AVCHD with FCP 5.1...workflow?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by MackedOut, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. MackedOut macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    #1
    Hello all. My Canon HV20 (miniDV) HDV camcorder just got "junked out" by Best Buy and the comparable camera they have now is the Canon HF S20, which is AVCHD. I have a new iMac running FCP 5.1. I also have iMovie '09. I brought home the camera today but can return it with no restocking fee. I have read that AVCHD is not the easiest format to work with. Since I have FCP 5.1 I can't use Log and Transfer. I did manage to import my test clips into iMovie '09 and then bring them into FCP 5.1 but they need to be rendered on the timeline every time I add anything to the clip. I have not tried to export anything yet.

    My question...will this workflow work ok if I can put up with the rendering issue? If I buy the upgrade to Final Cut Studio 2 I understand I can import AVCHD with it, but will it also need to be constantly re-rendered as well?

    I've read about these conversion programs you can download that converts the MTS files for you...but are they accomplishing the same thing I'm doing by importing into iMovie? If I used the conversion program would it bring the clip into FCP without the need for constant re-rendering?

    I like the camera, but I'm no expert and the workflow seems awful cumbersome. Best Buy says miniDV is a thing of the past. Of course, I have a lot of HDV footage on miniDV tapes now and nothing to play them on and no way to get that footage off. I don't necessarily trust what Best Buy says, but I can only get a new camera through them since I bought a warranty with the other camera. So I'm stuck with what they have to offer, unless I take this camera and sell it.

    I do video for clients, weddings, interviews, and dabble with documentaries and put most my stuff on DVD...is a flash based memory camera really the way of the future? What should I do? Keep the camera? Continue to use iMovie to import footage in until I can buy the FCP upgrade? Or should I stick with miniDV? I would love some advice. Is there another flash based type of camcorder that isn't AVCHD?

    Thank you for any guidance. I have 14 days to figure this out..lol.
     
  2. CaptainChunk, Dec 2, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010

    CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #2
    Check your sequence settings (Cmd-0 on active sequence). What codec is the sequence set to? Is the render bar showing any color but grey? Also, look at the properties for the video file itself. What codec does it show? It's possible that the sequence is set wrong for the video being edited.

    That workflow can get annoying to deal with really fast, if you ask me. I guess it depends on how much patience you have. As far as the AVCHD support on FCP 6 and 7 (FCS 2 and 3) is concerned, the Log and Transfer tool transcodes everything to the ProRes format, which is native to FCP and won't require constant rendering (outside of effects, certain transitions, speed changes, etc.).

    Yes, MTS conversion applications (such as Voltaic) are essentially doing the same thing, but perhaps in a more streamlined fashion. Sucking video out of iMovie projects for ingestion into FCP is in of itself cumbersome. As far as the re-rendering issue is concerned, as long as the video is transcoded to a native editing format suitable for FCP, you're fine. iMovie transcodes AVCHD to AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec), so this should be the format your video is in. I'm pretty certain that FCP 5.x supports video in the AIC format.

    Flash-based cameras have practically replaced tape-based cameras in the consumer market, at least. Many pro camera systems have transitioned to flash-based media as well. The biggest issue with modern consumer cameras have been with the codecs themselves. AVCHD is a highly compressed, long-GOP codec based on MPEG-4 and was never really intended for editing in the first place. And that's why most editing systems have to transcode to edit it efficiently.

    If you absolutely need to be able to access your old HDV footage in the future, you're probably best off trying to sell the AVCHD camera and put the funds towards a new HDV camera like HV40, which Canon still produces (and Best Buy apparently refuses to carry). Practically all flash-based consumer cameras record in an MPEG-derived codec that won't be native to most non-linear editing applications. Sad but true. If you do decide to go that route, I would also consider backing up the captures from your HDV tapes to hard drives. HDV's days are numbered. :p


    Hope that helps.
     
  3. MackedOut thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    #3
    Thank you very much for your reply.

    I have only worked in DV, so the codecs and timeline settings must be incorrect.

    I exported it in Full quality from iMovie 09 and got .mov files. My timeline settings show:

    Frame Size: 1280x1080 (16:9)
    Pixel Aspect Ratio: HD (1280x1080)
    Field Dominance: Lower
    Editing Timebase: 29.97
    QT Video Settings: DVCPRO HD 1080xi60

    Some options also include 1080xi50...I know nothing about HD settings, so sadly I don't know what I'm doing here..

    I don't have the funds for FCP 7 right now...should i download Voltaic if the workflow is easier than importing them into iMovie first? Perhaps if I can get my sequence settings correct, this re-rendering issue will be moot.

    If I could find a HDV camera to get my footage off these tapes, and that wasn't an issue, would you still suggest I NOT keep this AVCHD camera? I do like the tapeless idea, I have plenty of Hard Drive space...just don't want my editing workflow to take forever for You Tube videos, and I have to downconvert anyway to put on DVD.

    Last question, the camera records in these formats: LP, SP, XP, FXP, and MXP. The camera automatically sets SP as the default, and says you can record 20 hours in that setting (and 3 hours with highest setting of MXP). From what I've read, people suggest using the highest quality, MXP. Will differing these settings in the camera change the way my sequence needs to be set? Considering I haven't figured out how to properly export using the right sequence settings, I can't tell a quality difference yet.

    Thanks again for your help, I really do appreciate it. I don't know whether to keep this camera or not...I hate to go "backwards" with a HDV camera if I can figure out a workflow that's not a pain with this camera. I may eventually get FCP7, but can't right now.

    Because of my Best Buy warranty from 4 years ago, I'm essentially getting a new $1000 camera for what I paid for a top of the line camera 4 years ago, so I would like to keep it if I can get this settled.

    Thanks, any help with proper timeline settings is appreciated.
     
  4. MackedOut thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 17, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    #4
    Quick addition to the sequence settings I mentioned above: the Compressor was set to DV/DVCPro - NTSC, not the other one I listed...thanks.
     
  5. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #5
    What format does the video say it is when you choose "Get Info" on the resulting .mov file in Finder? Since the video was transcoded with iMovie, it should be in AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec), in which case your sequence settings are wrong. On a typical AVCHD camera, they should look more like this:

    Frame Size: 1440x1080 (16:9)
    Pixel Aspect Ratio: HD (1440x1080)
    Field Dominance: Upper
    Editing Timebase: 29.97
    QT Video Settings: Apple Intermediate Codec 1080i60

    For final render-out, render as 1920x1080 frame size. AVCHD (and HDV, for that matter) cameras use imagers with non-square pixel aspect ratios, which would explain the 1440x1080 frame size in FCP.

    I'm not totally familiar with your camera, but the manual should explain the differences between the recording modes. It seems likely that the LP/SP/XP settings are standard-def recording modes and the FXP/MXP settings are for HD. Regardless, I would recommend recording in the highest possible setting if you intend on editing later.
     
  6. MackedOut thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    #6
    Hi and thanks again,

    Okay, I've matched my sequence settings to yours and imported the iMovie .mov file into FCP 5.1. My iMovie showed this in Finder:

    QT Movie
    Dimensions: 1920x1080

    However, the timeline needs constant rendering any time I change anything...add a lower third, change the text, move the text, etc...I have the blue-lavender bar with just the clip and it goes red every time I attempt to do anything to the clip.

    When trying to export out, I do not have an option for 1920x1080. Are you talking about using Compressor, or just choosing QT Movie? Choosing QT Movie, I get a lot of variations of the following types, basically, under Settings:

    AIC 1080i50, 1080i60
    DV-NTSC
    DVC50
    DVCPro HD 1080i50, 1080i60
    HDV 1080i50, 1080i60
    MPEG IMX 8
    Uncompressed NTSC
    XDCAM HD 1080i50, 1080i60

    There's nothing about 1920x1080. Should I be exporting using Compressor to get the format you are talking about?

    Regarding the camera formats...I found this:

    LP (5Mbps) 12 hours 15 minutes
    SP (7Mbps) 9 hours 35 minutes
    XP+ (12Mbps) 5 hours 45 minutes
    FXP (17Mbps) 4 hours 10 minutes - Allows 1920 x 1080 Full HD Recording
    MXP (24Mbps) 2 hours 55 minutes - Allows 1920 x 1080 Full HD Recording

    FXP and MXP record at 1920x1080 and the others record at 1440x1080. Not really sure the difference in the Mbps...maybe 5 Mbps is closer to standard def? Are the only two that are considered "hi-def" the top two that allow for 1920x1080?

    At any rate, I'm getting closer, I think, but I still have to re-render constantly and haven't figured out the proper settings to output. If I can get this resolved I will probably keep the camera...it does take beautiful video.

    Thanks again.
     
  7. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #7
    Was there no information under the file properties as to which codec the video is in? "QT Movie" is inconclusive. The Quicktime (.mov) file extension is merely a wrapper, but the underlying codec will vary. Knowing what the actual codec is is important because you'll need to match the sequence settings in FCP to prevent constant rendering. Correct sequence settings should yield a grey render bar (native).

    I read a bit in your camera's manual and the two higher quality modes actually record full-frame 1920x1080, in which case your sequence settings would probably look something like this:

    Frame Size: 1920x1080 (16:9)
    Pixel Aspect Ratio: Square
    Field Dominance: Upper
    Editing Timebase: 23.976 (the camera records 24p)
    QT Video Settings: Apple Intermediate Codec 1080i60

    Unfortunately, you'll have to use manual settings every time (or create a preset you can go back to) you do this workflow in FCP 5.x since it lacks the automatic sequence adjustments present and FCP 6/7. When your funds permit, a newer version of FCP will be a HUGE improvement to your workflow because you get the ProRes codecs (much better than AIC) and a Log & Transfer workflow.

    There should be two different export options out of FCP: Quicktime Movie and Quicktime Conversion. You would use the "Quicktime Movie" option for exporting the movie using matching sequence settings. Quicktime Conversion is for transcoding to other codecs.

    Compressor essentially does the same thing as the Quicktime Conversion option, but its export settings are a lot more tweakable.

    What format do you need final delivery to be (e.g. Internet, DVD, etc.)? For computer/Internet delivery, you should have an H.264 export option under Quicktime Conversion -- with H.264, you would be able to set whatever frame size, bitrate, etc. you want.

    They're all HD formats, apparently (according to the manual). The 1440x1080 modes simply use anamorphic pixel processing to achieve a 16:9 look to save space. In any case, it's always advantageous to record in the best mode if you intend on editing because less information is thrown away and thus you'll get better quality results.
     
  8. MackedOut thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    #8
    Thanks again for helping me. Okay, I looked in the proper place for the iMovie settings for the exported clip and it's 1920x1080, AIC, Linear PCM, Timecode, HD Profile: (1-1-1).

    So, now that we know that, does that change what my sequence settings currently are?

    I created a Preset in Compressor for my Camera...I wasn't sure if you were talking about exporting using Quicktime, Quicktime conversion or compressor.

    I usually export out for You Tube and for DVD Studio Pro. I know my DVD will still have to be Standard Def, but I'm hoping to be able to publish some higher quality web videos for my clients' websites now.

    I have a client coming over tomorrow for an interview and I'm debating on using the new camera...it will be a You Tube video...we'll see...it does take such clear video...

    Thanks again for all your help; I just need to get the timeline settings correct to resolve the rendering issue and I think I'm set (until I pony up for Final Cut Studio 2).
     
  9. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #9
    Sorry for the long delay in reply (been busy with projects)...

    Based on the info you're giving me, these sequence settings in FCP *should* be correct:

    Frame Size: 1920x1080 (16:9)
    Pixel Aspect Ratio: Square
    Field Dominance: Upper
    Editing Timebase: 23.976
    QT Video Settings: Apple Intermediate Codec 1080i60

    There might be variances in the terminology in FCP 5.x (I don't remember, being that it's been several years since I've used that version).

    With these settings, if you see a grey render bar (as opposed to blue, green, orange, red, etc.) in the timeline, you're golden. If you're still not getting a grey render bar, it might be a matter of trial and error; but hopefully, that works.

    Let me know how everything turns out. Cheers!
     

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