Personally I would tend to stay with more of a mastering codec like DHxHD (if your systems likes it) for the edit. Then do the conversion when exporting. More options that way.
Okay cool, checked those out. What's the difference between H.264 and DHxHD? It can't seem to find an answer. They seem pretty similar to me ones an Avid based format, the other Mac. What's a better option between these two choices?
DNxHD is a Mastering codec that is available in MXF (Avid) and QuickTime wrappers. Many broadcasters use it.
H.264 is available in MP4 and QuickTime wrappers and is more used for distribution to clients and tv stations.
I see. Great info. I'm guessing they appear identical to each other. So, out of curiosity, in terms of file size which format is more efficient? If I say had 10 clips of H.264 and 10 clips of DNxHD, which would take up less room?
I'm asking all these lame questions because I am out of hard drive space in the middle of Wales on a shoot and a long way from my hometown of Boston! lol.
So, I appreciate the help!
They are not identical. They are for different uses.
DNxHD is for mastering. Big files.
H.264 is for distribution. Small files.
These are codecs for editing. I cant really help with shoot related issues since I am strictly an editor. Sorry.
Okay, I get it. I am doing this from an editing perspective so I think H.264 should work out fine for me.
H.264 is not a great editng codec even though masy DSLR camera output those files. It demands a certain degree of power from your computer.
h.264 will take a lot of procressing power to work with. Not much of a benefit to go from AVCHD to H.264 prior to editing, as both are complex and lossy codecs. You might try a mpeg codec preset like XDcamHD 422, or create your own HD mpeg2 high bit rate presets.
ProRes is an option in Prelude if you have the ProRes encoders installed (they come with fcp7, FCPX, motion, and compressor). Prelude encoding presets are created in Adobe Media Encoder. Adobe has also provided downloadable presets if you have ProRes already installed. You can download them here:
If you have none of those Apple products installed, you can try installing and downloading the FCPX trial (apparently they give a new 30 day trial with each update). I believe that permanently installs the ProRes codecs on your machine.
What's the difference between H.264 and DHxHD? They seem pretty similar to me ones an Avid based format, the other Mac.
No, H.264 is not a Mac (Apple) codec at all. See e.g. this Wikipedia article on H.264. Apple codec is ProRes, if you meant that. Yes, DNxHD and ProRes are similar, apart from ProRes is not limited to just several 720 and 1080 presets.
The main difference between any codecs is in an algorithm they use to encode data.
All production codecs use only Intra frames to store data, while H.264 is normally a 'long GOP' codec (AVC-Intra, as seen from the name, exploits Intra frames only as well). See this Wikipedia article on GOP.
Codecs also differ in the way they sample colours. Production codecs sample colours as 4:4:4 or 4:2:2.
Lossy codecs sample colours as 4:2:0 or 4:1:1. See this The Video Road blogpost on colour subsampling.
File size is defined by bitrate: the higher the bitrate, the larger the file size. Production codecs utilise high bitrate (over 100 Mbps), while H.264 is designed to exploit lower one (first AVCHD camcorders shot in 17 Mbps, modern AVCHD cameras shoot in around 28 Mbps). If you e.g. set bitrate value to 240 Mbps in exporting settings for H.264, you get the file size similar to ProRes 422 or DNxHD 422.
The higher the bitrate, the higher the quality. However, that doesn't mean you always need it.
The result may look visually lossless with quite low bitrate.
What's a better option between these two choices?
This question doesn't have an answer other than, 'That depends'.
If your AVCHD are not intended for significant colour correction, where more or less complex compositing work is required, you hardly need to transcode them, since transcoding doesn't give you any advantages in terms of quality, when it comes to Adobe Suite. Transcoding helps with saving on render time, which may be crucial in some workflows.
If you are simply on not quite powerful machine and lack of disk space as well, pay closer attention to proxy workaround (see the link in my first comment). Use proxies to cut your timeline and accomplish all other sorts of work, which do not require extreme precision in quality. Revert to original clips when you're done.
See also this The Video Road blogpost on Understanding Colour Processing.
So, i notice when transcoding to DNxHD the file size appears to be bigger than the original. How will this help me with the sluggish editing in Premiere? Should I be making the files smaller?
File Size is but one part of the puzzle.
More often, having a CODEC, that requires a lot of CPU horsepower, will lead to more sluggish performance, than a larger file, but with an easier CODEC to process.
Generally speaking, transcoding to a production codec with high bitrate (which, in turn, defines the file size) may or may not help in your circumstances.
Do not overlook my notes regard to proxies. Rendering preview for your timeline is also an option.
Okay, I guess either MPEG 2 or DNxHD seems best. Should I relink to back to the original media when I want to then use Speedgrade?
So, DNxHD is super smooth! Finally! The transcoding took a long time, not gonna lie. Wonder if the transcoding for MPEG2 is faster.
DNxHD seems to be a great format. It appears to hold up the best out of all the ones I've tried. And again, it's very smooth during editing.
I choose MPEG-2. I'm using sony fs700, and I usually transcode the footage to MPEG-2 format (using brorosft mts/m2ts converter mac), the mpeg-2 files gave me perfect effect to work with, no audio or the video is scrambled.