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Forums Apple Final Cut Pro X APPLE FCPX and move from AVCHD to 4K

  • APPLE FCPX and move from AVCHD to 4K

  • Bob Matta

    April 9, 2016 at 10:20 pm


    Would like advice with what to expect (editing/viewing on a large screen) making move from HD to 4K.

    I have been shooting with a 4-yr old Sony HDR-PJ790V (HD video, AVCHD ) usually shooting at 2nd highest quality.. This is about 17gb/hr at 1080i60. The highest quality is nearly 24gb/hr. Either have not given my 27″ Mid 2013 iMac (16gb RAM) any issues in ingestion/post production. Not ready for Speilberg.. Just think family vacations with a few overlain stills and simply transitions.. Labor of love, the post work.

    Now then, this year, Sony have come out with a 4K video camera, the FDR-AX53, and it looks like it’s time for me to switch to UHD from HD.

    1) Does anyone think my iMAC can handle this video, say, up to 3 hours of timeline comprised of dozens of short clips?

    2) Is there an opinion of what to expect with this great video format-4k, when viewed from my iMAC thru iTunes’ Apple TV4?.

    3). See Q2.. Will this footage look noticibly better than HD if viewed on a ‘regular’ large screen HD TV?
    I do not yet have a 4K television.

    Finally.. My desire is to starting higher quality video than HD standards, for viewing pleasure NOW as well as the eventual purchase of a UHD tv.

    Thank you in advance!

  • Joe Marler

    April 10, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    For a while I had both top-spec 2013 and 2015 iMac 27s used for editing 1080p and UHD 4k H264 video. They both do OK, however for smoothest performance transcoding to proxy helps. I have edited four-camera H264 4k multicam with no problems. My media is on an 8TB Pegasus R4 Thunderbolt RAID. I now use only the 2015 model.

    However certain 4k effects can take a lot longer to render — there is 4x the data so this is expected. Computationally-intensive effects like Neat Video take forever.

    The 2015 retina screen is much better, especially on text. But subjectively I didn’t notice a big performance improvement between 2013 and 2015 models. However I ran benchmarks which showed some differences; see results:

    Re image quality of 4k I don’t see much difference between UHD 4k shot with a Sony A7RII or Panasonic AG-DVX200 vs H264 1080p shot in-camera with a Canon 5D Mark III. Good quality 1080 shot with a good lens using good technique is hard to beat, especially since most distribution is 1080p at most.

    That said 4k gives a lot more editorial options. You can reframe the shot in post, add pan/zoom motions, do fake camera cuts by punching in, etc. Each 4k frame is an 8 megapixel still so sometimes frame grabs are usable as photos.

    FCPX allows using 4k content in a 1080p project without losing the underlying resolution. This improves performance by using 1080-size render and temp files, but if you zoom in the underlying 4k is still there.

    I don’t think there’s a huge improvement in image quality of 1080p content vs 4k content when viewed on a 1080p screen. However aside from this there are still compelling reasons to shoot 4k.

    I would not suggest upgrading from a 2013 to a 2015 iMac 27 just for 4k editing. The main thing which enables smooth 4k H264 editing is transcoding to proxy, which fortunately is built in to FCPX and works very well.

    Both AMD and nVidia are finally upgrading their fabrication to 14/16nm, so this year we expect GPUs will have an approx. 200% performance increase. These will possibly be used in the iMac refresh late this year, and also the refreshed Mac Pro (whenever that is). GPU performance only helps certain elements of editing — many are and will remain CPU or I/O constrained. However as developers increasingly leverage GPU horsepower for more things, having a faster one can help. Unlike previous incremental CPU and GPU upgrades, this is a major one so anyone contemplating a purchase might consider waiting until later this year:

  • Bob Matta

    April 10, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Thank you, Joe!

  • Sam Lee

    April 11, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    If you have a iron clad business model and you can fully finance 4K workflow, go for it. However I will bet your investment in 4K now will have very little return of investment. To me it’s an optional luxury now if you have the cash flow.

    If I were you, I’d wait for this 4K fad to pass and get into 8K soon. 1080p is just fine for many years go come.

  • Bob Matta

    April 12, 2016 at 12:44 am

    Thank you.

    Samsung came out with UHD TVs at least three years ago.

    In your opinion, when will 8K be commercially available ?
    I know that Apple have on 5K monitors already.


  • Sam Lee

    April 12, 2016 at 2:14 am

    For 8K to really take off and be an accepted standards, pretty much the entire workflow chain (cam lens, cam, storage, transmission) has to be also affordable. So far I think a 8K rated lens will be well over $150K. Storage wise at least a 16 Tb single SATA hdd, LTO-8 that can archive at least 15 Tb natively and it has to all be costing the same amount as today’s 8 Tb hdd. That will take at least a decade or more. I think 8K is for a very small, high end niche market.

    I’m not even in any hurry to jump into 4K at all. There’s just not a huge demand for it. What’s laughable is the mass public couldn’t care less. I’m still getting 90% DVD burn requests. That’s right. 480i/p DVD in 2016. No Blu Ray!! Most people I know still like to view it on their smart phone and small tablets at 720p. So that just tell you 4K has a very low return of investment for many situations.

    I think 4K will be ripe to getting to by 2017-2018. Biggest problem on current 4K cams is the lack of a super telephoto lens. Canon has the 75-300mm. 300mm on PL 4K is unbelievably heavy and bulky to transport. It just doesn’t have that reach. This is when 4K 2/3″ ENG camcorders will be out. Then the whole 4K ecosystem will be complete. One can at least use the 101x box lens with an incredible stabilized super telephoto coverage in full 4K. A must have for large venue and wildlife coverage.

  • Joe Marler

    April 12, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    [Sam Lee] “…However I will bet your investment in 4K now will have very little return of investment. To me it’s an optional luxury now if you have the cash flow…I’d wait for this 4K fad to pass and get into 8K…For 8K to really take off and be an accepted standards, pretty much the entire workflow chain (cam lens, cam, storage, transmission) has to be also affordable. So far I think a 8K rated lens will be well over $150K…I’m not even in any hurry to jump into 4K at all. There’s just not a huge demand for it…Biggest problem on current 4K cams is the lack of a super telephoto lens…”

    There are lots of advantages to shooting and editing in 4K, even if final distribution is HD. The entire chain does not have to be 4K or 8K to realize these advantages. You can recompose shots in post, pan/zoom, plus punch in to give the illusion of a 2nd camera, etc. Here is a simple demo shot with a single *stationary* Panasonic GH4 which illustrates this:

    Another advantage is ability to take frame grabs and use them for stills. The below magazine covers are all video frame grabs, not photos from a still camera:

    Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, English Patient, Cold Mountain) discussed these advantages in this interview from 06:00 to 09:30:

    That said, good quality 1080p is *really* good. It is unlikely most customers on most 1080p playback devices will notice between 4k and 1080p content. It doesn’t make sense to jump to 4K knee-jerk fashion because it’s the “in thing”. It requires more data handling and editing software is more sluggish (some more than others).

    However there are some exceptions. For aerial videography we have noticed a major improvement from 4K vs 1080p when viewed at 1080p playback. This is using the DJI Phantom Vision 3 Pro. I don’t know if the prior aerial platforms were not really delivering 1080 or if the subject type (trees, leaves, etc) just favors 4K.

    In some cases lens zoom ranges can be more limited on 4K cameras, but my documentary group has had no problem with this. The Panasonic AG-DVX200 has a great fixed lens that covers a wide range. The Sony A7RII can be cropped to Super35 which improves reach and has no downside to image quality — in fact it’s better in that mode.

    To my knowledge everything broadcast by ABC, FOX, ESPN, and A&E is exclusively 720p/60. So it’s not like you must have 4K to look good. But if you are considering new equipment purchases and the incremental cost for 4K is modest and you have knowledgeably evaluated the cost and benefits, in some cases 4K can make sense even for HD distribution.

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  • Bret Williams

    April 12, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    That guy in the music video should be covering David Bowie tunes.

  • Claude Lyneis

    April 12, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Interesting to me that ESPN. ABC and FOX are broadcasting at 720p/60. Since I am shooting at 1080p/60 that doesn’t make my gear seem so antiquated. I do like the 60 fps since I mostly do sports and use a lot of slow motion. Not that my stuff gets to the big guys, it just run on Youtube!

  • Sam Lee

    April 12, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Here in Los Angeles, many station owners are bidding as high as half a billion dollars for their spectrum in the UHF frequencies. The outlook for free to air 4K looks bleak as it’s making room for 5G wireless. I think we’ll see 720p and 1080i for a very long, long time. I do lots of live events and those 2/3″ cams with fiber triax and CCUs (Sony, Ikegamis) are always preferred over 4K due to their lack of availability and super high costs. That’ll gradually change but for the mean time, you can really milk out 1080i/p gear for a while. Not forever but a decent period of time until the next standard will be 4K or whatever the format the community likes.

    If I have the funds to own 4K freq block, I’d want to split it to eight 480i, 4 1080i channels. Imagine the cash revenue and jobs created vs broadcasting in 4K on a single channel.

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