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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 November 1st, 2007, 03:38 PM   #1
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Should I get one?

Hi folks
.
I could need some advice.
For a documentary Im shooting I was able to buy a camera and rent it out to the production company.
It had to be a small camera and it had to be HD (HDV) due to locations and the subject.
I thought the EX1 would be perfect, but as it didnt ship in time I was forced to get another camera. It was between XL-H1 and JVC 200. I much prefered the manual lens on the JVC, but post is being done on Avid (and not by me).
Knowing the issues with JVC and AVID and the reliability issues of the JVC, I went for the Canon when I got a good deal on a ex-demo model.

Although the Canon delivers great images I just hate that consumer wrapping on a very good piece of glass. I thought I could get used to the handling of the lens or make it work somehow, but unfortunatly not. I cant stand it

Things have moved slowly with the documentary and we have only shot 2 days (out of 25) and Im first in line for an EX1 (pre ordered just in case)

Big question is should I get it?
The things that worries me are as follows.

The workflow, it seems that I will have to get a MacbookPro to off load footage and be able to hand over a Masters to the producer by burning DVDs.
Anyone have an estimate for how long it takes to burn a DL DVD?
Will this whole process of off loading and burning take alot of time?

Is it difficult to mix the footage from the Canon on a timeline? (Not thinking of matching the looks, just codecs)

How does the camera hold up when you need a SD end product? (maybe 350 owners can give some info here)

Im concerned about dropping tape because its so easy to hand over to clients, it seems I always have to drag a laptop with me on shoots when using cards.

I know you guys cant make my mind up for me, but any thoughts and/or experience are welcome in this moment of decision
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Old November 1st, 2007, 06:51 PM   #2
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I've had a very brief look at the Clip Browser manual and see the cards are using Fat32 which means they're spanning files over 4GB.

Typical DVD burners can burn at 16x. DL tends to be 4x or 8x (in the fastest burners). It might be fastest to burn using standard DVD-R at 16x since no single clip will be larger than 4GB. It'll mean more discs but speed is more important IMHO.

My guess is that at 16x it'll take about 8 minutes to burn a DVD-R. That would mean just over 30 minutes to burn DL at 8x or maybe 60 minutes at 4X. I'm thinking it'll be faster to burn two DVD-R than a single DL. I was originally concerned about the file structure with 8GB clips and longer but if no clip is longer than 4GB then DVD-R might be fastest way to deliver after a shoot.

So that would be 8 minutes of burn time for every 25 minutes of video shot at 35mbps.

Offloading from card to computer seems to be about 5 minutes for every 50 minutes of video. So imagine 5 minutes to CPU and 32 minutes to burn 4 DVD-Rs. Of course the human element has to be taken into account and this is also all speculation.

Also keep in mind you can be offloading and burning during the shoot, easier if you have an assistant. That can mean everything but the last offload and burn can be done by the end of the shoot. Also the client walks with ONE set of the Masters, not THE Masters. You have everything on hard drive at that point and can make a 2nd set of discs too. Lots of potential redundency.

Last edited by Craig Seeman; November 1st, 2007 at 07:22 PM.
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 01:41 AM   #3
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Thanks again for very informative post Craig. On this documentary I dont have an assistant, but for other shoots I will.
On this shoot I coukd probably deliver the DVDs the day after, leaving me to only off load if I have to.
I wouldnt feel very comfortable doing that though, only having one copy on my hard drive.

One thing to take into consideration is where do you keep your laptop.
You want it close for easy acces to the SxS cards, but it has to be far enough away so it wont interfere with the sound you are recording.

A laptop working this hard and burning DVDs will make quite a bit of noise and Im sure my soundman wont be happy
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 08:58 AM   #4
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After offload you'd walk back to laptop, pull card, start burn process and get back to shooting. I'm not crazy about leaving the laptop to do its own thing but it could be done that way.

I'd really like to see some sort of "dumb" or one trick device which is small, can copy the card to hard drive and burn a disc.

Keep in mind, given the record times, one may avoid offload in many (but certainly not all) shoot situations.

2 16GB cards will give you 100 minutes and 2 32GB cards 200 minutes (and longer at 25mbps mode).

For the apparent price of two 2GB cards you can buy a laptop with burner though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joachim Hoge View Post
Thanks again for very informative post Craig. On this documentary I dont have an assistant, but for other shoots I will.
On this shoot I coukd probably deliver the DVDs the day after, leaving me to only off load if I have to.
I wouldnt feel very comfortable doing that though, only having one copy on my hard drive.

One thing to take into consideration is where do you keep your laptop.
You want it close for easy acces to the SxS cards, but it has to be far enough away so it wont interfere with the sound you are recording.

A laptop working this hard and burning DVDs will make quite a bit of noise and Im sure my soundman wont be happy
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 05:54 PM   #5
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Also, on most shoots there are times when not shooting. One could set the laptop to work while one is getting ready for the next set-up etc. I have a feeling I would hit the laptop as soon as I saw there would be a stop in the shooting and empty a card, even if not full.

Im guessing a quiet lunch is out the window the first days one is out in the real world shooting with the EX1.
Youll spend all your time hanging over the laptop checking and double checking transfers and clips and recently burnt DVDs ;-)
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 07:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joachim Hoge View Post
Youll spend all your time hanging over the laptop checking and double checking transfers and clips and recently burnt DVDs ;-)
I wouldn't be happy working like that - and not only because of the missing lunch implications. ( :-) )

The potential danger is that with too much happening, too much to do, you get distracted at a critical time, and make a silly slip. It also assumes power is available and there's somewhere suitable and secure to set up the laptop etc, which isn't true of all filming locations.

Although SxS cards don't seem likely to be that much cheaper than P2 per GB, the lower bitrates do mean that the cost per recorded minute is only about a quarter that with P2 and DVCProHD. Whilst that still doesn't mean they can be treated in any way as long term storage like tape, it does make it far more likely that you can now own enough capacity for a complete days shooting before downloading - which I think is the point Craig is making.
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Old November 2nd, 2007, 07:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joachim Hoge View Post
Also, on most shoots there are times when not shooting. One could set the laptop to work while one is getting ready for the next set-up etc. I have a feeling I would hit the laptop as soon as I saw there would be a stop in the shooting and empty a card, even if not full.

Im guessing a quiet lunch is out the window the first days one is out in the real world shooting with the EX1.
Youll spend all your time hanging over the laptop checking and double checking transfers and clips and recently burnt DVDs ;-)
That's where asst. cam operators or 2nd ac's come in. If you're blowing through that much footage or setups that quickly,then it doesn't hurt to hire some help.

I plan on using either asst. ops or data wranglers that I trust. I also plan keeping a paper record/log of everything when possible.

But as i understand, the transfer process, if you're using Express slot, is very fast. Much faster than downloading a film mag into a can.

Cheers.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 01:12 AM   #8
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I wish assistants were more available on video/TV shoots here in Norway. One of the great things about shooting 35mm (other than the image quality) is that I have my 2 assistants with my no question asked. Try to ask for even one on a TV production (not talking drama) or small documentary.

One thing one could hope for since the need for a person batching is drastically reduced, the money saved could be used for an assitant/trainee on location.
(My guess is the money saved will be pocketed by the production company though)

I certainly agree that the chance for a slip up increase drastically if one have to deal with too many things, producers often seems to forget that

I was recently hired for a TV pilot where one set up included two cameras and 4 wireless microphones all supposed to be controlled by me! I had one Prod. Ass. that I thought to leave checking one of the cameras, but when one mic suddenly failed I had to employ him holding a boom. The stress level was fairly high
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 09:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joachim Hoge View Post
I was recently hired for a TV pilot where one set up included two cameras and 4 wireless microphones all supposed to be controlled by me! I had one Prod. Ass. that I thought to leave checking one of the cameras, but when one mic suddenly failed I had to employ him holding a boom. The stress level was fairly high
Oh man. That's not fun. I feel for you. But, I still think that with the longer recording time and fast transfer the EX can work on a wide range of productions. Which I can't say that for a lot of cameras.

Here's hoping that you don't get anymore crazy shoots.

Cheers.
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Old November 3rd, 2007, 10:52 AM   #10
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I hope so too.
I think you are right when you say the camera can be used for a lot of different shoots.

It will just take some time to get used to (and trust) the work flow.

What Im very pleased about is the fact that now I will have a "master copy" of my footage. Most of the time I just hand over the tape and only see the final result on TV and most of the times I dont get copies of my work, or its a hassel to get hold of. Now this can change for the better
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