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One of the most common questions that I get from people regarding the new breed of DLSR cameras is "What's your post-workflow?"
Nowadays the most popular DSLR cameras (e.g. Canon 5D / 7D / 1D) and AVCHD camcorders record footage in H.264 codec. And a common sense is that the H.264 is not really an editing-friendly codec and usually we go from H.264 to Apple ProRes 422 and other less-compressive codecs.
Why do you need to do this?
Well simply put – most software does not support the editing of H.264 footage natively – some do.
Final Cut Pro doesn't – you'll find that it can crash every few minutes – or worst – every few seconds.
You'll find that the video is extremely choppy – and that it can be close to impossible to do frame-accurate edits.
Apple ProRes is a line of intermediate codecs, which means they are intended for use during video editing, and not for practical end-user viewing. ProRes is a lossy video compression format developed by Apple Inc. for use in post production in Final Cut Pro 6 and later on versions (FCP 7 & FCP X). It is a successor of the Apple Intermediate Codec. The benefit of an intermediate codec is that it retains higher quality than end-user codecs while still requiring much less expensive disk systems compared to uncompressed video. It is comparable to Avid's DNxHD codec or CineForm who offer similar bitrates which are also intended to be used as intermediate codecs. ProRes 422 is a DCT based intra-frame-only codec and is therefore simpler to decode than distribution oriented formats like H.264.
Simply put – all you need to do is to convert the native footage from the AVC H.264 format to a format that your computer and software will support. For me it's simple given that I work with Final Cut Studio – I work with Apple's ProRes codec. What this means is that I simply encode H.264 footage to ProRes format that is in higher quality and is less compressed.
So how do you convert H.264 to ProRes codec?
Well, there are MANY ways to do this. You can use Final Cut Studio's Compressor software – I create droplets and drop my files onto them. It's good. But some of you may not own Final Cut Studio… so what do you do? Well I recommend you look into the utility that has quickly become my absolute favorite way of converting my footage:
Pavtube HD Video Converter for Mac ($35)
Not only is it extremely easy to use but it's also often faster than Compressor and is much cheaper. Lately I find myself using two codecs most often – Apple ProRes 422 has always been my gold standard, and recently w/ the new FCP Studio I find myself using Apple ProRes Proxy – to do quick edits on my laptop. HQ is too much, takes up more room with zero benefit. But if you want it, and you have the space...do it. Basically I suggest you convert H.264 to ProRes 422.
Detailed guides for your reference:
Convert Canon T4i 650D H.264 MOV to ProRes 422
Encode Canon EOS M H.264 video to ProRes 422
Turn Nikon H.264 recordings to ProRes 422
Transcode Canon 600D H.264 footage to ProRes 422
Compress Panasonic HX-WA20 H.264 MP4 to ProRes 422
How to import Canon DSLR H.264 video to Final Cut Pro
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