Our good friend Kevin McAulife ahs just posted an outstadning article about NLE CODECS including Avid codecs, DNxHD & DNxHR, Apple ProRes plus plenty more. He takes an NLE workflow approach to the article, making it a must read for Avid editors and video editors of all levels. Great job Kevin!
ProVideo Coalition by Kevin P. McAuliffe
There is nothing, and I mean nothing more complicated for an editor to wrap their head around, then codecs. Which one is “the best”? Which one should you be using? Are you using the correct one? How do you know what the correct codec is to use in your projects? One thing that always give me a great laugh is when motion graphic designers render everything for an editor, and I mean everything, as an Animation codec. Don’t get me wrong, the Animation codec is a fantastic codec (not native to QuickTime anymore - thanks Apple) for everything OTHER than editing. So how, as a Media Composer editor, do you know where to begin when it comes to choosing and working with a codec. Well, we’re going to tackle that exact question in this article.
I wanted to start out talking about Digitizing and Transcoding, as it’s really the easiest to explain. When you are digitizing, you are taking your media from tape, and converting it to a specific Avid Codec (DNxHD, assuming you’re capturing in HD). If we’re talking about HD, in many cases you’ll be capturing in DNxHD 145 for 1080i material (NTSC) or at DNxHD 175 for 23.98 material (again, NTSC). Now, I could go through all the different HD formats, but I’d be droning on forever. The two formats I just mentioned would be the most common formats to work with, and all the others would have a similar codec option. This is pretty straight forward, as you’re in the Capture Tool, and the “Resolution” drop down is where you set this. Pretty straightforward, pretty visual. Transcoding is a similar process. Transcoding is for footage that is not natively supported by Media Composer, and is a recompression to a “Media Composer Friendly” codec, such as DNxHD, or now with the current version of Media Composer (8.4 as of the writing of this article), DNxHR. Any media that you’re going to transcode has been Linked To (AMA Linked to), and probably doesn’t play back in real-time. This is normally a great flag for you to keep in the back of your head. If you’ve “Linked To” some media, and your playback gives you dropped frames, time for a Transcode to a user friendly Avid Codec. Again, fairly self explanatory.
Now, here’s where things fall off the rails a little. Media Composer haters, and editors new to the application assume that DNxHD and DNxHR are the only “friendly” Avid codecs, and everything else has to be transcoded. Not true. Here’s a breakdown of all “user friendly” Avid supported codecs for Media Composer: read more...