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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 October 10th, 2007, 02:57 PM   #1
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XDCAM-EX1 and... which Mac (Mac Pro or MacBook Pro)?

Hi there,
I'm a bit torn on this one, and would appreciate some advice. I'd like a new Mac Pro, for the processing power that this new HD format will require... but a lot of you are talking about using a MacBook Pro, so you can transfer footage from cards that fill up, in the field.
Mac Pro sounds like the ideal machine for editing (if you're a Mac user): is that right?
MacBook Pro sounds ideal for shooting/downloading, if I'm reading a lot of these postings right.

I tend to shoot four or five hour-long tapes per shoot-day, so I'm going to need some kind of download-off-the-card capability. What options are there now, or are there likely to be soon, for doing this, OTHER than a MacBook Pro? (the more portable the better).

Thanks for any advice,
Malcolm
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Old October 12th, 2007, 03:08 AM   #2
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The Sound of Silence

Right now there aren't any offloading solutions for SxS cards but a laptop with a PC Expresscard slot- like the MacBook Pro.

Well... I think there is a Expresscard to USB adapter, but that will slow your SxS dumps by a bit more than half, and you'd still need a laptop.

No reason it has to be a Mac though, you can use an el cheapo laptop with PC Expresscard and dump to DVD using the internal drive. Of course such an "el cheapo" still runs $800 (I picked an HP Compaq 6720s as my example. The laptop needs expresscard, good internal HD, and dual layer DVD writer.) I don't actually want such a laptop, but I can acquire one just about anywhere on fairly short notice in a pinch.

In fact its worse than that... in all likelihood you had better invest in an external firewire 800 drive if you plan on rotating cards fast. The limiting factor will be DVD write speeds, but a HD would avoid that.

Hence the silence.

Hating a void, how's about some speculation?

I expect we'll get Firestores that work with XDCAM natively not too long after the camera ships. These aren't cheap- but they are cheaper than SxS per GB, and might suit your shooting style.

There's also a XDR Flash gadget by convergent designs. While the XDR Flash offers higher quality, you are still stuck with high priced media. which you have to offload.

http://www.convergent-design.com/dow...lash%20XDR.pdf

Also, there is nothing stopping you from buying enough SxS media to hold you for the day, then offload in the studio. I plan to have six SxS 8GB cards myself. I like the 8GB cards because a full card fits on a dual layer DVD for archiving. You might want the 16GB media if you really shoot 5 or 6 hours of footage a day.


As to editing, the Macbook Pro's offer enough power for editing XDCAM footage. Depending on the type of post work you do you may need more computer power, but you should be able to handle all basic editing tasks with a MacBook Pro.

Having said that, I am probably one of the exceptions. I do a lot of extensive post work, including Shake, Modo, Maya and of course Final Cut Studio. I can beat the tar out of any desktop made to date on a project.

I plan on selling my dual G5 and acquiring a MacBook Pro (refurbished if possible) immediately with my XDCAM and additionally getting whatever the fastest Mac is whenever they release the next major Mac Pro revision. I think I am also going to get a Mac just for my "not post" work... probably an iMac of some sort. I can always use the processors for Compressor or Shake right?
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Old October 12th, 2007, 09:39 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Alexander Ibrahim View Post
Right now there aren't any offloading solutions for SxS cards but a laptop with a PC Expresscard slot- like the MacBook Pro/ I expect we'll get Firestores that work with XDCAM natively not too long after the camera ships/ There's also a XDR Flash gadget by convergent designs/
As to editing, the Macbook Pro's offer enough power for editing XDCAM footage. Depending on the type of post work you do you may need more computer power, but you should be able to handle all basic editing tasks with a MacBook Pro
Hi Alexander,
I appreciate your reply... that's a lot of very helpful information. I checked out the Convergent Design XDR flash gadget, and you're right... very expensive! I've emailed the Firestore people, asking what they might have waiting in the wings for the EX1 - - I'll post back if/when I get an answer. I'll be curious to know how much this device would cost, vs. the cost of extra ExpressCards.
How would the quality/speed, etc. of the Convergent Design gadget compare to the Firestore gadget, do you think?
You're right, of course... maybe I should just get a MacBook Pro instead of a Mac Pro, but the idea of having to worry about looking after a laptop when I'm shooting worries me. I like to be very mobile, and travel as light as I can. I can just picture myself losing something that isn't attached to me.
Maybe we'll find out we can use cheaper ExpressCards, and I'll be able to buy a bunch of extras.
Can I ask... what new features are you waiting/hoping for in the next Mac Pro (that might be causing you to wait for the next release)? I think we're due for a new MacBook Pro and and new Mac Pro sometime soon, don't you? I edited in the past (I'm an Avid Xpress Pro editor, by the way) with both a powerbook (1.67GHz) and a Mac desktop (dual 1.25GHz), and I preferred the desktop - - hence my conundrum today re the EX1. Thanks again for addressing these issues.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 02:18 PM   #4
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Hi Alexander,
Can I ask... what new features are you waiting/hoping for in the next Mac Pro (that might be causing you to wait for the next release)?
The easy answer on the Mac Pro is the 'Penryn' Xeon.

http://www.macrumors.com/2007/10/05/...yn-processors/

It has a 12MB cache and a 1600MHz bus. It also has a "real" four core design. The current Quad core Xeons are actually two dual core chips in one package.

All of that is incremental improvement, but I think its coming out very soon- like before Christmas soon. I may have to wait until after Macworld to actually get it, but I like to buy my main computers right after Apple introduces them. I ordered my current G5 dual 2.7 the day after it was announced.

As far as laptops are concerned, I need a MacBook Pro. I could get a windows machine- but then it would be entirely useless to me off set. I can't use a MacBook because of the anemic video card and lack of Expresscard. Honestly however I could get a lower spec'd laptop than the MacBook Pro if it just had those few features. As a result I am not deeply concerned with getting the very best deal on a MacBook Pro, because it won't be my "main" machine for very long at all, and any configuration of it will surpass my laptop needs.

That said, I think we are due for some more incremental MacBook Pro improvements. The biggest possibility is a mobile quad core chip. I don't really expect that until WWDC 2008 though. I don't know if we'll get them at that time, most likely just an announcement... but I'm ready to be surprised.

Worrying about a laptop on set isn't that bad. First off get a solid case, like this:

http://www.radtech.us/Products/MacTruck.aspx

Second, most of the time on a film set, there will be a person in charge of offloading your cards and archiving your data. A desk or a cart should be provided. I expect to have that in "video village" so I can use an AJO ioHD to pull the 4:2:2 HD SDI feed when I need it and pipe the output of the ioHD into my monitors. Sorry... going tangential- the point is that they will also be tasked with looking after that equipment.

Worst case, get a tripod, get a piece of decent wood or metal, tap a tripod mount into it, and zip tie your mac to the plate- ta dah mobile laptop mount. You could refine that concept if you need it more often.

Finally- about editing. The main reason I don't like laptops is because they underperform my desktops- heck even a top of the line MacBook Pro is slower than my two year old G5. The MacBook Pro is ridiculously faster than both your current machines combined. Your SD work will blister and HD will be very acceptable.

I expect to reconfigure mine to work as a "desktop" by attaching it to a RAID array using eSATA. That's a good temp solution, and it also solves a hardware need on set when I am capturing ProRes 1080p HQ. In your case... when you are capturing DNxHD.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 03:07 PM   #5
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The easy answer on the Mac Pro is the 'Penryn' Xeon.

Worst case, get a tripod, get a piece of decent wood or metal, tap a tripod mount into it, and zip tie your mac to the plate- ta dah mobile laptop mount. You could refine that concept if you need it more often.

I expect to reconfigure mine to work as a "desktop" by attaching it to a RAID array using eSATA. That's a good temp solution, and it also solves a hardware need on set when I am capturing ProRes 1080p HQ. In your case... when you are capturing DNxHD.
Yes I'd heard about the upcoming Penryn chipset - - I'm sorry to hear that it will just be an "incremental" improvement, but I guess a bit better than something that's already really good isn't such a bad thing.
The MacBook Pro mounted to a tripod is a really neat idea. But I see that our working situations are night-and-day different. I work by myself; not with a crew as you do (and a big crew from the sounds of it).
O.K. - - one last thing. Why configure your MacBook Pro like a desktop (with an external RAID array of eSATA drives), if you're going to get a desktop? And while on the subject of RAIDED eSATA drives... would you recommend the Caldigit S2VR model, or G-Tech's G-Speed drives? And (this might be obvious to others but it isn't to me) if I get a Mac Pro desktop, should I fill the hd bays inside, and RAID them, or get an external RAIDED drive set-up?
Is there an advantage to one or the other?
Thanks so much,
Malcolm
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Old October 12th, 2007, 03:22 PM   #6
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Using the SxS USB adapter will not half your transfer speed unless you have a mega raid array capable of over 600Mbs transfer speeds. There is very little difference in transfer speeds between using a card over a built in Express card slot or using the USB adapter as it is the hard drive that limits the transfer speed, not the USB connection.

The new Mac EX/XDCAM HD transfer software combined with FCP on a Macbook will make for a very slick system. Add an external monitor or Matrox HDSDi converter, a firewire raid array and you have a very competent edit suite with just about the best XDCAM integration that there is.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 09:03 PM   #7
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Using the SxS USB adapter will not half your transfer speed unless you have a mega raid array capable of over 600Mbs transfer speeds.
A two drive SATA RAID-0 should saturate FW 800, a three drive array definitely will.

In fairness... we are talking about very small time increments, so a big % change isn't really much gain in workflow once you get "big picture"

In other words, while it can be faster we are only talking about saving 3 or 4 minutes on a ten minute job. Negligible.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 11:17 PM   #8
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Yes I'd heard about the upcoming Penryn chipset - - I'm sorry to hear that it will just be an "incremental" improvement, but I guess a bit better than something that's already really good isn't such a bad thing.
Intel calims that it will 45% faster on some tasks than the current Xeon.

I'd take that with a grain of salt though.

I think that tasks that fit in the cache might see that kind of increase, but larger data sets will suffer from the same sorts of problems as the current 8 core Xeons- memory bandwidth starvation.

So, what do I expect in practice from the chip?

Well if we did a linear scale based on the increase clock speed from 3.0GHz to 3.2GHz we'd get about 6.7% improvement. I expect something like 12-15% improvement for tasks that are CPU bound, and up to a 45% improvement for some, probably very rare, special cases.

Quote:
Why configure your MacBook Pro like a desktop (with an external RAID array of eSATA drives), if you're going to get a desktop?
Two reasons:
Budget requirements are such that the MacBook Pro will have to serve as my desktop for a little while.

I expect to use the XDCAM EX1 with an AJA ioHD to capture HD SDI to ProRes. I need a much faster drive system than what you get in laptops.

Quote:
If I get a Mac Pro desktop, should I fill the hd bays inside, and RAID them, or get an external RAIDED drive set-up?
Is there an advantage to one or the other?
This depends on your specific workflow.

In my current machine I only have two internal drive bays.

One is OS and Apps.

The other is a library of materials I use in multiple productions.

I use external drives over firewire for each project. Sometimes those are RAID arrays, sometimes they are just drives in an enclosure.

My plan when I get a Mac Pro is to have a 1TB drive for OS, a 1TB drive for Time Machine, a 2TB RAID 0 array for my frequently used clips, which I am going to start rebuilding in ProRes HD. That will also be my main scratch disk.

I'll probably use external SATA & FW combo interface drive arrays for acquired media and some recent projects.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 09:04 PM   #9
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Lot of contradictions as to when the Penryn based Mac Pro's will come out.

ThinkSecret.com reported that the only new Mac's coming out this year according to their sources are MacBook Pro's with speed bumps. With nothing else until 2008, which means MacPro after Macworld in Jan.

But MacRumors has the MacPro as a "update soon!" with the MacBook Pro being "neutral". With the number to back that up apparently both a Nov 11 release date of Penryn leaked, and Apple reports that Apple has been hoarding early releases of the Penryn, which would translate to Apple releasing Penryn based MacPro's as soon as they can make them.

Personally, I like the idea of buying what you need, when you need it. The current sets of both MacBooks and Mac Pro's are great computers. If you need now, buy now. After all, in mid to late 2008 Intel will release their Nehalem chips, which will replace the Penryn...
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 02:19 AM   #10
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Personally, I like the idea of buying what you need, when you need it. The current sets of both MacBooks and Mac Pro's are great computers. If you need now, buy now. After all, in mid to late 2008 Intel will release their Nehalem chips, which will replace the Penryn...
I agree, in general.

I am replying to make clear that I am staggering my purchases for two reasons:

I am expecting some new technology very soon. The EX1 and 'new Mac Pro' are just part of that new tech.

Staggering purchases will help with my budget/financing.

I plan on starting my purchasing in November and finishing it in February.

Putting this in terms of my business needs, any current MacBook Pro meets or exceeds my needs in every category for a laptop computer. I can buy now. Even if Apple introduces a new machine almost immediately afterwards it just doesn't matter.

As far as desktops go, I need the fastest possible machine. Waiting as long as MacWorld is acceptable since I can stagger along with a Macbook Pro until then- because I have no paid work happening at this time. Paying clients may change that willingness to wait.

I should also note that while I am waiting on a Mac Pro, I have a PowerMac G5 2.7 dualie to work on- not exactly a slouch. PCI-X is killing me though and I am holding off on purchases of i/o boards until I have a PCI Express machine.
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