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Old October 25th, 2007, 10:26 AM   #46
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The camera shoots in a non-MXF format (we know what it is yet I'm not sure that is public knowledge.) Sony is providing a tool to wrap into MXF to match their existing XDCAM-HD workful. We hope to use HDlink to convert the SxS media directly from Flash to AVIs on your hard drive.
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Old October 25th, 2007, 10:30 AM   #47
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That would be sweet indeed. I hope that works out.
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Old October 25th, 2007, 10:52 AM   #48
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I'm presuming that for the EX, we are talking about Prospect.... not Aspect?
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Old October 25th, 2007, 11:01 AM   #49
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Aspect HD will likely work, although it will need to down convert the HQ 1920 materials to 1440. This will make Aspect HD a little slower on conversion, and of course lower resolution. Prospect HD is the sweet spot of EX.
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Old October 25th, 2007, 11:07 AM   #50
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What about Neo? Will the 1920x1080 flavor of Neo work as well?
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Old October 25th, 2007, 11:10 AM   #51
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Yes NEO HD/2K will work without resolution reductions, and NEO HDV should work through scaling the image to fix the encoder license.

For Aspect HD and NEO HDV, I'm currently only saying "should work", as it hasn't been tested yet.
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Old October 26th, 2007, 06:41 PM   #52
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My intention is to upgrade one of my NEO HDV licenses to NEO HD, since I wish to retain the 1920 x1080P resolution. My present HDV workflow is to convert m2t files to avi before editing, except when time is tight. My NLE (Vegas Pro 8) handles HDV and MXF extremely well and many editors don't consider a digital intermediate useful; time is money. My information is that the unwrapper Sony is supplying with the EX is a temporary solution until an upgrade patch to Vegas Pro 8 incorporates the function; other NLEs may continue to need the software but FCP (for one) will have no problems handling the MXF format.

Conversion of the SxS files to MXF is very quick (using the supplied software) and can be dropped straight onto the timeline for appraisal, quick cut, or viewing by a client. The data files can be copied to a USB HDD or DVD for the client.

Converting to Cineform avi directly from the SxS cards doesn't appear to offer any advantages and will take some time to do (in my experience on ordinary dual core machines). Not something one would wish to do "on the job", most especially when cards are being downloaded and reused; certainly that is an economy (these cards aren't cheap) that I'm planning on using.

Please explain the workflow Cineform have in mind and the advantages of converting to avi directly from the SxS cards.
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Old October 26th, 2007, 06:58 PM   #53
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It is to save a step. Native EX files (whether on SxS or transferred to disk) would have to be converted to MXF before using HDLink to convert to AVI. However wouldn't it be nice to transfer the data quickly as is, then batch in HDLink to AVIs while you are using the SxS again in camera. Media is not tied up.
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Old October 26th, 2007, 09:04 PM   #54
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It is to save a step. Native EX files (whether on SxS or transferred to disk) would have to be converted to MXF before using HDLink to convert to AVI. However wouldn't it be nice to transfer the data quickly as is, then batch in HDLink to AVIs while you are using the SxS again in camera. Media is not tied up.
Would it be nice? Trouble is that most of us have seen only the demonstration and may not fully appreciate the reasons why it might or might not be nice. Accepting that the native EX files do have to be converted to something else for viewing (other than in camera), which path is quickest for that? Is it using the Sony package to turn them into MXF files, or NEO to turn them into AVI files? The Sony package seemed very quick, but I assume that you argue that simply downloading the card data is extremely quick. In terms of tying up resources to generate viewable files I would bet on NEO to win the hogging contest. However I presume that HDLink will be capable of producing both MXF and AVI files in the process (as NEO HDV can produce both m2t captures and avi DIs).
It seems to me that NEO will be too slow to process EX files to DIs "on the fly", so one will want the MXF files for assessment and for clients.
I daresay I'm biased by my HDV experience of finding capture/convert unreliable and slow, so I capture first and then convert overnight. I've also suffered pixellation problems in the conversion, so I really want those original data files. Yes, I note that your proposed workflow retains the EX files, so they're always there if the job has to be repeated.
So while it could be nice, I expect generating DIs will need two steps, whatever packages are employed.
I'm sure you can set me straight!!
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Old October 26th, 2007, 11:22 PM   #55
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I believe the primary audience that Cineform is trying to cater to are non-Vegas users who will have NO other workflow to compare to. I am sure that Cineform will offer certain advantages to Sony's native workflow in Vegas, but it will have a much more significant impact on people in other NLE apps who have NO other supported solutons for editing the new format. Conversion speed is not even an issue, as Cineform will be the only option, at least for the time being.

Viewing and editing are two very different aspects, and while Sony will most likely provide a software viewing solution with the camera, that by no means ensures that the files can be edited. On the otherhand, HDLink may not be the easiest way to view files during a shoot.

It is similar to HDV, where with Premiere 1-1.5, Cineform was THE way to edit HDV, and then with the release of PPro 2.0, Cineform became A way to edit it. It is likely that other workflows for XDCam-EX will be developed, but Cineform has a good record for being first to the scene with a usable solution as new formats are released, which is greatly appreciated by those of us trying to adopt those formats early on.
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Old October 27th, 2007, 12:07 AM   #56
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My understanding is that Avid, Edius, FCP and Vegas all have capabilities for working with MXF files; where not now, patches will be released for them when the EX is released. Vegas has had the capability since version 7. Premiere Pro didn't show at the roadshows, so I've no idea of the status for that NLE.

I'm a happy Cineform customer (have two NEO HDV licenses as well as two HDConnect licenses, so you should understand that I'm not criticizing the company. I'm one of its "true believers".

That said, there are important issues that must be clear. Wanting to upgrade to NEO HD I was directed to this discussion by Jake Segraves because he wasn't quite across all the issues raised by EX for Cineform. Some time ago I upgraded from HDConnect to NEO HDV for one machine whose AMD CPU lacked the necessary facilities, a matter that Cineform hadn't made clear at the time (consequently a warning was put clearly on the website). So now I ask if something isn't clear.

When doing a job for a client we have to be absolutely clear about workflow. If the client expects to review material shot and to take away raw copies at the end of the day, I have to be clear on process. The EX offers the great benefit of rapid generation of client copies, a huge improvement over tape (unless you're running on-line recorders).

The Clip Browser software that comes with the EX will run on Windows and Mac machines and allows browsing of clips, copying of clip files, playback of clips on a PC or Mac, combine clips segmented across two SxS cards, and convert MP4 files to the MXF format for input to NLEs. The clips on the SxS can be copied without conversion.

So there is the facility for client (and me) to quickly review clips. Everyone gets that software and I understand we are permitted to provide copies to clients. What isn't clear (to me) from David's description is how HDLink will improve on this and I have already described where I can see deficiencies rather than benefits. When I go into my NLE I want to use Cineform, but expect to enter that stage when shooting pressure is off.

I contacted Jake to check that upgrading to NEO HD is the right decision to maintain full 1920 x1080 P capabilities. First answer was "yes", but here I find that it isn't quite so clear cut; people are still figuring out how to configure the software and I wonder if there isn't a little confusion about needs. There's the trap of being an early adopter of a new format.
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Old October 27th, 2007, 12:38 AM   #57
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I understand people need efficient workflows, and are under time constraints.

I ultilise Prospect 2k for it's ability to provide 10-bit 1080p, in a manageable file size and most of all, a multi-generational visually lossless codec, for grading or other post. So unless doing only straights cuts without re-rendering to the source codec (usually lossy on re-encode for CC or transitions, etc), I always want to use the CineForm codec to master, and then encode to other codecs from there.

Serena, does your source image suffer if you do not use the CineForm codec, or do you have an alternative workflow?

Edit: Serena, I posted without seeing your post above.
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Old October 27th, 2007, 01:44 AM   #58
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I understand people need efficient workflows, and are under time constraints.

I ultilise Prospect 2k for it's ability to provide 10-bit 1080p, in a manageable file size and most of all, a multi-generational visually lossless codec, for grading or other post. So unless doing only straights cuts without re-rendering to the source codec (usually lossy on re-encode for CC or transitions, etc), I always want to use the CineForm codec to master, and then encode to other codecs from there.

Serena, does your source image suffer if you do not use the CineForm codec, or do you have an alternative workflow?

Edit: Serena, I posted without seeing your post above.
I suspect my post above answered your question, but just to be clear I agree with your workflow (excepting that I use Vegas Pro 8). Many people seem to think that cutting long GOPs is fine and indeed Vegas handles them well, but the Cineform DI path is superior (in my assessment). However I recognise that not every operator has the time to generate DIs and not all clients can see the benefits. If the EX outputs 10 bit on the HD-SDI that would make a strong case for heading over to Prospect (I have CS3 in the system), but the word is that it's only 8 bit in a 10 bit stream. Certainly only 8 bit on the SxS card (pity really). Bit odd really that Sony kept the camera to 8 bit when Vegas Pro 8 will handle 32 bit.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that because NEO HD handles 10 bit, even though the source material is limited to 8 bit, the DI should have smoother rounding errors.

Maybe 8 bit isn't so odd when you think how 10 bit would have affected the storage capacity of the SxS cards.

Last edited by Serena Steuart; October 27th, 2007 at 01:53 AM. Reason: punctuation!
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Old October 27th, 2007, 03:44 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by Serena Steuart View Post
I suspect my post above answered your question, but just to be clear I agree with your workflow (excepting that I use Vegas Pro 8).... Maybe 8 bit isn't so odd when you think how 10 bit would have affected the storage capacity of the SxS cards.
Serena, apologies, my initial comments about the benefits of CineForm were more directed at the general forum reader. Beyond being able to ingest and edit the new EX footage via the CineForm option to be released in due course, the multi-generational visually lossless codec mostly draws me toward CineForm.

Yes, you did answer my question, thank you, and raised some of interesting points I really want a true and clear answer from Sony reps, that being, is the HD-SDI signal out of the EX a true 10-bit source or truncated 8-bit, sitting in a 10-bit stream. If a true 10-bit image, this is going to be the quantum leap I am looking for from such a camera. Imagine 1024 steps of greyscale levels from 10-bit, as opposed to 256 steps if 8-bit. If not a 10-bit image, this is still an impressive camera for the price range.

I am not familiar with the NEO capabilities, 8/10-bit. I do submit benefits editing an 8-bit timeline and then processing the CC of the final edit in a 10-bit space, should provide a better looking encode, less prospect of banding to some extent, etc. It is some times hard to tell, for example, if 8-bit monitoring.

As for the 8 and not 10-bit encode to SxS, perhaps part of this is also to preserve some of their broadcast, current on the shoulder cameras, and save this for the ones they will being releasing next?
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Old October 27th, 2007, 04:18 AM   #60
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Chris, no apologies needed! Now if you like 10 bit for CC, try 32 bit in Vegas. Many are very pleased with the reduction in artifacts (such as colour banding).

Agree that 8 bit is a real pain to use (compared to film exceeding 12 bit) but I'm looking forward to experimenting with the gamma curves the EX has built in, together with controls of knee points and black stretch. Going to take a while to learn, but I think the practical latitude is going to be a lot greater than 8 bits indicates. Sensor A/D convertor is 14 bit (although this doesn't mean that the cmos has a 14 bit range) while output to card is 8 bit, so how you set gamma will determine scene latitude recorded. I'll be very happy if I can generate wide latitude images that, while looking flat out of the camera, can be graded well.

Last edited by Serena Steuart; October 27th, 2007 at 04:21 AM. Reason: ADC inserted
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