Previous 1 2 Next 23 Replies Latest reply: Feb 2, 2011 3:18 PM by Richard Potter
Richard Potter Level 1 (10 points)
Hi all -

I'm hoping to edit video shot on a Sony Bloggie (MHS-TS20) in FCP 5.0.4.

The Bloggie footage is .mp4 with h264 compression, 1920x1080, 29.97 fps, square pixels, upper field dominance, at 1.2 MB/sec.

After several hours of forum research and trial/error, I'm pretty sure I'm on the right track. I'm converting using MPEG Streamclip (MPSC) via the Export to Quicktime command. I am using FCP 5.0.4, however, so I do not have the option to export with a ProRes codec, which seems to be the preference for those using FCP 6 or 7.

I believe my best option, therefore, is APPLE DV/DVCPRO-NTSC, selecting 1920x1080 (unscaled), 29.97 fps, with interlacing deselected. I have exported with both upper and lower dominant. (MPSC says to use upper for all codecs except DV, but even when I select lower, FCP tells me that the dominance of the file is upper.) The exported files are 3.6MB/sec.

The exported files import to FCP and are editable, but require rendering even when I set the sequence settings to the exact specifications of the file. So my first question is: Is there any (good) way to convert the files so that they are editable in FCP 5 without having to render them first? (I can achieve this by converting with an HDV codec, but my understanding is that the GOP compression makes this undesirable.)

A second, related question is: What is my best choice of output format for the edited sequence if I intend to post the movie to Vimeo and otherwise distribute online?


MacBook Pro 2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, Mac OS X (10.5.8), 4 GB RAM
  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 (18,615 points)
    With regard to your comment about ProRes, does your FCP have the Apple Intermediate Codec?

    This is a sort of fore-runner of ProRes and you will find that to all intents and purposes it will be just as good.
  • Shane Ross Level 8 (42,795 points)
    You are taking an SD codec...DV/NTSC...and blowing it up to HD proportions. This is not right.

    Either use Apple Intermediate, as suggested, or use DVCPRO HD. It's better than AIC or HDV. But know that the proportions for this are 1280x1080 at 1080i...


  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 (18,615 points)
    With regard to Vimeo use this:-

    When you have edited your project in FCP try these settings:-

    Select File>Export>Using QT Conversion.

    Click the "Options" button and when the the Options window opens you will see "Size", "Settings" and "Sound" buttons.

    Click the Size button and set 1920 x 1080

    Click the Settings button and select:-

    Compression Type . . . . H.264

    Frame Rate . . . . . . . . . Current

    Key Frames . . . . . . . . . Automatic (or the same as your frame rate).

    Compressor Quality . . . High

    Encoding . . . . . . . . . . "Faster" encode will give almost the same quality as "Best" but is twice as fast - your decision!

    Data Rate . . . . . . . . . . Restrict to 10,000kbps (Don't use a comma when you enter the number)

    Then click the "Audio" button and make sure that AAC has been selected.

    These settings should give very good quality results fairly quickly, which should play well. Your file size will be around 5GB per hour.

    Some people prefer to use the smaller 1280 x 720, in which case the Data Rate should be 5,000kbps.

    Note that the data rate figures I give are a guide and can be modified.

    If your movie contains mainly slow or little motion, you can drop the figures to about 6,000kbps or 3,000kbps respectively.

    Message was edited by: Ian R. Brown
  • Richard Potter Level 1 (10 points)
    Thanks so much, gents. Exporting from MPSC in Apple Intermediate Codec gave me a file that did not need rendering in a properly set sequence.

    Shane - I don't see that MPSC offers DVCPRO HD, so whether it's better or not, looks like I'm going to have to go with AIC. I suspect I saw DVCPRO HD recommended on some other forum during my research and decided they must have meant DV/DVCPRO NTSC, since it offers 1920x1080 settings.

    Ian - the QT export settings you provided produce quite acceptable exports. The processing time was indeed half for the single pass; at 7 minutes for 11 seconds of test footage, I'll probably stick with speed over quality in most cases.

    If anyone would care to respond to some follow-up questions, I'd appreciate any info:

    What am I doing, exactly, when I restrict the data rate? Why does less motion require a lower rate?

    Why might one prefer 1280x720? And how would it be possible to use a codec (DVCPRO HD) with a 1280x1080 ratio without distortion?

    Why does cutting the pixel ratio by 33% suggest a data rate cut of 50%?

    Finally, what is AAC and why choose it?

    Thanks again for the great info!
  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 (18,615 points)
    If 11 seconds of video takes 7 minutes you are doing something wrong.

    My 3 year old iMac (see specs below) takes about 3 times real time, which would be about half a minute for an 11 second clip.

    When you restrict the data rate you are making smaller file sizes. Half the rate equals a file half the size.

    This can be important when you are posting on the web as many people have slow broadband speeds which cannot cope properly with high data rates/large file sizes.

    Still images only require a tiny data rate as nothing changes from one frame to another.

    The faster the movement, the more changes there are from frame to frame and this requires a fast data rate or the video will be jerky, blocky (showing loads of moving pixels) and generally unwatchable.

    To see the effect, get a clip with movement and encode it at 1,000kbps to see how bad it is.

    The size of the original video frame is also vital.

    A 1920x1080 frame has around 4 times as many pixels as a 720x576 so it needs a data rate 4 times faster.

    Conversely, if 10,000kbps is good for hi-def , a standard def video would only require 2,500kbps.

    1280 has about half the pixels of 1080 so you can use a slower data rate and end up with half-size files, which as mentioned above, can be important when uploading or viewing on the internet.

    AAC audio is more compressed than the standard PCM so once again it helps to keep file sizes/data rates down.
  • Richard Potter Level 1 (10 points)
    Thanks, Ian. All those answers make good sense.

    I ran the export again and it was again 7 minutes at single pass. Any thoughts as to why that could be taking so long? I am running apple mail and firefox in the background, but with no video, so I doubt that accounts for the discrepancy.

    There are a couple settings you didn't mention: I have frame reordering and "prepare for internet streaming" checked, with the latter set to "fast start." Could one of those be the culprit?
  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 (18,615 points)
    Frame reordering may be to blame.

    I have never used either of those settings and I suggest you don't.
  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 (18,615 points)
    It could be that there is something "wrong" with your original video or what you have done in editing, that is causing the excessive conversion times.

    I would expect to get over 2 minutes of video encoded in 7 minutes.
  • Richard Potter Level 1 (10 points)
    I re-exported without frame reordering or the "prepare" setting and it took 6 minutes, so slightly better, but...

    I just had a look at my MPEG Stream Clip encode settings and I see that I deselected "interlaced scaling" (without selecting "deinterlace video"). So I treated my original video as progressive, but come to think of it, the Bloggie records in 1080i, right? Perhaps that's the issue? So I re-encoded in MPSC with the "interlaced scaling" selected and exported that from FCP with the same settings as above and it took... 6 minutes. So that wasn't it.

    Any other thoughts?
  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 (18,615 points)
    I think there may be something wrong with the clips you are using so you need to start at the beginning and try this:-

    1. Drop the original H.264 video file from your Bloggie into Streamclip and select File>Export to QuickTime and in the window that opens change the "Compression" setting to Apple Intermediate Codec from the drop-down menu.

    2. Leave everything else as it is and just click the "Make Movie" button. DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING ELSE!

    3. Drop the converted movie into FCP and edit.

    4. Select File>Export>Using QuickTime Conversion and select the basic settings I gave you earlier.

    With luck, an 11 second clip should take well under a minute.

    Any fiddling with other settings in Streamclip or QT is only likely to mess things up and will not produce any better quality.
  • Ian R. Brown Level 6 (18,615 points)
    I have done a test following the instructions I have just given you.

    I couldn't use Bloggie Footage so I used HDV and followed all the steps listed.

    The 10 second clip took 32 seconds to convert back to H.264.
  • Richard Potter Level 1 (10 points)
    Sincere thanks for all your assistance, Ian. Unfortunately, after following your instructions, the export still took 6 minutes. Could it have something to do with my running FCP 5.0.4 on an Intel machine?

    Also, my default setting for the MPSC export with AIC is 50% quality. Is it really true that sliding that up to 100% will not produce better quality?
  • Studio X Level 7 (27,030 points)
    Could it have something to do with my running FCP 5.0.4 on an Intel machine?

    Quite possibly. 5.0 is not supported and is running (if it runs at all) under Rossetta emulation.

    The best bet would be to upgrade to an intel compiled version (FCP 5.1 or higher).

  • Richard Potter Level 1 (10 points)
    Thanks, X. Yeah, this would not be the first time that I've run into this - I can't use compressor on my intel machine at all, though FCP is apparently fully functional, but perhaps not at top speed... I'd love to upgrade to 5.1, but I don't believe the that upgrade is available anymore. I somehow missed that window. Or is there still a way to upgrade to 5.1?
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