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John Blankenship

5D Shoot Workflow

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I got a call today for a job on Thursday which the producer thinks might be a 5D shoot.  Unfortunately, he doesn't have all the info yet.  I've asked for a contact number for the editor handling post which I may, or may not, get tomorrow (Wednesday).

If this is a 5D shoot, I'll run double-system, of course, and use a time code slate if possible.

What is the latest for this camera?  Did they ever implement 23.98 or 24fps as was rumored?  Is it still strictly a true 30fps?

For sending reference audio, is the mini-jack input at mic level only?  How is the input level adjusted on the camera?    I figure a Sennheiser G2 with a hot shoe mount would probably be a good choice to use for a reference audio link.  I downloaded the manual but it contains pitifully little about audio.  I'll dig into it again tomorrow for anything I might have missed.

In checking past posts, the consensus appears to be that running the time code at 30ND, with recorder at 24bit/48kHz would be the safest approach if I don't have specific knowledge prior to the shoot.  Is this the best approach?  Any thoughts on this?  Other suggestions?

Philip, you seem to have more experience with this camera than most -- any input?

Thanks,

John B.

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Have you checked over at www.dvxuser.com? They have a whole section dedicated to that camera. Worth a try. Good luck. I have shot with that 2 times and the internal audio setup is horrible so I recorded to separate recorder with back up.

Nicole

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Hey John, 30ndf is still all it does and so should you. Someday, but not yet for the other frame rates are suppose to be available. As for feeding 5d a scratch track, I wouldn't, but try if you want. No audio control in the camera. I believe it is mic level of some sort. Not sure. 30ndf, 48k is solid for the 12 min maximum time the camera runs. My main suggestion is to treat it like a 16mm Arri and roll sound and hit sticks or clap hands, and turn it in. I use a smart slate, but thats because that is all I own. Let us know.

CrewC

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I did a shoot recently with a 5D. Sent audio to camera with a Sennheiser G2 Rx at 0dB. Only because there was no separate vid assist recorder - so if they play back a take to see it they must hear it as well... Sounded just about ok. Later when i saw rushes, the audio track was very noisy, must be the AGC at work. I guess -6dB would be better (?)....

I got them to use a dumb slate just to KISS (keep it simple...)

Cantar was on 24/48 30ND.

-vin

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JDirckze   

A friend of mine shoots quite often with a 5D and 7D. In FCP they use a plugin/program called 'Plural Eyes' I think, or it could be 'Sync n Link', which will look at the reference/scratch audio track sent to camera, then look at audio from your recorder, and line the 2 up automatically.

I don't know too many details other than that though...

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put the receiver at -18db if you're going that route with the g2/g3, it will be a lot less noisier. i've actually used camera audio a few times that route and its worked(but only as a rushed edit).

plural eyes is the best thing ever invented. just throw all the clips on a fcp timeline named "pluraleyes" along with the audio tracks, open 'er up and hit sync. go take a nap/eat dinner/play video games while it works for you. come back and boom, everything is synced and will have its own sequence.

http://www.singularsoftware.com/pluraleyes.html

and as far as syncing audio with the 5D, its mainly all about setting up the timeline properly, which most users fail to do and thats why you hear every talking about having to adjust the speed of the audio to 99.99%. here's a tut for it,

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I'm prob too late to help you for today, but here is what I do/know:

FPS: yes, as Crew says still 30 FPS (that's TRUE 30) only.  Some Canon techs say that 23.98 firmware for the cam is around the corner, others say it will never do 23.98. Whatever--today it is 30 FPS.  I record 30 FPS TC (24/48 audio), and MOST of the projects I work on w/ this camera STAY 30 fps thru post.

Audio in:  VERY low level mic level inputs.  My scratch feeds are via Senn G2s w/ the receiver output cranked down as far as it will go.  DO a test  (you can only hear playback thru the tiny speaker in the camera, but you can tell whether or not the audio is clipped)).

Other than that:  the obvious and normal: good slates etc, and together secretarial aspects (notes etc).

On fast moving shoots with an on-site dumpist I often have them start a simple text file and I dictate to them what audio is in what file.  I often use the old doco digi-bloop light, w/ the audio file # displayed on the blooper.

Post: H264 is a pain in the ass as a mastering/edit format, so they'll prob convert the pix files to ProRes and then sync up the audio.  Here's where good clean accurate scratch tracks, slates and notes really make a diff (I know everyone already knows this).  The clean scratch track that is more or less a lofi copy of your double system audio makes apps like "PluralEyes" work MUCH better, if they are into that.

Good luck

Philip Perkins

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Thanks everyone -- Nicole, Crew, Vin, Jason, manglerbmx, and Philip -- for the input, it's much appreciated.

manglerbmx -- feel free to sign your real name here, we're a pretty friendly bunch and in this business name recognition comes into play.

Philip -- your feedback is not too late, the shoot is scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) -- if it happens -- we just had another big snowstorm and we're dealing with wrangling executives from a major international firm.

Thanks again, all.

John B.

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I use a smart slate, but thats because that is all I own.  "

if time code is not being used, the camera department provides the slate....

Oh, that's only for movie cameras, not still cameras...

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I use a smart slate, but thats because that is all I own.  "

if time code is not being used, the camera department provides the slate....

Oh, that's only for movie cameras, not still cameras...

I believe Canon's tag line is "pictures in motion", does that qualify it as a motion picture camera?

Eric

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Post: H264 is a pain in the ass as a mastering/edit format, so they'll prob convert the pix files to ProRes and then sync up the audio.

Small addition: neither Final Cut Pro nor Avid can deal with H.264 video directly, because it's already a highly-compressed format. Converting to another file format is an issue that affects picture quality, but it obviously works. The real issue are frame rates and stuff like that, and this is something the editor will deal with. I personally think the 7D is a better way to go since it's true 24fps. (Though I'm not sure if a future update will add 24fps or not.)

I've been told by editors I trust that Plural Eyes does work well; here's the link:

http://www.singularsoftware.com/pluraleyes.html

Me personally, I would skip trying to feed audio to a DSLR and just make sure all the slates were good and the audio was 100% reliable. But the Beachtek DX-5DA gets around this to a point, provided you have the space on the camera mount for this box and a wireless receiver. I think it sneaks in some ultrasonic tone that partly disables (or fools) the AGC.

Lots of information over on the D5 user group:

http://www.cinema5d.com

--Marc W.

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Small addition: neither Final Cut Pro nor Avid can deal with H.264 video directly, because it's already a highly-compressed format. Converting to another file format is an issue that affects picture quality, but it obviously works. The real issue are frame rates and stuff like that, and this is something the editor will deal with. I personally think the 7D is a better way to go since it's true 24fps. (Though I'm not sure if a future update will add 24fps or not.)

I've been told by editors I trust that Plural Eyes does work well; here's the link:

http://www.singularsoftware.com/pluraleyes.html

Me personally, I would skip trying to feed audio to a DSLR and just make sure all the slates were good and the audio was 100% reliable. But the Beachtek DX-5DA gets around this to a point, provided you have the space on the camera mount for this box and a wireless receiver. I think it sneaks in some ultrasonic tone that partly disables (or fools) the AGC.

Lots of information over on the D5 user group:

http://www.cinema5d.com

--Marc W.

You can cut h.264 in FCP 7 but most rigs around here can't output it to their big client monitors.  There are laptop editor types who are "preditors" (producer/shooter/editor) and shoot and edit their 5D h.264 on the road or where ever, in their case they can just look at the cut in the FCP viewer.  ProRes is the target format of choice around here for 5D files--it looks good to me.  I've asked many shooters why they go w/ the more expensive and hasselous 5D instead of the 7D, and am usually told that they want the extra picture mojo of the 5D.  Forget about the Beachtek box--no one wants to make the camera as awkward as that thing makes it, and for what?  So it can be cabled?  Why tie down the camera movement-wise when you are doing double system anyhow?  The wireless feed has been the hands down fave of all the shooters and editors I've been working with, and these same people tell me that if PluralEyes does end up working (not a sure thing at all) it usually does with more or less identical audio tracks for it to compare--ie a feed to the camera.  You'll have to do all the slating and noting stuff like you always do anyhow, as well as actually recording good audio.

Philip Perkins

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Follow-up on the 5D shoot:

Late the day before the shoot I was told by the powers-that-be that they wished to use the camera audio if at all possible.  It was still a double-system shoot, but the camera sound would be the primary audio, and the double-system sound would be the backup.  Also, I was to feed two cameras.  They had used this camera's audio before and said they were satisfied with the quality of the sound for this particular project.  I'm happy to say that there was no balking at me also recording double-system.

I'm a realist (if maybe, an idealistic realist) and understand that there are times that something can be "good enough" even though it is not as good as it could be.  They're paying the bills and that gives them the right to determine their workflow.  My "right" is to either take the job, and do the best I can in giving them what they want, or to turn it down.  I don't see doing the job and grumbling about it as an option.

So, after offering my caveats, I prepped the necessary extra rigging to accommodate this scenario.

Shoot day:  Prior to rolling for real, we ran tests on the sound, playing back files from each camera on a Macbook.  I listened though headphones.  The biggest challenge for me was when I was asked what I thought of the quality I was hearing.  I tried to give them an honest answer that still gave them the "team player" they needed.  How much should I say about the noise, random hash, pumping, and distortion?  Not much.  My job in this case was to analyze whether what I was hearing would give them the results THEY needed.

We clapped a timecode slate on each take.  I have worked with people in the past who -- once they decided upon using the camera audio -- would have foregone the use of proper slating.  These people are more conscientious than that.

The director was working with the files as we wrapped and he said they seemed fine to him.  I handed in my DVD-RAM (complete with ISOs), and sound report.

I have worked with this production company many times before.  They deliver good results to their clients, pay promptly, and they're good people to work with.

Sometimes we gotta remember we work in the real world.  It ain't perfict (sic), but sometimes it's "good enough."

I now have three options available for the 5D:  1) Working entirely as a film shoot,  2) Sending a wireless scratch track to the camera,  3) Sending a "best-quality" feed to the camera

I thought you might be interested in a follow-up.  A big thank-you to everyone who offered input on this thread.

John B.

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John, how did you end up sending "best-quality" feed to camera?

a lot of times when i'm doing a one man band deal with my 7D my setup will be this:

wireless on talent(b6 on sennheiser g2)

boom/mic on c-stand

sent to psc m4 mkII mixer(boom left, lav right)

xlr's to recorer(zoom h4)

mic out calbe to 7D(i also have a splitter when i'm shooting with 2 7Ds)

i've done that setup a few times and ended up using the "tape" audio probably 90% of the time.

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John B - "How much should I say about the noise, random hash, pumping, and distortion? "

When the hard drive came to me at home to get the audio rushes transferred (2nd copy) I noticed mov files - the pic rushes and saw a lot of them. Yes,  heard all of this as well, and I am sure the wireless feed from my Sennheiser Rx is NOT as bad as this. I ensured that the producers & director WILL use my recordings on the Cantar and i was ONLY sending audio to the camera because they were NOT using a separate vid assist recorder.

-vin

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John, how did you end up sending "best-quality" feed to camera?...

I sent the line level output of the board on my cart to a Sound Devices 302 near the two camera positions, then sent an unbalanced low level signal from the 302 to the cameras.  That way I maintained the balanced output of the cart mixer.

I have a Studio 1 adapter box with transformer balanced inputs that has worked great in the past (since the days of the XL1 and the VX1000 are pretty much over, I thought I'd probably never use it again -- go figure), so I've arranged to get another one which will give me a simpler solution in the future.

John B.

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John,

I totally agree that if they tell you up front that they will use the sound, even though it is not ideal, and that they are happy with "good enough", then it is our job to get them at least what they expect and hopefully more.  Good job in being that team player.

I would also like to know more of the details of getting "good enough" sound into these cameras.  Are there any kind of meters?  The input is mic level, correct?  Mic level out of your SD302 into a mini jack?  What cable and wiring configuration is that?

I have not had a DSLR shoot, but I expect it is coming and would like to go in as prepared as possible.

Thanks,

Robert

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We've been over the issues and battles with using on=board audio w/ video cameras for years, you do what you gotta do and cover yourself (and them).  The problem with moving this concept on to the 5/7D is that there is NO monitoring, so any audio issue will be discovered long after the shoot.  Since the camera requires a mic-level unbalanced feed on a tiny connector, the possibilities for problems are very great indeed, the OTHER problems with the onboard audio quality aside.  Not doing using the double system audio with these cameras isn't just lazy, it's kind of stupid in an arrogant prosumer sort of way.

Philip Perkins

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one thing i love about my psc mixer is the 1/8" mic out. i just use a 1/8" to 1/8" cable.

but for the 302 i think you'd have to incorporate either a custom cable out of the tape out/mix out(will that even work? or is it too hot of a level?) or run xlr's into a beachtek or a juicedlink box

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if it is there, they will use it...

Yes, I'm aware of that, but like I said, that's what they wanted.  My choice (after offering my opinion) then became to either do the job to the best of my ability, or to turn it down.  I took the job and did my best for a good client. 

I made the right choice.

...I would also like to know more of the details of getting "good enough" sound into these cameras.  Are there any kind of meters?  The input is mic level, correct?  Mic level out of your SD302 into a mini jack?  What cable and wiring configuration is that?...

It uses a standard tip-ring-sleeve mini-phone jack input.  I sent line level into my 302, then adjusted the output for a fairly hot mic level.  The camera has no metering or monitoring -- a pain.

I don't want to commit to what is the perfect (an ironic term, in this case) level for this camera since I didn't have the time to do a full-on test.  I have a file I use to check headroom in calibrated 1dB steps which I'll use when I have the time and that'll tell me more about the camera's parameters.

-------------------------------

Philip:  As is usual, I agree with your comments.

...but for the 302 i think you'd have to incorporate either a custom cable out of the tape out/mix out(will that even work? or is it too hot of a level?) or run xlr's into a beachtek or a juicedlink box

Actually the main output level of the 302 is software adjustable over a wide range (the first setup item) -- a handy feature.  To send an unbalanced signal from the main outputs, Sound Devices recommends:  Pin-1= ground; Pin-2=hot; Pin-3=Not Connected.  So, yes, you need either appropriate adapters or a special cable.

-----------------------------------------

For the future I plan to modify a couple of Studio 1 adapters to each accept two channels of balanced line-level in and to have adjustable unbalanced mic levels out.  When I get the opportunity, I'll then calibrate them for best operation on a 5D since this client now works with that camera -- and others will too.

Like I mentioned in the earlier write-up, for future 5D shoots, I'll then have three options:  1) Working entirely as a film shoot,  2) Sending a wireless scratch track to the camera,  3) Sending a "best-quality" feed to the camera.  Naturally, when I can, I'll push for either of the first two and I'll always push to use double system in any case.

John B.

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Weird how this has morphed from a workflow question into whatever it is now. I think any day working is better than not for a good loyal production company that pays the rate. The camera is what it is and most of our work is problem solving so John is a pro and got the job done. Hope more days follow.

CrewC

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Yes, I'm aware of that, but like I said, that's what they wanted.  My choice (after offering my opinion) then became to either do the job to the best of my ability, or to turn it down.  I took the job and did my best for a good client. 

I made the right choice.

It uses a standard tip-ring-sleeve mini-phone jack input.  I sent line level into my 302, then adjusted the output for a fairly hot mic level.  The camera has no metering or monitoring -- a pain.

I don't want to commit to what is the perfect (an ironic term, in this case) level for this camera since I didn't have the time to do a full-on test.  I have a file I use to check headroom in calibrated 1dB steps which I'll use when I have the time and that'll tell me more about the camera's parameters.

-------------------------------

Philip:  As is usual, I agree with your comments.

Actually the main output level of the 302 is software adjustable over a wide range (the first setup item) -- a handy feature.  To send an unbalanced signal from the main outputs, Sound Devices recommends:  Pin-1= ground; Pin-2=hot; Pin-3=Not Connected.  So, yes, you need either appropriate adapters or a special cable.

-----------------------------------------

For the future I plan to modify a couple of Studio 1 adapters to each accept two channels of balanced line-level in and to have adjustable unbalanced mic levels out.  When I get the opportunity, I'll then calibrate them for best operation on a 5D since this client now works with that camera -- and others will too.

Like I mentioned in the earlier write-up, for future 5D shoots, I'll then have three options:  1) Working entirely as a film shoot,  2) Sending a wireless scratch track to the camera,  3) Sending a "best-quality" feed to the camera.  Naturally, when I can, I'll push for either of the first two and I'll always push to use double system in any case.

John B.

Teach 'em, John.  They need your help--they won't stay lucky with every shoot....

Philip Perkins

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