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Get footage off of a Canon camera's hard drive

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Mike Weber
Get footage off of a Canon camera's hard drive
on Dec 7, 2010 at 7:32:52 pm

Hello all -

I posted this on the Canon forum, but didn't get any responses, and so I thought I'd try here.

I am trying to sort out a workflow involving a Canon Vixia HG20 camera, which records to a 60G hard drive. My colleague is up in San Francisco recording events, and I'm down in San Diego editing the them. Right now she's using Final Cut Pro's Log and Transfer to convert the AVDHD files to Apple ProRes 422, which she then sends to me via FTP. That works OK, except of course the files are enormous, like around 1 Gig per minute. These are 60-90 min. lectures with 2 cameras, and so I'd much rather get her (considerably smaller) raw camera files and do the Log and Transfer step myself.

When my colleague hooks her camera up to her Mac, it doesn't mount on her desktop or anything, and so she doesn't know how to access the raw camera files themselves. She called Canon tech support, and was told: "They say there is no way that the computer links directly with the camcorder's HD, but that we would have to use a software program like Final Cut Pro or Express, or the one that came with the camera."

Is this true, or does anyone know a workaround? My colleague is a bit new to the video world, and so helping her troubleshoot her problem without physical access to her camera is difficult. I've scanned the manual, but haven't found the answer. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Mike


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Mark Suszko
Re: Get footage off of a Canon camera's hard drive
on Dec 7, 2010 at 8:57:31 pm

The manual for this camera says it comes with a utility for offloading the footage to the computer. You friend needs to install that disk, it appears. If you have the money, buy her a portable USB drive to lay off the footage that way.

Alternately, if this is a standard-def project, the camera could burn it's contents to a DVD, you then import the DVD using the free MPEG streamclip software to make it compatible with final cut.


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Mike Weber
Re: Get footage off of a Canon camera's hard drive
on Dec 7, 2010 at 9:02:35 pm

Hi Mark

Thanks for your response. I just checked the manual, and it says to use the Pixela Imagemixer 3 SE software, but apparently it's Windows-only. I found Pixela Mac software online for purchase, but it specifically says not for use with Canon camcorders, so I think we may be out of luck unless my colleague can get access to a Windows computer at work.

The footage is shot HD, but it's nothing fancy - people giving PowerPoint talks, so I think we can get away with ProRes LT or even Proxy, to keep the file sizes down a bit.

Mike



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Mark Suszko
Re: Get footage off of a Canon camera's hard drive
on Dec 7, 2010 at 10:01:24 pm

My take on this, which may be wrong, is that Final Cut looks for a firewire connection, and your friend's camera only has a USB cable. Which is fine for a slower-paced transfer of data from camera to a computer. Why the mac doesn't see the camera as a USB drive beats me; this has almost become a universal thing AFAIK.

There may be some specific switchology involved, that is, the camera may have to be in a mode that defines it as a playback device, before the computer can see it as a USB drive. Various cameras also are picky about the order in which things are powered up and connected. So my first attempt at a diagnosis would involve various combinations of power-on and cable connection to see if the USB gets recognized, and of course use the main port on the computer, not one out on the end of a keyboard or whatever.

More perusal of your manual indicates an alternative method of "sneaker-netting": you can use the camera's own controls to back up the hard drive to SDHC or SD cards, in the camera-original format. So maybe buy her a fist full of cards, let her offload the hard drive of the camera to the cards, mail you those, you get a 20- dollar USB card reader, and go to town. This at least keeps you in the AVHD format until it gets to you. Had she bought the accessory DVD burner attachment, offloading the AVCHD to DVD-R's would have been trivial. Hindsight is 1080.

This bit is kind of late to bring up, but this Vixia doesn't look like a great choice of camera for this kind of work. No firewire output, WTH? Seems like the thing is pitched more towards very casual users who never edit, and not pro or semi-pro work. But at least it has a mic input jack. That's something, I guess.


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Mike Weber
Re: Get footage off of a Canon camera's hard drive
on Dec 8, 2010 at 12:53:27 am

Thanks for the tip on the SDHC card transfer option. In fact, not only could she transfer to the SDHC card, she could get the card reader herself and upload the files to our FTP site from her Mac. So no mailing necessary.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Get footage off of a Canon camera's hard drive
on Dec 8, 2010 at 3:20:58 am

Merry Christmas, then:-)


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Mike Weber
Re: Get footage off of a Canon camera's hard drive
on Feb 4, 2011 at 6:32:09 pm

Just wanted to follow up and say your suggestion worked great - she is now able to send me the AVCHD files directly, by first offloading her camera's hard drive to her SD card. Thanks again.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Get footage off of a Canon camera's hard drive
on Feb 5, 2011 at 12:42:21 am

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