View Full Version : coded that works with FCP

07-03-2007, 12:16 PM
I feel that I am spending my whole entire life chasing the right codec for me to use to make my film.

Animation looks good in a QT player, but will scarecely play on my computers. I am told that Animation is a very processor demanding codec, and only a RAID will deliver enough frames fastly enuff to give smooth uninterrupted play.

I don't have money for more drives, and raids and newer computers. I need to make work the software and the drives and computers which I have right now.

Can anyone help me with what codec I need to make my clips so that they will just play?

I can not be the first person to encounter this bamboozling issue. I realize that my hardware is not the newest or the fastest, but I think it's capable enough to play my stuff smooth enuff so I can edit it (need to see it play, get a feel for one clip relative to another).

do I need to convert to some DV format?



07-03-2007, 02:21 PM
The Animation Codec is pretty light on CPU requirements (unless you have keyframes enabled and very high res video). It's minimally compressed though, so your disk bandwidth may choke frequently, hence the RAID suggestion.

I heartily recommend setting up a RAID 5 if possible, which will sort out your bandwidth requirements for playback and, crucially, protect you in case of hard disk failure. Highpoint do some nice e-sata RAID-5 cards for OSX now - I've just bought a RocketRAID 2314 and it's been great so far. I have it connected to a ProAVIO drive case containing 5x500gb drives.

If that's beyond your budget, well... there's other options, but they all involve compromising quality unless you have a very fast CPU. Sheervideo is pretty good - it's a commercial lossless codec that gets about 2:1 compression on average. I've got it and use it regularly. If you have a fast CPU then using the Apple ProRes422 codec is another option (though it's not a lossless codec - only near-lossless). Though I think that ProRes is only available if you have FCP studio 2.0 installed.

Worst comes to the worst, use the Motion JPEG codec. It's not too demanding CPU-wise (unless you have a machine slower than 1GHz), and the quality/size is still pretty good at 100% quality. I don't know if anyone's ported HuffYUV to QT, but if so, that might be another option.

07-03-2007, 03:43 PM
I would *like* to keep my frame size at 720p, but if I can't play it smooth enough to edit, or if it looks bad, then 720p is out (for me).

I am experimenting with 800 x 450 RGB planar, and that plays smooth and looks good, and requires no render time in the time line. all plusses for me.

I tried Jpeg A and Jpeg B and I didn't think they looked as good as planar rgb, plus, they played in a jerky halting way.

I thot I picked the top quality settings for both jpeg codecs.

I hate thinking I'm going to have to do this project smaller than 720p, but if that's the way it is, that's the way it is.

the comment about Animation being CPU-intensive came from the final cut pro board, so... fwiw

all I know is that it won't play but a few frames here and there on my rig.


07-04-2007, 05:00 AM
Hmmm... well if your system is a bit older, then you can just use the classic old technique for editing - use proxies!

Just batch process all your 720p master footage to something undemanding - like 640*360 motion JPEG (medium quality) or DV - do your edit, then when you're happy with it, reconform it at 720p using your orginal masters.

MPEG Streamclip does batch processing for video - and it's free!

07-04-2007, 06:10 AM
I like the proxy idea a LOT...

in fact, I was hoping I could do something like that in FCP very similar to many prepress workflows, where they use low-res images throughout the editing process, then when they make press-ready film, the system swaps out the low-res file for the high. but during editing, their system overhead is kept low by using low-res images...

puts HD editing within reach for a guy like me with less powerful hardware.



07-05-2007, 09:47 AM
As long as you render into whatever compression the FCP timeline is, you should get good playback of the timeline, and pretty good realtime non-rendered transitions. What machine do you have and what FCP version?

I used FCP HD (4.5) on my old Powerbook G4 1.6 GHz with 1GB RAM, and for a while I edited with NTSC DV so that I could edit realtime, but after a while the compression got to me.
Then I switched to Uncompressed 4:2:2, which surprisingly played back realtime at 720p or 960x540 and handled transitions and effects pretty well. So now I recommend that for FCP editing.

07-07-2007, 01:41 PM
Had a tough time finding a codec that played smooth at 1080p on my 2x2ghz G5, settled on Photo JPG at 50% quality. Keyframed codecs stalled somewhat, as did Pixlet. Quality was just ok, but then it was the best compromise between size, quality and playback.

07-08-2007, 09:00 PM
What's your final output medium(s)? That might help you determine an acceptable codec you can use.

I currently edit with NTSC DV/DVCPRO because the footage I capture is on DVCAM. There is compression that's noticable but it works for broadcast.