Archive for the ‘MXF’ Category

QuickTime is THE Broadcast Standard (not MXF or AVI)

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

  • {In one of the videos it is stated that QuickTime is the main standard used in broadcasting, and that MXF is not so much, mainly due to the fact that it has been interpreted in different ways by different manufacturers, becoming incompatible among some of them.  That’s my experience also.}

  • Quicktime is well-supported by editing software, is Mac OS and Windows compatible, and supports ProRes and DNxHD. Also Quicktime is well-established in the post industry and has good metadata handling. Though AVI is  a relevant consumer file type, it is – rarely used in professional production.

  • QT was never meant to be a wrapper for acquisition or file transfer between post production applications. It is way too inconsistent. There is a mind numbing combination of color levels, gammas and bit depths replete with defaults and overrides that make QT a bloody mess.
  • Not true. The blackmagic codecs, pro-res, cineform, AJA and other codecs have no such issues when passing material from NLEs to other applications.

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.:

MXF Variants

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

MXF exists in variants.

    • Examples:
      • Sony XDCAM (OP1a)
      • Panasonic P2 (OP-Atom)
      • Avid (OP-Atom)
    • MXF Import QT (one of mxf4mac’s products) is a MXF reader, importer, interpreter and file access plug-in for the QuickTime system framework. It allows to natively open and access a broad range of MXF variations without converting or referencing to the QuickTime movie format. The unique integration enables Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Server and other solutions to directly work with native MXF media.
      • £462 from one UK supplier I just checked.

Avid Media Management Tip

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Suppose you have multiple AVid projects on the go.  By default, all of the media from those projects will be stored in one file path: [Avid MediaFiles].  If you have more than one volume connected having this folder, then it gets more complicated – e.g. if Avid can’t find sufficient room on one such volume then it will try the next one (etc.).  Avid provides tools for media management but it can get messy when you need to keep connecting different drives to see if they contain your required media.  Instead, it is helpful to be able to store media for different projects in different “lumps”, be they volumes or folders.  From web research (below), it seems there are a number of possible, though kludg-ey, workarounds, mainly based on temporarily renaming AVid media folders/subfolders…  Nice to know, until such time as Avid provides a tidier solution to this requirement.


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.

Avid: Ingesting XDCAM-EX

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

How to ingest XDCAM-EX.  The following methods exist:

  • Quick:
    • But this leaves it long-GOP and it remains outside AVid’s managed media database.
    • Avid AMA link to XDCAM-EX’s BPAV folder.
      • Avid: File > Link to AMA Volume (e.g. folder containing BPAV folder)
  • Robust (or not?):
    • But this leaves it long-GOP and loses some metadata ?
        • Basically if you import clips this way you are absolutely locked in to those specific media files. No backup will allow a recovery or relink, short of storing the actual files (exactly) as they are created in the Avid MediaFiles directory.
        • The easiest way to avoid this problem is actually to use the older process:
          • Using Clip Browsers ‘MXF for NLE’ export setting.
          • This will create OP-1A MXF files that you can then import into Media Composer
            • (the Avid will rewrap them as OP-Atom and relocate them to it’s media directory).
          • It is a slower process, but as it’s a standard import process all the necessary Metadata will be stored with the clips to allow a Batch Import later.
    • Rewrap to AAF (the “newr process”
        • Essentially this method unwraps the MP4 XDCAM-EX files and re-wraps them as MXF Op-Atom (Avid’s mediafile container) and places those files directly into one of Avid’s media directories (such as F:\Avid MediaFiles\MXF\2) and then creates an AAF file that contains a clip describing that shot (basically the easiest way to get the shots into a bin).
      • ClipBrowser Help
        • [Export Avid AAF] converts to the following two file formats (AAF containing pointer(s) to MXF containing media).
          • AAF file: Use to load clips into Avid editing system.
            • The extension is AAF, and the output destination is the media or folder specified in the Export dialog.
            • AAF files produced by the conversion can be registered in your Avid editing system project by dragging from Windows Explorer to a bin in the project.
          • MXF OPAtom file:
            • The extension is mxf
            • The output destination is the media or folder specified in the Conversion tab of the User Configuration dialog.
              • Normally this is the media folder of your Avid editing system project.
      • (2009 article recommended on CreativeCow in 2010)
      • ClipBrowser: File > Export > Avid AAF
        • But first must define the Avid project’s media location?
          • [Avid MediaFiles/MXF/nn] where nn is an integer ?
          • e.g. [F:\Avid MediaFiles\MXF\2].
  • Luxury ?:
    • Convert to DNxHD
        • If you do not have a Nitris DX system then you will have to transcode the material to DNXHD after import. I find that doing a rough cut in Native XDCAM will reduce the amount of material (and therefore time) that I have to transcode for final effects and finishing.
        • Clip Browser … not needed now that AMA is working great.
        • Use AMA to link to the clips/volume.
        • Take a look and edit instantly onto a sequence,
        • …or use the consolidate command to copy the clips at the native resolution into the AvidMediaFiles folder (aka Managed Media).
        • …or use the transcode command to import the clips at an AVID DNxHD resolution of your choosing.