Generally I would agree but converting to an i-frame codec can be useful if your system struggles to play back the media natively.
It's also worth noting that while it's quicker to import native media into Premiere, it often takes much longer to export.
I have to respectfully disagree for certain situations.
Media from D5, D7 etc. really tax the CPU, and transcoding to an i-frame codec, as Jon mentioned, has a powerful advantage; namely the ability to scrub your timeline or footage with ease that you just don't see with highly compressed source media, and that includes AVCHD, HDV, XDCam EX. The loss in visual quality due to transcoding to an HQ codec like ProRes is negligible, and the time to transcode isn't that onerous, especially if you have a multicore CPU, and can use a couple of instances of MPEG Streamclip both running 4 processes.
I have so much freakin' drive space, I don't care that ProRes makes larger files. That's a penny-wise savings, not worth considering for my situation.
That said, there are certain projects where not transoding will get you home sooner. But, my experience is that this mostly goes for short-form projects with a small amount of source media. The more time you plan to spend editing a given project, the better off you will be transcoding at the beginning stages of your edit.
That's my opinion and my experience, but YMMV.
Ingesting MXF files can be done by rewrapping the MXF into a MOV extension.
Query: Why can't it be done simply by importing the original MXF? Why is there a need to rewrap?
I use MXF natively and so far have had no problems with Pr. Why on earth would I want to rewrap it to MOV? I would have done that in FCP...I'm already shooting in 4:2:2 at 50Mbps.
As to 7D footage, just last night I was scrubbing some of the first 7D footage I've handled in Pr and I have to tell you, the scrubbing of the footage just blew my mind. It was so fast that I just had to stop and go, "whoa.". It was actually quite dramatically better. Nice job Adobe.
So I haven't even felt a need to transcode the 7D MOVs yet. I might try it at some point, because I like to test things like this to see where the bang for the buck is. My transcoding on the 7D footage was slow, but I don't have a CUDA card on that machine yet, just a 1GB ATI card. Last nVidea upgrade trashed my old video card and I had to put my gaming card back in to get by until I can buy a newer nVidea. So maybe the lack of CUDA was costing me in rendering.
In the past, I found that I didn't really see much payback for transcoding. Only in green screen conditions did it seem to help. Maybe in rendering to some degree. But I don't claim to be doing Hollywood level work with lots of fx etc.
This post while I believe is well intentioned is a bit over the top. "Never" is a very bold blanket. There are lots of different reasons why someone might want to transcode source files into a intermediate codec. Some are listed above. I would agree that ProRes has its share of problems, gamma issues, cant export to it on a PC, etc, etc. I still get a variety of footage daily from other vendors in ProRes format and I get requests daily to send footage in ProRes format.
I think the larger question is when will Adobe incorporate their own codec equivalent to ProRes or DNxHD that can export larger than 1080 and be cross platform Mac / PC read and Write. The sooner the better!
I have been banging my head on a wall for 5 months and was about to throw in the towel - until I started to transcode to ProRes. I am on a Mac, FCP switcher, shoot mainly on a 5D, very powerful mac and an AJA card - and the H.264 footage has driven me crazy. It is just a bit too flaky, and makes my edit experience pretty awful. I just did some preliminary tests with some transcoded footage to ProRes, and it feels like the veil has been lifted and I can now see the light! Of course this takes away one of the big selling points - no transcoding - but the tradeoff is that I can edit again.
So, to say "never" is too strong a word. For some of us switchers, it is a necessary step to make this experience work.
What other downsides - other than transcoding, some mention of a gamma shift and some extra disk space - am I missing?
Good to know Ray. I'll certainly try out transcoding and see if it changes things. To be fair, might also try transcoding to DNxHD and compare. I'm flexible. But I have not experienced problems with working with Pr on Windows. Something percular to the Mac version??????
very powerful mac
That's debatable if it can't handle 5D footage natively.
As to 7D footage, just last night I was scrubbing some of the first 7D footage I've handled in Pr and I have to tell you, the scrubbing of the footage just blew my mind. It was so fast that I just had to stop and go, "whoa.". It was actually quite dramatically better.
I have a 8x3GHz MacPro3,1, and my experience is the polar opposite. I get maybe 1 FPS updating when I scrub a 7D native sequence.
(BTW, when I drag 7D clips to make New Sequence from clips, Pr picks the wrong format: AVCHD. I have to manually choose a Canon preset. And the scrubbing performance is equally bad.)
I wonder what accounts for the vastly different response.
I have an outrageously fast SAS RAID, averaging over 1 GBs reads. So, I wonder what accounts for this difference in experience.
Anyway, this is why I transcode to ProRes. Performance is dramatically improved over native 7D footage.
Not sure Jim. I meant to be clear that I was seeing that performance on my Windows 8 core 8GB system running an ATI card, *without CUDA*.(due to nVidea driver upgrades that caused my nVidea card to crash, no time to go buy new cards). I'll have to fireup the same footage on my Macs and see if it matches. I don't think I had the same problem with Adobe choosing the wrong format, but given your post, I'll do some checking today. I'll be editing most of the day.
Update: Jim I just loaded the same 7D footage into Pr on my Mac Pro. This machine is running an nVidia GForce 8800 GT and the scrubbing in the preview window is excellent also. This card only has 512 MB of Memory on it. Even when I dump it onto the sequence I'm not having any problems.
It is true that it appears that Pr creates the *wrong* sequence settings for MOV files when you drag the file onto the "new sequence" icon in the Project Windows. I also get an AVCHD sequence when I drag it to autocreate it. Seems like this is an area where we need to be really careful. But to be clear, my scrubbing, whether on the wrong sequence or not, is fine on both Windows 7 and Mac OS Snow Leopard versions of Pr. BUT, I am just trying out a sample clip, this is not a 'full' project.
Adobe, is that a known bug?
I can "handle" it natively (8-core Mac with 32 GB RAM, RAID, CUDA-enabled card, AJA card, etc, etc..) but it is sluggish. Chokes on scrubbing. Crashes. In general, with H.264 footage, PPro gets in the way of the edit rather than supports it quietly in the background. I get it - H.264 is not meant to be an edit format, and Adobe touts the software as being able to handle the footage right out of the 5D. Technically, this is true, but in practice - in my experience on a solid machine - it doesn't make for a good edit experience. ProRes has changed that for me.
Just some advice for other mac/FCP switchers....
Adobe touts the software as being able to handle the footage right out of the 5D.
On a modern PC, it does. On a Mac...?
I've never used PPro on a PC, and it wasn't my intention to get into a mac vs. pc thing here. Just to address the original topic and provide my advice to Mac switchers who are thinking of moving over to PPro to avoid transcoding and other people struggling with H.264.
My experience is the exact opposite advice than Harm's - always transcode your H.264 to ProRes. (*At least on a Mac)
The trend seems to be that those using a vanilla system with suitable hardware are having a better experience. Any additional third party cards adds considerable issues for trouble shooting.
It's clear that a vanilla system isn't an option for lots of users.
Same as it ever was, really. In the early 2000s I spent a lot of time trying to make Canopus and Matrox DV systems ring the cherries. People now are practicing vodoo on BM and Aja cards. It's a frustrating position.
The best advice I can give is once you get it working acceptably, leave it alone. No OS, Video Card, or Adobe updates until you know for a fact that the updates will work for you. Software updates are happening too fast for the Video Hardware vendors to deal with.
I agree - the addition of the AJA card has created a whole level of issues. Not to fault the good people at AJA who actually make an awesome product and have great tech support. But, this was a surprise coming over from FCP that the monitoring solutions in PPro are so underdeveloped. For me, having a broadcast monitor is important - thus needing the AJA card and all of the compatibiltiy issues. Back to the original point - ProRes isn't giving my AJA card or PPro system issues like H.264 was. Sorry to repeat myself, but I'm sayin the things for others I wish I knew when I was researching the switch.
the monitoring solutions in PPro are so underdeveloped.
Amen to that, brother. If anyone would like to help change that (and it likely WILL need your input to actually make it happen)...
I also agree that the monitoring solutions, Aja, Blackmagic, Matrox play a key role as to the need to transcode or not. From my experience using all three cards, the system overhead required by the cards makes any serious editing with native file formats laughable. In contrast if I go with an Adobe native sequence, I can lower my playback resolution and have a fantastic experience. The only problem is all my HD-SDI monitors are showing black.
This isnt a MAC / PC issue but rather a tradeoff. Hopefully this gets solved in CS-6. I have been waiting over a year since CS-5 came out for a better integration with Aja, Blackmagic and Matrox and Adobe. Adobe needs to step up big in CS-6 to solve this problem.
This monitoring issue is making me reconsider going back to Avid Media Composer, where the initial reports are pretty good about MC6 integration with third party cards. For any editor who has clients in the room - and I realize this is a small-ish market segment - not having a full-time monitor to watch is a serious downside.
At first, I couldn't make a clear determiniation about whether my issues with my LHi were due to drivers or the application. But, hearing that nobody is getting no satisfaction from their third-party card is pretty strong evidence that it's Adobe who's provided the weakest link.
That said, MPE with CUDA is a significant advantage over the other NLEs with no external monitor in the mix. I do think that perhaps CUDA and external monitoring resources are at odds, engineering-wise, and either it's a case of "choose your poison" or Adobe being motivated enough to take on this challenge. Considering the glacial development of Premiere as a standout NLE, I don't expect a viable solution any time soon. However, Adobe is closer than ever to achieving the possibility of NLE dominance, and it would be shame to let this opportunity slip from their grasp.
As of yesterday, FCPX is now touted to work with external monitors, although the reports I've seen so far suggest driver development is lagging. If I know AJA, a solid driver will be ready in days or weeks, not months.
So, the picture I'm starting to develop is that editors need to make a list of priorities. If full-screen full-time external monitoring is at the top of the list, and you're on a Mac, then Pr may not be the app for you at this time.
(And yes, I've already filed a slew of Feature Requests on this topic.)
Why it is not possible for you all to use one 'reliable' full-screen playback monitoring in addition of one or even two others for your timeline etc... adding up a Nvidia quadro SDI Output card for exemple if you really want to use broadcast monitors?!
Because Premiere Pro isn't currently capable of "reliable" full screen playback. You need to involve Windows and the display driver to make it happen, and that leaves the possibility of interfering with the signal, altering it in some way.
PP needs to be able to tap directly into the video output of a graphics card and send a pure, unaltered signal matching the media properties when coming from the Source Monitor, or applying any and all necessary conversions to match the Sequence settings when coming from the Program Monitor.
I'm on a mac with an AJA card and have no trouble with output to a broadcast monitor. I'm working full rez HD.
No Trouble is relative. I also use ProRes everyday with Aja and Blackmagic and get it out via HD-SDI in full rez HD, no problem. But comparing that editing experience against a system with no I/O card is vastly different. The system with no card is much more nimble and fluid.
Never used it without a card, didn't realize it was better.
I also think Premiere/AJA handles the machine room much better than FC/AJA does, I have no trouble outputting to HD-D5 or Digi-Beta and hitting on the minute everytime.
Since I last posted, I installed the trial of Avid MC6 and 6.0.1. The Kona LHi performance is impressive, and vastly superior and more responsive than usin Pr with the exact same footage. However, as usual, the early upgrade is beset with SPOD and other killers.