I work as a item director for Dutch Public Broadcasting. Over the course of the last decade our so our network has pretty much outsourced all of it's facilities. This means that we pay for ingesting and transcoding as well. With the advent of low cost cameras, such as DSLR's, Go Pro's and several custom made hidden camera solutions, we're confronted with escalating costs for transcoding the material to a format that can be handled by AVID.
For a while we've been trying to find a solution that would enable us to select parts of these exoctic codecs (mostly used for b-roll, since the bulk is still shot on xd-cam) and transcode them to a AVID-friendly format. My guess is that Lightworks would suit this purpose quite well, but if anyone would like to weigh in on this, it would be much appreciated.
The workflow I'm looking for would enable the user to load in long clips (raw hidden camera footage tends to quite long) without the need for long conversions, natively edit material down to a manageable size and export those clips to a format AVID would be able to handle. Basically we'd use Lightworks as a buffed up version of FFmpg.
Does anyone have any experience with importing and exporting from formats such as AVHCD, MP4, MPEG2, AVI, etc
Yes, there are a number of people here on this forum that have experimented extensively with codecs, conversion/transcoding for LightWorks. I have, without contributing a great deal, participated in these discussions and am aware of the outcome.
First, LW accepts files generated in the GoPro Cineform codec. That's the one I would use for GoPro files. It's a free download.
For all other file formats the consensus is for DNxHD and ProRes. DNxHD is the most processor-friendly, but it requires the payment of a licensing fee of $ 65.00. It's worth every penny of it. To convert/transcode AVCHD I recommend a free program called DSLR Post Prep, written by an avid LightWorks user, Mr. Wayne Norton.
LW will ingest all sorts of codecs, provided you buy the PRO license, which is $ 60.00 per annum. It will even swallow AVCHD. Yet, be advised that AVCHD isn't processor-friendly and will show deterioration if you have to export and re-import it several times. So the consensus remains with the codecs above.
I'm amazed at your use of the term "exotic codecs" in regard to AVCHD and GoPro. They are THE industry standard in consumer/prosumer (and some pro) cameras.
I can't predict how you'll make out with LightWorks. It's a wonderful program. But it has definitley a learning curve. And, in some areas, you'll have to re-think! Also, the LW-specific semantics is quite different from their competition. Sometimes I think that they just like to be a bit excentric .... .
I'm aware these are not the most exotic codecs In my home setup (Final Cut Pro) I work with them all the time. It's just that our editing suites are still running on Avid Media Composer 4, which is not the most codec friendly NLE. The reason for this is that the company that facilitates our editing suites also hosts a custom build file server that all of us rely on and that doesn't play nice yet with more recent builds of AVID.
This also means that we have to use a workaround for importing a variety of codecs. Our host provides this, but since we're charged both for ingesting raw material from xd cam discs, hosting the raw footage as well as transcoding other file formats for use in AVID you can imagine what that means when you drop 8 hours of hidden camera footage or multi-cam shots made with several go pro's. That's why I'm researching a solution that would enable us to cut back the material before sending it off for editing in AVID.
What you say makes sense and I'm definitely going to try this. What I'm most interested in is the "open timeline": the fact that you can pretty much drop any kind of format in there. Am I right to assume that there's no time consuming conversion that takes place when you drop something in the timeline? I.e. would we be able to drop large clips in the timeline without losing time ingesting? I'm aware that we would of course have to convert after editing, but that would be much faster than converting the whole lot and then editing, right?