REVIEW: EditReady from Divergent Media
Here’s a summary before we start:
• Faster ingest in to NLEs (see results)
• Faster transcoding than Media Encoder or Compressor (see results)
• Correctly flags progressive footage that NLEs erroneously see as interlaced
• Add / Delete / Edit clip metadata
What is EditReady and why is EditReady Needed?
After years of ingesting from tapes the world moved on to card based digital media, but with that came some pretty nasty bumps in the road.
Cameras often use highly compressed codecs in order to use small and/or slow cards, but this often means that editing using the slower CPUs of not that long ago required transcoding to more edit friendly codecs. Ingesting & transcoding often took longer than real time, which seemed crazy.
Gradually computers became faster and companies like Adobe and Apple launched products capable of editing native media directly, though once again there were some caveats.
Today I’ll typically edit with either FCPX or Premiere Pro, though the latter has taken a back seat lately for reasons I’ll go in to in another post. However, it’s fair to say that while both ‘can’ edit media natively, neither are without issues.
The problem with native media – Premiere Pro
By example, ingesting native media in to Premiere Pro often requires long waits while conforming the audio to an uncompressed format. Not only can this take a frustratingly long time, but if Premiere Pro ever loses it’s seemingly fragile connection to that conformed file it has to do it all over again before you can continue to edit. If you ever restore from an archived copy to make a quick change you could end up waiting another couple of hours while Premiere Pro re-conforms the media again.
While this process is happening you can’t play any sounds or see waveforms from the un-conformed clips, so in many cases you can’t even begin a useful edit, nor can you sync for multicam etc. Very frustrating.
The problem with native media – FCPX
FCPX has a slightly different problem in that it insists on copying some media to it’s own library. Presumably it’s creating similarly uncompressed audio in the process, but unlike Premiere Pro you can at least begin some useful editing and even create multicam clips while this is happening. The gotcha is that the file copy pauses while ever you’re editing or otherwise working on the clips, so you could find you’re at the end of an edit and your media hasn’t even fully imported yet. Wow!
Other native media problems (all NLEs)
Another problem common to both FCPX and Premiere Pro (and most other NLEs) is that footage from several cameras, including the very popular Canon C100 is recorded in a PsF format and interpreted natively by almost all NLEs as interlaced when it is in fact progressive.
Having ingested the footage from such cameras you’re required to manually select the clips and override interlace as progressive. If you forget to do this you find that the footage seems ‘unsharp’ and you have to track down all the miss-interpreted footage and fix it.
Now, I’m not blaming the NLEs as such, companies like Canon really need to fix this at source instead of clinging to outdated codecs that cause more problems than they fix.
So how can we work around these problems?
When a recent project demanded ingesting more than 50 hours of footage and a very fast turn around I had to look at new ways of doing things.
I’ve been a long time user of ClipWrap, an earlier product from Divergent Media. One evening I noticed an advert popup for EditReady. The first couple of times I dismissed it, but then a couple of days later I clicked on the ‘more info’ button and I’m so glad I did.
Small Charge – But Worth It
OK, so this wasn’t a free upgrade, but then it wasn’t expensive either. Something like £30 / $50. If you’re a working professional and time is money then you’ll likely find this a worthwhile investment. If an Assistant Editor is running your footage at (say) £18 / $25 an hour then how many hours would it take to save the cost of the software? Not many.
So what can EditReady do?
EditReady allows you to drop any media that uses a Quicktime or MXF wrapper on to the application, see a preview of the clips, rename, add, change or delete metadata, apply LUTs and then either rewrap or transcode or both. What’s more, it’s very fast at doing it too.
Why rewrapping instead of transcoding?
Rewrapping the native media produces files that have the same pristine source video (it’s not being transcoded) but with the option of uncompressed audio.
Files now import to FCPX and Premiere Pro instantly with no conforming or copying to libraries. They are literally EditReady. On just one project with 50 hours of footage I saved around 5 hours on FCPX importing footage and having done a test afterwards would have saved several hours with Premiere Pro too. 5 hours is a long time and made the difference between delivering on the promised day or being a day late.
What about transcoding?
EditReady allows you to set multiple batches running simultaneously, targeting different destinations as well as different codecs. For example, you may wish to create both full blown ProRes 422 HQ and ProRes Proxy for editing, or maybe you’re targeting one or more flavours of DNxHD, so setting up multiple batches from the same source can easily do this.
Note: The one thing to note is that if you’re running multiple batches from a hard disk then it’s marginally slower to run these in parallel than to run them sequentially. Reading and writing multiple streams of data on hard disks causes additional delays as the head seeks around. If you’re running from SSDs then you won’t see any slowdown. Having the option to specify sequential operation would be nice.
I must admit I’ve not dived deeply in to all the possibilities with metadata yet, because my initial tests showed that they weren’t always transferring to the NLE as I would have liked (e.g. keywords). I’m going to look in to this more and post separately. However, accessing the metadata for a clip is done either via the clip menu or by selecting a clip and hitting command-2.
This brings up a dialog show all the clip’s current metadata, all of which is editable, but also allows you to add extra metadata fields that may not already be present, such as reel, scene, shot, take, angle etc.
To get an idea of why I find EditReady so useful, let’s look at the ingest of just one card from a recent shoot. This card happened to be from a Canon C100, though could easily have been from the XF300 or GH4 used on the same day.
The table above shows the time difference between copying a card to the HDD then ingesting in to FCPX and Premiere Pro as native media, or using EditReady to rewrap the card to the HDD and then ingesting the EditReady media in to FCPX and Premiere Pro. Shorter times are better. As can be seen there is a dramatic time reduction (increase in ingest speed) when using EditReady over the native import process.
What is more, during the native ingest, Premiere Pro failed to link the spanned clips (they remained individual files) and both Premiere Pro and FCPX incorrectly saw the media as interlaced (Canon PsF) and each clip had to be re-interpreted as progressive.
Using EditReady all spanned clips were correctly seen as a single clip and the footage was correct identified as progressive.
More on transcoding – SPEED SPEED SPEED
Next, let’s look at sample transcoding times for just one of the spanned clips (56m22s AVCHD). In order to level the playing field the clip was imported through Adobe Prelude and transcoded directly to ProResHQ. Compressor is incapable of transcoding native AVCHD so the file was sent to compressor via FCPX.
As can be seen, even here, EditReady provides a significant time saving over both Apple and Adobe offerings.
If you’re not yet convinced by EditReady then download the trial and see for yourself. The only limitation of the trial is that it will only transcode or rewrap the first 60 seconds of each file. If you only shoot in short clips then you’re all set to go!