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Old Dec 6, 2012, 07:22 PM   #1
groovehound
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Final Cut Express 4 Canon Vixia HFS10 and Zoom Q3HD H.264 questions

Hi,
Sorry for the long post. I have encountered problems with my workflow, and want to give as complete a description as I can... I'm relatively new to HD. Thanks in advance for your patience and any help that can be provided!

I use final cut express and will probably be using final cut pro x in the future as final cut express has been discontinued.
I used to record with 2 (non HD) mini DV tape based cameras. Now I am using 2 HD cameras to replace the tape based cameras. A Canon Vixia HF S10 -2009 model and a Zoom Q3HD. I am having problems with the HD cameras with final cut express and have questions. First I want to explain my previous workflow that I wish to duplicate.

Using the mini DV tape based cameras here is the work flow I used and wish to duplicate with the HD cameras.

1. I record drum-set instructional video performances with two cameras. Usually I record 55 minutes to an hour straight.
It is critical that the Audio/Video on both cameras are not altered or out of sync in any way as I use the audio to sync both cameras and a pro audio stereo aiff file (Mixed and bounced to a single aiff file from simultaneously recorded multi channel audio in Digital Performer 5).
The first camera is on the main or top part of the drum-set and a second camera on my feet (where the pedals are).
For Audio, again I am recording with Digital Performer 5.

2. After recording I import the the hour long footage from both cameras, sync the videos from both cameras, add & sync the stereo audio (aiff file) exported from DP5, mute the camera audio from both cameras, make the second cam footage (the foot cam) smaller using picture in picture, mark then splice the best takes (all within a single sequence), create new sequences for each individual example, copy each marked/spliced example (best take of each example) from the main sequence into the new sequences made for each individual example, apply fade-ins and fade-outs for each and then export to smaller files for delivery.

This was no problem at all working with mini DV tape. It even worked well with the Canon HD as the main cam and a mini DV tape based cam on my feet.

With the same workflow as above, here are the cameras and settings I am trying to use now and a list of problems I am encountering.
Canon Vixia HF S10 on the main or top part of the drum-set and a Zoom Q3hd on my feet (where the pedals are).
The Canon records in AVCHD. I am using the highest quality setting MXP 1920 x 1080 in Cinema mode. In the manual it says it outputs in H.264(?) - this doesn’t seem right to me, but it is what the manual says. Log & transfer works fine and after one render seems to be OK.

The Zoom q3hd files when copied from the camera to my hard drive are in 1280 x 720 H.264, linear PCM format. Once adding the Zoom q3hd files, any time I click or try to make a change in the sequence it needs to render again. it's constantly needing to render.

1. What should be the set up in the easy set up menu in Final Cut Express?

2. I want to preserve the 16:9 wide screen on the Canon and it is importing to final cut express kind of squished or narrower if that makes sense. I also want to preserve the 16:9 on the zoom. Can this be fixed with a setting in the final cut express easy set up window? Or is it a setting within the camera? I think both of the cameras are set to 16:9.

3. Do I need to convert the video from both cameras or just the Zoom?

4. If so, what software do you recommend that is best for this situation? Also what format and settings should I be converting to within said converting software to achieve my goals, keeping all audio/video from the camera footage being converted 100% preserved maintaining absolutely perfect sync after conversion? I tried converting to Apple Intermediate Codec using Quicktime 7 Pro, and the audio was very slightly out of sync with the video, and the file size went from 115 Mb to close to 700 Mb for a 2-minute clip.

5. Would Final Cut Pro X make all of these problems go away?

Last edited by groovehound; Dec 6, 2012 at 07:24 PM. Reason: to remove random asterisks that showed up in the text.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 12:29 AM   #2
floh
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Those are many questions, and I will try to get to some of them more precisely later (right now I don't have that much time).

Just shortly some remarks:

1. Both cameras record in H.264 (yes, the Canon, too, in an AVCHD container) and in 16:9. If the image comes out squeezed, you have the wrong settings for your project in Final Cut Express. When making a new project, you can pick a resolution and everything, and you should not pick the DVD resolution as before with the miniDV tapes, but rather a 720p or even 1080p resolution.

2. Final Cut Express does convert files from both camera to a ProRes codec on import. The files will be pretty big as you have surely realized.

3. For speeding up and simplifying your workflow, I would highly recommend to get Final Cut Pro X. It is great for exactly such things. It will automatically sync the video and audio files for you, let you create a multicam clip and cut and fade in said clip in a very easy and fast way. It may have its perks (like getting used to it for a while), but for this kind of work, I think it's amazing.

As I said, I'll try to go more into detail later.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 02:38 AM   #3
floh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groovehound View Post
1. What should be the set up in the easy set up menu in Final Cut Express?
You should definitely pick "HD" as format, and if your Canon is recording in 50i (which for the Canon is the default), you should set it to "Apple Intermediate 1080i50". Unfortunately, FCE doesn't support 25p...

Quote:
Originally Posted by groovehound View Post
2. I want to preserve the 16:9 wide screen on the Canon and it is importing to final cut express kind of squished or narrower if that makes sense. I also want to preserve the 16:9 on the zoom. Can this be fixed with a setting in the final cut express easy set up window? Or is it a setting within the camera? I think both of the cameras are set to 16:9.
You probably still have the easy set up set to "PAL" or "NTSC", depending on your country. FCE has strange ways or putting HD video into such a sequence. Definitely set it to "HD".

Quote:
Originally Posted by groovehound View Post
3. Do I need to convert the video from both cameras or just the Zoom?
For the rendering issue, your problem is that the Zoom has a different resolution than the Canon. That way, you can not pick a sequence setting where none of them has to be rendered. I would try, before importing the file, to upscale it to 1080. Pick "ProRes" or "Apple Intermediate" as codec if available because then you won't have to re-encode again on import. The file will get rather big, but it would have gotten this big on import anyways. Hopefully this will solve your rendering problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by groovehound View Post
4. If so, what software do you recommend that is best for this situation? Also what format and settings should I be converting to within said converting software to achieve my goals, keeping all audio/video from the camera footage being converted 100% preserved maintaining absolutely perfect sync after conversion? I tried converting to Apple Intermediate Codec using Quicktime 7 Pro, and the audio was very slightly out of sync with the video, and the file size went from 115 Mb to close to 700 Mb for a 2-minute clip.
As I said, the file size is to be expected this big. It would have gotten this big anyways when imported into FCE, just not that visible for you (It's all in FCE's Capture Scratch folder). I have never used Quicktime for conversion but am very surprised that it shifts the audio. I did not expect that. If you want to stick with Apple Software, Compressor is great. It offers conversion to and from ProRes and AIC, and delivers great quality. It will definitely work smoothly with FCE and also FCPX if you upgrade.

If you are wondering why the files are so big or have questions on codecs and containers, I just made this explanatory video:
Codecs and containers

Quote:
Originally Posted by groovehound View Post
5. Would Final Cut Pro X make all of these problems go away?
Most of them, yes. In addition to providing a better workflow for exactly these kinds of purposes, it handles codecs much better and is way more efficient when it comes to displaying your footage. Goodbye, rendering waiting time...

For the things you do, you could even import the footage and leave the codec as is, not convert it to ProRes. This will greatly save you disk space if you do this often and in HD.

Good luck! I also switched from mainly using FCE to FCPX about a year ago and am incredibly happy with the new software.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 07:09 PM   #4
groovehound
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Thanks Floh

Floh,

Hi!

Thanks so much for all of the great advice,help and information with all of this! : )
I'm going to get final cut express set up properly (thanks again for your help) and I think I am going buy Final Cut Pro X tomorrow and start learning the software ASAP.

I am just hoping one my two laptops can handle running Final Cut Pro X.
I will be using an external lacie firewire 800 drive for capturing footage from both cameras.
The external drive has a close to a terabyte of free space for capturing and editing, but the internal drive (on each laptop) has just over 100 gigs free space.

I remember reading that the render files need to be written and stored on the internal drive of the laptop in Final Cut Pro X, is this correct?

If it is and I am capturing the actual footage from the cameras to the external terabyte drive, would 100 gigs of free space on my internal drive be enough to cover just the render files for editing 3 or 4 hours of two cam footage? Or if not that much maybe 2 hours of two cam footage?

Here are the specs for the two laptops below:

Laptop one.
MacBook Pro 13-inch, Mid 2009
OS Software OS X 10.8.2
Hard Drive
499.25 capacity. 184 gigs available.
Processor 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Memory 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 9400M 256 MB

Laptop two.
17 inch Mac book Pro Mid/Late 2007
OS version 10.6.8
Hard drive. 7200rpm 199.71 Capacity. 98 gigs available.
Ram: 4 gigs. 2x 2 gig 667 MHz DDR2 SD
Processor 2.6 GHz Intel Core Duo.
Graphics.
NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT:
Graphics memory 256mb ?
Chipset Model: GeForce 8600M GT
Type: GPU
Bus: PCIe
PCIe Lane Width: x16
VRAM (Total): 512 MB
Vendor: NVIDIA

Thanks so much again for all of your help! : )

Quote:
Originally Posted by floh View Post
You should definitely pick "HD" as format, and if your Canon is recording in 50i (which for the Canon is the default), you should set it to "Apple Intermediate 1080i50". Unfortunately, FCE doesn't support 25p...



You probably still have the easy set up set to "PAL" or "NTSC", depending on your country. FCE has strange ways or putting HD video into such a sequence. Definitely set it to "HD".



For the rendering issue, your problem is that the Zoom has a different resolution than the Canon. That way, you can not pick a sequence setting where none of them has to be rendered. I would try, before importing the file, to upscale it to 1080. Pick "ProRes" or "Apple Intermediate" as codec if available because then you won't have to re-encode again on import. The file will get rather big, but it would have gotten this big on import anyways. Hopefully this will solve your rendering problems.



As I said, the file size is to be expected this big. It would have gotten this big anyways when imported into FCE, just not that visible for you (It's all in FCE's Capture Scratch folder). I have never used Quicktime for conversion but am very surprised that it shifts the audio. I did not expect that. If you want to stick with Apple Software, Compressor is great. It offers conversion to and from ProRes and AIC, and delivers great quality. It will definitely work smoothly with FCE and also FCPX if you upgrade.

If you are wondering why the files are so big or have questions on codecs and containers, I just made this explanatory video:
Codecs and containers



Most of them, yes. In addition to providing a better workflow for exactly these kinds of purposes, it handles codecs much better and is way more efficient when it comes to displaying your footage. Goodbye, rendering waiting time...

For the things you do, you could even import the footage and leave the codec as is, not convert it to ProRes. This will greatly save you disk space if you do this often and in HD.

Good luck! I also switched from mainly using FCE to FCPX about a year ago and am incredibly happy with the new software.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 07:36 PM   #5
groovehound
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Great video!

Floh,

Hi!

I forgot to say in my last post this is a great video that you made!

If you are wondering why the files are so big or have questions on codecs and containers, I just made this explanatory video:
Codecs and containers
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Old Dec 8, 2012, 12:14 AM   #6
floh
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Join Date: Nov 2011
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Just shortly, because I don't have a lot of time today:

1. No, FCPX can and will save render files on the drive your so-called "Event" is on, which can be an external hard drive and I would highly recommend to not do it on the internal drive if you have FW800. That's not a problem. You also don't need to pre-render anymore most of the time.

2. Your Laptops seem okay to handle FCPX. Sure, they are not the newest of beasts and I would consider upgrading the RAM (that's not very expensive). FCPX can finally handle more than 3GB of RAM, which FCE couldn't do yet, and this helps a lot. The graphics card of the 13 inch MBP is a little weak, but for basic editing, it should still be fine. As long as you don't go for crazy visual effects projects. I have editing with a very similarly equipped 15" MBP on FCPX for some time before it broke down, so they will manage.

Have fun with your new software when you buy it.
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