June 18, 2013

Workflow guide to the C100 and FCP7 - Part 1: Archiving

We recently purchased the Canon C100 and used it on a client project in Kenya. The C100 was our primary camera and we used a 5d Mark II as our secondary. We are still using Final Cut Pro 7, so we needed a workflow that meshed with our DSLR workflow. The C100 records in the AVCHD format, which means you cannot use MPEG Streamclip to transcode these files like we do with the H264 files we get from the Canon DSLRs. 

The first question to answer is: why not use Clipwrap

Clipwrap seemed like the right solution at first, but it has a slight bug with the C100 (possibly all AVCHD cameras) that doesn't work for our archiving workflow. The Clipwrap problem is a little complicated, but I discovered that it actually drops the last 2 frames of every clip. For a longer explanation, see the bottom of this page.

At Talking Eyes, we archive all the files from the camera as they were shot. We do not archive the transcoded files. We generally media manage our projects then delete the transcoded files a few months after we have completed the project and it is delivered to the client. 


Click the staggered tab to see the directory for the files.
1. Insert SD card into card reader 

2. Open FCP 7

3. Set your scratch disk

4. Open Log and Transfer window (File > Log and Transfer) 

5. Choose “Show items in a hierarchical list.” This will allow you to see the directory (Canon) for your clips. FCP should automatically detect the SD card.*

6. Right click on the Canon directory and choose Archive to Disk Image... 

7. FCP will prompt you to save your file. We have a specific naming structure that I will detail here, but everyone has their own workflow and the most important thing for us is that we are consistent. Our naming convention is MMDDYY_SLUG_A##.dmg

MMDDYY = Date shot 
SLUG = Descriptive slug for project or shoot
A## = A is the camera angle. If there are two cameras, the second camera is B.
## = The number of each SD card used that day. First card is 01, second is 02, etc.
.dmg = This is a disk image file. This preserves all information on the card, so that when you open it in the future, it loads in Finder like an SD card.

8. After selecting the folder and name, you’ll get a progress screen and an Archive Complete screen. This will take around 20-25 minutes for a full 32 gb card

Once the file has been archived, it will show up in the folder you assigned it to. I like to check the size to make sure it is roughly the same size as the PRIVATE folder on the SD card (in the card reader). The file size will not match the SD card, in fact, it will be slightly larger. Don’t worry about this.
*If FCP does not detect the card, and you are sure it is being detected by the computer, then try clicking the icon to Add Volume and select the SD card manually.

The Clipwrap Problem

We have two issues with the two-frame drop caused by Clipwrap. First, it loses content, though an admittedly small amount. Second, if we were to rewrap the clips (it rewraps the clip to H264 format) from the SD card in the field, then transcode them when we are back at the studio using MPEG Streamclip (as we do with the DSLR content), the transcoded clips will have three freeze frames (of the last frame) at the end of the clip. These freeze frames change the length of the clip and could effectively mess up syncing with external audio. So essentially, to use Clipwrap, I would need to rewrap the files and also transcode them to Apple ProRes 422 (using Clipwrap) while in the field, which would require a lot of storage space and time, and losing the two frames of each clip. I told Colin over at Clipwrap and he is working to fix it.