15 Replies Latest reply on Jul 17, 2009 6:27 AM by Thrill Media

    EX-1 users workflow advice

    Thrill Media Level 2

      I am getting ready to start a job I do each year and which is one of my biggest of the year.  Usually we shoot on DigiBeta but this year I thought I would go HD.  The studio has multiple HD options but I am opting for the EX-1 for various reasons: native editing, no HD machine rental, no capturing, etc.  I have not edited any EX-1 footage but I believe my machine to be ready for the chore: Vista64, Corei7 940@2.93GHz, 8GB ram and I will be using PP CS4.1.

       

      Since I haven't done this before I am looking for any gotchas that I may need to be aware of.  We will be shooting on two cameras for three days in the studio interviewing between 26-30 people.  I will end up with about 13-15 hours of footage from each camera which will be cut down to a 30-40 minute program.  This will be shown in HD via computer playback at the show and distributed via web and DVD.

       

      I plan on bringing my laptop and an external drive to transfer the cards and copy to the external drive.  It is an older HP, XP32, Pentium 4 @ 3GHz with 4 Gig ram. I plan on saving the footage to the HD on the laptop AND copying it over to the external drive for backup.  I guess I will get a FW drive since my USB will be taken with the Sony SxS reader.  Once I get back home I will copy the footage to my desktop HD and go from there.

       

      So, here are a few questions.  Considering I am using 2 cameras, what is the transfer speed and will it be a problem keeping up with the shoot rate?  Will I also be able to copy the files to the external HD?  Will TC remain continuous after changing out SxS cards?  Can I use the TC effect to make TC DVDs for the client? (I thought I read there was an issue with this. ??)  Are there any workflow issues with PP CS4.1?  Would anyone be willing to share some test footage or can you point me to a site with test footage that I can download and try?  Am I a fool for doing this?   Have I missed anything?

       

      Any advice or helpful tips are greatly appreciated!

       

      Thanks,

      Curtis

        • 1. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          1. Better than RT. How much I do not know, since I use the Xpresscard slot, not the Sony USB device. No.

          2. Yes with Sony Clip Browser or Explorer.

          3. Try it. I never had the need.

          4. Yes.

          5. No, as long as you import the complete BPAV directory into your project.

          6. Take your external disk to a Sony dealer and ask them to copy some footage from an SxS card to it. That is how I first tried it out at the Sony stand at the IBC.

          • 2. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
            Thrill Media Level 2

            Thanks Harm.  I appreciate the feedback.  One more question, so your reader is installed in your desktop?  Do you know of a good fast solution for a laptop?  I have USB, FW and a PCMCIA on the laptop.

             

            Thanks again,

            Curtis

            • 3. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
              Harm Millaard Level 7

              No, in my laptop, which is a Sony Vaio FW31ZJ. So I insert the SxS card (or K2S card) into the notebook, transfer the files to a USB 320 GB Freecom disk and when I get to my video machine, I copy from the USB disk to my media raid.

               

              The nice thing is that I do not always need my notebook, I always carry the Freecom drive and when at a client, I can use SCB to just copy from the camera over USB to this Freecom. Everybody has a USB port, so that is never a problem, because the Sony Clip Browser software is also on the disk.

              • 4. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                MarkWeiss Level 1

                If you're going to be synching two EX1's, I would set up the time code to CLOCK mode, and make sure both cameras' clocks are set to the exact time to the second. This will aid in locating a shot by the time of day it was recorded. The other option is not to set the time code gen to REGEN, as that will reset the time code every time you change the SxS card.

                 

                Transfer is about 2.5 X faster than realtime via USB, 4-5 X faster via ExpressCard slot.

                 

                With CS4, you no longer need to have the BPAV folder structure. I found that Premiere CS4 would read the standalone MP4 files without the supporting structure, unlike CS3. That said, I still recommend using the Clip Browser and maintaining the folder structure in its intended format.

                 

                If you have CS4 running smoothly on your platform and are already able to edit DV and HDV, then XDCam should be even easier, because it's a square pixel format and no conversion has to take place to get it to the screen or out to BD. And consider yourself extremely fortunate if it DOES run smoothly. We have three quad-core workstations running at 3.5GHz and none of them are able to play video better than 1-2 fps in CS4. These same machines can play 4 streams of XDCam with some modest Fast Color Corrector applied and maintain 24fps in CS3, which is what we rolled back to in February. CS4 seems to need a monster, yet to be developed, PC to run at any pace faster than a glacier melting.

                 

                Yes, the Timecode effect is handy for making window dubs and does not impact render times, that I've noticed.

                 

                You'll want to insert Encore chapter marks in your Premiere timeline, because adding them in Encore is agonizingly slow. I made that mistake once, and it cost me hours of waiting for the Encore timeline to refresh as I advanced to each location where I needed to insert a chapter. Why Encore is not as fast as Scenarist, I may never know, but in Scenarist, I can work as fast as my hands can type and work a mouse. In Encore, it takes minutes to update the timeline every time I scroll to a new chapter location. If you have dozens of chapters, that adds up to hours of waiting.

                 

                Export at Blu-ray h.264, in the particular format that you shot it in.

                 

                This is a particularly large project, so you may find yourself running out of memory often. If that happens, split into smaller segments and work on them separately.

                 

                Shooting tip: shoot with Detail Off on the EX1. Apply unsharp mask, radius 0.5, level 0, amount 50 in Premiere. Result is much cleaner due to not stressing the camera's CODEC.

                 

                In Encore, don't transcode the video--use it as-is, to avoid long rendering time and recompression loss. Burn image to disc, then use a reliable program like Nero 8 to burn the disc safely. Suggest BD-RE for test burn and fixup of any menu problems.

                 

                It's doable, but unlike Scenarist which just works every time, Encore needs you to practically do a dance, tap your head and rub your tummy and pray to all the right dieties in order to import, render and complete a project without a dozen or more unidentified error codes.

                 

                Good luck!

                • 5. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                  Thrill Media Level 2

                  Thanks Harm and Mark!

                  This is valuable information.  I am looking forward to this next step (HD) for the client and myself.

                   

                  The clock mode will come in handy for allowing good timecode continuity.  And it sounds like 2.5 x speed will allow me to get the media transferred for both cameras while recording the following interviews.

                   

                  Sorry for your issues with CS4, I have not had that experience.  It seems solid and fast with my system and I have been able to edit test footage from the HMC-150 without issue which seems to be a bear for a lot of users.

                   

                  I do lay my chapter markers down in PP but again I haven't had that issue with Encore. Hopefully nothing will pop up and spoil my pleasure!

                   

                  I have printed your posts and will use this knowledge in this production.

                   

                  Thanks again,

                  Curtis

                  • 6. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                    RDA972 Level 3

                    Mark has painted far too gloomy a picture. My experience with PPro and Encore CS4 is totally different from his.

                    XDCAM EX files are a joy to work with using the above applications.

                    Editing those files is as smooth as dv editing, not to mention the fact that the Sony card reader/writer allows me to tranfer a 16 GB card - that's about 58 minutes of full HD -  to my HDD in about 7 minutes.

                    I recently edited a 2 hour concert shot with 2 EX3 cameras and exported a DL BR-RE disc authored in Encore without a single crash.

                    FWIW, my computer specs are as follows :

                    * Vista Ultimate 64

                    * i7 965 Extreme

                    * 12 GB of RAM.

                    Not only is what you plan to do doable but it's gonna be fun too.

                    • 7. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                      MarkWeiss Level 1

                      Robert,

                       

                      CS3 runs great on my hardware, and, as you describe, editing XDCam is as easy as editing DV. I can edit 4 simultaneous XDCam channels at one time and enjoy realtime play.

                       

                      However CS4 does not get along with my nVidia Quadro FX4600 at all, or maybe it can't run in XP 32-bit with only 4GB RAM, but either way, it plays a few frames and freezes for a minute, then plays a few more, freezes, and so on. It's behavior is the same if I don't put ANY video on the timeline and just put an audio track there instead. The whole UI stops for 60 seconds, unfreezes for 2-3 seconds, then freezes again for 60 seconds, ad infinatum.

                       

                      I rolled back to CS3 and all is fine now. Just some peculiar hardware/OS incompatibility. Or maybe CS4 requires a 64-bit OS and I missed that on the system requirements somehow...

                      • 8. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                        XDCam should be even easier, because it's a square pixel format and no conversion has to take place to get it to the screen or out to BD.

                         

                        Neither DV nor HDV requires any pixel aspect conversion to go to their respective disk formats.

                        • 9. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                          MarkWeiss Level 1

                          While the input to output in HDV remains the same pixel aspect ratio, they are, however, incompatible with computer display pixel aspect, so conversion must take place to play it without it looking squashed. I find editing HDV to be more taxing on the CPU than editing XDCam footage, actually. I suspect that the reason is that XDCam is a square pixel, just like the computer display pixel, and hence requires no transformations to display it correctly.

                           

                           

                          PS: I hope something is done about this board software/server. It's always logging me out and logging back in takes several minutes waiting for "redirecting..." and often fails and I have to open a new browser and start all over. Very frustrating to post anything here because 90% of time is spent waiting for the server, rather than writing posts.

                          • 10. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                            Jim_Simon Level 8
                            so conversion must take place to play it without it looking squashed.

                             

                            Software players can do this with no hit on resources.

                             

                            I find editing HDV to be more taxing on the CPU than editing XDCam footage, actually. I suspect that the reason is that XDCam is a square pixel


                            Very unlikely.  Your observation is most probably due to the higher bitrate (and thus lower compression) of XDCAM EX over HDV.  That AVCHD, which is also square pixel but uses more compression, is more difficult than HDV would bear this out.

                            • 11. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                              MarkWeiss Level 1

                              Pixel aspect conversion takes no resources? Do you have a technical source that supports this?

                               

                              I can understand lower compression ratio taking less CPU to decode. Interestingly, XDCam has 50% more pixels to deal with, but uses 25% less CPU when playing in Premiere CS3. But Sony made a good choice in the use of their particular LongGOP MPEG CODEC--it's very easy to work with and does not even behave like inter-frame compression at all in the editor.

                              • 12. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                                Jim_Simon Level 8

                                Pixel aspect conversion takes no resources? Do you have a technical source that supports this?

                                 

                                No, just observation.  Playing back an anamorphic file doesn't seem to cause any jump in CPU load when I set it to 'unsqueeze' the video.

                                • 13. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                                  Thrill Media Level 2

                                  One more question folks... Which is best with while editing with PP at 24P, drop or non-drop?

                                  Thanks!

                                   

                                  C

                                  • 14. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                                    Jim_Simon Level 8

                                    That refers to the timecode numbering scheme, and will have no effect on the media or the editing experience.  Drop-frame is the broadcast standard.  Use that one.

                                    • 15. Re: EX-1 users workflow advice
                                      Thrill Media Level 2

                                      Thanks Jim.