8 Replies Latest reply on Nov 27, 2009 12:29 PM by -oh dear-

    HD file export for mastering, whats best?

    remainz123

      Hi

       

      What is the best HD file format to export my master to? (non tape based)

       

      I have made a 15 minute 1920 1080 25P project in AE from timelapse photography.

       

      I can make lovely MPEG2 HD files to watch it but I dont see a good format to master the end project in.

       

      I dont really want to make uncompressed as this will be a 200Gbyte file and will take hours on any system just to copy it back online.

       

      H264. When I export to H264, quicktime or mp4 , I get serious unwatchable banding in the blue skies. This is much less visible on the mpeg2 and not visible at all in uncompressed. I have attatched an example of this. The whole video looks great except during this section so I cannot use H264.

       

      I will eventually want to send the file to a production house to make HDCAM SR tapes but as I get charged by the hour 200gb files arnt an option.

      Why oh why has no one made a decent post production HD format. My mind boggles! Just give us the option to save out the HDcam files its that easy!!!

       

      thanks

       

      remainz

        • 1. Re: HD file export for mastering, whats best?
          Adolfo Rozenfeld Adobe Employee

          Is is a compromise.

          Here you have some typicial options, with pros and cons:

           

          Quicktime - Animation: Completely lossless. Highly efficient in terms of file sizes for graphics, not so much for "footage".  Cross-patform, industry standard.

          Quicktime - PNG: Completely lossless. Very efficient for most content types. Extremely taxing to decode, it may not play back easily in anything but the most powerful computers (still useful as a master file).  Cross-patform, industry standard.

          Quicktime - JPEG2000: Similar pros and cons to Quicktime - PNG.

          Quickime PhotoJPEG: Nearly lossless, but not completely, when set at 100 per cent. Very efficient with all content types. Easy to decode. Cross-patform, industry standard.

          Quicktime - "None": Bad idea. Same quality as the the first two, much higher data rates. Cross-platform.

          AVI "No compression": Bad idea. Same quality as the the first two, much higher data rates. Cross-platform.

          AVI Lagarith (and other similar, free, add-on lossless codecs): Completely lossless. Highly efficient in file size/data rate. As a non-standard codec, it is only available in computers which have it installed and nobody knows if it will be available five years from now, leaving you with an unusable file. Windows-only.

           

          H264 is not supposed to be a format/codec for mastering, but have you tried raising the bitrate? The default settings in most presets are more suitable for web delivery.

          • 2. Re: HD file export for mastering, whats best?
            Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
            Why oh why has no one made a decent post production HD format.

             

            There is: Avid DNxHD. It's free and there is a good chance anyone will be able to use it in 5 years from now since even if Avid has done better in the past, they won't go out of business any time soon and maintain it. It's even OpenSource, compresses decently and, on the day when you lay off your work to tape and it happens to be a Avid suite, will import instantanuously without lengthy conversion. Of course you can use Lagarith and others also, if you can predict the timeframe you keep it around. The issue is not so much that the CoDec won't be available in 5 years, but it may have evolved and not be able to handle older files correctly, which is a common problem with free stuff. Also consider commercial CoDecs like Sheer or Cineform....

             

            Mylenium

            • 3. Re: HD file export for mastering, whats best?
              remainz123 Level 1

              thanks guys thats very helpful

              Im testing Avid DNxHD as I write this.

               

              I just hope now that it becomes a standard. I guess its unlikely that Adobe will add it as a standard format though, Avid being the competition.

               

              The H264 frame I attached was compressed at 100% highest bitrate.

               

              thanks remainz

              • 4. Re: HD file export for mastering, whats best?
                Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                I just hope now that it becomes a standard. I guess its unlikely that Adobe will add it as a standard format though, Avid being the competition.

                 

                I don't think it's a competitive issue. Adobe has at some point decided to support as many formats "natively" as possible, which covers anything from DV to AVCHD. This has the advantage to not get into extra footage management and avoids quality issues, as you always work on the original sources, but of course introduces this large gap between ingest and delivery. Avid systems function differently - as you capture or import stuff, it is mostly converted to their native CoDecs, hence intermediate formats and files for archival are immediately available in "robust" CoDecs at the disadvantage of effectively creating a duplicate of the original file and thus consuming more disk space - much more.

                 

                Mylenium

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: HD file export for mastering, whats best?
                  Adolfo Rozenfeld Adobe Employee

                  Well, Avid DNxHD is "visually lossless", ie it's not really, mathematically lossless.

                  The quality is similar to Quicktime PhotoJPEG at 100 per cent, but file sizes are really smaller (But, truth be told, when you set PhotoJPEG to 90 something per cent, it uses 4:2:2 sampling instead of 4:4:4 and data rate goes down accordingly).

                  Again, Quicktime PhotoJPEG doesn't require to download a third party codec at all.

                  So, choices are compromises.

                  • 6. Re: HD file export for mastering, whats best?
                    remainz123 Level 1

                    thanks that clear things up a lot.

                     

                    The compression looks identical to me between jpg2000 and Avid DNxHD but my would be 200Gb uncompressed file was only 20Gb in Avid DNxHD which im very impressed with and looks very good and plays on my quad core pc. And 30gb for the JPG2000 file which doesnt play but looks as good.

                     

                    Its also really great that both formats can have uncompressed 5.1 sound tracks.

                     

                    remainz

                    • 7. Re: HD file export for mastering, whats best?
                      -oh dear-

                      My question is similar but I am wondering the best file export format for a 4k project to use as a master. The Avid .avi codec seems a good idea but it compains that it can't use such a large screen size on my export. Similarly other HD codecs are intended for standard screen sizes and not ones over 4000px's across. I heard that the best quality would be to make a .dpx sequence export but is this really the best quality I can get for a master?

                      File size is no issue, just the quality.

                      • 8. Re: HD file export for mastering, whats best?
                        Adolfo Rozenfeld Adobe Employee

                        The best quality you can get for a project is limited to some extent by the nature of the project and other considerations. Technically, the best quality would probably come from a 32 bpc file format, like an Open EXR sequence. But this is usually used as an interchange format between applications, to preserve all the color information, overbright values, etc. As a mastering format, not so much because hardly any target device/medium will be able to show 32 bpc color. DPX/Cineon is used a lot for film work. It makes more sense when your project is 16 or 32 bpc, and you're going to 10 bit log (as used in the film world).