Saturday, August 6, 2011

ffmpegx updated for Lion

I'm still not on the Lion train (officially) but some friends mentioned that ffmpegx has received an update so it's compatible with Lion, right here.

MakeMKV Updated

I love MKV and I have hopes that one day in the distant future people will standardize on it since it's such a great container format and an open standard.

I've been pushing mkv on clients for a while now and some who play things I do for them in lobbies on big tvs or on video boxes like WD TV Live or something don't care because it just works. Which is what I tell them, "Yup, .mkv just works," I'll say subtly pushing it into the recesses of their brains so they hopefully end up parroting it later to others.

Anyways, MakeMKV was just updated. Yayz! (and it's currently FREE)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Converting .MOD files for Final Cut Pro and Multiclip

I've been handed a few SD cards with .MOD files that eventually need to be edited as a multiclip sequence.


I've talked about these problematic files before here and here but never really got into the meat of the best way to transcode them for use in Final Cut Pro. Silly me thought I'd never have to deal with them again.

Here's something to keep in mind about .MOD files (from the wiki page):

"Standard definition video can be recorded in 4:3 and 16:9 formats. Some video decoders do not interpret the aspect ratio information in the media file header correctly, so 16:9 video may appear squeezed horizontally when viewed.[4] Software that is shipped with camcorders is capable of processing the aspect ratio information correctly, aided perhaps by the metadata stored in MOI files. There are also third-party tools for modifying the wide-screen aspect ratio information in the media file header so that it satisfies decoders which would otherwise fail to interpret this information correctly in an unmodified MOD file.[5][6][7] Some tools such as MediaInfo can correctly report the aspect ratio of widescreen MOD files, but media players may or may not display them correctly depending on the capabilities of the video decoder that they are utilizing at the time."

Sure are a lot of May, May Not & Somes in those paragraphs; there's even a perhaps!

These are some weird file types.

In order to nail down the workflow for transcoding these things (which, btw are Standard Definition in this particular case) I've been running some tests using MPEG Streamclip to transcode them and here's what I've discovered: (you'll likely need the MPEG-2 Component for Quicktime in addition to MPEG Streamclip)

A: Renaming the .MOD to .MPG or .mpeg and then transcoding with MSC (MPEG Streamclip) doesn't make any difference.

B: The top listing of the two ProRes exports in MSC is a HQ variety. (You may or may not see doubled up listings in your MSC exports listing depending on your setup/system etc…)

I transcoded a sample .MOD file (of about 24 seconds) to various formats, with various settings and then set up a 3 camera multiclip sequence and tested how well it played and if it was the correct aspect ratio.

What I found -after MANY MANY transcodes then importing those into FCP, setting up a multiclip sequence, then exporting and opening with Quicktime Player 7- was that what worked best for me for these files is to transcode them into:


Then setup and edit your Multiclip project and export to Quicktime Movie…

Then open up your export in Quicktime Player 7 and hit Command + J for "Show Movie Properties" and hit the Presentation button and tick "Conform aperture to: Clean". 

See the transcodes from MSC will have this option ticked, but after you export the multiclip from Final Cut Pro this little checkbox will no longer be ticked but will still work. In my tests this checkbox has no effect on .MOD files transcoded to ProRes which would have been nice.

Now with an edited export at the correct aspect ratio you can transcode it to H.264 or whatever you need and it should retain the aspect ratio.

Why DV25? Well the original files are MPG2 in a .MOD wrapper and taking data per pixel, data rates and all that there's not a whole heck of a lot of quality loss (a couple of percentage points?) going to DV25. I suppose DVCPRO25 would work just as well.

Now, keep in mind this is what works for me right now, with .MOD files with this setup that I'm sitting in front of at the moment. The resulting file will be high quality and at the correct aspect ratio.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Burning Multiple Discs in DVD Studio Pro

Today I was burning off a handful of copies of a DVD for a client when someone asked what I was doing since they "hadn't seen that before" in DVD Studio pro.

There are two basic ways to burn multiple copies of a DVD project in DVD Studio Pro.

1. If you only need to burn off a few copies, say less than 10, I usually get everything ready to burn and then hit Shift + Command + F to Burn a disc, test it then proceed if nothing goes wrong.

See, once you Burn off a test disc you've "Built" it, now all you need to do is "Format" it which really means burn off the Built project to a disc. There's no need to hit Burn again because that just rebuilds the disc and wastes time. So...after the initial test Build-n-Burn…

Hit Command + F for Format.

Pop in a blank disk.

Hit Return.

It's quicker than building each time and if there are only a handful of discs to burn - like I said, less than 10 it's not a bad way to go.

2. If you need to burn off many copies (but less than what a dedicated disc copier would be needed for) in DVD Studio Pro hit Command + F (this is after your test burn) and at the bottom of the Build/Format window change Output Device to Hard Drive and tell it where you'd like a disc image of your project saved.

Hit Okay.

After a bit you'll have a disc image of your project.

Launch Disk Utility or Toast and set it to multiple copies and that's about it.