Importing 5D Mark III Footage Into Avid

The footage from the 5D Mark III is excellent and I've enjoyed working with the camera over the past few months. Recently I took on a side job that required me to import 5D Mark III footage into Avid for post-production. Bringing that footage in was easier said than done.

After creating my project, I tried a simple File>Import command to bring the MOV files directly into an Avid Bin. Well, Avid wasn't too happy about that. It wouldn't bring in any clip longer than 30 seconds. I kept getting an error message, indicating that Avid was having difficulty creating a QuickTime wrapper for each of the MOV files. Then, Avid would freeze up. 

In my second attempt, I tried AMA linking to the media on my drive.  In short, AMA allows the editor to link footage directly to a drive; no need for transcoding or importing. Avid links to the drive, sees the media, and brings it into a bin. The editor can then view and edit the footage right away. The caveat about AMA linking is that if the drive is offline, the clips will be too.

AMA linking worked for me, but the footage would not play back in real time. It was extremely choppy. 

I did some research and discovered that, in short, Avid doesn't play very nicely with the codec coming off of the 5D Mark III. So, I went through Media Encoder to transcode all of the footage using the Avid DNxHD codec. My footage was shot at 1920x1080 at 24fps. So, my transcode settings were as follows:

  • QuickTime
  • Avid DNxHD codec at 8-bit 115
  • 1920x1080
  • 24fps
  • 709 color space

Once I had all of the footage transcoded, I created a new Avid project with settings that matched my files exactly. Then I selected File>Import.

And this is where I discovered a great Avid feature. IF your footage matches the Avid project settings exactly (same Avid codec, frame size, frame rate, color space), Avid will automatically "Fast Import" that footage. It makes the import process much quicker and much easier. Yes, you have to spend the time to transcode all of the footage first (which is an extra step) but once that's complete, Avid won't need to evaluate each piece of media first, wrap it, and transcode it on the fly.