In the beginning, the postproduction workflow for DSLR production was simple. Essentially, the H.264 codec (still used by most DSLR cameras today) had to be transcoded to an intermediate codec like Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD prior to editing. Once in ProRes or DNxHD, it was easy to take those files to an NLE and begin working. Although the process worked, it was very time-consuming and took up more storage.
H.264 was a format that was designed to provide good-quality video with much lower bit rates. There are many forms of the codec, including the Blu-ray disc format, AVCHD and Sony’s new XAVC, which is the highest level of H.264. For DSLRs, both Canon and Nikon capture H.264 that are wrapped in QuickTime MOV containers.
NLES EMBRACE H.264 (WELL, SORT OFF)
In 2009, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and Avid Media Composer 5 adapted to accept the H.264 files natively. However, the intense compression would tax computer hardware to the point of crashing, which would happen often. H.264 compression is also inherently fragile, which becomes apparent when color grading and performing visual effects.
Adobe and Avid tweaked their software to go "native," letting you work directly with H.264. Both NLEs performed admirably, but only if you had up-to-date hardware to handle the files. In some cases, the results could show some wear and tear. Many times, you were left with harsh, contrasty, oversaturated images pockmarked with pixelated artifacts.
Today, Premiere CC, Media Composer 7 and Final Cut Pro X handle H.264 files faster, more efficiently and with a better result, even after grading and adding effects. This was good news for smaller operations looking to add value to their projects without investing in the latest hardware.
In 2013, NLEs have stepped up their game by enhancing their programs and incorporating new apps. Now, several solutions exist to seamlessly take you from shooting to transcoding and finally to color grading. Here are just some of the new apps currently available that will help you work more efficiently in post with your DSLR footage.
In 2012, Adobe (www.adobe.com) launched SpeedGrade and Prelude for their CS6 release. However, with their latest release, CC (Creative Cloud), they have beefed up their performance even more.