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Old April 30th, 2010, 07:38 PM   #1
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Flash XDR Tips & Tricks

Hi Friends:
Most of what I will discuss here also applies equally to the Nano Flash solid state recorder:

The Flash XDR has many additional uses other than sitting on the back attached to your favourite camera recording audio/video clips. The XDR can also double as a realtime format converter, DVD MPEG video encoder, and HD-SDI audio embedder.

1. Realtime Format Converter: Why ? Suppose you have a client who hands you a great deal of HDV footage shot in Canon 24 F or Sony 24p, but you hate posting in what many still consider to be a strictly consumer only format ? If you own, or have access to an HDV camcorder with HD-SDI out or (HDMI out for use with the Nano Flash), then you simply insert the required HDV tape(s) into your HDV VTR or camera, connect via the HD-SDI input on your XDR, set TC to *embedded/LTC,* set your codec to Long GOP, data rate to 50 Mbps, format to .MXF and as soon as you hit play on your HDV VTR or camera, then your XDR or Nano will begin to automatically record the footage in the new format you set it too !

One caveat is if you have an HDV camcorder which doesn't embed the audio and TC in the HD-SDI stream (XL H1), then you will have to use the audio out jacks from your camera or VTR and plug those into the XDR and embed the audio into your XDCAM HD files. In such a case you must manually set your audio from digital (Embedded) to Analogue and switch MIC to LINE level.

Once you complete your dub, then you now will be in Sony XDCAM HD 4:2:2 **But now you're at Full HD Raster 1920 x 1080 - not 1440 x 1080 Anamorphic pixels !** Also, your audio just jumped from 16 to 24 bit ! Now you can go ahead and import those clips straight from your recorded CF cards. Cool or what ?

* Did you know Sony's XDCAM HD codec @ 50 Mbps edits with much less CPU utilization in Avid Media Composer then HDV does, even though HDV is half the data rate per second ?

2. Realtime Blu-ray or SD DVD encoder: Why bother wasting time capturing to computer HDD and then after software encoding to DVD ready MPEG 2 format. Simply feed into your XDR or Nano your pre-recorded or edited footage in realtime and make sure you set your format to .MPG Now you have the option to encode DVD files in standard definition up to 9 Mbps or High Definition for data rates in 19, 25 or 35 Mbps to match specification for Blu-ray DVD authoring. The resulting recorded .MPG program stream files can now be imported from your CF cards into any DVD authoring program for accelerated DVD authoring workflow.

3. HD-SDI audio embedder: You can embed analogue audio from a Phantom powered MIC, regular MIC, or stereo Line level audio into a video stream fed to the Flash XDR. You plug one or two channels of balanced male XLR plugs into the side of the XDR and when set to analogue audio, the recorder will add up to two channels of analogue audio @ 24 bit 48 KHz in uncompressed PCM into the HD-SDI stream. This is very useful when the XDR is attached to a production switcher for multiple studio camera feeds. The audio can be fed from any production audio mixer on site.

These are but a few of the non standard camera recording uses for the Flash XDR. I'm currently experimenting to see if I can discover more uses.
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Old April 30th, 2010, 11:50 PM   #2
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Thank you

Very nice job Mark, with pinpointing the way all flash units from CD can be used. Very informative and clear to understand. Well done!
Cheers
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Old May 1st, 2010, 04:02 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Job View Post

2. Realtime Blu-ray or SD DVD encoder: Why bother wasting time capturing to computer HDD and then after software encoding to DVD ready MPEG 2 format. Simply feed into your XDR or Nano your pre-recorded or edited footage in realtime and make sure you set your format to .MPG
Hi Mark,

What a coincidence; I was just thinking about a similar use - namely:

Suppose I have used my nanoFlash 100 (or even higher) bitrate clips and completed my edit in Vegas. Not just simple cuts, but some compositing, transitions, and color correction... Now I want to produce a film from it that I might actually deliver somehow - I can encode for BD (as you say - using e.g. the 35 Mbps mpg2), but I could also just render to a file, playable from my PC - in which case I'd of course like to preserve all this great quality, so 100 or more Mbps would be my preference.

Now, being able to use my nanoFlash as real-time, hardware encoder for my edited Vegas timeline would be an amazing idea! This is what I was deliberating today morning, before getting up from my bed...

And here you go with your post; could you please elaborate on your proposed way of - as you put it: "simply feeding into my Nano my edited footage"?

Of course one can render the tiemeline, and then play the output file full screen while capturing it through the graphics card's HDMI, as Adam Stanislav experimented with his presentations. But that misses the point; rendering the edited timeline straight to and actually bythe nanoFlash is what I want!

TIA,

Piotr

PS. Dan at al, what do you think?
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Old May 1st, 2010, 07:16 AM   #4
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Dear Mark,

Thank you for your very imformative post on the not so obvious uses for our recorders.

Very nice worded and presented!
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Old May 1st, 2010, 07:33 AM   #5
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Dear Piotr,

If you computer is fast enough, with a good disk subsystem:

1. One could either render to full uncompressed then play it out via HD-SDI or HDMI,

2. One could output as full uncompressed without pre-rendering.

In both case, one would have to have either HD-SDI output or HDMI output that can work with Sony Vegas or any other editor. These used to expensive, but the price has gone down substantially.

The key is having a fast enough computer or disk subsystem in order to produce a HD-SDI or HDMI output stream without stopping or stuttering.

Option 1 requires a good disk subsystem.

Option 2 requires a less substantial disk subsystem, but a reasonable speed processor.


Please note that I have not actually tested this advice on my personal copy of Sony Vegas, as I do not have a HD-SDI or HDMI output.

My 3.4 Ghz Sony Vaio is actually quite old and still suits my needs, except that I do not have appropriate slots available for the HD-SDI or HDMI output cards. I believe my Vaio is from August 2004. It has only one PCIe card slot.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 07:58 AM   #6
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Dear Dan,

Sure, currently those are the only options. However none is practical; even with a super-fast computer the full quality, full size playback of heavy edited timeline will be dropping frames (even when playing it back prerendered to uncompressed - a single, random glitch from hw interrupts would spoil the result)...

I guess my "dream" could come true with some extra device in-between the nano and the HD-SDI output from the NLE, which would intelligently buffer the timeline playback (even not pre-rendered one), and only output them to the nano for recording in the form of complete frames packets, and in the right fps rate.

But, I believe that designing such a thing to increase the nanoFlash strengths is well within the capabilities of Convergent Design!

:)
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Old May 1st, 2010, 08:01 AM   #7
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Thank You ! :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luben Izov View Post
Very nice job Mark, with pinpointing the way all flash units from CD can be used. Very informative and clear to understand. Well done!
Cheers
...Thank you Luben ! :-)
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Old May 1st, 2010, 08:06 AM   #8
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Thank You Dan :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
Dear Mark,

Thank you for your very imformative post on the not so obvious uses for our recorders.

Very nice worded and presented!
...Hi Dan: Thank you and standby for more unconventional, non-camera uses of the Flash XDR and Nano Flash. I'm investigating a certain possibility regarding the E to E setting, which maybe very useful to XDR and Nano users alike :-)
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Old May 1st, 2010, 08:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
Dear Dan,

I guess my "dream" could come true with some extra device in-between the nano and the HD-SDI output from the NLE, which would intelligently buffer the timeline playback (even not pre-rendered one), and only output them to the nano for recording in the form of complete frames packets, and in the right fps rate.

But, I believe that designing such a thing to increase the nanoFlash strengths is well within the capabilities of Convergent Design!

:)
...Yes. You need an AJA ioHD connected to a MAC of some kind. The ioHD was never an inexpensive item up here in my parts unfortunately.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 08:22 AM   #10
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Feeding your edited output into your CD SSDR

Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
Hi Mark,

...could you please elaborate on your proposed way of - as you put it: "simply feeding into my Nano my edited footage"?

TIA,

Piotr

PS. Dan at al, what do you think?
.....You need an AJA Kona PC card, ioHD external FW 800 box, Blackmagic PC card which will supply you with either HDMI or HD-SDI output.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 08:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post
I guess my "dream" could come true with some extra device in-between the nano and the HD-SDI output from the NLE, which would intelligently buffer the timeline playback (even not pre-rendered one), and only output them to the nano for recording in the form of complete frames packets, and in the right fps rate.
Dear Piotr,

So, it seems that you would like the nanoFlash to record the good frames, and ignore the stuttering (drop outs of the HD-SDI or HDMI frames since the computer can not keep up with the data rate necessary to produce smooth video.).

I will speak with our engineer, but I currently think this is physically impossible (sorry).

We have to "sync-up" with the incoming HD-SDI or HDMI signal. This is not an instantaneous process.

Thus, before we record, we "sync-up" with the incoming signal. Then we record. If the signal stops, then we lose sync. Thus, we have to "sync-up" again before we can start recording again. Until we "sync-up", we do not capture the frames that are being sent to us.

Summary: Every time the computer stutters, then we will lose some of your footage, a completely unacceptable condition. Thus the nanoFlash or Flash XDR can not do what you request (in my opinion). Nor can any other intermediate device do it as long as the signal is HD-SDI or HDMI (in my humble opinion).
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Old May 1st, 2010, 09:04 AM   #12
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FLASH XDR USE NO. 4: Mixed Frame Rate Clip Separator

Hi Friends:
Here's another cool use of the Flash XDR, which can save you a great deal of time and headache. You can also use your recorder as a mixed format seperator/auto designator.

Sometimes you may have footage on a camera tape, or SxS card, which contains mixed frame rate clips. Obviously, one cannot capture this whole tape to any NLE in the usual manner. You would have to sit and ride the realtime capture and manually capture what is 24 F, and what is 59.94i, or 30p, or 30 F. This takes some time, and I've had to do it frequently !

Set your XDR to a common capture format, such as, Long Gop 50 Mbps, or QT Long GOP 100 Mbps. Set the timecode to *Embedded/LTC,* and TC trigger to **Embedded.* Set your frame rate appropriately - such as 3:2 pull down removal if you know you have some Canon 24 F on the tape, or 24p. Press play on your camera or VTR, and each time playback hits 24 F or 24p (Depending on what you set in your XDR to capture), the XDR will automatically go into Record each time clips with the pre-set format frame rate goes by and stops automatically as soon as clips pass which are *NOT of the pre-set format ! Presto ! Now you have a viable,editable copy of all the clips shot in one particular format ! Change your XDR settings to capture 59.94i this time. Run the tape or SxS card playback once agin. Now each time clips go by which are 59.94i the XDR will automatically record those altogether !

* If you are setup in post with FCP or Avid Media Composer to capture from your XDR via HD-SDI in realtime, then you now are open to capturing all the clips in one session to whatever format and frame rate your NLE supports.

** If you are setup in your post workflow for clip based import, then you have the option to record your mixed various frame rate clips on different single CF cards and import them separately per frame rate.

*** This operation can be done fully unattended while you go about your other business. This can save you a great deal of time (If you know the client tapes contain mixed frame rate clips).
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Old May 1st, 2010, 09:32 AM   #13
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FLASH XDR USE No. 5: Use Your XDR or Nano as a TC/Genlock Generator

Hi Friends:
Did you know you can use your Flash XDR/Nano as a TC generator and Genlock Source ? Here's how you do it.

1. Grab any HD camera with an HD-SDI/HDMI output. If you have access to a camera which can also output SMPTE bars and 1,000 Hz test tone, then this is even better, but not absolutely necessary.

2. Set your camera to output TC based on the frame rate/format you want (Works in SD as well ;-) ! )

3. Put your XDR or Nano into record and capture the SMPTE bars, tone, and appropriate TC signal to a CF Card for the length of time you want.

4. Viola ! Now you can hit play and use your XDR/Nano as a TC Generator, or use your recorder as a Genlock device !

* Don't want to permanently tie up your CF cards, yet you need a long duration TC playback ? Hit Loop Play ! (I have to test this out a little more to see if there is any actual TC playback glitch or break when the cycle repeats. I think Loop Play will work OK if you dedicate 2 CF cards to this cause - but I will have to confirm this.)

**You can record different CF Cards with different frame rates and formats for various feeds (i.e. 59.94i, 24p, 24F, 30 F output CF card.)

***Don't have a camera capable of outputting test tone or SMPTE bars ? No problem-just turn on your camera and leave the lens cap on. Now you have a recordable blackburst signal. You can embed one or two channels of audio while you record, so you can feed a test tone in via analogue audio to provide 1 or 2 channels of tone to your blackburst.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 09:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Job View Post
.....You need an AJA Kona PC card, ioHD external FW 800 box, Blackmagic PC card which will supply you with either HDMI or HD-SDI output.
Mark, I'm aware of those options - but they are expensive mainly due to the fact they offer many more features: capture, multiple i/o (analog Component / digital SDI/HDMI, sound options,. etc.). Not a solution for my idea...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
Dear Piotr,

So, it seems that you would like the nanoFlash to record the good frames, and ignore the stuttering (drop outs of the HD-SDI or HDMI frames since the computer can not keep up with the data rate necessary to produce smooth video.).).
Well - not exactly, Dan. The specialized device between HD-SDI/HDMI output from NLE and a CD recorder (XDR or nano) should accumulate ALL frames coming from the NLE timeline - at their highest quality - and only output packets of them at the fps rate the recorder could synchronize to.

This of course would not be the real-time encoding, but the fastest possible one for a given computer/NLE system (reaching real-time with super-fast systems).

I also realize that getting packets rather than continuous stream, the nanoFlash would have to produce a lot of files - BUT:

- for the above theoretical capability, and because of the current functionality limitations due to the FAT filesystem adopted for CF cards, I'd like to ask CD to provide us with a software utility able to concatenate the chunks of mxf, mov or mpg files into a seamlessly merged, single file (one per take).

This shouldn't be a difficult thing to program - I remember such an utility from Sony for their DR60 drive worked very well indeed.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 12:01 PM   #15
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Good idea with the bars, tone & LTC Mark. I've done a couple of different combinations of making LTC generators with bars and other good stuff.

The other day on a music video shoot, my 1st AC discovered the playback LTC was busted and would not drive the Denecke slate properly. The XDR was absolutely critical for recording test signal and generating a clean LTC would could use to drive the slate for playback. The Motu v4hd also came in handy, since it has a dedicated LTC out.
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