A few weeks ago I was editing my first MXF project in Premiere Pro CC (I’ve edited MXF projects in legacy versions of Premiere Pro, but not yet in CC), and I’ll be darned if I didn’t have a heck of a time finding definitive information about the proper procedure for importing MXF video into Premiere Pro CC. As many of you probably know, MXF is a file format for the exchange of programme material between servers, tape streamers and to digital archives. MXF is used in a number of cameras. What makes it such a pain to use is that cameras that use it create this complex file structure in which the video is buried. It’s not like what you see on a traditional DSLRS which have .MOV files you can copy over. It’s a drag.
In Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, once you had the special MXF plugin installed, you could import MXF footage via Log and Transfer. Apparently in earlier versions of Premiere Pro CC you couldn’t do this. So when I was on a shoot a couple of weeks ago with the Canon XF305, I got to a point where I needed to reformat one of the cards. All my footage was double-backed up, but I didn’t want to format the card until I was confident Premiere Pro CC wouldn’t need the actual card to import.
The Definitive Answer
Thankfully, Premiere Pro CC can import MXF footage from a hard drive (JUST A LITTLE), but you need to make sure you preserve the original file structure. Copy the whole card just as it is, onto your drive. Then from within the Premiere Pro CC import window, navigate to the folder, and voila, you’ll see the video clips and be able to import then as normal (They’ll be converted to H.264 .MOV files and copied to the “Original Media” folder.) You’ll notice that you won’t have the option to uncheck “Copy Media to Events Folder.” That’s because Premiere Pro CC reads the archive as if it were a card. That means in essence you will be duplicating your footage. This was a pain for me because typically I just reference footage, so as to conserve disk space. (Technically, I guess once imported I could delete the original folder since I’ll always have a back up anyway.
You’ll notice that the names of the clips are just chronological numbering. When imported into Premiere Pro CC, they are renamed internally based on the year and date.
But, I could bypass Premiere Pro CC import conversion altogether…
Importing vs. Transcoding (or Rewrapping)
One benefit of importing this way is that Premiere Pro CC will import all the metadata as well. Another benefit is that while’s it’s importing and converting the footage, you can start editing. This is great if you’re editing a project that has to be completed the same day you shot it. But if you do have more time on your hands, you might consider transcoding the footage using a program like Acrok MXF Converter. Acrok MXF Converter can either rewrap the footage with a codec Premiere Pro CC recognizes (a faster process) or transcode it completely. Rewrapping or transcoding to a format like H.264/MPEG/WMV has it’s benefits too. Depending on your system, speed of your hard drives, etc, you may find editing H.264 footage faster and smoother than MPEG footage. Another benefit of transcoding first is that if you do prefer to use references to footage vs. copying to the Events folder, this method will allow that.
Have you edited MXF footage with Premiere Pro CC? What other tips and suggestions can you offer?