Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Compressing Canon 5D RAW Video to Save Space

I decided to compress my raw video footage to save hard drive space. It was always in the plan, but I've been too busy shooting for the past two weeks. So last night I finally had some time to try it.

I took a folder with about 32 minutes of footage (it was about 47,400 frames, at 24p that is about 32 minutes). At the varying resolutions I've been shooting the 5D Mark II at, finder told me that the folder size was 113GB. I fired up Adobe DNG Converter and told it to compress all of those DNG files using lossy compression, no embedded preview, no fast load data, etc. I believe my settings make for the tightest compression possible while preserving pixel count:

I let it run overnight and I compared the file size this morning. WOW, what a difference. The file size dropped from 113GB to less than 30GB. That's an over 70% reduction in size.

I know some guys will say not to use Lossy compression, but I would bet those fellows are probably amateurs or come from a stills photography background, or both. They will for sure say something like, "Hard drive space is cheap, keep the data!" But in reality hard drive space is not that cheap unless you buy the cheapest consumer drives and have room in your computer or a sufficient number of fast external ports for external drives.

In the world of moving pictures, the use of lossy DNG compression will not affect the end result at all. And a 73% reduction in storage requirement is significant.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Canon 5D High ISO RAW Video

I shot this for a client on Monday, using mostly ISO1600 and sometimes 3200 (the dog in sun was ISO100). The consequence was that I barely had to light it, and I could really run and gun, focusing my attention on content and pulling focus. Some of the footage has been pushed +1.0 to +1.6 stops of exposure in post (ACR) to match brightness levels from clip to clip. The post production cost is higher than shooting H264 though... I estimate for a short video like this, to add 1 to 1.5 days. With my workflow, that's the time to convert raw files to DNGs and adjust them, and also the time at the end to do color corrections and other raw adjustments and re-encode ProRes files.

The lesson learned here, for me, is that I can shoot at ISO1600 with impunity, and probably 3200 too. In post, I couldn't tell them apart. Can't wait to try with the 5D Mark III next to see if it's that much better. These are exciting times indeed. Arri Alexa eat your heart out!

Rare Breed Gourmet Dog Treats from John Ha on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Magic Lantern raw video test results on 5D Mark II

Lucy RAW test from John Ha on Vimeo.

I've been testing the Magic Lantern raw video capability on my 5D Mark 2 and 5D Mark 3 cameras. Well, I first tried loading it onto the Mark 3 and promptly bricked it. Oops, that's going back to Canon for repair.

So then I loaded it on my Mark 2 and it's been working fine. I installed the June 29th nightly build.

On the Mark 2 currently, here are my findings for shooting resolution (for 16:9 aspect ratio and 23.976 frame rate override, 180 degree shutter equivalent):

1880x1058 is the max resolution for the 5D2 and even with my Sandisk Extreme Pro 90MB/s card, I can only record for a limited time (maybe 1000 or 1500 frames).

At 1728x972, I can record continuously with my Extreme Pro 90MB/s card, but not with my Extreme 60MB/s card.

At 1600x900, I can get about 1500 frames out of the slower 60MB/s card. And of course continuous recording with the faster card.

At 1472x828, I can get continuous recording with the slower Sandisk Extreme 60MB/s card. I'm using the 64GB version and I estimate I can record about 22minutes of footage on that card.

At 1280x720, I estimate I can get about 28 minutes of footage on that slower 64GB card.

This is great news. I've seen tests comparing 720p raw vs 1080 H.264 and the 720p raw wins. So I think if you want to shoot raw on a job and don't want to buy or rent the faster 1000x cards (which are pretty expensive right now), this is a great compromise.

I am going to do a test of shooting the Mark 2 at 1472x828 and at 1280x720 and then uprezzing the files to 1080p.

Currently, the limiting factor of shooting these cameras using Magic Lantern raw at 1080p resolution is not the camera, but the acquisition media costs. The reliable 1000x 128GB cards go for $600-700, and you will need at least 2 or 3 for a job. At full resolution, you get about 25 minutes of footage per 128GB card. That is a pretty steep price. Of course you could rent the cards, and for a job that is probably a good idea.

But a good compromise at a lower production cost could be to shoot at 720p or 750p or 820p.

I will run some tests and post the results later. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the Lola and Lucy video above, shot in RAW on the 5D2.