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Guidance on file format, codec for editing DSLR footage in FCP 7

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Dan Herz
Guidance on file format, codec for editing DSLR footage in FCP 7
on May 25, 2012 at 9:18:48 pm

Hello All,
I am beginning my edit using FCP 7.0.3 - I am cutting on a MacBook Pro running OS Lion 10.7.3
Processor - 2.33 GHz Intel Core Duo
Memory - 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM

The project was shot on DSLR Canon 5d & 7d...audio for interviews was recorded on a digital voice recorder. The footage from the Canons was shot at 1080p30 (1920x1080). I also will be using some footage shot on a Sony Z7 at 1080i60 (1440x1080).
When I did log & transfer into FCP with the Canon footage, I did not check my import settings...and all video was imported as ProRes 4444. There is approximately 10 hours of DSLR footage in total. Editing so far has been a very slow process...my computer seems to take forever to do any command while editing...especially render time. I assume this is due to the size of the ProRes files and the speed of my computer. Although with most footage I've worked with tin the past, my computer seems to handle just fine.

So...I have a few questions that I need help/advice on:
1) Should I transcode all of the ProRes 4444 video to PR 422 or PR 422(LT) to make editing quicker and easier? Would this make editing quicker and easier? And if so...what is the best and most efficient way to do this? Should I just re-do log and transfer and reset import settings? Or should I export footage already inside FCP? And if so...how?

2) What's the best way to incorporate the 1080i60 footage into the project so I don;t have to render the video every time I put it into the timeline? I assume I should transcode to whatever ProRes I end up using, correct? And if so...what dimensions should I export it to? 1920x1080 or 1440x1080? And lastly, how can I export all the clips/footage at once...so I don;t have to export each clip individually?

Thanks for any help/guidance you can provide.

-Dan

Dan Herz
danherzproductions.com


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Steve Crow
Re: Guidance on file format, codec for editing DSLR footage in FCP 7
on May 25, 2012 at 11:01:46 pm

Yes, I would recommend either prores 422 or prores LT - since your computer has limited RAM, I think the ProRes 4444 is too much for it to handle efficiently. In terms of how to transcode - I would try a test with a ver short clip to see which works better, exporting out of FCP or using the free MPEG Streamclip application - however for MPEG Streamclip to work you would have first to export the ProRes 4444 video out to a new clip and that may not be worth the time.

In order to avoid rendering so much, make sure that the first clip you drag into the timeline is the size and format you want to edit in - that will tell FCP to automatically set the timeline sequence settings to be the exact same parameters as the clip, meaning no rendering. Clips that you place on the timeline that are of a different format will still have to be rendered unfortunately. For instance, a choice you could make is to decide that you want your final video to be exported out at 720p. When you place 1080 material on the timeline each clip will be automatically scaled down to something like 66% of its original size. This can be a good thing because it allows you to "reframe" your shot without losing any resolution and even "zoom in" all without exceeding 100% of the clip's original size.

ProRes files can be as much as 10x larger than the clips you start out with however the Mac has a much easier time editing the material. H.264 is designed as a delivery format, to try and edit H.264 clips natively in the timeline will be a very frustrating experience for you as I am sure you already know.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Dan Herz
Re: Guidance on file format, codec for editing DSLR footage in FCP 7
on May 27, 2012 at 5:04:52 pm

Thanks for the help, Steve. I ended up re-transferring all the material into FCP as ProRes 422(LT)...took a day and a half to transfer, but it's all in now and seems much easier to work with. Thanks again for your advice.

Dan Herz
danherzproductions.com


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Steve Crow
Re: Guidance on file format, codec for editing DSLR footage in FCP 7
on May 27, 2012 at 5:06:12 pm

No worries, glad it worked out for you.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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