Canon 7D/Final Cut video editing workflow: How to do it?
May 26, 2010 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Canon 7D/Final Cut video editing workflow: How to do it?

I am getting ready to edit two movies which I shot on a Canon 7D.

As always with video editing, accurate information or tutorials are damn near impossible to find online. One thing I have read, though, is that I shouldn't be editing with the H.264 codec files that come out of the camera- I should be converting them to ProRes. Sources claim that the H.264 "won't play back well" in FCP and "needs to be rendered constantly."

I have had video files before that don't play well with FCP, but I'm not actually seeing any problem with these files. They play back normally, and they need to be rendered when normal files need to be rendered. The rendering seems a little slow, maybe.

Nevertheless, I did want to try the conversion. There is an official Canon plugin. I tried to install it and, in the delightful way of Macs, nothing happened. Absolutely nothing- no error message, no nothing- it's just not there. Another 3rd party plugin I saw has some bizarre verbiage about "converting to 25fps."

So I guess my question is:
1) Do I need to convert these files before editing? Is there any real benefit?
2) If so, how?

As an added complication, the video is shot in the standard 16:9, but I want to finish by cropping to 2.35. Therefore, I have black bars sitting on a top layer in my project to let me know where the crop will be. This necessitates a lot of additional rendering, when I bring in a new clip and the bars sit "on top" of it. Is there any way around this? (I do not want to crop the video before editing, because I might tweak certain shots up or down to reframe a bit.)

Super extra mega bonus question: Can anyone explain the workflow for slo-mo with the 7D? I can shoot in 60fps on the camera, but I have no clue what to do in FCP to make it actually slo-mo, and again the internet offers zero clues.

posted by drjimmy11 to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I just bought a 5D myself so I've been looking into this recently. If you're going to be working with them a lot it's definitely faster for you in the end to convert your footage into another format before you start to edit. I found this tutorial to be straight forward and it certainly "does what it says on the label". It boils down to a simple process of using a piece of software called MPEG Streamclip It's freeware (woo!) and I was able to quickly export some clips that worked in FCP with footage from another camera in a dual camera edit and not require any rendering.

I will say I haven't scoured the net for every available option, so there might be a few better options out there. You might want to look around to see what else you might want to do for best settings to export into. But that's dependent mostly on where you're going to want to take the movie when you're done with it.

As for your other questions, if you want to crop to 2.35, I'd suggest getting your edit locked and then going back and doing a pass using the matte filter in FCP. Then you can tweak your shots and render it without having to go back over and over again.

I have no clue about slow motion on the 7D though, sorry!
posted by SteveFlamingo at 10:55 AM on May 26, 2010

Response by poster: thanks for the link, Steve. That looks like a good possibility.

However that guy also says:

you need to convert the h.264 into a more edit friendly format

and doesn't back that up at all. Why do you "need" to do this? I can see that it might be faster rendering, but the claims that it's not possible to edit H.264 just seem provably false to me.

Also he converts 1080p footage to 720 in his video, which is really bizarre. It's unclear if he's using that as a proxy because his computer can't handle 1080(!!), or if he just wants to shrink it for some reason. Not really important, I just found it odd.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:07 AM on May 26, 2010

I converted my 7D footage using Compressor (only because my project predates that plugin), but I have also heard that the FCP plugin is faster. Did you use the instructions found here?

I don't know how long your projects are, but the one I'm working on is LONG so the effort spent in converting it to something that chokes FCP less now AND as I add more content to the sequence down the road is worth it to me.

As for your crop question, I'd edit the project and then make a filter that you can apply globally to all the clips in your sequence. Once that's done you can go through and move each clip as it needs to be before removing the filter, cropping the sequence en masse and then exporting.

Cinema Tools makes it easy to convert your 60fps footage into 30/24/whatever by exporting a clip to it from FCP, or opening the clip in the program itself.
posted by apranica at 11:11 AM on May 26, 2010

Response by poster: Did you use the instructions found">here?

Yes. That is the plugin that simply fails to appear when I install it. I have a version of FCP (6.0.5) they claim is compatible with it. I was completely stymied by the fact that no error message of any kind appeared, it simply WASN'T THERE.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:12 AM on May 26, 2010

Response by poster: As for your crop question, I'd edit the project and then make a filter that you can apply globally to all the clips in your sequence. Once that's done you can go through and move each clip as it needs to be before removing the filter, cropping the sequence en masse and then exporting.

My only issue with this is that I find it hard to edit if I can't actually see where the crop will be. I suppose I could stick black tape to my monitor.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:16 AM on May 26, 2010

Best answer: I can answer some of your questions:

1. FCP can natively handle the 7D files on the timeline. If you are literally just putting down clips, with little to no transitions or effects that will be fine. When you start adding layers, transitions, filters, the H.264 codec becomes unwieldy.

2. You can convert your 7D files to ProRes (LT), which is a good combination of file size and quality. It also allows playback on much lesser systems, such as laptops.

3. The plugin from Canon just allows your 7D files to be brought in through the "normal" Log and Transfer process within Final Cut Pro. The trick is that you must have the original card, or the original card format backed up on your computer. If you point the Log and Transfer to just a folder of the ".mov" files it will do nothing. You must have the entire folder structure intact. You will also need to go into the preferences in Log and Transfer and set the 7D to convert to ProRes LT. Pro Res HQ and Pro Res are overkill for the bitrate coming out of the 7D.

4. If you do the Log and Transfer correctly, your 60 fps footage should come in at 60 fps.

5. The newest Adobe CS 5 can actually handle H.264 natively. It's been pretty big news in the video world, and people are complaining loudly that FCP is being left in the dust by CS5 and Avid Media Composer 5.0. My two cents: Use the tools that best fit the job. If you really need to edit H.264 natively for a job right now then go pick up CS5. That being said, I convert 5D files to work in FCP about every day and it is just part of the process for me, the same way I have to wrap the files that come off my Sony EX3 camera before I edit.

6. Some people like to work in 720 - it is a good HD format, some broadcast channels only go out in 720 anyway, etc. And as you mentioned, it is easier on systems both in processing and in storage.

7. For the 2.35 crop, I would personally do that as a last step. The extra rendering it takes to leave that layer on top will be a big hassle over the course of your project, and you can make those changes after the edit is pretty much locked in.

Feel free to ask me any questions, and I would recommend checking out information on and from Philip Bloom, one of the leaders in the DSLR video movement.
posted by shinynewnick at 11:31 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, shinynewnick and everyone!

I do follow Phillip Bloom on twitter, as well as some other DSLR guys. If anyone knows of anyone else I should check out, please let me know!

I don't think i will be switching to CS5 anytime soon. I am actually a Windows person at heart, but I spent a ton of money and frustration getting a Mac and switching to FCP because I found myself a complete outcast when i told people I was editing on a PC in Vegas. I literally couldn't have a conversation with any serious movie people about how to edit.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:50 AM on May 26, 2010

I'm not an edit suite snob, but I do agree that Vegas isn't a pro level system. And many people in Premiere faced that same criticism, but it seems to have completely turned around with CS5. I've used Premiere in the past and found it to be quite good, but as you know FCP is still king. (And I do prefer it myself, now).

Here are some people to follow on Twitter:

Kevin Monahan

The FCP Shortcutter (If you don't follow any others, this is the one!)

Walter Biscardi (Great post guy)

Scott Simmons

Tom Guilmette
posted by shinynewnick at 12:40 PM on May 26, 2010

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