Archive for the ‘Sony EX XDCAM’ Category

Adobe Premiere CS6: Nested Sequences: Slow Response to Play-Button (Re-buffering? Re-parsing?)

Thursday, February 21st, 2013


  • I had a Sequence  containing two video tracks, each having a pair of (associated) audio tracks.
    • Sequence Properties: 1080p, square pixels, 25 fps.
    • One track contained a single continuous clip of duration just over one hour[01:02:46:10].
      • Properties: 1080p, square pixels, 25 fps.
      • Format: Sony XDCAM-EX: MPEG2 @ 35 Mbps VBR: MPEG2HD35_1920_1080_MP@HL
    • The other track contained a number of discrete clips, intermittently spaced over that time.
      • Properties: 1080i, fat pixels (PAR=4/3), 25 fps (50 fields/sec), UFF.
      • Format: Sony Z1 HDV: MPEG2 @ 25Mbps CBR
  • This sequence, as it stood, played fine.
  • Then I nested that sequence (seqA)  inside another sequence (seqB).
    • Still played fine


  • Then I did some multicam “music video” edits, mostly near the end of the sequence
    • Now, when I hit the spacebar to play seqB, there is a delay of several seconds before playing actually begins.
  • If I try re-creating from scratch, by nesting seqA inside new seqC then seqC plays fine.
  • If I try copying the multicam-edited elements of seqB (the multicam edit-sequence) into new seqD (a new multicam edit-sequence) then the sluggish response to [Play] still occurs.
    • Doh!  I had hoped that would be a simple workaround..

Partial Workaround:

  • Following web-advice regarding a broadly-similar issue with multicamera sequences comprising spanned clips (e.g. AVCHD or Canon’s H264) , I tried transcoding the footage to GoPro-Cineform
    • Based on Adobe’s workaround-advice regarding broadly similar problems with long hence spanned AVCHD footage.  My footage is not AVCHD, but the main clip is Sony XDCAM-EX, which has some features (like spanning) in common with AVCHD.  Worth a shot!
      • On a 4-Core i7 PC with GPU, it encoded at about real-time, which in my case was about an hour.  CPU was only 25% i.e. equivalent to a single core
    • Replaced the relevant clip in seqA.
      • To my delight, the clip-markers (in that clip in seqA) were retained/applied in that replacement footage.
  • However, the sluggish [Play]-start remained, though possibly shortened, from about 6 seconds to 4 seconds.

Further Workaround:

  • Duplicate seqA
  • Nest it in a separate multicam sequence (seqE)
  • Do multicam edits on further segments of the event in that (seqE)
    • Intend later to nest/sequence usable bits of each multicam edit-sequence in a Master sequence.
  • Where there’s a will, there’s a workaround…
    • Still, I expect better of Adobe…
    • I lost about 3 hours to this (including web-searching, waiting transcoding and general experimentation).

Further gripes:

  •  God it’s clunky!
    • Every time I stop multicam-preview to tweak the multicam cut timings, then return to multicam editing, I have to remember to activate the multicam monitor, not the timeline (where the tweaks are done).  Unfortunately my reflex is simply to hit the spacebar.  It is a nuisance to have to fight that reflex…
    • Every time I stop multicam-preview, it leaves a cut at the final position of the playhead.  Not useful and simply clutters the timeline, distracting from real cuts.
    • Zoom [+] only affects the Timeline, not the multicam monitor.  As a result, I tend to set the playhead position using the timeline.  Doh! must remember to click (activate) back to the multicam monitor once more…
    • Ranged (duration not zero) markers are great but adjusting their right-hand end can be tricky, since this can change the playhead and/or timeline-display.  Things snatch and interact that shouldn’t (I feel).
    • Sony Vegas is far better in these respects, though not in some others, so I’m sticking with Adobe…
  • Unexpected Preview-Rendering is happening…!?  How come?
    • In principle, that shouldn’t be happening?   I have a state-of -the-art (4-core i7 & GPU) laptop specifically for CS6, no effects applied, just cutting between two cameras, some plain dissolves (between segments of the multicam sequence) – but surely the Mercury Engine should take them in its stride?  (or can’t it cope yet with multicam?).


    Adobe Premiere – Source Media Adulteration

    Saturday, November 10th, 2012

    Sometimes Adobe Premiere may write to a source media file or proprietary folder-structure.  This may be considered a non-problem in most situations, but it is nevertheless worth being aware of.

    This is nothing hidden, surreptitious or unheard-of, it’s explained in Adobe’s Help text and documentation.  However the potential consequences may not be obvious to a new user.  It may arise at various points of what we may regard as the greater process (workflow/manual) of ingesting media, consisting not only of Premiere’s Import of media but also subsequent manual updating of metadata or indeed automatic analysis such as speech recognition.  As of CS6 it can also occur as a result of adding Markers in Adobe Prelude.

    Premiere likes to add and manage metadata for each media file.

    • The good side of this is that it value-enhances these files, making them easier to locate, navigate and use, potentially increasing workflow productivity and asset usage.
    • But there’s also a dark side – not necessarily Adobe’s fault (e.g. their approaches may well adhere to official media specifications) – but it may be that so-adulterated media files may cause difficulties to other applications (e.g. that may not fully take on board such standards).
      • In my experience, in the past, some (possibly poorly-written, but nevertheless useful) applications have refused to work with metadata-augmented files, again holding up productivity, in this case while the user figures out the issue and works out how to strip this data out, in order to progress.
      • Technically a non-problem, but potentially consequential to a workflow, backup software will (rightly, from its point of view) see the metadata-change as a file-change (e.g. as a consequent file-size change) and consider that the files have been updated.   Left to itself, the backup process (depending how it works/configured) will overwrite any previous copy of the files (e.g. the original files).   Even if the backup process prompts the user to confirm this, the naive user may be uncertain what to do,

    Also, the user has the option at their discretion for Premiere to automatically store additional files (such as cache files and metadata sidecar files) alongside source media files.

    • In the case of media represented as a straightforward single file (like a .jpg or .mpg file) this does not affect that media.
    • However some media (e.g. TV-playable DVDs or XDCAM-EX video media) are stored as proprietary folder structures with defined contents, part of these contents being essence files (e.g. .vob files or .mp4 files) while other files alongside them etc. in that structure (e.g. DVD’s .IFO files or XDVCAM-EX’s .SMI files) contain metadata or index into them etc.  In this case, the consequence of adding further files into the structure will (in my experience) be acceptable to some applications and media players but not to others, which regard it as “pollution”, and may then reject such structures.  Certainly in the past I have seen this happen in some software applications and also even some (mostly old) TV DVD players.

    This is a case for “situational awareness”: if one is aware of the nature and potential consequences of the adulteration (be it regarded as pollution or enhancement, depending on the workflow situation), one is then in a better position to be able to avoid or fix any asociated issues. (more…)

    Sony EX3 Noise & Bits-Resolution & Green-Screen

    Sunday, November 4th, 2012

    It has been said ( I believe by Alister Chapman ) that there are only marginal benefits from recording XDCAM-EX to more than 8 bits, due to the relatively high noise of this camera, as compared to more typical broadcast cameras.

    In my experience, while it was a wonderful step-up from my Z1, certainly it’s recordings are noisier than I’d like, leading me to pretty-process certain footage (using Neat Video denoising plugin to my NLE).  And as a recent project with reasonably well-lit green-screen illustrated, it’s noise in shadows can be a particularly nuisance (much time in post experimenting to work around this).

    So I wondered:

    • Even if marginal, to what extent is 10-bit beneficial to EX3 recording?
    • For the EX3, when recording 10-bit, it is also 4:2:2, surely a benefit to chroma keying and resizing (reframing, stabilising/deshaking/tracking).
    • Could the benefit depend on editing workflow?  For example:
      • What if subsequently de-noising (like I mentioned)?
      • Some NLE’s do bits-dithering, hiding the quantisation/banding that would otherwise be apparent from having only 8 bits.

    I need to do my own experiments, but for now, here (below) are some results from web-searching…


    Sony EX3 for Green Screen (Greenscreen)

    Sunday, November 4th, 2012

     Tips on using an EX3 for chromakey (e.g . Greenscreen) work

    Sony EX3 Settings Videos (& Comments)

    Sunday, November 4th, 2012

    I’ve used the EX3 since it came out, 2008, but it’s always good to compare agains others’ experiences.   Only recently have I used it in different ways (green-screen, on-set monitor).

    EX3 SDI Output

    Sunday, November 4th, 2012

     Worked, but config was not as straightforward as I first (naively) assumed:

    The big “Gotcha”:

    • Must first Disable the iLink (IEEE 1394, small FireWire) interface. Otherwise SDI won’t work at all.  I guess EX3’s SDI & iLink might share some circuitry?
      • In EX3 Menu, OTHERS category (last i.e. final category):
        • [i.Link I/O] :Disable.

    Then, in EX3 Menu, VIDEO SET category (3rd category), then:

    • [YPbPr/SDI Out Select] : HD
    • [YPbPr/SDI Out Display] : Off

    This worked fine in practice.


    • Under EX3 OTHERS Menu-Category:
      • With EX3 [Country] = [NTSC Area]:
        • “HQ 1080/60i” gives [1080 interlaced 59.94fps 4:2:2 YUV10].
        • “HQ 1080/30p” gives [1080 progressive 29.97fps 4:2:2 YUV10 ].
        • “HQ 1080/24p” gives ??? (Cinedeck accepted it only at 30 fps)
      • With (correspondingly) [PAL Area]:
        • “HQ 1080/50i” gives [1080 interlaces 50fps 4:2:2 YUV10]


    Using an XCDAM-EX Video Camera as a Webcam

    Thursday, September 20th, 2012

    If you put an XDCAM-EX camera in 1080-SP mode then it generates HDV, which is 1440×1080 but with brick-like pixels and data is at Constant Bit Rate (CBR), a requirement of HDV.  For an XDCAM-EX3, there is a small iLink/Firewire connector at the back, it can be enabled/disabled by the camera’s menu.If you then run Skype, it sees the image, scales it down to Skype-format, namely 640×480 with square pixels, hence 4:3 aspect ratio.   However it does not allow for the difference in pixel shape, with the result that the image looks squashed horizontally.  A nuisance!So I wonder, is there any  interposing software that can e.g. map the pixel shapes properly or even allow some kind of zoom/pan of a (e.g.) 640×480 frame within available (e.g.) 1920×1080 (equivalent, when pixel-shape converted) image from HD or HDV camera?

      • The EX in HDV mode (SP) and iLink has worked for me. I’ve done it with Telestream Wirecast (another COW forum you’ll find my floating head) for live streaming.
      • Someone having difficulties, others offering advice on XDCAM-EX settings, though I’m not convinced that all of them are necessary)
      • Debut Video Recording software (free)
      • Instructions:
        • Connect the video cable plug on the USB video-capture device to the video input on the camera cable. Video cable plugs and inputs are usually color-coded yellow.
        • Plug the camera cable into the camera.
        • Plug the USB video-capture device into an open USB port on your computer.
        • Download “Debut Video Recording Software 1.42” or a later version and install the application on your computer.
        • Launch the software.
        • Click “Device” from the toolbar menu and then go to Step 7. If the software doesn’t recognize your HDV camera, click “Options.” Click the “Video Capture Device” arrow and select your camera from the list. Confirm that the “Format” and “Device” settings are correct or make changes, if needed. Click “OK” to continue.
        • Click the “Skype” icon on your computer’s taskbar and select “Open Skype.”
        • Right-click the person you want to call under “Contacts.”
        • Navigate to “Share Your Screen” and select “Share Selection.”
        • Use your mouse and drag the black box down to the inside of the video-capture software’s display area.
        • Resize the black box to fit within the display area.
        • Click on the “Start Screen Sharing” box in the upper left corner of the video display area.
        • Click “OK” in the Screen Sharing dialogue box. A “Starting Video” message will appear.
        • Wait until the person you are calling picks up. The “Screen Sharing Active” message confirms the connection
        • Read more: How to Use an HDV Camera for Skype |

    FCP MultiCam: PreRes not always the best standard?

    Friday, December 23rd, 2011

    When multicam-ing in FCP 7, one user reports <<I have found it much better to convert the 5D footage to the XDCAM EX codec instead of converting the EX footage to a ProRes 422 as the file sizes are absurd and there is still a gamma shift problem)>>.  It’s the gamma-shift that would bother me.

    Additionally the user explains how to convert DSLR footage to XDCAM-EX format:

      • To Convert the DSLR Footage:
        • Copy the exact file structure from the 5D card to the desired place on your hard drive.
          • Example tree should read:  5DCAM/”DCIM”  ”MISC” (both of the previous words in quotes are two separate folders as one will see in the native card structure)/100EOS5D/”MVI_0001.MOV”  ”MVI_0001.THM” (Again…multiple files in this folder)
        • Open MPEG Streamclip (Just google it to find and download the free program) and go to “File”, “Open Files” and select as many of the .MOV files from your hard drive that you need to convert for a multi-clip.
        • Go to “File”, “Export to Quicktime”
        • At the top of the dialog box where it says, “Compression” choose one of the XDCAM EX compression methods that fit with how your footage was shot.
        • Example:  I shot at 1920 x 1080 at 24 frames per second so I will choose, “XDCAM EX 1080p24 (35Mb/s VBR)” since this also matches the settings of the EX footage.
        • Make sure your frame rate in Streamclip on the lower right area is set to 23.98 if you shot at 24fps in your session
        • Click “Make Movie” and select your target destination
      •  The following will explain how to get the footage into FCP
        • After using Log and Transfer for your EX footage, simply select “Import” under the “File” menu and browse to your new media.
        • Double click your EX clip so it opens in the Source window.
        • Go to a point you would like to use as a sync point, stop playback and hit the letter “I” for “In-Point”  Repeat this exact process with your 5D clip.
        • Select both your 5D and EX clip in the Project area where your clips are listed, right click and select, “Make Multi-Clip”.
        • Select for the clips to be synced using In-Points and you now have a multi-clip.
      • Editing in Multi-Cam Mode
        • Drag the new multi-clip into the main timeline.
        • In the main timeline, click the “RT” button to the upper left of the video tracks.  Make sure that “Multi-clip Playback” is checked.
        • In the source window, look for the button with two playback heads and an “X” between them.  It is located at the top of the window directly in the center.  Click this button and choose, “Open”.  This will sync the source and canvas windows.
        • Double click your multi-clip in the main timeline; this should open both camera views in the source window.
        • Click anywhere in the main timeline and hit the space bar.  You should now see both videos in the source window playing and available for you to click on the angle you want.
        • When you’re done you should highlight everything in the main timeline, right click and select, “Collapse Multi-Clip”.  Don’t worry, you can easily turn it back on to continue multi-cam editing; this will just save on RAM.

    Faux Log (Camcorder Response Profiles)

    Friday, December 16th, 2011

    I’ve heard of S-Log from Sony, C-Log etc.  Also on a forum I came across a reference to a Log-like matrix config for the Sony XDCAM-EX cameras.  Alister Chapman has been experimenting with this, and apparently makes some profiles available as zip files, in his article at

    The zip files contains a SONY folder with [.suf] (settings) files as follows:

    •  SONY
      • PRO
        • CAMERA
          • XDCAM EX
            • PMW_EX1R
              • PPDATA.SUF
            • PMW_F3
              • PPDATA.SUF

    No settings files for the EX3, but Alister Chapman advises that If you manually copy the F3 settings into the EX3 (folder) they should be extremely close.

    • Folder: PMW_EX3
    • FileName: SETUP.SUF

    However he indicates that for EX1/EX3 camera, the log profile’s advantage (just under a stop of extra latitude) is marginal, given their noise issues (when used in this way), requiring -3dB gain and possible use of a good de-noiser like Neat Video (my favourite) in post. He lists other picture profiles at and also at

    Just now, leafing through Philip Bloom’s blog, I came across a reader response with:


    …I’d love to see a flat profile on the FS-100. Perhaps something like:

    G-LOG B:
    Black Level: +11
    Gamma Cinematone1
    Black Gamma: High, +7
    Knee: 75, -3
    Color Mode: Standard, +8
    Color Level -5
    Color Phase -7
    Color Depth: R-1, G+2, B-3, C+5, M+1, Y+3
    WB-Shift: LB-7, CC+1

    These are settings from Frank Glencairn’s blog.


    The original Frank Glencairn blog article, which features more than one variety of G-Log profile, is at

    XDCAM-EX to ProRes: How

    Saturday, December 10th, 2011

    I have a Sony XDCAM-EX clip at 1280x720p25 to be transcoded to ProRes, so it can be used as source for iMovie (for another user on another machine).

    In principle it should be very simple: go on Mac, use Compressor to transcode the XDCAM footage to ProRes.  But as usual, things are pernickety…


    • First tried dragging the XDCAM [.mp4] file into compressor.
      • Not recognised.
      • Likewise the BPAV folder.
    • Next, I transcoded the XDCAM footage to “MXF for NLEs” format, using the Mac version of Sony Clip Browser
      • Not recognised.
    •  Next, opened the XDCAM Transfer app.
      • In this app, open the XDCAM’s BPAV folder.
      • The footage displays OK but how do I export it to a QuickTime [MOV] file?
      • Looks like I can’t.  It only offers to export to an [MP4] file.
      • Instead, I guess I’ll have to open it from FCP.
    • FCP
      • I opened a random existing FCP project.
      • The footage is 720p but the project/sequence settings are arbitrary (unknown to me)
      • FCP: File > Import > Sony XDCAM…
      • It imported to somewhere … but where?
      • FCP Browser: file > RightClick > Reveal in Finder
      • It was at [/Volumes/GRm HFS+/_Media/_Projects/2010-05-30 (Esp) Alison Doggies/020 Source/Sony XDCAM Transfer/SxS_01]
    • File System:
      • In other words, at whatever destination was last used by some app – presumably XDCAM Transfer or possibly FCP
      • The destination path was in fact specified in XDCAM Transfer, under its Menu: [XDCAM Transfer > Preferences > Import]
      • Moved the file instead to [/Volumes/GRm HFS+/_Media/_Projects/2009-11-22 (JRM) Lady of the Silver Wheel]
    • Compressor:
      • Open it in Compressor
        • Drag it to the “job-strip” (my term) in Compresor.
      • Compressor displays data about that clip (e.g. 1280×720, 25 fps)
      • Select jobstrip settings:
        • Select Setting
          • Settings: Apple > Formats > QuickTime > Apple Pro
            • Name: Apple ProRes 422
            • Description: Apple ProRes 422 with audio pass-through. Settings based off the source resolution and frame rate
        • Apply (Drag) Setting to Jobstrip
      • Destination
        • Leave destination unspecified.  Then it will be the same folder as Source.
      • Processing (transcoding) of this footage (1280x720p25) took about 3 minutes (on MacBook Pro 2009).
      • Result was not that much bigger than the original:
        • Originally recorded [.MP4] file: 1.19 GB
        • Rewrapped [.MOV] from XDCAM Transfer: 1.14 GB
        • ProRes [.MOV] from Compressor: 1.97 GB

    iMovie: Import/Ingest

    Saturday, December 10th, 2011

    I wanted to pass on some of my XDCAM-EX footage (from my Sony EX3 camera) to someone using only iMovie. But would/could iMovie recognize that format, or possibly the “MXF For NLEs” rewrapped-format offered by Sony Clip Browser?

    The best route is to provide iMovie with a ProRes version of the footage, because it converts anything else to (the older inferior format) Apple Intermediate Codec (IAC).  I can convert to ProRes (and deinterlace) via Apple’s Compressor, which comes as part of Final Cut Studo.


    • Google: [xdcam ex imovie]
        •  iMovie converts all assets to Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC).
          • So does Final Cut Express. Only Final Cut Studio uses Apple ProRes as codec.
          • When going the Full HD and BluRay route you WILL see this. For instance when panning, you’ll see that Final Cut Studio is superior over AIC.
          • Yet I use the iMovie and Toast route because it is fast and good. Toast delivers better results than iDVD08. I havent tested iDVD09 yet but am about to do so. Remember that Toast can handle BluRay and iDVD not. Even for normal DVD you’ll see that Toast renders better than iDVD. The menus have improved in Toast10 but still cannot match iDVD. DVDstudioPro is very nice in results, but has a learning curve. Consider the Ripple Training DVDs to tackle the possibilities.
        • iMovie will edit many QT codecs directly including ProRes 422, H.264/AVC, DVCPRO HD. It converts to AIC only when you import from a camera.
          • So if XDCAM EX is converted to ProRes outside iM — then iM will edit the ProRes. Even HQ.
          • You do have export correctly — to ProRes — in order to get full 1920×1080 from iM for burning BD.

    Avid Media Composer 6: The Installation Experience

    Thursday, December 8th, 2011

    First I installed it to my MacBook Pro, on the Mac OS side, where I have not previously installed any Avid applications.  The latter is significant because from reading forums, it appears wise to remove all traces of any previous Avid installation (beyond what Avid’s Uninstaller does).

    Installing and testing the basic Media Composer application:

    • Installer stated (correctly) that I had MacOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) yet the application was qualified for 10.7 (Lion).  From searching, I discovered that some others were nevertheless running it under 10.6.
    • The installer stated that the space requirement would be 6 GB.
    • Installation took about 15 minutes.
    • Then it did a system restart.
    • On restart, an Avid MC icon was present in the Dock.
    • Double-clicking the icon produced a prompt asking if I wanted on-line activation, use hardware dongle or 30-day trial.  I selected the latter as it seemed the least-hassle option.
    • Avid launch paused on an error message whose significance was not clear to me:
      • “ArthurQuinell-DataTrans” is in use by another application and cannot be used by Deck Control.
      • I am not sure what that means but vaguely remember naming one of my previous mobile phones as that (after an aldershot cat that used to “invade” our art-centre stage during performances, then sit washing in the spotlight – a born entertainer…).
    • Clicked [OK] to let it continue…
      • Got the same message about “Arthur…”.  Clicked [OK] to continue…
    • Finally the initial launch completed.
    • Got the usual Project dialog.  Chose [External]
      • Actually, before that, it asked for a Projects Path.
        • I defined it to be on my main external hard drive, a GRAID Mini, at the following location: [/Volumes/GRm HFS+/_App_Specific/Avid/Projects]
        • I wonder if people generally tend to put their Avid project-folder somewhere like in their Documents directory.  But my logic is that if I plug the hard drive into another Mac, it should still work there.
    • Prompted for some basic project settings.
      • Quaintly, its default display aspect ratio is 4:3 (how nostalgic!)
    • As usual, clicked the wrong thing at the wring time, resulting in a new project called [New Project].  Oh well, I am only playing/testing…
    • Selected the default Bin, [New Project Bin].
    • With that Bin:
      • Import an short existing MOV-DNxHD file.
      • Double-click that file.  It opened in the Monitor pane.
      • Clicked the [Overwrite] button, it laid-down in the Timeline as expected.
    • BUT there’s a missing expected pane at bottom-left corner.  I can see through to the desktop background (purple galaxy-space etc.).  Presumably OK but unsettling…
    • Window panes act independently e.g. re being above/below any other apps.  Similar to Final Cut.  I hated that about Final Cut also…
      • Is there a Preference for getting the whole app to work like “Single Document” ?

    AMA Plugins


    • AvidFX 6.0.1 64-Bit
    •  Boris?
      • BCC
      • Boris has FEC = Final Effects Complete for Avid = Visual Effects Filters and Transitions for Avid
        • Installer said “FEC5 AVX 2   MC 2.5, XPressPro 5.5 or later:”
          • Makes me wonder if there is a later version for MC 6.0
          • I installed it but no “FEC” items showed up in Avid’s Effects Pallete.
            • Maybe it’s 32-bit and MC 6 only recognises 64-bit effects?

    Full-Frame Sensor Cameras (& Canon 5D vs 7D etc.)

    Monday, November 28th, 2011

    I have a friend/colleague with a Canon 7D and girlfriend with 500D.  Also I am aware of “Super” (reduced size) “35mm” sensor video cameras.  I’m keeping an eye on all the options, as currently I have no 35mm etc. capability and hence limited shallow DOF and low-light capability.  And to share / compare info with those mentioned people.

    Starting with Looking at Philip Bloom’s site to (routine check see what’s new there), I came across these useful links (even though they’re not all new).  I’m attracted to getting a Magic Lantern-ed second-hand 5D Mk.II for creative purposes, especially since my typical work-pattern is not that time-critical and I am reasonably fluent with frame-rate conversion where necessary. I’ll try it out on the 500D first.  The 500D can only do 30 fps at 720p (drops to 20 fps at 1080p) but its sensor is almost an inch across i.e. about double that of my existing EX3.

    Incidentally, I previously covered sensor sizes and their names at  and there’s Canon’s take on it at which (oh yes) is about their new C300 camera (will cover that in a separate blog-post).

    Here are the links:

      • In a nutshell, 5D has (fairly uniquely) a full “35mm” sensor, giving the ability to achieve correspondingly uniquely shallow depth of field.  But it shoots at a non-standard frame-rate of exactly 30 fps (not 29.97 fps).  This can matter e.g. when intercutting with standard 29.97 material.  On the other hand when using the camera on its own (and I guess with possible allowance for the time duration change and audio pitch change if you fiddle the metadata) it need not matter.
      • Magic Lantern firmware is available for the {original} 5D but not the 7D.
      • Meanwhile the 7D has less shallow DOF capability and slightly more noise but slightly less rolling-shutter effect and, crucially, a number of standard frame-rates.
    • Magic Lantern – unofficial extended firmware for Canon cameras like 5D
      • Magic Lantern gives many improvements to modes, metering displays (e.g. zebra & peaking) and quality (e.g. more shutter-speed choices and greater recording bitrate).  However it does not (yet?) provide additional frame-rates.
        • As of today (2011-11-28) it is reported that Magic Lantern is still not available for the 7D, though progress towards this is being made (slowly).
        • There are limitations to shooting movies on a 5D Mark II, notably the limited 12 minute recording time.
        • (An image illustrates a 5D “tooled-up” with rods, mattebox, audio box etc. to serve as an outside rig)
        • Altering frame-rates is still on the to-do list.  Hence not yet done!
      • FINALLY the full frame Canon 1DX DSLR featuring “improved video”.
      • STandard frame-rates: 24,25, 30p in full HD and 50 and 60p in 720p mode
      • Intra-frame and Inter-frame compression (H264), easing editing.
      • Single clip length of up to maximum of 29 minutes and 59 seconds (reflecting an EU tax rule {on what constitutes a stills – as opposed to video – camera} )
      • will retail body-only for around $7000!
        • {Not as cheap as the 5D Mk.II then…}
    • Canon 500D
        • {Great site, reviewing it and breaking-down the tech-specs.}
        • Thanks to its APS-C sensor size, all lenses effectively have their field of view reduced by 1.6 times.
          • {This is smaller than the 5D’s full-frame but still not bad at almost an inch wide, which I take to be about double that of my EX3’s “Half-Inch” sensor}

    Training: Den Lennie’s “Music Video” Experience

    Thursday, October 27th, 2011

    I attended, working on one of the camera units.  Had a great time, learnt lots, at all sorts of levels.  Even how to make good use of the Movie Slate application on my iPhone!  Link:

    Filming: “October Sunrise” (Timelapse 10spf)

    Sunday, October 16th, 2011

    A misty sunrise into a clear sky today, here from my girlfriend’s eastwards-facing rural location.  Didn’t actually point at the sun as the main thing of interest was the mist, which I wanted to see swirling and evaporating and glowing orange etc. as the sun came up.  Shot time-lapse for about 2.5 hours, this being about 1 hour 20 mins (rounded figures) before and after sunrise.

    The result is at

    Chose to use manual exposure, partly to emphasize magnitude of the change in lighting (auto exposure would have reduced this impression) and partly because in any case the pre-dawn shots required frame acumulation mode, hence a discontinuity when I inevitably came to switch out of that (to avoid the camera being dazzled).

    In the edit (in Sony Vegas), initially straight-cut the differently-exposed clips together (in sequence).  But the result, when played, jolted uncomfortably at each cut.  Tried smoothing the levels-change, via Levels FX, but didn’t look that great.  Imagined an “Iris” effect.  Ended-up with the “Iris” transition,which gives the appearance/hint of stopping-dow, exactly as needed here.  The next “candy” item was the vignette.  Added in post (Sony Vegas) via feathered Mask.  Also some video de-noising and finally some text dissapearing into its own “mist”.

    It played too quickly – all over in about 30 seconds. I wish I’d shot it one frame every second instead of every 10 seconds.  Then again I need copyright-free music of sufficient duration as background music.  I found some free 30-second-ish music slips that are free for non-profit use at  Might try stretching this (interlaced) video to (motion-compensated) double-framerate, then half-speed, some other time.  Note that Vimeo has its own Music Store for soundracks etc., some of which are free (Creative Commons license).

    Rendered to H264 for uploading to Vimeo, using settings advised at .

    Camera settings:

    • Time:
      • Started filming at about 6am
      • Sunrise officially at 7:24
      • Completed filming at about 09:00
    • Constant settings:
      • Gamma STD3
        • No particular reason, just looked ok for the extremely dark pre-dawn shots.
      • HQ 1080/50i
      • Timelapse: 1 frame per 10 seconds
        • Too fast – wish I’d used 1 fps
      • WB: 6100 K
      • Gain -3dB
      • Shutter 1/60 sec
    • Exposure (manual, varied in steps)
      • For pre-dawn darkness at 06:00: f1.9, standard gamma, frame accumulation (64 frames)
      • For dawn: no frame accumulation
      • At 5 mins before sunrise: ND1 filter (1/8)
      • At 10 mins post sunrise: f3.4
      • At 25 mins post sunries: f5.1
      • At 40 mins post sunrise: ND2 filter (1/64), f3.1
    • Subsequently, searched on web to see what other people did:
      • Google: [sunrise time lapse]
          • Title: “Tips on how to shoot sunrise time lapse”
          • Q: I need to shoot a sun rise time lapse. I’m trying to figure out the best way to go about it. Do I use a ND filter from the start? Do I leave in auto iris or do I have to stay by the camera making constant adjustments as the sun rises?
          • A1: Depends how long you want the shot to last. I did one the other month that went from 2 hours before sunrise to 3 hours after, no ND, auto iris. Mind you, my camera ranges from F1.9 to f16, so it managed it fairly well. Obviously the sun blew out, but not much else in the scene did, when I ended the shot, everything was exposed correctly.
          • A2: I’ve shot probably a hundred sunrises/sets. I generally shot 10-30 minutes and then shortened it to 1 frame a second. Autoexposure will work (I almost always shot this way), but you can get a nice effect going from blackness to light with a locked exposure too.

    XDCAM-EX: Picture Profile by Marvels Film

    Sunday, October 2nd, 2011
      • (Looks like a modification of Bill Ravens’ profile I found a couple or so years ago, except that profile had G-B = 32 and no white offset or ATW+2, and the Detail was not set.  Gamma was -40, STD1, Black was -12, Black Gamma was 0)
      • Matrix: On, High-Sat, Level 0, Phase -5, R-G 75, R-B 0, G-R -18, G-B -23, B-R -27, B-G 13. This gives a beautifully balanced color matrix.
      • White: on, Offset A +2, Offset B +2, Offset ATW +2. This will give you a beautiful warm picture, by elevating the reds a little bit
      • Detail: On, Level 0, Frequency +65, Crispening 0, Black limiter +75, White limiter +75. This gives a very nice definition without the artificial sharpening artifiacts. Ideal for DOF adapter shooting.
      • Gamma: Cine-1 for rich-contrast situations, Cine-3 for low-contrast situations. Make cine-1 your standard and avoid cine-4 (too noisy in the shadows).
      • Black: -3 or -4
      • Black gamma: -2. Will help to reduce noise in the blacks.
    • I choose instead the following Detail settings:
      • On: Level -5, Freq +25, Crisp +20

    Sony XDCAM-EX3: ISO Rating(s)?

    Monday, September 26th, 2011

    ISO is about sensitivity.  Useful to know when using a lightmeter – e.g. the iPhone’s “Light Meter” app, where if you enter ISO it tells you the required aperture f-stop.   For the EX3 the ISO depends on several factors, such as Gain, Gamma, Recording Mode (definition and interlaced/progressive).  But a reasonable rough conservative working figure is 400.  More specifically:

    • 400 for 1080p
    • 500 for 720p
    • 800 for 1080i
      • (some say this surprising result derives from the interlaced lines each being derived from the sum of a pair of neighbouring lines)


    Sony Broadcast Equipment Service & Repair

    Thursday, September 1st, 2011

    Sony EX3 Gamma: Cine better than Std for Colored Highlights

    Friday, August 19th, 2011

    Avid MC: Update 5.0-5.5: AMA Plugins Not Included

    Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

    My previous Avid MC version was able to AMA-link to XDCAM-EX files, straight away, i.e. straight after installing MC.  However, having updated it to MC 5.5 (fresh install, not on top of older version) this no longer worked.  Reason: the camera-specific AMA Plugins (e.g. for Sony XDCAM) are no longer bundled with MC, you have to download and install it separately.

      •  Starting with Media Composer 5.5, Symphony 5.5, and NewsCutter 9.5, you’ll need to download and install the AMA plug-ins you want separately from your editing software (these plug-ins are no longer included in the installer except for the QuickTime AMA plug-in). This enables Avid and third-party camera manufacturers to update plug-ins outside of a software release. (If you’re using an older version of Avid editing software, some of these plug-ins may already be installed on your system—please see the system requirements, below, for compatibility details.)


        • Canon XF 300 AMA plug-in (download)
        • Canon XF 305 AMA plug-in (download)
        • Ikegami GFCAM AMA plug-in (download)
        • MXF AMA plug-in (download)
        • Panasonic P2 AMA plug-in (download)
        • QuickTime AMA plug-in (installed with your software)
        • RED AMA plug-in (download)
        • Sony HDCAM SR Lite AMA plug-in (download)
        • Sony XDCAM/XDCAM EX AMA plug-ins (download)

    Avid: Ingesting XDCAM-EX

    Sunday, May 8th, 2011

    How to ingest XDCAM-EX.  The following methods exist:

    • Quick:
      • But this leaves it long-GOP and it remains outside AVid’s managed media database.
      • Avid AMA link to XDCAM-EX’s BPAV folder.
        • Avid: File > Link to AMA Volume (e.g. folder containing BPAV folder)
    • Robust (or not?):
      • But this leaves it long-GOP and loses some metadata ?
          • Basically if you import clips this way you are absolutely locked in to those specific media files. No backup will allow a recovery or relink, short of storing the actual files (exactly) as they are created in the Avid MediaFiles directory.
          • The easiest way to avoid this problem is actually to use the older process:
            • Using Clip Browsers ‘MXF for NLE’ export setting.
            • This will create OP-1A MXF files that you can then import into Media Composer
              • (the Avid will rewrap them as OP-Atom and relocate them to it’s media directory).
            • It is a slower process, but as it’s a standard import process all the necessary Metadata will be stored with the clips to allow a Batch Import later.
      • Rewrap to AAF (the “newr process”
          • Essentially this method unwraps the MP4 XDCAM-EX files and re-wraps them as MXF Op-Atom (Avid’s mediafile container) and places those files directly into one of Avid’s media directories (such as F:\Avid MediaFiles\MXF\2) and then creates an AAF file that contains a clip describing that shot (basically the easiest way to get the shots into a bin).
        • ClipBrowser Help
          • [Export Avid AAF] converts to the following two file formats (AAF containing pointer(s) to MXF containing media).
            • AAF file: Use to load clips into Avid editing system.
              • The extension is AAF, and the output destination is the media or folder specified in the Export dialog.
              • AAF files produced by the conversion can be registered in your Avid editing system project by dragging from Windows Explorer to a bin in the project.
            • MXF OPAtom file:
              • The extension is mxf
              • The output destination is the media or folder specified in the Conversion tab of the User Configuration dialog.
                • Normally this is the media folder of your Avid editing system project.
        • (2009 article recommended on CreativeCow in 2010)
        • ClipBrowser: File > Export > Avid AAF
          • But first must define the Avid project’s media location?
            • [Avid MediaFiles/MXF/nn] where nn is an integer ?
            • e.g. [F:\Avid MediaFiles\MXF\2].
    • Luxury ?:
      • Convert to DNxHD
          • If you do not have a Nitris DX system then you will have to transcode the material to DNXHD after import. I find that doing a rough cut in Native XDCAM will reduce the amount of material (and therefore time) that I have to transcode for final effects and finishing.
          • Clip Browser … not needed now that AMA is working great.
          • Use AMA to link to the clips/volume.
          • Take a look and edit instantly onto a sequence,
          • …or use the consolidate command to copy the clips at the native resolution into the AvidMediaFiles folder (aka Managed Media).
          • …or use the transcode command to import the clips at an AVID DNxHD resolution of your choosing.


    XDCAM (incl. EX) Workflows in Various NLEs

    Sunday, May 8th, 2011

    EX3 Shooting-Mode & Shutter Effects on Exposure

    Friday, December 17th, 2010

    The traditional degree of motion blur, broadly consistent with what the eye normally experiences, is obtained by using around 1/50 sec shutter (no problem in practice for shutter speeds 1/48-1/60).  What shutter setting (mode /value combination) can best achieve this for different shooting modes, e.g. 25p, 50i, 50p ?  I am no expert on this but from my web-search I assume the following:

    • For progressive modes around 25-30p, where light level allows, use Shutter On.
      • But for double-rate progressive (50p-60p),  use shutter-off.
    • For interlaced modes or double-rate progressive or for low light situations, use Shutter Off.
      • In interlaced modes, Shutter Off is equivalent to 1/50 or 1/60 (depending if 50i or 60i)
    • Warning about Angles: in Interlaced modes, “180 shutter” acts more like a 135 shutter.
      • The “Angles” option is really aimed at film veterans, who by definition only use progressive.


    XDCAM-EX3 Picture Profiles for filmic look

    Monday, August 30th, 2010

    XDCAM-EX in-camera compensation for Tiffen T1 “green tint”

    Monday, August 30th, 2010

    Great article:

      • “(These are) picture-settings that are tailored to my personal taste, with post-processing in mind. I’ve been able to use shots right out of the camera without the need for CC, but it does ask for contrast adjustment to taste.”
      • “…the matrix corrections in the first profile are to compensate for the green hue the IR filter casts, even after taken a white balance. I use the fluorescent light matrix, simply because it does exactly two things to the picture (and in measurements) that this specific camera demands; it remove the “green Sony hue” and it is the lowest-noise matrix. It shifts the colour balance towards red/magenta, removing the green hues and preventing your cast from looking terminally ill.”
      • “I use Cine 1 gamma almost exclusively because it’s clearly the most lownoise gamma. I sometimes use Cine 4 indoors with low / existing light. …adjust Gamma on a per-scene basis.”

    XDCAM-EX Gamma Settings

    Monday, August 30th, 2010

    I worried about and noticed in practice an effect where if I was using CINE gammas on the XDCAM-EX and exposed for faces at 70% (by zebras) then the gamma rolloff would result in “pasty-face” appearance.  It does …and did…  The solution for good looking faces is one of the following:

    • Under-expose in shoot, raise in post.
    • proper-expose in shoot, use standard gamma (not cine gamma), be careful not to let the face hit the knee (?) e.g. set knee to 90% or 95%.
    •  take a given gamma curve (or even a flat standard one) and tweak it using gamma level & black-stretch adjustments etc. until it fits the scene.


    FCP inherent (unwanted) level & gamma changes – unlike Avid’s AMA

    Monday, August 30th, 2010

    Someone noticed that XDCAM-EX footage imported to FCP appeared different as compared to Avid (AMA import).  Addressed in an Avid forum thread started May 2010, referring to FCP 6.06 and Avid 4.02:

    • What AMA gives is, is _exactly_ what the camera has captured. What FCP shows you, is a remapped image, most often with a gamma shift. 
      • (For Avid AMA imports, Avid settings for RGB or 601 etc. make no difference – it’s always as-recorded).
      • … imports (to FCP) will look different (to expected), because FCP/QT “corrects” the gamma when bringing in footage (even if you would not want that).
    • Most people seem to agree that FCP works in 0-235, not 0-255, not 16-235. And without the option to leave things untouched. So if you import something into FCP, there’s no getting it back to the original levels anymore.

    I guess I’d better do some experiments with ramps & scopes etc…

    Sony XDCAM Transfer

    Monday, August 16th, 2010

    What happens when Sony XDCAM Transfer is used, within or without FCP, to import XDCAM footage (BPAV folders etc.)?  The following is my best guess at the moment, based on my experiences and web-searching.

    • Logging is best done via ClipBrowser.  That updates the meta-info of this “master source”, which may then feed downstream to other formats (mxf?  mov?)
    • The main function is to re-wrap to [.mov] files.
    • Each time you start XDCAM Transfer, check the settings in Preferences, in particular for Import Location.
      • The Cache location can instead be an application-specific, project-independent location.
    • To import to FCP:
      • Start XDCAM Transfer, by doing one of the following:
        • From FCP, do one of the following:
          • Menu: File > Import > Sony XDCAM
          • Browser: RtClk > Import > Sony XDCAM
            • Sadly, only ever imports to root of project, not to bin you right-clicked from…
        • From MacOS:
          • Start [XDCAM]
          • Optionally, in Preferences, tick [Open imported files with: Final Cut Pro]
      • Can mark-up selected clip(s) – e.g. OK/NG – affects all (selected) clips straight away (no ‘go’ button…).
      • XDCAM Transfer is not just an application but a package, including File Access Mode (FAM) Driver (for XDCAM disks), FCP Import and Export plugins and FCP Sequence presets.
      • It can import not only raw BPAV folders (etc) but also MXF-Sony (I tried it).
      • There is a Fetch Metadata option, but I have yet to see it have any effect – because as far as I can see all the metadata is displayed anyway.  Possibly only useful for obscure situations e.g. if some data or thumbnails fail to appear or for a “clip or disc that contains modified essence marks”
      • Opinions are divided on whether or not to retain BPAV folders, but the balance is in favour of doing so []

      Glide-shots: Steady-Shot / Smooth-Deshake-Stabilize / SteadyCam

      Sunday, July 25th, 2010

      Which is best?   Depends on the camera, scene and shot dynamics I guess.  The same point is queried at the following thread:

      Some general advice from a computer-post-savvy author: definitely use the camera’s SteadyShot:

      Limitations of post

      • Stabilization necessitates motion estimation and image reconstruction, which are extremely CPU-heavy, hence really slow to execute.
      • Most stabilization apps (in post) can’t currently cope with motion-blurred edges or parallax effects (though both should be possible in principle, by deconvolution and 3D modelling both informed from multiple frames).
      • For rolling-shutter-ed footage (e.g. CMOS sensors as in Sony Exmor as in Sony XDCAM-EX e.g. EX1 & EX3), there exist options to reduce the effect (don’t expect perfection, but may suffice):

      My experiences:

      • Stabilizing Tools:
        • Gunnar Thalin’s Deshaker works really well.  And it is multi-threaded, really speeds up the process.  The author says it is more intended for handheld pans etc. than fast-shaking shots from vehicles etc. (but has nevertheless seen good results in such situations).
          • The author says [] to try “to stabilize only on the most distant parts in the frames, since the moving inwards-effect is less there”.  And “you should probably increase the value for [discard motion of blocks that move > X pixels in wrong direction]. That’s to allow the blocks to move “freely” a little, since Deshaker can’t handle the “moving inwards”-effect.
          • Possibly equally applicable to other smooth/stabilize/deshake tools ?
        • Boris’s Optical/Motion Stabilizer (in Boris Red 4.3.3 on XP) is only single-threaded and I find it slower, clunkier and less intuitive than Deshaker.  Has a Smooth mode, which is like the others here, as well as a Stabilize mode (try to keep frame static, no good for motion then).  The other tools can be configured to do the same thing.
        • Mercalli in Sony Vegas has no mode for 720p50 but otherwise is pretty good and very intuitive and configurable.
        • FCP’s SmoothCam Effect worked best for a challenging clip for wobbly-hand-held camera tracking close past an object (a Formula-1 car) hence huge degree of moving-inwards effect.  The default settings worked straight away.  The result quality was way above that of the other tools.  On the other hand sometimes it’s not the best (sorry, forgot the exact situation).
      • Cameras & Shots:
        • Historically, using a TRV33 DV HandyCam indoors (hence low-light hence long shutter time):
          • Way back in the past, using a (now ancient) TRV33 DV handy-cam (which has huge sensor margin i.e. spare pixels), when I shot big zooms to lecture audience individuals (e.g. question-time) I had the camera’s steady-shot (digital, not mirror) enabled  and used Gunnar Thalin’s Deshaker (VirtualDub plugin) also.  The result was astoundingly steady.
          • The same arrangement worked OK with hand or shoulder mounted cam for walk-throughs past nearby objects (e.g. walls, people, furniture).
          • An attempt to do the same thing without steady-shot enabled on the camera resulted in seriously motion-blurred edges.
        • Now, using a Sony EX3:
          • With camera Steady-Shot set to Medium, hand-held pans and motion past nearby objects seem to acquire a positional instability, as if the camera feedback mechanism needs greater damping. Maybe the camera’s internal mirror “suspension” has to be tighter (than the TRV33 digital equivalent) because it lacks the generous pixels margin of the TRV33?  or maybe something to do with the mirror’s inertia?  Or (real-time-constrained) processing-power?
            • Experimentation is needed with the camera’s other SteadyShot modes (High, Low).
            • In the absence of more generous sensor pixel margins, I wish it could be loosened-up e.g. to allow black borders (to crop in post) so as to permit smoother rides overall.

      Capture to HFS+, Use from Windows 7: Experiences

      Monday, May 3rd, 2010

      On MacBook Pro, used Sony Clip Browser (ClipBrowser) to import footage from a Sony XDCAM-EX to Mac OS HFS+.  This machine had MacDrive installed, enabling Windows apps to directly access files on the HFS+ file system.  On same machine, under Boot Camp (BootCamp) and Windows 7, ran Sony Vegas NLE.   Successfully imported and used footage by both of the following methods:

      • Sony Vegas’s Device Explorer [View > Device Explorer].
        • This took several minutes to import.
        • Importing resulted in copying the [.mp4] file (and other files) to the NTFS partition.
      • Direct use of [.mp4] on the HFS+ partition.
        • No need to import as such, just constructed waveforms etc.
        • This completed in seconds.
        • Only downside is that it ewas unable to save the waveform files etc., due to my config of MacDrive (read-only), so it would have to do this every time I opened the project.
          • Have yet to try the same thing when MacDrive has config for full read/write access.

      MacBook Pro ExpressCard Slot: Unreliable?

      Saturday, May 1st, 2010

      Using the ExpressCard slot for SxS cards (XDCAM-EX) in Mac OS, I noticed that sometimes they dpn’t appear to “seat” properly, removing and reinserting the card normally fixes this.  I wondered if it was just my machine, but I just read of a similar experience by others: [].

      Pros & cons of Device Explorer in Sony Vegas

      Saturday, May 1st, 2010


      • as of May 2009:
        • Technically, you “can” edit the .mp4 files right from the card. You’d need to drill down through the directories via the standard Vegas Explorer tool (not the new Device Explorer), find your .mp4 clip, and bring it into your project.
        • “We do not currently support shot markers from EX in the Vegas Pro 9 Device Explorer, but it is on our radar.”
        • Spanning clips does not work properly for everybody (could in principle be due to their circumstances as much as the app).  Recommended to join these together using ClipBrowser thenexport as MXF for NLEs.  … It is really the same concept as (FCP’s) XDCAM Transfer except instead of re-wrapping as [.mov] it re-wraps as [.mxf].
        • (In the case of FCP) … the metadata is part of the MOV after … re-wrapping the file for FCP.  (Possibly) Vegas had a problem with managing the metadata and their solution was just to (import the) native (essence/mp4) files.

      My own experiences:

      • A long shoot gets listed as a sequence of smaller clips, corresponding to the separate [.mp4] files recorded by the camera.  This is known as a spanned clip.  Each of the smaller clips is of size no more than around 3.5 GB.
      • Device Explorer import results:
        • Clips with names like [929_1332_01_20100318_191600] i.e. having datetimes.
        • These clips consist of the following files, with main file name as per the clip:
          • XDCAM-EX:  [.mp4], [.xml]
          • AVCHD: [.mts] (but no clip info files).

      Mobile eSATA (via ExpressCard) for MacBook Pro

      Sunday, February 7th, 2010

       Mobile eSATA (via ExpressCard) for MacBook Pro.Sonnet Fusion F2.  Up to 1GB (when configured as Striped i.e. RAID0).  Sustained Read/Write of 126MBps=1008Mbps.


      It connects via two eSATA cables to ExpressCard adaptor and also via a FireWire connector purely for the power (no bandwidth).  The intention is that the FW bandwidth is still free for use by other devices e.g. “AJA’s Io external capture and effects box – which requires all of the FireWire bandwidth to itself”. []

      • Note – for Sony EX1 and EX3 users the Fusion F2 uses th Express 34 slot on the MacBook Pro, meaning one would need to transfer SxS data to either a FireWire or USB drive and then across to the Fusion 2.

      Thinks: It works as Software RAID for the Mac.  Is there any practical way to also use it from Windows?

      SxS Card Driver for Mac OS X “Snow Leopard” 10.6

      Thursday, January 28th, 2010

      In a post at Matt Davis links to Sony’s page offering the latest SxS driver which is compatible with Snow Leopard.  Also he points out is bugs/features, irritating rather than show-stopping.   There is also a driver for Windows, I’ll try it under Boot Camp.

      The following has a FAQ about it:

      Add the XDCAM Transfer plugin to Final Cut

      Thursday, January 7th, 2010

      The XDCAM Transfer plugin allows FCP to easily ingest footage in the format generated by XDCAM-EX cameras such as the EX3.   Unlike FCP6, where it was also advised to load a “FAM Driver” (as a separate plugin), this is not appropriate for FCP7 (explained below)

      From the ReadMe phase of the ‘Install XDCAM Transfer’ installer dialog:

      XDCAM FAM driver and tool.
      Mount Professional Discs in XDCAM devices connected by FAM (i.LINK) in the Finder.
      Note: The XDCAM FAM driver and tool are not compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and are not installed.
      •    XDCAM Transfer main application.
      Preview clips from XDCAM and import your selected material as QuickTime movies. XDCAM Transfer supports the PDW-U1 XDCAM Drive unit and Professional Memory Cards recorded with the PMW-EX1 camcorder.
      •    Sony XDCAM Import and Export plug-ins for Final Cut Pro.
      Initiate transfers from XDCAM directly into a Final Cut Pro project and render your Final Cut Pro sequence directly onto a connected XDCAM disc.
      •    Final Cut Pro XDCAM presets.
      Configure your sequence and export settings to be compatible with XDCAM. The XDCAM HD422 presets replace those installed by Final Cut Pro 6.0.3.
      •    XDCAM Transfer User Guide.
      Found in the Documentation folder of this disk image and also available from the Help menu of the XDCAM Transfer application after installing the software.

      Mac video production: Framerate Conversion Strategies & Tools

      Friday, November 27th, 2009

      Gleaned from Philip Bloom’s presentation on using a 30p native cam to produce to other standards (e.g. 24p):

      • Edit native, convert the edit result, not the source (rushes). Saves render time (& space)
      • Don’t edit H264 – current machines are not fast enough to avoid jerkiness.
        • Before edit, convert to ProRes (standard is sufficient, no need for HQ).  If disk space at a premium then could instead use XDCAM EX format but that is not compatible with Cinema Tools.
          • Conversion to ProRes is done twice as fast by Mpeg StreamClip (free) than by Compressor.
            • Mpeg StreamClip:
              • [File > Open Files, File> Export to QuickTime, choose format ProRes 422, change top-slider to Full 100% Quality (default is less)
              • Can also use it to batch-convert, result can be either separate files or all concatenated in sequence.
      • (DO THE EDIT)
      • FrameRate Conversion:
        • Simplest: speed change – change the timebase (the rate at which the existing frames are presented).  OK when speed change does not matter (e.g. static scene).
          • Can be done e.g. via Cinema Tools.
            • Stages: Analysis then select desired new framerate then Conform.
            • (or [Cinema Tools: File > Batch Conform],  select a folder containing set of files, select any example file in it, Open, change speed, go: all the files are done)
        • Speed-preserving frameRate conversion can be done by Compressor or by JES Deinterlacer (free)
          • Compressor
            • Open Compressor
            • Drag file to job-strip
            • Create a Setting if needed
            • Geometry (5th icon along) – set Frame Size to “100% of source” (to ensure Compressor setting doesn’t re-scale)
            • Frame Controls: Unlock
            • (ignore settings that don’t apply e.g. resize method)
            • Rate Conversion: choose the fastest you can get away with
            • It is not compulsory to set a Destination.
              • (what happens if not? same directory as source?  what filename gets generated)
                • If no destination specified then file goes to same directory, auto-named as the original filename plus the name of the export format Setting.  Example: From TRV 12-39 it generated TRV 12-39 AvidGrade-QT ProRes, where QT ProRes Interlaced was a compression setting (previously defined by myself).  Incidentally the QT-DV was 35MB, the generated QT-ProRes was 47MB.
          • JES Deinterlacer
            • Choose >  (input your file)
            • Output > Compressor > Export
              • (nothing to do with Apple’s Compressor, at least I assume…)

      Backup & Archive to Multiple External Drives: “Retrospect Backup” tracks what’s where

      Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

      Once captured, the next problems are backup and archive.  Here is one man’s solution:

      • We capture to a 2TB drive and edit from it as well. Then once it starts to get full, we use Retrospect Backup software to move files from the 2TB drive to smaller removable drives. Retrospect keeps track of the drives and once they fill up, you can just add another one. The main reason we do it this way is that Retrospect keeps track of all the data so that it’s very easy to find and restore projects. You can view them by the date you saved them or you can simply do a search…even for individual files. Plus, because they are firewire 800 drives, the restore process is very quick (at least it is right now with standard def DV footage….HD footage will take up more space)
      • [
        • It also has other useful info e.g. the transfer rates experienced in practice.


      EX-to-FCP Ingesting Tips

      Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

      Forum thread on how to ingest EX footage into FCP (via ShotPut and XDCAM Transfer).

      It includes a cool screencast video tutorial by Matt Davis:

      The point of doing it his way is that it makes thinks more foolproof than the more basic “just load it in” approach and does so in a fashion that is semi-automated.

      Sony XDCAM EX and Apple ProRes (QuickTime) ARE accepted by Color (allegedly)

      Friday, June 5th, 2009

      According to a CreativeCow thread [], with the right updates art least, it is possible to pass both XDCAM EX native files and ProRes derived from them into Color.

      Now I am well-confused, because:

      Being fully-engrossed on PC-based projects, I am unable to verify any of these

      XDCAM EX usage in Final Cut – An experienced user’s explanation, confirmation and tips

      Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

      “Final Cut 6 (with an update) will recognize XDCAM footage more or less in it’s native format. You import the footage using the Sony Transfer software and it merely puts a QuickTime “wrapper” around the XDCAM footage. It’s still Long GOP like HDV but a better codec. You can render it into discrete frame codec as you say but it is not entirely necessary. I sometimes do and often don’t. I do a final render out in a full frame/intraframe file and then send it to compressor to munch it into whatever final form I need it in.” []

      Import Sony EX XDCAM 720p50 into Final Cut: On a Surer Footing

      Sunday, May 31st, 2009

      Following advice passed on from Sony (by Obi Lidobe/Ejukene), I installed latest Mac versions of Sony XDCAM support software [from under Tools/Downloads], namely:

      • Final Cut Pro XDCAM Transfer v2.9.0
      • Clipbrowser v2.5
      • SxS Device Driver
      • XDCAM EX Log&Transfer Utility v1.0
      • This set of items presumably constitutes the “separate plug‑in from Sony … required to enable (the XDCAM EX) features”.

        Tried using FCP to see if the new XDCAM EX features are now available:

      • FCP: FCP >Easy Setup: The nearest obvious template was “XDCAM HD”.  But does that cover “XDCAM EX” or only their older optical disk based XDCAM ?
      • FCP: File > Import > Sony XDCAM Transfer
      • Transfer: required setup of cache folders etc.  Default was on personal area of Mac HD.  Chose instead to put it on my RAID: [/App-Specific/Sony XDCAM Transfer], with subfolders /Cache, /Import, /Export Scratch.  Can change these later on under [Sony XDCAM Transfer > Settings]
      • Transfer: File > Add Sources.  Can select multiple files.  Can access NTFS-captured files in original Sony (BPAV) folder structure.  Automatically queues job to build thumbnails (only does that, doesn’t convert the files to anything yet).  
      • Transfer: Thumbnails appear.  Can multi-select them.  
      • Do [Transfer: (Files) > (RtClk) > Import].  This generates equivalent QuickTime (“.mov”) files to the Import folder you specified earlier under Settings.  QUESTION: Does one have to define such settings individually for each project?  How best to organize their location?  The size of this equivalent file is almost identical to that of the original “.mp4” file (in the EX’s BPAV folder).  Presumably it is the same codec (data), just re-wrapped.  QUESTION: Would it be better to import them to ProRes (since this – unlike the XDCAM EX format – is a non-GoP format)?
      • Incidentally, the [Transfer: (File) > (RtClk) > Export Clips to Folder] option generates equivalent “.mxf” files, again broadly the same size, prompting for the destination folder.  QUESTION: Is this intended for foreign NLE’s such as Avid or Vegas rather than FCP?  Is it “export” in the sense of “from FCP to outside world”?
      • As a result of the [Transfer: …Import] operation, “.mov” files exist in the Import folder (as defined in Settings) and also they are listed in FCP’s Browser (top-left pane). 
      • FCP: Drag one of these files to Timeline.  Prompts: “Not the same format – change?”.  Say YES.   So I guess my doubts about the appropriateness of the HDCAM HD template were justified.  QUESTION: What format is it now then?
      • FCP: (Sequence) > (RtClk) > Properties: 50fps, 1280×720, Compresor = (XDCAM EX 720p50 (35 Mb/s VBR) ).  QUESTION: Does that imply that when the Sequence is rendered (as in getting rid of the “Needs Rendering” red line), it is rendered to this same format?  QUESTION: To reduce generational losses (in this highly compressed format), would I be better off setting this to be ProRes, and if so then what format?  Presumably if the original clips had been imported to ProRes, I would have been automatically prompted for that Sequence setting when I dragged those imports onto the Timeline (from FCP Browser).  
      • Also presumably the ProRes approach would benefit external (to the FCS system) workflows e.g. enhancement in VirtualDub (via the Windows read-only version of the ProRes codec, just a “Dec”oder).  In that scenario, the external Windows app would have to write to some other broadly equivalent format such as Cineform.  Is there a Cineform decoder for Mac?  If I had it, would the [FCP: File > Import] or some other way be able to import (convert to FCP-friendly format) that format?   Not just a case of re-wrapping but re-compression.  Would I have to use Compressor in principle – and is it capable of it in practice?

      Import Sony EX XDCAM 720p50 into Final Cut: Websearch

      Sunday, May 31st, 2009
      • Googled for any well-known solution to the lack of 720p50 support.  An article from Nov 2007 at the Aulich & ADamski website [] said that the previous (to then) lack of 50p support in FCP had been addressed in updates (at that time) to Final Cut Pro, Motion, DVD Studio Pro, Color, Cinema Tools, Soundtrack Pro and QuickTime Pro.
      • At [] the Release Notes of Final Cut indicated that XDCAM EX support had been added in FCP version 6.0.2.  This support included for XDCAM EX 720p50 VBR as per my footage.  
      • Notes also said: “Important: A separate plug‑in from Sony is required to enable these features”.  But no actual link etc. was stated…
      • Notes also said: “Once you ingest your XDCAM EX footage to QuickTime media files on your scratch disk, you can simply choose the XDCAM EX Easy Setup that corresponds to your footage and edit as you would with any other native format in Final Cut Pro”.  So at least now I know my footage should be ingested to QuickTime not MXF.
      • Notes also said, re “50p Support”: “Along with support for a number of recent 50p video formats, Final Cut Pro 6.0.2 includes support for 50 fps timecode in all timecode fields and project properties. A new 50 @ 25 timecode format has been added for deck support and EDL compatibility with 50 fps formats.  Note: Motion, Color, and Soundtrack Pro now support 50p footage as well.
      • Notes also said, re “Updating Motion and Motion Templates”:Final Cut Pro 6.0.2 master templates require Motion version 3.0.2 or later. By upgrading to Motion version 3.0.2 or later, you take advantage of important fixes and improvements made in the Motion application and templates.”
      • I checked the version of my installed Motion and it was indeed 3.0.2.
      • Setting up an FCP project (though not specifically XDCAM EX): article at []
      • Organizing FCP project disks/folders/files in a tidy fashion: article at
      • How to render for a DVD []: “Make sure you sequence is rendered and then export a Quicktime using current settings with compression markers and do not make it self-contained (assuming you compressing on the same machine). In Compressor pick a DVD setting that works for you delivery.”

        Import Sony EX XDCAM 720p50 into Final Cut: Initial Stumbles

        Sunday, May 31st, 2009

        Initial Stumbles 

        • Shot footage on an EX3 suitable for DVD and web.  Following advice of “gurus” such as Alister Chapman, shot it in 720p50 mode.  Having done so, wanted to get it into Final Cut for editing etc.
        • Initially, used ClipBrowser (v2.0) to ingest the footage.  Didn’t know if I should do it the same way I did on Windows for Sony Vegas, that is by generating a “.mxf” file or by generating a “.mov” file.  Tried both.  These are containers, not codecs.  The “.mxf” file is Material Exchange Format while “.mov” is QuickTime.
        • Wanted to know more about the contents e.g. the codecs used and their settings.  To get this, used VideoSpec – a video analyzer broadly like GSpot on Windows)
        • MXF contents: FourCC “mpg2” (MPEG-2), Bitrate 35000 kbps,  fps 50, 1280×720, PAR 1:1, DAR: 16:9, Chroma subsampling format YUV420p.
        • MOV contents: FourCC “xdva” (XDCAM), Bitrate 34900 kbps, fps 50, 1280×720, PAR 1:1, DAR 16:9, Chroma YUV420p.
        • In FCP, tried to find a standard setting suitable for this, but nothing matched. In particular there were 60p formats but not 50p formats – frustrating.   Instead made a “best guess” at the most closely matching format and customized it.  I think I ended up with format “HDV 720p50” but was concerned that HDV may have different standards (e.g. number and aspect ratio of pixels) to that of my EX XDCAM footage.