By Philip Bloom
The HD video footage that comes out of the EOS 5D Mark II is quite amazing. It produces stunning images that blow many much more expensive cameras away. But it has some limitations. This article is about how to make the most of the format that the footage is recorded in and how to change the frame rate that the 5D Mark II records in from 30p to something more usable, like 24p or 25p, using a Mac with Final Cut Studio 2 or above installed.
The EOS 5D Mark II records video in QuickTime .mov. Unfortunately the version of QuickTime it uses is H264 – as this is a finishing format it is, unfortunately, not a format that you can easily edit in. Try editing with it in Final Cut Pro and you will see what I mean. It is a little slow, is not frame accurate and is impossible to do any effects with.
So, the first thing to do is convert your footage out of H264 into a variant of QuickTime that Final Cut Pro editing software likes. I have chosen the pretty much standard Pro Res format. With Final Cut Studio 3 we now have a new variant called Pro Res LT (the LT stands for light). It’s the ideal format to convert 5D Mark II footage to, but if you have Final Cut Studio 2 then just use the normal Pro Res format.
I use a free piece of software called MPEG Streamclip to do all of my converting. It’s free and faster than Compressor – you can download it from www.squared5.com.
Once you have converted your footage you will be able to edit with no problems in 30p. If you plan to convert to a different frame rate, like 24p or 25p, I recommend doing the edit first then exporting the completed sequence and converting just that. If you need to give the client the rushes in 24p or 25p then you’ll have to convert the rushes. This can take some time, so a bit of patience is required.
Use Compressor (which is part of Final Cut Studio) or the free software JES Deinterlacer to convert your sequence and/or rushes to 24p/25p. JES Deinterlacer is free and works pretty fast; faster than Compressor. In JES Deinterlacer in the 'Project' options use the 'minimal blend' option for the best results. Compressor is a bit slow and the most useful option to select when working in Compressor is either ‘better’ or ‘best’ if there is movement/motion in your video footage.
There is no 'perfect' affordable solution to converting your EOS 5D Mark II 30p video footage to 24p or 25p. Everything is a little bit of a compromise and everything takes time. That's why many of us would love selectable frame rates in the next EOS 5D Mark II firmware if possible. In the meantime I have made a video (click in the viewing box above to view it) that explains the best options I have come across thus far.