More 5DtoRGB Tests

Thomas Worth from Rarevision has been kind enough to send me updated versions of the 5DtoRGB transcoder program to test.  He continues to work on this program, and the latest version he sent me is not quite ready for release.  The updates address important issues such as batch functionality and gamma flagging (he’s also included a “Bake Gamma Correction” option that will be of use to some users).

Additionally, I’ve finally installed the new ProRes Quicktime component, the one from 2009’s Final Cut Pro 7 upgrade, simply called: “AppleProResCodec.component.”  The old component, called “AppleProRes422.component” dates from 2007 and came installed with Final Cut Pro 6.

I’ll keep this short (hurray!):

Something is going on with the ProRes components, even when choosing the same codec — in my case, ProRes HQ.  As in previous tests, I’m always interested in seeing how the footage will look in Quicktime 7 with FCP compatibility selected, how it will look in Quicktime 10, how it will look in the Final Cut timeline, and, finally, how it will look in QT 7 and QT 10 once it’s been exported from FCP.

The footage I used this time was interesting because it was an interview shot on a white background, allowing me to focus entirely on variations in flesh tone.  As has been the case everytime I’ve done these tests, I always find myself preferring how the original Canon H.264 footage looks in Quicktime 7:

Here’s the same clip in Quicktime 10:

As usual, the Quicktime 10 version is slightly brighter and desaturated.

Moving on, here’s the new interface Thomas has been working on for 5DtoRGB:

You’ll notice the new batch capture capability (drag and drop!) as well as the Bake Gamma and Add Gamma Flag options.

For the first pass, I used the old ProRes component, called “AppleProRes422.component,” the one that came installed with FCP 6.  I chose not to add a Gamma Flag or to Bake Gamma Correction.  Here’s Quicktime 7:

Quicktime 10:

And Final Cut:

So, as I’ve discovered the last few times I’ve done this test, the 5DtoRGB footage, once imported into the Final Cut timeline, actually retains the color values of the original Canon H.264 footage as it appeared in Quicktime 7 (with FCP compatibility checked).  It doesn’t look right in Quicktime 7 (brighter and desaturated) or Quicktime 10 (it’s close, but slightly darker and desaturated), but I don’t care, because it looks perfect in FCP, and that’s where I’ll be doing my editing and color correction.

Problem solved, right?  Not exactly.  Here’s the same test, with the newer ProRes component in my Library/Quicktime folder, the one called “AppleProResCodec.component” that came installed with FCP 7.  Remember, I’m choosing the ProRes HQ codec for all these tests.

Quicktime 7:

Quicktime 10:

Final Cut timeline:

Everything’s different now — the footage is darker in all the versions.  My settings in 5DtoRGB remained constant for this test: no gamma flagging.  The only variable in the test was the newer version of ProRes.

Keep in mind, I’m still running Final Cut Pro 6.  However, I have a hard time believing that this issue simply disappears with FCP 7.  Whatever is happening to the footage is happening in the Quicktime file itself, and is not effected, I believe, by how Final Cut is interpreting the footage.

There was one setting that I needed to test in Final Cut though, just to be sure I wasn’t missing something.  In Sequence Settings, you now have the option with the latest version of ProRes to automatically correct for gamma or to leave it as is (“None”).

I tried both settings in Final Cut, and it made no difference to how the footage appeared in the timeline, leading me to believe that whatever happened to the ProRes footage already happened before it was imported into FCP.

Thomas asked me to test out various combinations of gamma settings in 5DtoRGB, and I did.  You can add a Gamma 1.8 flag or a 2.2 flag.  You can Bake Gamma into either option.  Trust me, I tried them all.  “Baked Gamma” made the guy in my footage look like he had just spent a week in a tanning booth:

I even tried ProRes LT, a codec that Philip Bloom recommended using in his workshop.

Not only did it not make a difference (the footage was still too dark), but the file size ended up larger than the ProRes HQ version, which I thought was extremely strange, given that the LT version is supposedly smaller without any noticeable quality loss.

Come to think of it, the file sizes of my clips varied wildly depending on whether or not I attached a gamma flag or “baked” any gamma into the footage.  My advice: best to keep the 5DtoRGB gamma setting at “None.”

What about using MPEG Streamclip with the newer version of ProRes, you ask?  It looked exactly the same — darker and warmer, what I’ve been trying to avoid all along — in the Final Cut timeline regardless of whether I used the older version of ProRes or the newer version:

So, it’s not precisely true that the issue is only traceable to a variable in the ProRes codecs; 5DtoRGB is also reacting differently to the two versions of ProRes, whereas Streamclip simply ignored the differences.  Thomas is looking into this development, but he’s not sure he’ll be able to find a workaround.

Bottom line: the new 5DtoRGB updates, especially the batch function, will make for a better transcoder.  But I am having a problem with the newer ProRes codec that came installed with FCP 7.  My solution, while definitely not ideal, will be to do all my transcoding with 5DtoRGB going forward, but to keep the old ProRes codec (“AppleProRes422.component”) installed in my Library/Quicktime folder.

Want more good news?  Whatever updates Thomas has made to the program has fixed the export issue I was having.  Whether you send your footage out to Sheer 8-bit RGB (my favorite export codec) with a “slug filter” or whether you send it out with no render at all, the footage (once it’s been converted to a Photo JPEG AVI at 100% quality in Streamclip) ends up matching the original Canon H.264 footage whether it’s viewed in Quicktime 7…

…or Quicktime 10:

Here’s the original Canon H.264 footage in Quicktime 7, just for reference:

Identical!

It may not be a very elegant solution, but it’s the only 100% accurate roundtrip solution I’ve been able to find, and it does work!

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19 responses to “More 5DtoRGB Tests

  1. Pingback: Batch Processing Script for 5DtoRGB « iowadslr·

  2. Pingback: #5DTORGB proofs to be best Canon DSL footage to FCP conversion tool « Jorgen Escher·

  3. Excuse me, but could you point me to somewhere I could find AppleProRes422.component. I don’t have FCP6 anymore.

  4. I want to ask you more about Sheer codec, why this is your favorite export codec? Is it better than Prores?

    • I love ProRes. It’s an amazing codec. Use 5DtoRGB to go to ProRes, and then do all your editing in the ProRes codec. When you’re all done though, and you want to export out of Final Cut, that’s the time to use Sheer’s RGB codec, either the 8 bit or the 10 bit, depending on your requirements. That exported file will be twice the size of its ProRes equivalent, but the color will be spot-on. Then you can make a DVD, MP4, or DivX version from the Sheer export. That’s how I do everything lately.

  5. Hey Jerome,

    I was just wondering what your current perspective is. Are you still using the old ProRes codec from FCP 6, with FCP 6, 7, or anything else?

    • Great question! I’ve been thinking about this recently since I started shooting with the GH2. I was really curious to see how my workflow would change in FCP, and I’ll write a post soon about my GH2 workflow. Basically, I got a FCP 7 upgrade just under the wire, and am working off of that. Sure enough, the new ProRes component created darker footage for me than the old component, so I’m using the older one instead. It means I don’t get to use ProRes LT, but that’s not the end of the world. 5DtoRGB cost $50 bucks now, which is a bummer, but the batch process is finally working. What’s changed for me is how I get out of FCP. Sheer 8bit RGB is still an option, but I’m looking at alternatives, which I plan on writing about. Please check back in a few weeks! Thanks.

  6. Hi Jerome, i´m editing a documentary movie shoot on 7D. I have been issues trying to transcode a decent ProRes using alternatives like Canon Plugin, MB Grinder and, 5DtoRGB. The results to working with 5DtoRGB are better than others, especially with a lack of noise…

    I have a doubt, i want to buy a DSLR for video shooting, like 7D. But GH2 seems (almost in posted videos and some reviews) to be a better election, because its 4/3 chip, and magic lantern firmware to use 40 mbps in AVCHd. I know that 7D and 5D are used by a pros, but i have an opinion about the true convenience (or not) to shoot in GH2.

    Thanks, (and excuse my english)

    • Hi Bernardo. I think my gut response to your question would be: do you like the footage you’re editing on the 7D? If you like the colors, the resolution, etc., then you should understand that the GH2 footage will look different. In my (short) experience with the GH2, the footage will be sharper and brighter, which some people like and others don’t. For documentary use, I think the GH2 has a lot to recommend it: the electronic viewfinder is amazing! White balancing is much easier than on the 7D. Also, once the GH2 is hacked, it shoots very well at 1250 ISO, which is great for indoors work. The downside? Lenses. We need Tokina or Sigma to make a 2.8 zoom with image stabilization for m43. Right now, the Panasonic lens options are not great. The new zoom, though it has an electronic zoom, is pretty slow (5.6 when zoomed in). If you own any new Canon or Nikon lenses, you won’t be able to change the electronic aperture on the GH2. You can use old manual lenses, but with the 2x crop factor with m43, remember that a 50mm becomes a 100mm! So you’ll need a wide manual lens like the old Nikon 20mm, which will cost around $400 on eBay. There are wider lenses, like the Tokina super wide zoom, but the widest you would likely need is around 14mm, or maybe 18mm. Finally, there’s price. A GH2 with 14-42 kit lens is around $900. There won’t be a GH3 for another year, and the hack will continue to improve over that time. That’s a really good price. I’ll be blogging about this more in the coming weeks. Thanks for your question!

  7. Hi Jerome, if you don’t mind would you take a look at this (the pictures at the bottom of the thread)? I’ve been doing some tests with 5DtoRGB and while I’m getting consistent results across platforms which is good, it is consistently the darkest and most crushed interpretation of the image, and the least like the source footage from what I can determine? That is, 5DtoRGB is giving me consistent treatment of the footage across player platforms, but in no way is it bypassing the crushing of the 5D’s full range luma that I was expecting it to help with. Is this all I should be expecting?
    http://www.cinema5d.com/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=39620

    • Hi Tony, while I can’t possibly know everything about your workflow or the issues you’re having, I can try to list a few things that have worked for me regarding some of these issues. (1) Quit out of FCP and find your old Quicktime ProRes file, the one that came with FCP 6 and only included the regular and HQ version. It should be called “AppleProRes422.component,” from 2007. If you need the newer one with 4444, then this trick won’t work with you, but if you only need HQ, then you should be fine. Remove the newer version of ProRes from your Library/Quicktime folder and drop in the 2007 version instead. Make sure to remove the newer version, or FCP and 5DtoRGB will simply ignore the old version and just reference the newer one. Put it somewhere where you can easily find it for when you need it (you can just keep the 2007 version in your Quicktime folder at all times). (2) Take an original H.264 clip from your 5D and transcode it using the latest version of 5DtoRGB. I’m not sure which version you’re using; the batch process version is $50, but the non-batch version is still free (version 1.5.3). Personally, I can’t recommend the $50 1.5.7 version highly enough! These are my 1.5.7 settings, though I think the options have changed since 1.5.3: You need to use Matrix 601 instead of 709 for 5D footage (though I heard that the mkIII codec has changed to 709). Luminance range is full. Chroma is default. Post-processing is None, though you could certainly test the same clip with the Technicolor post-processing option and see what you get. (3) Ignore what this footage looks like in Quicktime 7 or 10, with FCP compatibility checked on or off. This option doesn’t work, so don’t drive yourself crazy trying to make it work. The only test that matters is to open your original H.264 file in Quicktime 7 with FCP compatibility on and then to import your new 5DtoRGB ProRes HQ file into FCP7. These files should now look identical. Let me know what your see on your end. (4) Finish all your color and exposure work in FCP, then use Quicktime Conversion (not self-contained Quicktime) to get out of FCP. As an export codec, I swear by BitJazz SheerVideo (http://www.bitjazz.com/en/products/sheervideo/). The company has a demo that’s good for 15 or 30 days — I can’t remember — but once you start using it, you’ll want to buy it. You need to create an RGB Quicktime. If you export using ProRes, you’ll be screwed. You can use the 8bit or the 10bit Sheer RGB option. I use 10bit if my timeline has a lot of After Effects animations in it. By the way, this is your last step. If you need to round trip anything to After Effects while you’re editing, stay in ProRes. Always stay in ProRes until your project is finished, because your final Sheer file will be huge. A ten minute 720P clip with be 15 gig. But it will play nice with Quicktime (indirectly). I then use MPEG Streamclip to either make an uncompressed AVI (using the Apple Photo JPEG option at 100%), which is great for making DVDs (though I don’t use Compressor — I use Bitvice instead), or an MP4, which is great for client review or YouTube. If you are making an MP4, make sure you have loaded the X264 Encoder (is it from Perian? — I also can’t remember) and use that option, not H.264 or Apple MPEG4. Then go into options: In Behaviors (3rd tab), choose your frame rate, and in Tagging (4th tab), select “add gamma 2.2.” On the main options page, deselect interlaced scaling and make sure to input your accurate frame rate manually (drop frame). Check your dimension settings as well. You can save these settings for the next time. If you want to do a round trip test without any color correction, compare the original H.264 in Quicktime 7 with FCP compatibility on, with the 5DtoRGB ProRes HQ version placed on a FCP timeline, with the MP4 version you made in MPEG Streamclip from the final Sheer file, with the Photo JPEG AVI you made in Streamclip from the same Sheer file. They should all look the same (I like to write “Sheer” in my file names for the export version so I don’t get confused). But don’t think the Sheer will look right in Quicktime, because it won’t. It’s only purpose in life is to get you an accurate uncompressed AVI and an accurate MP4 from MPEG Streamclip. You can make a Blu-ray or DVD from the AVI, and you can go to YouTube and client review from the MP4. Both are created with Quality slider at 100% in Streamclip. Remember, if you try any of this with the newer versions of ProRes, you’ll just be spinning your wheels. Let me know how it goes!

      • That shiz was comprehensive, thanks. I derived that might be my problem from your article, that I don’t presently have the older component to install…

  8. Hi Jerome,

    I came across this post relating your extensive research on fixing the quicktime gamma issues. Great job.

    I am having a problem though. I work on FCPX (have also access to Premiere CS5) and I don’t have access to an old version of FC to grab the AppleProRes422.component from 2007.

    My question here is double fold :
    1. Do you still work with FCP7 and use the method you describe here to get around the gamma bug or do you have a new one ? I mean, you may had reasons for upgrading to another NLE editor and/or not the desire to transcode Canon files anymore.

    2. If that’s still the only workflow to get around the gamma bug that you know about, do you have any idea where I can find the AppleProRes422.component from 2007 ?

    Thanks

    All the best

    R.

    • Hi R.,
      I don’t use Premiere or FCPX. I’m still working on FCP7. What I’d suggest to you is that you play around with the free version (non batch) of 5DtoRGB. See what happens in 601 matrix instead of 709, using the latest version of Pro Res. If you see a difference between a clip created this way when you import it into FCPX and a clip that was transcoded via Final Cut, then maybe you will benefit from the old Pro Res codec file. But if you don’t see any color or gamma difference, then chances are this trick will no longer work in FCPX. I’ve done zero testing with this. If you do see a difference within the timeline, then perhaps some of the old gamma bugs are still around. Let me know. Thanks, Jerome.

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