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Settings, codecs and more damned settings!!!

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Craig Banham
Settings, codecs and more damned settings!!!
on Jan 18, 2012 at 4:20:38 pm

For quite a while I was only working with 1080i AVCHD material (from a Sony NX5) inside FCP 7. When first setting up FCP7 for AVCHD I followed an online tutorial from where it gave me the settings to enter in the ‘Easy Setup’ section. I can’t recall exactly what they were but it worked fine and life was good.

A few months ago we purchased a Canon XF300 which uses a MPEG-2 codec with an MXF file format. Now according to Michael Reichmann and Chris Sanderson of

they suggest the following when using XF footage inside FCP 7:

"Canon's flavour of MPEG-2 is editable natively by many professional NLEs, with the exception of Apple's Final Cut Studio, where it is handed by a provided Canon plug-in. This plug-in connects to Log and Transfer for transcoding (optional) and importing. Many people like to transcode to a robust editing format such as ProRes 422. The plug-in does this quite rapidly – about 3X real-time. But if you set Log and Transfer to import in Native format, rather than a flavour of ProRes, all that will happen is that the file will be rewrapped rather than transcoded. The time that this takes is the same as simply copying the files off the card in the Finder, and the file size turns out to be less than half that of ProRes 422. This is my preferred approach."

So I tried what they suggested, i.e. selecting the ‘native format’ in the Log and Transfer preferences, and sure enough FCP provides files that smaller and transcode faster through Log and Transfer.

But when I look at the ‘Item Properties’ for any of these natively transcoded XF clips (which were shot in 1080i) the ‘Compressor’ field is shown as ‘XDCAM HD422 1080i (50Mb/s)’.

So I am a little confused since I can’t see/equate the link between XF300 Mpeg-2 footage and XDCAM HD422.

Now maybe this is just a setting that was left over from the days when I was editing AVCHD, I’m not really sure…. and sadly I’m not skilled enough in this area of video to know what to change it to.

So my first question is can anyone shed some light on all this?

Secondly I would like to go into the ‘Easy Setup’ (currently set on ‘All Formats’ and ‘Custom Setup’ under the ‘Use’ section) and change it to the most appropriate settings for future XF300 based projects.

With this in mind it might be useful if I provide some of current settings found in my FCP ‘Audio/Video Settings’ (which echo the current ‘Custom Setup’ in Easy Setup.

But again keep in mind the may be leftovers from the former AVCHD/NX5 days.

Sequence Preset: Apple ProRes 422 (LT) 1920x1080 50i 48kHz
Capture Preset: Blackmagic HDTV 1080i 50 – Apple ProRes (HQ)
Video Playback: Blackmagic HDTV 1080i 50 (1920 x 1080)

Given the above settings it’s probably no surprise to know that inside our Mac we have a Blackmagic Intensity Pro breakout card providing an HDMI output to a HDTV.

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Steve Eisen
Re: Settings, codecs and more damned settings!!!
on Jan 18, 2012 at 4:58:39 pm

Learning correct workflow is key. Contact the salesman who sold you the XF300. Let them explain to you everything about the camera. That is their job. You can also find everything about your camera on Canon's website and by reading the manual that came with the camera.

FCP can choose the sequence setting for you automatically just by dragging a clip into the timeline.

Here's a great tutorial graciously provided to us by Shane Ross:

Steve Eisen
Eisen Video Productions
Vice President
Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group

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Craig Banham
Re: Settings, codecs and more damned settings!!!
on Jan 18, 2012 at 5:14:56 pm

Hi Steve,

Thanks for trying to help. The company who sold this to me are pro broadcast suppliers but they wouldn't know the FCP settings, since they are keyed up on hardware not all the variations and base settings of NLE's.

The manual I have read cover to cover and apart from installing the XF plugin, it gives no other info.

The video link you provided does not cover ingesting Xf footage, at the start it states that it excludes FCP third party plugins and lists what it does cover... not XF footage sadly:-(

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Dave LaRonde
Re: Settings, codecs and more damned settings!!!
on Jan 18, 2012 at 6:57:23 pm

The footage from that camera is in an MXF media wrapper. The codec within that wrapper is MPEG2, which is not an acceptable editing codec in FCP. It is a long-gop codec.

Using a cooking metaphor, it's like bay leaves: eating a little bit isn't harmful, but too much becomes toxic to humans. MPEG2 does that to FCP.

Thus, you shouldn't follow the instructions you quote above, selecting "Native format", which simply re-wraps the MXF files. You should do a proper Log & Transfer to ProRes 422, which re-wraps AND transcodes.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA

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Shane Ross
Re: Settings, codecs and more damned settings!!!
on Jan 19, 2012 at 2:20:37 am

Dave is right. Install the Canon XF plugin, and ghent follow my tutorial, converting to ProRes. Native should not be used in this case

Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def

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