Professional Transcoding with Consistent Color

5DtoRGB is an awesome tool that extracts every last drop of video quality from cameras that record to the AVC/H.264 video format. Cameras like the Canon EOS series of HDSLRs record video in this format with subsampled color.

Because of this compression, the picture is at risk of massive quality loss during the post production pipeline. By using a very high quality conversion process, 5DtoRGB gets you as close as possible to the original data off the camera's sensor while putting the brakes on any additional quality loss.

5DtoRGB is designed to transcode your footage to a format suitable for editing or visual effects purposes. Transcoding to formats like Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD offer performance improvements during editing and keep compatibility with other editing systems in a collaborative environment.

Uncompressed formats like DPX are useful for visual effects creation (like pulling mattes from green screen footage), as uncompressed files retain the most image quality. Furthermore, visual effects compositing programs like After Effects or Nuke work with RGB color (not YCbCr, which is common in HDSLRs), and so a YCbCr to RGB conversion must be performed by either QuickTime or your compositing program before anything useful can be done.

The big problem is that you have to trust your NLE or compositing app to do a good job of performing this YCbCr to RGB conversion. Many programs use QuickTime internally to decode H.264 and perform the necessary YCbCr to RGB conversion, but its decoder is intended for general purpose use and not critical post-production use.

While this may be just fine for general activities like watching videos, it is unsuitable for professional post-production tasks. To add insult to injury, QuickTime adds noise to its H.264 output (and so does any program that uses QuickTime to decompress H.264) in what appears to be an attempt to cover up H.264 compression artifacts. And guess what? There's no way to disable this. You're stuck with it if you've converted your footage with Final Cut Pro, Compressor, MPEG Streamclip or Canon's E1 "Log and Transfer" plugin for Final Cut Pro. Each one of them uses QuickTime to decompress H.264. For an example of the results, click here.

5DtoRGB takes a no-compromise approach to quality. 5DtoRGB bypasses QuickTime decoding altogether, works internally at 10 bits and uses your video card's GPU for its YCbCr to RGB conversion. It also recognizes Canon's full range 8 bit YCbCr values (0-255), avoiding clipping and the resulting loss of picture information. The resulting files are the absolute highest quality you'll ever get out of the camera. In fact, you could argue that they're even better than the camera originals since they've undergone high quality chroma smoothing.

5DtoRGB supports both embedded timecode (used by the Canon 60D) and timecode stored in THM files. Start timecode values are derived from these sources, just like with Canon's official E1 plugin for Final Cut Pro and inserted into the DPX files or ProRes QuickTime files. You can also specify your own timecode value if you want.

5DtoRGB runs right now on Mac OS X and Windows. Linux users can run the Windows version using Wine.