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Canon XF Series HD Camcorders
Canon XF305, XF205 and XF105 (with SDI), Canon XF300, XF200 and XF100 (without SDI).


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Old July 21st, 2011, 03:19 PM   #1
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Reliable field back-ups

Just trying my new XF 105... Looks great. I am off on an expedition and need to figure out the best, most reliable back-up system to copy the CF cards. I am wondering if the XF Utility program is the way to go and copy to a pair of external bus powered drives or perhaps use a Nexto? Any thoughts?

Thanks
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Old July 22nd, 2011, 03:51 AM   #2
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

Hi David - what operating system do you use when you're on the field?

If you're a Mac user - I would recommend using Carbon Copy Cloner to make backups of your CF cards. It's simple to use, and I feel is reliable in allowing you to make incremental backups- should your original backup process be unsuccessful or ejected unintentionally. When using CCC, select your CF card on the left-hand column, and on the right-hand side select a predetermined folder on your backup volume.

I travelled overseas for a few months earlier this year, and carried a few portable 500GB USB powered drives. CCC was used to incrementally mirror the backup drives also.
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Old July 22nd, 2011, 06:07 AM   #3
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

Thanks, I will check out CCC. I am using a Mac
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Old July 22nd, 2011, 08:30 AM   #4
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

I have two hard drives in my macbook pro, the second one in my DVD bay using an optibay harddrive mount. I back up to both drives, gives me a peace of mind. If your expedition takes you to the wilderness, I'd recommend a device like Nexto as well, so you can easily make a back up anywhere without having to whip out your laptop.
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Old July 23rd, 2011, 02:07 PM   #5
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

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Originally Posted by David C Wright View Post
Just trying my new XF 105... Looks great. I am off on an expedition and need to figure out the best, most reliable back-up system to copy the CF cards. I am wondering if the XF Utility program is the way to go and copy to a pair of external bus powered drives or perhaps use a Nexto? Any thoughts?

Thanks
If you're new to the Canon XF105, and aren't familiar with the file structure, you'll want to use the XF utility software. That will maintain the file structure you need. It ISN'T just a matter of copying files - if you do just that, I guarantee that you will end up with a mess of unreadable junk.

The XF utility software can make "Virtual Media" in multiple places - which is essentially a full backup of the files on the card. Here's a hint on the process (it stumps a lot of people): Create the Virtual media on whatever drive you want the files stored, then highlight ALL THE CLIPS in the window showing what's on the CF card, then drag them over to the newly created Virtual media (which you should name something helpful so you can find the files later). The XF utility software can also make backups of the cards.

Don't assume anything - this is a fairly finicky file structure. Try it out before you leave, and make sure you can access the files through the XF utility and whatever editing software you use after you copy them. Get the routine down and be confident that you can access the files. Again, simply backing up the files won't do it.

ALSO - Make sure you're running the current version of the software, which I think is 1.1.

Good luck!

Larry
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Old July 23rd, 2011, 08:01 PM   #6
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

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...and make sure you can access the files through the XF utility and whatever editing software you use after you copy them.
You're right - I forgot to mention, the CCC technique suggested earlier is suited for a Final Cut Pro workflow, where you can refer to the backups and simply ingest through Log & Capture. You would need Canon XF Utility for the backup to function correctly in other NLE's.

Andrew.
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Old July 23rd, 2011, 10:53 PM   #7
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

Andrew,

I'm a Premiere Pro PC user, so I don't know much about the Final Cut log and transfer routine (though I'm following with interest the issues with the newest Final Cut version)... Many people, myself included, thought that one could simply find the file, copy it over to wherever, and all would be fine. It worked with AVCHD, so why not with the XF files, right? Not so much.

I was just concerned that the OP, as well as others who found this thread, might just try copying the files.

Larry
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Old July 29th, 2011, 07:21 AM   #8
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

I use Log & Transfer with FCP 7 & it is important to maintain the exact file & directory structure when copying the cards but my colleague using CS5.5 on Windows just drags the .MXF files across & that seems to work just fine for him. In particular long takes spread over multiple 2GB files line up & there are no frames lost or added at the file junctions.
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Old July 29th, 2011, 07:33 AM   #9
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

The Nexto is reassuringly simple and battery powered. It's hard to goof it up even tho you are dog tired and error prone. Two of them will give you peace of mind.

For the laptop approach, I used a g-drive mini raid in protected mode. That means you data is stored on two drives. It's bus powered FireWire 800 so all you need is one FireWire cable to hour laptop. That leaves a USB port for your cf reader.
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Old July 29th, 2011, 11:27 AM   #10
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

An alternative to the Nexto DI - Next Generation Storage with Digital Interface is a HyperDrive COLORSPACE UDMA

Interestingly both devices are claimed to be the world's fastest for backup.
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Old July 29th, 2011, 12:48 PM   #11
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

Love my Nexto. Especially the transfer speed to my edit system using the esata interface.
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Old July 29th, 2011, 08:39 PM   #12
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

Hi guys!
We backup our cards in the field differently than I'm reading here, and seemingly in a much simpler way. I'm ready to learn here!

We have an XF300 and an XF100. We're big Mac users. We backup our cards to 2 hard drives simultaneously, and then Log & Transfer - here's how . . .

We have a Lexar FireWire card reader - we simply take the 32gig cards from the XF300, connect the Lexar Card reader to a MacBook Pro and we have another firewire connection to another external firewire hard drive. We take the "CONTENTS" folder from the card and simply drag it to the internal drive, AND to the external firewire drive - so they copy concurrently. (Actually it seems to copy first to one drive, then another - but whatever, we come back in 30 minutes, and the card "CONTENTS" is now safely backed up to 2 Hard Drives. We then import to FCPro 7 (natively or ProRes422) from the Hard Drive.

We were specifically told NEVER NEVER import to FCPro directly from the 32gig CF card. Although it works - 98% of the time that way, it can corrupt the card and you're then ruined! That happened once to me.

We always copy the entire "CONTENTS" folder, never 'parts' of it. Then we Log & Transfer from one of the drives.

So I guess my question is, why are you going through 3rd party programs like CCC or XF Utility? BTW, I have both those programs, like them - but why use them here? Isn't it simpler, more direct and easier just to drag the "CONTENTS" folder to whatever hard drives you want to back it up to? Why 'bother' with 3rd party programs? What am I missing here?

Thank you very much,
Larry
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Old July 30th, 2011, 07:21 AM   #13
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

If you are on a Mac it's far better to create a disk image (.DMG file) of the card rather than just copying the directory tree. You can do this from within the Log & Transfer interface, using Disk Utility or with a simpler utility like AnyToDMG (available cheaply in the Mac App Store). Then you have a single file that can be copied, verified etc & when mounted is a perfect replica of the original Compact Flash card.

I don't see any way how reading a card can corrupt it. There are quite common reports of incomplete reading of the card when using L&T on a system that is busy with other tasks. The copy is corrupt or incomplete but the original is unchanged.

A more robust way of copying cards to multiple destinations is to use ShotPut Pro which does file chacking & verification on the fly ShotPut Pro™ for Macintosh Panasonic P2, AVCHD, Sony SxS, JVC, Arri and RED Offload Software [1112]
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Old July 30th, 2011, 07:37 AM   #14
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Re: Reliable field back-ups

Couple things come to mind Larry. There's debates about whether the OS does as accurate a job copying files as a camera utility. Just sayin.

I would expect XF Utility, being written by Canon for the Canon XF series, would be expected to accurately and safely transfer everything on the card to other media such as hard disks so that the data can be ingested by the various NLE techniques. I know in the case of the EX cameras, Sony's software automatically detects files that spanned across cards and joins them on the copy. It also lets you pile several cards into one folder and the result looks like one large "card" to the NLE. If XF Utility doesn't do all that, I would expect future version will... so when making a workflow......

I would also assert that while dragging and dropping the card data to two locations and walking away may *seem* simple, I think plugging the card into a pair Nexto's is less prone to human error. Similarly, doing one copy to a Raid is also simpler albeit while it's two physically different disks, it's not two physical devices.

I can see human errors like misnaming of the two folders on the two destinations, accidently dropping files in the wrong place and not being able to fix it till the copy is completed and the occasional copy glitch as things that can go wrong. If one copy fails and the other goes fine, you have manual sync to do ... all the human errors that can happen have twice the opportunity to happen .... I'm not saying your approach is bad or wrong, I think I'm reacting to the "much simpler" assertion ... YMMV
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