Yelling at the Premiere
May 21, 2011 12:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to edit the video shot with my Nikon P7000 in Adobe Premiere 5.03, but I get what looks like keyframe issues at the editing stage, rendered or not. iMovie doesn't have the same issue, but I have severe issues with iMovie. Please advise.

I've pulled the same video clips into Premiere and iMovie, with different results. Screencapture:

The videos I get from P7000 are 720p @ 23.976fps, and that is what my sequence in Premiere is set to. The video format is H.264.

One of these days I'll get around to learning iMovie for the small projects, but this is not one of those. Hlep!
posted by monocultured to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
Convert to a proper editing format. H.264 is not designed for editing. Even if it works, it's going to be sub-optimal. I'm WAY out of date on Premiere, so I don't know what the best bet is (I'm not sure what formats it supports). In Final Cut Pro, I'd recommend ProRes...
posted by sharding at 1:27 PM on May 21, 2011

1. You'd think modern software would be able to deal with a temporally-compressed source these days...

2. But they can't. In order to do frame-accurate editing, you need a source that is frame-complete. (Or at least, that the software knows how to deal with in a frame-complete manner.)
posted by gjc at 1:44 PM on May 21, 2011

Response by poster: What is infuriating is that iMovie does this without a hickup…

If converting the material is the only way to go, which one would you recommend given the source? I have enough space and computer to convert big files, but I'm not doing anything critical with these files so if a small quality loss would save me a lot of space, I'd consider it.
posted by monocultured at 1:50 PM on May 21, 2011

The simplest would be to just convert to raw uncompressed AVI. Although, I believe that will mean a conversion from YUV to RGB which will add a little bit of loss. There are lossless video codecs that can remain in YUV to avoid that colorspace conversion, such as HuffYUV and utvideo. These have the advantage of still saving some space while not contributing to any generation loss from conversion.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:38 PM on May 21, 2011

Response by poster: Traditionally, AVI hasn't played very nice on Mac, and the two resources you pointed to were Windows only afaict. Do you have any suggestions as to what format to use on OSX, or am I missing something with your suggestion?

I'm using MPEG Streamclip to convert. I obviously have some reading up to do on video codecs and colour spaces…
posted by monocultured at 3:58 PM on May 21, 2011

Not at my desk right now, but if you are on a Mac, you want to use ProRes. I don't know if this is an option for Mpeg StreamClip without FCP or FCE installed.
posted by shinynewnick at 4:42 PM on May 21, 2011

Oh sorry, it slipped my attention that we're talking about OS X here.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:19 PM on May 21, 2011

I use Cineform Neoscene for all of my DSLR to editable streams on PC. Works very well and, as a bonus, the cineform codec works like a dream for submastering. I use it with Premiere CS3 and CS5 and After-Effects. I think it is $130.
posted by bz at 7:24 PM on May 21, 2011

Ooops. I meant "for all of my transcoding from DSLR to editable streams"
posted by bz at 7:25 PM on May 21, 2011

I'll throw in a couple of thoughts, but hey, I just wrote a book about Premiere Pro (transitioning to it..and no, I won't self link.) I'm also an Avid + FCP guy. Yeah, even iMovie too.

Note: In re-reading what I wrote, this is a bit of slurry of information - it's not as concise as I normally can be.

Right now, this all works in iMovie, because iMovie transcodes it to AIC -Apple Intermediary Codec...which is fair quality at best.

It turns out that Premiere Pro was really designed to work with nearly everything (MPEG2, VOBs, WMV on windows, and yes, even h.264) given you throw enough horsepower at it. Horsepower is defined as fast processors, lotsa ram, fast drives and the 'right' video card for Premiere Pro.

Small file sizes = heavily compressed = computer works harder. Larger file sizes = less decompression necessary.

Technically? iMovie works because you've gone down a generation in processing by choosing AIC. in Premiere Pro, the quality is kept as you haven't done anything to the video. The skipping? That's cause you're dropping frames. It still has all your information, just isn't playing back smoothly - making it a bitch to edit (FCP and Media Composer do this as well at times...depending on settings)

If you right click in the Program Monitor you can change your playback resolution to 1/2 or 1/4 and it should play decently. I downloaded your screen capture and it played fine at 1/2 res.

If you want to go down the transcoding route, you could absolutely use Cineform....or go a very cheap method, where you download the Avid Codecs (meant for avid's toolset) and encode your video into Avid's DNxHD 145 (via MPEG streamclip or Adobe Media Encoder) Either Avid's codecs or Cineform are far superior to AIC.

Hell, you could just dump it into iMovie, rip out the QuickTime files (which are in the iMovie Project - right click and 'show package contents) and give THOSE to Premiere Pro.

Feel free to contact me or ping me if you want me to look back at this thread.
posted by filmgeek at 7:51 PM on May 21, 2011

I have an 8 core xeon machine at 3.2Ghz with dual Quadro 4500s 24GB RAM and RAID 0 and it struggles mightily to play back DSLR streams without transcoding and, when running in Premiere, might make 4 fps with the cooling fans running at a roar. Premiere Pro may have been designed to handle it but my machine, apparently, is not.
posted by bz at 8:21 PM on May 21, 2011

bz - something is just not right with your machine - I've seen HP 10 bit laptops (i7s) that ran 4-5 streams of h.264 along with Red without a hiccup. Even my 2 yr old MBP does better than your system (which makes me think something else is wrong...)
posted by filmgeek at 9:36 PM on May 21, 2011

Maybe so, but it sure runs everything else fine.
posted by bz at 11:59 PM on May 21, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers filmgeek and all.

Just to clarify, the file that iMovie is using is the same h.264 MOV file (imported by iPhoto) and not an AIC-file iMovie sometimes creates when importing directly.

Changing the playback quality of the screen grab doesn't change how Premiere deals with my file, but I checked it regardless and boy is my face red: it was set to ½ quality, and changing it to full quality fixed the crappy playback. My MP 3.2 16GB has no problem doing it on the fly, so now I can do proper frame edits again. Hosianna!

(It seems unintuitive to name this "playback resolution" though, since the problem wasn't with pixel resolution, but a compression artifact…)

So, with the main issue resolved, is there still a reason for me to transcode the h.264 format into ProRes or similar, or ought I just keep it as it is until my computer chokes on the decompression?
posted by monocultured at 3:21 AM on May 22, 2011

Just to clarify - iMove is 100% changing it from ProRes to AIC. It starts with that movie, but converts everything that isn't DV to AIC, unless it comes from the iPhone Video library.

I just tested this - I had a h.264 video I shot via the iphone, when I imported it (not via the library) it changed it from h.264 to AIC.

Playback Resolution: It's degrading the playback resolution, which means that it has to process less pixels = better performance (1/2 the res = 1/4 the pixels)

The primary reason to transcode (to ProRes) is to make your system work less hard. (You don't have ProRes unless you have FCP or Logic, unless you own FCP or Logic.).
posted by filmgeek at 7:55 AM on May 22, 2011

Depending on your budget and timeframe, FCP X is supposed to be released in June for $299 - and will allegedly handle H.264 (and other) codecs natively on the timeline. That being said, it will be dependent on your system resources to do so. Premiere 5 is one of the first NLEs to do that, with the Mercury Engine for rendering. No telling if FCP X will do this any better, but it is an option on the horizon.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:48 PM on May 24, 2011

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