Video Codecs, Formats and Conversions

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  • THX1965THX1965 Major grins Posts: 108Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 22, 2011
    jfriend wrote: »
    Because once you install it, it bugs you regularly to install an update and there's no way to get it to stop doing that and when you do accept the update, it tries to put lots of other Apple crap on your computer (Safari, MobileMe, iTunes, etc...), puts icons in places I don't want them on my computer, installs stuff in my startup folder, etc... It also tries to take over for other video types which work perfectly fine without it. The fact is that having lots of video players competing on your computer to be the preferred player is far less reliable than having fewer.

    A valid complaint. But I am sure there are preferences that can be fine tuned to prevent that kind of behavior.

    WMV is not your alternative to Quicktime - AVI is, which is the Microsoft competitor to Apple's Quicktime. To my knowledge, Quicktime is more advanced and versatile than AVI, plus it's cross-platform. That may be one of the reasons why it's more widely used in the professional post production world.
  • jfriendjfriend Scripting dude-volunteer Posts: 24,828Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 22, 2011
    THX1965 wrote: »
    A valid complaint. But I am sure there are preferences that can be fine tuned to prevent that kind of behavior.

    WMV is not your alternative to Quicktime - AVI is, which is the Microsoft competitor to Apple's Quicktime. To my knowledge, Quicktime is more advanced and versatile than AVI, plus it's cross-platform. That may be one of the reasons why it's more widely used in the professional post production world.
    Yes, you are likely right about WMV/AVI/MOV - I'm not an expert in this stuff - just a frustrated user that's pissed that so much of this complexity is foisted on end-users because the big boys won't agree how to do things in the way that's best for all end-users rather than in the way that serves their own selfish agenda. Microsoft is just as guilty as Apple in this regard.
    --John
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  • DI-JoeDI-Joe Sgt Grins Posts: 368Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 25, 2011
    jfriend wrote: »
    Yes, you are likely right about WMV/AVI/MOV - I'm not an expert in this stuff - just a frustrated user that's pissed that so much of this complexity is foisted on end-users because the big boys won't agree how to do things in the way that's best for all end-users rather than in the way that serves their own selfish agenda. Microsoft is just as guilty as Apple in this regard.

    Ah yes... Sorry I'm late. :P

    AVI is a contain only, not a codec. Containers are often confused with codecs especially by Windows users who consistently associate a file's extension with it's contents or purpose.

    AVI files can have the same exact guts as a MOV file (e.g. you can have an AVI and MOV that both have H.264 video and AAC Audio). It's not really about the container...

    Vegaguy, my biggest recommendation is to get shark007's FREE codec package for windows 7. Not only does this contain all the direcshow filters needed for just about every container out there, it also contains many advanced 3rd party splitters and codecs. Best of all, it sets them all up without stomping on your system configuration. You'll then be able to play any type of media file except for the really weird ones like RIFF right in Windows Media Player or Media Center (Yes, it'll tweak WMC to open MKV/MOV/AVI/TS, etc containers).

    Windows 7 DOES come with an H.264 "compatible" filter but it doesn't support all profiles.

    Now, I saw someone talking about not wanting to edit in H.264. Obviously, as with photography you want to do as much with the raw file as you can before you have to convert it. I happen to be blessed with a serious workstation and can work with 100's of gigs of raw H.264 off my 5D MKII and they both play fine in windows and scrub and cut fine in Premiere. That may be due to my storage, an OCZ 512GB PCI-E SSD card (4x 128GB NAND flash module in connected to an LSI RAID controller via SAS in RAID0. 1.2GB/s sustained transfer rate). Your storage is always going to be your biggest bottleneck in any recent computer. Even a single SSD or a reasonably fast mechanical drive will make these big files easier to work with.

    So while I think it's always a good idea for windows users to have quicktime installed as it is the defacto standard these days, that codec package will make your day and it requires zero configuration (just click the "use Shark007's recommended settings"). Also if you're an Adobe user you should also have a number of codecs installed along side Adobe Media Encoder though because of my setup, I'm not sure which codecs other than private class commercial codecs get installed.

    Again, I hope that helps. I'm sorry I'm late but I did get your PM!!!

    Cheers!
    Modus Imagery
    Moving away from photography and into cinema. PM me if you have questions about DSLR workflow or production questions.
    Film Reel: http://vimeo.com/19955876
  • THX1965THX1965 Major grins Posts: 108Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 25, 2011
    DI-Joe wrote: »
    Now, I saw someone talking about not wanting to edit in H.264. Obviously, as with photography you want to do as much with the raw file as you can before you have to convert it. I happen to be blessed with a serious workstation and can work with 100's of gigs of raw H.264 off my 5D MKII and they both play fine in windows and scrub and cut fine in Premiere.

    DI Joe -

    Canon H.264 files are not "raw" files. We all wish they were. They are your originals, if that is what you mean, but they are heavily compressed and on top of that they are limited by an 8-bit color space (4:2:0). That's why H.264 is not an ideal editing format, even if your computer can handle it.

    Other than saving time for not having to convert those files, your'e not really gaining anything by editing natively in H.264. On the contrary. Any color manipulation with - let's say - slightly underexposed material in H.264 is going to bring out the worst in your footage. If you have to render any effects, you're further degrading the material. It's like working with (heavily compressed) HDV files natively in your timeline. That's why, for example, Apple's Final Cut Pro by default renders any effects (dissolves etc.) in its lossless high quality ProRes format when dealing with native HDV sequences - to prevent a loss in quality of the rendered material. With H.264 you're running into the same kind of scenario.

    By converting those H.264 camera files to a lossless format with a better color space (4:2:2 or 4:4:4) before editing - you're "freezing any compression artifacts" and prevent them from getting worse.

    Your most convenient high quality format on the Mac is ProRes (4:2:2 or 4:4:4) since it ships with Final Cut Pro. Another highly regarded format is Cineform http://www.cineform.com/products.php Their codecs can be used on both Macs and Windows machines with Final Cut Pro and all Adobe products.

    All of course depends on what you expect from your material. Do you just quickly want to cut a few shots together for the web without much color grading? In that case you may as well stay in H.264, if you have a machine that can handle it.

    But for more serious work with effects and color grading down the line, transcoding to either ProRes or Cineform before editing is a must.
  • DI-JoeDI-Joe Sgt Grins Posts: 368Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 25, 2011
    THX1965 wrote: »
    DI Joe -

    Canon H.264 files are not "raw" files. We all wish they were. They are your originals, if that is what you mean, but they are heavily compressed and on top of that they are limited by an 8-bit color space (4:2:0). That's why H.264 is not an ideal editing format, even if your computer can handle it.

    Other than saving time for not having to convert those files, your'e not really gaining anything by editing natively in H.264. On the contrary. Any color manipulation with - let's say - slightly underexposed material in H.264 is going to bring out the worst in your footage. If you have to render any effects, you're further degrading the material. It's like working with (heavily compressed) HDV files natively in your timeline. That's why, for example, Apple's Final Cut Pro by default renders any effects (dissolves etc.) in its lossless high quality ProRes format when dealing with native HDV sequences - to prevent a loss in quality of the rendered material. With H.264 you're running into the same kind of scenario.

    By converting those H.264 camera files to a lossless format with a better color space (4:2:2 or 4:4:4) before editing - you're "freezing any compression artifacts" and prevent them from getting worse.

    Your most convenient high quality format on the Mac is ProRes (4:2:2 or 4:4:4) since it ships with Final Cut Pro. Another highly regarded format is Cineform http://www.cineform.com/products.php Their codecs can be used on both Macs and Windows machines with Final Cut Pro and all Adobe products.

    All of course depends on what you expect from your material. Do you just quickly want to cut a few shots together for the web without much color grading? In that case you may as well stay in H.264, if you have a machine that can handle it.

    But for more serious work with effects and color grading down the line, transcoding to either ProRes or Cineform before editing is a must.

    You make a very compelling point there about color space that I've up until this point overlooked... I'm definitely going to have to experiment with that. Thank you so much for pointing that out.
    Modus Imagery
    Moving away from photography and into cinema. PM me if you have questions about DSLR workflow or production questions.
    Film Reel: http://vimeo.com/19955876
  • DI-JoeDI-Joe Sgt Grins Posts: 368Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 25, 2011
    Lemme expound on my previous messages...

    Yes, I meant original, I know they're not raw..

    More importantly, I just had a huge AHA! moment with regards to color space and I'm currently transcoding an entire movie's worth of clips to DNxHD. Fortunately, I can just replace the containers and they'll open right up in Premiere. I can't believe I didn't think of that. I know about color space... I know about H.264 being harsh to any changes in color. I just didn't put 2 and 2 together until you said something. So thank you!
    Modus Imagery
    Moving away from photography and into cinema. PM me if you have questions about DSLR workflow or production questions.
    Film Reel: http://vimeo.com/19955876
  • vegaguyvegaguy Major grins Posts: 230Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 25, 2011
    You guys know of any in depth reading on the web regarding some of these facts? These file types are new to me as is Premiere. Sounds like I got my hands full : )

    thanks for the feedback to all!
  • ramirotramirot Big grins Posts: 11Registered Users Big grins
    edited July 23, 2011
    Great Info Thanks !
    What do you suggest in my case. I work with Sony Ex1, the files out of the camera are Mp4, mpeg 2 codec, those are the files that I drop on the timeline in Vegas 10.0. Should I convert those files to something else (like cineform) before I start editing? and why?
    Thanks !!
  • THX1965THX1965 Major grins Posts: 108Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 23, 2011
    ramirot wrote: »
    Great Info Thanks !
    What do you suggest in my case. I work with Sony Ex1, the files out of the camera are Mp4, mpeg 2 codec, those are the files that I drop on the timeline in Vegas 10.0. Should I convert those files to something else (like cineform) before I start editing? and why?
    Thanks !!

    Work with it natively in Vegas 10.0. It's all going to stay in the Sony family, if you have a computer that's powerful enough to handle it. The XDCAM format has a better color space than what the Canon cameras record in.

    But even for the H.264 footage that the Canon cameras record, I have somewhat changed my mind, now that all the latest NLE's can handle these formats natively. If you have a powerful computer, don't bother converting the H.264 footage. FCP X, for example, will automatically use Apple's high-end PreRes codec for rendering, so you're not further going down in quality. I am assuming other NLE's do a similar thing. FCP X even has an added bonus: you can start editing with your H.264 footage (even while importing it) and at any point later transcode your footage to ProRes in the background, if you choose to do so. FCP X will then automatically relink your newly transcoded material with all your clips.

    But on the other hand, if you're really concerned about squeezing the best possible quality out of your DSLR footag, then I'd still say - convert to a higher quality editing codec.

    But for XDCAM and Vegas, I'd stay - save yourself the trouble and work with it natively.

    --- Markus ---
  • ramirotramirot Big grins Posts: 11Registered Users Big grins
    edited July 23, 2011
    Thanks Marcus !!
  • iambilliambill Beginner grinner Posts: 2Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited May 3, 2012
    Will try and revive this thread here...

    I recently purchased a Canon M40.
    http://usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/camcorders/consumer_camcorders/vixia_hf_m40

    And have been shooting in .mts AVCHD, and am working to determine the best workflow & software packages for me.

    Desired Functions;
    • Combine Files
    • Compress for Smugmug
    • Trim Files
    • Prepare for BluRay burning (don't know if this is necessary)
    • Burn BluRay
    My camera splits segments into 2GB files, which at highest resolution is ~11 minutes. I need a way to combine files back into a single video. A tool which came with the camera, Pixela VideoBrowser will do this for me, but I don't care much for the software. Toolset is very limited, and you have very little control over formats.


    I combined a video, and it is now 15:18 long, but is a hair over 2.5GB due to the 24mbps bitrate. I'd like to upload this video to smugmug. My internet connection isn't really fast enough to support this kind of uploading as I'd like it, and then it takes a while for smugmug to compress. I'm perfectly happy to compress to 8mbps myself, but many softwares will not open the Canon .mts format.


    The .mts format really seems to be an impediment here. I tried using MediaCoder to change to an mp4 package and use Lightworks, but only some of my files converted such that lightworks would open them.


    Any advice on a tool (or tools) that will handle (or convert) files to do this couple simple things?
  • THX1965THX1965 Major grins Posts: 108Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 4, 2012
    iambill wrote: »
    Will try and revive this thread here...

    I recently purchased a Canon M40.
    http://usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/camcorders/consumer_camcorders/vixia_hf_m40

    And have been shooting in .mts AVCHD, and am working to determine the best workflow & software packages for me.

    Desired Functions;
    • Combine Files
    • Compress for Smugmug
    • Trim Files
    • Prepare for BluRay burning (don't know if this is necessary)
    • Burn BluRay
    My camera splits segments into 2GB files, which at highest resolution is ~11 minutes. I need a way to combine files back into a single video. A tool which came with the camera, Pixela VideoBrowser will do this for me, but I don't care much for the software. Toolset is very limited, and you have very little control over formats.


    I combined a video, and it is now 15:18 long, but is a hair over 2.5GB due to the 24mbps bitrate. I'd like to upload this video to smugmug. My internet connection isn't really fast enough to support this kind of uploading as I'd like it, and then it takes a while for smugmug to compress. I'm perfectly happy to compress to 8mbps myself, but many softwares will not open the Canon .mts format.


    The .mts format really seems to be an impediment here. I tried using MediaCoder to change to an mp4 package and use Lightworks, but only some of my files converted such that lightworks would open them.


    Any advice on a tool (or tools) that will handle (or convert) files to do this couple simple things?

    Do you have a Mac or a PC?

    If you have a (recent Intel) Mac - FCP X can do all these things for you. You simply plug the camera in and you can play back your movies, select ins and outs and only import what you want. FCP X will also not transcode anything. It will keep the original H.264 codec that's contained in your AVCHD file.
    (if for some reason, you only saved .mts files - you'd have to use other software for "wrapping" it into a format FCP X can understand - but it is possible)

    FCP X can spit out web video, burn Blu-rays (if you add compresor for $59 and a blu-ray drive of course)
    Very simple.

    If you have a PC, well then it gets a whole lot more complicated and less user-friendly. I am sure there are some folks on this forum that can help you.... ;-)

    --- Markus ---
  • iambilliambill Beginner grinner Posts: 2Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited May 4, 2012
    THX1965 wrote: »
    Do you have a Mac or a PC?

    If you have a (recent Intel) Mac - FCP X can do all these things for you. You simply plug the camera in and you can play back your movies, select ins and outs and only import what you want. FCP X will also not transcode anything. It will keep the original H.264 codec that's contained in your AVCHD file.
    (if for some reason, you only saved .mts files - you'd have to use other software for "wrapping" it into a format FCP X can understand - but it is possible)

    FCP X can spit out web video, burn Blu-rays (if you add compresor for $59 and a blu-ray drive of course)
    Very simple.

    If you have a PC, well then it gets a whole lot more complicated and less user-friendly. I am sure there are some folks on this forum that can help you.... ;-)

    --- Markus ---

    I'm a PC user.
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 18,669Super Moderators moderator
    edited May 5, 2012
    Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 (VSP-X4) and above are supposed to be able to burn BluRay, but I don't have a burner to try. VSP-X4 will handle Canon MTS files natively, and the combining and editing is no problem. (I have both the Canon HF 11 and HF S11 camcorders.)

    For compression it's best to apply some noise reduction first. Even if you don't see the video noise, it's there, and all video codecs will treat noise as detail, limiting compression or reducing true detail if you try to force compression.

    VSP-X4 will allow you to export to mp4 files, which should import into SmugMug properly.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
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