examples and list your Safe Color Settings. I bring this up because this is the place where you control RGB Gamut. Also, check your monitor gamma settings. You can have standard 1.8 PC gamma and that isn't broadcast standard gamma. Also, Avid is by default setup for broadcast levels and your IRE in Avid could reflect 7.5 IRE and your Cineform is knocking it down to 0 IRE. While the blacks looked nice and dark, you're crushing the blacks and it will not be broadcast standard. Just a thought. If your not going broadcast, then change the Luminance % vs. IRE. This setting is the triangle on the upper right on your color correction tool and knocks it down to zero.

But we really need proof if your going to say Avid has incorrect Gamma issues.

Also, MXF is just a file format, not a codec, HDV or XDCAM EX are LONG GOP formats. The QT reference not working with Long GOP is pretty standard. That's why we both said you go to 1:1 MXF in the end for your QT reference. I still don't see the need to convert to Cineform in between the raw XDCAM EX rewrapped to mxf, editing, then transcoding to MXF 1:1, 10bit, or 8 bit.

Bill Ravens October 10th, 2008 02:05 PM

David..

I appreciate your diligence. I've already made my opinion known. Apparently, you chose to bring up other issues not related to the discusion. I really don't want to, and won't, get into a contest, here.

You speak as if you're the only Avid expert, here. I offer my workflow in the interest of sharing. If you feel that it's not for you, peace brother.

David Parks October 10th, 2008 02:37 PM

Well Bill. I'm sorry you feel that way. There's nothing wrong with divergent point of views.
But I'm not going to water down 15 years of hard earned Avid post experience. Anyone is more than welcome to take me to task. I've never ever claimed to be the only Avid expert here. That's just foolish.

But, we need to be very accurate as to what is really happening when it comes to laying out workflows. In the broadcast post house world you can lose your job if you use the wrong workflow or codecs for that matter. Especially if you're a freelancer like me. That's why I'm so serious about it. Quality and time on hourly booked time can mean the difference in a few thousand dollars.

Maybe I'm too serious for this forum. But I've had several people email me and comment positively on this forum on the Avid advice I have provided over the past couple years.

Frankly, I have no problem shutting up. In fact, this has become a complete waste of time for me. So, you won't hear from me for a while on this Avid forum.


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