Canon 1D C Internal 4K Workflow
- June 5, 2013
- Shane Hurlbut, ASC
We have run many posts about the Canon 1D C and its powerful 4K in camera capture, but I have really never discussed the workflow. Many people have asked about how I am processing these huge files, and in the blog survey, you requested more about post workflow, so I thought I would go into how we roll it out. KISS (keep it simple stupid) is our mantra.
On Need for Speed, the 1D C has been our driver’s POV camera, which puts the audience right in the racer’s seat. No other camera would have been able to give us the 4K capture and small, lightweight, user-friendly nature in the restricted space. It has also been my crash cam and my go to camera on this movie. We embedded them in the small super car body frames. The versatility of Canon Log has been huge. I have been able to capture the extreme exposures of hot daylight sun while holding detail inside the car. My theory is to allow each camera to do what it does best in the field while shooting extreme action. All right, let’s get to it.
We are going to review a few options for this workflow with the goal of keeping it as simple as possible. To quote Canon’s Tim Smith in the Hollywood Reporter, “4K processes have come together in the last year, but we need more work before it is an everyday occurrence.”
How the 1D C Records 4K:
The 1D C uses a full frame CMOS sensor, but pixels are cropped to an area equivalent to an APS-H sensor – preventing the need to scale/resize and preserving the image quality. The 4K RAW output signal is debayered and converted to three 4K components which are recorded internally on to the CF card. The camera uses a Motion JPEG codec as 8-bit 4:2:2 YCbCr color sampling.
Motion JPEG employs JPEG compression, every frame in a video track is encoded as a still image. The video tracks are stored in a .mov file format. In order to work with 4K in most NLE programs, you will need to transcode it to a more manageable file size.
Canon’s 1D C site link: http://cinemaeos.usa.canon.com/products.php?type=Camera-1DC
Once you have your proxies ready, you can import them into the NLE of your choice, edit, color grade and export for final delivery.
Transcoding is the step that will require some research into the best option for your project and software/hardware capabilities. For this post, we are transcoding to ProRes HQ on a Mac. Since ProRes is not native to Windows, some other options PC users can explore are Avid DNxHD, Cineform, and Canopus HQ /HQX.
Here’s a quick overview to transcode your files using Apple’s Compressor:
Open Compressor and add files:
Under the settings tab-navigate to the ProRes HQ option:
Create your custom settings in the Inspector window:
Under Destinations Tab- where you will save the files to and drag up to Batch Window:
Drag and drop your settings to the batch window:
Hit submit to process:
Your files are transcoded and ready to import into the NLE application.
There are a variety of other applications that you can use to transcode. You’ll have to decide between the advantages/disadvantages of each for your project. Here are a few options listed below:
MPEG Streamclip (squared5.com): Mac/Windows – Be aware that timecode will be stripped.
Ffmpeg: (FFmpeg .org): Mac/Windows – You will need to add the ProRes encode and batch processing.
5D to RGB: rarevision.com – Lite is free/donation. iTunes App store is $49.99 High quality batch transcoder; latest version has a 1D C fix.
For Mac users, another interesting option is Automator, which was first released with Mac OS X Tiger (10.4). Here is a screen shot of the set-up. A search on the internet offers tutorials for the application.
Your next step is into import the proxy files into your NLE application. In our example, we have imported the proxy files into a new Premiere Pro CS project.
Once you have all your proxy media imported and you have completed your edits, you could send to Speedgrade for color grading or export as an XML, which can then be imported into other applications for finishing.
From Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro 7, you can export your project using the XML option and conform in DaVinci Resolve. Aside from its exceptional color correction tools, you will have the ability to deliver your final project in 4K (full software version only).
ProRes HQ vs ProRes:
Depending on your preference and storage capabilities, you can transcode your 4K footage to either codec. To the naked eye, it is extremely difficult to detect the image difference. Apple’s whitepaper offers this comparison:
“Users may select either the ProRes 422 or ProRes 422 HQ quality setting. Both settings feature HD quality that is indistinguishable from the original, even after many generations of re-encoding. Normal ProRes 422 provides excellent preservation of either 8-bit or 10-bit source quality at an economical bit rate. ProRes 422 HQ offers even greater headroom to preserve the quality of even the most demanding, complex material with no visible artifacts.”
Tips for shooting with the 1D C that may assist in workflow:
1 – Be sure to plan ahead for the necessary media requirements. Both 4K and ProRes HQ need lots of hard drive space.
2 – When shooting in CLog, keep your ISO between 100 and 6400 to prevent banding/blocking. 400 ISO is the preferred ISO to get the most dynamic range out of the camera. I find that anything over 4000 ISO starts to lose serious color information. The 8 BIT color space seems to drop to 4 BIT. Try to overexpose this camera about 1/3 of a stop. This camera loves light, unlike the 5D where you have to underexpose the sensor and starve it of light.
3 – Use fast CF cards – UDMA 7 and at least 1000mps. I found the Hoodman cards to be the most reliable to date.
4 – Watch rolling shutter with this camera. It seems to have more than a 5D MK II or III. The camera can easily moiré, so all the pitfalls of a DSLR hold true with this camera. Shoot with all of them in mind.
For additional information on the 1D C, check out our previous tests.