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Canon DSLR Notes

(Updated 4/10/11)

Overview: This article is to help those using Canon DSLRs get their footage into Final Cut Pro.

Canon DSLRs can shoot amazing video, but it's compressed, captured into H.264, a codec not ideally suited for editing. Fortunately Canon provides a nice (free) utility for converting the footage. In addition, software such as Compressor or MPEG Streamclip can convert the footage into a codec more suitable for editing.

You can check out a Zoom H4N (portable digital audio recorder) which will do a far better job at capturing audio than the DSLR. If you slate/mark your shots, it'll be easier to line things up in your editing program. You can check out a slate from the Production Lab.

Canon EOS plug-in

This is by far the easiest and quickest way to get your footage into FCP. We have this installed in the Production Lab computers.

Note: If you use this in the Production Lab be sure to have your project open and your scratch drives set correctly. Otherwise, it may not put your footage in the right place.

Besides being quick and easy, the key advantage is that it will retain important metadata, such as time code information. If you own a Canon DSLR and use Final Cut Pro, you should get this plugin, as it makes life, or at least editing, so much easier.

The Canon EOS plug-in can be downloaded directly from Canon's product page (5D, 7D, etc.) Here is the link to the Canon EOS 5D product page. Once you are there, click on "Drivers and Software" and pick your OS. You will want to download the "EOS MOVIE Plugin-E1 for Final Cut Pro".

The EOS MOVIE Plugin will let you use Final Cut Pro's "Log and Transfer" feature to bring your clips into your project and convert them to Apple Pro Res at the same time.

Important note: Keep the directory and file structure of the Canon CF camera data intact! Don't delete any of the files. The mysteriously named files (E.g. THM) are there for a reason! You can copy the directory of the CF card data to another volume (E.g. your media drive) before using the plug-in, but it only works if you keep all of the files and the directory/file structure intact. In addition to image thumbnails, the THM sidecar files contain the clips' metadata such as timecode information.

Back from a shoot? Copy the entire contents of your Canon CF card into a folder accessible by FCP. You can then point FCP's "log and transfer" utility to that particular folder. Do not erase or re-write your CF card until you know your data is intact and in at least 2 locations!

Apple Compressor / MPEG Streamclip

If you've botched the file structure of your CF card or can't install the utility for some reason, you can still use software like Compressor or MPEG Streamclip to convert your H.264 files into Pro Res files. Unfortunately this will take a little longer and you'll lose your timecode and other metadata information.


If you already know how to use Compressor, you're probably not reading this article. If you've never converted files in Compressor, it'll likely take you about 20 minutes or so to figure this out. Here are the basic steps:

  • Launch Compressor
  • Add files (your Canon ".mov" clips)
  • Select a "setting" (E.g. Apple ProRes HQ. Look under: Apple/Formats/Quicktime/Apple ProRes 422)
  • Select a "destination" (E.g. the media folder on your hard drive).
  • Submit the batch

Once you've done this you'll submit the batch job for processing and go have lunch or something. Depending on how much footage you have this could take quite a while.

I suggest trying this first with a small folder of your clips to get the hang of using Compressor.

Once you understand how this works, you can make it even easier by creating a droplet. A droplet is a Compressor shortcut. You can easily make them in Compressor's "Settings" window by first choosing the setting (E.g. Apple ProRes 422) and then clicking on the "create droplet" icon near the top left hand side of the Settigns window. This will create an icon. To use, drag the .mov files ontop of the droplet icon.

Here's an article on how to make a droplet: http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=454168

Here's a video tutorial on how to make a droplet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXnUACOZ_Oc

MPEG Streamclip

This is free software from Squared 5. It's great software to have since it can also demux or convert MPEG-2 files from DVDs back into editable Quicktime files. These are NOT complete instructions, but in a nutshell you need to:

  • Open MPEG Streamclip
  • Start a new batch
  • Add your camera's .mov files
  • Select a destination (E.g. your media folder)
  • Apply a preset and size (Apple Pro Res 1920 x 1080)
  • Start your batch job.



  • Canon White Papers (detailed articles about various conversion methods and workflows for different cameras and software)





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