Archive for December, 2009

Using ProRes in Avid Media Composer (MC)

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

How easy is it to use ProRes in Avid MC4 these days?  Obviously relevant to using FCP-generated media in AVid but also for establishing the practicality of using the Aja KiPro recording device – a hot topic for lots of people.

I am an extreme newbie on Avid, though experienced in some other NLEs, and I am not yet au fait with the basic Avid quirks and ways.  I read that it is possible to import ProRes but that there can be issues with level shifts (gamma & 709 etc.).  Is this true and is there a workaround for it?  If levels issue was solved then would there be any further issues?

I did try searching via Google and in the Avid forum but precise intelligence on this subject was thin on the ground.  Most people seem to just convert ProRes to DNxHD; what I’d like to know is whether it’s practical to avoid that and just use ProRes-encoded media directly.   Maybe that’s a very naive perspective, as my experience below hints at…

I did a quick experiment to Import some ProRes to an Avid project (on Mac).  The ProRes I had available just happened to be SD (35 sec clip, 180MB).  The project was HD (I just accepted this as default).  Importing it caused it to do “Creating video from QT”.  [Avid:(bin)>Clip>Reveal] showed that this “creation” had produced (in a generic Avid scatch area) a set of three MXF files, two of 3.5MB (the stereo audio channels maybe?) and one of 500MB, which I assume is the upscaled version of the original media.  It was not playable by QuickTime or recognized by VideoSpec.  Meanwhile, the bin I imported to listed a QT (.mov) file of the same name as the original ProRes file but its datestamp (in the bin) indicated it had been created just now and it was listed as being of type DNxHD 120 (not the original datestamp or codec i.e. ProRes).  I wonder if it is a Reference file, just pointing to the content in the MXF files, and in that case whether the original ProRes file could (in principle) now be deleted, if that original file is not being used by the project.  I wonder where the reference file (if that’s what it is) is located.

Next I tried a more sensible experiment: Import SD ProRes (PAL DV 50i LFF, 27MB) into a matching project.  Again got the “Creating video from QT” message but it completed more quickly (presumably because it didn’t need to upscale and involved less data).  The resulting (created) MXF files were two of 772KB and one of 19MB.  The bin listed the imported file under its original name (.MOV) but being of type DV 25 411.  The “411” is news to me – PAL DV uses “420” colour sampling whereas “411” is for NTSC.  Makes me want to call “911”…    I guess (and hope!) this message is just the result of a “lazy” bit of coding in Avid, i.e. that it hasn’t really re-sampled my media’s colours into colors…  Even if it hasn’t done that, DV is a lossy format (hence I suppose the slightly smaller file size than the original ProRes) and I would have preferred some kind of “visually lossless” format (can DNxHD also handle SD resolution?) here.  Maybe I need to attain some Avid-Wrangling skills. On a hopeful hunch I briefly tried Avid’s AMA but it didn’t recognize the folder containing my ProRes files as an AMA-compatible volume.  On a previous occasion I had used AMA successfully with a folder of XDCAM-EX footage and that had worked fine, so I just hoped … but my hopes were dashed.

It looks on the face of it like there’s no choice: Avid generates its own equivalent files in its preferred format (MXF-Avid) automatically, not just re-wrapping the “rival/alien” ProRes stuff but transcoding it into DNxHD (for an HD project) or DV (for a DV project).

But it’s early days in my Avid experience and I will find out more…

Final Cut Pro – some YouTube tutorials I visited

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Some good stuff I picked up from some randomly visited Final Cut Pro (FCP) video tutorials on YouTube.   Now that my main project, based inside Sony Vegas, is finishing, it’s time to start getting far more familiar, comfortable and effective with Final Cut.This tutorial (by a child, re Lego “brick videos”) shows how to use the 3-way color corrector for secondary color correction.   What’s nice is he shows where this feature is (slightly) “hidden” and how the source hue-space can be aggregated by eyedropper shift-clicks.  His slightly uncertain demonstration encourages me to blunder about – not to be frozen by uncertainty!

The following tutorial assumes you know what a 3-way color corrector does so takes that for granted.  Instead it concentrates on how to do it efficiently in FCP, by virtue of FCP’s handy bits and pieces such as Favourites effects-folder and CopyFrom(clip-1..-2) and CopyTo(clip+1..+2) buttons.

This one explains when you would want to use Sequence Nesting.  Some of the reasons are not immediately obvious.  Looks much slicker than Vegas’s nested projects (though I have yet to experience for real).  Also it shows handy way of creating nested Sequences on-the-fly i.e. you don’t always have to pompously do [FCP:File>New>Sequence] etc.   On the side, it demonstrates some generic “handy working” features of FCP.  For example, instead of tree-climbing down to find a filter/effect, you can use [FCP:Help>Search], it works like Spotlight, e.g. if you type in “Level” or “3-way” it puts you there in the effects menu, ready to drag.  Another handy feature is [Clip:Option-DblClk] to get a timeline clip into the viewer (no need to laboriously drag it there).

FCP can be installed on >1 machine (tech & license)

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

I wanted to know, if I bought a MacBook, could I run my existing copy of FCP on that too.  The answer appears to be “yes”, and thankfully without the hassles/risks/worries of having to activate/deactivate etc.

According to []

  • There is no technical limit to the number of installations. There is also no deactivate function in FCS as there is in Adobe products.
  • The whole point of the agreement allowing (1) Desktop and (1) Laptop is that Apple acknowledges that some people will use FCP on a MacPro for primary use, but when they travel they need to use it on a laptop. So in this case the one copy is on two machines, but will only be used on one machine at a time.
  • The user cannot have it on the desktop machine and use that while another editor in another bay uses the laptop with the same copy. That is not allowed.
  • The language in question is “so long as both computers are owned and used by you.”
  • (the license) does specifically state that the software can not be used over a network by multiple users at the same time, but it does not specifically state that one user can not use the software on a desktop and laptop at the same time.

DNxHD Settings

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

When to use each kind of DNxHD format?

iCal sharing

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Avid Issues with usage of non-Avid formats e.g. ProRes

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Someone switching from Vegas to Avid, seeking advice:

Example advice from that thread:

  • (Implicitly, from the following) Try AMA as a first port of call.
  • “Import” is used for file types that can’t be accessed via AMA (Avid Media Access). There are two types of Importing: fast and I guess what I’d call slow.
    • Fast Import rewraps the file in an MXF container, but it does not transcode, so it takes very little time and there is absolutely no quality hit. 
    • Slow Import is necessary when the codec is not natively supported inside MC or one of the import settings dictates a transcode, e.g. going from 601 to RGB color levels (hard remapping all colors so 16 becomes 0 and 235 becomes 255).  Slow importing can take time
  • Avid will most certainly accept (content in) a MOV container, but will always generate new MXF mediafiles when you import these MOVs into the system.
    • Indeed that’s what happened when I imported a MOV file containing ProRes content.  The MXF was about the same size as the MOV.
    • I guess this would have been an example of Slow Import
  • Avid works mostly with its own codec, and with some other codecs. Not with ProRes.

The comment about ProRes conflicts with advice I have read elsewhere (and repeated elsewhere on this blog).  Possibly it is context-dependent (e.g. PC/Mac, Avid version, QT version, workflow) ???  I will reserve judgement until I have tried it.

Avid training – ClassOnDemand

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Avid training by ClassOnDemand, Steve Hullfish:

A video-ad for it at gives a coupon-code.

Mac OS Snow Leopard – clean install (not upgrade)

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

“… if you want to upgrade to Snow Leopard, Avid recommends that you do a clean install of the OS, rather than a simple upgrade. ” []

Great FCP7 article by Nepal man

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Codecs for Mac/PC/linux & FCP/Avid transfer

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Eugenia recommended ([] as of September 2008) DNxHD and ProRes, among other codecs, for transfer between PC and Mac.   She also advises Lagarith for transfer to/from linux, though it sounds slightly tricky.According to BobRusso (Applications Specialist at Avid) []:<<< 

You can install the ProRes decoder on a system without FCP:


Make sure you have the latest version of the Avid codecs. They can be downloaded here:

I suggest using MPEG Streamclip to convert the files:



Aja KiPro records 10-bit 422 ProRes; can Avid use it?

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The Aja KiPro captures HD (& SD?) from analog or SDI to 10-bit 422 to QT-ProRes (ordinaire and HQ).   In comparison the Convergent Design products currently capture to 8-bit 422 (hi-bitrate Mpeg2).  ProRes is particularly suited to (aimed at) Final Cut.  But since ProRes decoder is freely available, including on Windows, the KiPro could be used with other NLEs.Presumably (haven’t yet tried) once the ProRes is  copied to the editing system’s media drive, it can be simply dropped into an Avid project (bin/timeline).  Some seem to find it OK e.g. “I import ProRes straight into MC all day, no problems. You’ll need FCP 7 to have access to the new 4444 codec though..” [].  But some people are cagey about this (on principle?) “…if I were you I would reencode the quicktimes to an Avid codec” [].  One re-encoding option [] is Mpeg StreamClip [].  Not sure what the advantage is (or whether it is real) but some people complain of problems with levels [] and metadata.  I would hope that Avid’s “New Thinking” would render any such problems historical, but experience will tell.One slight nuisance – Avid doesn’t work directly with the Aja KiPro.  That is, the KiPro is not a device type recognized by Avid’s Advanced Media Architecture AMA [ ].  Not a show-stopper, but definitely a tilting force (from Avid to FCS/FCP).The KiPro is bulkier than the Convergent Design products.  It can record from more kinds of input to more kinds of storage medium. I haven’t looked at power consumption or robustness yet. Links: 

Avid-qualified Macs (incl MacBookPro)

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Ubuntu Studio

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Just wondered what was happening video-wise in the linux world, for example how was Cinelerra going.  Last I looked (months or a year ago) it was possible to get Cinelerra working under Ubuntu.  So when I came across UbuntuStudio, I thought it was worth checking out, just to keep abreast of developments.


However it appears not to include Cinelerra, instead OpenMovieEditor


From []: 



  • openmovieeditor – Video editor
  • ffmpeg – Multimedia player, server and encoder
  • ffmpeg2theora – Theora video encoder using ffmpeg
  • kino – A non-linear editor for Digital Video data
  • stopmotion – A program for creating stop motion animation.
  • dvgrab – Grab digital video data via IEEE1394 links

It is only available as an Installer, not LiveCD [] . For more info:


Pre visualization – StoryBoard Artist (

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Heard about it at, which said: “People are using existing multimedia tools for previsualizing projects,” … “One exception to this trend is PowerProduction Software’s StoryBoard Artist drawing package, which helps automate the drawing of storyboards by non-artists. The software comes with a collection of pre-made characters, props and backgrounds that can be viewed from various camera positions and animated.

I checked it out and it looks to me mainly aimed at contemporary scenes, not for example english period drama.  Within its own context, it looks extremely slick (hence quick) to use.  Nothing that can’t be done by more general tools but just plain handy, all there and convenient; less technical fiddling to distract from the creative process.  Quick & simple is what you want when the previz needs to be adaptable (e.g. is part of a dialog or things turn out differently than expected) rather than a fixed plan.

Of the three products I saw at that website, the StoryBoard Artist  product ( seemed most appropriate.  It has a timeline for soundtrack etc..  Also “Multi-angled, multi-positioned characters with overheads and expression.”.  And  “Non-linear linking storyboarding for DVD and iTV prototyping”.   Or indeed uncertainty…

I’ll keep an eye on it.