The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

Mentoring Room

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This is a Public Topic geared towards first-time filmmakers. Professional members of The D-Word will come by and answer your questions about documentary filmmaking.

Matt Dubuque
Pro

Good morning,

I'm currently outputting video in H.264 format with my Canon 5d Mark II.

I'm informed that if I import the footage into Final Cut Pro it will need to be transcoded. I know there are various transcoders available, including from Canon.

I'm also informed if I import this same footage into Adobe Premiere Pro that zero transcoding will be necessary.

I can use either program. I am comfortable with each.

I just want my end result to be the highest quality image and I don't want to start off on the wrong foot by introducing more distortion and noise into the process than is absolutely necessary.

Isn't it true that every time you introduce transcoding or format conversion into a process that you will harm the image, even if it is in some minor way?

I'm very well aware of the relative merits of FCP and Adobe Premiere. My question is only about this initial transcoding step.

The Apple folks tell me there is zero harm to the image caused by this transcoding.

Must I believe them?

Thanks so much!

Matt Dubuque

Andy Schocken
Pro

I don't know anything about premiere, but I wouldn't worry about transcoding to prores for FCP (except how much *%&! time and disk space it will take). If you have FCP7, use prores lt, if you have FCP6, use prores. Nearly everyone using the 5d is doing it this way.

Matt Dubuque
Pro

Hi Andy, thanks for responding!

I understand this is the widespread practice.

But given the very high compression of this H.264 codec and the distortions that inevitably seem to occur in other transcoding processies that I know of, I'm wondering if I might get a 2% (rough guess) better image if I import it natively into Adobe Premiere.

Because I am going to a very large screen, I need every tiny advantage I can possibly get.

Andy Schocken
Pro

That's beyond my pay-grade technically. My guess is that whatever minuscule compression artifacts may arise from converting to prores would be dwarfed by a whole set of technical issues, such as motion judder or the aliasing issues of the 5d sensor. (I probably shouldn't tell you that regardless of the level of technical perfection you achieve, the projector or projectionist will destroy it at 98% of the venues it will ever play.)

That said, if you want to talk tech, you'll get a better response at some other boards than you will at d-word. Try these:

http://www.cinema5d.com/index.php
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/
http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/

Matt Dubuque
Pro

Thanks for the pointers to other forums Andy, I appreciate it.

Given the mulitiplicity of problematic artifacts and the overwhelming majority of 5D users who transcode their files, it seems plausible that some of those artifacts may be attributable to the transcoding process.

A point in support of that is that even though many 5D users were saying that some of the transcoding programs available injected no problems into the workflow, Canon felt compelled to create a transcoding program of their own, on an expedited basis.

If there were no problems, why was Canon compelled to offer a transcoding program of their own and why the hurry?

But I'll bring my thoughts to those other fora.

Peter Brauer
Pro

matt, I use premiere pro with my 7D all the time. I would say not having to transcode is the primary reason why I do this. Also when you go to finish and export the adobe media encoder is a world above compressor. Personally I prefer adobe premiere for many reasons, but know if you want to bring in another editor you may run into problems.

Linda, don't assume your school will support anything. Mine never did even though I was paying 40k per year. I made a film about a video games and used tons of footage of the games without permission. We didn't paint the most positive picture of the games, but they left us alone. Fair use is your best friend. Learn it well, and you should be okay. Also if you do get sued you get tons of press. I would fly under your enemies radar until you are ready to screen. If you buy errors and omissions insurance before you screen, at least you will have an insurance company defending you from any suits.

Nick Brown
Fan

In reply to Peter Brauer's post on Wed 14 Jul 2010 :

Reading Peter's reply about fair use tempts me to ask generally: what are the best resources for researching fair use law? I've followed it casually for a while, but it seems to be a pretty unsettled area of the law and fairly controversial. Short of hiring expensive lawyers to consult throughout the process, I'm curious what are the best resources people would recommend to make oneself an "expert" (or at least a very good b.s.-er) on Fair Use?

Christopher Wong
Pro

USC also has a great resource. less well known than Stanford, but equally free...

contact:
Jack Lerner
Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
University of Southern California Gould School of Law
699 Exposition Blvd. Room 425
Los Angeles, CA 90089
213/740-9013
213/740-5502 fax
jlerner@law.usc.edu
http://law.usc.edu/iptlc

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