I am as new to DSLR video editing as one can get. I have a 1DMKIV and now that I am reasonably comfortable with the stills, am learning the video piece. Your help with the following would be appreciated:
1) It allows me to shoot video at 24fps, 30 fps or 60 fps (I live in USA). Which one do I choose?
2) I usually shoot home movies and do simple edits - I take out parts I do not like and save the rest - to DVD for viewing on a big screen TV. The only other edits I do is to add a title at the begining.
3) I have a new 21 inch iMac (1 month old) with Final cut EXPRESS. I have also downloaded MPEG streamclip (5squared).
The first time I played with the video clips, I worked on them directly in FCE after download to the hard drive. The quality was very poor. My next time, I converted file to apple intermediate codec and then edited in FCE and exported to quicktime. Then used iDVD to make a dvd. The product looked better (still not as good as the native video footage).
I would appreciate if any of you can give me advice on a good workflow for me. I can purchase FCP if it will result in a better quality final product.
1) Depends on what you're shooting. If you don't know, stick with 30P or 60i. If you're doing an indie film or want a "film" look, go with 24P or 30P. 60i can be used for slo-mo and it works just like 30P only you record your odd and even frames separately. If it's just for family home movies, shoot any frame rate you want. Experiment.
3) The files from the Canon DSLRs are not very good for editing due to compression (I think). Use MPEG streamclip for converting footage in a big batch from h.264 to prores or intermediate. MPS is freeware so you get what you pay for and you can't change frame rates like you can in Compressor. The Canon FCP Log and Transfer plugin that just came out only works in Final Cut Pro (won't work in Express AFAIK).
I bought FCE 2 yrs ago for editing a short film. I like FCE, but I realized, after taking a FCP class at the local access tv station, what I was missing. I can't live without it now. Consider returning FCE and put the rest towards FCS (it costs $1000 and it's worth $5000). You get Garageband for audio in iLife, but FCP and Soundtrack Pro are far more robust (it's like Photoshop Elements versus Photoshop Extended).
Now, for workflow, since you have FCE: copy your video files from your camera to hard drive, use MPEG Streamclip to convert the footage to the intermediate codec (I think there's a plugin for FCE4 to run ProRes), then load your folder or files into FCE. Edit. Export. Rinse. Repeat.
Caveats: you need the MPEG plugin for Quicktime Pro for MPEG Streamclip to use MPEGs or DVD files; you need to upgrade to QT Pro; if you use Garageband for sound editing, it doesn't support 48kHz so you will have to convert the audio output from GB in QT Pro to 48kHz; FCE doesn't support a broad range of HD formats, just the mostly consumer ones like AVCHD; you may need iLife if you don't already have it; after working with FCE and iLife, you will want to upgrade to FCStudio - I think that's Apple's maniacal plan.
Some feel that Cineform's Neoscene does a better conversion to their codec than prores. Neoscene converts to a 4.2.2 .avi and is very easy to edit.
If your editing is going to be simple, then take a look at cutting your footage in Quicktime Pro, I know people who do not convert their Canon footage and import direct into QT Pro and use it to export.
The quality of my footage transcoded with Neoscene, edited in Vegas Pro looks great. I export as a Quicktime .mov file.
I've heard that about Neoscene from my PC friends, but I've not tried it - I always wondered if Vegas would ever come out for Mac - my (PC) friends swear by it! I always forget QT pro - yes there are lots of things you can do in QT pro as well.
Jonathan's advice on staying with 1080/30p (or 1080/60i) in your situation is, absolutely the best thing to do.
I do not know what part of the country you are in. But, there are free introductory/intermediate FCP training classes/sessions offered at most authorized Apple stores (Apple owned store are the best for this) in all major cities. Call them up and setup an appointment. You will learn a lot and most of all, either they are free or affordable in many cases.
"Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else".