How to get footage from camera and audio equipment to youtube quicker.
October 5, 2010 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Help me make my audio/video fcp life easier. I'm spending far too much time encoding and converting, and there are issues once I've done that; how do I speed the process up? I'm going to be doing this on the road for 12 months, so I really need a better method. (detailed description of tech specs/issues inside)

I've tried to be as clear as I can in the following description, to avoid misunderstandings. I understand this is a long post (sorry!).


OS: Mac OS X 10.5.8
Processor: 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
Memory: 2 GB
HD capacity: 148GB (normally about 70GB free)
Chipset Model: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (is this relevant?)

Make: Canon Rebel t2i
Video files: 1280 x 720, 59.94fps (the only 1280 x 720 format) - Audio is 48khz, bit rate 44,625
Encoding: .mov, H.264, Integer (little endian)

Audio Recorder
Make: Zoom H2
Output options
What I use: MP3, bit rate is 256kbps

Software I own/use
FCP Academic
MPEG Streamclip 1.9.2
Audacity 1.3.5d
Quicktime Pro 7.6.6


I record video and audio files of street-performer concerts to upload to my youtube channel. Once I've made the recordings, and come home to my computer, I

1) Transfer Videos from camera to computer.
2) Export files with MPEG Streamclip Batch to: Video; 1280 x 720 (unscaled), Apple Intermediate Codec, little endian, Quality 50% (files are massive still, about 5GB per song), not interlaced. Sound; uncompressed, stereo, 48khz. This takes AGES, but is necessary so that my computer and fcp can handle the editing process.
3) Transfer audio files (mp3, 256kbps) from Zoom H2 to computer
4) Open FCP, import video and audio files.
5) Add videos and audio files to timeline. This requires rendering of the audio files.
6) Edit videos, which requires some rendering of videos, depending on type of edit (which takes a long time).
7) Export to quicktime - makes roughly 5GB files per song.
8) Convert this file using MPEG Streamclip to MP4, H.264, quality 50% (small file sizes for youtube upload), takes AGES
9) Upload end result to youtube.

As you can tell, this takes a long time, and there are other problems:
1) Rendering mp3 files to match audio from video files in fcp creates little "pop" sounds every so often, and the audio slowly slips out of sync (the auido from Zoom H2 has about 4 extra "frames" per 30 seconds)
2) Keeping the quality at 50% in all MPEG Streamclip exports reduces the quality a little (as does uploading it to youtube), but the videos are still better than most youtube videos out there (see example)


1. Audio
Okay. I've done some homework, and found that I should convert the audio to aiff before importing it to fcp (which has trouble with mp3 files).
a) Should I record audio on Zoom H2 in .wav (instead of .mp3) format, 48khz? This would require I get a bigger SD card, as the files become much bigger. I think recording in mp3 is fine, but when converting to aiff will it slip out of sync in fcp as it does now? Would recording in .wav instead of .mp3 avoid that?
b) What audio settings should I choose to match those of the video settings when converting the audio files to .aiff?
c) Converting audio files to aiff before importing to fcp will get rid of the "pop" sounds. But MPEG Streamclip doesn't allow you to add audio files to their batch export, and Audacity doesn't allow you to export aiff in their batch either. Do I really have to sit there exporting each audio file, one by one? Does anyone know of other (Mac compatible) software that will allow for batch exporting of audio files to aiff?

2. Video
a) The converting to AIC of original files, editing movie in fcp (with a few renderings needed), then exporting edited movie to quicktime, then converting that quicktime movie to mp4 process takes AGES and creates massive files. Do I need to pimp my current computer (put in a faster processor or more memory?) or buy a new computer (and if so, what specs... I have enough cash to buy a better mac, but probably not the absolute best)? Each full performance, once exported to AIC, when reduced to 50% quality, is roughly 20-40GB! Or, is there a way of speeding up my above process?


I'm sorry this is such a long question, and don't expect a huge number of responses. Does anyone know of a better forum to ask these questions? Does fcp offer support? Or should I contact a University professor? Does anyone know anyone I can contact, perhaps for a paid tutorial (London, UK)? I'm about to go on a 12 month trip around the world filming street performers. We're traveling on bus and train and boat (no planes), on which I plan on making edits to videos so I can upload them to youtube at internet cafés. In other words, I REALLY need to speed this process up.

[final question: does anyone know anyone who has traveled the world uploading videos to youtube at internet cafes?]

Thanks a lot for your time, and again, I'm sorry for making it such a long one!
posted by omnigut to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I'll accept the answer: "Mate, good luck with that. There is no solution!"
posted by omnigut at 6:50 AM on October 5, 2010

X Lossless Decoder is a great Swiss army knife program for converting to/from many audio formats. It should handle the MP3->WAV/AIFF conversion easily. But since SD cards are so cheap, maybe recording straight to WAV is the path of least resistance.

Speeding up the H.264 encoding can be done with Elgato's Turbo.264 HD. It's a USB stick that has a hardware H.264 encoder, which will speed things up tremendously.
posted by zsazsa at 8:54 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Transcoding takes time but there are a few ways to avoid it. You can changing cameras to shoot in a codec that FCP can handle natively, or try Premiere pro CS5. While the HDDSLR are a great tool they are allot less forgiving and useable than a video camera with a more editing friendly codec. A faster computer, hard drive, and more ram will help speed the process. You may want to look at alternate codecs as well and compare the transcode times, Prores and XDCAMHD seem to work pretty well with FCP.

You could transcode a proxy file at a very low-res and create an initial edit and then create a duplicate timeline in the native codec of the camera, then bring in the original clips and re-conform the edit using original camera files. This would still require rendering and may be a bit too editorially complex for you. But it would save time on the initial transcode and ingestion, as well off-lining the edit allows you to use lower disk space and theoretically a higher quality end product by skipping a level of compression for your end product.

Personally, I would take a serious look at Premiere Pro CS5.
posted by jade east at 10:45 AM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention you should be able to batch convert audio with "compressor" that should be part of the FCP install.
posted by jade east at 10:46 AM on October 5, 2010

Response by poster: Unfortunately, it seems Turbo.264 HD doesn't fit in my computer, and I don't have enough time to learn a new program before going (CS5). I'm looking into transcoding a proxy (have my dictionary out)...
posted by omnigut at 5:11 AM on October 6, 2010

Response by poster: How much could getting a faster computer help? Are we talking about halving the time, or taking off 10%?
posted by omnigut at 5:12 AM on October 6, 2010

Best answer: You don't mention what version of FCP you're using. I'm hoping 7. 6, I'd have much more struggle with.

MPEG streamclip isn't the tool for this (Compressor is) and AIC is the wrong codec. ProRes is a far better choice (but going to make larger files - so worth it! - figure around a gig a minute) ProRes LT is the best choice here.

If your audio requires rendering when it hits the timeline, it's the wrong format.

Video Problems
I went a built a compressor preset for you for both your video and your audio
You'll need a specific sequence preset, that's found in FCP - CMD OPT N and choose this:
"ProRes 422 LT, 1280x720 60p 48khz (it's really 59.94)"

I've built a compressor preset for you - drop your video on it…and it should make video that's larger but FCP plays well with. It'll convert your video (and audio from the camera) to a format that works well in FCP.

Audio Problem:
The zoom is pumping out 30fps, FCP and your video is 29.97 (really, 59.94/60)
When you convert in compressor, you should have it correct the frame rate.
I built this (I think - 100% easier if I have some sample files - I had to do this in my head)

Instant sync (if your audio was at the correct rate) - something that you're not asking for but has been worked out anyway...
If you want your DSLR video + external audio to 'automatically' sync, you want to look at a product called PluralEyes - it does exactly that - matches two waveforms and has them sync.

Output: Export directly to compressor and use the youtube setting

Download for you here

Contact me via Mefi Mail if you need to.
posted by filmgeek at 5:47 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: filmgeek, has anyone had your children yet? Here's offering...

Thanks a lot. I'll check this out tomorrow morning, and will mefi you if I have issues. Thanks again!
posted by omnigut at 7:59 AM on October 6, 2010

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