SnapperTalk

March 28th, 2010

Canon E1 plugin workflow

(This is the first in a series of articles, the others may also be of interest: Part One, Part Two, Part Three)

So I was quite excited when I heard the Canon EOS Movie E1 plugin for Final Cut Pro had finally been made available. This plugin exclusively for Final Cut Pro is designed to let you Log & Transfer (“ingest”, in stills terminology) your Canon 5D Mark II video files into FCP, automatically adding a timecode and allowing automatic transcoding to one of the ProRes codecs.

Transcoding to ProRes is something that a lot of people are doing in order to achieve smooth editing, as opposed to the somewhat jerky editing that can occur when trying to work directly off the original H.264 .MOV files generated from the camera.

The problem I encountered is that the Log & Transfer (L&T) function wants to see an actual memory card connected to the computer – it doesn’t like to work off folders of movie files you’ve already copied to your hard disk. This is a problem for those of us who want to ingest the card first for stills purposes using another application, for example Photo Mechanic, and maybe edit the video later. When I tried to L&T directly from a folder on the hard disk I got the following error:

It seemed that the function was rather picky about the directory structure it encounters… After some investigating, and thanks to this video tutorial by Chris Fenwick, I determined what the requirements of the plugin are, and a workaround. My investigations showed the plugin follows these rules:

1. It needs a directory structure in this format: /DCIM/somefoldername/file.MOV
2. It does NOT require the “MISC” folder that appears on the card to be present
3. Adding IPTC info during Photo Mechanic ingest (automatic captioning) does not break it
4. The file extension of the video files MUST be in uppercase such as .MOV, not in lowercase such as .mov – my previous ingest procedure changed the uppercase to lowercase causing the files to not be recognized by the plugin.
5. You can have multiple sub-folders e.g. /DCIM/somefoldername1/fileA.MOV and /DCIM/somefoldername2/fileB.MOV
6. You cannot have nested sub-folders e.g. /DCIM/somefoldername/anotherfolder/file.MOV
7. You can’t just have DCIM/file.MOV

So with this in mind, here is a stills and video workflow that allows one to ingest cards using Photo Mechanic for stills purposes, but retains the ability to Log & Transfer the video files into FCP later on….

Photo Mechanic workflow changes needed:

1. Photo Mechanic Preferences > Files > “Use uppercase extensions”:

2. In the Photo Mechanic Ingest dialog, set Source Directory Structure to “preserve all source directories”:

This should now ensure your ingested cards will always have a sub-directory structure of /YourIngestFolderName/DCIM/100EOS5D/file.MOV and ensure the files have uppercase files extensions.

Final Cut Pro Log & Transfer workflow:

1. Once you have created a new project, open the Log & Transfer window from the File menu:

2. From the little “gears” dropdown menu choose “Preferences”:

This will bring up the menu enabling you to choose which ProRes codec you want the files automatically transcoded into. In this menu use the dropdown menu on the “EOS MOVIE” line to choose your preferred codec.

3. Go back to that “gears” dropdown menu and this time choose the “Add Custom Path” option. In the Open dialog that follows, choose the folder “DCIM” within the directory structure you created before i.e. /YourIngestFolderName/DCIM/100EOS5D/file.MOV

If all has gone correctly you should now see preview icons come up in the window, can set your desired in/out points, and add items to be transcoded to the queue.

I would prefer if the plugin could read directly from any folder, and wonder whether it could be hacked to do so in this way. If anyone feels up to this task, the E1 plugin is actually located here:

Do you have a better workflow? Can you suggest any improvements to this? Please leave a comment….

UPDATE

I thought at first the sub-folder under DCIM had to be named 100EOS5D, but actually it seems it can be anything. So you could for example have:

/YourIngestFolderName/DCIM/anything/file.MOV

…but there has to be some folder underneath DCIM, and DCIM must to be called DCIM, so what you can’t have is just:

/YourIngestFolderName/DCIM/file.MOV

This actually makes things a LOT more flexible, particularly if you don’t want to follow the above somewhat rigid workflow. Instead, when you want to L&T, all you’d do is create a folder DCIM on your desktop, copy a folder of any name containing video files into DCIM, and you’re ready to run L&T on the DCIM folder. In fact you can have multiple sub-folders, for example if you have:

DCIM/anything1/fileA.MOV
DCIM/anything2/fileB.MOV
DCIM/anything3/fileC.MOV

When you point L&T to the DCIM folder, it will pick up all the files in all the folders. Nice…

Of course you still have to make sure you ingest with .MOV in uppercase and that all the associated sidecar files such as .THM files are present (I think). I’ve edited the workflow above slightly from the original I wrote based on the new info, but I now think there is probably a simpler Photo Mechanic Ingest directory structure you could do…..

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