Editing Canon 5D/7D footage on Windows

Canon chose a pretty bad format for their consumer digicam and video dSLR products: h.264 in the MOV container, without B-Frames. This creates a kind of format that is very difficult to edit in real time. As I type this, even the fastest desktop PC on Earth can’t decode in real time that footage under Sony Vegas, or even Premiere. As of now, here are your editing options with such footage:

1. Edit as is
It is possible to edit these files as is, by dropping them in the timeline, but you should expect anything between 0.3 and 5 fps. Which means that it’s unbearably slow to do educated guesses on how to cut your project. Additionally, Vegas has very poor support for Quicktime, so after you add a few of these files in the timeline, you should expect crashes.

2. Proxy Files
Proxy files allow you to use small-sized, low-quality copies of the original files that edit faster — and just before you export, you switch to the original files, to export at full quality. Here are tutorials for Vegas Platinum, Pro, and Premiere. The problem with this method is that, at least with Vegas, there’s still a big risk of crashing during exporting (because it would use the original MOV files). Also, exporting is very slow, because the decoding is slow (before it even starts encoding).

3. Cineform
This is the best solution for the problem. You buy Cineform NeoSCENE (or NeoHD), and you drop the files in its utility to transcode them. Cineform is pretty fast decoding h.264, and transcoding the 4:2:0 files to a 4:2:2 format, that’s visually lossless, and easy to edit. The only downsides are that the created filesizes will be double over the original and the gamma will slightly change, but these are a small price to pay for having a stable, and fast format to edit with.

Q&A

Q. Why not use Divide.Frame’s accelerated decoder?
A. Because it’s unstable, and it doesn’t work with all versions of Vegas or Premiere.

Q. What format should I use for proxies?
A. I would suggest you use 640×360 mpeg2 at 1.5 mbps. It’s the easiest format to edit, by far. The Premiere tutorial linked above can be modified to create such proxies rather than its suggested h.264 proxies.

Q. Why not use mpeg2, or XDCam or other high bitrate format instead of Cineform?
A. Because they are not lossless.

Q. Why not use another lossless codec then, like the freeware Huffyuv, Lagarith, Avid DNxHD?
A. Because they are almost as slow to edit as the original files.

Q. How about Matrox’s mpeg2 I-Frame 100 mbps codec?
A. This is a good codec and it works well with Premiere. But it doesn’t work as well with Vegas. More here.
UPDATE: Version 1.0 of the codec fixes the problems!

Q. Which format would have been best to be used by Canon?
A. AVCHD for their consumer digicams, and AVC-Intra for their video dSLRs.

Q. How are the Mac users dealing with the problem?
A. The footage has to be transcoded too, to the intermediate ProRES/AIC codecs before it is able to be edited. There is also Cineform NeoSCENE for the Mac too.

19 Comments »

rambo wrote on September 17th, 2009 at 3:44 AM PST:

The only problem i have with Cineform (NeoScene or NeoHD tried both) is the deinterlace function is a strange blended mix and causes ghosting in high motion footage. Even converting and importing as interlaced is still not as clean as editing AVCHD natively or using proxies for final export to the web.

Not everyone has high motion footage, so Cineform does suit the majority of people, but we all need to do our own testing before making a purchasing decision, the trials are good value for this.

Yeah MOV files are a pain aren’t they, when are Sony finally going to fix this, who knows.

CHeers Rambo


rambo wrote on September 17th, 2009 at 3:49 AM PST:

Actually Divide.frame have this update on their site just today so might be an option again.
http://www.divideframe.com

17/09/2009

GPU Decoder 1.06 available:
-fix startup crash on Vegas
-files from Canon EOS camera now with correct colorspace
-minor bug fixes for Vegas and Premiere


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 17th, 2009 at 3:56 AM PST:

>is the deinterlace function is a strange blended mix

Canon dSLRs and digicams don’t shoot interlaced footage, so there is no problem with any de-interlacing.


rambo wrote on September 17th, 2009 at 4:02 AM PST:

That’s true, also i just noticed Frame.Divide disables AVCHD and tif files in Vegas so it takes away the choice of native editing while it’s installed, don’t like that.


Luis wrote on September 17th, 2009 at 5:52 AM PST:

So reading this and the previous post about always wanting more I wonder why bother with all this editing pain just to get the very best possible quality 1080@24p video? Doesn’t it make more sense to shoot with something that will provide you a much easier editing experience? For example, wouldn’t it be better to get a camera that shoots just 720p in AVCHD format, or even in the easier MJPEG (even if you lose some quality)? For sharing videos on Vimeo I don’t think it would make a big difference in the final result, while saving you a lot of troubles (and even helping you in making better videos because of the easier editing).

Something like a Panasonic Lumix GH1 shoots pretty good videos (even at 1920×1080, though not strictly 24p).


Lee wrote on September 17th, 2009 at 7:55 AM PST:

I’m using an imac with fcp. I edit all my 5D footage without transcoding the footage at all. It’s actually not horribly slow either. I don’t understand why other people don’t do this. I’m guessing because their computer is not fast enough? Not sure.


Surftom wrote on September 17th, 2009 at 11:12 AM PST:

>Q. How are the Mac users dealing with the problem?
A. The footage has to be transcoded too, to the intermediate ProRES/AIC codecs before it is able to be edited. There is also Cineform NeoSCENE for the Mac too.<

Small problem here is if you use Premiere on the Mac (Like I do) then NeoScene is not supported – MOV only. I sometimes have to work on Windows too so Premiere is what I have to use.


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Eugenia wrote on September 17th, 2009 at 1:05 PM PST:

>Something like a Panasonic Lumix GH1 shoots pretty good videos

The GH1 has blotches with its low bitrate, it’s not something I like using. Plus, it doesn’t have enough frame rates, PF24 still requires pulldown removal for example. Video is frame rates, if you don’t have enough frame rates, you can’t be really creative.

Additionally, I have lenses for the EOS system, while I have NO lenses for the Nikon/Panasonic side. So for me, buying a 7D, is much cheaper than the average new Canon EOS user.


Kurt Schroeder wrote on September 18th, 2009 at 6:30 PM PST:

Perhaps the new SSD storage hardware coming out is the answer.

Today Gizmodo has a link here.


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Eugenia wrote on September 18th, 2009 at 6:33 PM PST:

Kurt, your comment is off topic. No new SSD can help with editing.


Vast Majority wrote on September 18th, 2009 at 8:26 PM PST:

I think Kurt thought he was on topic and was sincere in offering information that might help in video editing. The link leads to a marketing blurb that mentions something about their SSD allowing one to edit massive files five times faster. However, whether or not that claim is true is another thing.


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Eugenia wrote on September 18th, 2009 at 10:02 PM PST:

Reading speed is a very small part of video decoding, maybe a 5% decoding improvement overall. When your current video editor decodes these files at 1 fps, you don’t need 5% improvement, you need 1000%. So your argument doesn’t hold. If Kurt was giving us news about accelerated decoders, or hardware that have an API for people to create accelerated decoders, then, sure. But that new storage system is simply off topic.


Matt wrote on September 19th, 2009 at 7:53 AM PST:

Hi Eugenia,

I’d simply like to say that crashes in editing MOVs in Vegas might not be universal. I’ve edited footage from my Digicam for a few years (on Vegas Pro 7, 8, and now 9), and not once have I experienced a crash.

Keep up the good blogging work. It’s always a good read. 🙂
Matt

P.S. My mum’s name is Eugenia too! Sounds a bit silly for me to mention it; but I’ve never ever come across anyone else with that name.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 19th, 2009 at 12:34 PM PST:

Matt, you are mistaken. If your digicam was “from a few years ago”, then it used MOV with MJPEG, not MOV with h.264. It’s the h.264 part of Quicktime that usually crashes Vegas.


Matt wrote on September 20th, 2009 at 7:00 AM PST:

Ohhhh, right. Yes, it does use MJPEG. My mistake.


Vic wrote on September 21st, 2009 at 8:45 PM PST:

Hi Eugenia

Probably not the best place to post this but, do you know anything about this real time codec?

http://www.bitjazz.com/en/products/sheervideo/


Kurt Schroeder wrote on September 25th, 2009 at 7:16 PM PST:

If you have the need to pump out this much data this quickly, then you should have the money to buy the proper system to do the encoding. Not every camera is for every consumer at every point in time.


Kurt Schroeder wrote on September 25th, 2009 at 7:21 PM PST:

How about three of these?


Rob wrote on September 25th, 2009 at 8:05 PM PST:

Hi Eugenia,

How would you rate MPEG Streamclip?


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