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Converting native Canon T5i clips using Streamclip

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Paul Campbell
Converting native Canon T5i clips using Streamclip
on Jul 7, 2015 at 10:14:17 pm

To be honest, any conversion software could've taken the place of Streamclip in the subject line. I've been reading a lot of threads in this forum about why it's not a good idea to simply drop native Canon T5i clips directly onto a FCP timeline, as this has a serious impact on editing speed. No problem. I shot a :25 test clip just now, put the card in a card reader and then used Streamclip to convert the clip to ProRes 422. Sweet Jesus, my file size jumped from 149MB to over 500MB! Is this normal? More importantly, is it worth it?

To continue testing, I put the card back in the camera and then used the EOS Utility software that came with the camera to download the clip. I checked the properties of the file after this download, and saw that the clip size remained exactly the same as when I read it from the card reader. It also indicated the codec to be H.264 Linear PCM, so I'm guessing the EOS Utility software simply does a file transfer with no actual conversion. Makes sense, I don't see anything in preferences to pick what codec I want, etc. I guess I really didn't need the card reader after all, although it's less cumbersome than connecting the camera to the computer.

So I guess my original question stands: is the conversion from H264 to ProRes 422 worth this dramatic file size increase? Thanks for any advice. You guys rock.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Converting native Canon T5i clips using Streamclip
on Jul 7, 2015 at 11:33:23 pm

Yes, it's normal. No, it's not worth converting DSLR footage to ProRes--use the ProRes LT flavor if you must.

Is this FCP7? If it's FCPX, it should be fine without transcoding.


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Paul Campbell
Re: Converting native Canon T5i clips using Streamclip
on Jul 8, 2015 at 12:08:35 pm

Thanks for the reply. Naturally, this is creating even more questions if you'll indulge me. If an almost four-X increase in file size is to be expected w/ ProRes 444, why do people use it in the first place? I looked at the quality of the ProRes/H264 clips on the same timeline, and there's no perceivable difference in quality. Both appear to edit the same, although my test only included my one clip. What's the difference between ProRes 444 vs. the LT version? (My Streamclip doesn't even have the LT version as an option, so I guess I'll look for a different converter)

To answer your question, I'm still kicking it old school with FCP 6.0.6.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Converting native Canon T5i clips using Streamclip
on Jul 8, 2015 at 4:12:22 pm

ProRes is used to transcode footage for editing without a loss in quality--it's easier for FCP to handle than h.264 footage. Each different flavor retains a different amount of information; ProRes 4444 will retain a huge amount of color information, and is useful for RAW footage like from RED cameras, or similar. But it's easier for the computer to read ProRes 444 than decoding RAW.

However, since DSLR footage like what you're working with is highly compressed, there just isn't very much color information to begin with. So it's a massive waste of space to transcode it to a format like 444, or even ProRes 422, which are designed to retain high levels of color detail. ProRes LT, which is a newer flavor, gets you better playback and footage handling in FCP, without ballooning the amount of data to obscene (and unnecessary) levels.

However, you're saying that ProRes and the h.264 footage are being handled the same way in your timeline? Like, you're having to render everything before you can see playback? If that's the case, then don't transcode at all! If you're going to go through the misery of having to render every time you make a change, at least save yourself some hard drive space...

It would be entirely worth your consideration to look at getting into a more modern NLE. For all the crap people talk about it, FCPX is capable of a lot, and there are many professionals that use it. Premiere (which is what I use) is frankly awesome, and handles any and all footage natively, no transcoding needed. If a couple hundred bucks for FCPX saves you the enormous headache of rendering your timeline every few minutes, or transcoding any of the footage from modern cameras to suit your old NLE, you would make back the investment in man-hours alone.


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Paul Campbell
Re: Converting native Canon T5i clips using Streamclip
on Jul 9, 2015 at 12:38:24 am

Blaise, thanks so much for this great info. It's an education I won't forget (hopefully). I think I'm finally starting to get it. The reason my DSLR uses H264 natively is to squeeze as much footage onto that little SD card as possible. I expect if it recorded uncompressed you'd only be able to fit maybe 10 minutes of footage onto a 36GB card :-)

I've been an audio guy for quite a while, so I'm going to just go ahead and compare what you said about transcoding H264 - ProRes to converting an mp3 to wav. You can't reclaim any of the original data prior to the compression, and all the transcoding is doing is making the file size a lot bigger than it needs to be. Cool man, I can handle that action.

Time to find a new conversion app that has ProRes LT! Maybe there's a newer Streamclip, we'll see. Better yet, maybe it's time to ditch FCP6 and move to Premiere.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Converting native Canon T5i clips using Streamclip
on Jul 9, 2015 at 3:17:29 pm

The mp3 to wav analogy is spot-on.

I would definitely investigate Premiere--FCP6 may not even support ProRes LT, and then you're right back where you started. You'll find Premiere to be pretty similar in workflow to FCP6, except everything is faster, and it's more powerful. And for $50 a month, you get the whole suite of Adobe apps!


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