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Sony ENG / EFP Shoulder Mounts
Sony PDW-F800, PDW-700, PDW-850, PXW-X500 (XDCAM HD) and PMW-400, PMW-320 (XDCAM EX).


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Old October 29th, 2006, 08:41 AM   #1
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The case for XDCAM

I'm preaching to the converted, but I just put up my latest rant here;
http://www.simonwyndham.co.uk/xdcam_case.html
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Old October 29th, 2006, 10:57 AM   #2
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Wow that was a rant! I do agree though, XDCam is by far the best workflow solution out there for most people at the moment, and it's only getting better.
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Old October 29th, 2006, 04:32 PM   #3
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Some interesting stuff, though I'm not sure it's quite such a one way street as you make out Simon! I'll just comment on a couple of points.

You say about the P2 workflow: "After all surely a director or producer can take their P2 store drive out of his briefcase and start logging his clips in their NLE on a laptop on their way home on the train? The simple answer to that is yes they could. They could also use the individual P2 cards if they were theirs to take with them."

Practically, life is much simpler than that. (At least with the 2/3" P2 cameras, not the HVX.) They provide the facility to also make highly compressed versions of the clips on SD card, instantly viewable out of the camera for logging on a PDA or laptop. More than one producer has told me how potentially attractive that is. I believe Infinity may also offer a mode with a similar facility - main recording to RevPro, low res copy to Compact Flash.

Secondly, there is a desirability nowadays for many productions to shoot with a main 2/3" camera and a 1/3" second camera. Panasonic have brought out the 1/3" variant (the HVX200) before the 2/3" HD P2 camera, Grass Valley are expected to follow up Infinity with a 1/3" camera recording to Compact Flash only. But what's the equivalent going to be with XDCAM? A 1/3" camera with 12cm XDCAM discs is likely to be on the bulky side, and likely to be far more power hungry than other 1/3" models.

I won't deny XDCAM has it's merits, but I'm less convinced it's as one sided as your article implies.
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Old October 29th, 2006, 04:55 PM   #4
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hey provide the facility to also make highly compressed versions of the clips on SD card, instantly viewable out of the camera for logging on a PDA or laptop.
You are correct, but only to a small degree. P2 does indeed record proxy files, but they cannot be logged to anywhere near the same degree as the XDCAM system. The P2 viewer software does not allow marking of in and out points, cliplist editing for writing back to the recording medium, nor clip grouping. The reason for this is because P2 is designed to have the footage offloaded and then erased from the cards. So it is nowhere near as versatile as XD in this regard.

Lets say that I was hired by someone in Scotland to shoot and edit something for them. I shot the footage, and then offloaded the proxy files to their laptop. They can mark bits the want with PDZ-1, and make extensive notes and clip groupings to send to me in a tiny file via email on the opposite end of the country. Whereby I can easily conform that with the high res footage on the same disc. Can't do that with P2 or Infinity.

But good point. I was going to mention it and cover it but must have forgotten :-)

Would be good if Alister could chime in with his comments that he made at IBC regarding extreme weather footage logging. This too would not be possible with P2. Not to the same extent anyhow.

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But what's the equivalent going to be with XDCAM? A 1/3"
Dunno, is my honest answer. But it isn't a one suit fits all. Remember, XDCAM is a workflow as well as a storage recording device. And thats the main point I was trying to get across.
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Old October 29th, 2006, 05:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Simon Wyndham
P2 does indeed record proxy files, but they cannot be logged to anywhere near the same degree as the XDCAM system. The P2 viewer software does not allow marking of in and out points, cliplist editing for writing back to the recording medium, nor clip grouping. .........

I shot the footage, and then offloaded the proxy files to their laptop.........
It may not be as versatile...... but is a lot quicker and simpler for basic viewing/logging! No offloading from XDCAM discs to laptop, just take SD card from camera, put in PDA, view whilst on train etc. The message I'm getting is that is more generally useful for the people I work with than the more sophisticated usage you describe. But of course, it will depend on what sort of work you do.........

As for e-mailing back and forth in the way you describe, the P2 proxies are also e-mailable, and I understood that much of what you describe for XDCAM was doable for them as well? Infinity we have to wait and see, but I wouldn't think there was any intrinsic reason why they couldn't be handled in the same way?
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Old October 30th, 2006, 03:22 AM   #6
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but is a lot quicker and simpler for basic viewing/logging! No offloading from XDCAM discs to laptop, just take SD card from camera, put in PDA, view whilst on train etc.
It takes less than 5 minutes to offload the XDCAM proxy's at the end of the day. Hardly a major effort considering how much more organisational ability they will have!

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As for e-mailing back and forth in the way you describe, the P2 proxies are also e-mailable, and I understood that much of what you describe for XDCAM was doable for them as well?
No, not the same at all. I'm not talking about emailing the actual proxies. I'm talking about the marking of points of interest in the clips, as well as creating cliplists, and then sending this Metadata via email. You cannot create cliplists etc with P2, and you can't get the camera to name the files, so you cannot organise clips properly. With XD I can perform all this clip grouping and cataloguing for future reference. Even if I move to a new NLE system, those references will still be there with my original footage. Everything will be organised rather than just a collection of meaningless clip names. A few months down the line if someone asks me for a small section from something we shot, I can easily reference it and do a quick partial transfer. No need to search through old DVD backups or tape archive. I get requests like this all the time from my business partner while she is doing promo and marketing work.

I have heard the argument that P2 is easier to offload on a train into a laptop before. But as I said, what use is that? You can view the clips or proxies, but you can't do anything useful with them for future reference. You might be able to have the NLE on the laptop. But if you read my article you will see the points I make regarding this.

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As for e-mailing back and forth in the way you describe, the P2 proxies are also e-mailable, and I understood that much of what you describe for XDCAM was doable for them as well?
Only if Infinity is implemented as a workflow rather than just data storage. Thats what people simply aren't understanding. There is a huge difference between a workflow system and a storage system. They might be able to do stuff if they both own the same NLE. But what if they don't? And what if they want to use Metadata for future reference? How do they edit that Metadata, and can they actually manipulate clips with it?
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Old October 30th, 2006, 01:54 PM   #7
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When I go storm chasing I upload the proxy files to broadcasters for them to view by using a laptop and mobile phone. I supply the broadcaster with a copy of the PDZ1 browser or get them to downlaod it from the Sony site. If they like the footage they send me the clip list. I use that to import the files, I then encode the full files to the format of their choice and ftp the clips to them from a hotel or truck stop with wireless internet. This has saved me hours over the previous routine of digitising and encoding first. One of the big advantages is that the correct TC is kept at all times.

I looked long and hard at the HVX and P2 but the media costs are just silly. You have to remember with P2, XDCAM and Infinity that as it is a file based system the actual storage medium can be almost anything from a CD to a Raid Array. The only real requirments are that the medium must be, big enough, robust enough, portable, reliable, cost effective and can be read by your chosen edit system. For me P2 didn't check all the boxes, while XDCAM does. Infinity, who knows yet????

As for a small XDCAM camcorder, well how about recording XDCAM files onto a flash card or hard drive? Maybe Sony will bring out a version of their HDV hard drive that will wrap the files up as XD MXF's... The actual recording medium dosn't have to be disks. You have to stop thinking of XDCAM (and P2, infinity etc) as you would a tape format where the standard was defined by the recording medium. With file based systems it is the Data that defines the system, the recording medium is just a means of getting the data from camera to edit suite.

I would rather spend 5 or 10 mins at the end of a shoot dumping off the proxies from a disk to a laptop than hand over a couple of grands worth of P2 cards to a director. I would not want my rushes on a medium that currently acts for most as temporay storage. Most P2 users have to dump off everything from the cards to some other medium, a process that can go wrong especially at the end of a long day when everyone is tired. The P2 concept is excellent, it's just a concept that is (for most) too far ahead of the current technology/cost.
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Last edited by Alister Chapman; October 30th, 2006 at 02:26 PM.
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Old October 30th, 2006, 04:45 PM   #8
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Nice article Simon. It really summed up the workflow nicely and you pointed out a lot of things that most folk looking at XDCAM for the first time would not necessarily think of. I thought your article was really accurate, I've only spent a week with an F350 a few weeks back, but just took delivery of one again today with Canon HD lens, I'll have this on loan for a few weeks. Also, I've had a lot of experience with P2 as I actually purchased a cheap HVX200 6 months ago, I only had it for a month before realizing all of it's downfalls; too many to mention. It just didn't do it for me, for the reasons you mention in your article, and then some.

Alister makes a good point, why would a smaller Sony camcorder have to use a PFD23 XDCAM disc. It's the file that counts and this format could be written to a Sony Memory Stick if Sony wanted to make a smaller camcorder. My guess is that 2 years from now Sony's Memory Sticks will be able to hold 64GB of data and that will be the recording medium of the Z3 ;)

I think solid state is the future, but not until such a time that you can buy a 32GB stick for £29.95. Until then it is XDCAM all the way.

Anyone checked out the new PDZ-VX10 XDCAM MXF Viewer software on Sony's site?

As for Infinity, I really don't know why people keep banging on about this camera, it is riddled with faults from what I've heard, which is why they keep on delaying the thing. It could be years away, if it ever gets here at all that is; I think RED will beat them to it ;)

There was an amazing piece of software kicking around at IBC come years ago (can't remember the name now). Everybody said it would be an Avid-Killer, it was way cheaper, much better....... etc etc, everyone was talking about it. But it never even made it to production.

I think you have to go for what is available and working now, rather than sit around losing work whilst you wait for something that might not come, and if it does come it might not be as good as they said it was going to be anyway.
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Old November 3rd, 2006, 09:58 PM   #9
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The case for XDCAM!

The case for xdcam!

Simon says ‘Preaching to the converted’? What kind of a church is that! Pardon my difference; I’m not a convert, yet. I would be more accurately labelled as ‘seriously interested’. Never a convert. Whatever, the XDCAM system…slightly pricy, only money ha ha, but all this stuff about workflow is little more than most interesting. Your situation Alister, the workflow seems most enhancing of your objectives indeed. And one cannot in principle argue with the efficiency thing. I’m all for that. And I see the almost obvious slickness and mechanical flawlessness of the getting-things-done Sony design, in dust, wind and snow, and hopefully a strong sea breeze...

Very cool indeed.

But, is that all there is, as the actress said to the Bishop!

What about image quality? How good does it look? How does it compare to the image output from a Z1 say. I have read that it looks better, sometimes by a long way, but sorry, you writers; no matter your rhetorical skills the only measure that really matters for me is that I make the judgment with my own eyes on this 24 inch Dell LCD in my face and also that I might project with a high-end 1920 x 1080 pixel projector, in the native off-the-camera format., and preferably compared with footage shot there and then also with a Z1, or an FX1.

For me the case for XDCAM is in the pudding; some raw footage please amigos, or Sony!

I’m broadbanded.

It's either this or a Z1. One should not rush past the new Canon HDV machines I suppose.

I thank you in advance most sincerely. (Spot’s having a tiz about not being appreciated for posting so much stuff), so just so you know I thank you in advance!

Oh, and I did indeed check out the PDZ-VX10 XDCAM MXF Viewer software on Sony's site? I, too, am now an Englishman. No comment.

Nice player. And now wherever I go xdcam is part of my life; like Vegas 7 is just begging for some xdcam files.

The case for XDCAM is short of a thing or two, at this juncture, in my humble opinion, or ignorance, as I'm experiencing it, I’m begging you...

Footage, and footage.
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Old November 4th, 2006, 01:39 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by John McCully
How does it compare to the image output from a Z1 say. I have read that it looks better, sometimes by a long way, but sorry, you writers; no matter your rhetorical skills the only measure that really matters for me is that I make the judgment with my own eyes on this 24 inch Dell LCD in my face and also that I might project with a high-end 1920 x 1080 pixel projector

Footage, and footage.
Alright, there's a couple threads in the XDCAM board here with links to footage.
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Old November 4th, 2006, 03:48 AM   #11
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XDCAM HD is in a different league to Z1. I have JVC GY-HD111 (which I think it better than Z1 for image quality), and the F350 makes the JVC look like PixelVision.
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Old November 4th, 2006, 08:15 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by John McCully
What about image quality? How good does it look? How does it compare to the image output from a Z1 say. I have read that it looks better, sometimes by a long way,
Well John, consider this. Discovery HD has laid their blessing on the output of these cameras, granting them full acquisition status on the 35mb VBR codec setting. This means they will accept a program that has been shot entirely with these cameras (330/350). Discovery HD has some of the toughest HD technical criteria there is.

So, don't listen to us, listen to a 3rd party like Discovery Channel HD. They look for reasons to reject submissions claiming to be HD.

-gb-
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Old November 4th, 2006, 08:44 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Simon Wyndham
I'm preaching to the converted, but I just put up my latest rant here;
http://www.simonwyndham.co.uk/xdcam_case.html
Hey Simon, I just got a chance to read this piece. One thing you didn't point out that was an immediate attraction to XDCAM for me. With file based transfer, I don't need expensive RAID and capture card to get high quality HD on my system. That lowers the cost of your infrastructure for HD editing. So there is cost savings as well as time savings in the XDCAM workflow.

Also, you hit a nail on the head, but I am not sure you reaiize which nail you hit.

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Proprietry systems often come in for a lot of flak, mainly because people view them as a way for manufacturers to make more money by deliberately making their equipment incompatible with other equipment. However there is another side to this that also reflects on how manufacturers wish their products to be percieved. The simple fact is that if you want something to work for a purpose, the best thing is to actually design something to specifically do what you want it to do. Done well, this ensures a much more reliable and seamless system.
That is the philosophy behind Apple computers. (hehe)

-gb-
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Old November 4th, 2006, 10:56 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Greg Boston

So, don't listen to us

-gb-
I am listening to you all. Reading everything I can find. I truly appreciate all the fine writing right here, from all of you, and I'm more than impressed. But seriously, before I plonk down that kind of money...

Footage; untouched off the camera is what I want to see. Is that unreasonable?

Thanks folks, I know I'm asking a lot, and I promise to return the favor in due course.
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Old November 4th, 2006, 11:55 AM   #15
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What format you want it in?
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