EditShare Lightworks Pro 11.0.3

Posted on 19 February 2013

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Back in 2010 Lightworks claimed that they would go ‘open source’. This is a lie. But still, their free version is free and supposed to be very good.

Because I was looking for a S3D editor I bought a $60 Lightworks PRO licence, because on their website they claim to have “Support for complete stereoscopic workflow”. I’ll tell you right away that this is the second lie about Lightworks. Read on to find out why.

First use

At first start you need to enter your $ 60/year activation code. This licence can be transferred to other workstations. You even can detach it for a short period of time, for instance for regular use with a workstation and detaching it for on-set use on a laptop. The next option is to select the preferred keyboard layout: Avid / FCP / Lightworks. I chose Lightworks. This brings you to the projectbrowser, where you can open a project from backup or make a new project.

After that you are in a whole new world. With Rooms, Tools and a red shark. Yes: a red shark.

Now, in the top-left corner you can show and change the project details, including frame-rate and stereoscopic settings. I’m starting to get a bit worried because the ín-camera film speed’ I selected when making the project is set at 24 fps and can’t be changed. When reading the manual I found that this is a 24 fps group, so in the next field I can select 23.976 fps. But still I think it’s confusing. Here you can also run hardware and GPU tests, on my Toshiba it got over 80 fps for all.

On the left there is the Toolbox, with a stack of icons like import or ‘create edit’. The bottom icon is the ‘editor preferences’ option where you can view, change, import and export the keyboard shortcuts.

Pro’s

There are quite a few nice things about Lightworks:

  • Instant save. This is something I’ve missed since Liquid was discontinued
  • Small (200 MB) footprint and fast loading and editing (mark & park)
  • Many industry standard export options (including edl, omf, aaf)
  • Many stereo 3D preview and export options (including dual stream export and interlaced preview on 2nd monitor, but I have NOT tested that yet!).

lwks stereo export

Con’s

But there also are a lot of bad things:

  • Loading of the source clip preview tiles is really, really slow.
  • You can’t mark your source clips with colors and only show the title with the tiles (not the description).
  • Exporting interlaced material to a delivery format is a pain. There is no good solution for deinterlacing. I had to export an uncompressed master and then convert it with EyeFrame (ffmbc).
  • There is no built-in image stabilizer. You can use Virtual Dub Deshaker or Avisynth as an assistant app for this.
  • The vectorscope is not very clear
  • Playback of AVCHD 50i files is choppy. This is one of the known problems of version 11.0.3: Performance issues working with H.264 files natively.

The worst thing is the service. I’ve had a lot of trouble with ingesting source material – see below – and on their forum I found that many others also have a lot of problems getting it to work. When you don’t buy a service agreement you can only use the forum for help and this might easily take a few weeks.

Conclusion

To make a long story short: I’ve found a workflow for ingesting my MVC AVCHD files into Lightworks, but it’s too difficult. On top of that: after I did and edited for a few days (on a clean installed win7/64 system) it started crashing on importing and editing AVCHD files. The only way to solve this was making another clean windows install.

I think EditShare should add MVC support, change their S3D import options (import also when there is sound on the left or right eye file only) and solve the sound-sync problems when using their own AVCHD or MJPEG playback engine – before I am even going to try using Lightworks again. Until their v11.2 is finished I’ll be testing my other options!

Import workflow for MVC AVCHD

Below is a report of my quest for a way to ingest my material for S3D editing. This is the final workflow for my Z10000 material:

– convert with MVC2AVI to .avi files
– delete R eye, cut&paste L eye files to a temp folder
– convert again with MVC2AVI but this time with file->settings->write audio to right file
– cut&paste R eye files to the temp folder
– convert all files with EyeFrame Converter to Matrox I-frame HD .mp4 files
– import these .mp4 files into LightWorks

Sound lag

The first problem to solve is that the LPCM sound of my AVCHD clips is delayed about a second on playback. Both on direct import, copy or transcode. I posted this on their forum but no reply. So I tried changing the QT preferences: audio output changed from 44.1/16 to 48/24 and latency  33.0000 to 0.0001. from direct sound to something else. All didn’t seem to help. So I had to try and find another import system, also for another reason: my S3D material is a MVC stream.

EyeFrame converter

It’s disappointing to find that LightWorks does not support the MVC stream of my z10000: the second video stream is ignored. After that I tried editing some WMV3 recordings made at 640×480@25fps but my lightworks copy gave an error stating that it needed broadcast frame size.

I am starting to get frustrated, but then I found the free third party program EyeFrame converter. It uses the open source program ffmbc for conversion to the Matrox I-frame codec (native Lightworks codec) but also for conversion to DNxHD and Prores. So that’s really great!

MVC support

Unfortunately also EyeFrame does not support MVC. So back to MVC2AVI. Importing those files gave me this message:

Lightworks S3D import

If I import the left-eye file separately there are no problem but then I couldn’t group it with the right eye to make up one S3D file.  I’ve posted about this here but no reply for weeks. Then I tried to leave out the sound and that works great. Knowing this I tried adding the sound of the L eye file to the R eye file. Now with both files having a sound-stream it imports perfectly: V1 LR, A1, A2. And when I go through EyeFrame Converter it’s sync too.

E-mail

Later on I received the following reply from LightWorks:

The Lightworks stereoscopic workflow is defined as individual L&R eye import. At no point do we state MVC formatting is supported. However, MVC support is on the feature request list and I have spoken to the project manager and we’ll target this for the v11.2 (due in beta shortly). Technically, it can be done – it requires development resources/time to implement.

The Lightworks 3D workflow developed and defined during the production of ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’ is as follows:
1. L/R eye should be the same file size (here’s where the problem of embedded sound/no embedded sound comes in, analysed file sizes are different)
2. The naming should be identical …._L & _R or _Left/_Right (not a problem In this particular case)
3. Sound will be taken from the left channel (as you have discovered this can cause an issue)

Why didn’t they save me a few days of troubleshooting and put that information somewhere on their website or in the user manual!? I suggested write the lack of MVC support somewhere on the website. There are three places:

  1. Tech Specs page: Stereoscopic support (Left and Right eye separate files add: ONLY).
  2. Compare versions page: H.264 / AVCHD Decode and Encode add: ** No AVCHD 2.0 or AVCHD MVC support.
  3. Compare versions page: Stereoscopic Import add: * seperate L & R files of same size only.

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Posted in: Editing, S3d