Is there any way to avoid this?
Get faster hard drives. This process is primarily disk intensive. Seriously, it should take less than five, maybe ten minutes at most for 50-60GB of media to conform.
Why should it even take that long, though? How come it's not virtually instantaneous, such as with FCP?
As for drive speed, they are plenty fast enough to handle real-time playback of multiple streams of ProRes, which requires a lot more bandwidth than XDCAM HD422. I'm afraid I'm not convinced it's just a drive speed issue.
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The issue is that the file you're importing is 422 color depth, which currently goes through our Main Concept components for import. Unfortunately, anything that imports via that plugin requires audio conforming, in order to guarantee realtime playback throughput.
I'm actively working on integrating native 422 support into our XDCAMHD plugin, so this need will go away in CS6. We're also actively working on better support for Omneon generated material, including being able to import actively growing files. (This is part of our effort to better integrate with broadcast workflows - we're actively running a few pilot projects with certain broadcasters who are very tied into the Omneon/Harmonic Mediadeck/MediaGrid systems.)
The only thing I can suggest for the meantime with CS5.5 (beyond Jim's suggestion of faster disk i/o) is if you can work with 420 XDCAMHD files instead, those won't require conforming.
Feel free to PM me if you want to talk more - I'd hate to have your broadcast outfit walk away from PPro if this is the only obstacle.
Do you mean indexing here, Wil? I don't see the correlation between the chroma subsampling and the audio conforming.
It's a little convoluted, but it had to do with at the time we wanted to add 422 support for XDCAMHD, we had to acquire a codec for the job, and the schedule didn't permit enough time to retrofit a new decoder into the XDCAM importer plugin. So as I mentioned above, we relegated the work to Main Concept. The fallout though from that decision is that any file format that goes through that particular importer requires audio conforming.
The ImporterXDCAMHD plugin doesn't require audio conforming as it can lift the PCM audio directly out of the MXF container in real time - so now that we're wiring in 422 decode support , the conform need drops away.
Does that apply to any other formats/codecs? It was my understanding that pretty much anything but DV got conformed.
Wil, just a thank you for your candid responses on a variety of topics. They are the sort of comments that shed light on why some processes are harder to sort out than is apparent without examples like this.
Will, many thanks for that informative answer. I've passed it on to those who need to know. Looking forward to CS6!