Avid/C300 Workflow

20 Aug 2013

I’ve been working with C300 footage in Avid Media Composer for almost a year now so I thought it would be a good idea to share my established workflow and experiences.

My favorite aspect to working with C300 footage is the Canon XF codec. The bitrates are a fraction of the size of DNxHD or ProRes and Media Composer has excellent native support. This means the ingest is super quick and there’s no need for an offline/online workflow.

Card Structure

A good first step is to make sure your folder structure is intact. It should look something like this:

CARDROOT/
    CONTENTS/
        CLIPS001/
            A10091/
                A10091.CIF
                A10091.CPF
                A10091.XML
                A1009101.MXF
                A1009101.SIF
            A10092/
                A10092.CIF
                A10092.CPF
                A10092.XML
                A1009201.MXF
                A1009201.SIF
                A1009202.MXF
                A1009202.SIF
                A1009203.MXF
                A1009203.SIF
                A1009204.MXF
                A1009204.SIF
            INDEX.MIF
            JOURNAL/

Each clip has it’s own folder like (A10091, A10092, etc.). Video and audio data are stored together in the .MXF files. Clips longer than about 5 minutes or so will be spanned across multiple .MXF files. So from the folder structure above you could tell that clip A10091 is less than 5 minutes long and clip A10092 is longer than 15 minutes.

AMA Linking

To get this in the Avid you want to go to File > Link to AMA Volume... and choose the root card folder. From the example above it would be the CARDROOT folder.

If you’re choosing the right folder and still nothing is importing there are a couple things you can check:

  1. Make sure you have the Canon XF plugin installed.
  2. Make sure your footage was shot at a supported framerate.

To check if you have the plugin installed, in Media Composer, bring up the Console by going to Tools > Console or hit Cmd+6, then enter the command ama_listplugins. If you don’t see a line for Canon XF, then you need to install the Canon XF Plugin which you can find on the Avid Media Access Plug-ins page.

To check the framerate of your footage, use the Canon XF Utility, which you can download from the Canon EOS C300 - Drivers & Software page.

I’ve personally had success with 1080p/23.976 and 1080i/59.94. Last time I tried importing 1080p/24.00, AMA would not work. I’m sure this will change at some point so maybe check in with this Avid Forums thread or the Canon XF AMA Plug-In Guide for updates.

The solution I used was to rewrap the .MXF files with Encloader as Quicktime files (.mov), then ”legacy import” into Media Composer.

Caveat

If you have any clips that require multiple Canon XF .MXF files (i.e. are longer than 5 minutes or so) and were shot at a different framerate than your project, then that footage isn't going to playback without first being rendered.

The solution is to use (in Media Composer) File > Link to AMA File(s), then choose the .MXF files individually. This may effect the amount of metadata that gets associated with your clips. I noticed the codec gets recognized as XDCAM instead of Canon XF when I do this, but the picture looks the same and timecodes are consistent which is all I care about.

Consolidate

After creating AMA clips, I like to Consolidate them. In Media Composer go to Clip > Consolidate/Transcode. This will take the Canon XF .MXF files and rewrap them as Avid native .MXF files. This step isn’t strictly necessary but I’ve had very good editing experiences doing it this way and I can’t say the same for my attempts at pure AMA workflows.