Stupid technology questions?

ErosPeterson Website User Posts: 2

Hi everyone!

OK heres where I am right now... I've got a personal longterm project coming up - I'm going to be editing HD movie files from my Canon T3i and I'm tweaking my computer at home to edit them. I currently have HF Express2 installed.

Here is my laundry list that I need help with:

  • I'm upgrading my computer at home (8GB RAM, Windows Vista Ultimate, more than adequate CPU processor to handle high end tasks) with an SSD drive for my OS and software, looking to repurpose a Firewire external drive to handle my video files for editing. Will FireWire 400 be enough to edit 1080 AVCHD files? Note: I'm not doing longform stuff - just simple well under 5 minute pieces that will end up on YouTube)
  • Can I use an external USB 3.0 drive for my media files instead of FireWire 400 as a media drive?
  • Can HF2 accept HDV as an input format, and can I mix and match my files with the footage from my T3i?

Thanks in advance,


  • rgbii
    rgbii Website User Posts: 965 Just Starting Out
    edited January 2015

    Shouldn't be any problem handling your t3i files (I use 7D and 70D), but I would recommend transcoding them to DNxHD, which will help with a couple of things, including editing (much easier for any program to handle over native t3i).

    You didn't mention what GPU you're using. That is one of the most important things to consider when using Hitfilm (and many other editing programs).  Hitfilm uses the GPU heavily.

     USB 3.0 should give decent results, but I would recommend an internal or SSD for media you are editing.  I normally have my media on my primary drive, but have edited older projects that have been moved to external. No problems with it, but it is a tad slower.

    As long as they are all formats Hitfilm Supports, shouldn't be a problem mixing formats, but again, I'd recommend converting most to DNxHD (ProRes for MACs).

  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 928 Enthusiast

    Those are newbie questions, not stupid ones. :)

    I think FireWire 400 would suffice for H.264, but USB3 is faster, and possibly actually even less expensive since it's so much more common nowadays.

    I THINK that HF2 supports HDV, but I'm not sure. I don't have any HDV footage handy with which to test it.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,020 Ambassador

    HDV footage is interlaced and Hitfilm 2 Express won't play well with interlaced footage. You will want to use another software package like Handbrake or MPEG Streamclip to convert your HDV footage into a progressive format. DNxHD is a good choice. 

    On a related note, the mp4 files from a Canon DSLR tend to be sluggish in Hitfilm. Normal recommendation would be to convert those to DNxHD (again, using MPEG Streamclip) 

    Given that DNxHDfiles will take up more disc space, I recommend USB 3. 

    There's a whole thread on this forum on conversion to DNxHD for Hitfilm right here:

  • ErosPeterson
    ErosPeterson Website User Posts: 2
    edited January 2015

    Thanks everyone for your prompt replies. What's the extension for the  DNxHD format? Also what's another format you would recommend for editing besides DNxHD?

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,020 Ambassador

    Once you read what I have here, I'll advise you to read this article:

    Now, to answer your question, I'm going to go in a bit of a roundabout manner. I am also going to assume you are a near-total new user, so bear with me here.

    First, let me do "interlaced" vs "progressive" files. Interlaced files are drawn on screen by "line skipping." For HDV the computer draws lines 1,3,5,7,etc first, then goes back and draws in lines 2,4,6,8,etc. Progressive files are drawn in order of lines 1,2,3,4,5, etc. Hitfilm is designed to work with progressive video (interlaced is an old-time workaround, and interlaced video is going away). Hitfilm Pro 3 Update 2 has a new Deinterlace filter, but in all earlier versions of Hitfilm, interlaced footage is going to give you ugly "combing" effects (horizontal lines on fast action). Even with Hitfilm's new Deinterlace filter, it's probably better to batch convert/deinterlace before import to Hitfilm to save you the tedium of adding a Deinterlace filter to every clip.

    Next, let's talk about the difference between a "wrapper" or "container" vs a "codec." When we're talking about file extensions/file types, we're talking about a wrapper. A wrapper can hold many kinds of different data, even though these different data formats have the same file extension. The MOV files your T3i gives you is a great example--even though the MOV file extension makes it a "Quicktime" file, the video inside is using an h.264 codec. The h.264 codec might also be used in video files with an AVI, AVC or MP4 extension. However, the MOV format wrapper is what defines the Quicktime format, and, if you're on a Windows machine MOV files have some special issues which I'll come back to later.

    A "codec" is a COmpresser/DECompressor, and is the software that actually defines how your video is encoded inside the wrapper. h.264 is a codec, and so is DNxHD. What this means is, a DNxHD file can have an MOV or AVI file extension, depending on what wrapper you put it in.

    Your HDV files might also have an AVI or MOV file extension, depending on what software you used to capture it. It might also be MP2, AVC or HDV. That said, your HDV file is using an MPEG-2 codec inside whatever wrapper it may be.

    Still with me? Good.

    Next, we're going to talk file compression--I'll keep it short here, because the article I linked at the top of this post is all about file compression and "delivery" vs "editing" codecs. The short version is codecs like h.264 (like your T3i gives you) are not designed for editing--h.264 is designed to cram down a final delivery file as small as possible for viewing on the internet or a Blu-Ray. When you have a highly compressed file like h.264 your computer has to work a lot harder to decompress that footage before you can edit it. In any NLE, including Hitfilm this can lead to slow, choppy playback and response.

    Using an editing codec like ProRes (Apple) or DnxHD (Window) is going to result in much much larger file sizes, but, because the video is less compressed, it's easier for the computer to deal with, thus faster response in your NLE.

    That said, if you're on Windows, DNxHD is probably your best choice for and editing codec. If you're on Mac, then Pro-Res.

    Now--I said earlier that MOV files on Windows had a special set of issues: Quicktime for Windows is a 32-bit program. This means that Quicktime on Windows can address a maximum of 4GB of memory. When working with video, it's very easy to go over 4GB of files, and this can cause problems in any NLE, again, including Hitfilm (NOTE: Hitfilm Pro 3 Update #2 has some patching to help Hitfilm deal with large amounts of MOV files). This MOV issue is because of APPLE, and not because of anything in Hitfilm, or any other NLE.

    SO: My recommendation is to use MPEG Streamclip to encode your files into a DNxHD AVI file for use in Hitfilm---you certainly should do this for your HDV files since they are interlaced.

    Download DnxHD here: (it's free!)

    Download MPEG Streamclip here: (it's free!)

    In MPEG Streamclip, you'll load in your files, tehn you'll need to go to export settings. Select Export to AVI, then, in the "Compresson" drop-down menu, look for "AVID DNxHD" as shown here:

    Then, click the "Options" button to open up the DnxHD settings and use the resolution drop-down to select the proper resolution and desired data rate as shown here:

    Hopefully this will answer your questions. :-) I need to just make a video tutorial about this, because I go through this with a new user at least once a month. :-)

  • TMFilmsHD
    TMFilmsHD Website User Posts: 80

    Hi Triem, 

    I read everything and downloaded Streamclip, but what do I need to do on the DnxHD site? To export to AVID DnxHD in Streamclip isn't an available option yet. I don't get it, do I need to fill in one of those forms to download something? 

    There is no obvious download button or anything on that site either and reading that site, it doesn't tell me what to do either.

  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 928 Enthusiast

    I found a DNxHD download by searching for it via google. Avid's DNxHD cleverly fails to include a pointer to where you can actually GET the codec.

    They make it hard to find a place to get the codec that they supposedly want people to use, probably because they're trying to use it as a reason to convince people to buy their NLE that no one who isn't already dependent on it would want to touch because it has such a clunky and unintuitive UI.

  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast

    Just as a side note to the discussion, I noted that you're using Windows Vista. Your mileage may vary, but I'd highly recommend upgrading to one of the newer versions of Windows, as you'll get performance and stability improvements. Windows 7 has been a much better platform for me than Vista ever was (and that means you'll then get a free upgrade to 10 when it comes out, too).

  • TMFilmsHD
    TMFilmsHD Website User Posts: 80

    WhiteCranePhoto, thanks for the help.

    I downloaded the codec and now it's automatically become an option in MPEG Streamclip. I followed the steps Triem23 said at the end of his post, but in HitFilm I can still not import the DNxHD converted (AVI) file.

    The video in the library of HitFilm becomes white.

    Settings used in MPEG Streamclip:

    Imported D5200 1920x1080 24fps Quicktime (MOV) video

    File Export to AVI...

    Selected AVID DN xHD (1920x1080 unscaled)

    Options: 1080p/23.976 DNxHD 175(don't know what 175 stands for) 10-bit


    What have I done wrong? It's AVI DNxHD it should be imported right?


  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Moderator Website User, Imerge Beta Tester Posts: 2,509 Enthusiast

    I would take @SimonKJones suggestion to heart it could be Vista that's the real culprit. 

    In the interest of full disclosure however while DNxHD is a wonderful codec in many ways it officially only supports two file containers, MXF and Quicktime MOV. You can in theory use it in an AVI like @Triem23 does but there's absolutely no guarantee it will actually work. Avid developed all of their current codecs to work on both Windows and Macs and very wisely chose not to try and force AVI's into working reliably on a Mac. Dealing with MOV files in Windows can be a pain but trying to deal with AVI files reliably on a Mac is a nightmare.

    If you have to work across platforms (Win & Mac) DNx MOV's are probably the best choice. The second choice is probably Grass Valley's HQX. It supports MOV, AVI and MXF wrappers but keep in mind if a file destined for a Mac it's best to use MOV.

    UT Video is supposed to work on both Win and Mac with support for both AVI and MOV wrappers but I've never tried it on a Mac or heard about anybody else using it on a Mac either. It's also not a commercial codec it's a project by "some guy". A very talented and dedicated guy but still just a guy. The latest version is 15.0.2

    If being cross platform isn't an issue then there's also MagicYUV which only supports AVI as a wrapper. This is another project done by a very talented and dedicated "guy" hoping to take the project commercial. For now the 8 bit color space version is freely available.

    A lot of people use Lagarith but compared to all of the above options it takes a long time to decode making it aggravating to edit.

    Finally a note to anybody having problems opening video files with a professional editor. If you have any codec pack like K-lite or CCCP or anything else - get rid of it! These packs almost ALWAYS cause issues (especially the media splitter(s) with professional software. If you must have something installed stick to directshow filters like ffdshow

  • TMFilmsHD
    TMFilmsHD Website User Posts: 80
    edited February 2015


    if you're talking to me, I'm not working on Vista. The topicstarter is, but he hasn't been active in this thread for a while. 

    I'm using windows 8 right now and I still don't understand the problem I'm having which is having a Quicktime MOV converted to AVID DNxHD AVI ut not getting it in Hitfilm 2 Express.

    I'm getting closer to getting to edit a new short film I'm about to shoot and I'm wondering whether DNxHD is worth the hassle of converting.

  • NullUnit
    NullUnit Website User Posts: 791 Just Starting Out

    I'm trying to use mpgstreamclip (I usually use vegas) to convert mts files to dnxhd and it says that it cannot import them. Is there another good free program to convert with? Vegas can seemingly only make .mov dnxhd and I need to convert files that are an hour or longer. Or is there another good file type to use in HF3 that vegas can produce?

  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Moderator Website User, Imerge Beta Tester Posts: 2,509 Enthusiast

    TMFilmsHDTriem23 but unfortunately that doesn't mean it would work for anybody else. If you're dead set against using MOV files try one of the other options I listed. Grass Valley's HQX codecs are very comparable to Avid's DNx.

    NullUnit Please see what I just wrote to TMFilmsHD. The reason Vegas only produces MOV files using DNxHD is because AVI is not supported. by DNxHD. I routinely work with DNxHD and ProRes MOV files up to two hours in length without issue but apparently others have problems

  • TMFilmsHD
    TMFilmsHD Website User Posts: 80


    Alright thanks for the clarification, So apparently, converting the file to Quicktime DNxHD is also an option in MPEG_Streamclip. 

    I tried and imported the file into hitfilm without problems. The filesize however has grown from 63,2 to 473 MB. 

    Is it worth converting all clips from a 5 minute short film to 8 times the original size? I assume this is the best way to go then for editing?

    Thanks for the help.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,020 Ambassador

    @Aladdin4D, actually I have never done a DNxHD AVI file myself. It was someone else on the forum (don't remember who) who noted MPEG Streamclip could do DNxHD AVI, and I thought that would be great for speeding up performance and getting around Windows QT limits. Didn't even occur to me it would create an "out-of-spec" file. Thanks for the info. I see a proper DNxHD MOV file is still a better way to go, despite the 4GB limit. 

    @TMFilmHD mp4 files are crap to edit. Because of the nature of the encoding, if you are looking at frame 16 of a clip and adjusting things, it's entirely possible Hitfilm is looking at frame 1 and frame 32 then running through all intervening frames to extract the information needed just to show frame 16. Mp4 video trades off pixel information, color information and ease of processing in the name of shrinking the file down, which means your poor computer works a lot harder to decode things. The entire point of DNxHD is to be a less compressed format making it easier for the computer to edit. Yes, this is going to make your file sizes much larger, but that's your tradeoff. Speed of editing vs. Drive space. 

    Pros and Cons of codecs is a long topic,so let me refer you to this article for more information :

  • TMFilmsHD
    TMFilmsHD Website User Posts: 80

    @Triem23 Thanks, I think I'll just go for MOV DNxHD then. One quick question left; 

    You mentioned 4 GB, is there any restriction as to how many DNxHD files I can use in the editor or  when exporting? Anything I should know of before editing with MOV DNxHD in Hitfilm 2 Express ? 

    Thanks for the information I'm learning alot. 

  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Moderator Website User, Imerge Beta Tester Posts: 2,509 Enthusiast

    @TMFilmsHD Yeah what @Triem23 said! If you start digging into the pros and cons of codecs one thing you'll see a lot of in the discussions is I frames, P frames and B frames. I frames are "Intra" frames which basically means the data for the frame actually exists and takes up space. P frames are "Predicted" frames that don't actually exist it's the codec that produces them on the fly during playback using data from previous frames. B frames are "Bi-Predictive" frames which means they not only need data from previous frames but also data from following frames. B frames create the situation @Triem23 described and the majority of MP4 based files are loaded with them. When it comes to editing more I frames makes for faster and easier editing but because I frames exist and take up space you end up with much larger file sizes. 

    Now the 4GB limit - Since Quicktime is a 32 bit application it can only address 4 GB of data at a time so what if you're dealing with an 80 GB MOV file? You can read the file just fine but you can only address up to 4 GB of that file at any point in time. If you're working with two MOV files that 4 GB limit gets spread across both files. Add a third and it's spread across all three etc etc. With a large number of MOV clips at once you can hit a limit that affects editing performance but keep in mind that's only if you need to access all the clips at the same time. You can have a large number of clips sequentially on a timeline and never have a problem but stacking 6 clips in a composite shot might give you problems

  • TMFilmsHD
    TMFilmsHD Website User Posts: 80


    Thanks dude that's exactly what I wanted to know. I guess I'll be just fine then for now :)

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,020 Ambassador

    Aladdin, copy/paste and save your description of I/P/B frames and the 4GB limit and save to a txt doc. You will find that needs re-use on here at least twice a week. There's a reason I now just link to outside articles about that--I got really tired of re-typing all of that. 

    Good breakdown tho. 

  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Moderator Website User, Imerge Beta Tester Posts: 2,509 Enthusiast
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,020 Ambassador
    edited February 2015

    Exactly like that.

    Keep them handy--you'll re-use them on here. It's just a fact of this forum that a lot of Hitfilm's users need to educated on those two topics.

    If I am on my PC, that'swhen I  use my prewritten version (and still link to outside articles) it's when on my phone (like now) where I half-ass a partial explaination (like above) and link to article.

    I really should blog my own version and just make myself my own external link. Lol.

  • DrFnord
    DrFnord Website User Posts: 110 Just Starting Out

    @Aladdin4d & @Triem23- That link for Quicktime 4G Limit  leads to a notice page saying they closed up shop. Thanks for all the in-depth info; you all Rock!

  • Sarasota
    Sarasota Website User Posts: 272
    edited August 2016
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