editing A LOT of various video formats in Final Cut (help plz!)

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by HunterGather, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. HunterGather macrumors member

    Oct 18, 2008
    Hello all! Long time lurker, first time poster :)

    I looked around for this specifically on these forums, but couldn't find my answer.

    I'm going to be making a feature in Final Cut and later author to DVD Studio Pro of a concert. For the most part, all the clips were audience shot with various different kinds of camcorders, digital cameras, etc. with a lot of different file types.

    I'm working with Avi, Mov, MPEG, DIVX, DV, MP4, WMV, etc.

    What is the most pain-free way to get everything to work smoothly in Final Cut.

    I see Final Cut crashes whenever I bring in an AVI file, and one of the kinds of files (forget off hand) doesn't load the audio.

    I mean, its no big deal really if I have to convert all the videos to a one proper format (would this be DV or Quicktime?).
    But I want to preserve any quality the clips have without converting them so many times (as a lot are digital camera movies that need to NOT be put through a lot of generations of converting and such).

    Can COMPRESSOR handle this for me, or is that app for handling videos AFTER making them in Final Cut? (obviously, i don't have Final Cut Studio, or I would know the answer to that).

    Or am I stuck with converting dozens of movie files in MPEG STREAM CLIP?

    So basically, what files should I bother converting to, and should I be converting to DV or Quicktime to use in Final Cut (again, the final result will be for DVD).

    File size isn't really an issue. But I just don't want to have to convert clips to one format to edit in final cut, only to have it go through another conversion once the final product is done, to then be converted to DVD-MPEG2 format.

    Sorry for this being too long (or confusing).
    Any help would be appreciated!

  2. sigismundspikul macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2008
    I usually use a pretty narrow selection formats, but if I was presented with your situation I would probably bring everything into DV. If there is some killer footage shot in something more than standard def and your trying to do anything with color correction (which would be a nightmare with the file types you said earlier, so I doubt it) then you might want to consider something bigger, but I have a feeling that if you get everything into DV and then organize it in a new folder and start fresh you'll save a lot of headaches.

    Download a program called "MPEG Streamclip" it will pretty much convert anything into anything and its free and easy to use, I doubt that you would be able to use compressor for a project like this because compressor only accepts a narrow selection of pro-codecs, so I doubt most of those are supported.
  3. HunterGather thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 18, 2008
    Thanks for the reply!

    Yes, I have MPEG Stream Clip already.

    So DV over Quicktime?

    And with that said, should I bother converting the files that seem to play nice with Final Cut (some of the footage shot from digital cameras is already in .mov format).
    Should those be converted to DV as well, or is it fine to leave as is (thus having the project a mix of DV and .MOV videos).

    As I said, I just don't want to convert footage several times (which could possibly degrade the quality in each conversion).

    ALSO, I previously played around with converting clips to DV in MPEG STREAMCLIP already, but I'm not sure which codec to use.
    DV...DV50 (?)...etc.

    I tried one clip in DV then another in the DV50 (i think thats what its called). I couldn't spot any real noticeable differences in quality (other than a bigger file size).
    Or am I missing something?

    I want the most quality I can get.

    Thanks a million+ !
  4. sigismundspikul macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2008
    Ya, when I've had to inject a shot from some funky consumer cam format I've always just dropped it in the mpeg streamclip window and clicked file export to DV.

    As far as mixing, it all depends on your personal preference. ".mov" can really mean anything, it could be a an mpeg-2 file in that .mov, or a dv file, or a pro res 422. Personally I'm pretty anal about my timeline and so I take the time on most projects to make sure that everything is the same format that is on my timeline. But if you drop it in a DV timeline and there isn't green or some color over it then its probably actually a DV file, if it isn't then when you go to render the computer is going to be converting it into DV anyway, its just whether you want to knock it out and do it all at once or just have to render the clips that you are going to use in your final product.

    As far as the quality goes, if I got the concept of your shoot right it sounds like its similar to the beastie boys "i shot that" concert, so the viewer isn't going to be expecting you or even probably want you to go to great efforts to try to make the footage look "better" than just a normal handicam.

    But regardless, you'll still get no improvement of bringing everything into a format that is of higher quality then the best codec it was originally shot in, so if these are consumer cams then more than likely its best to stick with plain old vanilla 3.6mb per second DV.
  5. MrLatte23 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2007
    Compressor would work

    Compressor would work nicely and allow you to batch convert lots of different file types into one "good" editing codec. DV throws out the most color information as does Mpeg2 (4-2-0), so if you're planning on any effects or compositing avoid both codecs. If space is no issue and you plan to get Final Cut Studio 2 at some point for Compressor or editing, then transcode to Apple intermediate Codec or ProRes 422. Both of those will better withstand heavy color correction. MPEG Streamclip works too but if I remember correctly it only converts one clip at a time. I've transcoded many different file types using compressor and you can set your preferences for one output type, set a destination, click go and wake up with all new files.

    You're not going to notice a better looking clip when up rezzing to DV50 or AIC, but if you start changing, effecting of fixing things, the better codecs will take more abuse. And even though the bit rates might be higher, your computer has less to think about with codecs with smarter/less compression, so it may be more efficient.
  6. HunterGather thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 18, 2008
    Thanks for more help you guys!

    Sigis, yes, the feature is sorta like that Beastie Boys concert DVD.

    Mr Latte, so I should not convert to DV, but rather ProRes 422?

    I did some more testing with Mpegstreamclip and converted some of the videos I had to DV.
    It looks ok, but its not like the quality of the original clip (obviously), but I thought it could stand to look a smudge better.

    As of now, I dont intend on doing alot of effects with the videos. Maybe changing the brightness of some clips here and there, but nothing more.

    If it's no bother, could you could convert two or three short clips to ProRes 422, so I can compare to how my DV Mpeg Streamclips came out? (as its still going to be a little while before I get FCS2).

    I could upload them to rapidshare or something.

  7. MrLatte23 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2007
    Suggest avoiding DV if possible...

    Personally, I'd try to avoid DV compression. It throws out a lot of color information that you can't get back. Even something like DVCPro50 is twice the amount of color information which can make a visual difference. You could even leave it in DVCPro 50 for the duration of your edit. I don't think it would make sense to go as far up as Uncompressed 10 or 8-bit, or the Animation Codec.
  8. HunterGather thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 18, 2008
    so DVCpro 50?
    my heads spinning now! haha

    So prores 422 is the uncompressed 8 or 10 bit setting in MPEG Streamclip, right? or is that something different?

    On my current imac, DVCpro 50 clips tend to sorta lag when I play in VLC or Quicktime. Is this because my lack of more ram and slower processor than say a macbook pro (which i'll be getting soon)?

    Same with the uncompressed 8 and 10 bit tests I did.

    Sorry to keep asking all this. I just wanna get the most out of the footage I have.
  9. MrLatte23 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2007
    Many choices...

    there are lots of codecs better than DV. DV50, DVCPro50, Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC), ProRes, Uncompressed 8-bit, Uncompressed 10-bit, Animation. AIC and ProRes might not be available until you get Final Cut Studio 2 as it comes with the package. ProRes is not Uncompressed, it just looks like it and the file sizes and bit rates are much lower which saves on processing and high speed HD's. Some basic Codecs come with iMovie and Quicktime, other more efficient Codecs come with Capture Cards (Blackmagic, Kona) and Software (Final Cut Studio, Premiere). What you have available is decided by what you have for hardware and software.

    DVCPro50 has a higher bit rate as does Uncompressed 8 or 10 bit, sometimes slower (5400 rpm) hard drives, less RAM or slower processors contribute to lagging playback. DVCPro50 should play okay, but my point in suggesting it is if you need to transcode before you get your new computer it's best to get it into the highest possible codec first. Dig up some info on codecs, see which ones you have and go for the highest one that meets your quality and playback needs. If you can suffer with choppy playback for a while, transcode to a higher codec. If you need smooth playback 24-7 go for something with a lower bit rate and file size.
  10. HunterGather thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 18, 2008
    thanks again.

    I dont NEED to convert my footage now, but I thought it would be nice to convert most of what i have and play around with it in FCE.

    Also, I tried in MPEG Streamclip a codec called APPLE JPEG A.
    The results looked pretty damn good. I think.
    Is this a good option to convert to?

    This'll be the last time I ask questions.... (for now :) ).
  11. MrLatte23 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2007
    Hmmm got me there...

    Never used it. For what I do, compositing and editing, I tend to use, Animation, Uncompressed 10 bit, a BlackMagic uncompressed codec and ProRes (HQ).

    If it looks good and plays properly in your editing software, go got it.
  12. MrLatte23 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2007
    I looked it up, it's not a "traditional" editing codec. could produce some odd results. Maybe someone else has experiencing using it. If you can edit it in FCE and output it to a codec for distribution safely, maybe it'll work just fine for you. give it a full run thru.
  13. ChemiosMurphy macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2007
    Warminster, PA
    Stop the train. This is getting WAY to complicated.

    I take it you are going to be editing a concert, but your footage now is a plethora of codecs.

    Alright. Ask yourself

    -Are you going to be adding lots of graphics, lower thirds and overall lots of compositing?

    -Are you going to be color grading this in Apple Color?

    If you answered no to both of these, or even the first, stick with DV MOV files. The size is much smaller and your imac will be able to handle it.

    ProRes422 is nice if your source footage is high quality, like AVC-Intra, but it sounds like your stuff is from digicams and DV camcorders. The fact is the color is already compressed to 4:1:1 and you cannot "upconvert" it via conversion.

    YOU CAN make it look nicer with Apple Color. But you don't need all of your source footage to be converted to ProRes422 or DVCPro. Utilize the "media manager" in final cut. If you are going to grade, just convert the media used in your locked picture, and final cut will create clips that are converted. THEN you can round-trip it into color and grade your heart out. But that's the only way it'll look better. So just stick with DV.

    So just convert everything to 720*480 DV files in MpegStreamClip. Trust me, You'll save yourself time editing since your computer will be more able to handle that kind of footage. You need a RAID array to fully harness ProRes422 and uncompressed. Using uncompressed in this kind of project is pure lunacy.

    I work at a Production house in Philadelphia if that matters, so just trust me on this. We NEVER convert DV stuff to AIC or what not. Keep it simple.
  14. HunterGather thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 18, 2008
    Thought i'd bump this, as I have another question on this very project that I put on hiatus a while ago.

    Ok, so I have several different file types in varying sizes. The final result will be for DVD.

    Should i convert all the clips (as i already did) to DV MOV files (720 x 480).

    I just thought of something. Should i have converted each file to DV MOV files, but at their original dimensions (ie if one of the files is 640x480, should i convert them to DV MOV 640 x 480?, and if its 320x220 and so on?).

    I ask this because, if i'm going to get all the clips i have and edit them in Final Cut Express and then convert the final edit into 1 DV MOV file, which in turn gets turned into an MPEG 2 file for DVD, would it be best to keep the converted files at their original size? Or just convert them all to the standard 720x480.

    Hopefully what i asked just makes sense.
  15. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
    Make them all 720x480... best to convert them first and then keep everything simple to the end. the idea of converting everything beforehand is to get everything to the same format (which means same frame size, not just codec).
  16. HunterGather thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 18, 2008
    Thanks man :)

    One more thing.

    When your exporting the final edit in Final Cut, what setting should I use?
    Obviously i would think that HIGH(est) is the one to chose, but should I just use the default medium? (i think it was default)

    I ask THIS because i don't want to up-convert my project any more than I have to and make it go through another conversion if it doesn't have to.

    As I said in this thread, this particular project is pretty much cut n pasting several sources together (no compositing or color correction).

    File size isn't an issue, but i don't wanna bother up'ing it if its not necessary.

    Though i should point out that despite all being converted DV NTSC MOV files, i think some are widescreen and some may be different frame rates (30, 25, etc. i kept whatever the original frame rate was from the raw, original file).

    So which setting should I use when exporting then? It's going to DVD.


    After this, i SHOULD be good to go.
  17. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
    note sure about FCE's export capabilities... does it have both "export QT movie" and "export using QT conversion" like FCP?

    If both are there... always use QT movie. self-contained and using current settings. this will export everything in the sequence settings and will not recompress stuff that matches those setting.

    it sounds like you're talking about the "quality" slider on the QT export settings... you didn't say which codec you were exporting to. You should be able to export a QT using DV or DVCpro50 and then take that to iDVD or Toast.
  18. illpickle macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2009
    Just to perhaps speed up your conversion time, MPEG Streamclip allows you to do batch processing. From the file menu go:

    LIST < BATCH PROCESSING < ADD FILES (button) < Export to Quicktime

    From there I would I set up my parameters to something like 720x480 using ProRes or Apple Motion JPEG A. Your probably going to get the best results using either one of these codecs and then setting your sequence to work with these codecs in Final Cut so everything is streamlined.

    In terms of exporting the finished project out of Final Cut for DVD, I would seriously consider exporting using compressor and utilizing one of the DVD settings. It will give you a MPEG-2 formatted video file and an audio file. I find programs like Toast can sometimes take the QT file Final Cut spits out and give you jittery playback due to interlacing issues. Using one of the DVD settings in compressor will solve you from running into this issue and alleviate any future headaches.
  19. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    To add to what the others have said: Sticking with DV is advisable because your plethora of formats are likely less than optimal quality already, so using ProRes or AIC is unlikely to be helpful at this point. Use MPEG streamclip (really, most of the DV settings in there are functionally the same unless you're really hurting for HDD space) as they've suggested.

    With regards to wide/full screen, decide on which one your DVD is going to be. Then convert each clip as full screen or widescreen as it originally was, then import into Final Cut, then tweak its appearance in final cut (make sure your sequence is properly anamorphic widescreen, or not depending) by cropping, up/downscaling and distorting as necessary. Let us know if you need more details. Framerate, as with aspect ratio, you will select a framerate for the sequence, and everything will be conformed to it when you add it to the timeline. It won't work perfectly, but unless you hand convert them all, there isn't another way. You can convert them all, but again, pick a rate and use it consistently. This kind of project is bound to be fraught with frustration - editing's much easier when consistent, but such is life.

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