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ProRes/CinemaDNG vs h264/h265
452 13 2017-3-15 06:24:35
Flightgeist
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Can anyone recommend a good video review of the quality differences between filming with the Pro licences and the h264/265 compressions?  Trying to decide if it is worth it to pay for the extra media and licenses -- any opinions appreciated!
2017-3-15 06:24:35
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Cobra44Magnum
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I cannot speak to the quality differences yet since I have not shot in ProRes but I can say that shooting in ProRes will eliminate a pre-edit transcode step. On a new Mac Pro, trying to edit H.264 footage in FCPX was horrible. I didn't expect it to be that bad. Even before any transitions or text it was not realistic to edit the H.264 footage. After converting to ProRes (H.265 requires a 3rd party converter), obviously, it work like a champ. I look forward to shooting directly in ProRes and eliminating the transcode step.
2017-3-15 07:29:42
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I 2 Fly
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I mainly shoot in 4K H.265 (MP4) with the X5S.  I pull the footage directly into Premiere Pro 2016.  It works well but is CPU and RAM hungry - making editing and rendering slow.  The rendered and graded file is usually about 30 - 40 % of the original in size but of very good quality.  I think that one may gain some (maybe very little) image quality by going ProRes because of the compressing/codec but you will have more dynamic range and your client may demand ProRes to be delivered.   Buying the SSD is one (too expensive) thing but those license fees are ... hard to understand.  I have not paid it for using my ATOMOS Shogun also running the full ProRes!

If you are going for very good quality video in H.264 / 265 and not for the few reasons above - save your money and don't get the SSD / ProRes kit... Only my opinion...
2017-3-15 10:50:10
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JerryLaurence
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I do wonder, if you transcoded from h,264/5 to ProRes for a client, if they would notice or care? Especially if it was for HD output...
2017-3-15 12:29:52
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Flightgeist
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I 2 Fly Posted at 2017-3-15 10:50
I mainly shoot in 4K H.265 (MP4) with the X5S.  I pull the footage directly into Premiere Pro 2016.  It works well but is CPU and RAM hungry - making editing and rendering slow.  The rendered and graded file is usually about 30 - 40 % of the original in size but of very good quality.  I think that one may gain some (maybe very little) image quality by going ProRes because of the compressing/codec but you will have more dynamic range and your client may demand ProRes to be delivered.   Buying the SSD is one (too expensive) thing but those license fees are ... hard to understand.  I have not paid it for using my ATOMOS Shogun also running the full ProRes!

If you are going for very good quality video in H.264 / 265 and not for the few reasons above - save your money and don't get the SSD / ProRes kit... Only my opinion...

I 2 Fly, can you tell me what type of system / specs you are using?
2017-3-16 07:21:39
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Flightgeist
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Cobra44Magnum Posted at 2017-3-15 07:29
I cannot speak to the quality differences yet since I have not shot in ProRes but I can say that shooting in ProRes will eliminate a pre-edit transcode step. On a new Mac Pro, trying to edit H.264 footage in FCPX was horrible. I didn't expect it to be that bad. Even before any transitions or text it was not realistic to edit the H.264 footage. After converting to ProRes (H.265 requires a 3rd party converter), obviously, it work like a champ. I look forward to shooting directly in ProRes and eliminating the transcode step.

Thanks for the reply. Do you notice a quality difference between h264 and h265?  Also, just to confirm -- is the CineSSD necessary for prores and cinemadng but not necessary for h264?  I've noticed that the $6200 Inspire 2 Premium Combo (which comes with the X5S and pro format license) does not include a CineSSD card. Confused why they wouldn't include this if it is necessary to use the pro formats they are selling in this combo.
2017-3-16 07:27:42
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I 2 Fly
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Flightgeist Posted at 2017-3-16 07:21
I 2 Fly, can you tell me what type of system / specs you are using?

PC specs I assume?

i5, Ausus Mboard, 8Gb Ram, 1Gb AMD graphics card, Win. 7 Pro, 2X 1Tb HHDs... so really basic but working.  I'm in the process of going i7, 16Gb DDR4 Ram, Ausus Mboard, 4Gb AMD graphics card, 2X SSD 1Tb
2017-3-16 10:15:33
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Cobra44Magnum
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Flightgeist Posted at 2017-3-16 07:27
Thanks for the reply. Do you notice a quality difference between h264 and h265?  Also, just to confirm -- is the CineSSD necessary for prores and cinemadng but not necessary for h264?  I've noticed that the $6200 Inspire 2 Premium Combo (which comes with the X5S and pro format license) does not include a CineSSD card. Confused why they wouldn't include this if it is necessary to use the pro formats they are selling in this combo.

I have not done a fair, side-by-side comparison of H.264/H.265 but my perception is that the quality is better but really only noticed on larger displays at 4K. I have a 43" 4K computer monitor and a 65" 4K TV so I want to be sure that I get everything that I am paying for. I feel that the it's worth it to shoot in H.265.

Yes, you are correct, the CineSSD is only required for ProRes or CineDNG. H.264/H.265 can be recorded to a microSD card (just be sure it's a fast one for 4K video). The reason they don't include the CineSSD in general is the enormous cost. Many users won't want to pay that extra for the CineSSD. I think I see your point on the bundle, though. They are selling you something that you can't really use until you buy something else to go with it. Not sure of the reasoning on that.
2017-3-16 10:49:54
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Barry Goyette
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We've done a fair amount of side by side testing of H264/265 and ProRes. Here are the highlights.

1. H264/h265 appear at this point to be largely identical. Even under extreme stress testing (heavy grading) we see no difference between the two. Haven't tested H265 since the firmware upgrade, so there may be some differences.

2) H264/h265 are both excellent codecs, far superior to previous DJI low bit rate codecs. The take grading very well, and many people will find them to be all that they need. The one drawback to these codecs is that they undergo quite a bit of noise reduction (smearing) and output sharpening, (aliasing) even when set at the lowest levels available in Go4 app. This is to be expected, but is the primary difference you will see in comparison to ProRes. Some people prefer the over sharpened look of the h264/5, but as a professional, ProRes gives you the ability to sharpen in a more granular way in post, giving you slightly more delicate detail, and a minimum of sharpening artifacts.

3) ProRes will have slightly more noise, but it is generally fine and reminiscent of film grain. It handles highlights better in D-Log than H264 (which currently has a slight error in the encoding of d-log), and in theory will accept more adjustment in post than the H264/5. (So far I'm pretty impressed with how well the H codecs grade, but proRes should, again in theory be even better -- in my tests so far, I really haven't seen the H264 codec "break" or band with extreme grades, in the new firmware, so it's hard to absolutely say that ProRes excels here, except in theory).  Currently ProRes is limited to D-Log and standard profiles, and doesn't have M4/3 lens corrections applied, which is problematic on the wider lenses including DJI's stock lens, so it could be considered limited for now.

4) RAW is really not a video codec and so it's main highlight is it's ability to be handled like a RAW photo in photoshop, This results in the post process being much more time consuming and also much more controllable. Image quality in Raw is not necessarily better than proRes, but you can apply much more extreme adjustments to the imagery. There is currently a lens correction error with RAW involving the 25mm lens, that leads to uncorrectable Chromatic Aberrations. This will hopefully be corrected (by Adobe) soon.
2017-3-16 13:07:23
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thomasakira
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this is the difference, dng you can manipulate a lot more in post....h264 aside from the compression issues will generally yield something very close to what you shot

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 5.34.34 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 5.34.49 PM.png
2017-3-16 13:33:58
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Barry Goyette
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thomasakira Posted at 2017-3-16 13:33
this is the difference, dng you can manipulate a lot more in post....h264 aside from the compression issues will generally yield something very close to what you shot

While what Thomas has said about raw is true, you do have more flexibility with RAW, this h264 codec does seem to take rather significant grades with ease. Here's an example of the new D-log shot in H264. The older version of this shot would have been a mess, with ruddy messy shadows and highly compressed highlights. This shot was exposed about as far to the right as possible, and then pulled back down, to see if I could expose any banding in the sky.  And there is some...but its not horrible (made worse by the compression required to attach here on the forum), and certainly, had I chosen a more normal exposure I could have minimized that to some extent.
H264 D-Logcomp.jpg H264 Grade.jpg




ProRes Grade.jpg
H264 D-log.jpg
h264 Bleach bypass.jpg
2017-3-16 17:00:56
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thomasakira
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Barry Goyette Posted at 2017-3-16 17:00
While what Thomas has said about raw is true, you do have more flexibility with RAW, this h264 codec does seem to take rather significant grades with ease. Here's an example of the new D-log shot in H264. The older version of this shot would have been a mess, with ruddy messy shadows and highly compressed highlights. This shot was exposed about as far to the right as possible, and then pulled back down, to see if I could expose any banding in the sky.  And there is some...but its not horrible (made worse by the compression required to attach here on the forum), and certainly, had I chosen a more normal exposure I could have minimized that to some extent.

this is impressive for h264
2017-3-17 06:13:06
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Flightgeist
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Barry Goyette Posted at 2017-3-16 17:00
While what Thomas has said about raw is true, you do have more flexibility with RAW, this h264 codec does seem to take rather significant grades with ease. Here's an example of the new D-log shot in H264. The older version of this shot would have been a mess, with ruddy messy shadows and highly compressed highlights. This shot was exposed about as far to the right as possible, and then pulled back down, to see if I could expose any banding in the sky.  And there is some...but its not horrible (made worse by the compression required to attach here on the forum), and certainly, had I chosen a more normal exposure I could have minimized that to some extent.

Thanks, excellent post and very helpful.  Are you touching the sharpness settings at all in h264? Anything else to know about the way you shot it?

Lastly, have you done any tests on h264 vs h265?
2017-3-17 15:00:11
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Barry Goyette
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Flightgeist Posted at 2017-3-17 15:00
Thanks, excellent post and very helpful.  Are you touching the sharpness settings at all in h264? Anything else to know about the way you shot it?

Lastly, have you done any tests on h264 vs h265?

I turn the sharpness settings all the way down on H264, and frankly, all the way down isn't really enough. Part of the secret sauce of DJI compression is some pretty strong noise reduction followed by some pretty strong sharpening. The noise reduction eliminates noise and some detail, which helps in compression, and the sharpening gives the "impression" of more detail, although it is false detail, and is problematic on a lot of levels.  The reality is, DJI has to make a compromise to get this much resolution down to 100mbits, although I'd prefer if they allowed you to turn off the sharpening completely, because there are better ways in post to crisp things up than what they can do in camera. I think the vast majority of their customers love the extra sharpness (and often complain that the ProRes looks soft, even though it has slightly more actual detail), so I doubt we'll see much change in that.

I have previously tested H264/65 and see zero meaningful difference between the two under pretty strong stress testing. There are some small differences about how the color sampling is encoded, but you'd have to really destroy the footage to see the difference. If you are on  windows and can get H265 going, then there's no reason why not..but on a mac...I don't think all the extra transcoding work is worth a bleep of difference in the final output.
2017-3-19 11:21:35
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