CONVERTING DSLR FOOTAGE FOR FINAL CUT

Got a great question from photographer Carlo Calope today:

“Hey Christine! I wanna ask.. You shoot video using the 7d right? Do you edit your footage using final cut pro? If yes.. How do you convert your capture file to a specific codec match in final cut? Any help would greatly be appreciated!”

Answer:
You’ve gotta use conversion software like Mpeg Streamclip (a great little free program you can download here) and convert all your footage to Apple Pro Res 422 if you want the best performance in final cut!

What I do is set up a pre-set for the Pro-res quality and then do a batch process. (Select List -> Batch List) It takes a while if you’ve shot a bunch of footage so it’s usually best just to leave it overnight. Go to sleep and it’ll be done in the morning.

Another program that does this is called Magic Bullet Grinder from Red Giant Software, and it costs about $49. This program also lets you convert your 60fps footage to playback in 24fps, and can add timecode during the conversion.

The third option, although I haven’t really used this one much, is to use the “Log and Transfer” window in Final Cut 7 – supposedly this will convert your footage and you can start working on it right away.

By converting your footage to Pro Res you’ll be allowing for a much smoother edit in Final Cut.

Of course, with the new Final Cut X coming out in June – the news is that you won’t need to do this conversion step any more because it will automatically do that for you. I’m really excited about the new Final Cut – it’ll cost just $300 via the Apple App Store in June – read more about it here.

Question of the Week: Shooting Video with the 7D

This week’s question comes from Andre:

What do you know about shooting HD video on the Canon 7D? I’ve been looking at getting a 7D + a video kit. Anyways, if you have any suggestions on resources, that’d be cool.

Here’s my reply:

Hey Andre,

 

I got a 7D back in the spring – and am loving it! I posted about it on my blog here:

http://christinebuijs.com/blog/index.php/2010/05/17/now-in-full-hd/

I also ended up getting a Redrock Micro rig, because I found that handheld was very shaky and hard to control focus smoothly. I managed to get a great deal on a used kit, but it was basically two components:

the Redrock Micro Eyespy Deluxe
http://www.vistek.ca/store/ProVideoMatteBoxes/244994/redrock-micro-eyespy-deluxe-bundle-dslr-hybrid-camera-rig-w-riser.aspx

and the Redrock Micro Cinema DSLR package:
http://www.vistek.ca/store/ProVideoMatteBoxes/240683/redrock-micro-dslr-cinema-bundle-includes-micromattebox.aspx

I bought all this because I basically got the two rigs for the price of one – but to be honest I use the eyespy deluxe rig more often and if I was buying new, I would have just gotten that one.

Since you’re in the States you could probably buy direct from Redrock Micro.

I also got a fluid video tripod head as the regular photo tripod heads don’t really cut it for video work:

http://www.vistek.ca/store/ProVideoTripods/230457/manfrotto-501hdv-pro-video-tripod-head.aspx

Finally…one thing I’ve also realized is that the sound on the actual camera is not that great for professional standards. It also doesn’t have XLR inputs for various mics. Many pros recommend shooting to an external recorder, so I’ve invested in the Zoom H4n

http://www.vistek.ca/search/Zoom%20H4n.aspx

So I guess the important message here…is that it’s a great camera and looks fantastic…but be aware that if you want to have a pro setup and great quality sound, you’d need to invest in the extra pieces. I’m very budget-conscious so I try to get discounts or buy used where I can. The zacuto stuff is nice but it costs about double the redrock micro rigs.

It also made sense to get the 7D because I already had the pro canon lenses in my kit, which are a big investment.

A great online resource for all this stuff is Philip Bloom’s site:

http://philipbloom.net/

And Still Motion, a company that mainly shoots weddings and events, has posted some great stuff on the Canon Cinema Caravan blog:
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While replying to Andre, who does photo & video for the U.S. military, it occurred to me that it would be cool to start featuring some people who have unique applications for photography & video.  The endless specializations and uses for photography and video fascinate me.  So this week, I’m going to be interviewing Andre and seeing what he has to say about the experience!  Stay tuned.

Question of the week

I get a lot of questions all the time, so I’d like to start a section of this blog where I answer them so that others can benefit!

This week’s question comes from Amanda Oster, a photographer/videographer based in Vancouver:

I remember you saying that you shoot a lot a video and I was wondering what settings you use to export? Right now I am converting the MOV to flash file and posting the SWF on my FTP. The problem is that the playback is choppy, regardless of the internet connection. Any thoughts?

For all videos, I export an Apple Pro Res file from Final Cut, and then I use Quicktime Pro to optimize it for web. At first I was struggling with optimizing for web too, but Quicktime Pro takes a lot of the complications out of it. You can export at any size and in any codec and its much simpler to use for compressing than Final Cut.  I also follow Vimeo’s compression guidelines for all the settings to ensure smooth playback.

I’ve never used an SWF file…but I would say just compress using Quicktime Pro and then upload the MOV directly to your site. It should play back much smoother, I’ve never had any problems with choppiness with this method.

Send more questions along to me…I’ll continue to post the ones that are most helpful to everyone!

In other news, I’m now the proud new owner of a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L II with IS….yup…I went and splurged on Saturday.  This lens is so expensive I’m still afraid to touch it…but at the same time, I can’t wait to start putting it to good use!  I was previously using the 70-200 f/4 without IS and started to see the apparent shakiness when shooting video handheld at 200mm.  It also gives a five stop advantage over my last lens in low light – which is pretty huge.