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Cameras and Formats

Posted: Thu, 18th Nov 2010, 5:59pm

Post 1 of 9

StormyKnight

Force: 1800 | Joined: 26th Feb 2010 | Posts: 11

VisionLab User Windows User

Gold Member

Last year I purchased a really nice camera (kinda pricey) and then bought EffectsLabPro and found that the video the camera takes is in the Motion JPEG format which turns out to be too highly compressed to work well in the FXhome products. I plan on making some videos (and a full feature movie) in the future and would like NOT to run into this problem again; so I am asking for input from my fellow FXhomers.
I notice that a lot of HD camcorder specs will list something like- MPEG AVC/H.264 1920 x 1080 (30/24/60 fps)and would like to know if anyone else uses a camcorder with these specs AND if the format is compatible with the FXhome products?
Any input you can offer would be greatly appreciated!!!

Also, is there any way to determine what kind of codec a camera uses when the manufacturer is unable to supply the info to you?

I am in the market for a camcorder, not an SLR. The camera I have takes excellent stills so I would like something dedicated toward video as it's primary function.

Thank you again and have a great day!
Posted: Thu, 18th Nov 2010, 7:59pm

Post 2 of 9

Axeman

Force: 17995 | Joined: 20th Jan 2002 | Posts: 6124

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SuperUser

The thing to recognize here is that the codecs used for capturing video and for editing video are very different.

Virtually all HD cameras are going to capture in some variant of MPEG or H.264, which is OK. But for any editing, not just for EffectsLab, you should convert the footage to a high quality intermediate codec. The best practice is to do this when you capture the footage to your computer; while the footage is being copied to your harddrive, convert it at the same time, so the files are already in a proper editing format when they are written to your hard drive. Then you don't have to worry about any conversions later on, and you can just go for it. the only real option, otherwise, is to get a camera that can capture in an intermediate codec, and they are many thousands of dollars at the cheapest.

So once you recognize that with any of these HD cameras, transcoding to a better codec when ou capture should be part of the workflow, always, you can pretty much avoid these issues.

If the manufacturer of a camera can't tell you what codec they are using, find a different manufacturer.

Also, FWIW, Many people buy SLR's with video as the primary function, they don't even use them for stills. I recognize that you are looking for a 'proper' video camera, and that's ok. But the reason so many poeple go with the SLR's lately is that there is no video camera available for even 3 times the price, that can match the image quality of the SLR's. Any video camera that comes close will be over $10k, and generally way over. So if image quality is critical, its a no-brainer. But if ease of use is more important, the video cameras may be a better option. You probably already knew that stuff, but thought I'd mention it just in case.
Posted: Fri, 19th Nov 2010, 6:07pm

Post 3 of 9

StormyKnight

Force: 1800 | Joined: 26th Feb 2010 | Posts: 11

VisionLab User Windows User

Gold Member

Thanks for the info, Axeman. I will also adjust my focus to include SLRs.

I may not have the luxury of being able to have a computer with me when I film some stock footage. It'll kinda be on the fly as the moment hits. That's why I'm investigating all the alternatives and trying to figure out if there's anything out there that wouldn't need to be converted. My other digital camera (not the expensive one I mentioned before) is only 5MP and the video works in the lab products flawlessly. I'm hoping to find another one like that only with better quality picture. Otherwise, I'm back to converting file formats after the video is downloaded from my camera and that doesn't always prove to give the best quality...as you probably know.

"If the manufacturer of a camera can't tell you what codec they are using, find a different manufacturer."

LOL- I agree. What's surprising is, it's one of the biggest names on the world wide market! I was looking into it at Simon's suggestion when I was trying to figure out why I was having so much trouble with the video in FXLab.
Posted: Fri, 19th Nov 2010, 6:45pm

Post 4 of 9

Axeman

Force: 17995 | Joined: 20th Jan 2002 | Posts: 6124

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SuperUser

You shouldn't need to have a computer with you, just make it a practice, when you eventually do load the footage onto your computer to use it, to convert it in the process.

The main difference with the modern run of cameras is that in the old days, with DV resolution, nearly all cameras recorded to a good intermediate codec (DV), but as all the cameras switch to HD, there's suddenly 4 to 6 times as many pixels, and the cameras can't write the data quickly enough. So they are using much higher compression in order to keep up, which requires different codecs.

More and more of the editing software out there is adding compatibility with these codecs and formats, but the codecs weren't really intended for editing when they were created.

As far as quality, if you convert to a good quality codec when you capture (good QT options are ProRes, Apple Intermediate, or Animation), you will lose no quality, and the quality you have will be retained throughout editing, instead of gradually decreasing.
Posted: Sun, 21st Nov 2010, 3:41am

Post 5 of 9

StormyKnight

Force: 1800 | Joined: 26th Feb 2010 | Posts: 11

VisionLab User Windows User

Gold Member

Thanks again, Axeman. I will be looking into the QT options you listed. Although it's not that important but are these free programs?

BTW- That's a lot of trouble to go through to create an album with your band! I wish I could find guys that are a quarter as dedicated as Below The Smile. Long distance production....you gotta love today's technology. Who knows, maybe The Beatles will produce a new album posthumously one day down the road. lol I liked Waiting the best- can't wait to hear the final production......[pun intended] I'm waiting. I know it's only a demo- but the drums really need to come up in the mix on Wear My Chains. Keep on rockin' fellow musicians!!
Posted: Sun, 21st Nov 2010, 6:06am

Post 6 of 9

Axeman

Force: 17995 | Joined: 20th Jan 2002 | Posts: 6124

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SuperUser

Which programs? If you mean the Quicktime codecs, I think both Animation and Intermediate come with the Quicktime installer, and ProRes is included with Final Cut; I don't know what it would run on its own.

Yeah, its certainly trickier working a band across 1500 miles, but it is nice to have the technology available to make it possible. We haven't been recording a whole lot lately, but as winter sets in and we are all indoors a bit more, hopefully we'll get back to it. On wear my chains, those aren't even real drums yet; its just some loops my brother dropped in to record his guitar parts to. So once they are recorded for real, they man change entirely, along with being mixed better. Thanks though, nice to hear you enjoyed some of it.
Posted: Sun, 21st Nov 2010, 5:16pm

Post 7 of 9

StormyKnight

Force: 1800 | Joined: 26th Feb 2010 | Posts: 11

VisionLab User Windows User

Gold Member

Yes, I meant the Quicktime codecs. Final Cut is $999 so that option is out. Quicktime Pro is about $30 and according to the Quicktime 7.3 users guide you have to have Pro to convert video files.

pg.#28: "If you have QuickTime Pro, you can use QuickTime Player to convert many types of video, audio, graphics, and animation files (including Flash files) into QuickTime movies.
To convert a file into a QuickTime movie, open it in QuickTime Player and then choose File > Save."

When I follow this the "Save as..." and "Save" options are shaded grey with the word 'Pro' next to them. I will make the investment for the ease of conversion and quality though.

Am I missing something or is this correct?
See, I told ya you might get tired of answering my inane questions! wink
Feel like this yet? wall

Here's another question- Do you know if Sony Vegas converts video as well? Is the quality good? I'm getting that program next month and will wait if it does. I'm working with WMM and Pinacle 8 right now and both appear to be quite limited in what they can do.

Thank you for your patients even though you're not a doctor!

I can't tell when real drums are being used these days or not. Drum machines and keyboards [my instrument of expertise] can duplicated sounds so well even guitar sounds are tough to distinguish from the real thing. Not so much the acoustic but electric guitars.
Posted: Sun, 21st Nov 2010, 5:29pm

Post 8 of 9

Axeman

Force: 17995 | Joined: 20th Jan 2002 | Posts: 6124

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SuperUser

To convert files directly in Quicktime, you need the Pro version, yes. Which is easily worth the $30 they ask.

But, the free Quicktime installation allows other programs to author Quicktime files. Like EffectsLab. You can export from EffectsLab to the Animation codec, or Intermediate I think, without having the Pro version of Quicktime installed. But if you want to just open a file in Quicktime and transcode it to another codec, then you need QT Pro.

Final Cut is also out since you appear to be running a Windows machine. Even Final Cut Express, which is $199 I think, is Mac only. Keep in mind that there will probably be .avi equivalents of the codecs I mentioned, I'm just not personally familiar with them, as I never use .avi.

Sony Vegas is an excellent program by all accounts, and like any decent editing application, can absolutely convert videos. It will be a huge step forward from Pinnacle, and a new world compared to WMM.
Posted: Sun, 21st Nov 2010, 11:37pm

Post 9 of 9

StormyKnight

Force: 1800 | Joined: 26th Feb 2010 | Posts: 11

VisionLab User Windows User

Gold Member

Axeman- you da man!

Now I'm more excited about Sony Vegas than having pizza on Thanksgiving!
And I'm also thankful for Axeman and all the guys at fxhome that go way out of their way to assist its customers this year as well.

Thanks again for your valuable help!!!!!