Archive for the ‘CUDA’ Category

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.

Frame Image Scaling in Adobe CS6 (e.g. Premiere-to-AME CUDA Works Best; HD-to-SD Requires Top&Bottom-Crops)

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Frame image Scaling in Adobe CS6

  • I think I read on various webpages that downscaling and encoding within Encore should be avoided.
    • CS6 CUDA-Based Scaling is Sophisticated/High-Quality:
      • Adobe Media Player in CS6 has sophisticated CUDA-based scaling algorithms that go beyond its non-CUDA-based ones.
      • They are so good that they are said to be broadly equivalent to AviSynth-HD2SD
      • But the CUDA-based algorithms only come into play when AME is encoding direct from a Premiere project (regardless of whether that project is open).
      • They do not happen when encoding either a plain media (e.g. video) file or an After Effects (AE) Composition (Comp).
    • HD to SD Conversion:
      • HD frame (hence sensor and screen) aspect (ratio) is squarer than PAL-SD-Wide.
      • Hence to avoid distortion, one can either:
        • Crop the HD top and bottom (the most pragmatic solution, but then bear in mind effects on “Safe” regions)
        • “Pillarbox” the HD within the SD frame, i.e. pad the HD image’s left and right margins, typically with black.


My GPU is Definitely Too Old for Adobe Mercury Engine

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

  • This hives “hacks” for “unlocking” the use of a non-approved GPU card by Adobe’s Mercury Engine – though obviously at one’s own risk…
  • However the current GPU in my desktop, Geforce 8800 GT,  is not recommended for such action, as it has insufficient RAM, namely 0.5GB.
    • This is implied from the fact that the Geforce 9600 GT is specifically “Not recommended” on precisely that basis.

H264 Profiles: Baseline, Main, High : In Sony Vegas and Sorenson Squeeze

Thursday, June 21st, 2012


  • For H264-based encoders, their configuration dialog typically offers a choice of Profiles, being Baseline, Main or High.  The default varies over varieties of encoder.  What do these mean exactly, and what guidance is there for choosing between them?
  • How do they influence things (encoding speed, quality, file-size) in practice?
  • What are their specific effects in Sony Vegas (my traditional workhorse) and Sorenson Squeeze (that I am currently experimenting with)?
    • Both of these applications offer (among their choices) CUDA-acceleration for H264 encoding.

The answer(s):

  • Profile controls the degree of sophistication in encoding and decoding.
  • It’s best to choose “High”
    • Baseline is the “cheap & nasty” variety, e.g. making no use of B-Frames.
    • Main is intermediate between Baseline and High.
    • High offers best compression, and is the typical profile for broadcast (BluRay and TV).

Experimentally, I found:

  • Within each encoding tool, viewed on its own:
    • Insignificant differences in encoding time and (perhaps to be expected) only marginal differences in file size.
      • Note: In my experiment I used MainConcept to compress HD 1920×1080 25p footage of a mid-shot of a lecturer in a static scene (himself moving undramatically in the context of static lighting and seen against a static and fairly neutral background).  Settings were for bitrates of 12Mbps average, 24Mbps maximum
  • Comparing the different tools:
    • Squeeze 8.5 took about twice as long as Sony Vegas 11 to encode to the same-specified (as far as I can deterimine) target.
  • I was unable to discern any difference in quality.  A quality measuring method would be useful here!

I have remaining uncertainties about specifying the number of reference-frames, both in general and in terms of how to do this in the various encoding applications.


Sorenson Squeeze CUDA Requirements

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
    • MainConcept H.264/AVC CUDA System Requirements
    • In order to take advantage of GPU acceleration of MainConcept H.264/AVC, the following is required:
      • Squeeze 7 or later.
      • NVIDIA video card with CUDA support (any GeForce 8, 9, 100, 200-series GPUs, Fermi, Tesla and Quadro with a minimum of 512 MB.
      • CUDA architecture 1.1 (any card except of 8800 GTS, 8800 Ultra, 8800 GTX and some Teslas and Quadros). CUDA architecture 1.0 to 1.3 implies a Tesla video card. CUDA architecture of 2.0 implies a Fermi video card.
        • I note that the exceptions do not appear to include my MacPro’s card, which is an 8800 GT (without an “S”, “Ultra” or “X” on the end)
      • Windows, XP, Vista, Windows 7 (32-bit/64-bit).
        • Minimum NVIDIA Driver version v196.21 (no Fermi support)
        • Minimum NVIDIA Driver version v196.47 (Fermi support)
      • OS X 10.5.7 or later.
        • Minimum NVIDIA CUDA Driver version 3.1.14
        • Minimum NVIDIA GPU Driver version (19.5.9f02)

GPU CUDA Driver Update for Mac BootCamp Windows 7

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

I have various CUDA-enabled applications and my Mac BootCamp Windows 7 (64-bit) machines have CUDA-capable GPUs (Graphics Cards) but the drivers under Boot Camp make the CUDA features inacessible.

Ordinarily, for a standard windows desktop, it would simply be a case of going to NVIDIA’s site  and letting it automatically scan your system for the latest compatible driver.  However for the “shrink-wrapped” / “walled garden” world of Macs and MacBooks, the NVIDIA search result just says “contact the manufacturer”.  In other words only the driver supplied with Boot Camp is officially supported.

So in that case, what is not officially supported but does work?  Time for a web-search:

Google: [macbook pro geforce 9600m gt driver]

Obviously I will want to back everything up first…

…but it does sound worth a try.

Mac Pro: Even-Better GPU (But is too “Bleeding-Edge”?)

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

I just saw a post on talking about the new Nvidia GTX 680 graphic card.  Much-desirable as it is in terms of graphics computing power, overall it seems too bleeding-edge for me, in terms of compatibility with my current hardware and some of my applications.


Mac Pro: Better GPU (With Decent CUDA)

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

I’m considering getting a decent CUDA  card for my existing Mac-based system.  Currently its GPU is a GeForce 8800 GT, having 112 CUDA cores and 512 MB RAM.  In contrast, for example, the Quadro 4000 has 256 cores, 2GB RAM, memory bandwidth just under 90GB/s.  Clock speeds are harder to compare in a meaningful way, there is processor clock speed and cores clock speeds, and of course we are dealing here with multicore.

From my research, it seems that:

  • The NVIDIA Quadro 4000 is compatible with a Mac (tower) both under Mac OS and Boot Camp Windows 7 64-bit (as well as some other versions I don’t care about).
  • It is possible to install more than one such card, doubling the number of cores, and benefitting dual-monitor-related performance if the two monitors are each connected to separate cards.


Apple Mac & FCP -> Windows & Adobe

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

DaVinci Resolve on MacBook Pro > Boot Camp > Windows 7

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Basically it won’t work on my MacBook Pro (2009) with Windows 7 running under Boot Camp (3.3).  I guess Boot Camp doesn’t make sufficient of the GPU’s capability available.


Avid MC: Bundled Tools & Apps: Their Purpose

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

When you purchase Avid Media Composer, you also get a set of other applications, whose purpose (at least to the newbie) is not immediately obvious.  So I did some investigation and produced a summary of them, as below.  I have no experience of actually using them, I just trawled ReadMe files and (mostly) the web.  Here are my (interim) conclusions:

  • Avid TransferManager – Is e.g. for uploading to a Playback Server []
  • AMA – the camera-specific AMA Plugins (e.g. for Sony XDCAM) are no longer bundled with MC, you have to download and install them separately. []
  • Avid MetaSync automates the inclusion of metadata (expressed in suitable XML formats) into Avid editing systems, including synchronisation with video and audio. The metadata can be anything from subtitles / closed captioning to synchronized entertainments such as lightshows or simulator rides.   []
  • Avid MetaFuze’s primary, if not only purpose is to prep files for Media Composer use – an “outboard importer”.  Avid’s article at summarises it nicely.  Though bundled with Media Composer, it is also available free. That means for example that preprocessing work (e.g. generation of burnt-timecode proxies and online files) can be generated (e.g. in DNxHD) by anyone whether or not they have an Avid system.  Potentially then a great option for breaking up work into collaborative / parallel workflows. []
  • Sorenson Squeeze – a well-known compressor/encoder, bundled as part of Avid Media Composer (MC) but also an independent product in its own right. Avid MC5.5 specifies version v6.04 but further updates are available from Sorenson itself.  There is a free-to-Avid-users update from v6.x to v6.5.  The latest version is v7.0 (with CUDA).  Presumably these later versions are officially unsupported by Avid (but how much does that matter in practice?). []
  • Avid EDL Manager imports and exports EDL (in various flavours) – from/to a bin (e.g. thumbnails storyboard layout?) (or a Sequence or MXF file?).  It can be run stand-alone or from within Avid.  EDLs are somewhat of a hangover from the past, so it’s unlikely to be of much use in my case, but worth knowing about as an option, and as such still features in other people’s current workflows. []
  • Avid Film Scribe generates Cut Lists and Change Lists (used in transfer from video edit to film edit) in more contemporary formats than EDL, e.g. XML formats involved in VFX / DPX workflows (? I am on very unfamiliar ground here ?).  It can generate such formats from a Sequence and also it can be used to translate between some formats.[]
  • Avid Log Exchange (ALE) is an Avid log file format that has become a de facto standard in the post industry. It is a text-based metadata exchange format used in applications from telecine to standalone logging applications, and is supported by many NLEs.  The ALE format is based on a Comma or Tab -delimited file format. []
  • Avid After Effects EMP is (not a disruptive elctronic weapon but) an Avid-supplied plugin for Adobe After Effects allowing that application to use a DNA family video output box such as Mojo (“ordinaire”) or Nitris to provide External Monitor Preview (EMP) on a monitor.  Helpful in order to make use of that Avid box for the Adobe After Effects application, both for convenience and consistency.  Unfortunately it does not work with the more recent DX family, such as the Mojo DX box. []
  • The Avid DNA Diags application is for diagnostics on DNA family e.g. Mojo “ordinaire” (not DX) []
  • The Avid Quicktime Codecs extend QuickTime for encoding and decoding to/from Avid codecs such as DNxHD.  Essentially they add such formats to QuickTime on your system.  The LE codecs are “Light Edition” – only needed on systems where Avid is not already installed.   []
  • Avid Media Log is a standalone app supplied with Avid systems enabling assistants on non-Avid machines to select and log raw (as opposed to RAW) footage in a manner that can easily be transferred into an Avid session/system elsewhere, where the result appears as an Avid Project.  Apparently, Media Log is much like the digitize tool on Media Composer.  But I’ve never used that either… It can output e.g. to ALE (explained below) and hence e.g to other NLEs.  []
  • Misc “Avid Downloads” (?) Looking at  my Avid Downloads page, there is a much larger list of items than I expected, and suspect that many of them are not relevant.  For example, what is Avid Deko?  It’s listed on my Avid Downloads page, though I don’t know if I would be able to activate it, or whether it would be worth the trouble.  It’s listed as Deko 2200.  So I googled and YouTubed about it…  Impression: that version (2200) is very obsolete. []
  • On my web “travels”, I discovered a great article entitled “The Avid Ecosystem” at [], listing many of the resources for the Avid world: links, tutorials, filters, applications, training…
  • It’s helpful to see some of the above items in the context of illustrative workflows, e.g.:

Initial Cuda Experiences & Hopes

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

My systems have CUDA, though I have never knowingly made use of this.  Using GPU Caps (Capabilities) Viewer, that I discovered my computers’ GPUs definitely had CUDA capability:

  • MacBook Pro GPU: NVIDIA 9600M GT, has CUDA, 4 multiprocessors, each 1.25 GHz (shader-clock), CC (Compute Capability) of 1.1.
  • Mac Pro GPU: GeForce 8800 GT, has CUDA, 14 multiprocessors each of 1.5GHz (shader-clock), CC of 1.1 (again).

Sounds promising, but can any of my video apps use this CUDA?  And is it the “right kind” of CUDA, like does it come in various varieties?  What difference will it make to framerate and processing speed? And are there any negatives, e.g. GPU overheat crashes or video “tearing”  ? I’ll have to experiment to find out, but as a starting-point, here’s what I learnt from the web:

  • General knowledge & tips:
    • Quality
      • Some applications/effects are quality-limited in their design in order to avoid excessive (unpopular) processing times on single-CPU systems (lowest common denominator).
      • Some exploit multi-threading in the context of either multiple CPU cores and/or multiple GPU cores, either in terms of quality (the overall processing speed constraint having been reduced).
      • Alternatively some go purely for speed, sometimes even at the expense of reduced quality.
    • Speed
      • Depends on the machine.  For example a fast GPU on a slow machine may be bottlenecked by transfer speeds.
    • GPU Driver Version
      • Update to the latest (having backed-up beforehand, just in case etc.).
        • On my Mac Pro, one of the CUDA-enabled applications (Neat Video, further below) refused it, complaining: “CUDA Driver is too old”.
  • Applications:
    • Sony Vegas (SV)
      • Only helps with SV version 10, and then only with the Sony encoder for H264 (does not help with the MainConcept H264 encoder).
      • Does not contribute to previewing etc.
      • In principle could help with plugins that are themselves designed for CUDA.
      • One such plugin is Neat Video version 3.
    • Neat Video
      • Available as a plugin for several NLEs.  Currently I have its version 2 for Sony Vegas and for VirtualDub, though I only really use the former.
      • Version 3 is designed to take advantage of CUDA.
      • Might as well put this on the Mac Pro, as that has vastly more processing resource and doesn’t tend to crash on overheat when heavily processing for extended periods (unlike the MacBook Pro…).
    • Sorenson Squeeze
      • The new Version 7 takes advantage of CUDA.
      • Adobe:
        • Version 7 comes with an export plugin for Adobe CS5.5
      • Avid
        • The one that comes bundled with Avid MV 5.5 is an earlier version (6).
        • It is possible to upgrade to version 7 independently of the Avid package, in which case:
          • It has an Export-Plugin for Avid
          • However Avid Support (including Forums) won’t support that version.