The magic of shooting digital films with a DSLR camera lies in large sensors, interchangeable lenses, shallow depth of field, and an HD codec, all of which combined provides a strong cinematic look—far more so than standard HD video cameras. Neil Smith of HDI RAWworks in Hollywood says that, “HD digital SLRs have a 35mm film aesthetic.” And there is “something about the sensor and the color science,” Smith explains to me in his office on The Lot as he waxes metaphysical. “There is something in the sensor design, something in the spirit of the machine, the soul of the machine that is very organic. There is something that Canon engineers do with these sensors and their color science that produces a very film-like aesthetic.”
Despite this, the HD codec (H.264) is highly compressed and does not lend itself well to editing natively. If you’re using Final Cut for editing, one of the easiest ways to tap into the soul of the machine, as it were, is to utilize Canon’s plug-in for Final Cut’s Log and Transfer process that will allow you to decompress the beautiful files into a form that Final Cut can edit comfortably (such as Apple Pro Res 422).
Here are the steps to get the plug-in from Canon and modify it so it recognizes Canon’s consumer level HDSLR, the Rebel T2i and T3i (which has the same APS-C chip as their 7D) and only costs about $800. It has the 5D, 7D, and 60D built in so you don’t have to play with the code. I have not tested the T3i/600D, but I assume it’ll work when you type it in as with the T2i steps.
For the rest of the article with the steps, click here for Focal Press’s Mastering Film.