Wednesday, 14 July, 2010

Canon 5D or 7D directly in FCP

There is now cosiderable interest among film-makers to use Canon 5D MkII or 7D or 1 D Mk IV to shoot for theatrical or TV release. The pros and cons of shooting with HD-DSLRs are all over the 'net, as are workflow discussions. And I get a call or mail many times a week on this.

My preferred workflow for Canon 5D/7D files is to
  • Buy as many cards as you think you need - so don't erase and reuse cards.
  • Make two hard disk copies of all shoot files, keep them at different locations.
  • Consider writing to DVDs or get a blu-ray writer and write to Blu-ray disks.
  • Stripe original Canon .mov files with time code before editing.
  • Convert Canon H.264 movies with striped TC to Apple ProRes HQ before editing(ProRes 4444 does not give any additional benefit)
  • Use a safe RAID drive to store files during editing.
For striping TC (time code) on Canon files I use a free utility called QtChange. With QtChange, if the correct settings are not used, it is extremely easy to permanently corrupt a Canon .mov. Result, reshoot. Use with studied caution, please. Also, do not try QtChange on Canon .mov files which are on a Win NT drive.

I've donated towards the development of QtChange and if you use it, I urge you to do so too. Bouke who writes the software, is a knowledgeable and helpful guy.

A faster and easier way to handle Canon 7D files is to the use the new Canon EOS Movie plugin E1 for FCP. This works for FCP 6.0.3 to FCP 7. Please read all instructions carefully and then use. Pay particular attention to the 'create disk image' step, and give logical and non-repetitive reel names. And please do not omit adding reel names, preferably one per card.

This plug-in converts Canon H.264 .mov files to Apple ProRes or Apple ProRes HQ upon import, and uses the time of day to stripe the files with time code. It also requires that the original folder structure of the memory card is preserved. But then if you've read the instructions you'll follow that part.

Link to the plug-in here...
This plug-in is free and you need to address all support queries directly to Canon.

If you use this Canon EOS E1 plugin, you don't need to use Compressor as this plug-in handles all conversion.
If you don't want time-of day time code but would like to add custom time code, you have to use Qtchange.

A recent article at
listed a set of software and plug-ins if one was planning on using a DSLR to shoot - short or long feature.

The softwares are...
Magic Bullet Grinder $49 - but you could manage to do this with Compressor or the Canon EOS plugin, or other free utilities.
Foundry Rolling Shutter plug-in $ 500 - but you can avoid rolling shutter at the shoot stage.
Canon EOS Gamma Curves - UKP 29 - but you can arrive at a similar look with some trial and error
F_DeNoise with Nuke - US$ 6000+US$ 4400 - and an experienced Nuke artist is needed.
F_DeNoise for FCP - US$ 500 - if you definitely are shooting very high ISO.
DV Fixer part of Boris Continuum Complete 7 FxPlug - US$ 995 - may get away with aliasing with careful shooting.

So, feel free to get whichever you think you absolutely have to have.

My instructions on getting enough cards, backing up your media, and using a RAID for editing still remain, and I urge you to consider storage seriously. Unless you have the option of re-shooting some or all of your footage due to data loss.

Due to the sheer volume or requests I get for digital acquisition, I am now accepting donations for support so as to be able to better ration my time. So, if you plan on shooting on Canon 5D or 7D and would like workflow advice or support during your project, click on the 'Donate' button alongside (to the right of this column below my picture), and you can reach me.


  1. Hi

    Why go for additional step of striping TC? Are there any specific advantages?
    Can't we just label each card as a reel and the TC problem is taken care of.

  2. No it's not absolutely necessary to stripe TC on Canon files. But, since all the files come into FCP with start TC as 00:00:00:00, and no reel name, there is always the potential for some bad links between sequence and clips.

    Also, putting a unique reel name and TC into the files permits you to transfer the edited sequence to another system for grading, visual effects, subtitling, etc.

  3. Hi, why would you not erase and reuse the cards?

    Instead of buying loads of cards, why not get say, 3 cards and have someone transfer from it while you continue on?

  4. Sure, that's what's normally done. People reuse CF and SD cards. No harm in that.
    What if, after you've transferred the CF card to hard disk, the hard disk fails. So you make a copy to two hard disks.
    Why not also keep the cards so that you have a triple backup. Considering the value of your shoot its not such a bad deal.
    After all, when one shoots film, one uses as much film as one needs, one doesn't erase and reuse it. So also tapes. So why not cards.

  5. Its just wonderful.... I compltered a canon 7D shoot and edited it in a gd time... Now is the time to go in for a DI of my project and reverese telecine it. R there some facilities in Mumbai which would take up a ten minutes project or so. what would be the cost...thanks

  6. Sure. I work out of some. Mail me offline and I'll put you in touch. The mail link is in the right margin of this page just below the 'Donate' button.


  7. Hi, I just want to conform one thing from the work flow that you suggest for canon 5D. so after striped TC to my original H.264 files and convert it to apple pro res 422 HQ, do i need to conform the pro res files to 24fps to match my timeline in FCP? and if the edl going to work in the DI process becoz my original files is in 23.97fps.can u please explain it....

  8. Sourabh,

    At the top of this page is an email link. Please email me and I'll guide you.



Place your comment on what I have written here. If you want to ask a a question or expect a response from me consider mailing me. My address is linked in the margin.

If its advice for a commercial project, I may expect to be compensated for a response.