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Jon Haas
canon xh-a1s capturing to FCP...
on Apr 11, 2010 at 7:17:58 pm

So I'm currently in the process of filming a documentary in Africa and I'm using a canon xh-a1s camera and I plan to edit here with Final Cut Pro 5.1. I've had numerous years of experience editing at work archiving old 16mm films and for pleasure creating short films but no actual training with Final Cut Pro. I also have had no training with the canon camera but I have a fundamental understanding of the filming process and recording what I want to the tapes.

My question is more about how to get the best product out of the tapes and out of final cut pro. Currently when I'm trying to capture footage with a firewire cable from the back of the camera I've had a lot of problems getting FCP to even recognize the camera. I recorded in HD so my capture settings are (DCVPRO HD 1080i50 firewire / DVCPRO HD 1080i50 48hz) but most of the time it doesn't even recognize the footage. Sometimes after capturing a couple seconds at DV NTSC 48hz, I can switch back to HD and FCP will capture it. But even when I do, the footage doesn't really stand out, I'm basically only able to get clips at 480 resolution that I then have to wireframe stretch to even fit the canvas. I mainly want to know how to get the best resolution from my tapes to the editing bay.
Is this something that I should wait 5 months until I'm done here in Africa and go back to a DV tapedeck reader to capture my footage or can I get the optimum from my tapes with the camera? I'm new to the professional video production field so am curious as to how I can get an end product that looks crisp and HD.

Thanks in advance for your time and wisdom

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Joe Bender
Re: canon xh-a1s capturing to FCP...
on Apr 14, 2010 at 3:59:50 am

Hi Jon,
The native format of the XH-A1 is HDV, so you can either capture straight into HDV or capture and transcode to a higher quality format like ProRes 422 HQ. The advantage of that is that the rest of your workflow will then be in ProRes, so your color correction and any graphics effects will be in a les compressed format with a better color space. On the other hand, your storage space requirements are increased enormously. Since you're in the field I'm guessing your storage isn't unlimited, and you can always transcode to ProRes later, so your best bet is probably to capture to HDV.

To set up FCP to capture HDV, in your Audi/Video Settings set your sequence preset to match your camera settings, capture preset to "HDV" and device control preset to "HDV FireWire." If you want to capture the HDV straight to Apple Intermediate Codec, ProRes 422, or ProRes 422 HQ, choose "HDV-ProRes 422 HQ" or equivalent for your capture preset. Once you select those settings you may need to disconnect/reconnect your camera, or disconnect your camera and restart FCP. Now you should be able to open the Log and Capture window and either batch capture or use capture now. I usually use capture now and log from the whole tape, although some people report sync problems when using capture now for long clips. That's never been an issue for me with this camera.

Hope that helps, and good luck!


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Beverly Morris
Re: canon xh-a1s capturing to FCP...
on May 7, 2012 at 9:12:48 pm

I'm working in FCP 7. My client sent the HDV/VD tapes from a 3 camera shoot. I have captured tapes from Camera #1 and #2. But, no luck capturing tapes from Camera #3. I don't know what kind of camera # 3 was, but FCP will not capture footage. HDV deck responds but after about 5-6 secs of bars, with audio, screen goes black, and silent. Sometimes the capture screen catches an image, but freezes. Is the fix to my problem as simple as changing the capture settings? Or something more complicated? Please advise.

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