7D Corrupt Files Fixed!

A few weeks ago we were on an important job for a client we won’t name. We set-up and shot a gorgeous looking interview followed by a half day b-roll session with a studio set-up. All of this was shot using our Canon 7D which we’ve been in production with on jobs large and small for the past couple of years. When we got back to the office and dumped our 32 gig San Disk Compact Flash cards we were greeted by this strange sight:

The files marked in red are corrupt. They show size indicating that there is information there, but no piece of software from Quicktime to VLC to MPEG Streamclip could open them. As we mentioned above, we’ve been using the 7D with these types of cards on job after job for a couple of years and we’ve NEVER had anything like this happen to us.

Panic started to set in. It just so happens that the corrupted files were the important interview sections NOT the b-roll. We started coming up with contengency plans. We had shot a lot of b-roll, and luckily we do duel system audio with our H4N Zoom, so we had all the bites. Perhaps we could just cover them with b-roll? In fact, the client had specifically asked that the interviewee only be shown at the top and the bottom of each video…

Unfortunately the intros and outros were corrupt.

Immediately we hit the interwebs only to find out that this is a known issue. Forum after forum had people complaining, panicking, searching for answers to the same problem. Canon 7D footage pulled off of compact flash cards with files that showed data in their file size, but could not be opened or previewed. WTF Canon?

Some people claimed it was an issues with particular card brands, but then in turned out that it has happened with several brands. The real culprit seems to be that if footage is shot with a low battery the camera has trouble closing the files. This is why people have experienced perfect files before and after the corrupt files on their cards.

There is a solution, but it will cost you. The service is called Treasured and is made available through Aeroquartet.com. Treasured is a free diagnostic tool that will help determine whether your files can be saved. The Canon problem is one of the known issues that it’s tailored for, so after running the diagnostic chances are it will be able to fix the files.

First you download Treasured, and then run the diagnostic. If the files can be repaired they ask you to upload a sample file and then they develop a repair kit for you to download.

This can take up to 24 hours, but can be rushed. This is the price list.

If you have the budget, then it’s simply a matter of uploading, waiting, and running the repair once the kit arrives. It took less than 24 hours for us to get our repair kit. We uploaded on a Friday night and had our kit on Saturday morning. Once we had the repair kit, it ran very quickly.

It worked! Not perfectly, but it worked. We were able to salvage 95% of the footage. All the files were repaired put there were gaps in some of them where the media did not come through. The gaps were usually only a few frames, and luckily not in any places where we needed a bite, but they were there. Even so, we recommend the solution. It definitely saved us from having to explain to our client what happened.

Lessons learned:

Never shoot with the 7D on a low battery.
Always, always back up on site. We got cocky and didn’t do this. It almost cost us big time. If we had dumped the cards immediately, we would have seen the problem and could have reshot. Never again.
Aeroquartet to the rescue.

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