Offline edit workflow using Sony NX5 AVCHD, Apple FCP7 & ProRes Proxy at
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Old July 19th, 2010, 01:15 PM   #1
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Offline edit workflow using Sony NX5 AVCHD, Apple FCP7 & ProRes Proxy

Below is a workflow that I developed that enables me to import the footage I have shot on my Sony NX5
and edit it in a format that takes up considerably less space on your scratch disc than the default full-res ProRes 422. It then outlines how you can automatically bring your finished edit back 'online' with the full quality footage ready for mastering and export.

Experienced forum users will already be familiar with the process and probably use the same or similar workflow for their AVCHD projects. Less experienced users will hopefully find the information here useful in their projects, I post it here because I can not recall seeing this exact process clearly outlined here yet. I will also include some good practice tips as I go through the workflow. If anyone has any improvements, observations or corrections to what I have written here please post them bellow and I will edit the post to keep it up to date (if this forum allows me to do so)

>uses considerably less storage space to hold all of your rushes for editing (a saving of up to 37GB/hour of rushes), could save you the price of an additional hard drive.
>may allow lower spec computers to perform better and cut down on render time during editing
>by default requires you to use good practice in keeping organised backups of your original AVCHD architecture rushes
>by default helps you keep a trimmed project file of your final edit for archiving
>ensures your final exports are of the highest quality possible

>adds an additional step to your edit workflow and thus another point at which problems can occur in an already complex transcoding system
>a mistake at an early stage could end up making you have to do allot of work over again.

Here's how I do it:

1) Clone full archive your AVCHD rushes from the media card to a separate backup hard disc, I use a dedicated portable 500GB USB2 drive for this. I keep my folders organised first by project master folder, then by date and keyword for each card as follows: 'YYYY/MM/DD keyword'. It is important that the full archive is retained, so you just copy the exact folders you find on your media card as they are into a new folder on your backup drive. I also keep a further backup of all my rushes in a separate place; a different external HD attached to another computer downstairs in the office serves for me.
You should be doing this step anyway whatever your workflow.

2) Start a Final Cut Pro project and setup using these good practice guides: autosave every 15mins with at least two sessions worth of autosaves kept, project file is backed up onto a USB key at least daily with the original saved onto the computer. 'Save as' at the end of each session and keep backups incase a project file becomes corrupt. Use a high speed external drive for your scratch disc that is separate from the one that you saved your AVCHD rushes onto. I use a 1.5TB FW800 drive.

3) Create a bin for you to capture your media to, and within that make a series of bins that shares the name of the folders that you backed up your AVCHD rushes with (YY/MM/DD keyword). Select one of these, R-click and 'Set Logging Bin'. A little clapper board will appear next to it to confirm that you are about to capture media into this bit.

4) Make sure that you do not have any of your media cards connected to the computer, then open 'Log & Transfer'. If any media auto-adds itself to the viewer, use the eject button top left of the window to get rid of it. Use the Add Volume button top left to select the folder (that matches the one you set as your logging bin) from your AVCHD backups. The clips will appear into the viewer.
It's very important that you capture from the backed up AVCHD archives and not from the actual media cards. Trust me, it's better for you in so many ways.

5) Just above the list of clips you will see a little button with what looks like a cog/wheel/flower and a drop arrow. Click this and select Preferences. Under AVCHD Plugin, change Target Format to Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) and click OK.

6) I use the Name Preset option, in the bottom right panel, to automatically name my imported media with Original name+Clip Date+taget format to make it easy for me to locate, track and manage my media as the edit goes on.

7) Select all of the clips and drag them into the bottom left queue to be transcoded and imported. This may take sometime. When they are imported, you can set your logging bin to the next cards worth of media and repeat until you have ingested all of your footage at Proxy quality.

8) Log + subclip all usable footage. This is not essential, but I find it easier in the long run to keep the full captured media unchanged in its capture bin and subclip/rename all of the usable media into another bin categorised by subject/use.

9) Edit! Your sequences should be set for Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy).

10) When you have finished your editing, but before you try to grade (you can title without any problems though), R-click and 'Media Manager' your edited sequence to a new location. Remove all unneeded media to speed up the online process and maximise the storage space saved. Otherwise, set the settings however you wish to keep your edit archived.

11) In new media managed project, R-click and 'Make Offline' your sequence. At this point I delete all of the proxy media and renders from my scratch disc as I am often short of storage, although you could just move it. Beware of deleting or moving any non AVCHD media or other elements that you can not replace from your AVCHD archive, such as photos and other imported footage in your edit.

12) In 'Settings' for your sequence, change 'Compressor' to ProRes 422 and OK. Then open Log & Transfer and repeat step 5 again, but change the AVCHD target format back to Apple ProRes 422 instead and OK. Close Log & Transfer.

13) R-click and 'Batch Capture' sequence. FCP will give you a list of the reels (the names of the folders your originally imported the media from) you need to reconnect the media, so one by one select the cloned AVCHD archives from your backup disc. Once you have selected them all Log & Transfer will automatically start to run through your rushes and reimport the AVCHD at full quality ProRes 422 and conform into the timeline. This may take some time, but not too much as you should only be recapturing the clips that you have used in your edit, not all the rushes.

14) PRESTO! You edit should be back online ready for grading et al. before your final export.

As a part of my working this out a did some file size tests, the results of which are below:

1min 1080i50 @ FX quality
AVCHD: 2.8MB/sec, 168MB/min, 10.08GB/hour
Prores 422: 15.14/sec, 908.4MB/min, 54.4GB/hour
Prores LT: 10.42/sec, 625.2MB/min, 37.51GB/hour
Prores Proxy: 4.68/sec, 281MB/min, 16.86GB/hour

As you can see you should be able to save around 37GB/hour of footage on your scratch disc by using the above method. On an average 15hour project you'll have an additional 500GB free during the edit. Not a big saving if you can afford endless storage, but a vital amount if you're on a budget and can not justify the extra £180 worth of fw800 storage.

I hope that this is appreciated and useful for people. It's a bit wordy I know, but is as complete a guide to this process as I can give so hopefully will allow you to follow it without too many problems.
If you do struggle to follow it, or encounter problems, just post here and I'll try to help out as soon as I can.
As I said before, post if you have any improvements or corrections to what I have written. There may be things I do in the process that are not necessary.

Thanks for reading and good luck =)
Krystian Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 19th, 2010, 03:26 PM   #2
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Very highly organized workflow that certainly will definitely save storage space...I will give it a try in a future project with the NX5U and FCP. I do hope in the next incarnation of Final Cut that they find a way to preserve original camera timecode in the transcode to Pro Res (which can be successfully done now with CS5 Media Encoder) and also have FCP allow for speedy transcoding of material with LCPM audio.

Thanks for sharing your well thought out plan for organization and media management!

John Vasey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 19th, 2010, 08:48 PM   #3
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Location: Québec, Canada
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Very well defined Krystian.

You've done a great job in explaining your workflow.

The bottom line is that you used ProRes (proxy) in order to perform your editing. Once completed, you use the real high quality ProRes footage for encoding the final result.

How do you handle the FCP / NX5U timecode issue? Specially, since all clips once inside FCP all start at 0.

Thanks again!
Daniel Paquin
Production ZoOM vidéo
Daniel Paquin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 4th, 2011, 04:05 AM   #4
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Re: Offline edit workflow using Sony NX5 AVCHD, Apple FCP7 & ProRes Proxy

Hi Daniel, thanks for your reply and I'm very sorry for such a late response!

In regards to the (now fixed) FCP AVCHD timecode issue in my workflow; it did not effect the workflow at all. As FCP ignored source timecode anyway it just started from 0 on all clips when importing, linking and onlineing so all clips came back online just as they should do. As long as your reels were named properly then there shouldn't be any problems, that is unless you allowed your FCP to update to the fixed AVCHD timecode reading version in the middle of a project, and if you did that then you deserve all the pain you get!

One issue to consider is that any projects that you archived before the FCP update will almost certainly experience problems if you try to recapture the media and bring the project back online with the updated program at a later date. The project file will have details of all you media starting at 0, and when you try to import, L&T will see media starting at actual timecode, making it impossible to bring your sequences back online. The only way around this I can think of (without having tried it yet) is that you will need to downgrade your FCP to the pre-fix version. Otherwise you'll just have to reassemble your edit cut for cut.
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