Creating Proxies in MPEG streamclip & Magic Bullet Grinder

Cranston P.K. Tewksbury III commented in my review of Magic Bullet Grinder that he would like to see a review of the proxy creation feature. Here it is!

Proxies can be used for a variety of reasons, but the biggest one is to reduce render time by feeding your editing platform lower res / data rate footage. Once the edit is locked you can swap out the low quality footage for high quality footage and save a lot of time.

One of Grinders features is that it can easily create proxies at the same time it adds timecode and upscales to 1080. I’m not entirely sure why it automatically upscales, and I wish that was disable-able. Below is the window showing the proxy settings. You can choose between the prores proxy and photojpeg medium quality formats. You can also change the resolution and add timecode burn-in. The menu is simple but it works. It is nice to not have to submit two batches, as you would have to in MPEG streamclip.

Grinder does a good job of this. It only took 3:50 to create a full 1080 upscale and a half hd proxy for 4 clips (~40 seconds) from my canon 7D.

My main issue with grinder is probably the target audience. Anyone needing to create proxies is not taking their first spin around final cut, and is more than able to tweak some settings. I decided do the same thing in MPEG streamclip (which is admittedly more complex) and see how it ranks.

Here is the batch window.

I dropped in the same 4 files and selected “export to quicktime” and then chose these settings for the upscale.

Then I dropped the same 4 in again and put in these settings for the half res proxy.

Finally I hit “Go” and watched the render bars go. In the end MPEG streamclip came in at 2:20 and Grinder came in at just under 4:00. Not a huge difference given how short the clips were, but it is certainly not an advantage for the $50 piece of software. I also ran MPEG a second time without the 720p->1080p upscale and it was even faster. That isn’t an apples to apples comparison, but I don’t care because I generally don’t upscale my footage. The inability to turn that ‘feature’ off in Grinder is annoying.

…so in conclusion Mr. Tewksbury; MPEG streamclip can create proxies and it does it marginally faster than Grinder. It can’t add timecode to the footage, but I have yet to find a situation where Grinder’s timecode would be useful.

~ by ross on June 2, 2010.

5 Responses to “Creating Proxies in MPEG streamclip & Magic Bullet Grinder”

  1. You down with FCP? You are THE man! Excellent review, and thanks for the effort.

  2. I work a lot with 7D footage, and I almost always need proper TC and REEL data.
    In fact you cannot media manage your footage from proxy to full res without those.
    I do a lot of 7D multicam shoots (4-5 cameras), and unless you have a RAID array with an extremeley fast throughput, you’ll want to offline your footage, and cut with the proxys.

    QTChange is a very nice utility, I use it all the time.
    You can do the same with the E1 plugin, but none of these do the complete job.

    The ultimate 5D/7D companion software would have to know the following:

    1. Open clips from card/HDD folder
    2. Read the TC from the .THM files, and assign it to the QT files
    3. Read the REEL from the card/image name, and/or prompt the user to input a unique one
    4. Make Prores ( 422, 422HQ, 4444 should all be options ) with TC and REEL data
    5. Make proxys carrying the same metadata
    6. Output to a user defined folder structure

    The last one is important, since you’ll probably want to keep your footage organized by for example cameras or DPs on a large multicam shoot. So spitting everything to the same folder is a pain in the ass if you have 5 cams, and 4 hours of footage from each…

    This way you do an import folder of the proxy clips, edit, and relink to full res files, and
    you can support the whole procedure from only two HDDs put into a RAID0 configuration.

  3. Hi Marc,
    Thanks for your reply! While you can’t media manage and then do the proxy swap without REEL data, could you media manage and then find and replace? It seems like it would be an issue of filenaming at that point. I understand it’s a hack, but it might work.

    On the other hand I feel like the lack of sufficient software shows us exactly how surprised Canon was by the reaction to the 5d initially. They didn’t have any idea what the demand was for a product like this. They certainly didn’t look this far down the workflow chain! I hope that someone gets their act together and builds a better E1 plugin. This isn’t difficult because it’s cutting edge, but somehow I feel like a RED early adopter trying to piece a workflow together out of all of these apps!

  4. Well,
    From the maker of QTchange (that’ll be me…)

    Part of the Ultimate solution is here:

    Offload clips to backup and transcoding with TC / Reel.
    It only offers one flavor of transcode at this time, and it renames the files.

    I still need to add features like custom reelname / filename and (second) proxy support, but first i would like some general feedback on how it behaves.


  5. The problem with MPEG is that when you generate proxies from camera footage that already HAS timecode, it does not keep it, but starts the new file at 00:00:00;00. This is a hassle, and requires a second pass through FCP to add the code back in.

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