Monday, January 12, 2009

Water, a new Canon 5D video

After a couple of weeks of gathering content, I completed my first real Cinelerra project using the 1080P output from my brand new Canon EOS 5D Mark II.

This camera outputs some gorgeous video as I showed in my last post. Now I have to learn how to shoot with it!

The Project
My goal with this short production was:
1) to show the capabilities of the camera
2) to prove that Cinelerra was up to the task of editing 1080P content
3) to output the final results to different output formats (media player, Vimeo, back into Cinelerra)

I'm a hobbyist, so I don't have a budget and "script" like Vincent Laforet. However, I like to compile scenes and organize them with musical accompaniment in thoughtful ways that are (hopefully) enjoyable to the viewer.

The Images
Since I am not a professional photographer, I did not have a slew of lenses before I bought the cam. I only used two lenses that I recently bought for this video:
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens

In regards to the imagery, about half of the shots were taken with a tripod. Where you see shakey video is obviously where I held the cam by hand. You definetly do NOT want to shoot high definition video by hand. It serves to amplify any wobbling present and looks terrible when presented on a high definition television. One thing that saved me was the stabilization provided by the Canon L series zoom lens. It is very effective in dampening bounces, though the stabilization mechanism is loud and is picked up by the camera's poor quality, but usable internal stereo microphone.

I used the 50mm mainly for the indoor shots and the zoom for the outdoor shots. I shot some of the outdoor night shots with the zoom, but then realized that the zoom doesn't do well in low light conditions since it has such a long zoom barrel. So just last week, I bought the 50mm. The 50mm fixed length (prime) lens really makes night shots clear with none of the spotty, dappled artifacts that you see with high ISO night shots. During the video, you'll notice those artifacts on the shot of the ferry.

Note that I used no filters on the shots..what you see in the video is truly what you get with the camera. As I gain expertise with the camera, I look forward to acquiring lenses over the next few years.

The Editing Process
The editing process has been a bit of a challenge, as the native output from the camera does not import cleanly into Cinelerra. Hence, I needed to transcode the native output into something more Cinelerra friendly, which I discuss in earlier posts:

I didn't want to revisit the conversion process, so I opted to use the MJPEG conversion command I previously discovered:
ffmpeg -i -b 3000k -vcodec mjpeg -ab 256k -ar 44100 -acodec libfaac -coder 1 -flags +loop -cmp +chroma -partitions +parti4x4+partp8x8+partb8x8 -subq 5 -me_range 16 -g 250 -keyint_min 25 -sc_threshold 40 -i_qfactor 0.71

Once loaded in Cinelerra, I found I had quite a few assets from the last couple weeks of shooting.

If I could have one improvement made to the software, it would be to add folders to the Media bin in order to better manage assets.

I went about editing the video as normal. I applied only time-based effects, like speeding up or slowing down the video, and transitions. The time-based effects were accomplished by attaching the ReframeRT video effect:

I needed to output files from the project for different purposes:
1) to reimport back into Cinelerra (JPEG or MJPEG Quicktime video)
2) to export/render a format usable with my MG-350HD Media Player
(1080I/1080P MPEG2 video)
3) to export/render a format usable for Vimeo (720P MPEG2)

For #1, I exported a Quicktime for Linux container, using MJPEG compression. I just needed the video, so I had no audio on the export. I was able to reimport the resulting file easily into Cinelerra.

For #2, I rendered the video using a YUV4MPEG pipe. I needed to adjust the pipe command to export a different format and higher video bitrate.
mpeg2enc --verbose 0 --aspect 3 --format 13 --frame-rate 4 --video-bitrate 24000 --nonvideo-bitrate 384 --interlace-mode 0 --force-b-b-p --video-buffer 448 --video-norm n --keep-hf --no-constraints --sequence-header-every-gop --min-gop-size 6 --max-gop-size 6 -o %

Using mplex, I then combined the video stream with an existing audio track to an MPEG2 Program Stream:
mplex -f 3 -b 2000 canon5d.m2a canon5d.m2v -o

Finally, I converted the program stream to an MPEG2 Transport Stream using vlc:
cvlc --sout '#duplicate{dst=std{access=file,mux=ts,dst="canon5d.m2t"}}' vlc:quit

For #3, I reduced the 1080i/p output to 720P using FFMPEG:
ffmpeg -i canon5d.m2t -target ntsc-dvd -s 1280x720 -qscale 1 -threads 8 canon5d.mpg

Update 2008/01/13
I hadn't noticed before, but after I uploaded the 720P file to Vimeo, there was a little bit of a line on the bottom of the video. I am going to have to revisit the edit to make sure I didn't mess something up.
*** end update ***

I think the quality of the output can definitely be improved. However, I am glad that I was able to output to formats usable across different platforms (HDTV/Internet/Linux-Cinelerra).

Update 2008/02/08
I've been working on improving the quality of the output from Cinelerra. Specifically, instead of using MJPEG source files (the first conversion from the cam), I'm converting the Canon's video to MPEG2-TS. The MPEG2-TS format has very nice quality and edits quickly in Cinelerra. Here's the full skinny:
*** end update ***

In Sum
Dealing with a new media format in Linux and Cinelerra is never easy. But if you have patience, it is very satisfying to get a project done that makes your friends say "Wow" or have a laugh.

the mule


Obscura said...

I'm completely at a loss here. I've been trying for a week now to get a file out of Cinelerra that looks good on Vimeo.

The first of part of your notes is referencing an .mp3 file?

I want to use the audio that I've edited in Cinelerra.

Cacasodo said...

Hi Obscura,
I reviewed the following post:

And noticed that some of the verbiage in that post was unclear, so I cleaned it up. As well, the render params were reversed.

Read through it again, try your render and let me know how you do. When I get home tonight, I will try it myself.


Caroline said...

i completely disagree about handheld high def...i will show you as soon as i can get stupid premiere pro to encode the timeline. pulling my hair out here! :-(((

Cacasodo said...

Yes, I should be more specific in my comment to say that viewing 1080p content on a large HDTV is "for most purposes" better served by not going handheld. I guess I'm not fond of the wobbly camera work you see on TV and in theatres today, but yes, it sure does have its place to elicit a "real life" feel to your composition. I'm just a fan of beautiful images and tend to shoot like a photographer..hence my viewpoint.

Good luck getting Premiere to work right!

Caroline said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caroline said...

k! finally got my workflow figured out. def handheld, but i like it. (this being a test vid and only second one i've ever done anyway, i didn't finish it...would if i weren't in law school in the middle of papers. :)

here's my vid:

Cacasodo said...

Well, finish law school and get back to doing videos! Nice job!