… for Codecs & Media

Tip #430: Compressing 10-Bit HEVC Media

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Windows will, generally, compress 10-bit HEVC faster than a Mac.

Comparing color spaces between Rec.709 and Rec. 2020. (Image courtesy of Intel.)

Topic $TipTopic

A reader asked this week why it took so long to compress 10-bit HEVC media. At first, I thought it was because Intel CPUs did not support hardware acceleration, but the answer is more complex than that.

7th generation Intel Xeon and Core processors support the BT. 2020 (also known as Rec. 2020) standard in 10-bit HDR and more. This screen shot compares the color spaces of Rec. 709 (HD) with Rec. 2020 (HDR). The BT.2020 represents a much larger range of colors than previously used in BT.709.

NOTE: Dynamic range is the ratio between the whitest whites and blackest blacks in an image. HDR video interprets better dynamic range than conventional Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) video, which uses a non-linear operation to encode and decode luminance values in video systems.

High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), also known as H.265, is a video compression standard, a successor to the widely successful H.264/AVC standard. HEVC 10-bit hardware acceleration for both decoder and encoder with HEVC/H.265 Main 10 Profile is supported in 7th generation Intel processors; released in 2017 or later.

However, the tools to create 10-bit HEVC that Intel supplies only support Windows. So, assuming a Windows developer implements Intel’s HEVC SDK (Software Development Kit), they can access faster compression speeds using hardware acceleration.

Here’s an article from Intel that describes this in more detail.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #403: Blue or Green: Which Keys Better?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Green and blue background yield different results.

Typical green-screen background and lighting.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Charles Yeager, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

Chroma key compositing is the actual technique of layering two images together based on color hues. The solid color background essentially acts like a matte for your footage. Later, in post-production, you can remove the solid color background to make it transparent, allowing for compositing.

We use green and blue backgrounds because they are the furthest colors from human skin tones. But the two colors don’t give the same results. In an EXCELLENT article, Charles Yeager explains when to use green and when to use blue backgrounds. Here are the highlights:

Green Screens Pros:

  • Results in a cleaner key because digital cameras pick up more information
  • Requires less lighting
  • High luminance is good for daytime scenes
  • Uncommon color in clothing

Green Screen Cons:

  • Color spill can be too heavy, especially on fine details and edges (or blonde hair)
  • High luminance is not great for dark or night scenes

Blue Screen Pros:

  • Less color spill is great for subjects with fine details and edges
  • Lower luminance is good for dark or night scenes

Blue Screen Cons:

  • Requires more lighting, which can be expensive
  • Common clothing color, making it difficult to key in post

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #414: What is a Container Format?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Containers hold stuff – like media.

Topic $TipTopic

QuickTime and MXF are often described as media “containers.” But, what is a container?

A “container,” also called a “wrapper,” is a metafile (analogous to a folder) whose specification describes how the different elements inside it are stored. Similar to a Keynote file or a Library in Final Cut Pro X, a container is a file that holds files, but still acts like a single file. Unlike a folder, when you double-click it, a container opens the files inside it.

By definition, a container could contain anything, but, generally, they focus on a specific type of data – most often involving media. Containers can hold video, audio, timecode, captions, and metadata that describes the contents of the container.

Popular containers include:

  • Both AIFF and WAV are containers, but only hold audio.
  • TIFF is a container for still images.
  • QuickTime, MXF and MPEG-2 Transport stream are containers for audio, video and related files.

The big benefit to containers is that they are not tied to a single codec, but allow us to use a single container for mutiple codecs, thus hiding the underlying technology inside a familiar format.


… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #295: Save Time – Use Master Effects

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Master effects apply to all related clips in the Timeline.

Effects applied to clips in the Project panel, also apply to segments of that clip edited into the Timeline.

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in MotionArray.com. This is an excerpt. You’ve edited a flock of clips into your sequence in the Timeline – only to discover that all the segments from Clip #23 are a bit too blue; or need some other effect applied to all of them.

Fixing all these clips at once is what master effects are designed to do. A Master clip is a clip in the Project panel, from which you edited clips into the sequence in the Timeline. Apply a change to the Master clip, and all clips derived from it change as well.

  • Drag the Effects panel somewhere else in the interface so that you can see both the Projects panel and the Effects panel.
  • Apply an effect to a master clip by dragging the effect from the Effects panel on top of the clip in the Project panel, Source Monitor, or Effect Controls panel.
  • To apply an effect to multiple master clips, select the items in the Project panel, and then drag the effect on top of the selected clips.
  • Double-click the Master clip to load it into the Effect Controls panel.
  • Adjust the effect parameters using the Effect Controls panel.
  • All the effects applied to the master clip instantly ripple through all portions of the master clip edited into sequences.

  • … for Codecs & Media

    Tip #415: Everything Starts With an IFF

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    All our media starts as a “chunk.”

    Topic $TipTopic

    Back in WWII, an “IFF” was a radar signal used for “identification friend or foe.” But, in the media world, IFF has an entirely different meaning – one that we use everyday.

    The Interchange File Format (IFF) is a generic container file format, invented in 1985 by Jerry Morrison at Electronic Arts, along with engineers at Commodore, to simplify transferring data between computers.

    Common IFF formats include:

    • AIFF (Audio IFF file)
    • TIFF (Tagged IFF file)
    • PNG (a modified form of IFF)
    • FourCC (a Windows media format)
    • QuickTime also has IFF elements as part of its structure

    An IFF file is built up from chunks, small pieces of data containing media and information about that media, similar to an Ethernet packet.

    Each type of chunk typically has a different internal structure, which could be numerical, text or raw (unstructured) data.

    The benefit to using IFF files is that it become easy to move files from one program or computer to another. An even better benefit is that IFF, like Ethernet, does not require us to understand how it works in order to use it.


    … for Codecs & Media

    Tip #416: Closed Caption Formats for Social Media

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    As you might expect, there’s no one subtitle format that works everywhere.

    Topic $TipTopic

    Erin Myers, at Rev.com, summarized the closed caption formats used by social media. Here’s her article. This is an excerpt.

    Closed caption file formats vary depending on which site you’re using to host your videos and which platform you use to obtain the closed caption transcripts.

    Adobe Premiere supports:

    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • MacCaption (.mcc)
    • XML (.xml)
    • Spruce Subtitle File (.STL).

    Apple Final Cut Pro X supports:

    • iTunes Timed Text (.iTT)
    • SubRip (.srt)
    • SCC (CEA-608 format)

    YouTube recommends Scenarist (.scc) format. But is compatible with:

    • SubRip (.srt)
    • WebVTT (.vtt)
    • DFXP/TTML (.dxfp)
    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • SAMI (.sami)

    Vimeo recommends WebVTT (.vtt) but is compatible with:

    • SubRip (.srt)
    • DXFP/TTML (.dxfp)
    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • SAMI (.SAMI)

    Facebook recommends the SubRip (.srt) format.

    Netflix has two recommended formats. The EMA Closed Captions Working Group has identified Scenarist (.scc) as a preferred format due to its status as the de facto standard for CEA-608 and CEA-708 data.  SMPTE-TT is also recommended as, under the applicable laws, it is considered safe if captions are compliant. It is also compatible with:

    • SubRip (.srt)
    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • Timed Text (.ttml)
    • DXFP (.dxfp)
    • WebVTT (.vtt)
    • Cheetah CAP (.cap)
    • MacCaption (.mcc)
    • Quicktime Subtitle (.qt.txt)
    • Spruce Subtitle File (.stl).
    • XML (.xml)

    Amazon Video Direct requires closed captions on all new videos uploaded to the service, but has not recommended a favorite. It supports:

    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • SMPTE-TT (.xml)
    • EBU-TT (.xml)
    • DFXP Full/TTML (.dfxp)
    • iTunes Timed Text (.iTT)

    iTunes asks for a Scenarist-formatted file (with an .scc extension), or a QuickTime file with a closed captioning track. Compatible formats:

    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • DFXP Full/TTML (.dfxp)
    • iTunes Timed Text (.iTT)

    … for Apple Motion

    Tip #387: Motion Tracking Strategies

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    These tips from Apple can help improve your motion tracking.

    Image courtesy of 2ReelGuys.com.

    Topic $TipTopic

    This is an excerpt from the Apple Motion User Guide. Motion tracking in Apple Motion isn’t always perfect. Here are some tips that can improve the quality of your tracks.

    Find a Good Reference Pattern

    In Motion, play the footage several times to locate a reference pattern that satisfies as many of the following rules as possible:

    • Contains perpendicular edges, such as dots, intersections, and corners. (Lines and straight boundaries should be avoided.)
    • Is a high-contrast pattern.
    • Contains smooth or even changes in brightness or color. An example of an uneven color or brightness change is a sharp-edged shadow that passes over your reference pattern.
    • Appears in every frame of the clip (does not move offscreen or become obscured by other objects).
    • Is distinct from other patterns in the same region in the clip.

    Ask Motion for a Hint

    You can have Motion display suggested tracking points. You need at least one tracker in the Canvas to display suggested tracking reference points.

    • In Motion, press and hold the Option key, place the pointer over a tracker in the canvas, then press and hold the mouse button.
      The suggested reference points appear in the canvas and in the magnified inset as small red crosshairs.
    • When you move a tracker toward a suggested point, the tracker snaps to the point. The suggested points are not necessarily ideal tracking reference points for the feature you want to track in the clip. Motion merely picks locations in the current frame that meet the reference pattern criteria, such as an area of high contrast.

    Other tips include:

    • Manually modify track points
    • Delete bad keyframes in the Keyframe Editor
    • Delete bad track points in the Canvas

    … for Codecs & Media

    Tip #398: Use Watch Folders in AME for Automation

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    Watch Folders automate media compression.

    A sample Watch Folder in Adobe Media Encoder, with settings applied.

    Topic $TipTopic

    If you are creating lots of movies that always get the same compression settings or want to automatically compress and transfer files to social media – using Watch Folders in Adobe Media Encoder can make your life a lot easier.

    A Watch Folder is a specific location on your computer – either on an internal, external or network drive – into which you drop files to be compressed.

    As long as Adobe Media Encoder is running – and this won’t work if it isn’t – once a file is copied into a Watch Folder location you specify, AME will compress it based on the settings applied to that folder.

    For example, in this screen shot, within a few seconds after a file is copied into a folder named: “Compress for YouTube,” AME will compress it using the “YouTube 1080p Full HD” preset compression settings.

    When compression is complete, the master file will be moved to the Source folder inside this Watch folder, while the compressed file is moved to the Output folder.

    Automatically

    EXTRA CREDIT

    You can apply multiple settings to the same Watch Folder, for example to create and transfer files to YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo. Each of these settings will automatically transfer the compressed file up to your account on each service.

    I used Watch Folders a lot when the Digital Production Buzz covered NAB. We were regularly dropping 5-8 files an hour into this folder, then posting them as soon as they showed up in the Output folder. This saved us precious minutes for each show compared to compressing each file manually.


    … for Codecs & Media

    Tip #399: Add Metadata to your Movies

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    Annotations add information to the file itself.

    The Metadata panel in Apple Compressor.

    Topic $TipTopic

    You can embed metadata labels into files transcoded using the Apple Devices, Apple ProRes, MP3, MPEG-4, and QuickTime settings in Apple Compressor. Use metadata to annotate a media file with information that’s important for your workflow or for the person viewing your output file. You can add any of the annotation fields provided in Compressor, or import metadata that’s used in another media file (like a QuickTime movie).

    Add Metadata Manually

    1. In the Compressor batch area, select the job that contains the media file you want to annotate.
      (Tip: To select the job, rather than an output row under the job, click the source filename at the top of the job area.)
    2. In the Metadata area of the Job inspector, click the Add Job Annotation pop-up menu, choose an annotation type, enter text in the field that appears, then press Return (or click in another metadata text field).
      (Note: If you don’t press Return or click in another metadata text field, your text won’t be saved.)
    3. Repeat step 2 for each annotation type you want to add.
    4. The annotations you added are shown in fields below the pop-up menu.

    Import Metadata Automatically

    You can import metadata annotations into Compressor from an external QuickTime movie or from an XML dictionary property list, a text file used in macOS, iOS, and iPadOS programming frameworks to store metadata categories and values (keys and strings).

    View Annotations After Transcoding

    After Compressor transcodes a media file that has metadata, there are several ways to see the annotations:

    • In the Finder, select the transcoded media file, choose File > Get Info, then in the info window click the disclosure triangle next to More Info.
    • Open the media file in QuickTime Player, then choose Window > Show Movie Inspector.
      QuickTime Player displays several (but not all) categories of Compressor metadata at the top of the inspector.
    • After importing the media file into Final Cut Pro, select the clip and open the Info inspector.

    EXTRA CREDIT

    You’ll find more information in the Compressor User Guide. Search for “metadata.”


    … for Codecs & Media

    Tip #397: What Do Compressor Frame Sizes Mean

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    Don’t scale images larger than 100%

    The Frame Size selector in Apple Compressor.

    Topic $TipTopic

    The Frame Size setting in Apple Compressor determines precisely how your images are scaled during compression. Here’s what the settings mean.

    Automatic. This outputs a compressed file at the same frame size as the source file.

    Category: Up to…

    This creates a compressed frame size that is the same size as the source file UNLESS the source file is larger than the “Up to” amount.

    For example, if Up to was set to 1280 x 720, a 480 x 270 clip would be scaled to 480 x 270, while a 1920 x 1080 clip would be scaled to 1280 x 720.

    Category: Manual

    This scales a compressed frame size to exactly this frame size, regardless of the frame size of the source file.

    For example, if Manual was set to 1280 x 720, a 480 x 270 clip would be scaled to 1280 x 720, while a 1920 x 1080 clip would also be scaled to 1280 x 720.

    Category: Constrained

    This allows scaling a compressed file to any frame size, provided it remains within the defined aspect ratio.

    For example, choosing Custom 16:9, would allow scaling any 16:9 master to any frame size, as long as it retains the 16:9 aspect ratio; say 960 x 540.