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Canon XF Series HD Camcorders
Canon XF305, XF205 and XF105 (with SDI), Canon XF300, XF200 and XF100 (without SDI).


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Old February 9th, 2011, 11:58 AM   #1
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MXF or AVCHD for post production work?

I am going to be updating my cameras in the coming months and have a question in regards to HD codecs and editing.

I am viewing either the Sony NX5U, which records to AVCHD or,
the Canon XF100 which records to the MXF codec.

AVCHD will have to be converted to an intermediate i-frame codec like ProRes.
MXF can be edited in it's native form and is essentially XDCAM.

Which codec would be best suited for post production work, mainly in FCP.
From what I have read XDCAM seems to be easy to edit, small in size, and produces a good final delivery with little or no issues.
I already know that rendering to ProRes will produce good results, but I l some conversion time as well as taking up added hard drive space.

Anyone here have experience with the MXF format or XDCAM?
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Old February 9th, 2011, 01:50 PM   #2
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MXF or AVCHD?

Hey Michael,

I would much prefer working with an MXF codec over an AVCHD codec for editing. You have already stated some of the benefits and cons when working with FCP to ingesting these formats:

AVCHD will require you ingest your footage into a ProRes format. Sure, the AVCHD footage may preserve picture quality when ingested into ProRes, but will fill your hard drive fairly rapidly. CPU power consumption is high during this process (if concerned while using a laptop) and takes longer to ingest AVCHD to ProRes than ingesting or .mov wrapping the footage in it's native format.

MXF from the Canon XF series on the other hand will provide just as good picture quality (if not better than AVCHD when recording footage at a 50Mbit/s bit rate), will require a similar amount of disk space as the original MXF file when ingesting, ingests relatively quickly, and requires less CPU power during this process.

AVCHD is at it's heart an MPEG-4 codec, and the Canon XF MXF codec an MPEG-2 format. The benefit of the Canon XF series MXF high 50MBbit/s bit rate is that the codec records in a 4:2:2 colour space - ideal for more accurate colour correction and chroma keying than the AVCHD format on the Sony.

At the moment I am traveling overseas with the Canon XF300. It uses the same codec for recording to CF as the XF100. I'm loving that I can easily ingest my footage pretty quickly, with low hard disk space usage, and low CPU consumption.


I'm interested in learning and working more with the AVCHD codec myself purely out of curiosity in how AVCHD could work in a FCP editing workflow. Could anyone else shed more light on the pros/cons of AVCHD and Canon's MXF?

Andrew.
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Old February 12th, 2011, 07:23 AM   #3
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Hello togehter,

sorry, have no experience working with AVDHD. But I want to confirm what Andrew said. MXF-Workflow is easy going and the quality is better than I ever expected. I´m working with Canons XF300 and beside some issues with XF-Utility I really love MXF-Workflow and picture-quality.

Andrew, do you keep your original-files (copied with XF-Utility onto your hard-disk) or do you only save your natively in Final Cut imported files? I was asking Canon, if there is any difference between both files (except file-strukture), but they couldn´t tell me, if it makes sense to keep both, MXF-Originals and nativ-imported files.

Reinhard
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Old February 13th, 2011, 09:45 AM   #4
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To keep MXF AND .MOV files?

Hey Reinhard,

I prefer to keep both my MXF and .MOV files ingested by Final Cut Pro. I do this purely for backup reasons, and also as a safety net for if/when the ingestion of video files is not successful in FCP.

This is my process:

1) I backup the contents of the CF card in it's entirety onto an external hard drive.

2) I then direct Final Cut Pro to the location of the backup folder using Log & Transfer.

- this way, if the ingestion isn't successful, I still have the original files on the backup hard drive to refer to and re-ingest those files again. I haven't had experience in Canon XF Utility just yet - I've been finding this process to be very successful.

I have adopted an additional method for my current project. I'm traveling around the world and creating a video series on YouTube and Vimeo. I wish to keep my backup video files organised according to the card the footage was captured on. My file structure on the backup drive looks like this:

<b>BACKUP DRIVE</b>

- CARD_01A
>CONTENTS
=CLIP_01

- CARD_02B
>CONTENTS
=CLIP_01
...etc

If I wish to download and edit a day's worth of footage, I simply copy the folder contents of the "CLIP_01" folder from the CF card, and paste into the respective CARD_***>CONTENTS backup folder. I then copy and REPLACE the "Index.mif" and "JOURNAL" folders from the CF card into the same respective CARD_***>CONTENTS backup folder too. I then direct Log & Transfer in FCP to the backup folder I have just been working with and the new clips that haven't been ingested yet are recognised are are ready for ingesting.

I'm thinking of posting an Apple Automator script here on DVInfo if people are interested in having a simplified workflow for this process. Maybe Canon XF Utility will make this simpler for me too. I need to have a play with that still.

Andrew

Last edited by Andrew Strugnell; February 13th, 2011 at 10:32 AM.
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Old February 13th, 2011, 04:07 PM   #5
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Hi Andrew,

thanks a lot for your detailed informations.

My workflow is quite similar to yours.

1) I backup the contents of the CF card via XF Utility onto an external hard drive
2) Afterward I transfer this folder using Log & Transfer (native)

Sometimes XF Utility is changing file-numbers without prompting it. Bad issue. Also XF Utility makes problems, when you are working with more than one computer.
When I´m traveling, I do 1) and 2) with my Macbook Pro.
Back in the studio, I copy folder/files from Macbook to MacPro. Unfortunatelly XF Utility installed on MacPro is not able to identify this copied folders. There is no way to re-link this folders. That sounds strange, but it is true.

If you want to post your Automator script I would be very happy, because I think your workflow is better than mine.

Have a good time traveling around the world, but never forget that New Zealand is a great country;-)!

Reinhard
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Old February 14th, 2011, 08:36 PM   #6
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Canon XF backup script

I've attached a sample Automator script for backing up your CANON XF Compact Flash cards to a backup drive.

The script will detect your mounted CANON XF drive, incrementally back up the contents of the drive to a specified backup folder, and then replace the Index and JOURNAL folders within the backup folder.

It is a first edition script - please let me know if it works - and if it doesn't, tell me where the script falls over.

Cheers,
Andrew
Attached Files
File Type: zip CANON XF Backup.zip (227.9 KB, 120 views)
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Old February 16th, 2011, 10:20 AM   #7
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Hi Andrew,

thanks a lot for your Automator-Programm, but it doesn´t work on my system. Next week I have time to get it on the ground.

Best wishes,

Reinhard
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Old February 16th, 2011, 10:53 AM   #8
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D'Oh, it may only work with Snow Leopard, I think!
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Old February 16th, 2011, 11:29 AM   #9
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Ok, got it. No problem. I continue working with XF-Utility.
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