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#1 peacedog

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 10:59 PM

Question:

Can anyone (or all of you) give me recommendations on setups for a Mac-based system that can handle HDV footage?

I'm interested in using Final Cut pro, and I'd like your input on both laptop and stand-alone units.

I'm looking to upgrade both my studio unit and also my travel system, as well.
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#2 pmooney

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 11:18 PM

I am using a quad processor 2.5 , full of ram loaded with Final Cut Express HD at the office and a Macbook Pro 2.1g ( also fully loaded ) in the field.

No problems to speak of with either of these setup's.

Althogh the 2.5 will be out the door as soon as there is word of an equal Intel tower.

#3 peacedog

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 05:58 AM

Great to know, Peter. Are you making DVDs at all with Studio Pro, and if so, are you experiencing any difficulties with Compressor coming out of FCP?
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#4 Steve Douglas

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 12:21 PM

There is a big difference between Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express. While you will be able to do most everything you may want in Express, let me recommend that you go the FCP route. A power book certainly has convience in terms of transportability, if you are going to get heavily into the editing aspects of things, go with the Power Macs and Final Cut Suite which will have your DVD Studio Pro, Titlemaker, Soundtrack and Motion. You can no longer buy these apps seperately so you will need the full suite. FCP is about the stablest NLE platform around, PC or otherwise, so once you jump the learning curve you will be happy that you went that route. One way to speed up the curve is to read and post on the www.kenstone.net site. I am always learning and I write for them
Good luck,
Steve B)
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I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.

#5 peacedog

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 12:55 PM

Steve:

I had my last headache with Avid sunday night and decided to cross over and make FCP my primary platform. I may actually even take Avid competely off my computer.

I have the full Studio package, operating on a reasonably fast iMac bought last fall. I also have a 17" G4 laptop which I'll be using in the field.

I'd rather spend the money on a new housing/camera setup and get up-to-date and ready for the immediate future with HDV, and then when I can afford it, get a much more powerful Mac tower. I've just been curious how the HDV footage - particularly what WE do - is looking coming out of FCP and into Compressor/Studio Pro.

Thanks as always, Steve.

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#6 Steve Douglas

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 07:30 PM

Remember that no one is burning HDV/HD DVDs yet but they soon will be. Thus, you will want to downconvert your HDV footage to SD for the time being. Never the less, the results are stunning.
What cam system are you hoping to get? I have a friend who is selling her Sony Z1-U and another friend who is selling his housing for it. Synchronicity.
Back to FCP, when you're ready, let me know...there are several excellent books and tutorials that will get you started much quicker on FCP. They didn't exist when FCP 1.0 came out and now I could probably teach in 1/2 hr what it took me the first year to learn.
Surprised that Avid didn't work out for you, I have heard good things about the programs stability but , then again, there are a few different Avid programs. I never used it so I wouldn't know at all.
Steve B)
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I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.

#7 brycegroark

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 08:42 PM

Hey Steve - could you add the "excellent books and tutorials" here? I've been using FCP for years and still chugging, but very slowly. Always love to hear others' secrets......

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#8 Steve Douglas

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 07:48 AM

Okay, for all you hard core Mac, Final Cut Pro folk...here are my very biased recommendations.
Once again I will hardily recommend using both the www.kenstone.net and the www.lafcpug.org sites for forum, book, animation, 3rd party plug in and tutorial reviews. I generally use the kenstone site when I have a question or problem as response time is usually within a few hours or a day at most. If this site was around when I first started I would have progressed much faster. Another FCP and associated apps site is the original editing site www.2-pop.com When FCP first came out this was the only one out there. I do not think it is as user friendly as the kenstone site but is still an excellent source of info.


Books; the best reference book without a doubt is Lisa Brenneis's book "Final Cut Pro for Mac OSX", Peachpit Press. You can get it online or at any Barnes & Noble. Buy it for whatever version of FCP you might be using. It is the ultimate 'go to' book when you have forgotten a procedure or simply want to know how to do something. If I could have only one book this would be it.
Another book which is project based in its tutorials is the Final Cut Pro book within the Apple Pro Training Series....we learn by doing and you can use the book's accompanying disc's media to guide you through the books own projects. The Apple Pro Training Series(also from PeachPit Press) has books for DVD Studio Pro, Soundtrack and Motion as well and all are excellent. You will find reviews on any of these books on the aforementioned websites. One last book is "Final Cut Pro" on the Spot by Shapiro and published by CMP books. This one is a collection of some nifty tricks and shortcuts but is not a book to learn the application by.

Disc Tutorials....If you are just starting I might recommend the "Getting Started in FCP" and then as you get a bit more advanced "Creating Motion Effects in FCP". These are both produced by Ripple Training who also have online and downloadable tutorials on their website; www.rippletraining.com
You might also want to check on the reviews about the DMTS tutorial discs found at www.dvcreators.net These I also think are pretty good and comprehensive.

3rd Party Plug ins- Depending on what you need and your wallet.
Animations- Ditto

Buy too much and you will spend a fortune, just glad I don't have to pay for all this stuff(smirk,smirk)

If there is more info you need, don't hesitate.
Steve B)
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www.lafcpug.org

Steve Douglas
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I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.

#9 peacedog

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 07:50 AM

Surprised that Avid didn't work out for you, I have heard good things about the programs stability but , then again, there are a few different Avid programs.  I never used it so I wouldn't know at all.
    Steve B)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


You'd be surprised how many problems I have been having in the last year editing Avid on a Mac-based platform. Once they changed their OS, Avid chose to focus on the PC market over Mac. Some of my grad instructors are former Avid employees, and we have the main office up here about 15 minutes from my house so I get all the gossip..=)

Even with downconverting, Steve, are you having good luck with DVd exports, or have you not experimented with it yet? I have found Compressor to be a particularly mercurial mistress...

I have cut a few low-maintenance projects for clients on FCP, so I'm familiar with some very, very basic concepts. However, most of those projects were cut in conjunction with Avid, so I'm keen to get a handle on FCP autonomously.

One thing I have found helpful is my AppleCare subscription. Already being an editor and shooter, I find the Mac Geniuses who specialise in FCP to be of incredible value. In addition, it's no surprise, Steve, that I hit up Ken Stone's page religiously.

Any help you guys could give me with regard to HDV workflow would be great.
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#10 Steve Douglas

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 08:16 AM

The more I learn the more I realize I don't know. Get Ripple Trainings ' The Art of Encoding Using Compressor'....I have it but haven't had the time to look at it, however, Ken Stone told me that it is just excellent.
Steve
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I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.

#11 Mary Lynn

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Posted 18 June 2006 - 07:10 PM

Remember that no one is burning HDV/HD DVDs yet but they soon will be.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Actually, you can author and burn HD DVDs right now using DVD Studio Pro 4 and a G5 and they look stunning! (I know because I've done it....) Only problem is that unless you have an HD DVD set top player (they're out now, though, right?) you can only watch them on your G5 with the latest version of DVD Player.

The cool thing about HDV and HD DVDs is that you can use the the HDV clip, itself, which is already compliant HD MPEG-2 video, as the video asset for the HD DVD! In other words, the HDV video you edit together can go onto the HD DVD without having to encode it again first. (For instance, with standard definition DVDs, you have to encode the DV video file into an MPEG-2 file to make the DVD, which results in lower resolution video.) Using HDV for HD DVDs, you still have to mux the files, but you don't have to re-encode. Of course, with HDV, you can also use H.264 to encode the HDV video, and you'll be able to fit more video onto the HD DVD.

As for using Compressor to encode anything out of FCP, I've found that it seems to work better and quicker if you export the video first from the timeline (out as a self-contained full res QT movie), then bring that file into Compressor to do your encoding. Just my experience...

#12 shawnh

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 08:37 AM

Mary,
I have found the same with exporting to a QT file first before going to compressor (literally 10x faster on my MacBook). I had a couple of questions for you. When exporting to the QT file, what settings are you using:
-I am using HDV compressor, 960x720P frame and 1440x1080 ratio, anamorphic. I have progressive is much better with moving objects vs interlacing.
-For HD DVDs, when you export from the timeline for use in the DVD Studio, what compression setttings do you use?
-I take it you have a seperate HD burner (my MacBook i don't believe can burn these).

Regardless, i am finding my SD DVDs are much better using HDV footage than DV footage.

Thanks
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#13 Mary Lynn

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 02:56 PM

Hi Shawn,

I think that for HD DVDs you you can burn them on a Super Drive in most of the recent Macs, but I'm not sure about that. (I use my G5. Check the manual in DVDSP's Help menu for minimum system requirements to burn.) But you will need a G5 with the latest DVD Player to view HD DVDs unless you have a new set top HD DVD player (Toshiba?).

I just export from the Timeline: File>Export>Quicktime Movie. Then select HDV-1080i60 from the dropdown menu you get if you click on "Setting" in the lower third of the dialog box. Or just leave it at the default "Current Settings" if you're exporting from the timeline and the timeline video is already in the the format you're after. But make sure you've checked the "Make Movie Self-Contained" box. Back in earlier versions of FCP this export was referred to an "FCP movie," now it's a "Quicktime Movie" (as opposed to the "Quicktime Conversion" option which will give you all your different possible codecs).

For the most part now, when I export for a standard definition DVD using DVDStudioPro, I just export out of the timeline using the "Current Settings" default, and I don't deinterlace or make progressive. (I understand that progressive may give better encoding results for some folks, but so far I've been happy with the results I get working with interlaced source material.) Then I adjust my encoding settings in DVDSP (which is actually using Compressor under the hood), and *here* is where I'll select whether the asset is to be encoded 16:9 widescreen or 4:3. But you've got to make sure you adjust *all* your settings in DVDSP to reflect 16:9, including the menus, assets (tracks), etc., and even how the simulator is going be viewed (DVDSP>Preferences>Simulator). I only use the Advanced settings in DVDSP, and then set each and every parameter to tell the DVD how to behave. This means test, test, and retest before you burn!

Hope this helps.

#14 shawnh

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 03:35 PM

Mary,
Thanks for the feedback. I am doing all the things you suggest in DVDSP...learned by trial and error unfortunatley...and yes...test, test, test!

There are several reasons I deinterlace.
The first is for when I play back in HD quality on a computer. Interlacing is a broadcast techology not compatible with computers. A computer is essentially progressive. If you play an interlaced source on a computer, I find the interlacing can be quite noticable in scenes with motion (flag flying in wind, etc).
Second is that I find I have better results when encoding with progressive. My source is locked down and I don't need to rely upon the next step in the proceess to get the interlacing correct.

I will check out the HD DVD burning on my MacBook but I don't believe I have it. I don't see HD burning in the specs.

thanks again,
shawn
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#15 Mary Lynn

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 04:04 PM

Shawn,

If you're using a super drive (which it sounds like you are on your MacBook) then you'll probably be able to author and burn HD DVDs. HD DVD requires a red laser burner just like SD DVDs. The authoring actually takes place in the DVD authoring program (DVDSP), then the project is burned to disc just like an SD DVD. (That's one of the "pros" of red laser HD DVDs as opposed to blu ray which require special burners.) If you've got DVDSP 4, and you have a super drive on your Mac Book, my bet is that you can author and burn HD DVDs--give it a go and see what happens!

#16 RebreatherDave

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 04:54 PM

I just got Final Cut Express HD, a brand new, factory sealed unregisistered full retail version for half price off E-Bay for $150.

I also found a program for Macs that allows you to specify a central point in a video such as a critter, then the program will do a good job of removing alot of the type of movement associated with not being able to hold the videocam still underwater....I tried it on the Stargazer snake eel footage I took and it preliminarily works pretty well, although I think one has to zoom in slightly with the program so the black outer edges of the screen moving around doesn't show, but I think this is also done with the program.

Now it looks like actually shooting the footage is going to be the comparative easy part, this computer stuff is complicated. Sigh.....
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#17 Steve Douglas

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 05:16 PM

Dave,
Interesting. What is the name of the program you found. Remember that when you scale up via a zoom it will reduce resolution a bit unless you use a rescaler like Resizer or Instant HD.
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I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.

#18 RebreatherDave

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 06:22 PM

iStablize by Pixlock



http://www.pixlock.com/
Inspiration Closed Circuit w/Vision electronics
Sony HDR-FX1 3CCD HiDef
Amphibico Phenom
Amphibico dual 35-50 HID's
whatever other toys I can
accumulate b4 I die

#19 shawnh

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 09:28 PM

This could be a good alternative to the crazy expensive Shake...i'll check this out.
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#20 RebreatherDave

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 06:03 AM

If you figure out how to use it with the limited documentation, let me know!
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whatever other toys I can
accumulate b4 I die