Quite often I’m asked what’s the best format to work with in Vegas Pro when you need to collaborate with Final Cut Pro editors on a Mac. The best codec I have found is the free Avid DNxHD QuickTime codec. The reason I use this codec in addition to it’s superior quality for mastering, is because it doesn’t suffer from the gamma shifts that some other PC codecs have when transferred to the Mac. With Avid DNxHD, you get the gamma levels you expect, and the quality you need.
Avid DNxHD can be downloaded free from Avid at this link: [Avid QuickTime Codecs LE 2.6.0] Once you have downloaded the installer you must run it to install the codecs. Make sure that Vegas Pro is not running when you perform the installation. Next you’ll need to create a render template in order to use it for output. This tutorial will show you how to create an Avid DNxHD template for rendering.
Important Note: Throughout this tutorial I assume your project is NTSC HD which is 1920×1080 @ 29.970fps. If your project is different, select a different frame size and frame rate when you create your template to match your desired output format.
Follow these steps after you have installed the free Avid DNxHD QuickTime codec:
- Start by bringing up the Render As Window in Vegas Pro using: File | Render As… and select QuickTime 7 (*.mov) as the Output Format and 3 Mbps Video as the starting Template.
- This template is just a starting point and we will need to modify it to match our HD project properties so press the Customize Template… button to open the Custom Settings window.
- In the Custom Settings window, (1) select High Definition (1920×1080) as the Frame size, (2) select 29.970000 as the Frame rate, (3) select Upper filed first as the Field order, and (4) select Avid DNxHD Codec as the Video format. Finally (5) press the Configure… button to set the Avid DNxHD codec settings. It’s important to point out that if you want you render to be progressive, 24p, or a different dimension, then select those settings instead.
- In the Avid DNxHD Codec Configuration window, select 709 as the Color levels if you are working in HD. Select None as the alpha channel unless you need to preserve alpha transparency, but for normal video this is not needed. Finally under Resolutions select 1080i/59.94 DNxHD 145 8-bit or whatever setting matches the resolution and frame rate of your desired output. It is important that what you select here matches what you selected in the rest of the render template. Note that the 145 designates the data rate of 145 Mbps which will produce large files. Other data rates like 220 will produce absolutely huge files. Remember, if your camera acquired at 25Mbps you probably can select the lowest data rate of 36 and still have outstanding quality. Press OK to accept the changes.
- Click the Audio tab and make sure that your Sample rate is set to 48,000 and that the Audio format is Uncompressed
- Finally, give your new template a descriptive name and save it for future use by pressing the Diskette button. Press OK to return to the Render As window.
- You now have a new template to render your project as Avid DNxHD QuickTime files.
Hopefully this will give you a good starting point for creating more templates of your own. It’s always best when creating templates to start with a template that’s close to what you want and then just change the video format to the codec you’d like to use.
Johnny “Roy” Rofrano