FCP 7 - Editing in ProRes422

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by scouser75, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. scouser75 macrumors 65816

    Oct 7, 2008
    Guys, a friend of mine has shot a few shots for his documentary using a Canon C100. The format he has shot on is ProRes422. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but surely if you wanted to get the highest of high quality footage you should shoot on HDV at the highest quality. ProRes 422 is merely a codec for editing which doesn't use up too much storage. Is that correct?

    Also, please tell me there is a way to Log & Transfer directly from FCP 7 for Canon HDV footage. Right now I'm having to is Brorsoft Convertor, which is rather time consuming - and no doubt not as reliable as Log & Transfer.

    Any help, hint and tips massively welcome.
  2. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    ProRes image quality is better than HDV, and it performs better for editing (scrubbing back and forth, and so forth). It takes up about 6 times the storage space of HDV.

    The Canon C100 doesn't record HDV internally. It records AVCHD, which is essentially a newer version of HDV — similar data rate, better image quality. Image quality and editing performance is still inferior to ProRes.

    Did he use something like an Atomos Ninja to record the HDMI feed from the C100 as ProRes?
  3. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    There are different ProRes codecs that have different image quality. ProRes Proxy is, like the name implies, a lower res version that is ideal to use a proxy. Bear in mind ProRes Proxy still has a higher data rate than the internal codec used by many cameras. So, for example, you wouldn't want to take AVCHD footage and convert it into ProRes Proxy.

    ProRes LT is a 'lite' version of ProRes that's higher quality than Proxy and 'good enough' for some workflows. I worked at a news-style place once (mostly web but TV also) that generated a lot of media (TB's a week) and we used ProRes LT in part of our workflow because it was as a good balance between space saving and quality.

    ProRes 422 (sometimes just referred to as ProRes or ProRes regular) is the 'default' quality for lack of a better term. It will be fine for broadcast but if you are really manipulating the image in post (highly detailed comps, heavy color grading, etc.,) it might not hold up as well as higher quality ProRes codecs.

    ProRes HQ is a higher quality version of ProRes 422. If you are going to do a lot of image manipulation in post then this is what you want to use.

    ProRes 4444 is the next step up in quality and it has no chroma subsampling (4:4:4 vs 4:2:2) and it also contains an alpha the channel (what the fourth '4' represents) which makes it great to use for graphics.

    ProRes 4444 XQ is the newest and highest quality version of ProRes. It is designed to handle the large dynamic range of high end cinema cameras as well as the heavy post processing that a VFX heavy movie might have.

    With that being said, if your friend is already recording in ProRes then for the love of all things holy do not convert it into AVCHD or, worse yet, HDV. ;)
  4. Unami macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
    Everything that KeithPratt & LethalWolfe said.

    FCP7 should be able to capture avchd-footage via the log&transfer tool. you just have to give it the full avchd file structure (e.g. the "Private" Folder and everything it contains). Everything gets converted to Prores this way. Don't use HDV, it's an old codec that is not adequate for today's camera footage.

    If your friend is already recording in Prores422, that should be the ideal codec for editing in FCP7 - just drag&drop those files into your project.
  5. scouser75 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 7, 2008
    Thanks guys. You all have been of massive help.

    I ended up importing the ProRes422 clips straight into FCP 7. No need for brorsoft thankfully.

    The only problem I'm having now is, once I have laid down some of the ProRes clips, when I then add a text clip (which does not over lay the video, just white text on black background) I get the dreaded dropped frames message.

    Any idea why this may be?
  6. Macyourdayy, Jun 23, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015

    Macyourdayy macrumors 6502


    Sep 9, 2011
    Exactly. ProRes HQ (SD or HD) is a brilliant codec, as is the rest of the ProRes family. It's a great compromise between storage, system requirements and quality. You'd be be hard pressed to notice differences between native uncompressed video and a conversion to ProRes (assuming you need to save space or have other limited resources) and compositing is also excellent. I've seen comparisons between tortuous test signals and various ProRes levels and the quality is incredible for the size and left all other codecs (DNA the exception) in the, shall we say, dust.
    Unless you can afford, or have specific needs for uncompressed, use ProRes either as capture or conversion. Otherwise, go native till delivery. Also use the most bits you can afford. 8 bit sucks in post and hopefully use a broadcast (generally Sony, the others really are not good) screen that is professionally calibrated. The Sony HX92x series seems to be a good compromise otherwise with its local dimming. The new 4K wedge shaped ones don't quite cut it either, but apart from vision below 5%, are close, and the rest are way off.
  7. sevoneone macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2010
    Realtime performance in FCP 7 is going to depend on many different factors. To get the best performance, you want to make sure that your sequence settings match your footage in frame rate and resolution/aspect ratio. If FCP is having to scale and/or retime your footage on the fly it is taking away from processing power available for effects. Having footage that is 23.98 FPS and timeline that is set to 24 FPS was a problem I used to see people having all the time.

    Setup your RT playback setting for Quality to Dynamic. This will drop the visual quality of unrendered seqments before dropping frames during playback. When rendering or exporting, the quality will always be high.

    Make sure that your scratch disks where your media is stored are fast enough to stream the format you are trying to edit. Do NOT store your media on your system's boot drive, this will lead to horrible performance unless, maybe, you have a Mac with a PCIe SSD, then you can get away with it. In most cases though, you will want a dedicated physical drive for your media. Internal SATA drives, if an option on your Mac, are the best choice. For external drives I would say FireWire 800 will be the minimum requirement. Avoid USB 2.0 drives, the bus can't keep up. USB 3.0 drives will work, but Thunderbolt is the best choice, though expensive.

    Assuming you have a 2011 or newer Mac, you should know that there is a limit to the realtime performance you can expect from FCP 7. It is not as efficient or as good at using hardware as modern editors, which is why Apple jumped to FCP X. FCP X, Premier Pro, AVID, the latest versions of these editors are going to perform a lot better in terms of realtime playback on modern hardware.
  8. scouser75, Jun 27, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2015

    scouser75 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 7, 2008
    Hi guys, thanks again for your helpful answers.

    Re. the dropped frames - I'm using a 2009 Octo Mac Pro. My Scratch disc is a secondary internal drive.

    I've never had any problems with dropped frames up until now. The odd thing is, on the same project, sometimes I have dropped frames and the footage just 'stutters' when played. But if I shut down and re-start several times it runs smoothly.

    I was editing with my client yesterday and it was embarrassingly terrible. Thankfully he left me to sort it out. I tried the sequence again this morning and it is fine.

    I just can't understand what's happening.

    EDIT: And then I retried it and now all the footage is stuttering again. I've turned off the Dropped Frames warning. I've set the setting to Dynamic playback. I've rechecked all the sequence and clip settings and they're all OK.

    I'm puzzled!
  9. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
  10. scouser75, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015

    scouser75 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 7, 2008
    Yup. Everything matches - FPS, frame size, ProRes422 etc

    I have a feeling the frames drop as soon as I play through the text clips.

    Thanks for the link. I'll check that out tonight.

    EDIT: I done the Speed Test Check and below are the results. My video project details are: ProRes422, 1920x1080, 25fps, data rate 13.5mb/sec.

    Attached Files:

  11. sevoneone macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2010
    Hmm. I would try deleting your FCP preference data, it is located in: ~/Library/Preferences

    One file and one folder: 'com.apple.finalcutpro.plist' and 'Final Cut Pro User Data'

    Make a backup copy of these before removing them from the Preferences folder.

    Launch FCP. It will take a little longer than normal as it re-profiles your hardware's real-time capabilities, if something was off there, this should fix it. The annoying part is that this will reset all your preferences in FCP back to default, so make sure you reconfigure your settings including scratch disks. There used to be an App called FCP Rescue that would handle this preference file shuffle for you as it wasnt uncommon for FCP's user data to start going a bit sideways from time to time, I dont know if it is still around.

    If resetting your preferences does not work, dump the Waveform and Thumbnail Cache files for the project in question. Re-open the project, let FCP rebuild those and see if that helps.

    Out of curiosity, what GPU are you running, stock? and, are you running any apps in the background while using FCP?
  12. scouser75, Jun 30, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2015

    scouser75 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 7, 2008
    Thanks sevoneone. I was going to try your tip but didn't have the time to prior to my client coming round.

    But when he did come round, it started dropping frames and looking terrible. But after a few seconds of playing, stopping, playing, stopping, somehow the issue resolved itself! However, having just revisited it it's playing up again.

    I think before I carry out your tip I'm going to give it another go again tomorrow and see what happens.

    Thanks again guys for your help.

    Be back tomorrow to update.

    EDIT: Guys, having looked at the screen shot above re. my drive speed, do you think that could be causing the problem?

    Edit 2: I'm running stock GPU. And only running Safari, Mail and Calendar in the background.
  13. sevoneone macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2010
    How did this turn out for you?

    The drive speed is typical for a solo spinning HDD, and should be fine to playback your footage. Stock graphics on that machine should be more than plenty for FCP 7.

    If you haven't sorted it yet, I would maybe find a spare Hard Drive and do a fresh OS X and FCP 7 install, no other software/plugins, and see if the issue is still there when booted and running FCP from that drive as it might be a software conflict.
  14. scouser75 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 7, 2008
    Hi Sevoneone thanks for checking up on this. And my apologies for not feeding back. I've been either very busy, sick or both!

    I could only resolve this by setting the Playback quality to Medium. And more than that and the dropped frames and stuttering starts!

    I don't want to do a fresh install as am midway through a project. But I'm just thinking whether I should maybe soon move over to FCPX. I've been using FCP7 for ages, am comfortable with it, my fellow editors still use it. But with the introduction of El Capitan I have a feeling Apple will totally disallow the installation of FCP 7 and Final Cut Studio.

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13 June 22, 2015