Hi all. I'm an FCP user for many many years, but I'm helping an artist friend of mine with a Kickstarter video...and he's insistent that he's going to do it himself on his Dell laptop running Win7 and PrE (I believe v11, from the CS3 package)...so I'm turning to the forum here for some help.
In Apple Land (that is, those of us still using FCP 7), we take all our elements in whatever format they're delivered to us and transcode them to ProRes, DVCPro HD or XDCAM...it just makes it easier not to deal with mixed formats on the timeline (please, no snarky comments about that, OK, I turn out broadcast work every week doing this so this method's got something going for it...). However, when I fired up PrE I see that you can edit in all sorts of formats, including long-GOP formats like .mts and mp4 files that I wouldn't dream of working with natively in FCP...I don't enjoy staring at spinning beachballs that much.
Now, remembering that he's working with a severely underpowered laptop, with 2 gig of RAM, and a USB2 connection to his 7200 rpm "video" drive...and also considering that most of the video he'll be using will come in two flavors (AVHCD from a Canon Vixia 100, and HDV from a Canon EX-something or other), what would be the best way to proceed to maximize the ease at which he can edit? I'm thinking that transcoding to something like Motion-JPEG or some other inter-frame compressed AVI format would be the way to go...it's a short video and he won't have that much material so file size inflation isn't an issue...speed and ease of processing the video files on the timeline (or do they call it a "Sceneline") is.
Any advice (besides "buy another computer") would be appreciated...
Premiere Elements is consumer software and is designed to work with consumer video formats: miniDV, HDV and AVCHD primarily. It can not work with ProRes, DVCPro or XDCAM.
If you're going to work with those professional formats, I very much recommend you invest in a professional editor, like Premiere Pro CS6.
Don't mean to be snarky, but a cursory reading of my post would reveal that I am not planning to use PrE professionally at all; rather, my associate is using PrE, and most likely will be using AVCHD and HDV.
To repeat, what I need to know to assist him (being in the Mac/Quicktime/professional world myself) is: what's the best way to deal with all the different formats? Does PrE prefer, or work better with, one codec other than another? And which codec would be less labor intensive for his poor Dell laptop and USB drive combination.
Premiere Elements 11 can handle AVCHD and HDV with equal ease on an adequately powered machine.
You don't say how fast your processor is, but I you can edit some basic AVCHD video on a 2.5 ghz dual core processor with a good RAM load. But that's kind of a minimum hardware load.
For working with a heavy load or a longer (over half a hour or so) of high-def video, you'd be best working with quad core machine.
So I'd give it a good test drive using some real life footage. If you're getting a lot of spinning beach balls, Premiere Elements may not be the best program to use for your workflow.
I'm not clear how the other formats (including MJPEG) fit into your workflow or what you mention them, but they won't work nearly as efficiently as AVCHD and HDV in version 11. (In fact, MJPEG usually don't edit at all in Premiere Elements.)
Steve, thanks, this is helping me now.
I mention MJPEG because, as an Interframe compression method, it's less processor-intensive than GOP style MPEG compressions. Again, my point of reference is the Mac/FCP7 world (so open my eyes as to how an Intel processor running Win7 would work differently), but over there best practice says NOT to edit in a GOP-base codec (XDCAM being the exception which proves the rule, eg, render times), but to transcode everything from, say, h264 or AVCwhatever into ProRes. YES, I know PrE (and PPRO) doesn't use ProRes...not asking that. But, at least at this juncture, any sort of a hardware upgrade is out of the question...this is what he's gonna be using to edit. Now if I was going to be using an underpowered Mac laptop to try and edit, I most certainly would not try to push native AVCHD .mts files or native h264 files through it...those don't even work well with the biggest MacPro towers. What is it about PrE that allows it to efficiently work with these processor-intensive formats? This is the crux of the issue, as I'm going to advise my friend to "work this way" and I don't want to send him down the garden path of render hell...
And finally, your advice to run tests is well-given...since I have no experience with PrE and his computer, I guess that's where we'll start...
Hi Mike. One thing that might help is knowing that PrE relies on processor speed and the number of cores the machine has and not the power of the graphics processor. Having said that I think it will depend on your friends final output. Does he want stay in the hidef world or does he want to down rez? If he stays in the hi rez world he will probably be looking at long render times. He should have at least 4gig of memory minimum for hi def and a i7 processor would certainly help. You should also tell him about this forum. There is a ton of knowledge and helpful people willing to help out.
Thanks...I figured I'd do the heavy lifting, then point him to this page. He's a smart guy, very hands-on (as an artist working with large solid objects, he does lots of drawing in CAD programs and presentations using Photoshop), but video can be a bit overwhelming with all the format/codec/version nonesense. appreciate any info about how PrE and Windoze works versus what I'm used to dealing with.
And to answer your question, he'll be outputting a Kickstarter-compliant movie. But the editor in me won't allow him to just do that, as a true "master" file is always output at timeline resolution...you never know when you might need to make a different compression, and you don't want to start with a low-res file.
Ok, if he stays in the AVHCD format it's going to be a slog depending on how many minuets of video he is dealing with. There are lots of people using laptops and PrE 11 with AVHCD files natively with success but they have the higher powered laptops. There seems to be a lot more problems with the under powered one's. As you probably know video is hog when it comes to computer resources. There are many tips and strategies on the forum on how to setup your computer for video editing ahead of time. If he has to stay with a low powered laptop I suggest you or he dive into the tips and suggestions on the forum to have a fighting chance. One more thing. If he can get his hands on a higher powered laptop make sure it is a 64 bit version of windows. PrE 11 supports both 32 and 64 bit versions but the 64 bit allows access to much more ram. The 32 bit has a limit of 4 gigs much of which is used by the OS.
Thanks, bsl, this is good info. I will certainly be jumping into the tips and strategies to find PrE and Windows-specific stuff.
However, video is video; and GOP-compressed video is a "hog" because it requires massive amounts of mathmatical computation to re-construct the frames it "throws out" between the I-frames...that's why Final Cut 7 doesn't deal with most long-GOP fomats well, and why transcoding to an Interframe codec like ProRes makes editing a whole lot easier (in fact, FCP-X, which "natively" edtis h264, does so by transcoding it to ProRes in the background while you're not looking!). Also, back in the "old" days on Avid systems, with smaller slower SCSI drives and limited RAM and horsepower, Motion JPEG was the usual way to go in terms of video codec...it was fairly efficient, they managed to make it look really good, and it obvi wasn't terribly taxing on the system (can you say 7 mhz processors and 64K of RAM?)...this is why I'm wondering about this approach.
Thanks, gotta go watch the Stupor Bowl with all the rest of ClonAmerica...I'll let you know what I find.