Latest post Mon, Feb 7 2011 7:19 PM by Mark Hawtin. 16 replies.
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  • Mon, Jan 31 2011 9:34 AM

    • Mark Hawtin
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    Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

    Hello everyone. I'm looking for some advice on workflow using AVCHD files.

    I've recently completed an edit and have been unsatisfied with the quality of the finished DVD I produced... 

    In the first instance, the original media came to me in AVCHD format 25fps/1080p. I attempted to import the files directly into Media Composer 5 (MAC) to an internal IDE drive at DNxHD 185 (HD1080p) but found the colours to be cycling inconsistently. So my work around at the time was to convert the files first using third party software to Apple Pro Res 4444 (trying firstly using VideoPier HD and then Toast 10) before importing them into Media Composer (again to an internal IDE drive at DNxHD 185 (HD1080p). I completed the edit and exported a Quicktime Reference file of my timeline and burnt that onto a DVD using Apple DVD Studio Pro. The quality of the final product looked quite low res to me.

    (I found no noticeable difference in quality at the time between VideoPier HD and Toast so I went with Toast). It's important to note that the quality of the edit looked good while I was editing and I was previewing the work via a Matrox Mini (HDMI out of the Matrox Mini to a Samsung LCD 46" monitor). 

    We're about to start another edit and would like to achieve better results...

    This time, I want to try AMA Volume linking. I've started a new 25fps/1080p project in Media Composer 5.0.3 (MAC). I've linked the project to an internal IDE 1TB drive with one folder called 'AMA files'. I've also taken the original AVCHD files and converted them, once in Apple ProRes 4444 proxy, and again in Apple ProRes 4444. I've taken the proxy files and moved them into my active 'AMA files' folder to edit with, with the idea of swapping the proxy files for the non proxy files once I'm ready to burn a DVD.

    My concern is that... 

    By converting AVCHD files to APPLE PRO RES, then to DNX MEDIA, then to DVD, we're going to face the same artefacts in the picture as we experienced first time 'round. I am hoping the AMA route will provide less artefacts along the way... AVCHD > APPLE PRO RES (then edit from the AMA volume) then export QUiCKTIME REFERENCE (from the timeline) to APPLE DVD STUDIO PRO.  

     

    Any thoughts?

    I would be so grateful for some comments on this.

     

     

    Mac / PC Media Composers with Interplay - latest updates [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, Jan 31 2011 10:19 AM In reply to

    • Mark Hawtin
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    • Joined on Tue, May 19 2009
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    Re: AMA Workflow AVCHD

    Any thoughts? I would be so grateful for some comments on this.

    Mac / PC Media Composers with Interplay - latest updates [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, Jan 31 2011 3:42 PM In reply to

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

    If everything looked fine until you made the DVD, then the encoding process to MPEG-2 is probably your weak point.

    What did you use to encode?  What was the bitrate you used? 

    I would not recommend using "automatic" settings on encoders.  We use either Compressor or BitVice on our work and the results are always good.

     

    Symphony v8.8 | OS 10.11.6 • Nitris DX • 12-core MacPro (Mid 2012) • 36 GB RAM • Facilis Terrablock 24EX [view my complete system specs]

    -- Kevin

  • Mon, Jan 31 2011 3:58 PM In reply to

    • Mark Hawtin
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Tue, May 19 2009
    • London
    • Posts 19
    • Points 185

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

    Hi Kevin

    Thanks for your reply. We're using an Apple Mac based system, so we burned the DVD using Apple DVD Studio Pro 4. The settings are:

    MPEG2, Two pass VBR, Bit Rate: 7.7Mbps, Max Bit Rate: 9Mbps, Motion Estimation: Best. Method: Encode on Build. Now that you mention it, the JPG background we used on the menu looked a little ropey too. We also tried iDVD with similar results. The edges on text look jagged, and there is colour banding throughout. 

    Thanks for the suggestions. We'll give Compressor a go first (as we have it already) and failing that, we'll try BitVice 2.9.7 MPEG Encoder. I'll post our findings and let you know how we get on.

    Thanks Kevin

     

    Mac / PC Media Composers with Interplay - latest updates [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, Jan 31 2011 4:03 PM In reply to

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

    Mark Hawtin:
    In the first instance, the original media came to me in AVCHD format 25fps/1080p. I attempted to import the files directly into Media Composer 5 (MAC) to an internal IDE drive at DNxHD 185 (HD1080p) but found the colours to be cycling inconsistently.

     

    Mark,

    I'm not sure what you mean here by colors cycling inconsistently. But if you are going to transcode, why not avoid Prores and transcode directly to DNxHD?

    I use TMPGEnc Xpress 4.0 for this very transcode and it does a great job. I believe the program now costs $100 (including a free upgrade to a new version soon to be released). There are probably many other transcoding options out there as well, but AVCHD will be the thing to be sure they play nice with.

     

    P.S.

    Okay, I see you're running on a Mac. TMPGEnc is PC only.

    "When I spent 60k on a discreet edit digisuite system 10 years ago someone came up to me to offer fcp 2, I said it was a scam too." -Ric

  • Mon, Jan 31 2011 4:10 PM In reply to

    • Mark Hawtin
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Tue, May 19 2009
    • London
    • Posts 19
    • Points 185

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

     

    Hi Bobby

    Thanks for your suggestions. We tried converting directly to DNxHD 185 in the first instance and that's where we noticed the colour cycling issues (it looks like the hue is being fiddled with on playback in the Avid source window). See this:

    http://www.mc9.co.uk/avidtest/avchd.mov

    But after Kevins suggestion, I'll investigate the encoding options out there for Mac and report back. 

    Kind regards

    Mark

     

    Mac / PC Media Composers with Interplay - latest updates [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, Jan 31 2011 6:30 PM In reply to

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

    Mark,

    When you do the transcode, chose "Millions of colors" not "Millions of colors +" (the "+" is if you have an alpha channel). Also choose 601/709 (not RGB) file to pixel mapping (or whatever it's called).

    When you import, again choose 601/709 (not RGB) and "No alpha" (may not be the exact wording as I'm not in front of MC right now).

    That should create a file that will fast import into MC. No more transcoding or color mapping will happen and the import will happen very quickly, as all it is doing is stripping out the essence of the QT into MXF files.

    Now NOT choosing these settings should not cause what I'd call a hue shift, but it will remap the colors.

    I just don't see the purpose of going to Prores if you don't have to. It not only adds time, but it also will cause some more image degradation. And Avid can't even read QT Prores past the 4:2:2 8-bit spec anyway. Apparently all the extra detail of the higher res QT codecs are ignored by MC, as per this thread:

    http://community.avid.com/forums/t/61664.aspx

    "When I spent 60k on a discreet edit digisuite system 10 years ago someone came up to me to offer fcp 2, I said it was a scam too." -Ric

  • Mon, Jan 31 2011 7:07 PM In reply to

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

    Hey mark,

                  Your problem was fixed in the v5.0.3.1 patch

     

    jono

     

  • Tue, Feb 1 2011 3:40 PM In reply to

    • Mark Hawtin
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Tue, May 19 2009
    • London
    • Posts 19
    • Points 185

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

    Hi Bobby and Jono

    Thanks for your feedback. Jono, I'm downloading the latest patch for Media Composer for OS X, which seems to be 5.0.3.7r. I'll let you know how I get on shortly. 

    Kind regards

    Mark

    Mac / PC Media Composers with Interplay - latest updates [view my complete system specs]
  • Tue, Feb 1 2011 4:18 PM In reply to

    • Mark Hawtin
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Tue, May 19 2009
    • London
    • Posts 19
    • Points 185

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

     

    Hello everyone again. Here are my findings so far…

     

    I uninstalled Avid Media Composer Version 5.0.3 and reinstalled 5.0.3.7r. Thanks for the suggestion Jono. Yes

    I found the latest patch of Avid Media Composer here:

    http://www.avid.com/US/support/downloads/patches

     

    The next step was to import an AVCHD clip.

    I tried importing what I thought was a problematic clip called "00319.MTS".

    This new patch of Media Composer 5.0.3.7r  has alerted me to the world of 'Spanned AVCHD Clips'. I received this error as I attempted to import 00319.MTS… 

     

    "This file (00139) is not the first file of a spanned clip. This clip will be out of sync if the first file is not selected"

    This error message seems to be a new thing in 5.0.3.7r. (Keeping in mind this is the first updated patch I've installed since upgrading to 5.0.3)

     

    I then looked up 'Spanned AVCHD Clips" using Google and discovered this article which I suspect is now obsolete…

    http://avid.force.com/pkb/LegacySearch?DocId=369971&Hilite=

     

    Bottom line, this clip came into Media Composer as a 5 minute clip, however, the clip is actually 15 minutes, and I have learned that AVCHD clips are recorded in a special 'spanned' way, using more than one file to record longer duration clips. This is to ensure smooth playback on Sony cameras it seems. But it also seems Media Composer is unable to see the additional 'invisible' spanned files associated with the primary AVCHD clip.

     

     

    This is explained more eloquently in this link I found on the Apple website... 

    http://support.apple.com/kb/TA24811?viewlocale=en_US

     

    (Just a side note... I have experienced sync issues with AVCHD files before and simply slipped the video 5-15 frames to fix it at the time. Those same out of sync clips have for me, historically been the same clips with the colour banding problems described earlier, and my work around was to convert those files using a third party application into Apple ProRes which seemed to fix the problem at the time when I reimported those clips into MC.)

     

    My thoughts are now to import all of the material (shot only this morning) as multiple sequential files (00316.MTS - 00322.MTS) using FILE>IMPORT (DNxHD185) to see what happens in this latest patch. ie: Highlighting all 7 .MTS files on import. If this works (ie: importing files to MXF media), I guess this will be a preferred method of using AVCHD files rather than converting them first at finder level into a more workable Quicktime format (using Toast / VideoPierHD / Compressor) and using 'Link to AMA Volume'.

     

    The only reference to "Spanned Clips" in the README_Avid Media Composer.pdf file (which we downloaded along with 5.0.3.7r) is Bug Number: UDevC00129238 which relates to motion effected AVCHD files  Confused

     

    I'll keep you updated with my progress… which is….

     

    1) Import several AVCHD files from the same shooting date to see if clip 00319.MTS successfully imports without sync issues, and without colour banding or short clip duration issues which seems to be caused by importing individual 'spanned AVCHD' longer duration clips.

    2) The next step is to see if I can burn these edited clips onto a DVD without artefacts which was the original query I had when I started this thread. Ahh, the joy... ;)

     

    Any thoughts, the more info the merrier! 

     

    Mac / PC Media Composers with Interplay - latest updates [view my complete system specs]
  • Tue, Feb 1 2011 6:50 PM In reply to

    • Mark Hawtin
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Tue, May 19 2009
    • London
    • Posts 19
    • Points 185

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

     

    Another update...

    I just finished importing all of the material (shot only this morning) as multiple sequential files (00316.MTS - 00322.MTS) using FILE>IMPORT (DNxHD185) to see what happens in this latest patch. ie: Highlighting all 7 .MTS files on import.

    The spanned clips came in at the correct duration, but the colour banding issue remains to be a problem. I've exported a clip to demonstrate the problem. It's here...

     

    http://www.mc9.co.uk/avidtest/avchd.mov

    (Prepared Quicktime quarter size H264 2.3MB)

    (N.B. This clip was imported in a batch of clips @ 709HD, not RGB.

     

    To fix this colour problem, my next thought is to try to link to the AVCHD original files folder (MTS files) and transcode from there, hoping that in 5.0.3.7r, the durations remain properly intact like they did in the first test above. 

    I'll report back with my findings.

     

     

    Mac / PC Media Composers with Interplay - latest updates [view my complete system specs]
  • Tue, Feb 1 2011 7:02 PM In reply to

    • Mark Hawtin
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Tue, May 19 2009
    • London
    • Posts 19
    • Points 185

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

    Ahh, small issue. AMA does not play with AVCHD. Now I'm stuck... Any ideas out there?

    Mac / PC Media Composers with Interplay - latest updates [view my complete system specs]
  • Tue, Feb 1 2011 7:24 PM In reply to

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

    Hi Mark,

              Why did you install patch 5.0.3.7r? you should only install a patch that relates to a specific problem that occurs on your machine and 5.0.3.1 fixes the colour issue on imported avchd footage.

    You should only record in 24 minute chunks when using avchd, because when the recording file hits the fat32 limit it will create a new .mts file and now becomes a spanned file. I instruct production to stop recording every 20 minutes. But avchd in my opinion is not a good tapeless solution, i've been doing alot of 3K R3D workflows via AMA and it's a dream, that says alot about avids commitment with avchd and the fact that they haven't done much R&D to get it into the AMA plugin.

    Some spanned files do indeed come into avid via import, but some do not and will hang your machine. If you have the drive space i would offline at online rez if you can get the footage in. Small chunk recording is the best option with this format.

     

    jono

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  • Tue, Feb 1 2011 7:44 PM In reply to

    • Mark Hawtin
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Tue, May 19 2009
    • London
    • Posts 19
    • Points 185

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

    Hi Jono. Thanks for your reply. Would you recommend I uninstall 5.0.3.7r and go with 5.0.3.1? Thanks for your comments. I'll recommend to the guys that next time, we give AVCHD a miss.

    For now, can you recommend a work around to get these files into the Avid for this job? I really don't mind how long it takes. I've read this evening that Final Cut Pro supports spanned AVCHD files, although the prospect of editing on FCP is a little daunting for me. Do you think I could convert the files in FCP and bring them into Media Composer that way?

    Cheers

    Mark

    Mac / PC Media Composers with Interplay - latest updates [view my complete system specs]
  • Tue, Feb 1 2011 8:26 PM In reply to

    Re: Picture Quality Issues - AVCHD>PRORES>AMA vs DNX185

    I would un-install and re-install 5.0.3.1 and import the same clip that was giving you colours shifting in the avid as a test.

    Log and transfer in FCP will get your footage in, you could then export out selects via trim selection, then use an AMA workflow in avid, but if you used pro res codec, AMA will give you sync errors, but there is a patch for that too. AMA can have problems with long quicktime durations and definetly dont use the H.264 codec.

    A good tapeless based format should be easy, fast and cost saving,,,AVCHD lacks the first two, people really shouldn't be messing around, converting stuff, using 3rd party apps etc etc...when something goes wrong, how do you and what do you troubleshoot?...hence your very first email

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