“My Canon 7D’s footage won’t play in FCP”.


A friend of mine (The Duke of Pennsylvania) emailed me this morning asking for some help with the footage he shot with his new Canon 7D. He couldn’t get it to ‘play’ smoothly in the FCP (Final Cut Pro) timeline. It jumped and skipped and stalled and was really starting to piss him off. It was impossible to edit his project. I shared with him that I had experienced the same thing 6 months ago when I dove head first into the world of Canon DSLR video.

Through my adventures of trial, error and education I discovered a lot of useful information about work flo and Final Cut Pro, when it comes to editing 1920X1080 footage from both the 7D and the 5D.

Let me qualify this blog post by acknowledging there are much brighter bulbs than mine, in the world of Canon videography, shining light on these and other related topics. When I come up against a technical hurdle I regularly go to Creative Cow. It is a Genius bar full of some very, very smart beacons of knowledge. If I am a 100W bulb, most of the guys that help out there are Lighthouses by comparison. So if you have some questions that either I or your fellow peers can’t answer here on this blog, you’d be well served to visit and join Creative Cow. Important Note: It is important that you obey the proper decorum and respect while receiving all of the free, wonderful knowledge to be had there. The concept is premised on peer respect and reciprocal information transfer. You should give as much as you get. In this way everyone wins.

Here are some items that should be considered when working with video from either the Canon 5D or 7D.

1. The video quality is awesome. It is also very hi resolution hi-def video. The clips you will import are huge files compared to say, the same length clip from a miniDV tape.

2. This footage is not interlaced, so there is no need to de-interlace and effectively lose 50% of your image by doing so. That always bothered me when shooting miniDV 1080i footage.

3. Though there are various software offerings out there to import your footage from either the camera or a card reader, I have found the easiest way is to simply plug in your card reader and drag the clips into whatever folder you create for your project’s raw movie files.

4. In their native format these files will not play well, or at all, in the FCP timeline. You must first re-compress these to one of the ProRes codecs offered in Compressor. Compressor is part of the FCP Suite of software. Once you have converted your raw files to ProRes (I use: ProRes 422 High Quality), they should play just fine in your timeline and you will not have lost any information. They will look great.

5. The current versions of Final Cut only utilizes a maximum of 3 Gigs of RAM. So if you have 8 Gigs like I do, only 3 of them are being used. FCP 8 (when/if it is finally releases), may use more RAM, but for right now it can only use 3.

6. When you are editing, try not to have other programs running in the background. EG: If you are using LiveType, export your file and quit it. Soundtrack Pro, etc. etc. Any other programs you have running can slow down rendering and editing procedures.

7. Be sure to install newer video cards in your computer. You should install the best you can afford. Some older video cards will just not be able to handle these larger files.

Well, I hope this helps anyone having issues with 5D and 7D footage. If you are like some of the guys at Creative Cow who know this stuff like the back of their hands, you could have skipped this blog post, but then you would have never read it till the very end, and I would have missed your company.

The King


9 responses to ““My Canon 7D’s footage won’t play in FCP”.

  1. Great info and good for you for mentioning Creative Cow. They’ve been my go-to site for years when I need help — and I need/needed lots of help.

  2. Marcus Morelli

    The King!!!

    You came through buddy. You came through big. I’m going to name my first born son or daughter after you. But seriously, thanks so much for the info. Its a relief that others have experienced the same problems as I did. I thought my camera was broken or something. I’ve owned Compressor in my FCP Studio for years but never once used it. I guess that I’m forced to utilize it now…

    Thanks again,
    The DUKE of PA

  3. Hey Jared,

    Did you ever tinker with the program “Streamclip” for your video conversion? As you know I use PC Adobe CS4 so I can’t use Compressor.

    Streamclip is a free download with tons of codecs, seems to be fairly popular. Will try it tonight.

    • Hey Danny,
      No I’ve never used ‘Stream Clip’. How long is the file creation/compression time compared to using Compressor? If you can find some comparative data, let us know.
      The VCK

      • Well the Streamclip was slow and even though it had a lot of codecs, it did not have the ones I wanted. I ended up using Adobe Media Encoder which I already owned. I converted to Full HD Mpeg2 (Which is what my XH A1s clips were always captured as).

        The Mpeg2’s play and look beautiful, I can see no difference between the 5D footage and the Mpeg2, and the size is just over half the size of the 5D clip 277mb TO 156mb:) I still have to do a full edit and output with them before I can give a final judgement on them but so far so good.

  4. Marcus Morelli


    I’ve been thrilled with the results of Compressor when converting my files. The only downfall which was to be expected is that if I convert a 2GB video file, it will triple in size once converted. When using the “Pro Res 422” setting, I basically multiple the original file size by 3, for the amount of storage needed. Unless, I have a setting wrong in Compressor. Does anyone else notice this issue? (2GB Original file converts to a 6GB Compressor file)

    Also, I recently just purchased the 7D. I’m thinking about investing in some nice lenses. Here is what I’ve been recommended to buy. Any advice would be helpful here because I’m still learning all about this “SLR” type shooting.

    1. Canon 50mm f 1.4 (Prime) – $400
    2. Canon 85mm f 1.8 (Prime) – $400
    3. Canon 24-70 f2.8L – $1300
    4. Canon 16-35mm f 2.8L – $1500

    I also found an affordable follow focus bundle for the 5D and 7D…


    Any input would be great.


    • Hey Marcus,
      No, nothing wrong with your conversion. The file definitely gets larger, but becomes readable/usable in the timeline, where that was not possible beforehand. Supposedly, when the new version of FCP comes out, it will utilize more than the current 3GB of RAM. A corollary effect of that might be the ability to read Canon native files. Not sure though.

      If it’s a matter of money, I don’t think the 50mm should be a priority. I also don’t see too much of an urgency to get the 85mm, as long as you are going to get the 24mm-70mm.

      I already have the Handy SLR rig. Can I get just the follow focus device? do you know if that is possible?

      The King

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