CitiDISK HDV first impressions at DVinfo.net

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Old January 4th, 2005, 11:26 AM   #1
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CitiDisk DV: So far, so good

Since most of the DTD discussion here seems to focus on, well, Focus, or MCE, I thought I'd post my experiences with the lesser-known CitiDisk DV drive in case anyone is looking at getting one.

So far I'm reasonably pleased. I've got the drive and my DVX-100 talking to each other nicely. The drive responds to the camera controls appropriately, depending on the DVX's DV Control settings. I successfully changed the Citidisk's default write format to raw DV, and I had no problem mounting the drive to my desktop or importing the clips into Final Cut Pro. The drive is not camera-mountable, but it does come with a sturdy belt pouch that leaves room for the Firewire cable, so that looks like it's going to work out well. There aren't a lot of "frills" features: it will record from a tape playing in the camera in VCR mode or feed the last recorded clip back to the camera monitor, but that's about it. No worries for me; I don't need much beyond basic recording.

So what's not to like? A few things. One, the documentation is written in thick Engrish, which is funny when it's for a cheap VCR but not so funny when it's a very important and expensive piece of equipment. There are several different models of Citidisk but only one manual, and the manual often does a poor job of delineating which procedure is used with which model. This is especially true of changing the unit's write format; I did it successfully, but I wasn't sure at all until I actually got the clips on my desktop and looked at them. Finally, the enclosure has a slight curve that prevents the AC adaptor plug from seating firmly in the jack.

On the whole though, I'm satisfied and I think this will prove to be a useful little device. I'll be using the unit extensively this week and next, and I'll post a followup to let you all know how it behaves in the field.
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Old January 4th, 2005, 02:21 PM   #2
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Thanks for your report Dan!
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Old January 4th, 2005, 05:03 PM   #3
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Thanks Dan,

Please keep us posted.
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Old March 2nd, 2005, 11:17 AM   #4
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Here is a bit later than I had intended a report on using the CitiDisk DV in the field.

Background: I work for a publisher and was charged with videotaping portions of our semiannual sales conference. I had to tape both new product launches (basically dog-and-pony shows held in a hotel ballroom) and one-on-one interviews with some of our authors. I shoot with a Panasonic DVX-100 and brought along a Powerbook for editing.

How did the Citidisk do? Not terribly, but not great either.

The worst "incident" was that I actually lost one of the clips I shot; that is to say, it was there on the disk and, when I went back to look for it, suddenly it wasn't. I won't blame this totally on the component because I can't shake the feeling that I did something to cause this; I didn't trash the file, but I was moving stuff around in the Finder and something might've got renamed or what have you. The fact that I didn't also have tape coverage of this shot is, of course, entirely my own fault. Nonetheless, I do feel the unit let me down in this instance; I know how to handle data and hard drives and this was definitely not a typical glitch.

The other major beef I had was changing the mode with which the Citidisk talked to the camera. The documentation didn't explain this, but it seemed as if whatever DV mode I set in the camera when I started shooting was the one I was stuck with; if I started out running the Citidisk manually and then re-set it to synch with the camera's shuttle control, it didn't take. Working around this was pretty simple I just ran the Citidisk manually the entire time but it's not the kind of thing you want to have to deal with, particularly because the Citidisk's "display" consists only of three colored LEDs. If there were an LCD telling me exactly how the unit was set and what it was doing, it wouldn't have been as much of an issue.

The only other issue I had was something I didn't even notice 'til I got the footage back home. I set the unit to shoot in native DV, and when I imported the clips into Final Cut, the audio needed rendering when I got it in the Timeline. The rendered audio then picked up numerous pops that weren't present on the original recording. So I opened the DV clips in Quicktime Pro, exported the audio track to AIFF, then combined the video and the AIFF track in Final Cut to get clean sound. Weird. Is this a quirk of DV I just don't know about? Next time I use the unit, I'll try shooting in Quicktime MOV format and see if that does the trick.

I also noticed that when I was working with clips from the Citidisk in FCP on my PowerBook, the program would invariably crash if I drag-and-dropped more than one clip in the Browser window. This doesn't happen on my PowerMac though so I chalk this up to a hardware issue, not a Citidisk issue.

Well, it probably sounds like I'm not too satisfied with this unit, and in a way I'm not. Unfortunately, I needed to get something quick (I only had a few weeks' notice that I was to do this) and the FS-4 wasn't out yet, so this is what I got. That being said, the unit performed quite well the vast majority of the time. The clip segments (the unit records video in 8.5 minute chunks) matched perfectly, the disk worked acceptably with my PowerBook on the road (though editing on an 800Mhz PB is no picnic) and the footage it shot was clean and with no dropped frames. So while I wouldn't per se recommend the Citidisk DV, I can say that if circumstances compel you to use one, or you find you can get one super-cheap, it's an adequate solution provided you familiarize yourself with its quirks.

Maybe next year I can get the FS-4 ...
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Old March 6th, 2005, 02:52 PM   #5
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Thanks Dan,

Finally, a voice about anything else but the FS-4.

I think you should be capturing to QT DV, if that is an option on the Citidisk, not RAW (I'm not sure what you mean by native DV). Your audio problem sounds like it might be a frequency or bit rate issue. Make sure that FCP's sequence is set to the same frequency as that of the captured clip 48 kHz 44.1 kHz. And check that the bit rates are the same as well.


Cheers,
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Old April 29th, 2005, 10:43 AM   #6
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CitiDisk HDV recorder!

Hey, I did a search on here and didn't see anything about this recorder:

"CitiDISK HDV is powerful, lightweight, portable and, with its internal rechargeable battery, it connects directly to HDV/DV camcorders and captures HDV/DV footage to its miniature high-capacity hard drive and to tape simultaneously - directly from the camera's FireWire port into your choice of file-formats (.M2T, .MOV, .AVI, .DV and others). When done shooting, set your camcorder to VCR mode to "QPLAY" the last scenes on the viewfinder or simply plug it into your computer's FireWire port and edit/play directly on the digitized video at anytime."

http://www.shining.com/products/tota.../citidisk_hdv/
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Old April 29th, 2005, 11:06 AM   #7
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Looks like this is a great tool.
Can't seem to find a price...think about 800 USD with a descent hdd.
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Old April 29th, 2005, 03:49 PM   #8
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That sounds extremely interesting. I notice that it uses FAT32 - I wonder if that means there is a limiting file size. It appears to be priced in the $600 - $800 range with an extra $290 for a pocket adaptor. It's not clear to me exactly what the battery setup is.

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Old April 29th, 2005, 04:45 PM   #9
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Andrew, where did you get that pricing? I looked everywhere! Got a link? They say they're on the Apple store site online, but I can't find them.
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Old April 29th, 2005, 05:20 PM   #10
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I see the prices on the online store, but only for the DV models. Can we assume that the HDV is in the same neighborhood?

Seems a bit expensive. About twice what I think I could justify. But it certainly would change the way dailies were done for indies.
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Old April 30th, 2005, 12:53 AM   #11
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I looked in the online store and made the possibly wrong assuption that the pricing applied to the HD model as well (on the basis that it is still the same bit rate which is being transferred and since no other models were mentioned).

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Old April 30th, 2005, 07:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew J Hall
I notice that it uses FAT32 - I wonder if that means there is a limiting file size.
Yes, FAT32 has a file size limit of either 2 GB or 4 GB, depending on how the
firmware writers implemented certain stuff. So this should mean it is splitting
files if you go over that amount.

The reason many (all?) such devices use FAT32 is that it can be read by
Windows, Mac and Unix/Linux machines without any problems. At the moment
it is the only cross platform file system (unfortunately).

p.s. yes I know some systems can READ ntfs as well (besides Windows).
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Old April 30th, 2005, 11:07 AM   #13
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So on this recorder the files will not be split into "scenes" like when you import from tape with cineform hdlink it will split them into files anytime you pressed the record button...??
It is much easier to work with for me at least rather than 1 big file....!
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Old April 30th, 2005, 03:46 PM   #14
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But for the FX1, the compression would still be the same, right? It's not a less compressed format, is it?
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Old May 1st, 2005, 07:01 AM   #15
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Such devices always record the file as it is coming in. The most they do is
add a wrapper format around it (like AVI or QuickTime). Quality will not be
degraded!
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