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Transcoding in Media Composer means exactly the same as consolidate, with the exception that you are also changing the codec or resolution or frame size of the clip, not just moving it, but changing it too. In Final Cut Pro, if I have material that I would like to convert to a different, more FCP-friendly or offline-edit- phase friendly file format, then I might choose to use the Media Manager to recompress to a new file type or use Compressor to transcode the original source file to a new file type and then import the new transcoded files.
Transcode in Media Composer creates a new MXF version of the AMA file in the Avid Media Files folder, by either rewrapping, demuxing or else changing the format, codec, or resolution of the file. So it's very similar to Consolidate, except that the media is not just copied, but altered or optimized in some way during the process. You can choose to just change the audio codec, the video codec, or both. The new MXF file could be an Avid DNxHD resolution file or maybe a Sony XDCAM HD file or a Panasonic AVC-Intra or DVCPRO HD file or an Avid SD or DV resolution file.
Here in the AMA bin we have the material that we AMA-linked to earlier on. First, I'm going to tidy up a little bit. These were the two clips that we created through our Consolidate in the previous video. I'm just going to move those out of this bin up into the Consolidate bin and close that guy. We don't need it open right now. Now in this bin here, we have this movie, MVI_9982. This is the clip that we AMA-linked to from the Canon 7D Camera.
So again, if I return to the bin, right-click on the clip, and choose the Consolidate/Transcode dialog, this time of course, I'm going to be looking at Transcode. Check that the media destination is correct, and then we can go over to this side to set the Target Video Resolution. I could, for example, just choose DNxHD 145, so I would be trading the H.264 camera codec for an online-quality editing codec at 145 megabits per second.
Now that might seem like a strange efficiency on paper, since I will be trading up to a bigger file on disk. However, even though H.264 is a great quality codec, I know from experience that I will get better editing and effects performance out of DNxHD 145. That said, I want to show you how to do an offline-to-online workflow in the final part of this chapter. So we're going to simulate that by bringing in the media at low resolution, editing it, and then relinking the sequence to the full-res camera files.
As such, at this stage we should choose a low-bit-rate resolution. As I'm looking here, maybe will choose, I don't know, XDCAM EX35 Mbits/second. That seems pretty good. You can see it's only going to need 90 MB for that particular file. Let's go ahead and also convert the audio and transcode. As soon as the transcode is complete, a new clip is deposited in the bin with an affix, .new.01. If I load this clip, now I'm looking at my XDCAM EX35 Mbits/second version.
(clip playing) (inaudible speech) If I expand the bin out, we'll be able to see the difference. The new version I just created is on my Media Drive, and the version that I was reading it from, the AMA-linked file, is a volume mounted here. That reminds me yet again that I'm going to want to unmount that in just a second. But notice here as well, we can see the change that occurred. The original file DVCPRO HD, the new file XDCAM EX35 Mbits/second.
Let's go ahead and unmount that volume now. We go to the File menu remember, and we want to go to the Unmount command. And across here, we can see that we have the 7D material, so I'd like to go ahead and unmount that now. The original clip in the bin has now gone offline, but our transcoded version is still online, and to keep things nice and tidy, what I'm going to do is I'm going to take the transcoded version, drag it, and drop it in the Transcode bin for safekeeping.
You've probably noticed that in Media Composer we do need to go through this additional step of unmounting the original set of clips following transcode, whereas in FCP it's not really necessary, as the Log and Transfer Window will unmount the clips automatically once they have been encoded. Okay, so now let's examine the 'why' behind these decisions to transcode more closely. After all, if we've already accessed the media via AMA, why would we want to transcode? One reason is that the media that you have AMA-linked to might be a highly optimized camera codec.
Camera codecs are great for--you guessed it, cameras, because they allow huge amounts of information to be compressed down into tiny portable files. When it comes to editing in post- production however, codecs need to be designed more for quick access, playback, and durability under effects and color correction. If your machine is screaming fast and your footage is only 35 Mbits per second then you'll get much better performance than someone on an older laptop trying to play back ProRes 4:4:4.
So you're going to have to figure out what your system can handle, and go with that. Another good reason is that you're performing an offline-to-online workflow to help out because you don't have enough storage space or maybe you don't have enough system bandwidth to edit with your camera original files. We'll look at the offline-to-online workflow in more detail in the final part of Chapter 4. So codec performance or offline-to-online workflows are good reasons why you might want to transcode. Another good reason to transcode might be that you already have a bunch of material in one single format in codec, but you also have some other material in a different format in codec.
Having it all in a single codec can make life a lot easier. So let's return to our AMA bin and look at one more example. I'm going to choose this clip here, GOPRO500, that we AMA-linked to earlier on. Before we go to transcode this file though, I'm going to go to the Format tab and I'm going to change the Raster Dimension from 1920x1080 to 1440x1080. When I come back to the clip, right-click, and go to Transcode dialog, I'm going to get some different codec options available to me.
Now I can choose XDCAM HD 17.5 Mbits/ second and save even more storage space on the clips that I'm transcoding. I'm going to transcode the audio as well and choose Transcode. Again, I've created a new clip. This time it's called GOPRO500.new.01, and this new clip is now an XDCAM HD 17.5 Mbits/second. To keep things tidy, I'm going to do the same thing again. I'm going to take my clip that I have transcoded and put it in my Transcode bin.
One more note on the Raster Dimension dropdown. As you've seen, this allows for different codecs and bit rates to be selected depending upon which Raster option is selected here. Remember, 1080 HD can be represented as full raster 1920x1080, medium raster 1440x1080, and thin raster, 1280x1080. When we select these during regular editing, it also helps optimize playback and real-time effects performance.
If I have a predominance of material that falls into these categories, such as XDCAM HD, HDV, and AVC-Intra 50, then by selecting this Raster Dimension dropdown whilst I'm editing, I'll get much better performance out of my system. One final note on codecs. Let's come back down to the Transcode bin here. Load up this sequence called multiple_codecs. At the end of the sequence I'm going to drag and drop both of the clips that we've just transcoded.
Now if I zoom back out, we can see not only the clips that we just created, but a bunch of other clips here in this sequence. What I'd like you to do is come down to the Fast menu and choose Clip Text and switch on Clip Resolutions. Now, we might need to adjust the size of our video track a little bit to see these clip resolutions, so with the track highlighted in the timeline, what we want to do is use Command+L to make our video track a little bit bigger.
Now if we zoom in, you can see that we've a whole range of different types of camera codecs and bit rates in this timeline, and Media Composer is going to play them all back in real time, for the most part. This is a big difference between Media Composer and Final Cut Pro. Media Composer is obviously very fussy about frame rate, but once you get all the material into your project, you're going to have a much more fluid editing experience. So again, in FCP your Timeline settings incorporate an actual codec.
In Media Composer, we're far more interested in the frame size and the raster dimension. Okay, in the next video, we'll look at how to wrap all this up into an offline-to-online workflow.
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