Archive for the ‘Cineform’ Category

CineformRAW as Intermediate, Interchange and Archive Format for RAW (CinemaDNG) from BMCC

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Following on from where basically I discovered that

  • you need not only GoPro Studio Premium (which gets you the CineformRAW codec) but also a little front-end utility (that you use instead of Studio Premium) called RAW4Pro.  That utility gets you the correct colours and proper audio (‘Studio’ does not otherwise).

Using that solution, I obtained a 5.5 times reduction in file size, for a few-seconds test-clip where the color-chart was handheld against the landscape at the top of the hill.  The file looked good in Resolve where I was able to grade it ok and of course could have used it to encode MOV-H264.

Equally the CineformRAW imported fine to Sony Vegas Pro 12, where I could grade it and export to MP4-H264 or whatever.  Vegas did not recognize the original RAW (CinemaDNG) – I tried various ways, including Vegas’s Device Explorer, so CineformRAW is a useful workaround for this.

The CineformRAW generated by RAW4Pro in its [Fine] setting, according to its [?] button, produces 10-bit Log, which QuickTime player reports as as “Millions+”.  I wonder, is there a way to get it to produce 12-bit?

I expect I will use CineformRAW to replace my existing RAW footage where I want to maintain full 2.5K resolution, gradeability but don’t have chromakey-level demands on resolution around edges etc.  Not that I’ve yet tried such chromakeying, RAW or CineformRAW -based.  As yet…

RAW CinemaDNG (from BMCC) to CIneformRAW for DaVinci Resolve via RAW4Pro+CIneform

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Suppose you have some RAW footage, in CinemaDNG format (a number-sequenced set of [.dng] files), for example shot on a Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC).  Compared to “visually lossless” say ProRes or DNxHD (let alone H264 etc.), CinemaDNG occupies an awful lot of disk space, primarily because it is mathematically lossless.  The GoPro-CineformRAW encoding format offers significant reductions in file size (and hence data rate) at the cost of a practically negligible loss of visual information (and a purchase price).  This codec can be purchased as part of the GoPro Studio Premium product.  A comparison-grid of the various GoPro Studio products is here.

CineformRAW is an attractive compression-format, but unless care is applied to some very technical-level encoding options/settings, compatibility problems can arise when importing to DaVinci Resolve.  The latter is in widespread use but is especially relevant to BMCC owners because it is supplied as free software with that camera.  I experienced such problems myself: one version of Resolve (v.10.0) interpreted CineformRAW clips as green-tinted, while another (v.10.1) just gave black frames.

Happily, a simple solution existed: RAW4Pro, which is essentially a front-end to CineformRAW (and also to DNxHD, useful e.g. if you want HD proxies).


  • Install
    • A product incorporating the GoPro-Cineform RAW codec.
    • The RAW4Pro utility
      • Essentially a front-end to generate CineformRAW and also to generate HD (e.g. as proxies) as DNxHD, in each case in either MOV or AVI container-formats.
  • Run RAW4Pro
    • Select (Browse-to) input-folder, output folder.
    • Select:
      • Sound: Audio-Merge
        • Initially, extract audio from source file to a WAV file, then merge this audio in with the generated file.  The WAV file remains, regardless.
        • The alternative (if not enabled) is no audio in the generated file (and no WAV file).
      • Processing: Convert-Only
      • Quality: Fine
        • Clicking the [?] button reveals that this creates 10-bit Log (colour-channel resolution).
      • Video Format:
        • Cineform RAW (encoding format)
        • MOV (container format)
        • LUT: NoneClick the [Process Clip] button.
  • Result:
    • A movie file with name prefixed by :R4P_” and suffixed by “_sound”, incorporating both video (10-bit Log) and audio tracks.
    • An audio WAV file, similarly prefixed,  generated as a “side effect”, may or may not be useful to you, can be deleted.


Windows Media Player doesn’t like Cineform

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

I have on many occasions double-clicked an AVI file on my system, only to have it come up in Windows Media Player, where it plays shakily, as if getting frames or fields alternated.  VLC won’t play it at all, I believe this is because VLC only uses its own internal codecs, which do not include Cineform.

It is nice to know that I am not alone in this experience:

  • (forum thread from 2008)
    • harshvfx
      • I view the footage and it is distorted. it shakes badly as if it is playing 2 things at once. one on the right and one on the left. But when it is in premier it looks fine.
    • Eugenia Loli-Queru:
      • DO NOT try to playback Cineform on WMP (I have the same problem too btw). It is not a viewing codec and it is obviously not optimized to work well with WMP. If your video editor supports Cineform correctly, then you need not to worry.
      • Try windows media player classic. Free for download on the net. If your computer is up to it you can play back CineForm AVIs without a hitch. With a quad core and good card you can actually use CineForm as a delivery format straight from the PC to an HDTV. I do. Looks fantastic.

Convert FLV Video Files

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

To convert from [.flv] to another format, use VLC Media Player’s [Media > Convert/Save] option.  Be sure to set the destination as well as the source.  VLC can only convert to formats in its own internal container and codec sets, but e.g. can convert to [.mp4] containing H264.

Thereafter can use e.g. Sony Vegas to generate e.g. [.avi] containing CFHD, e.g. for onward use in applications that don’t recognize mp4-h264.  Vegas is more accommodating and flexible than (straight use of) Adobe Media Encoder, as regards non (broadcast) standard frame sizes and proportions.  Conveniently, Vegas automatically matches the Project to the footage on footage-import.

Prior to that, I tried installing and using Riga, the two-way FLV convertor, but it didn’t work on  my Window 7 (64-bit) machine,  opening only a blank window where a GUI was expected, and both the downloader and installer were both full of bloatware (NB needed to install in Advanced mode in order to avoid some of that).  Pointless…

HDV 50i from Sony Vegas to SD 50i Intermediate to Adobe Encore DVD

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

(This is actually an older post, from about a wek or so ago, but it was left languishing in “Draft” status.  But rather than delete it, here it is, out-of-sequence, for posterity)

Nowadays for video editing I mainly use Adobe CS6.  However I have still some old projects edited with Sony Vegas (10) which now have new clients.  One such project was shot as HDV on a Z1, giving 1440×1080 interlaced, at 50 fields/second, which I call 50i (it doesn’t really make sense to think of it as 25 fps).  The required new deliverable from this is a PAL-SD DVD, 720×5786 50i.  In addition, I want to deliver high-quality progressive HD (not V) 1920×1080 progressive.

The PAL-SD frame size of 720×576 has exactly half the width of the HDV source and just over half its height.  My naive initial thought was that the simple/cheap way to convert from the HDV source to the SD deliverable would be to merely allow each of the HDV fields to be downscaled to the equivalent SD field.  This could be performed in Sony Vegas itself, to produce an SD intermediate file as media asset to Encore to produce a DVD.

Some potential complications (or paranoia) that come to mind in this approach are:

  • Levels-changes, through processes associated with the intermediate file.  For example it might accidentally be written as 16-235 range and read at 0-255 range.  In general, uncertainty can arise over the different conventions of different NLEs and also the different settings/options that can be set for some codecs, sometimes independently for write and for read.
  • HD (Rec 709) to SD (Rec 601) conversion: I think Vegas operates only in terms of RGB levels, the 601/709 issue is only relevant to the codec stage, where codec metadata defines how a given data should be encoded/decoded.  The codec I intend to use is GoPro-Cineform, with consistent write/encode and read/decode settings.  Provided Vegas and Encore respect those, there should be no issue.  But there is the worry that either of these applications might impose their own “rules of thumb”, e.g. that small frames (like 720×576) should be interpreted as 601, overriding the codec’s other settings.
  • Interlace field order.  HDV is UFF, whereas SD 50i (PAL) is LFF.  Attention is needed to ensure the field order does not get swapped, as this would give an impression of juddery motion.

So I did some experiments…

  • Vegas (1) Project Settings:
    • Frame Size: 720×576
    • Field Order: LFF
    • PAR: 1.4568
  • Render Settings:
    • Frame Size: (as Project)
    • Field order: LFF (I think the default might have been something else)
    • PAR: 1.4568
    • Video Format: Cineform Codec

What Worked:

  • Sony Vegas (v.10) project for PAL-SD Wide, video levels adjusted to full-range (0-255) via Vegas’s Levels FX, then encoded to GoPro-Cineform.
  • Just as a test, this was initially read into an Adobe Premiere project, set for PAL-SD-Wide.  There, Premiere’s Reference Monitor’s YC Waveform revealed the levels range as 0.3 to 1 volts, which corresponds to NTSC’s 0-100% IRE on the 16-235 scale.  No levels-clipping was observed.
  • So using the 0-255 levels in Vegas was the right thing to do in this instance.
  • The Configure Cineform Codec panel in Sony Vegas (v.10) was quite simple, offering no distinction between encode and decode, allowing only for various Quality levels and for the Encoded Format to be YUV or RGB.  The latter was found to have no effect on the levels seen by Premiere, it only affected the file-size, YUV being half the size of RGB.  Very simple – I like that!
  • In Premiere, stepping forwards by frame manually, the movements looked smooth.

In Adobe Encore (DVD-Maker) CS6:

  • Imported the intermediate file as an Asset and appended it to the existing main timeline.
  • Encore by default assumed it was square-pixels.  Fixed that as follows:
    • [theClip >RtClk> Interpret Footage] to selrct the nearest equivalent to what I wanted: [Conform to SD PAL Widescreen (1.4587)].
      • Why does Encore’s [1.4587] differ from Vegas’s [1.4568] ?  Any consequence on my result?
  • Generated a “Virtual DVD” to a folder.
  • Played that “Virtual DVD” using Corel WinDVD
    • In a previous experiment, involving a badly-produced DVD having swapped field-order, I found this (unlike WMP or VLC) reproduced the juddering effect I had seen on a proper TV-attached DVD player.  So WinDVD is a good test.
  • Made a physical DVD via Encore.
  • The physical DVD played correctly on TV (no judder).

An alternative would be to deinterlace the original 50i to produce an intermediate file at 50p, ideally using best-quality motion/pixel based methods to estimate the “missing” lines in each of the original fields.  But would the difference from this more sophisticated approach be noticeable?

There also exists an AviSynth script for HD to SD conversion (and maybe HDV to SD also?).

  • It is called HD2SD, and I report my use of it elsewhere in this blog.  I found it not to be useful, producing a blurry result in comparison to that of Sony Vegas ‘s scaling (bicubic).


Best Workflow for High-resolution Master (e.g. HD or HDV) to Multi-Format Including SD-DVD

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

What is the best workflow for going from a high-resolution footage, potentially either progressive or interlaced,  possibly through an intermediate Master (definitely in progressive format) to a variety of target/deliverable/product formats, from the maximum down to lower resolution and/or interlaced formats such as SD-DVD ?

Here’s one big fundamental: Naively one might have hoped that long-established professional NLEs such as Premiere might provide high-quality optical processing based downscaling from HD to SD, but my less optimistic intuition, about the un-likelihood of that, proved correct.  In my post I note the BBC Technical standards for SD Programmes state: <<Most non linear editing packages do not produce acceptable down conversion and should not be used without the broadcaster’s permission>>.

Having only ever used Adobe (CS5.5 & CS6) for web-based video production, early experiences in attempting to produce a number of target/deliverable (product) formats proved more difficult and uncertain than I had imagined…  For a current project, given historical footage shot in HDV (1440×1080, fat pixels), I wanted to generate various products from various flavors of HD (e.g. 1920x1080i50,  1280x720p50) down to SD-DVD (720×576).  So I embarked on a combination of web-research and experimentation.

Ultimately, this is the workflow that worked (and satisfied my demands):

  • Master: Produce a 50 fps (if PAL) progressive Master at the highest resolution consistent with original footage/material.
    • Resolution: The original footage/material could e.g. be HD or HDV resolution.  What resolution should the Master be?
      • One argument, possibly the best one if only making a single format deliverable or if time is no object, might be to retain the original resolution, to avoid any loss of information through scaling.
      • However I took the view that HDV’s non-standard pixel shape (aspect ratio) was “tempting fate” when it came to reliability and possibly even quality in subsequent (downstream in the workflow) stages of scaling (down) to the various required formats (mostly square-pixel, apart from SD-Wide so-called “16:9” pixels, of 1.4568 aspect ratio (or other, depending where you read it).
      • So the Master resolution would be [1920×1080].
    • Progressive: The original footage/material could e.g. be interlaced or progressive, but the Master (derived from this) must be progressive.
      • If original footage was interlaced then the master should be derived so as to have one full progressive frame for each interlaced field (hence double the original frame-rate).
        • The concept of “doubling” the framerate is a moot point, since interlaced footage doesn’t really have a frame rate, only a field rate, because the fields are each shot at different moments in time.  However among the various film/video industry/application conventions, some people refer to 50 fields/second interlaced as 50i (or i50) wile others refer to it as 25i (or i25).  Context is all-important!
    • Quality-Deinterlacing: The best way to convert from interlaced fields-to-frames is via motion/pixel/optical -based tools/techniques:
      • I have observed the quality advantage in practice on numerous projects in the distant past, e.g. when going from HDV or SD (both 50i) to a variety of (lower) corporate web-resolutions.
      • This kind of computation is extremely slow and heavy, hence (for my current machines at least) more an overnight job than a real-time effect… In fact for processing continuously recorded live events of one or two hours, I have found 8 cores (fully utilised) to take a couple of 24-hour days or so – for [AviSynth-MultiThread + TDeint plugin] running on a [Mac Pro > Boot Camp > Windows 7].
      • But (as stated) this general technique observably results in the best quality, through least loss of information.
      • There are a number of easily-available software tools with features for achieving this, Adobe and otherwise:
        • e.g. AviSynth+TDeint, (free) After-Effects, Boris.
        • e.g. FieldsKit is a nice convenient deinterlacing plugin for Adobe (Premiere & After Effects), and is very friendly and useful should you want to convert to a standard progressive video (e.g. 25fps), but (at this time) it can only convert from field-pairs to frames, not from fields to frames.
          • I submitted a Feature Request to FieldsKit’s developers.
    • Intermediate-File Format: A good format for an Intermediate file or a Master file is the “visually lossless” wavelet-based 10-bit 422 (or more) codec GoPro-Cineform (CFHD) Neo
      • Visually lossless (such as CFHD) codecs save considerable amounts of space as compared to uncompressed or mathematically lossless codecs like HuffYUV and Lagarith.
      • I like Cineform in particular because:
        • It is application-agnostic.
        • It is available in both VFW [.avi] and QuickTime [.mov] varieties (which is good because I have found that it can be “tempting fate” to give [.mov] files to certain Windows apps, and indeed not to give it to others).  The Windows version of CFHD comes with a [.avi] <-> [.mov] rewrapper (called HDLink).
        • Another advantage is that CFHD can encode/decode not only the standard broadcast formats (and not only HD) but also specialized “off-piste” formats.  I have found that great for corporate work. It’s as if it always had “GoPro spirit”!
        • CHFD Encoder Settings from within Sony Vegas 10:
          • These settings worked for me in the context of this “Sony-Vegas-10-Initially-then-Adobe-CS6-centric” workflow:
    • Technical Production History of a Master for an Actual Project:
      • This is merely for my own reference purposes, to document some “project forensics” (while I still remember them and/or where they’re documented):
      • This was a “Shake-Down” experience, not exactly straightforward, due to an unexpected “hiccup” between Sony Vegas 10 and AviSynth-WAVSource.  Hiccups are definitely worth documenting too…
      • The stages:
        • Sony Vegas Project: An initial HDV 50i (to match the footage) Intermediate file, containing the finished edit, was produced by Sony Vegas 10 Project:
          • [Master 021a (Proj HDV for Render HDV)  (veg10).veg] date:[Created:[2013-07-01 15:30], Modified:[2013-07-03 20:07]]
          • Movie duration was about 12 minutes.
        • Audio & Video Settings:
          • Project Settings:
            • HDV 1440×1080 50i UFF 44.1KHz
              • The audio was 44.1KHz, both for Project and Render, since most of the audio (music purchased from Vimeo shop) was of that nature.
          • Render Settings:
            • I believe I will have used the following Sony Vegas Render preset: [CFHD ProjectSize 50i 44KHz CFHD (by esp)] .
              • Though I think there may have been a bug in Vegas 10, whereby the Preset did not properly set the audio sampling frequency, so it had to be checked & done manually)
            • The CFHD Codec settings panel only offered two parameters, which I set as follows: Encoded format:[YUV 4:2:2], Encoding quality:[High]
          • The result of Rendering from this Project was the file:
            • [Master 021a (Proj HDV for Render HDV)  (veg10).avi] date:[Created:[2013-07-01 15:30], Modified:[2013-07-01 18:58]]
              • Modified date minus creation date is about 3.5 hours, which I guess accounts for the render-time (on a 2-core MacBook Pro of 2009 vintage winning Windows 7 under Boot Camp).
        • The next stage of processing was to be by AviSynth.
          • However AviSynth had problems reading the audio out of this file (it sounded like crazy buzzes).
          • To expedite the project, and guessing that Vegas 10 had produced a slightly malformed result (maybe related to the audio setting bug?), and hoping that it was just a container-level “audio framing” issue, I “Mended” it by passing it through VirtualDub, in [Direct Stream Copy] mode, so that it was merely rewrapping the data as opposed to decompressing and recompressing it.  The resulting file was:
            • [Master 021a HDV Mended (VDub).avi], date:[Created:[2013-07-08 18:22], Modified:[2013-07-08 18:30]]
          • Since that time, I have discovered the existence of the Cineform tool CFRepair, from forum post at DVInfo: which itself provided a download link as
            • Worth trying it out sometime, on this same “broken” file…
        • This was processed into full HD progressive (one frame per field, “double-framerate”) by an AViSynth script as follows, its results being drawn through VirtualDub into a further AVI-CFHD file, constituting the required Master.
          • AviSynth Script:[HDV to HD 1920×1080.avs] date:[Created:[2013-07-04 18:13], Modified:[2013-07-08 22:05]]
            • I used AvsP to develop the script.  It provides helpful help of various kinds and can immediately show the result in its preview-pane.
            • Multi-threaded:
              • To make best use of the multiple cores in my machine, I used the AviSynth-MT variant of AviSynth.  It’s a (much larger) version of the [avisynth.dll] file.  For a system where AviSynth (ordinaire) is already installed, you simply replace the [avisynth.dll] file in the system folder with this one.  Of course its sensible to keep the old one as a backup (e.g. rename it as [avisynth.dll.original]).
            • Audio Issue:
              • This particular script, using function [AVISource] to get the video and and [WavSource] to get the audio, only gave audio for about the first half of the movie, with silence thereafter.
              • Initially, as a workaround, I went back to VirtualDub and rendered-out the audio as a separate WAV file, then changed the script to read its [WAVSource] from this.
              • That worked fine, “good enough for the job” (that I wanted to expedite)
              • However afterwards I found a cleaner solution: Instead of functions [AVISource] and [WAVSource], use the single function [DirectShowSource].  No audio issues.  So use that in future.  And maybe avoid Vegas 10?
          • The script was processed by “pulling” its output video stream through VirtualDub which saved it as a video file, again AVI-CFHD.  Since no filters (video processing) was to be performed in VirtualDub, I used it in [Fast Recompress] mode.  In this mode, it leaves the video data in YUV (doesn’t convert it into RGB), making it both fast and information-preserving.  Possibly (not tested) I could have simply have rendered straight from AvsP:[Tools > Save to AVI].  When I first tried that, I got audio issues, as reported above, hence I switched to rendering via VirtualDub, but in retrospect (having identified a source, perhaps the only source,  of those audio issues) that (switch) might have been unnecessary.
      • The resulting Master file was [Master 021a HDV 50i to HD 50p 1920×1080 (Avs-VDub).avi] date:[Created:[2013-07-08 21:55], Modified:[2013-07-08 22:47]]
        • “Modified minus created” implies a render-time of just under an hour.  This was on a [MacBook Pro (2009) > Boot Camp > Windows 7] having two cores, fully uitilised.
  • Quality inspection of Master:
    • Check image quality, e.g. deinterlacing, via VirtualDub.
      • VirtualDub is great in a close-inspection role because its Preview can zoom well beyond 100% and, vitally, it displays the video as-is, with no deinterlacing etc. of its own.
        • e.g. zoom to 200% to make any interlacing comb-teeth easily visible.  There should not be any, since this Master is meant to be progressive.
  • Premiere Project: Make a Premiere project consistent with the Master, and add chapter markers here.
    • Make Premiere Project consistent with the Master, not the Target.
      • …especially when there is more than one target…
    • Don’t directly encode the master (by Adobe Media Encoder), but instead go via Premiere.
      • I have read expert postings on Adobe forums stating that as of Adobe CS6, this is the best route.
      • This appears to be the main kind of workflow the software designers had in mind, hence a CS6 user is well-advised to follow it.
        • It represents a “well-trodden path” (of attention in CS6’s overall development and testing).
        • Consequently, (it is only in this mode that) high-quality (and demanding, hence CUDA-based) algorithms get used for any required scaling.
        • Not knowing the application in detail, hence having to adopt the speculative approach to decision-making, it feels likely that this workflow would have a greater chance of reliability and quality than other, relatively off-piste ones.
    • Premiere is the best stage at which to add Chapter Markers etc.
      • Chapter markers etc. get stored as ??XMP?? and are thereby visible to Encore (Adobe’s DVD-Builder)
      • Better to place such markers in Premiere rather than in Encore, since:
        • In Encore, Chapter markers act as if they are properties of Assets, not Timelines.
          • If you delete an asset from a timeline, the chapter markers disappear also.
        • Encore (CS6) Replace Asset has some foibles.
          • In Encore, if you were to put an [.avi] file asset on a timeline, then add markers then try to replace that asset with a [.mpg] file, you would be in for a disappointment; if the file extension differs then the markers disappear. If required, then the markers would have to be re-created from scratch. Same again if you subsequently replaced back to a new [.avi] file.
          • The Foibles of Encore (CS6)’s Replace Asset function, in more detail:
            • Good news: If the new asset has the same file extension then any existing markers are retained.
              • This possibly suggests that they are transferred from the old asset to the new one.
            • Bad news: If the new asset file extension differs from the old one, then:
              • You get an error (popup): ???
                • e.g. it refused my attempt to replace an [.avi] file by a [.m2v] file).
              • Partial-workaround:
                • You can instead delete the existing asset from the timeline, prior to dragging another asset there..
                • ..BUT as a side-effect that deletes any of the old asset’s markers also…
                • …and furthermore Encore has no way to copy a set of markers from one asset to another
                  • …which would otherwise have been a nice work-around for the above side-effect.
  • Premiere Export: Export / Render to Target Format.
    • You may wish to render to a number of formats, e.g. SD-Wide DVD, Blu-Ray Disk (BD), YouTube upload format, mobile phone or tablet.
      • The most efficient strategy is to Queue a number of jobs from Premiere onto Adobe Media Encoder (AME.
        • AME can run some things in parallel (I think).
        • AME has a [Pause] button, very useful for overnight silence or prior to travel (Windows Sleep/Hibernate).
    • Menu:[File > Export > Media]
    • Export Settings:
      • For targets of differing aspect ratio (e.g. SD-Wide derived from HD master):
        • Source Scaling:
          • e.g. for HD -> SD, use [Scale to Fill] since this avoids “pillarboxing” i.e. black bars either side.
      • For DVD Target, use inbuilt preset MPEG2-DVD
        • Ensure [Pixel Aspect Ratio] and interlace sense etc. are as required.
        • The [MPEG2-DVD] preset generates two files:
          • [.m2v] for the video
          • [Dolby Digital] or [MPEG] or [PCM]
            • [PCM] option results in a [.wav] file of 16 bits, 48 KHz (there is no 44.1 KHz option).
      • Maximum Render Quality
        • Use this if scaling, e.g. down from HD Master to SD Target.
      • File Path & Name.
        • Where you want the export/encode result to go.
    • Click the [Queue] button, to send the job to the Adobe Media Encoder (AME)
  • Quality Inspection of Result (intermediate or target file):
    • Check the quality of the encodes via VirtualDub, e.g. for DVD-compatible video media, the correctness of interlacing and for progressive media the quality of deinterlacing.
      • For interlaced downscaled material derived from higher resolution interlaced, the combs should be fine-toothed (one pixel in height).  A poor quality result (as expected for straight downscaling by any typical NLE such as Premiere, from HD interlaced to SD interlaced) would instead exhibit combing with thick blurry teeth.
      • VirtualDub is great tool for a a close-inspection role because its Preview can zoom well beyond 100% and, vitally, it displays the video as-is, with no deinterlacing etc. of its own.
        • In the past I have searched for and experimented with a number of candidate tools to be effective and convenient in this role.  VirtualDub was the best I could find.
        • e.g. zoom to 200% to make the teeth easily visible.
      • Plain VirtualDub is unable to read MPEG2 video, but a plugin is available to add that ability:
        • The [mpeg2.vdplugin] plugin by FCCHandler, from
          • It reads straight MPEG2 files, including [.m2v], but not Transport Stream files such as [.m2t] from the Sony Z1.
          • For [.m2v] files, VirtualDub may throw up an audio-related error, since such files contain no audio.  Fix: In VirtualDub, disable audio.
        • Its ReadMe file contains installation instructions.  Don’t just put it in VirtualDub’s existing [plugins] folder.
  • DVD Construction via Adobe Encore.
    • Name the Project according to the disk-label (data) you would like to see for the final product.
      • If you use Encore to actually burn the disk, this is what gets used for that label.
      • Alternative options exist for just burning the disk, e.g. the popular ImgBurn, and this allows you to define your own disk-label (data).
    • Import the following as Assets:
      • Video file, e.g. [.m2v]
      • If Video File was an [.m2v] then also import its associated Audio file – it does not get automatically loaded along with the [.m2v] file.
    • Create required DVD structure
      • This is too big a topic to cover here.
    • Quality Inspection: [Play From Here]
      • Menu:[File > Check Project]
        • Click [Start] button
        • Typical errors are actions [Not Set] on [Remote] or [End Action]
          • I plan to write a separate blog entry on how to fix these.
        • When everything is ok (within the scope of this check), it says (in status bar, not as a message): “No items found”.
          • A worrying choice of phrase, but all it means is “no error-items found”.
    • Menu:[File > Build > Folder]
      • Don’t select [Disk], since:
        • May want to find and fix any remaining problems prior to burning to disk.
        • May want to use an alternative disk burning application, such as ImgBurn.
          • From forums, I see that many Adobe users opt for ImgBurn.
      • Set the destination (path and filename) for the folder in which the DVD structure will be created.
        • At that location it creates a project-named folder and within that the VIDEO_TS folder (but no dummy/empty AUDIO_TS folder).
          • I once came across an ancient DVD player that insisted on both AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS folder being present and also they had to be named in upper-case, not lower.
      • Under [Disk Info] there is a colored bar, representing the disk capacity
        • Although the Output is to a folder, the Format is DVD, single-sided, which Encore realizes can hold up to 4.7 GB.
      • The [DVD ROM] option allows you to include non-DVD files, e.g. straight computer-playable files e.g. ([.mp4])
        • These go to the root of the drive, alongside the VIDEO_TS folder.
      • Finally, click the [Build] button.
        • On one occasion, it failed at this stage, with a “Encode Failed” or “Transcode Failed” (depending where I looked) error.  Solution: Shorten the file name.
          • Ok it was long-ish but I didn’t realize Encore would be so intolerant to that.  The suggestion of it only struck me later (the appearance of this guess was thanks to years of experience with computing etc.).
  • Quality Inspection of the DVD
    • I have found Corel WInDVD to show results representative of a standard TV with a DVD Player.
    • I have found popular media player such as VLC and Windows Media Player (WMP) to behave differently to this, hence not useful for quality-checking.   Problems I found included:
      • False Alarm: Playing went straight to the main video, didn’t stop at the Main Menu (as had been intended).  However it worked fine on a standard physical DVD player.
      • Hidden Problem: In one case I deinterlaced improperly, resulting in “judder” on movements when played on TV (via physical DVD player).  However it appeared fine on both VLC and WMP.
  • Metadata
    • In the case of WMV files, just use Windows Explorer:[aFile >RtClk> Properties > Details] and edit the main items of metadata directly.
    • For DVD generated by Adobe Encore, the Disk label (data) is the same as the Project name.
      • ImgBurn, a popular alternative to Encore as regards actually burning a disk, provides a way of changing this disk-label.

Using Cineform’s HDLink to Re-Wrap (ReWrap) from QuickTime (QT) MOV to AVI

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Rewrapping means taking the encoded contents out of one container file-type and putting it in another, with no decode/re-encode happening.  For example, given a [.mov] file, one might rewrap it to a [.avi] file.  These file-types are each merely containers, designed to contain various encode formats (e.g. DV, Lagarith, Cineform, DivX) without having to “understand” them.

Rewrapping may for example be required for some Windows-based applications, that either don’t handle [.mov], either at all or (as I have encountered) not fully.  Similarly, some applications (Windows or Mac based) will only work (or work properly) with [.mov] files.  For instance I have found the Windows variant of Boris RED (versions 4 and 5) to work properly with HD 50 fps progressive only via [.mov] container, as reported at while someone else has found Avid Media Composer 5 to prefer [.mov], reported at

One tool for doing this: HDLink, a utility bundled with the Windows version of Go-Pro-Cineform “visually lossless” wavelet-based codec (that I have used for a number of years).  HDLink can convert Cineform files from [.mov] to [.avi] and vice-versa.  Incidentally, for the Mac version of Cineform, there is a broadly equivalent utility called ReMaster, but that can only convert in one direction, from [.avi] to [.mov].

To re-wrap:

  • (Just now, I merely did [Convert] tab, select file and [Start], ans all worked fine, but maybe full work instruction should be as follows?)
  • Use HDLink’s [Convert] tab.
  • Select/Ensure the required destination file-type:
    • Click [Prefs] button (at bottom of dialog)
    • In [Prefs], ensure [Destination File Format for … Conversion] is set as you require.
    • And (I guess?) enable [Force re-wrap CF MOV->AVI], to ensure it doesn’t sneakily do a transcode?
  • Select the Input file and go.
  • The rewrapped version will appear in the same folder.

The process is of course much faster than transcoding, involving simple computation, hence the overall speed will tend to be limited by the storage (e.g. hard disk and/or its transfer bus, especially if it’s a slow old thing like USB2) rather than the CPU (which may consequently show an extremely low % usage).


Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 Warp Stabilizer Slow: No GPU/CUDA, Maybe no MultiThread?

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

My current project, a live rock performance (at an offshore radio party on a ship) involved significant quantities of handheld footage.  I’m editing this one in Adobe Premiere,  A lot of the handheld footage benefited from stabilization.  The easiest stabilization to hand is the Warp Stabilizer effect within Premiere.

It is really handy, and worked for me maybe 75% of the time, other situations gave unrealistic or unusable results.  So there is still a role for keeping back-up options such as Gunnar Thalin’s excellent Deshaker (and rendering to intermediates e.g. in GoPro-Cineform).

It is SLOW, a real time-loser, the main delay being its Motion Analysis stage.

  • This stage is computationally intensive in principle, a fundamental issue for any such device.
  • Some systems employ parallel execution here, to good effect: vastly reduced analysis (waiting) time.
  • However it seems that Premiere CS6 does not employ GPU here, and from Windows’ Task Manager, I infer that it is not even using multithreading (though I don’t know that for a fact).

Other than that, it does apparently use GPU/CUDA for its subsequent stabilize/deshake stage, and indeed that stage is very quick indeed, facilitating experimentation with settings (e.g. Subspace Warp or Position mode) to obtain the desired effect.

Incidentally, I found the default Subspace Warp mode to be “fragile”, so I use Position instead:

  • It often makes things in the background flap or wobble in unrealistic manner.
  • I therefore use Position mode, the simplest mode, as my default, then only advance to “Rotation” (etc.) if there is camera rotation.
  • It didn’t work well with very noisy footage, e.g.  Sony Z1 in Hyper-Gain mode, even if when denoising was applied earlier in the effects-chain.

Lastly, it’s a shame there’s no way/settings for:

  • Defining a mask, rectangular or otherwise, for region(s) to focus on or to avoid.  For example to prevent it locking onto a singer’s head instead of the stage.
  • Telling it to definitely not try to compensate for rolling-shutter.  When I know the camera is CCD, I ought to be able to tell the software not to consider rolling-shutter.  I never fully trust “Auto”, not in any application or context…


Sony EX3 Noise & Bits-Resolution

Monday, November 5th, 2012

It looks to me like it is worth recording from a Sony EX3 in 10-bit when there will be subsequent Neat Video -type temporal denoising in post.

I tried a quick-and-dirty experiment, confirming that, despite the relatively high noise of the Sony EX3 (as compared to mainstream broadcast video cameras), high bitrate 10-bit 4:2:2 recording offers a greater potential than 8-bit 4:2:0  when the Neat Video type of temporal denoising (motion-compensated, I think) is applied in post.

I have yet to dig-down into this, e.g. to see how it would be affected by dropping down to “8-bit but still high-bandwidth” recording, hence I can only conclude that the combination of high bandwidth, 10-bit and 4:2:2 is beneficial.

The experiment:

  • Make an extremely low-light recording on the EX3, in 1080 50i mode.
  • Import it to a SD resolution project in Adobe Premiere.
    • No “scale to project size”, hence pixel-for-pixel, with the HD clip therefore appearing to be “zoomed”.
  • Compare the original to a copy that had the following affects applied:
    • Fast Color Corrector
      • Input-range (0, 1.6, 114), to brighten the (deliberately) under-exposed image.
      • Increase Saturation to 200.
    • Remove Noise (Neat Video)
      • Temporal noise reduction only, radius 4 (frames).

Make the comparison via Preview:

  • Set resolution to 100%, image size to Full.
  • Render the result, i.e. so timeline had green lines not red.
  • Compare by eye.
    • The unprocessed 8-bit (XDCAM-EX) and 10-bit (Cineform-High) recordings appeared identical i.e. very noisy.
    • The denoised 8-bit looked slightly better but the denoised 10-bit looked very significantly better, indeed just about usable.

Cineform and Alpha Channels

Friday, August 31st, 2012

The full (paid) version of GoPro-Cineform Neo (as I have) does support alpha channels.

(A colleague initially thought otherwise – but that impression turned out to be based on info from old forum threads)


Kinefinity’s KineRaw S35

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Last night the thought came, if only I could justify getting a Sony F3…

Now possibly the answer to my dreams?  The forthcoming (next year, hopefully) KineRaw S35, by some people’s judgements, is broadly comparable to an Arri or RED but at half the price.  That’s broadly not exactly.  Yes, it’s from China..   I heard about it first from the highly informative NoFilmSchool (well worth joining).

This camera, nearing the end of its development and testing, shoots Raw (straight colours, no debayering), which to naive me sounds like big bandwidths and files, but as it happens, one of its options is to record to GoPro-Cineform RAW (10-bit log90) format.  This, if I read the article by Jake Seagraves (as of 9 August 2012) correctly, for a 2K frame, has typically the same bandwidth as GoPro-Cineform HDV (1440×1080), namely/numerically around 15 MB/sec (=120Mb/s).  I say typically because it is a Variable Bit Rate format, so obviously it depends on scene (including noise) complexity.   By comparison, HDV 1440×1080 m2t (long-GOP Mpeg2), like DV, are about 25Mb/s.  So Cineform is then about 5 times bigger than HDV and DV – the unavoidable cost of being “visually lossless”.

Some informative links I chanced upon:

  • Brief specs:
  • Main Site (still being edited at time of writing):
    • “…the Vimeo version is a shadow of the image quality the uncompressed footage can show since to post on Vimeo I need to compress MPEG4v2 and that mucks up the image with block artifacts…”
    • Yes I can pull the shadows up maybe 3 to 4 stops without major issues and perhaps 6 stops if you apply more forcefull noise reduction in post. The maximum would be about 8 stops of lift but probably not for Blu-ray use as compressed end use formats need noiseless result frames.
    • Some cameras use temporial noise reduction in the camera to get lower noise at high ISO, but these are raw recording cameras so you would use temporal noise reduction as well as area filters and chroma cleaners as a normal part of post production, so take that into account.
    •  35mm film scans are now ‘always’ de-grained and dust-busted with powerful software to get a usable result, most people don’t know how much grain ‘raw’ film scans can show because all they see are heavily digitally processed film scans. Likewise a True RAW recording Digital Cinema Camera gives you ‘raw’ DNG that are like raw film scans in that they should undergo de-grain and filtering to make the results look better, …
    • Cineform ™ is like RED ™’s REDCODE ™ in that it is wavelet compression
      • Sensor: the 2K model has a 4K sensor, downscaled by pixel-binning (hence all pixels get used).  Moire/Detail tradeoff optimizable by customizable Low-Pass-Filter (LPF).  CMOS hence rolling-shutter.
      • Exposure: Around 12 stops of latitude.  Base ISO is around 800, variable from 8 to 10,000 (above which noise becomes a problem).
      • Hardware: Has a fan, its speed/noise depending on temperature.  No battery of its own, just a (standard) power socket.
      • Audio: Two XLRs but they are only line-level (no mic, let alone phantom…)
      • Video: Two SDIs BUT these are only intended for monitoring, e.g. they only carry 8 bits.
      • Weight is around 4 kG.  Not as light as an F3 but not as heavy as an Arri.
      • Recording: Own-brand KineMag SSDs are only needed for “True Raw” DNG recording (800 MB/s), alternatives can be used for Cineform RAW recording (around 100Mb/s VBR).
      • Monitor outputs e.g. to feed SmallHD monitor (or others), include overlays for Waveform Monitor, Histogram (with separate colours), Zoom (e.g. for focus assist) up to 800%

Boris FX Export Issues

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Boris Red is great, but “I learnt the hard way” not use Boris standalone.  From now on I will only use it as a plugin to an NLE, performing the import/export via that instead.  In Red 4, it was possible in Windows to e.g. import DNxHD or Cineform and then export QuickTime>Cineform.  However in Red 5.2 at least, it seems that QuickTime import and export capabilities have been removed.

In more detail:

  • Naively, I tried using Boris Red 5.0 in standalone mode, to import a file, apply an enhancement effect then export to an intermediate file (that I could import back to my NLE).  But it failed.  Different variations on my export attempts failed in different ways, sometimes crashing, sometimes an error message, sometimes a weird image in the result
  • So I updated to Red 5.2, hoping that the problem might be fixed in that version.  However the problem remained, and now there was a further obstacle – Red version 5.2 for Windows removed the ability to export to QuickTime.  At first I thought it was perhaps a case of QuickTime version incompatibility. But no, it appears that this export feature has been deliberately removed from Red, following issues between Red and QuickTime in their newly-shared 64-bit world…
  • In desperation I tried Uncompressed.  Cumbersome in the least and, in the case of external USB2 drives, slow.  However even that attempt failed, with a Boris crash.
  • Finally I gave up and simply applied Red as a plugin to my most flexible available NLE, namely Sony Vegas.


Cineform Codec Settings

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

What are they exactly?

Some tips gained from forums:

  • If the CFHD AVI is brighter gamma-wise and less saturated than expected, then try un-checking the Use Video Systems RGB (Default On) checkboxes for Encode and Decode.
  • Conversely, if the image shadows are darker than expected, check the Use Video Systems RGB checkboxes for both Encode and Decode.
  • Use 709 for everything bigger than SD.


Cineform “Automatic” Options

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

The Cineform codec, like several other codecs, has options whose meaning has never been that clear to me.

  • (from 2008)
    • “Automatic”, doesn’t analyze or alter your footage, it just tell the compressors to be interlaced or progressive based on other options selected.
    • Auto givess:
      • 1080i sources will be interlaced
      • 1080i + pulldown removal will be progressive
      • 1080i + deinterlace will be progressive

Great to know!  I always wondered about that.  Having been in doubt, I typically “play safe” by manually specifying instead.

Sorenson Squeeze 8.5 & Cineform: Issue & Fix (Preferences)

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

I installed Sorenson Squeeze 8.5 onto a [MacPro > BootCamp > Windows 7] machine.  I imported (by drag) one of my standard intermediate files, an AVI containing Cineform video and WAV audio for an HD 1920×1080 (square pixels) frame, progressive.  The image displayed in Squeeze looked squashed, reminiscent of an HDV 1440×1080 stretched-pixel image displayed using square pixels.  But as stated, the source pixels here were square.

The solution was to go in Squeeze’s Preferences and specify that the file-reader it should use for .avi files should be QuickTime, not DirectX etc.  Sounds like Squeeze has a long-standing affinity for QuickTime, which for me is reminiscent of my experiences with Boris RED etc.  Quelle nuisance!


Cineform Neo is now GoPro Studio Premium

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

This great codec has changed its product name once more.  I have GoPro/Cineform Neo installed and it said there was an update available.  But on the download page I could not see [Cineform Neo] anywhere.  A web-search revealed that it is now called [GoPro CineForm Studio Premium].

    • (<<about 78 days ago we said, RT @David_Newman)
      • First public beta for the new GoPro CineForm Studio Premium application that soon replaces CineForm Neo (PC version)>>
    • Neo and Neo3D are going away, to be replaced with GoPro CineForm Studio Premium (Neo level) and GoPro CineForm Studio Professional (Neo3D level.)
    • These applications incorporate much of the functionality of the older products in an easier to use new user interface that combines the conversion features of HDLink with the image manipulation of FirstLight.
    • As not all existing features are supported today within the new interface, FirstLight and HDlink will continue to exist for some time, although they will not be greatly enhanced beyond bug fixes.
    • Mac users will find the same for Remaster, with its key features moving into CineForm Studio (Mac and PC applications will be much more inline.)
    • All future enhancements with go into the new application, and today MVC 3D camera support has been added, with much more to come.

Windows 7 Successful Use of [AviSynth > AvsPmod > avs2avi]

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Made a simple AviSynth script to get an existing real HDV video (in Cineform format) and apply TDeint (motion-compensated deinterlace filter) to it.  Opened it in AvsPmod and it displayed OK.  Exported the result of that processing from AvsPmod via [Tools > Save to AVI].  This called up avs2avi.exe.  That executable’s menu of codec formats was as below.  NOTE the Cineform codec (following that company’s takeover) now comes under the name GoPro – I missed it the first time I scanned!  The test worked fine – deinterlaced video successfully exported to Cineform and subsequently played in Windows Media Player.

  •  Microsoft Video 1 (an ancient format – as explained at
  • Intel IYUV Codec (a very old format
  • Intel IYUV Codec (again)
  • Cinepak Codec by Radius
  • proDAD Saver for Mercalli (not sure it’s a real codec, maybe a “virtual” one, associated with the proDAD video stabilization plugin for Sony Vegas)
  • GoPro-Cineform Codec v7.3.2 (CINEFORM)
  • ffdshow Video Codec (several choices, shown when you hit Config button)
  • Intel Indeo Video 4.5 (From the “good old days”, I used it back then to compress PAL standard definition video from analog capture)
  • Full Frames (Uncompressed)

VirtualDub Transcode/Retime to Offline & Online Cineform for Sony Vegas

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

  • Also shows:
    • Batch file for multiple files to be converted
    • Audio processing graph editor in VirtualDub
    • “Rename folder” kludge for Sony Vegas to relink Offline to Online.

Cineform Free Codec for H264 Cameras (eg GoPro or DSLR)

Sunday, August 21st, 2011
    • David Newman of cineform just announced that cineform codec will be free for canon users.
    • Their 3d tool for the GoPro 3d system is getting re-released to be compatible with all cameras, from what I gather. It’s already free, though: — and for free, for any H.264 .mp4 footage, you can:
      • • Transcoding to GoPro CineForm codec
      • • Frame-rate adjust for slow motion
      • • Exposure
      • • Contrast
      • • Saturation
      • • Color Temperature
      • • Image flip rotation
      • • Frame Resize (Up-res/Down-res)
      • • Cropping and zoom
    • So if you take your 5d/7d/whatever footage and convert to .mp4 you can then convert to cineform using this free tool already.
    • Recently, it was announced that GoPro had acquired Cineform, and would be utilizing their tech in a 3D camera. We dropped by the Cineform booth at NAB 2011 to talk to David Newman about this change for Cineform, and how that affects their pro users.
    • (Video, interspersed with sponsor adverts: Interview with David Newman about GoPro/Cineform future plans and the free Cineform codec for GoPro that is also usable by Canon DSLR users)
    • The GoPro CineForm Studio is FREE to download.
    • Software is only available for Windows XP, Vista and 7 and Mac Snow Leopard 10.6.3 – 10.6.8. See complete list of System Requirements.
    • To use the 3D convergence features of this software, all imported files must be created with a GoPro camera.
    • The following features will work with any H.264 compressed .mp4 file created with most other cameras however GoPro does not guarantee compatibility:
      • Transcoding to GoPro CineForm codec
      • Frame-rate adjust for slow motion
      • Exposure
      • Contrast
      • Saturation
      • Color Temperature
      • Image flip rotation
      • Frame Resize (Up-res/Down-res)
      • Cropping and zoom
    • I successfully downloaded both Windows and Mac versions, in each case once I had entered my details.

Avid Workflows with Cineform

Sunday, August 21st, 2011


  • My presumption (yet to be tried):
    • Edit in Avid with AMA link to Cineform files and FirstLight open (simultaneously).  Do the primary grading in FirstLight, possibly via a parallel/collaborative workflow.
    • Later, Avid-import as Avid controlled media, at which point the Cineform files get transcoded to DNxHD or whatever and the primary grading gets baked-in (but can of course still be further tweaked in Avid).  For resilience and flexibility, retain the Cineform files (or at least the ability to regenerate them) and the FirstLight project file (which stores the grading data).


Avid MC 5: Exporting Cineform (as QuickTime)

Sunday, August 21st, 2011
    • (The original article includes dialog screen-shots, maybe these give extra info/insight)
    • 1. File->Export
    • 2. Select “Send to QT Movie” in the Export Setting dropdown at the
    • bottom of the export window.
    • 3. Select an output location and input output file name.
    • 4. Click “Options” to the right of the Export Setting dropdown
      • In the “Options” window:
        • – Export As: “QuickTime Movie”
        • – Width x Height: match your source or input desired scale size
        • – Select “601/709″ if you have NOT selected “Enable 4:4:4 encoding”. If you have, select “RGB”
        • – Display Aspect Ratio: “Native Dimensions” if you are not scaling, desired output if you are.
    • 5. Click “Format Options…”
      • – Sound: Checked, uncompressed, 48kHz, 16-bit, Stereo
    • 6. Click “Settings”
      • – Compression Type: CineForm HD/4K/3D
      • – Frame Rate: Current
      • – Depth: Millions of Colors+
      • – Quality (Set at user discretion, recommended “High” or “Best”)
    • 7. Quality Options: “Enable 4:4:4 encoding” and “Interlaced video source” are options to use at your discretion
    • 8. Click “OK” as you navigate back to the original “Export” window, and click “OK” again to start your export.
    • 9. Upon completion, go back to your project bin, right-click and select “Link to AMA File(s)…” and navigate to your new file.
    • For 3D projects, you will want to do one of these renders for each eye, then mux the outputs back together for a 3D master, as described here:
    •  Joachim Claus (Aug 2011) Re: MC 5.5.2 and CineForm Codec
      • If you need a QT-Cineform file format, I recommend o export a QT Reference and then use QT-Prof for transcoding to Cineform.
        • I have tested QT-export with Cineform Codec (GoPro-Cineform HD/4K/3D). It worked flawlessly from a HD720P50 timeline. However, the export is slow. For a 1:03 minute timeline (coded in DNxHD120), the encoding took 5:21 minute.
        • In another test, I exported a QT-Reference file from the same timeline, imported it into QT-Prof. and exported the file with Cineform Codec as above. In this case, the encoding took 2:49 minute.

Cineform FirstLight: Interactive Grading for a Sony Vegas Project

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

The tutorial videos for FirstLight (linked in my previous post) made it look very simple.  And indeed it pretty-much is, but Sony Vegas introduces a “bijou problemette” (franglais) in teh form of its Video Preview cache, which lacks a corresponding “Clear Cache” button.  As a result, when I first tried using FirstLight with Vegas (10e), adjustments in FirstLight did not always show up in Vegas.  The possible solutions are:

  • In Vegas, set “Dynamic RAM preview (max) MB” to zero.  Then on each FirstLight change, just wiggle Vegas’s timeline cursor (playhead) at least couple of frames either way (moving it by just one frame is not sufficient).
  • Alternatively, if “Dynamic RAM preview (max) MB” is not set to zero,  then on the Preview window, try flipping between settings, like from Good/Half (my usual setting) to Good/Full.  It’s no good doing an open/close of that window or indeed changing its scale – these seem to have no effect on the cache.

Cineform FirstLight: Explanatory & Instructional Links

Saturday, August 20th, 2011


  • The main principle is great – the decoder part of the Cineform Neo codec has to do levels-mapping work etc. anyway as part of its normal function, and so getting it to do the grading at the same time just means altering its scaling factors etc., which in principle means using less CPU as compared to the grading being done in the NLE (post-decode).   Also fewer successive quantizations (hence better overall visual quality).  You can specify different sets of factors (hence grades) for different video files. There are also some “Movie Looks” presets.
  • Additionally it gives the ability to split the grading process off to another person (as the tutorial videos show) – a great extra bonus. By using DropBox (say) the two (or more) of you can work in parallel at remote locations, grading-updates appear automatically on the remote NLE. Essentially only a tiny shared grading project file is saved in DropBox, no need to exchange actual video files.

I’m currently trying it out on a client project (non-critical) in Sony Vegas.  I will post my experiences from this separately.

Sony Vegas: “Movie Looks” via FX Presets or Cineform-FirstLight

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Sony Vegas allows chains of effects (“FX”) to be built up, which can optionally be exported or imported as FX Presets.  Some generous people on the web have offered their own FX Presets to achieve “Movie Looks” (dramatic looks) of various kinds.  These are more about emphasizing different kinds of mood than achieving clinically pure or film-grainy image quality.  Further details below…


Avid MetaFuze – Description & Role

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

MetaFuze’s primary, if not only purpose is to prep files for Media Composer use – an “outboard importer”.  Though bundled with Media Composer, it is also available free, from (which redirects to  That means for example that preprocessing work (e.g. generation of burnt-timecode proxies and online files) can be generated (e.g. in DNxHD from an arbitrary source) by anyone whether or not they have an Avid system (apart from this app, and the free Avid codecs.  Potentially then a great option for breaking up work into collaborative / parallel workflows.


Avid MC: Offline-Online Basic Idea

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Previously I posted “Avid Media Composer: Offline-Online Basic Instructions”, at  But that approach seemed a little quirky, what with renaming Avid subfolders etc.   By accident, while searching on Avid MC AMA-linking to Cineform-encoded video, I stumbled upon a forum discussion not only covering this but also how to go about (instead) using MXF ingest initially to small files (DNxHD 36) for cutting and subsequent re-ingest/replacement (DNxHD 128) for grading and final product etc.  The advice given in the forum was that the AMA approach was faster but more fragile than the MXF approach.  I guess the best of both worlds would be a workflow initially using AMA (eg for rush-edits) but then migrating to MXF for the full professional treatment.


Cineform – Tutorials, Information & Tips

Thursday, August 11th, 2011


  • Best quality level to use for grading is FilmScan1.
    • The next one down, High, is only for final product, as intermediate totranscode from.
    • The next level up, FilmScan2, is “overkill”.
  • Tech Blog (many subjects)
  • HDLink
  • Firstlight
    • Does more than I imagined!
      • Has translation/projection adjustments (e.g. frame, zoom, pan)
      • It has “looks” (via LUT’s) e.g. “Bleach Bypass”.  Can scroll through them (e.g. via up/down arrow keys)
      • Can be keyframed hence dynamically changing (e.g. a pan to follow a moving object or adjust level/hue as sun sinks).
      • Can copy & paste attributes between different clips (select-all>Paste to make all clips have the same style)
      • Can “branch” projects to provide a dropdown-selectable menu of alternative grades/looks.
      • Great suggestions for incorporation in workflow:
        • While one person is editing, another can be grading.
        • Tip: store FirstLight projectsin DropBox folders, then everyonbe sees same instant-updates (e.g. extra alternative styles).
      • Possible there exists a problem when used with Avid Media Composer 5.5.2 (at least).
      • Conjecture: (if) First Light … is OpenGL accelerated when dealing with Cineform media (then) when it is handed to to other applications, the playback and processing of the LUT (metadata) is all CPU, thus causing a performance discrepency.
  • Vimeo: Cineform Examples & Tutorials & Groups:

Cineform Settings – Further Tips

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Prevoius post said (quoted):

  • High quality is for finished material (e.g. to be output to DVD/BluRay) …
  • …but if further grading is a possibility then use Filmscan 1.  Filmscan 2 is overkill.
  • For extensive post, filmscan and 4:4:4 is probably a benefit. But note that 4:4:4:4 requires lots of power and raid arrays.

New, from

  • For most workhorse acquisition, post, and rendering uses we recommend either High or Film Scan.
    • By the way, the background on the naming of “Film Scan” is that this mode was designed to accurately reproduce the characteristic of film grain during film scanning.
  • Certain applications don’t exploit the temporal nature of the CineForm algorithm, and resulting YUV file sizes are approximately 25% larger than (otherwise).  This doesn’t impact visual quality, only compressed file size.  These applications include Sony Vegas and Apple Final Cut Pro.
  • Also for consideration: When selecting a higher quality setting (FS1 versus High for instance) the recorded files are larger (and) more CPU (is used) for real-time playback.

Avid MediaComposer 5 & Cineform (Neo)

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

It is possible to export to [QuickTime>Neo] and then eve to AMA-link to it:

      • Steps:
      1. File->Export
      2. Select “Send to QT Movie” in the Export Setting dropdown at the
        bottom of the export window.
      3. Select an output location and input output file name.
      4. Click “Options” to the right of the Export Setting dropdown
        1. In the “Options” window:
        2. Export As: “QuickTime Movie”
        3. Width x Height: match your source or input desired scale size
        4. Select “601/709″ if you have NOT selected “Enable 4:4:4 encoding”. If
          you have, select “RGB”
        5. Display Aspect Ratio: “Native Dimensions” if you are not scaling,
          desired output if you are.
      5. Click “Format Options…”
        1. Sound: Checked, uncompressed, 48kHz, 16-bit, Stereo
      6. Click “Settings”
        1. Compression Type: CineForm HD/4K/3D
        2. Frame Rate: Current
        3. Depth: Millions of Colors+
        4. Quality (Set at user discretion, recommended “High” or “Best”)
      7. Quality Options: “Enable 4:4:4 encoding” and “Interlaced video
        source” are options to use at your discretion
      8. Click “OK” as you navigate back to the original “Export” window, and click “OK” again to start your export.
      9. Upon completion, go back to your project bin, right-click and select “Link to AMA File(s)…” and
        navigate to your new file.
      • For 3D projects, you will want to do one of these renders for each eye, then mux the outputs back together for a 3D master, as described here:

However one person found that while the basic codec worked OK with Avid MC, the FirstLight LUT-altering aspect did not:

Sony Vegas: Compression Formats for Digital Intermediates

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Compression formats for Digital Intermediates when using Sony Vegas:

    • Cineform for highest quality (smart-renderable)
      • Cineform (is great for transfer) between After Effects and Vegas.
    • MXF for almost the same quality at a fraction of the size.
      • MXF previews beautifully off small bus-powered USB 2 drives.
    • Quicktime .mov with png compression for anything with a transparent alpha layer.
    • Quicktime .mov with Avid DNxHD codec for Handbrake encoding intermediary and for working with the FCP world.

Details (again from the above link) about use of MXF:

  • The big thing with MXF is to make sure that you use it interlaced even (if) you are using progressive footage.  …set it using one of the interlaced templates but set the deinterlace method to none.
    • The reason this is important is that Vegas will only smart-render .mxf footage flagged as interlaced. If you set the MXF render properties to progressive, it won’t smart-render. If you set the properties to interlaced and select either blend fields or interpolate, it will screw up resizes and renders to other formats.
  • MXF with a smart-render is very cool. The format looks wonderful and no damage is done as you smart-render sections into a final piece.
    • MXF without a smart-render isn’t really good enough. MXF will not hold up to successive rerenders like Cineform or a lossless codec.

Cineform: Neo HD & Neo 4K Are Now Just “Neo”

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Neo HD and Neo 4K are now one and the same product: – read down the post, it gets mentioned.

DNxHD vs Cineform for Non-Standard Format in Sony Vegas 9.0e (64-bit)

Sunday, May 1st, 2011


  • Cineform copes nicely with non-standard formats but DNxHD does not.


DNxHD vs Cineform for 1080-50i in Sony Vegas 9.0e (64-bit)

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Summary of my conclusions from my own limited experiments based around Sony Vegas (9.0e 64-bit):

  • For HD 1080-50i, in its corresponding mode, DNxHD works as well as or better than Cineform.
  • However for non-standard formats (like Vimeo SD-Wide 853×480), DNxHD does not work well while Cineform does.
    • Confirmed by separate experiment, reported separately.
  • For my experiments (Sony Vegas 9.0e-64) the following DNxHD settings made no difference:
    • LevelSpace: RGB/709
    • Quality: 50% (default) or 100%


Importing Cineform into Virtualdub, 601, 709, RGB issues

Monday, March 21st, 2011 Importing Cineform into Virtualdub, 601, 709, RGB issues

Cineform Settings – which ones to use for what

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Which modes of Cineform are appropriate under which circumstances:

  • Paraphrased from [, as of 2010-12-23]
    • NeoScene and NeoHD uses can select 4:2:2 in any quality.
    • High quality is for finished material (e.g. to be output to DVD/BluRay) but if further grading is a possibility then use Filmscan 1
      • Filmscan 2 is overkill.
    • Neo4K and Neo3D users also get 4:4:4 and 4:4:4:4 support.
      • Requesting these modes with (other variants of the software?) will result in a watermark.
      • For extensive post, filmscan and 4:4:4 is probably a benefit.
      • 4:4:4:4 requires lots of power and raid arrays.
    • The uncompressed mode should generally be avoided – it is only intended for camera acquisition to save battery power.

Cineform is a codec for digital intermediates.  When used in appropriate ways, it offers visually lossless compression/decompression.  Some quality reduction does occur but only to a degree that is not important to (or even noticeable by) most people’s eyes, even after several rounds of compression/recompression.  In contrast, delivery formats such as DV, DVD, XDCAM-EX are suitable only for a single round of compression/decompression, and even then are lossy (lose quality) to a degree that many people can notice, especially when playback is paused at a single frame.

Deshaker for VirtualDub by Gunnar Thalin

Monday, July 26th, 2010

I have used this for years.  Here are some things I learnt and re-learnt today, about and around it:

  • Deshaker’s main forum is
  • Deshaker is used as a plugin to VirtualDub.
  • VirtualDub can’t directly read XDCAM-EX files.
    • One way round this is to transcode to an AVI format.
      • I traditionally use Cineform (CFHD).  In Sony Vegas, when rendering-out to this from a 720p50 Project single XDCAM-EX .mxf file of 720p50 footage, the result when viewed in the original project has a weird effect where the image only advances every two frames.
        • This does not occur for larger Projects, reason unknown (need to experiment, but maybe ? it’s because because larger projects tend also to contain media in other formats?).
      • So instead on this occasion I render to HuffYuv.  Larger but lossless and no (obvious) issues.
      • After every such render, check for the “doubled-up frames” issue, e.g. in case accidentally rendered to unintended format.  Mistakes happen, especially when under pressure of long hours…
  • The result, from VirtualDub, can be saved to AVI formats e.g. Cineform (CFHD).
    • If saving to CFHD then be sure to specify RGB mode (in the codec’s dialog), this preserves the levels in 0..255 (“Computer”) range, otherwise (default non-RGB) it scales to 16..235, giving a washed-out appearance when viewed back in Sony Vegas.

Boris Stabilization/Smoothing (for a Sony Vegas project)

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Using Boris RED on Windows, mostly as standalone (Red Engine).  Today, wanted to apply it as a stabilizer.  Have done this a long time in the past, for AVI files etc., but this is the first time I have seriously tried to apply it to to XDCAM-EX footage, of 720p50 (intended for a PAL DVD 576i50 deliverable).   Summary:

  • Warnings:
    • Boris can’t be used in Sony Vegas for other than static effects, hence not for stabilization (a dynamic effect).
      • At least, not without a workaround of debatable overall advantage (explained under “More”).
    • Boris doesn’t recognize Sony XDCAM ClipBrowser’s “MXF for NLEs” format, but does recognize Cineform AVI (no need to be QT).
    • When altering any settings, Boris defaults to keyframing them.  Right-click the funny symbol and change it to Constant.
    • Have to double-check the compression settings, including the codec’s own dialog (their defaults are not always good and they can change “automatically”).
    • Boris can export 720p50 as QT-CFHD but, as far as I can tell, Sony Vegas cannot (it can only export such CFHD as AVI, though thankfully Boris can read that).
    • Boris doesn’t use multiple CPUs it seems.  Unlike DeShaker – of great advantage for such lengthy (CPU-heavy) processes.
  • Instructions (in Boris):
    • Delete existing tracks, drag-in the source file, de-select its tracks (audio & video), Menu: [Filters > Time > BCC Optical Stabilizer], select the Stabilizer track.
    • In Controls change Mode from default [Setup region] to wanted [Smooth], twirl-open the Stabilizer track, drag video track onto its Input Layer.  Also increase Smoothing Range from default (30 frames) to 1 or 2 seconds-worth (in my case 100 since footage was 50 fps).
    • Click Preview’s [ >>| ] “Go To End” button.  This causes motion analysis to begin.  Takes ages…  Likewise, don’t bother playing it…
    • [Menu: File > Export > Movie File].
      • Initially generate a quick draft to check the stabilization is as required:
        • Temporarily set 25fps, choose [Fast]
        • Select a limited region (I/O) for export.
      • Regardless, in compression dialog, if Cineform is used then select Quality = Medium (not Best or High which are overkill).
  • Links:


PC Windows <--> Mac OS X RoundTrip (Round-Trip)

Monday, July 19th, 2010


  • In Windows I export from Sony Vegas to AVI (CineForm).  In OS X I read the file into FCP and apply the SmoothCam effect, then export to ProRes.  In Windows, Sony Vegas, I replace the original file with the smoothed one.  The levels/gamma are wrong.

Solution (Search):

  • Sony Vegas forum
    • Use DNxHD
      •  Couple of tips re DNxHD:  709 color level assumes 16-235, and RGB assumes 0-255.
    • Force it back again:
      • But this presumably implies getting re-quantized twice (the roundtrip issue and the forcing), which for 8-bit footage I imagine could reduce the quality (banding).
  • Uncertainties
    • Where and how does this gamma get applied?  In FCP I didn’t (knowingly) alter the levels (eg until it looked right), I just applied the SmoothCam filter.  So I guess it would look wrong on the (pre-SnowLeopard) Mac but I wouldn’t care.  Wouldn’t FCP then export back whatever it got but smoothed?  This one is really confusing.    Experiments needed (when I get time…) I guess.

FCP only half-likes CineForm AVI – try Cineform MOV instead.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009


  • In FCP I imported [File>Import] a CineForm AVI file residing on an NTFS disk.   It showed up in FCP’s browser OK.  I dragged it to Viewer and it played there OK.  I dragged it to timeline and it displayed there as a clip i.e. as a long pale-green block.


  • When I tried to play teh timeline the Canvas screen remained blank.
  • Also the timeline clip-block had no thumbnail (which, given my configuraton of FCP, I would normally expect)


  • Mac support for AVI is said to be half-hearted.  This is probably what is happening here.


  • Try re-wrapping the Cineform AVI file as a CineForm MOV file.
  • This can be done via Cineform’s bundled tools as follows:
    •  On the PC by using HDLink
    • On the Mac by using ReMaster
  • (I have not yet tried this)

Apple Color is incompatible with QuickTime (allegedly)

Friday, June 5th, 2009

According to CineForm NEO HD FAQ [] as of 2009-05-05:

“Color does NOT support QuickTime codecs. Instead, Color only allows
certain codecs that have been compiled into the code to be used.  Apple
is aware of this limitation, but they haven’t been to quick to solve
the problem.”

Whaaaaat!?!?!   If so then that’s astonishing(-ly uncool).

On the Mac, Cineform uses the QuickTime wrapper, hence:

“CineForm files currently do NOT work in Apple’s Color application.”