How To: Canon 7d FCP Post Workflow and Stuff

Editing with the Canon 7d and Final Cut Pro couldn't be easier, here are some tips to help you get started.

  1. Get the Canon E1 Plugin:  The link provided gives you some basic info to get started.  The main reason for using this plugin with FCP, is to convert the footage quickly to Apple ProRes.  The native files that come off the Canon cameras don't work well with FCP, and require serious computing power.  But Apple ProRes works natively with FCP and can be edited smoothly on any decent Apple computer.  Converting the files also allows for future compatibility with Apple products, something that h264 might not.  ProRes comes in a few different formats and depending on what you're doing, will determine which one you need to use.  "4444" - is the highest quality and really should only be used for archival and/or serious compositing work.  "422 HQ" is also good for archival purposes or if you know that your film will be screened theatrically.  "422" is the baseline and one that I use.  It works well for anything that will be on the web and would probably be ok for screen too.  "422 LT" is fine for web and looks very similar to plain 422.  Finally there is "422 Proxy", you would only want to use this if you were editing on a laptop, for instance, and you needed a rough edit that would be replaced with a higher quality format later.  For most projects 422 and 422 LT are best.
  2. If syncing audio, get PluralEyes:  This software is extremely simple to use and it allows you to sync camera audio with sync sound (it can even sync multiple camera streams together).  For the most part this software works great, but there are times when it has trouble.  If you are in a noisy environment and / or your camera isn't near the off camera mic, PluralEyes can fail.  But if you want to save potentially hours of manually syncing audio, go with this software.  Try the demo and see if it works for you.
  3. Stay organized:  Creating separate bins for 'Clips', 'Sequences', 'SoundFX', and 'Music', will allow you to see everything quickly and easily.  Color coding important sequences (such as picture lock, or final cut) will help you easily see your important sequences instantly.  Little stuff like this goes a long way, especially if you have to revisit a project later, and you've forgotten the naming of things or how it was setup.  Also making a new sequence after each significant edit is a good idea.  You never know when you'll have to go back to an edit.  This can be a huge time saver.
  4. Edit a 'clips' timeline quickly:  After importing the video clips and syncing the audio, I like to assemble a 'clips' edit very quickly.  A clips sequence is all of your favorite clips, in one timeline. Doing this allows me to go with my gut reaction, and filter the best stuff to one place.  Roughly creating in and out points and dragging each clip to the timeline, not necessarily in order, is a good way to do this.  
  5. Make a rough:  Create a new "rough" sequence, by duplicating your 'clips' sequence and renaming it. In this edit you want to assemble a quick edit of your project, removing and rearranging clips until it's in order.
  6. Repeat this process for 'Fine' and 'Final Cut' edits.
  7. Grade footage in Color (Grading will be covered in a future article, as it can be a substantial part of the post process)
  8. Exporting: Exporting footage can happen in a number of different ways, but Apple Compressor is probably the most efficient.  All you have to do is export your final timeline into Compressor and apply the settings that work best for your situation (ie blu-ray, youtube, film out, dvd etc.) and, voila, you're done.       

I'd love to see videos from users on this site.  Send me a private message with a link to your video, and I'll be happy to check it out.  Who knows, maybe it will get featured on the home page.  

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