4 Replies Latest reply on Sep 10, 2009 1:04 PM by RyanWM

    best/preferred file formats/codecs for PP CS4

    RyanWM Level 1

      I want to put together a list of preferred specific format/codecs which I can give to clients who are in possession of masters of various quality/formats.  I want to maintain the highest quality possible but I need to receive FILES which I can import into Premiere (on a PC).  The only tape format I have a deck for is DVCAM but many of the projects will be of higher quality (digibeta, HD etc sources). These files will ultimately end up going to another company for digital distribution purposess (ie itunes, Amazon etc).  I won't necessarily have to edit them but I want to be able to edit them if I need to.   That company is requiring the files be Quicktime.  Many of the clients I have dealt with so far are using Mac/FCP.  The list of codecs the company prefers is as follows (in order of preference):


      Bitjazz Sheer Y'CbCr 10bv

      10 bit Uncompressed

      Blackmagic 10 bit

      Apple ProRes 422

      Apple DV25


      So for someone working on CS4 and needing to provide one of the above, what would you suggest my preferred list be?  I've been messing around with some uncompressed quicktime files and they have generally been killing my Premiere.  Lots of "importprocessserver.exe" crashes, when I attempt to play the files from a timeline.  I'm using Vista 64bit, Core2 Quad proc, 8GB memory.   I'm also having to take video from DVDs, edit in Premiere and output to one of the above codecs.  Supposedly CS4 supports editing VOBs and mpeg2 but that appears to have ceased working post the 4.1 update.


      Thanks for any help you may be able to give.


        • 1. Re: best/preferred file formats/codecs for PP CS4
          Colin Brougham Level 6

          If you need to source from high-end decks like Digibeta, HDCAM, and DVCPROHD, or even Betacam SP, you're going to need some sort of add-on card, like those from AJA or Blackmagic Designs. In that case, you'll probably capture to one of their custom codecs that they provide with their hardware that matches your source footage. You'll also need some pretty beefy media drives to handle the capture; you're going to be dealing with some massive files that demand serious throughput. Once you've successfully captured, though, you can export to whatever codec you need. For instance, you mention the Sheer Video codec--you won't capture to this codec, but instead export to it for distribution. Of course, if you've got a BMD card, and capture directly to the 10-bit codec, you can simply hand that over.


          Premiere Pro is capable of importing and editing quite a few different formats and codecs, but ingesting those is a different story. Out of the box, the only tape-based capture you can do with Premiere Pro is DV (for SD) and HDV (for HD). Of course, Premiere is capable of editing several other HD flavors--DVCPROHD (from P2), XDCAM HD (from disc), XDCAM EX (from SxS cards) and AVCHD--but those are all tapeless formats. More than likely, unless you're the acquisition source, you won't be working with these formats.


          So, ultimately, you can work with just about anything out there with Premiere Pro. With just the software, your options are limited, at least in regard to the types of material it sounds like you'll be receiving. You'll have to look into one of the third-party hardware manufacturers for a solution. If you can outline your workflow a little more, someone may have a recommendation for you.

          • 2. Re: best/preferred file formats/codecs for PP CS4
            RyanWM Level 1

            I am not "capturing" though as the only hardware I have is a DVCAM deck.  I want to receive files.  If the only way a client can provide me a master is digibeta (for example), I will just be passing the tape along and if any edits are needed they'll be done elsewhere.  I'm requesting files so if I need to edit or provide in another format for other purposes I have the option to and don't have to rely on others.


            I don't have a Blackmagic card but I do have the codecs installed.  In Premiere I can start a project using a Blackmagic preset.  Do I NEED the blackmagic card if I'm not actually capturing anything?


            thanks for your help

            • 3. Re: best/preferred file formats/codecs for PP CS4
              Colin Brougham Level 6

              I guess I'm still not too sure on what you're trying to do--ie. what is your function in this chain? Are you editing finished master programs? Are you encoding/transcoding for some sort of distribution (DVD, web, other)? I'm not trying to pry into your business, but understanding what you're actually trying to accomplish would help me and others offer better advice.


              If I understand correctly, you just want to be able to open/edit/manipulate/encode a variety of formats from a variety of sources. If that's the case, most hardware manufacturers offer playback-only versions (and some have "exportable" versions, like Avid) of their codecs that allow you to edit or transcode footage captured on systems that have the hardware installed. You've obviously already found this with Blackmagic--you install their drivers without hardware, and you'll just wind up with the codecs. I've installed these myself to ingest files captured on an FCP system with a BMD DeckLink card--works fine. However, I don't think I've ever tried to actually EXPORT to that codec, so I can't comment on how well that works. I think I tried the AJA codecs, too, and those wreaked havoc on my system--had to uninstall them. So the short answer is, no, you don't need the card to just work with the files, but what you can do may be limited without the card. This varies on a case-by-case basis, I imagine.


              Codecs like the Sheer Video codec are not hardware-dependent; they're simply intermediate codecs that you'd use to move media between systems, for effects work, or for archiving. Of course, you actually need to buy that codec to even play the files back, though.

              • 4. Re: best/preferred file formats/codecs for PP CS4
                RyanWM Level 1

                Sure my companies primary business is releasing DVDs.  We are starting to get the content we put out on DVD to digital distribution channels (ie itunes etc).   We want to store and be able to edit/convert/etc all of our content, but without the expense of getting digibeta decks etc. 


                So we have the master stored and then Digital Customer A needs it in such and such format, we (me) outputs it how they need it or hopefully just sends them the file we have stored.  BUT sometimes the content needs to be edited down.  Say we have a full concert but we are only putting up one song from it, I need to be able to load the full program into Premiere and output the one song (possibly with some other edits/overlays etc). 


                Or the file could be used to author a DVD from it.  Or possibly if it's high def we might release on blu-ray down the road.   Or a portion could be used for youtube promotional purposes. 


                Basically we want to get the content from who is supplying it to us in as high quality form as possible so that we can do whatever we may need to do with it, now or in the future.  But as a file, not a tape.  We are doing the same thing for audio (CD)s but it's a heck of a lot simpler (obviously).  We have every CD we release stored as a wav file.  It is very easy then to just convert those wavs to mp3s or whatever we need them in.


                And it seems most people I've dealt with are using FCP/Mac.   The problem I'm having really is that files, like a Apple ProRes file, Premiere doesn't handle them well for me.  It imports it but then crashes when it plays them which is very frustrating.


                I understand ideally I get everything on tape and capture but financially it isn't realistic (to get the necessary hardware).