FCP, Non-Standard Pixel Dimensions and Crashes Oh My!
September 8, 2011 5:00 PM   Subscribe

Precisely editing videos of non-standard pixel dimensions on a Mac?

A colleague of mine needs to cut together some screen recordings (captured through Quicktime Player 8). She used the "click and drag to select an area of the screen to capture" mode -- most of the recordings are ~480x604 pixels, H.264. Due to a bug in the software she was screen-capturing, she needs to insert sections recorded later back into the overall recording (think insert shots, video-editing-wise). The videos are all approximately 50 minutes long; the sections she needs to cut in range from ~10 seconds to ~120 seconds. Because the "area to capture" in Quicktime was click-and-dragged, the pixel dimensions of each video varies slightly.

My initial thought was "Oh, I have a Final Cut Pro 7 seat available, let's cut it that way." Of course, Final Cut Pro doesn't like working with H.264 source material. My experience so far has been that I can successfully create a new project and import the h.264-encoded "A-Roll" (the 50-minute clip). If I create a new sequence and drag the "A-Roll" clip into the timeline, FCP offers to resize the sequence to the clip's dimensions, which works. No rendering required so far.

I can successfully import the B-roll (the shorter clip), but when I try to drag the B-Roll into the sequence I just created, it appears with a red "rendering required" bar above. If I cmd+r to render, the "rendering" dialog pops up for a fraction of a second and then vanishes, without rendering.

My colleague tried resizing the original videos, using Handbrake (H264/x264), to have consistent pixel sizes. (604x480) However, when we try to drag these files into the Browser in FCP, we get a "File Error: Unknown File" error, and the file will not import. All these files play in QT7 and QT8, so I am very confused.

I've used FCP for several years, but always working with standard video formats (DV, HDV, etc) -- so the workflow for non-standard pixel dimensions is really throwing me.

Are there any tools that might work better for this problem? We've also tried with a mutual friend's Premiere Pro setup (which doesn't crash) but it does not want to let us use any non-standard size at all -- this is better than FCP's not-working, but not really the behavior I was hoping for either.
posted by Alterscape to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
There are two issues:

As you say, H264 is a bad codec for editing. Use Mpeg Streamclip or similar to convert to Apple ProRes.

Re: the sizing, I'm not quite clear on what you want, but I assume you want to keep them sized as-is and leave black space around them. If so, I think you can just decline to have it resize them for you? This seems like it might be a bit of a red herring- I think the main problem is just trying to use a codec FCP dislikes.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:11 PM on September 8, 2011

Yeah, Handbrake won't work -- FCP doesnt like mp4. (Nor should it, it's not a delivery, not an editing format.) Check out MPEG Streamclip (free) and try converting your quicktime files to dv.
posted by Cortes at 5:13 PM on September 8, 2011

*it's a delivery, not an editing format

And what the doctor said.
posted by Cortes at 5:14 PM on September 8, 2011

Try downloading the trial of Adobe Premiere Pro. It handles H.264 files very well.
posted by jmsta at 5:34 PM on September 8, 2011

To clarify: She want to output 480x604 px videos. A close second would be, as you say drjimmy11, a DV-sized frame with black padding around the screencaptures. Thank you for the feedback -- I'll point her to Streamclip.
posted by Alterscape at 5:58 PM on September 8, 2011

Two suggestions, try having the clip that needs rendering selected in the timeline, or manually select Render All, I think it's cmd+shift+r. I'm not at work, or I could check.
posted by Sphinx at 6:55 PM on September 8, 2011

Seconding Premiere Pro, if you can wrangle a fully functional trial version as jmsta suggests. You can edit H.264 files without a problem (assuming you have the CPU/GPU power) and it doesn't bat an eye at nonstandard pixel dimensions, either on the timeline or when you export the finished sequence.
posted by Joey Bagels at 7:08 PM on September 8, 2011

Adobe After Effects will also let you edit in a nonstandard format.
posted by DaddyNewt at 8:11 PM on September 8, 2011

In your first step you've set the sequence and rendering codec to h264 and FCP probably isn't happy with this. You can try changing your sequence or rendering codec to something else.

Sequence>Sequence Settings>Render control

Render settings for the sequence are here, they can be the same as the sequence or different. In the first step you made the sequence match the clip. The default behaviour for render is the same as the sequence. So both the sequence and the render are h264.

You can change the sequence codec and the render codec will change, or try to change just the render codec. Personally I would change the sequence to prores, then render the timeline in 10 minute chunks, and then export a QT.
posted by jade east at 12:40 AM on September 9, 2011

« Older OSX: Run script on UPS shutdown?   |   Identifying a children's book? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.