How to add timecode to RAW video from Canon 5D Mark-III with Magic Lantern Hack

Posted by ryanjackson on Jul 4, 2013 in photos, Shot-by-Shot Explanation, training, video

I’ve been shooting RAW video with my Canon 5D Mark-III for a long term project and it’s simply otherworldly.

If you haven’t heard of this yet, the Magic Lantern firmware hack for Canon cameras allows you to shoot 24 1080p raw pictures per second now. Think of it as a continuous 24fps burst mode of raw pictures.
You batch convert those raw pictures into TIFF files and then change the image sequences into super-duper high quality video. Your Canon DSLR can now hold a candle to the RED camera or Black Magic Cinema camera. (Minus the professional workflow of course).

You have the same quality, dynamic range, colour control and exposure latitude as normal RAW still photos but with video!
The only downsides are file size (90MB/sec!), the need for expensive 1000X CF cards and processing time.

A hidden downside is the lack of timecode and metadata for your processed video.

Here you can see how the .mov file created by the raw2dng app has a file creation date different than the original video.

Here you can see how the .mov file created by the raw2dng app has a file creation date different than the original video. I shot the RAW video at 8:42pm on June 20th but the ProRes video file wasn’t created until July 4th so it will be out of order in Final Cut Pro.

 

If you import a video file created by raw2dng the video lacks timecode and therefor will be arranged by the wrong time.

If you import a video file created by raw2dng into FCPX, the video lacks timecode and therefor will be arranged by the wrong time in your event browser.  FCPX is all about metadata and you don’t want the video times to be wrong when working on a long-term project.

So here is my current workflow….

Step #1

Delete the preview .mov file created by raw2dng and convert your .dng files into TIFs using Photoshop. You will now have a folder full of .dng and .tif files.

Delete the preview .mov file created by raw2dng and convert your .dng files into TIFs using Photoshop. You will now have a folder full of .dng and .tif files.

Step #2

I've written a simple Applescript that will batch convert folders with TIFF files into 1080p24 ProRes422HQ video.

I’ve written a simple Applescript that will batch convert folders with TIFF files into 1080p24 ProRes422HQ video. It is included in the .zip file at the bottom of this post. If you just use the .mov files created by raw2dng then skip to Step #3.

The file creation date of our video file is different than the original RAW file.

The file creation date of our video file is different than the original RAW file.

Step #3

Run my other Applescript which changes the file creation date of the new .mov files to match the .RAW files of the same name. This works for batch folders.

Run my other Applescript which changes the file creation date of the new .mov files to match the .RAW files of the same name. This works for batch folders. You can find the script at the bottom of this post.

 

Now the .mov file creation date matches the original .RAW file. The video file still lacks timecode though.

Now the .mov file creation date matches the original .RAW file.
The video file still lacks timecode though.

Step #4

Get the QTchange app for Mac. The demo allows you to do 8 files at a time or you can buy it for only $25 which isn't bad. QTchange will add a timecode to the video files based on the file creation date that we set earlier.

Get the QTchange app for Mac. The demo allows you to do 8 files at a time or you can buy it for only $25 which is well priced.
QTchange will add a timecode to the video files based on the file creation date that we set earlier.

Now when we import our converted video files the date and timecode are correct!

Now when we import our converted video files the date and timecode are correct!

 

I’ve put the Applescripts used in this tutorial into a zip file you can download here.  Feel free to share with credit.

The TIFF to ProRes422HQ script will need to be modified before you run it on your computer. Launch the AppleScript Editor app on your mac and open the file. Change the file path of the “.set” settings file to match the location on your hard drive. There is also a small Applescript to create a new settings file if you don’t want ProRes.

I couldn’t have done this without the fantastic resources of MacScripter and the Apple Forums.  Enjoy!

 

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Building a DIY Spinning Gyro Stabilizer for Aerial Video

Posted by ryanjackson on Jun 9, 2013 in DIY

This summer I had a bunch of projects that required several hours of filming aerial video and photos. I wanted to get the smoothest possible video at an affordable price.

I knew I would use my Panasonic GH3 camera for a lot of the aerial video because it shoots 1080p60 at 50Mbits which would let me do a lot of slow motion.

A lot of great technology has become affordable lately for stabilizing your video camera.

There are two ways to stabilize your camera in a moving car or airplane. One is to use what I would call a robotic stabilizer with motors that counter move your camera to reduce shake.

Basically, if you turn your camera left, the motors will turn right to compensate.

The the gimbal system FreeFly MoVi made a lot of jaws drop when it was announced last year. Many similar and cheaper gyros and gimbals have also come on the market for smaller video cameras.

I plan to either buy or build one of these some day but for the time being I decided to build a more old fashioned stabilizer using spinning gyros.

The spinning gyro stabilizer has been around for years and is commercially made by Kenyon Labs. These are also known as gyros since there is a large spinning gyroscope inside which resists moving because it is spinning so fast.  They are expensive but work very well.

I wanted to try building my own version of the spinning gyro for fun.
I found this blog post about using toy gyroscopes to make a DIY camera stabilizer.  The gyros are small but they spin at 12,000 rpm so they resist movement pretty good.
I ordered four of the gyros for about $400 and bought a small Pelican case to hold them and dampen the sound of the motors.
I used aluminum L tubing, tape and a lot of zip ties to hold everything in place.

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A cheap 4-way macro slider from eBay would allow me to move the camera forwards, backwards or side to side for balance.

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Heavy duty suction cups from Princess Auto allowed me to mount the whole apparatus to the sunroof in my SUV.

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Here I am mounting it in a helicopter to do aerial video for this story

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Here I am using it in a truck. It worked really well for stabilizing the camera while driving.

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The result?… Since I’ve never used a real commercial motorized or spinning disk gyro I can’t really compare but I would say that the gyros did stabilize my light weight Panasonic GH3 more than if I was just hand holding it.

However for the price ($450+) of building the device, and the hassle of mounting the rig in an airplane I think I would rather rent a Kenyon Labs or Freefly Movi next time. My DIY solution was certainly better than nothing but didn’t make a huge night and day difference like I had hoped. Maybe night and sunrise.

Here you can see the ridiculous way I had to mount the rig in a Cessna airplane. Not super practical.

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I also found there were other things that made a bigger difference in the smoothness of aerial footage.  One big issue I had with my footage was rolling shutter also known as the “jello effect” when I zoomed in a lot with my GH3 and 14-140 IS kit lens.  The footage looked great at wide angles but when I zoomed in a lot, the micro vibrations of the airplane (and probably the gyros too) made the video unwatchable.

Any digital camera with a CMOS sensor will have this problem unfortunately. Way more expensive cameras have global shutters that don’t jello.

Also weather and time of day (heat) will dramatically effect the smoothness of your footage because of turbulence. I flew in small Cessna airplanes for $250/hour but was only able to get a few minutes of rock solid footage. The rest was bumpy garbage.   A helicopter costs more than $2000/hour but you can be way more productive and smooth in a helicopter compared to a Cessna.

One last thing. I edit in Final Cut Pro X and although it has a digital video stabilizer filter built-in, there is a way better filter called Lock and Load. For $99 it is worth every penny. Not only does it stabilizer better but it is also way faster at rendering.

Can you tell the difference?  About 2/3 of the footage in this video was shot with a Panasonic GH3 on my gyro stabilizer and 1/3 was shot handheld with a Canon 5D Mark-III shooting RAW video and a Zacuto loupe pressed against my face.  It was all shot in small Cessna airplanes which are super bumpy and rough to fly in hence wanting the stabilizer.

 

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