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Old February 14th, 2006, 07:01 PM   #1
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"Wrapping" file formats

Hi there,
New to P2 and the potential of the HVX. Looking to possibly getting the PAL model when it becomes available. Currently trying to get as much heads up on the system as possible. I edit using FCP5 on a G5 (not dual core). Basically my main concern is the treatment of P2 footage once on the card. I believe it is .mvx file format. So when I plug in the card to download to my mac am I basically copying from the card to the hard drive? Is there any quality loss? I would obviously like to keep the original footage. Also to work with FCP I will need to convert from .mvx to .mov (quicktime) files. I read in another forum, where my posts were completely ignored - TWICE - as I had questioned the term "wrapping" file formats which had been used. What is the best, and simplest, way to prepare clips from the cards for editing in FCP? I know this subject has been covered a few times previously but I live in a place with dial up systems (28Bps at best) in the middle of the Pacific and it takes forever and a day to load the forum pages.

In advance, thanks for any information on these questions. I am not completely new to video. Been shooting uunderwater for 15 years and am seriously looking to take the HVX on as my primary underwater filming format. Just getting my head around all of the technology involved.

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Mark Thorpe.
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Old February 14th, 2006, 07:44 PM   #2
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Hi Mark, I can answer a couple of your questions, and hopefully some of the other guys will follow up quickly for the rest of them...

Quote:
P2 footage once on the card. I believe it is .mvx file format
Actually it's the MXF file format. You can read up about it on my P2 site. There's some MXF info here (scroll down a little on the page at this link):

http://www.p2info.net/p2faq.php#p2post

And also here... Information about the MXF File Format:

http://www.p2info.net/resources/index.php#mxfinfo

Quote:
So when I plug in the card to download to my mac am I basically copying from the card to the hard drive? Is there any quality loss?
It's a file copy process, no loss of quality at all!

I can't help out much with FCP because I haven't used it since the Version 1 days. Surely somebody else here can lend a hand with that. Welcome aboard,
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Old February 14th, 2006, 08:22 PM   #3
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Thanks Chris,
Good to see that there are people out there willing to shed light on the subject for the newer visitors to this site.

Mark.
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Old February 14th, 2006, 09:03 PM   #4
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Hi Mark,

It's much simpler than you're thinking.

The cards store the files in MXF format. Some editors, such as Canopus Edius and Avid, can work with those MXF files directly.

FCP can't, so FCP needs to convert the files to Quicktime MOV's. It's a very simple one-step process. Use FCP 5.0.4, and go to File->Import->Panasonic P2. It'll start the process of copying the files from the P2 card, unwrapping the MXF, rewrapping it as a Quicktime .MOV, and then writing it to your hard disk.

One step, very quick, no hassles.

With any luck (and a lot of customer pressure on Apple), hopefully Apple will implement native MXF support in FCP6 at NAB in April.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 08:55 AM   #5
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FCP 4.5 & MXF files

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Green
FCP needs to convert the files to Quicktime MOV's. It's a very simple one-step process. Use FCP 5.0.4, and go to File->Import->Panasonic P2. It'll start the process of copying the files from the P2 card, unwrapping the MXF, rewrapping it as a Quicktime .MOV, and then writing it to your hard disk.
What about FCP 4.5? The P2 card mounts on my Powerbook but I've been unable so far to unwrap the MXF files on the card. Is there a workaround for this, or a software patch?
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 09:12 AM   #6
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Bill,

I don't think there is a patch; if you want FCP to talk to P2 you'll need to upgrade to FCP 5. I'd highly recommend that anyway if you're going to be doing any DVCPRO-50/100 editing as FCP 5 does a much better job at allocating resources such as RAM, and is using updated algorithms for things like rendering making it faster than the 4.5. I say this from experience since my first FCP system was 4.5.

One note about upgrading (if you do it): It's not a requirement and some will argue the point, but if you have the time I'd highly recommend doing a clean install of FCP 5. Unfortunately the only way to do this is to wipe the OS drive and clean install the OS as well. This sounds like a major pain, I know, but what I found with my own experience between 3 machines that had FCP 4.5 and trying the usual upgrade path, is that for whatever reason 4.5 leaves behind some strange code that makes 5 just a little buggy.

I don't have a clear explanation as to why, but each of the G5's that had FCP 4.5 responded in the same manner to the "upgrade". So, I did a test, I wiped the OS drive on one machine, re-installed OSX with all the updates and QT Pro, then installed FCP Studio 5. The buggy behavior was gone. I did the same thing to the other 2 systems and got the same result - no more strange glitches.

I can't tell you for certain that this would happen to you, but if you upgrade and things just don't work smoothly with FCP then that's what I'd do.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 10:19 AM   #7
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Robert,

Thanks--that's not what I was hoping to hear, but I'm not surprised. I had similar trouble with an FCP 5 upgrade on my G5 recently.

So here's my bind: I have a large, nearly completed project in FCP 4.5 created entirely on my laptop. Given the bugginess between 4.5 and 5, I'm reluctant to change anything just now even though I just got this beautiful HVX200 and am going on a footage acquisition trip overseas in a week and hope to use it. So I have three further questions:

1) I won't need to use the laptop to edit in this case. Should I be able to successfully keep FCP 4.5 on my laptop for the time being and simply use the laptop to mount the P2 cards and transfer the enclosed data to an external hard drive (to be unwrapped later on in my G5)? I can test this before I leave, but any information you can provide would be helpful.

2) The workflow I'm planning won't allow me to either carry an external hard drive around with me (which would allow me to offload material directly to the drive from the camera), and I also won't be able to carry the laptop around with me. Until the cineporter or the Firestore is available, I'm planning on trying to use a USB on-the-go (self powered) 60 gb drive to offload files as I work. Is there any way you can think of that would allow me to dump the data on the USB hard drive to a bigger La Cie drive, thus avoiding the laptop altogether?

3) Do you know if I can successfully move and update the FCP 4.5 laptop project lock, stock and barrell off of my laptop and onto the G5 running FCP 5? When I upgraded to 5 on the G5 there were some issues with a project I'd put aside that I'd begun in an earlier version of FCP, while another more recent unfinished project created in 4.5 came along fully intact. I'm trying to avoid making that fundamental FCP mistake ever again, i.e. upgrading with unfinished projects in limbo, but maybe you know of a rule of thumb about these issues that I'm not aware of.

Thanks for any advice you can give me!
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 11:00 AM   #8
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I don't have all the answers to these but...

1) If all you're going to do is transfer data from a P2 card to an external drive, then it doesn't matter which version of FCP you're using since you're not importing those clips into FCP - if I'm understanding you correctly, that is. The laptop (I'm assuming it's a PB) is just acting as a throughput device in that case, not a capture or logging device and FCP is not acting as the intermediary.

2) I assuming that your acquisition trip is going to be mostly location and not studio? If that's the case, I'd suggest taking along a separate battery-powered power pack. Tripp-Lite, Xantrex and others make these devices. They amount to batteries inside an enclosure with an inverter and A/C plugs in one unit. They range in size and cost from $150 to $1500 depending on your wattage and runtime needs. They use either the smallish motorcycle-type up to full-size automotive batteries and come with chargers. All you'd need to complete the outfit would be a universal power adapter to charge the unit after the day's shoot is done.

This would give you plenty of power to run the HVX directly and power any typical external Firewire drive sans laptop all day.

However, if carrying around the power-pack isn't feasible either then I'm afraid I don't have any suggestions. I personally have not tested any of the self-powered USB drives. Others on this forum have mentioned things like the Wolverine drive but again, I have no experience with them and don't plan to test any.

There is one other factor to consider - which I don't have any way to test since all my drives are either FW or SATA: The HOST function in the camera is looking for a 1394 (FW) device - if I read the manual correctly. In order for the camera to x-fer clips it first has to format the drive - I don't know if the HVX can format a USB drive! Do you? Does anybody? If it can't then you can't use any USB drive regardless how versatile the power situation may be.

3) I have successfully migrated several projects from 4.5 to 5 however, I did so by copying all the relative files (project, capture etc) onto a folder on an external HDD, then copied that again onto my working drives for my edit system. Once there, I imported the project into FCP and let it do the migration and update. I chose NOT to have the render files imported to take advantage of better rendering in FCP 5. I would not however, do that migration into FCP 5 unless it was a clean install.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 12:12 PM   #9
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Thanks, Robert. I will test out some of these things as soon as I can. I would just have to use the laptop as a throughput device, so that should work. I really can't afford the extra weight and bulk of the battery pack you suggest, so I'll try to find out about the HVX's ability to format a USB OTG drive. Will try the FCP 4.5 transfer now!
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 12:23 PM   #10
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Something to keep in mind is that QuickTime can act very much as a container for video using almost any codec. When people say that video is "QuickTime" that's kind of vague, because that can mean a lot of different things.
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