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Thread: MiniDV to H.264 - Not a positive move?

  1. Default MiniDV to H.264 - Not a positive move?

    My problem is based around a change in format. I searched here using the words 'Vegas 7 and mp4'. The problems people have experienced seem endless, and more worryingly, there didn't seem to be a consensus on a fix.

    Briefly, I've used MiniDV tape and my Panasonic GS400's for years and edited the captured AVI's using Vegas (now v.7) with no problems whatsoever on a middle of the range PC - currently a dual core 2.6Ghz Win XP Pro, 4Gb RAM, 9800GT GPU, dedicated partitions for media and rendering.

    I bought a Sanyo WH1 for holiday which records to SD card in mp4 format using the 'MPEG-4/H.264' codec. It does a pretty good job in daylight and the underwater shots are priceless for holiday videos.

    The problems arose when importing the mp4 files into Vegas 7 and trying to edit them in the same way that I have been with AVI's. Importing one file was fine but 2 or more hung the PC. I was able to try Vegas 9 fortunately, which imported the files fine. I was able to edit in the same way as I had with the AVI's with no lag or slow down etc. Problems arose when adding other file formats - ie JPG's and .MOD format video files from a JVC Everio. The render process stopped with a memory error at about the 12% mark. This was a well documented issue & I tried the suggestions about changing some settings for this but it had no effect. However, rendering an ALL mp4 format project worked fine though. A search of various sources like here has produced a thousand people experiencing a thousand different problems similar to mine.

    So far I think I have been able to work out that an update in PC hardware would have some effect but that doesn't seem to be the sole factor.

    I don't think it's a codec issue for the mp4's. I can see/hear the mp4's in Vegas, albeit in a choppy fashion. I installed Splash Lite to playback mp4 video clips which works fine.

    Not sure about the inability to mix .MP4 & .MOD & .JPG in the same project. Is that a limitaton of Vegas 7 & 9 or am I doing something wrong when trying to use these formats

    I read a useful article about creating Proxy files for editing then replacing them with the originals for render. I can understand this as a possible workaround for legacy software but it sounds a bit Heath Robinson for a modern version of poplar software. Perhaps I've been spoilt by the ease of use of AVI's. Am I demanding too much to be able to edit heavily compressed HD MP4/H.264 files in real time?

    I would say that I have read that some people with powerful 64bit PC's still have playback problems with latest versions of software.

    I do like Vegas and have invested a lot of time in getting to know how it works so would prefer not to change software, likewise, I'd like to avoid a several hundred outlay for new hardware that isn't guaranteed to solve the problems.

    I can't help feeling that as AVI's were so straightforward to use, that my view of new formats is somewhat polarised and I'm missing something obvious, after all, no modern camcorders use tapes these days.

    All help appreciated,

    Mike.

  2. #2

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    I hear you Mike. Like many solutions to problems, the creators of these solutions don't think with a wide enough view of the consumer. They just go ahead and create a smaller file or what ever but then when it comes to using these things in the real world. They can be a pain in the butt. I have a good powerful 64bit system which will run any format that I've thrown at it. It will play back smoothly most of the time. It is however when you start using plugins/FX/transitions. Some are fine but some are SO processor hungry that even my system struggles example Starburst FX I've found to be about the worst.

    SO the moral of my story is, if you want to run a smooth timeline get a really good PC. IT HELPS A LOT. B U T, it's not the one solution to the multitude of problems caused by all the Formats. FX, etc.... that we have at our fingertips these days. Imagine even 5 years ago I would have laughed if someone said I'd be able to do Hollywood type FX on my home video. We have the power now to do incredible things with our PC's but I don't think we should get complacent about what we sometimes ask our poor PCs to do with the incredible software we have to hand. Like a lot of this type of issue, it will find it's way so in the mean time we will struggle on finding ways around the problems that other people have created as their solution to their problem.

    Have a nice day.

  3. #3

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    I don't think it's a codec issue for the mp4's
    Well not mp4 necessarily, but regardless of what files your NLE claims to be able to work with, there are only a couple that it will work natively with from the timeline. Other files will be rendered in the background, but they don't tell you this. I don't know of any Pro program that works well with mp4 files at this point. Actually, some of the cheaper ones are more likely too. For instance, I know Premeier Pro will not, but from what I understand, Premiere Elements can. Anyhow, what some people do is to use something like Elements to capture with, and then convert the files to something else that their NLE of choice can handle natively. Cineform codecs work pretty well in most NLEs now for instance. But then you're out more money. It's a shame really, but that's the best way to do it that I know of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swoopie View Post
    For instance, I know Premeier Pro will not, but from what I understand, Premiere Elements can.
    AVCHD has been supported in Premiere Pro since CS4 and works well. The current version (CS5) also adds support for video from DSLRs.

  5. #5

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    I know it supports it, as do most NLEs. But, and I could be wrong, I don't believe it works with it natively from the timeline. As far as I know it renders it in the background on the fly, or at least that's what I've read at the Adobe Premiere forum.

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    From experience, I can say that CS4 and CS5 play AVCHD files in the preview monitor (on an i7) with the same ease of editing as DV. I can't comment on whether there is any background rendering, but I can say that my creativity isn't impeded by technology (ony my imagination and skill!). Ultimately, that has to be the true judge.

  7. #7

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    Well if it plays them natively then you won't have a red bar above the timeline after dragging in a clip; it'll be yellow indicating that the footage doesn't need rendering. I've read a couple of different things about this. Beginning with CS4 it was supposed to handle AVCHD files natively, but it seems to have been a touchy situation. Most people seem to have problems playing those files if they're 720p rather than 1080i for instance. Another problem is with files that have surround sound. Apparently you'll get a red line with those too. I don't know if CS5 has any fixes for those things or not. Also, I've been searching through posts at Adobe, and it seems to be a really wild ride with this stuff. Apparently (and I don't know why) you can bring in AVCHD files from one kind of camcorder that will work fine, but the same files recorded using the same settings on a different cam will not. I think Canon files are the ones most people are having problems with. But now a lot of the guys are saying that you don't have these problems if you use Elements. So I don't really know anymore. I don't think, however, that Premiere Pro is really built to handle these files very well. I found this post from Wil Renczes (an Adobe employee):

    H264 is probably the most complex format in terms of decode CPU utilization supported by Premiere (even RED footage has better performance in this aspect), so this really comes down to how performant your system is. There's a number of factors that you'll want to examine here.

    I know AVCHD is tough to process, but I hear that some of the cheap programs that come with inexpensive AVCHD camcorders can handle this footage just fine, so I think Adobe is copping out a bit here myself.
    Last edited by Swoopie; 12-11-2010 at 08:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swoopie View Post
    so this really comes down to how performant your system is
    (Ignoring Wil's use of the word "performant" for now.) For me, this has been the only factor of any real importance when trying to edit AVCHD. Spending 1k on a new laptop has enabled me to edit footage from my current cameras. I'm not really much of a techie (as you'll probably find from my posts), and before I bought a new PC, I simply converted my footage to DV for editing, and then replaced with the HD for final render. Bottom line for me is that I can now edit AVCHD without first converting or needing to render the timeline.

  9. Default

    Thanks for the replies people. I'm glad that it's not just stupidity on my behalf. I've just finished testing out the same 720p H.264 files on the trial version of Vegas 10. I'm glad to report that on my mid spec system it works fine with only a tiny bit of jumpiness when scrubbing. It rendered a timeline with MP4 & AVI in it too. Just got to try adding the jpg's andthe .MOD's to see if they work as well.

    I don't suppose I should be surprised that the solution involves throwing at the problem.

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