9 Replies Latest reply on May 12, 2009 6:24 AM by the_wine_snob

    Flash Cards and PE

    whiskytrader Level 1

      My school is trying to put together a video production club.  We are currently looking at affordable video camera to purchase.  My experience with video editing is mini dv and premiere.  Love both and have had minimal issues.  The tech department at my school is looking at flash based memory cameras, specifically the Canon FS200.  The flash based camera make sense in terms of not needing the camera for the upload process, students can purchase  their own memory cards, and no need for IEEE 1394 commutability on the computers, which many of our current machines lack, etc.


      My worry is codec and rendering problems.  I'm still using PE2, and most likely our students will start our using MovieMaker, but eventually graduate to PE7, or whatever version is most current at the time the students tire of the limits of MovieMaker.  Since I haven't been in the market for a new camera in a while, I'm a bit out of the technology loop.  Last I remember, Premiere forum users highly suggested the use of mini dv cameras and avi files exclusively.  But that was a while ago.

       

      So, any advice on this topic will be greatly appreciated.  We are not in the marked for HD quality.  We just want to spark some interest in video production with limited issues in capturing and editing to final product. And stay within our budget!

       

      Is flash memory codec and current quality editing softward compatable?  Or is mini dv still the way to go?  Any other formats out there?

       

      Anyone familiar with the Canon FS200?

       

      Thanks in advance!

        • 1. Re: Flash Cards and PE
          the_wine_snob Level 9

          I am not familiar with the Canon FS200, but will stop by the Canon USA site and do some reading.

           

          As for the recommendation to use a tape-based system for source files, it still holds true. All flavors of Premiere are designed around a DV-AVI Type II wokrflow. Basically, what happens is that eithrer the material starts in that format, or is converted to that format. The conversion can come from a thrid-party program, or is done internally by Pr. The former involves an additional program, and is my preferred method, as the latter requires more resources by Pr to do the work internally. The latter can cause problems and impeed the editing process. Most problems encountered, when working with Pr will be related to the Assets. Next, the problems can be traced to inadequate, or poorly maintained systems. Last, comes OE (Operator Error). Though they do exist, true Bugs are so far down the list, and to be statistically insignificant. That does not mean that when one bites you, the effect is not real, but there are really few.

           

          The lack of the IEEE1394 connections is a bit of a problem. One could still use a computer, so equipped, to do the Capture, and then the files can be moved to the other computers for editing.

           

          With non DV-AVI Type II material, a single computer could be equipped with a conversion program that does batch conversions, and all files could be run through it, then moved to the other computers for editing.

           

          Part of any lesson plan on NLE (Non Linear Editor/Editing) work, should include discussion on file formats and CODEC's, as this is something that the students will have to face at some point. To include this early might not be a bad idea, but I'm sure that most students would rather concentrate on first shooting, and then just editing their material. It's the same with most consumers - they want to shoot, and then just simply edit. Regard to getting their material into an NLE is seldom given, until problems arise.

           

          Asking your questions now will help you in the process. Your students will likely spend less time troubleshooting PE, and more time editing. I would strongly suggest finding viable workarounds to the Capture issue, and sticking with a tape-based DV-AVI Type II workflow. Things are changing, and more formats, especially in the HD area are being added, but the time is not yet here. Unless you have a donor, or find a grant, I'd also stick to an SD workflow, and only mention HD in the lectures. This will save having to build true workstations for each student to edit on. Another plus is the students walk away with DVD-videos that will play on what is most likely the only disc-based playback system found in nearly every home - no need for a Blu-ray Disc (BD) player. Sales figures indicate that only about 0.5% of consumers have these yet. Again, times are changing, but there are many more thousand DVD players, than BD out there.

           

          I'll view the Canon site and give you my thoughts on that camera later. Others probably will know it and can comment in the meantime.

           

          Good luck,

           

          Hunt

          • 2. Re: Flash Cards and PE
            the_wine_snob Level 9

            Looking at the specs for the FS200 indicates that it is a capble camera. As you point out, the format is not miniDV tape, but MPEG-2 on SDHC card. MPEG-2 is a good format for delivery, and is actually the format that PE will use to Burn a DVD. PE also ships with and installs the MainConcept MPEG-2 CODEC. PE can often ingest MPEG-2 material, though problems can, and do, occur. OOS (Out Of Sync) Audio/Video is often one of these problems. Also, the system will be taxed, as PE converts the files internally to the DV-AVI Type II workflow.

             

            Window Movie Maker (WMM), which you indicate will be used in the first block of the lessons, actually handles MPEG-2 files better than does PE. I would assume that WMM can Capture from the SDHC cards fine. If this is the case, one could Export from WMM as a DV-AVI Type I file, and bring that into PE for editing. Note that WMM generates a Type I (not Type II) DV-AVI file. PE usually has no problem working with Type I's, though some OOS issues can creep in. This would provide you and your students with a method to convert the files for use in PE - just watch the OOS issues. These can usually be corrected by nudging the Audio a bit, relative to the Video. Because of this potential, it might be good to introduce the students to a "slate," or "clapper," to start each scene - just like Hollywood. This practice is often overlooked by most amateur videographers, but you'll not likely see many commercial productions without a slate. These make adjusting sync so very easy, and the students will learn something extra, plus probably have fun seeing their name in chalk, or on white "camera tape" on the slate. I still have my slate from the first film, on which I was Director of Photography. This will also provide them with details on the shot/scene, when time comes to edit.

             

            Probably the biggest downside to an MPEG-2 camera's footage is that it will undergo two compressions - one as the footage is being captured to the SDHC card, and then another, when the edited footage is Burned to DVD. Quality will take a hit. Will it be enough of a hit to really matter? Only you and your students can judge that. I've had to edit MPEG-2 footage, and then output to DVD-video, and have been satisfied with the results. The problems will most often appear in faster motion, either camera or subject, but it still looks pretty good. I know to not judge it directly against DV-AVI Type II footage going to DVD though. I also do a conversion, via 3rd party software, to DV-AVI Type II for all editing, and never try to make Premiere ingest it. As a sidenote: I also convert any MP3 Audio to PCM/WAV 48KHz 16-bit BEFORE Importing into Premiere. I see a lot of problems, with MP3's, though Premiere can handle most, some just cause all sorts of problems. Your students will very likely have a lot of MP3 music for their videos. Be a bit careful, when using it directly and unconverted, in Premiere (or any NLE).

             

            One consideration would be an MPEG-2 NLE. A few use this as their workflow base, and do "smart-renders" from the MPEG-2 footage. As I use PrPro and PE almost exclusively, I do not have recs. on any other NLE's that might offer smart-rendering of MPEG-2 footage. I doubt that many will have the feature set that PE does. Others will have to give you more info on any other programs.

             

            Good luck, and hope that this might have helped in some way,

             

            Hunt

            • 3. Re: Flash Cards and PE
              kbloodstone

              Hello,

               

              From what I understand, the Canon cameras use the Mpeg2 and AC3 codecs, but the container format is MOD.

              See here:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOD_and_TOD_(video_format)

               

              Looking for more information, I found this link where there is an explanation on how to work with this format in a Mac environment:

              http://daz4590.co.uk/wordpress/tag/fs100/

               

              But since we work in a Windows environment, I downloaded the sample videos that he has made available, to try to convert them to something more compatible with Premiere (and Premiere Elements). I used the program Avidemux, which is free, open source, and cross-platform (so it would work on the Mac as well).

              http://fixounet.free.fr/avidemux/

              When you try to open the .MOD file with Avidemux, it detects it as MPEG, and offers to index it, click yes, and the file is open.

              Then in the dropdowns on the left, select AVI container, DV codec, WAV PCM audio (which I think is the most compatible with Premiere), and click Save. Very quickly I have a file that is about 3 times the size, but it's an AVI that plays just fine, and should open perfectly in Premiere.

               

              Alternatively, choose the MPEG container and set both audio and video to Copy, to get a standard MPEG file.

               

              Avidemux can also apply some video processing filters, and it has some pretty good quality deinterlacing filters, supports MP4, and has a lot of built-in codecs. (By no means a substitute for Premiere, just a useful tool to have around.)

               

              Take a look and see if this works.

              • 4. Re: Flash Cards and PE
                the_wine_snob Level 9

                The reason that your files are larger is that each "frame" is represented. With MPEG (and most compressed CODEC's) you have an I-frame and then a number of "difference frames," that JUST contain info on what was different from the I-frame. Basically, PE will convert, internally, all other CODEC's to DV-AVI for editing. I choose to do this conversion outside of Premiere, to take the load off of my system, and my NLE (Non Linear Editor) application.

                 

                I'm not familiar with the conversion program, that you mention, but it sounds like it's doing a good job for you. Please report the details of editing its output, as others will likely benefit from that knowledge. The converter that I use is shareware, so it costs $. While it does a good job for me, free is always better!

                 

                I think that you are on the right track. Was not familiar with the camera, and am surpirsed that the files are in a .MOD wrapper. I associate that format with JVC cameras, but sounds like Canon is using them too.

                 

                There are a lot of discussions on the .MOD wrapper in this and also the PremierePro fora. These files can sometimes cause some problems, with regards to converting internally in PE and PrPro. I feel that your workflow will be the best with a simple conversion, prior to Import. Does Avidemux do "batch" conversions, i.e. can you load it up with a bunch of these .MOD files, adjust the settings, and let it convert everything to DV-AVI Type II with PCM/WAV 48KHz 16-bit files? If so, your students could shoot, hand off the files to you, and by the next class, you'd have the best possible file format (albeit large) for them to edit. If you wished, you could give the students a bit of an historical reference to the cine days - back then, we shot negative film stock, and handed our original film to the lab. The next day, they had processed the film and then handed us a quick workprint of that footage. Pretty much the same with reversal stock. These workprints were referred to as "dailies," and if done the same day for a critical scene, "rushes." It was always great to sit in the projection room and view the work of the day before. Now with video, some of that "excitement" is missing, 'cause you can see it instantly, and don't have to wait for some lab. Still, it never hurts for students to know where things came from - without Edison and some others, we'd not have video cameras. At least not what we have yet!

                 

                I still teach video with a lot of references to the days of film. A few of the concepts, like "Handles" on Clips to allow for Transitions, seem to "click," when a student sees the concept of an A-B roll editing process.

                 

                Good luck, and please keep us posted on how well Avidemux works for you. That might well be another good utility program to be added to the FAQ. I will remember to suggest it, when people do not want to spend extra $'s for a converter. I will learn through your efforts - just like being in your classroom.

                 

                Hunt

                • 5. Re: Flash Cards and PE
                  the_wine_snob Level 9

                  As an aside, I suggest that you spend a little time on the Muvipix site. It's many things, a set of fora, some stock images and functional content, but also a repository for some good articles and tutorials. You will find great resources to help you teach your students.

                   

                  Two other resources, that I find invaluable, are: Wrigley Video and the PremierePro-wiki. Again, great tutorials, and also articles (primarily the wiki), that cover so very much of what one can do with an NLE. Most are focused on PrPro, but the majority translate directly to PE, as well. For what it's worth, Curt Wrigley wrote the book, Adobe Classroom in a Book Premiere Pro CS4.

                   

                  Good luck,

                   

                  Hunt

                  • 6. Re: Flash Cards and PE
                    kbloodstone Level 1

                    Hi there,

                     

                    Thanks for explaining (for whoever is reading ) about the size increase due to the codec change. The video certainly increases in size, but the audio is also a reason: it goes from AC3 codec (256kbps in this case) to uncompressed WAV-PCM (1536kbps). Pretty small compared to the video, but still worth remembering.

                     

                    Avidemux has a command line version, so definitely it can be made to do batch processing at least in that way. It also has support for scripting (using Javascript), and for those of us less willing do to some "command line hacking", you can create your own presets, and you can use the built-in joblist.


                    See here:

                    http://www.avidemux.org/admWiki/index.php?title=Presets

                     

                    I'll try to create a preset which does most of the work, including applying one of Avidemux's very advanced deinterlacing filters (since the sample files are interlaced, and it seems that at least the Canon FS100 has an interlaced CCD), and see if that makes it very user friendly for the students.

                     

                    Stay tuned for more information

                    • 7. Re: Flash Cards and PE
                      the_wine_snob Level 9

                      Thank you for this.

                       

                      I was a bit confused and did not check who was posting what. Much of what I did as a reply to you, was aimed at the OP, who is a teacher.

                       

                      Sorry about that. Unfortunately, the new forum only shows the post, to which one is replying, and not the full thread and the OP. Guess that I really confused this thread - my apologies now.

                       

                      Look forward to the Command Line script,

                       

                      Hunt

                      • 8. Re: Flash Cards and PE
                        kbloodstone Level 1

                        No big deal, I actually work with the OP, so I also have a particular interest in getting this right. And may as well share it with everyone.

                        • 9. Re: Flash Cards and PE
                          the_wine_snob Level 9

                          Whew! I feel a bit better now. Some of the "egg" just fell off of my face.

                           

                          Good luck,

                           

                          Hunt