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Old March 7th, 2008, 03:07 PM   #1
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Apple ProRes?

Just started this week at a production company that shoots XDCAM HD. We produce 30 min shows in HD for networks. We're currently editing in the XDCAM HD codec. Should we be using Apple ProRes instead?
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Old March 7th, 2008, 03:29 PM   #2
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using pro res

We use the pro res HQ codec using an AJA LHe card. The major advantage is only if you plan on sending to After Effects. I have had no luck using the XDcam codec with AE. It will not render and looks highly degraded in AE monitor previews. If you plan on keeping all your workflow in FCP, Motion, etc. the XDCam codec is the way to go.
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Old March 7th, 2008, 03:58 PM   #3
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Does using ProRes save any time or storage space? I'm looking to streamline our process a bit.
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Old March 7th, 2008, 04:51 PM   #4
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ProRes will take more space and more time, but it has better color depth, among other things. If you find yourself doing a lot of color correcting, it might be worth it... I typically stay in XDCamHD.

It should be noted that if you're bringing in video via the XDCam Transfer Software, you'd have to transcode everything to ProRes, which would be prohibitively time consuming, IMHO -- the only way to do it would be via ingest into a capture card.
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Old March 7th, 2008, 05:06 PM   #5
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Thanks. That's what I was afraid of. I think we'll stick with XDCAM HD for now. As we get more into Color, etc we'll take a second look at it.

Thanks everybody.
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Old March 8th, 2008, 08:23 AM   #6
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We have run quite a number of tests on this subject, and while our tests are in no way as technical as many of the tests carried out by other forum members, some folks may find the following helpful, here is our observations.

Our needs - corporate, commercial, doc and short films - so quite a variation:

We were looking for the ability to work quickly and edit quickly with a fairly light weight pro camera system that would be able to tackle a range of work loads, and while quality is important to us, "time is money" and we were looking for an XDCAMHD workflow that would give us acceptable results for general commercial work and a workflow for the more demanding projects where budgets are less of an issue.
Test Using-
Camera: F350 - Fujinon X17HD Lens - no filters
Settings: HQ, 35mbt, 25p Cine gamma 2
Imported using U1 Drive
NLE: FCP6 / Motion / Compressor (MAC Quad)

1: Using an XDCAMHD (1440x1080) 1080p 25 VBR timeline we put together a "studio set" with various colours and shadows with a mix of soft and hard edges and shooting at both ends of the zoom (not fully wide open or fully closed down - no filters). We also had a part where we used chroma green and blue back drops.

2: We also created text graphics separately in FCP & Motion (XDCAMHD timeline) and Apple Pro Res 8 & 10 bit (both 1440 & 1920 formats) and Uncompressed 8 & 10 bit - we also messed around with other high end set ups offered by the AJA Kona 3 - but they proved to be far to memory intensive with no gain on quality.

3: We made an XDCAMHD QT movie file of our master test and then using Compressor we made Uncompressed 8/10bit, Apple Pro Res HQ 8/10bit, DVCPro50/100 files

The results:

At the end of the day for real world use, the differences were marginal, and as someone mentioned before on this subject - to get better image quality you need to really consider using a larger camera format.

As expected, large file sizes in Uncompressed 10/8 bit with a noticeable quality difference when grading and text in 10bit, but not a lot!

Apple ProResHQ1440x1080 also takes time to render and creates larger file sizes (much smaller than Uncompressed 10 bit) and treats colour and text better, but once again it is not by much! however this may be more noticeable on very large screens - we were limited to a 23" Hi Def Screen monitor.

Graphics (of course it does depend on the graphic or font) created in Motion did of course show that Uncompressed and Apple ProRes codecs kept the edges sharp, but it was not easy to spot the difference when viewing text created in the Motion XDCamHD codec once again, perhaps a larger screen may show a difference?. As expected, graphics/text created in FCP was not as sharp, but with certain fonts they were very usable for certain projects. All these test codecs were taken to DVD and viewed on a 36" screen and once again differences were marginal - my wife said "I can't see any difference in any of them"


We love the XDCAMHD workflow (using the U1), it is quite simply - "Magic", our F350 has been on a lot of jobs since purchased about a month ago, and it has handled everything from shooting in gale force conditions for a documentary, various sets for a movie trailer (had the local police showing their appreciation of it), a number of training DVDs, chroma key work, and we even gave a fireman a crash course on how to use our camera (fully protected) in a burning building - footage is fantastic. Love the delete last clip feature assigned to one of our assign buttons, what a time/money saver.

We edit in XDCAMHD taken from the U1 drive - we colour grade, add transitions and so on and then save as a QT XDCAMHD file and then use compressor to make a DVD using the HQ settings - We will use text created in FCP for certain jobs and Text/Graphics created in Motion for other jobs - playing back the DVD on a 36" screen looks very good.

More critical work (Broadcast) with a great deal of colour work is cut together in XDCAMHD (general colour / effects treatments tested in the XDCAMHD timeline) then moved over to Apple ProresHQ for final grading and effects and then out as required by client.

For general commercial work going to DVD and the like, where shelf life is not an issue and where other SD footage is getting intercut, we decided to shoot in DVCam with fast download on the U1.

Regards: Stu
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Old March 8th, 2008, 10:08 AM   #7
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Stewart, as I understand it, taking your material directly to ProRes on ingest makes for faster rendering of things like transitions, etc.

I think the decision of which codec to edit in, depends on how much post treatment is needed.

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Old March 8th, 2008, 01:13 PM   #8
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I use the standard sony XDCAM HD easy set ups. Then set the timeline to render to Pro-Res. You import your footage as normal XDCAM HD (no transcode) and edit as normal. Any clips not treated, ie. cuts only stay as native un rendered XDCAM HD. Any stuff that needs to be rendered is rendered using Pro-res. I believe this to be the way to go if your outputting to something other than XDCAM. If you outputting to XDCAM then keep everything as XDCAM.
Alister Chapman, Film-Maker/Stormchaser My XDCAM site and blog.
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