Canon EOS Rumors

H.264 Realtime Editing Coming? [CR1]

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Native 5D Mark II Video
“Folks. I think I have been sitting on this news long enough. As you all know, one of the most frustration thing about video editing in HD is that you can never work directly with the original clips without some serious performance hit and frame skipping.

The solution to this issue, so far, has been to either use proxies or transcode the clip into a format that can be rendered in real time (ex: ProRes 422). Each of these solutions has a disadvantage. Proxies add complexity to the workflow (I wish Premiere or FCP would handle them like After Effects does) and if you transcode to another codec, you are losing some image quality (they don’t handle the color the same way). The lost might be minimal but it is there. That is why some people just keep editing in H.264 and accept the ever present render bar as a necessary evil.

Well, it is time to rejoice because very soon all of these issues are going to be history! I have learned that the next version of Quicktime (coming with Snow Leopard) is going to allow real time editing of the Canon 5DMrkII H.264 clips!”

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19 responses to “H.264 Realtime Editing Coming? [CR1]”

  1. Guys, there is a difference between native and real-time. Just because it is supported natively, it doesn’t mean your computer is fast enough to play it. It is highly unlikely that you would be able to edit H.264 in real-time without a hardware decoder.

    But that’s assuming it does come, which is unlikely. Codecs like H.264 are the reason that ProRes exists in the first place – they are too processor-intensive and complex to be viable as an editing codec. Not only must the data be constantly compressed and decompressed, it must be rearranged because H.264 does not store frames in playback order. Do you really want that kind of intense number crunching to happen every time you make an edit or add a filter?

    ProRes is intended as an intermediate codec. It is designed to transition between an acquisition format and a delivery format, so quality loss is minimal. If there was a substantial quality loss that was noticeable to viewers or affected color correction or effects, do you think anyone would use it for professional work?

    ProRes is designed as an alternative to Uncompressed 422. It offers comparable quality with sufficiently lower storage requirements – so if you are really bothered by the tiny, imperceptible quality loss with ProRes, use Uncompressed 422.

    Just don’t edit H.264. It will drive you insane.

  2. It will play the video without conversion, not edit it. Someone got confused there.

    The only truely native realtime mixed format HD video editing that can handle the Canon files without conversion is Grass Valley’s Edius Pro, and the only true 1080p Real Time editing and output of that is with the HDSTORM, HDTHUNDER or HDSPARK PCIe boards added.

    Quicktime is just for playback as John said…

  3. Whoever came up with this doesn’t now much about computers. The average computer doesn’t have enough computing power to make this remotely possible, and no software update can make up for that.

    Real time h.264 editing could become possible with some dedicated hardware and standard definition editing might be possible on some really high end workstations, but in both cases there would be major limitations on the number of video track.

  4. What Jon said is correct, this is the workflow ProRes was designed for. At 10-bit/HQ it’s virtually lossless.

    Quicktime is both the underlying video technology of the Mac as well as a player application so it’s likely that with the re-architecture of QT in 10.6 that those benefits will appear in FCP 7, but don’t expect it to be any faster. Most Macs can’t even reliably playback 1080p 30fps H.264 footage, let alone reconstruct frames on the fly to make real-time edits.

  5. most newer video cards have full h.264 decoding

    although it stinks in every other way, cyberlink editor, that uses HW decoding instead of slothful/no-HW decoding/only 1 CPU core/etc. Quicktime, appears to allow realtime h.264 editing. But it has so many other issues don’t even bother with it. A useless mess for 5DMkII editing.

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