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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old September 8th, 2007, 03:44 PM   #1
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Buying the XDCAM EX things to remember...

I think Sony were forced to drop the DVCAM codec off this camera in order to gain the CineAlta badge. It would be useful if a Sony rep. could put our minds at rest by telling us if the camera has a downconvert to DV/DVCAM. The main things you have got to ask yourself if you are planning to buy this camera is...
1. Does your NLE support this level of HD in real time.
2. Most NLEs including Apples 8 core MacPro does not output HD material to an external monitor without additional hardware.
3. Compressing 2 hours of HD material for a DVD takes over 16 hours. (8 core MacPro).
4. Downconverting takes extra time.
5. If you back up onto a Firestore via 1394 you will need to buy a new Firestore with XDCAM EX codec.
6. Your Lanc zoom arm/switch will no longer work and looking at the remote pins at the end of the zoom grip although it's a Fujinon lens it's not a standard Fujinon zoom pin config.
7. Your card is your "tape" so you will need to backup all your footage at least twice (Onto 2 external drives) to make sure your footage is safe.
8. What happens if you are asked to work abroad and you don't know how much footage you will shoot this lends itself to backing up to hard disk every evening if you don't have a good stock of SxS cards with you or afford to to so.

HD at this level is not for the faint hearted or those of us with small pockets. We can only hope Sony will bring out a "DVCAM codec" version of this camera as low light is a major drawback with all DV/HDV camcorders to date and the 12.5mm chips seem to give the answer, not to mention the excellent 14x Fujinon lens.
This camera looks superb but will need a complete rethink come post production.
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Old September 8th, 2007, 04:24 PM   #2
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Great thoughts.

HD is a lot more than buying a new camera.

Another thought is the production monitor. To get a nice SD equivalent CRT, your are talking over $3,000.

Computer monitors with component inputs could be made to work, but they might not show motion or represent NTSC colors as well as a CRT.

I think they would work well for a field monitor.

Another thought is, the price of a cheap laptop is under $1,000. This is close to the cost of one 16gb SxS card.

It would be nice to be able to use the laptop screen as a field monitor and a backup device as well.

Do they make laptops with an input that the EX could feed it?
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Old September 8th, 2007, 04:32 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by George Johnston View Post
I think Sony were forced to drop the DVCAM codec off this camera in order to gain the CineAlta badge.
If so, I'd very happily swap back the CineAlta badge to regain the DVCAM codec. SD work is likely to be relevant for a time to come and IMO the lack of ability to record 25 Mbs SD DVCAM to the card is quite a serious drawback to what is in most respects a very large step forward.
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Old September 8th, 2007, 04:38 PM   #4
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Anyone think it is possible or likely that adobe CS3 will be made XDCAM EX compatible. I noticed adobe just released an update to handle the HVX 200 P2 mxf 720p file structure.
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Old September 8th, 2007, 04:43 PM   #5
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3. Compressing 2 hours of HD material for a DVD takes over 16 hours. (8 core MacPro).
George, where did you take this figure from?!! On my 4-core QX6700, I compress a 1-hour DVD from 1440x1080/25p HDV timeline in some 35 mins; what makes you think that 1920x1080@35Mbps would take that much longer?

With most of your other points I tend to agree - I wouldn't feel safe with just 2 8GB cards in the field, or at a wedding, far from the office; with my V1E and DR60, I can take 4-5 tapes with me and be confident I'll get 4.5 hours of HDV material already archived on tapes, with the DR60 ready for fast off-loading back in the office for editing. And all this without even replacing or recharging battery, as the L-series 970 lasts forever on the V1, and the smallest 570 - for more than long enough on the DR60. This is why I'm hoping for the DR60 being usable with the EX1 as well, with its i.LINK outputting HDV! This would mean that should my limited quantity of SxS card not be sufficient to cover all the action out there, after filling them with HQ material I could continue recording SP at 25Mbps to the drive.

Nobody confirmed whether this is viable, though.
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Old September 8th, 2007, 07:17 PM   #6
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Moving to HD from an SD business for us paid off two fold and also cost a chunk.

We were able to increase our price due to the fact that we were shooting in HDV. The revenue increased exponentially because people who found out we were shooting HDV migrated to our side and more people bought our packages because they were impressed that thier event would be shot in HD :)

I blindly went for it and just dealt with the hardware/software needs as we met them. Our three year old G5 Macs handle HDV no problem. Sending them to DVDSP via compressor does take time. I'm guessing 14 hours for around two hours of AIC/HDV. The difference in quality is obvious even when put onto SD DVD.

I agree two cards will not cut the mustard even if it's in yer head.. :)

Somehow I believe that we will be able to plug this cam into our editing stations just in time for the cam to hit the street.

Did I read right about the CARDS being 4:2:2 if capturing via the SDI out.. I thought it was just a live feed 4:2:2....
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Old September 8th, 2007, 07:33 PM   #7
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I totally agree with Nigel Cooper in his article. http://www.dvuser.co.uk/content.php?CID=171

Why would you want to record in SD? Please don't seriously try to answer that either. Shoot HD, edit HD, Master HD (XDCAM HD optical Disc), then create an SD master (XDCAM or DVCAM tape) and DVD master. Adobe CS3 allows you to do your Blu Ray and DVD authoring in the same software, the same menus and chapter points can be used for creating both - no extra work at all really, hope Sony Vegas Pro 8 is the same in that way.
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Old September 8th, 2007, 08:04 PM   #8
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HD v SD reply to Mike Williams

HD gives you the best their is...picture quality...but at a cost. Since my early pro days in video, I am talking Sony low band Umatic and 3 tube cameras we have strived for the best there is but to get the best does not always equate to what you do. If I wanted the best from Sony I would spend £50K upwards and thats only for the camera with no lens ! I don't need or want a camera of this magnitude, nor do I want a shoulder mount...I don't need to look good at the cost of my health. Mike good for you...you took the bull by the horns and it seemed to have paid off but 99% of my corporate clients don't want or won't pay extra for a format they can't appreciate. Very few companies are set up to view HD and yes filming a job in HD makes it future proof but thats only if it needs to be. Mike you mention you 3 year old Macs, well try doing some serious graphics in Motion 3 with HDV and it will come to a stand still, I have an 8 core Intel MacPro (6 Gig mem) with an ATI graphics board and if I add an HD Jump Back to a chroma key in Motion 3 it almost falls over. If you are talking about simple editing in FCP then it handles HDV but 14 hours to render a 2hr job which in DV would take 25mins in my Mac is not user friendly...what a nightmare if you need to make any changes as happens frequently and sometimes it's not your fault but the client sees or hears something that they want excluded !
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Old September 8th, 2007, 09:10 PM   #9
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"...try doing some serious graphics in Motion 3 with HDV and it will come to a stand still, I have an 8 core Intel MacPro (6 Gig mem) with an ATI graphics board and if I add an HD Jump Back to a chroma key in Motion 3 it almost falls over. If you are talking about simple editing in FCP then it handles HDV but 14 hours to render a 2hr job which in DV would take 25mins in my Mac is not user friendly..."

Are we not comparing Long GOP w/baseband HD video here? Apples and oranges. ANY workstation will slow damatically when doing layering, transitions and effects with a long GOP HD segment, as it must expand individual frame out from between the keyframes that bracket the involved segment, perform the HD effect desired, than re-compress everything between the keyframes back to HDV.

IF there was any way possible in your workflow situation, it would be desireable to transcode from HDV to some other codec BEFORE beginning the edit process. Should be much faster then waiting till the end, because the native HDV files have the proper GOP intervals. Transcoding at this point means a straight codec translation, no re-computing GOP intervals.

Those advocating lo-loss edit-friendly codecs, like ProRes422 declare it speeds the editing, but if you stay HDV native, the entire timeline will have to be conformed (rendered) in order to reestablish the proper GOP keyframe sequence, as well as transcode to your selected output format.

This is what makes the burn to DVD process so tedious. Make sure, if you are sending to your DVD burner from the NLE timeline, and it may be doing a direct frame by frame conversion, to render a finished mov or avi or whatever format serves you as a master, if it offers you the option.

DV files are not comparable performance-wise because the max data rate is SO much lower, the cpu on most computers can perform the frequent renders quickly. If you were to up-rez DV to DVCPro50, (a Mac example) it would edit even faster (fewer compression/expansion cycles). Translation: big, simple files-no problem, big, highly compressed files with infrequent keyframes (HDV=2/sec), big problem. Sorry if that's an over-simplification, but it might serve someone.
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Old September 8th, 2007, 09:25 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
Great thoughts.
Do they make laptops with an input that the EX could feed it?
Sure... lots of laptops have ExpressCard slots. You should be able to copy your video from your SxS card to a laptop in the field so that you can shoot more video on the same card.
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Old September 8th, 2007, 09:37 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by George Johnston View Post
I think Sony were forced to drop the DVCAM codec off this camera in order to gain the CineAlta badge.
Hmmm, don't know about that, George. The full size cameras shoot DVCAM and wear the Cinealta badge.

-gb-
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Old September 9th, 2007, 01:01 AM   #12
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Sure... lots of laptops have ExpressCard slots. You should be able to copy your video from your SxS card to a laptop in the field so that you can shoot more video on the same card.
Hey Tom,

Actually I meant a live video feed so the laptop could be used as a monitor.
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Old September 9th, 2007, 01:35 AM   #13
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To answer some questions here using Vegas as an example
(not considering smartrendering in V8)


1. Does your NLE support this level of HD in real time.
((Vegas has support, moreso than any other NLE, file management, proxy, and acquisition from 1394 or USB 2.. were talking edit off the card here. With new FAM support in V8, this too should be improved)

2. Most NLEs including Apples 8 core MacPro does not output HD material to an external monitor without additional hardware.

((Vegas 6 7 and 8 only require a HD capable LCD panel. Colour profiles for your respective area are available. In turn your second display can in fact be used as a colour reference monitor. You do not need any other hardware save for a GFX card which can output dual monitors. SLI then youve got 4 outputs))

3. Compressing 2 hours of HD material for a DVD takes over 16 hours. (8 core MacPro).

((Vegas 8 has smartrendering for long GOP formats, in turn rendering is faster than realtime. Aside form this, Vegas editing is live and "free" whereby you can loop a region and continue to work and edit while the video continues to playback with those adjustments being put through without any need to prerender.
V6-V7 is about 1.5-2.5x realtime in a single core with 1gb ram using lowly IDE drives. However for downscaling, your looking at about 2 to 3 times realtime.
As the XDcam is Native 1920x1080, scaling UP to BluePrint (Blueray disc video format) is not required as it is required for HDV. In turn, saving that crucial upscale process.
Rendering time on ANY NLE is based on what type of edit your doing, colouring, compositing etc etc so its relative to the type of wrk your doing))

4. Downconverting takes extra time.

((Thats a given on any NLE))

5. If you back up onto a Firestore via 1394 you will need to buy a new Firestore with XDCAM EX codec.

((I personally wouldnt use a firestore. but im waiting to see what the "HDV" output on the 1394 is all about. Check the port and youll see the HDV logo))

6. Your Lanc zoom arm/switch will no longer work and looking at the remote pins at the end of the zoom grip although it's a Fujinon lens it's not a standard Fujinon zoom pin config.

((No, it a proprietary connection which will more than likely also offer additional features than those found on simple LANCs. More likely it wil be a remote dvice control for using the deck as a means of media management and transfer. I could be wrong))


7. Your card is your "tape" so you will need to backup all your footage at least twice (Onto 2 external drives) to make sure your footage is safe.

((Or you could back up the material XDcam or BD discs. Another option is to output XDcam 25mbps as HDV onto tape from your NLE. Most pro studios have more than 1 workstation so tis shouldnt be a rpoblem while u continue to work))

8. What happens if you are asked to work abroad and you don't know how much footage you will shoot this lends itself to backing up to hard disk every evening if you don't have a good stock of SxS cards with you or afford to to so.
((This is where laptop computers coome into play. In any profesion using solid state media (psuch as photography ) its wise to either have a means to review and strore your materials A good laptop is about a grand USD, and it can also double as a field monitor when used with OnLocation or a mobile workstation for basic editing tasks))


The issue here is whether or not the format and the camera itself pushes the industry to cover the costs of teh additional processing. THere WILL be people out there giving HD out at SD prices and this sets a poor precedent for those wishing to use HD as a step up for their prices .As for DVCam, in al honesty, is no longer a needed format. For SD work, your better off scaling down to DV50 and attaining a close to 422 colour space and working with that as opposed to 420 (or 411 in NTSC) dvcam
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Old September 9th, 2007, 03:03 AM   #14
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Expansion please

Paul Izbicki "IF there was any way possible in your workflow situation, it would be desireable to transcode from HDV to some other codec BEFORE beginning the edit process."

This is where things get a fair bit muddy in the HD swimming pool...there seems to be different qualities of HD and how compressed it is to the extent that we have HDV. So this might be the time for explanation...
At a guess...Is HDV a more domestic HD and HD comes in different bit rates I notice Sony mention 25 and 35Mbs the latter being the full monty. We also have DVCPRO HD and XDCAM HD and good old Sony are working on Super HD which from memory is 8 times better than todays HD !

So back to your quote Paul...HDV seems to be a killer because I assume there is still some compression that my Mac does not handle well. So what codec do you recomend that is better for me to use.
Q. What form of HD would my Mac cope with better than HDV.
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Old September 9th, 2007, 04:15 AM   #15
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I just bought a DSR450 (2/3" DVCAM) a few months back in order to replace my JVC HD111.

When I read the stats on boards like this I sometimes question that decision. When I shoot with the camera and view the results, I don't.

It produces great pictures with controllable DOF, with excellent low light and super low noise. I can buy media for 2 an hour and use a billion different lenses. I've shown SD footage on 30' screens and never, ever, ever once has a single client said, "looks a bit soft to me" or questioned the picture quality in any way.

Also I can edit footage happily on my old G5 Powerbook in the field with full realtime performance.

I think HD is more a marketing tool than anything. It certainly has trade-offs and at the end of the day, doesn't make a film any better, just sharper.
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