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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 December 12th, 2007, 07:49 PM   #1
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Monitoring in Post

This may belong in another forum, but I will be putting together a new Final Cut-based post system as a result of getting the EX1, so would appreciate any recommendations from this group.

I’m upgrading—finally—from a first generation DVX100. Lately I’ve been editing on a first generation Macbook (not pro) plus 20” second monitor, which I bought as a transition from my old dual-450 G4.

Now I have a job that demands 1080 HD, though not uncompressed—Blu-ray will be final destination. Otherwise I shoot local commercials, which soon around here will be broadcast in HD. A lot of stuff shot on the EX1 will end up SD too.

So in assembling a new editing system, my main concern is to have good—and affordable—external video, mostly for clients, but also of course to see on a TV rather than monitor. I don’t do a lot of detailed color grading. For broadcast output of commercials, I can send a data DVD to a post house for print to high-end tape, or print back to camera and bring to deck (I think), so I don’t need SDI on the computer.

My plan for the moment is to wait until mid-January for any upgrades to Mac Pro, then get that, Blu-ray drive (unless the new Mac Pros’s come with them!), 24 or 30” Dell monitor, a Blackmagic Intensity Pro card, and a Sharp Aquos 32” 1080p LCD. That’s around $7,000, about the limit of my budget. Since I’m staying compressed, I should be OK with Firewire 800 drives.

The only other option I can see in that range is the Matrox MXO with a Macbook Pro. That would allow me to use in field with Express Card slot, but since I already have a Macbook, I can just get the USB reader for transfers. This route also limits my editing workspace to 17”—also I’ve noticed in their forums that the MXO has issues with new Macbook Pro’s.

I’m grateful for any suggestions!
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Old December 12th, 2007, 08:09 PM   #2
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Both your suggestions are workable. None of this stuff is perfect and you can think of or find workarounds for almost every piece of equipment you've mentioned.

At least a 23" (1920 pixel) monitor, of course. As fast and as large a computer as you can get, depending on how many video layers and filters you want to use, and how long you want to wait for rendering. (if you're charging by the hour, a slower machine is fine, but if you're charging by the job, then get the fastest one you can. No, really. We have a couple of older less expensive G5 dual Powermacs (PCI-X), fully tricked out that we use for ingest, output and per hour stuff, and a quad core screamer for block paid or other rush jobs.) In the Mac/FCP system we can chain all of them together a mini render farm, so even older computers have their uses.

Give some thought as to the placement of the equipment in your room, also to audio considerations, and room lighting. You want the client as close to a room theater environment as possible for maximum experience (minimum notes, if you prefer).

Don't forget your 5.1 surround audio (not just stereo) audio system. If you don't want to go there yourself, make the client aware that someone has to eventually.

I stayed with Apple cinema screens on my home edit units but we have Dells here at work. Anything full HD is fine, and obviously a $35,000 broadcast monitor will look better than your $350 one. And of course a broadcast show will most probably look terrible in comparison.

Some kind of mid range hone theater system is best for DVD finishing and client viewing. I have a 52" Sharp that's fine (i.e. impressive picture, wow's from clients' families, prompt payments)

Funny thing - it didn't look so good without the 5.1 system and the soundtracks going strong... :-)

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Old December 12th, 2007, 09:52 PM   #3
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I think that you would be happier with the Mac Pro when it comes to editing.

Also your Macbook may not be compatible with the XDCAM Transfer software. I think that you need a dual core processor to run that.

I would look at a higher end card then the intensity. You will not be bringing in footage via HDMI and there is no professional way of outputting video back to tape via HDMI that I have aware of.

I would get either an AJA or higher end Decklink card with HDSDI so that you could always master to a professional deck if needed. You can always rent a deck.

Good luck,

Daniel Weber
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Old December 12th, 2007, 10:36 PM   #4
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5.1 Surround Production side

Just a quick question, for 5.1 surround sound, are you using extra mics to get the mix in production or just creating it post?
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Old December 12th, 2007, 11:09 PM   #5
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The 5.1 we've been using is theatrical, so the maximum natural atmos channels we're acquiring in the field is stereo.
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Old December 12th, 2007, 11:11 PM   #6
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This may be a little out of your budget, but I recently purchased a Blackmagic Multibridge Pro 2. It runs a little less than $1600 and has HDMI in/out in addition to component and HD-SDI/SDi and can do uncompressed HD. I presently shoot with a Sony V1U and digitize to ProResHQ thru HDMI. It works great! I was using a Blackmagic Intensity card, which was a steal for the money, but I am very happy that I moved up.
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Old December 13th, 2007, 08:40 AM   #7
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Thanks for the suggestions!

Chris, what audio hardware interface do you use?

Daniel, my thoughts about outputting to tape are:

1. Export to QT, send data DVD to post house where they output to tape from Final Cut (I know of a couple that will do this for around $100 per).
2. Export to SxS card, play off EX1's SDI to connect to deck (there are several around here not available for rent, but could bring camera to them).

By the way, has anyone confirmed that #2 works? Still waiting for EX1...

I plan to use the Intensity card strictly for monitoring.

As for transferring with Macbook, we'll soon see! It's 2g core duo (not 2).

Thanks again,
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