In case you don’t follow me on Twitter, let me state that I recently purchased a Canon T2i DSLR camera. Wait, nevermind, I posted about that here. This is the baby brother to the Canon 5D and 7D. I got this to replace my DV Camera (Canon GL1) that I used semi-professionally, but mainly as a home video camera. So I now have the T2i for all my home video shooting.
Man, does it rock. VERY nice images. But I do need a Z-FINDER from Zacuto…but that’s besides the point. The point here is getting all of this footage to an editable state. When I got the camera, Canon just released the EOS plugin for their DSLR line, but then it didn’t work with the T2i, so I hacked it to work and …it works. But, it works slow. What I like about it is that it adds a reel number (the name of the folder you backed up the footage into), and it assigns the TIME OF DAY code as the master timecode for the clips. PERFECT for the professional workflow.
But I mainly use this camera for home video use, and this process is REALLY SLOW. The solution? Magic Bullet Grinder. Grinder uses ALL the processors your Mac has to compress multiple files at the same time. So if you, have an octo-core mac like I do, that means that Grinder will bring all of them to bear on the task of converting. Or if you have a Quad, it’ll bring all four. And each processor will tackle one clip. 8 processors, 8 clips getting processed at one time. So what this does is make the conversion of these files 4 – 8 times FASTER than using Compressor, or Log and Transfer in FCP…or MPEG STREAMCLIP.
One thing I really like is that it lets you choose a destination before you start compressing…a pop up window appears so that you don’t forget to do this.
Now, your choices of codecs are somewhat limited. ProRes Standard, ProRes Proxy and PhotoJPEG formats (no ProRes LT like I like to use for my smaller home movies), but the choices are decent ones. And while it does include a timecode track, it doesn’t refer to any timecode the camera records. It defaults to 1 hour, and you can assign your own custom code, but I don’t really see the use of that beyond identifying that the footage is from a different card.
But, Grinder does offer the option of compressing to two different formats…an offline quality one with burned in timecode, and then the master full resolution version. So the timecode of the proxy will be the same as the master footage, so all you need to do is reconnect when you are done editing with the offline quality media.
As I said, I have been using this with my home movies, where I want to get something cut quick, before they pile up and become so overwhelming that I leave them and don’t touch them for YEARS. Which is still the case with a lot of the early footage. BUT, lately I have gotten something shot, and edited, within a few days of the event or trip, and have made the family happy. Grinder has really been helping me here.
Again, I would like to point out that, at least in my opinion, this application isn’t quite ready for professional use. Sure, it’s fast, but you don’t get a reel number, you don’t get time of day code (you get user assignable code)…so recapturing the footage, if you are revisiting a project or if you are recovering a project due to hard drive failure, will be a bit of a task , and not as automated as FCP’s Log and Transfer works. So if you want to use the SPEED of Grinder, then either leave the media online all the time, or back all of it up so that you are prepared for the potential drive failure.
Hmmmm…I did just notice that if you choose ProRes Standard, that a note appears that says that 720p material will be upconverted to 1080p. Now, my camera offers 720p60, and I can see using that for slow motion (convert to 23.98 or 29.97), but will this frame rate hold when I use Grinder…when it gets converted to 1080p? I’ll have to test that. And that is an option Red Giant might have to address too…give a 720p option.
Magic Bullet Grinder is available from www.redgiantsoftware.com for $49 US.