Archive for February, 2013

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

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

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).


Adobe After Effects CS6: XDCAM-EX Readability Glitch (Solution: Reboot)

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

While editing an Adobe Premiere CS6 project based on XDCAM-EX footage (from an EX3), I thought I’d enhance the footage in After Effects (where more sophisticated enhancement effects than in Premiere are available).  Should be easy I thought, taking advantage of the CS6 suite’s Dynamic Link feature.

In Premiere, I selected the relevant clip and did [RightClick > Replace With After Effects Composition].  As expected, this opened After Effects, with the appropriate dynamic link to Premiere…


All I got on the Preview in After Effects, and indeed back in Premiere,  was Color Bars.  I assumed this indicated some kind of failure in After Effects.

Naively, I concluded that, on my system at least, After Effects CS6 could not read XDCAM-EX.  A brief web-search (further below) revealed user experiences and video convertor article-adverts implying that I was not alone with this problem.  But an Adobe blog entry suggested that no such problem existed in AE CS6 and some and Adobe documentation (pdf) said so explicitly.  For the moment then, I was confused…

Then I rebooted and tried again.  This time it worked.  I succeeded in making AE projects both by directly importing the footage (as mp4 files) in AE and via Dynamic Link from Premier.

The direct import dialog was slightly weird though: it claimed it was listing “All Acceptable Files” but these included not only [.mp4] files but also e.g. [.smi] files, which, when I selected one of these it complained: “…unsupported filetype or extension”.   Incidentally, the reason I tried it at all was that XDCAM-EX is a spanned format, where a single recording can be spanned/split/spread over multiple [.mp4] files. Furthermore, there can be an overlap of content from one [.mp4] to the next (in a span), so in principle (I haven’t tried it), simply placing one [.mp4] after another on the timeline would give rise to a (short) repetition at each transition (from one [.mp4] to the next).

But this is already over-long for a single blog-post, so I’ll deal with that issue in a separate post.


Magnetometers: iPhone has Apps for this (…as well as other sensors)

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Following-up from my previous look at magnetometers

I have an iPhone 4 (ordinaire) running iOS 4.  Apparently it has a magnetometer, and a number of Apps to alarm, display and log data from it are available.  Hey, it’s getting towards being a “Tricorder” (of Star Trek fame)…

The ones I have tried are:

  • MAD – Magnetic Anomaly Detector
    • When I run it, I tend to click (enable) all three buttons (they each display their current mode, not switch effect).
    • If I’m simply in a room, I tend to drop the threshold (slider) to half or a quarter.  Otherwise if driving I leave it Full.
    • The Log is simply a text-pane, one can Select/Copy etc; unfortunately the log gets cleared when you exit the app.
  •  EMF Detector
    • Has an “analog meter” style of display and audio tone (optional, volume-controllable).
    • Maybe useful for tracing wires etc.?  But how reliable?  In my house it ignored a light-switch and around it but “got excited” over certain parts of window frames and metal radiators (certain corners only) for reasons I don’t understand.
  • XSensor
    • Displays and optionally logs/emails data from several of the sensors on iPhone: Magnetics, Accelerations, GPS, Gyros.
    • Fun for finding out about the sensors, their capabilities, their noise-issues etc.
  • Accelerometer Data (“ordinaire” or Pro)
    • Data can be raw or Low-Pass filtered (for absolute gravity and orientation) or High-Pass (monitoring for their changes).
    • Accelerometer data can be streamed (via UDP) to computer or logged to CSV file.
    • The Pro version saves to Flash, instead of just RAM, hence greater logging capacity.
  • Sensor Kinetics
    • Plain sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer
    • Derived sensors: Linear Acceleration, Gravity, Attitude.
    • Nice graphics (clarity as well as entertainment value)
  • ?

Magnetometers & Magnetometer Sites

Friday, February 22nd, 2013
    • Magnetic anomaly detector
    • Geophysical Surveying Using Magnetics Methods
  • Magnetometer Sites:
      • BOR: Borok, CIS
      • CRK: Crooktree, UK
      • ESK: Eskdalemuir, UK.  BGS station, but archived at 1s resolution by SAMNET
      • FAR: Faroes
      • HAN: Hankasalmi, Finland.  IMAGE station, but archived at 1s resolution by SAMNET
      • HAD: Hartland, UK.  BGS station, but archived at 1s resolution by SAMNET
      • HLL: Hella, Iceland.
      • KIL: Kilpisjärvi, Finland.  IMAGE station, but archived at 1s resolution by SAMNET
      • LAN: Lancaster, UK.
      • LER: Lerwick, UK.  BGS station, but archived at 1s resolution by SAMNET
      • NUR: Nurmijärvi, Finland.  IMAGE station, but archived at 1s resolution by SAMNET
      • OUJ: Oulujärvi, Finland.  IMAGE station, but archived at 1s resolution by SAMNET
      • UPS: Uppsala, Sweden.  Geological Survey of Sweden station
    • A hi-tech, relatively low-cost (?) garden magnetometer.  Under development.
    • “a simple, low-cost, battery-powered magnetometer for auroral alerts and citizen science”

Suppliers of Beautiful & Strong Magnets

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

A brief search, starting with Amazon, revealed these:

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?).


    DVD Burn Verification: Eject & Reload Necessity

    Saturday, February 16th, 2013

    I use the free ImgBurn application (treading carefully through the minefield of include-ware).  On a laptop, prior to verification of a burn, it ejects the DVD but cannot reload it as the laptop doesn’t offer that capability.  There is an Option setting to prevent the ejection, but that results in a less comprehensive verification as the disk initialise step (implicit in reload) is then side-stepped.

    SonicFire Pro (DVD Writer): SmartSound Music

    Saturday, February 16th, 2013

    Just now I opened SonicFire Pro on and a popup appeared with the following announcement:

    This version of SonicFire Pro can interact with the following applications:

    • Adobe Premiere CS5 and up
    • Adobe After Effects CS5 and up
    • Avid Pinnacle 15 / Studio and up

    If you use any of the programs listed above, you can access an advanced set of features that make it even easier to add customized SmartSound music to your productions.

    Something to maybe look into, when I get time.  But right now I’m focusing on burning some DVDs.  So I click the [Later…] button.

    Web-Scraping in Python

    Friday, February 15th, 2013

    Python is already on my MBP-MacOS system.

    Adobe Premiere CS6: Nested Sequence Silence (& Fix)

    Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

    A Sequence played with good audio, but when I nested it (inside another sequence), all went silent.  This turned out to be the latest incarnation of a crazy historical feature of Adobe Premiere.  It wasted a good part of an hour of my time experimenting and finally Googling to find the (simple, once you know) way out.

    The problem:

    • A simple straightforward sequence consisting of video recordings from two cameras, each arranged in their own tracks, some audio tracks enabled, others disabled.
      • Audio plays ok
    • Embed (nest) that sequence in another sequence
      • No audio visible or heard.


    • Ensure all audio tracks are enabled in the nested sequence.
    • Don’t disable tracks, disable(audio elements of) clips.
      • Use Alt-Click to select just the required audio element(s).


    WD Link: Successor to WD Discovery

    Monday, February 4th, 2013

    WD Link Setup is the successor to WD Discovery, for detecting WD NAS drives and mapping them to drive-letters.