Final Cut codec/compressor question

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by rassoodock, Sep 23, 2007.

  1. rassoodock macrumors member

    Jan 22, 2007
    I just bought a copy of Final Cut Express 3.5 on eBay to run on my G5. I have a person converting some old VHS tapes to DVDs for me. As a favor, he is willing to export a copy of the material in a format that is ready for me to edit into clips for YouTube. He's not a Mac person (SHAME!), but says he can export the file in many different ways and just needs to know what I want. The problem is, I don't know!

    My question (I think) is this: what codec/compressor should my friend use that is native to and/or comes with Final Cut Express? I just want to edit up short 3-5 minutes clips that have decent video/audio quality for YouTube.

    I might be able to figure this out eventually, but he's working on my tapes now and I won't actually have Final Cut Express in my hands for a week or so. Plus - I'm a TOTAL newbie to Final Cut and video editing.

    Any help most appreciated!

  2. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    You'll want him to export it to DV video, but beware, the files will be very large, so you might want to give him an external harddrive to dump the files to.

    *TEST* a short clip of one of his files before he goes and does the whole stack of VHS tapes. There is a slight chance you will have some problems.

    You can test playback in iMovie if you don't receive FCE in time.
    In fact, for your first attempt I would recommend iMovie.

    Good luck!
  3. rassoodock thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 22, 2007

    Well, I spoke with my friend and he strongly suggests that, since I only want the footage to chop and put on YouTube, that he send me files that are Divx 320x240, 780kbps video & 160kbps mp3 audio. He won't do DV (too big). So I guess my question NOW is: can Final Cut Express work with a Divx file like the one I've described above (natively or with an add-on of some kind)? If not, what comparable codec/compressor/format/whatever would be best? Something that would compress an hour to about 120meg, be able to work well with Express and look/sound decent for YouTube is what I'm aiming for.

    Sorry to be so ignorant, but time is not on my side to figure this particular question out. He's ready to start working on these files and is a non-Mac user, so he's waiting on me. Thanks for everyone's help so far.

  4. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    Nope. Seriously. Trust me, you want DV. That is the format Final Cut uses. If you want it to be imported into Final Cut you're going to have to uncompress to DV anything you compress it to anyway which would result in a huge loss of quality.
    Your friend is thinking logically.. yes you will be uploading this to youtube, and the quality and resolution will be small in the end, but you don't want to do that until the very end. You will be hugely disappointed if you try to go this route in terms of quality and ease of use in Final Cut.

    Is your friend not local or something, why is he hesitating on file size? JUst go out and buy an external USB harddrive and give it to him. You can fit about 36 hours of DV video on a 500GB drive.

    I also just want to warn you that you may want to get to know Final Cut a little bit better before you venture into this. It has a steep learning curve. That is why I suggested you use iMovie the first time. imovie is also better suited for direct export to youtube.

    If you don't care how your clips look, you can take the DivX compressed files and convert them back to DV ( you'll have to convert the audio to PCM 48KHz too ) and you'll be able to use it in Final Cut, but you'll be upconverting a highly compressed stream from a VHS source. The video is going to look terrible.

    Hope this helps.
  5. rassoodock thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 22, 2007
    DV or not DV?

    OK! I will make it work with DV. Since all I want is to edit clips for YouTube, wouldn't iMovie be able to do what I want?

    I ask because I already have iMovie and have played around with it some. The only problem I had with iMovie is selecting the proper compression to export YouTube clips at the best quality level (it's wasn't very helpful or informative for a novice in selecting export compression settings).

    One last question: is one minute of DV the same size as a one minute file of video ripped from a DVD? Or is there compression used when making a DVD? If I'm going to go the external HD route, I have to figure out capacity etc.

    Your help is, as always, VERY appreciated.

  6. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    To be honest if you found the iMovie export settings confusing you would be absolutely swamped with FCP and Compressor. They are pro apps and while easy (relatively speaking) they do require a fairly good understanding of what you are doing.

    Saying that there are tons of tutorials on the web for doing things like this.

    DV footage works out at about 12GBs per hour of footage. So you are looking at about 200MBs per minute of footage (roughly).
  7. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006

    Cromulent already answered this for you really but I'll also respond.

    yes, I would use iMovie if I were you. If you get to the point where you think you have mastered iMovie and are really good at it, then I would take a crack at FCE. Give yourself 6 months on iMovie though first.
    If you don't already have iMovie 08, I would stick with iMovie 06 ( iMovie HD ), if you are going to want to learn FCE someday. The new version of iMovie is a very different approach to video and though I think it ends up being very convient for people to make casual videos, it's not for people who might want to get into heavier editing and effects someday.

    Ironically, iMovie 08 has a direct "share to youtube" action in its dropdown menus.

    For your first attempt, I would export your video to H.264 320x240 24fps or lower. The thing is, youtube is going to reencode your video anyhow, so it's a bit of an art trying to get the best looking video.

    There are lots of websites out there with tutorials on the best settings for youtube. Good luck!

    Oh and about your question on file size:

    You're not trying to convert DVDs back to DV video are you?
    When you friend is converting your VHS tapes to DVD, he is very likely bringing them into the system first using DV video, and then creating the DVD afterwards. DVD's use MPEG2, and the process to get that video back into a DV format is very complex as well. It's much easier to just convince your friend to make you a copy of the DV source video as he is converting it for you.

    Sorry this is so complex. I wish it wasn't some days. :)
  8. rassoodock thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 22, 2007
    Thank You!

    So much to learn, but you've set me on the right path. I really appreciate everybody's help and guidance.


Share This Page