I’ve been working in the Panasonic HPX170/HVX200 workflow so long that I must have gotten spoiled. I remember the first time I pulled footage down in Final Cut via Log and Transfer off a p2 card… it was fast, convenient, and just flat out awesome. The ability to review clips, name them, log whatever information I wanted without having to deal with the hassle of tapes! Well this past week I’ve been putting the Canon 7D through some tough tests to see if the HD DSLR thing is really the right way for me to go. There are several obvious limitations shooting video on a DSLR, but the one hurdle I’m really starting to get tripped up on is the transcoding process to an editable format.
Footage is recorded on the Canon 7D as a H.264 quicktime file, but for smooth playback and editing, I’ve read that it needs to be transcoded to ProRes 422. I’ve messed around with the footage in Final Cut and found ProRes to be the best, especially since I’m still shooting with the HPX170 in DVCPRO HD. Now here is a challenge I didn’t expect: My Panasonic shoots 720/24p, but not 1080p. The 7D shoots 1080/24p but not 720/24p. The frame rate in 720p is 30p or 60p. That doesn’t help much! So now I found myself shooting 720/20p on my Panasonic HPX170 and 1080/24p on the Canon 7D, then down-converting the 7D footage to 720 just to maintain the 24p frame rate on both cameras! Craziness!
So now, not only am I transcoding footage off the 7D to ProRes 422, but also down scaling it to 720p in the process. I’m sure if I truly adopt the 7D as my primary camera, I won’t be mixing footage with the HpX170 as much, so this will become less of an issue. Still another step in the process I’m not really loving at the moment. Because of the down scaling from 1080 to 720, I am not transferring the footage through Final Cut, but through Compressor. It may be possible to do it all through Log and Transfer in FCP, but I haven’t taken the time to look! I am keeping the original MOV files from the camera anyway and then transcoding it off the hard drive rather than out of the camera. If there is a better process, I’d love to know what it is.