After Effects (etc.) CS6: Workflows for XDCAM-EX Footage

As remarked in an earlier blog entry, I was concerned about how best to import/use XDCAM-EX footage in an After Effects CS, especially when that footage could be spanned across more than one [.mp4] file, especially given that their contents can overlap.  In Premiere this is not an issue, because its (new) Media Browser feature provides instead a higher-level view, of clips rather than lower-level [.mp4] essence-files.

Sadly, as yet, AE CS6 has no equivalent of the Media Browser.

Best workaround:

  • In Premiere, use Media Browser to import an XDCAM-EX clip, then copy it and paste that “virtual” clip into AE.

Workflows involving Adobe Prelude:

  • The web-search record (below) not only provides the foundation for the above statements, it also contains an explanation of the different workflows (e.g. whether or not to sort/trim/rename clips in Prelude).  Some workflows are best for short-form (typically involving tens of footage-clips) while other workflows may be more appropriate for long-form (hundreds or thousands of clips).


  • Google:[xdcam after effects cs6 spanned]
      • Adobe After Effects supports the same XDCAM formats as Adobe Premiere Pro.
      • You can drag and drop or copy and paste clips and timelines between Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects without transcoding, re-importing, or degrading the native XDCAM content.
      • Adobe After Effects projects can be exported as Adobe Premiere Pro projects, maintaining folders as bins, individual edits, markers, keyframed effects, nested sequences, transitions, and more. Open Adobe Premiere Pro projects, including nested sequences, in After Effects.
      • Use Adobe Dynamic Link to open sequences live” in After Effects without rendering first. Any changes made in Adobe Premiere Pro are automatically reflected in After Effects, and viceversa.
      • XDCAM EX in Premiere and After Effects CS6
      • {On a Mac, for people coming from FCP7 and its associated workflows}
      • Mitchell Lewis, February 19th, 2013, 06:45 PM
        • We’ve been using our EX3 camera and FCP for the last 3 years without a hitch. Never lost any footage or really had any problems.
        • But now we’re slowly switching from FCP to Premiere on our Apple editing systems and that has created some problems.
          • Adobe doesn’t seem to see the advantage of rewrapping XDCAM EX footage into MOV files like FCP did. They like to promote the fact that you can simply start editing. No converting necessary.
          • This “feature” works great in Premiere because there is a built in Media Browser you can use to view your XDCAM EX footage without seeing all the crazy subfolders that make native XDCAM EX footage.
          • But if you try and view the same footage in After Effects, if only gives you the option to import “clips”. So for example if you want to import 30 clips into an AE project, you have to go into each BPAV sub folder and select them. This is a tedious and unnecessary process.
      • Doug Jensen
        • Why not use Sony’s “XDCAM Browser” or the newer “Content Browser” utilities to rewrap the clips to MOV? I’ve also just moved over to Premiere CS6 from FCP7 and that’s what I do. It’s the same exact workflow I used with FCP since I never liked the “Log & Transfer” function within FCP anyway. Very easy.
      • Zoran Vincic
        • Just rewrap to mxf (file – export – mxf for NLE’s) and don’t scratch your head too much.
      • Jack Zhang:
        • Regrettably, you still need FCP7 and Quicktime 7 installed to use the import to Final Cut Pro since it relies on those libraries.  No guarantees that after the pro codecs are uninstalled, that the video would still work with CS6. If it’s pointing to the Apple Pro codecs, it’s likely you can’t use it with CS6 if those are not installed.  You’re going to have to keep both on the same system to guarantee success with this method.
      • Gary Huff
        • On top of what Jack mentioned, Premiere now has to use a creaky, aging, QuickTime engine to decode XDCAM Ex when it’s re-wrapped to .MOV, so that may impact your editing performance somewhat.
      • Doug Jensen
        • My experience so far with using XDCAM MXF and MP4 files as rewrapped MOV files inside Premiere CS6 has been nothing but ideal. I have no complaints. In fact, I’m not an expert on Speed Grade yet (probably never will be), but it appears MXF files cannot even be used, so rewrapping to MOV is pretty much mandatory for those files.
      • Eric Addison
        • As a long time Premiere user and EX3 shooter, you’ll get better performance from editing the native files. I wouldn’t re-wrap them into .mov files.
        • No question that After Effects needs a Media Browser as well, but here’s a possible work around: Import all your clips into Premiere. Open After Effects, and create a new comp. Go back into Premiere and highlight all the clips in the bin you want in After Effects. Select Copy, then back in AE, select Paste and all the clips should come over.  So long as you don’t plan on moving the files around, this should work and AE will find the clips everytime you open it up.
      • Mitchell Lewis, Feb 2013
        • Okay, here is our “solution”. Thanks to Eric Addison for explaining this work flow.
          1) Using the Content Browser {Sony’s replacement for Clip Browser} copy all your footage from the SxS card to hard drive used for archiving footage in it’s original form.
          2) Use Adobe Prelude to ingest all the files and move them to our RAID
          3) Then, while still in Prelude, rename, organize, trim, etc…all the clips
          4) Then select all the clips, right click and choose Send To Premiere
          5) Edit in Premiere as normal
          6) To transfer files to After Effects, just select the files you want in Premiere and copy/paste them into After Effects. You can create a folder to put them in to be further organized.
      • Doug Jensen
        • Mitchell, I see you’re renaming your clips with Prelude. I would never rename my clips because I want all my BPAV archives to match the files names I’m using in editing. It makes organization so much easier if a clip always has the same name no matter which copy I’m looking at or where it is located. Just food for thought.
      • Mitchell Lewis
        • Doug: Prelude/Premiere doesn’t actually rename the clip, it just makes it look like the clip is renamed using meta data. It’s the exact same way with the Content Browser. If you rename a clip in the Content Browser and then go and look at the actual file, the file name hasn’t changed. It only looks like it’s been changed in the application.
      • Dennis Hingsberg
        • After you import all your clips you can just as well preview them in either Premiere or After Effects and remove the clips or “takes” you are not interested in.  I generally color the clips I feel I won’t use, or move them to a folder to keep things nice and organized.  There are 100 ways to do the same thing, however with the method I suggested you drag your movie clip files onto the Adobe application project box and its done. Not sure what could be easier than that to be honest.
      • Mitchell Lewis
        • …the difference is that some people like to spend the additional time up front to organize all their clips. Renaming them, trimming them, etc… While other people just import all their clips and just use thumbnails (Media Browser) to find the clips they need.
        • I have a friend who mostly produces commercials and he never renames his clips because he’s normally only working with 10-20 clips.
        • But our company does a far amount of long format projects where you’re wrangling 100’s of clips. Think about if you were editing a reality television show where there were 1000’s of clips. Organizing them in advance becomes a necessity.
        • …I don’t think there’s a “wrong workflow” out there. 🙂
      • Eric Addison
        • Prelude can both ingest from the card to where ever you want, and it can send the clips to AME to transcode to whatever codecs you have installed on your system. Also, you can also choose which clips to ingest from the card so you can weed out any bad takes.
        • {No need to use Sony’s apps such as Clip Browser or its succesor, Content Browser}
      • {Esp: My own thoughts}
        • On the other hand, I like to use Sony’s Clip Browser for XDCAM-EX files because:
          • It does not adulterate the footage in any way.
            • Adobe apps can, depending how they are configured, even if they do so in a standards-compliant and theoretically harmlessly way, e.g. by appending XMP data to media files or adding sidecar files to folder-structures such as XDCAM-EX’s BPAV.
          • It displays camera settings, recorded in XDCAM-EX as meta data.  Adobe does not recognise this data, as far as I can see.
            • In contrast, Avid Media Composer allows the user to add non-Avid (e.g. Sony XDCAM-EX) metadata columns to its display of clips information.
            • Clip Browser’s display of camera setting data is extremely “easy on the eye”, especially with its optional intuitive graphical representations.
      • because Adobe Premiere Pro does not convert the file to a proprietary format, all metadata cquired from the camera is retained throughout the production process.
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