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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 January 1st, 2008, 12:26 PM   #1
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XDCAM & FCP conforming

I've got a client whom I'm recommending the PDWEX1 to; they may even jump up to the PDW700 when it releases later this year. (Yeah, funny thing to see a Panny guy recommend Sony setup, but it's a good fit for the client).

However one the things we both want to avoid is the god-awful "HDV conform" process after rendering in FCP. Right, XDCAM is not technically HDV but since they're both long-GOP MPEG2-based codecs I need to know the workflow implications before I complete my recommendations. FCP 6.0.2 has the greatest XDCAM workflow compatibility but because we're not XDCAM-based I can't comment on the actual workflow experiences.

The ProRes workflow is not an option because they need to share projects with other editors who will not have that hardware/software available.

So, does XDCAM follow the same "conforming" process after renders?
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Old January 1st, 2008, 12:32 PM   #2
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Robert,

I haven't bumped up to 6.02 yet, but if you're looking at recommending the EX-1, we should move this thread over to the XDCAM EX forum.

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Old January 1st, 2008, 12:37 PM   #3
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Actually this isn't specific to the EX1; it's about XDCAM-HD in general. The EX1 is just the first camera they are considering but the F355 is also in the current wish list and since they're using the same codec the software-portion of the workflow would be the same.

Besides, you're an XDCAM/FCP guy - you can answer the question!
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Old January 1st, 2008, 12:55 PM   #4
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Hi Robert. I have not bought my EX1 yet, and I am not a mac user, but these are all things that we consider regardless of the platform, so I have a recommendation that might work. You are right, long-GOP is a laborious conform for any NLE, so people often use intermediates. Pro Res is a great intermediate, but it is mac specific and the rest of us can't use it. On the other hand, Cineform has been releasing beta programs for the EX1 and they have spectacular intermediates. I don't know which version it is, but they have a version that will be converting EX1 footage to an intraframe 4:2:2 codec of either AVI or MOV, which almost every NLE can handle. And the quality is top notch. Their CTO, David Newman, posts here regularly so you could contact him and get some recommendations. They are also in the development process of making a HD-SDI portable recorder that will record from the EX1 to their high quality 4:2:2 codecs on Compact Flash cards. This is likely the route that I will be going. Check them out at www.cineform.com, they are a sponsor here.
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Old January 1st, 2008, 01:12 PM   #5
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Just like Raylight, this might be the "golden egg" they need to make the XDCAM workflow "workable". Thanks, Bill.
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Old January 1st, 2008, 10:05 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
... one the things we both want to avoid is the god-awful "HDV conform" process after rendering in FCP ... so, does XDCAM follow the same "conforming" process after renders?

Yes and No.
XDCAM HD and EX are certainly all in the same Long GOP family as HDV, but whether you choose to master to these formats is an entirely different concern than whether you use them as acquisition formats and/or post formats.

so yes, regardless of your shoot or edit format, if you master in XDCAM HD / EX / HDV via native transfer then you're looking at some considerable conform time (but if you master via HD-SDI to your chosen format then you can skip the conform, as below)

and no, if you shoot and/or edit in XDCAM HD / EX, but master to different format (eg play out your rendered timeline via HD-SDI using an MXO or suitable I/O card to an alternative medium, or drop your edit into an Uncompressed HD timeline, then render and playout etc) then you can skip the conform
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Old January 3rd, 2008, 09:28 AM   #7
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Here's the clients workflow:

Acquisition through output is all Sony HDV (currently); they *have* to print to video back to HDV tape for final output because the closed-captioning company can't accept anything as files on a HDD. Strange, but true. There's no SDI out option because they don't have the hardware and they're not going that route anytime in the near future. They have one system with a KONA LHe the others have no additional in/out devices other than standard MacPro connectivity - and using the camera's connections of course. (low budget stuff)

Going forward they want to take advantage of the EX1's benefits (tapeless, better low-light etc) but avoid the conform process at the end before going back to tape for output.

Since Cineform is an intermediary, why not just capture into or use AIC instead? For this client - and this workflow - I'm not seeing how Cineform would be of any benefit.

I'm totally out of my element with this HDV/back to tape workflow - man, have I gotten spoiled with DTE devices...
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Old January 3rd, 2008, 10:27 AM   #8
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If they are going back to HDV tape then there will be a conform. No way around it.
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Old January 3rd, 2008, 11:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
Actually this isn't specific to the EX1; it's about XDCAM-HD in general. The EX1 is just the first camera they are considering but the F355 is also in the current wish list and since they're using the same codec the software-portion of the workflow would be the same.

Besides, you're an XDCAM/FCP guy - you can answer the question!
Well Robert, with all due respect, the introduction of the EX-1 has brought in a slightly different workflow from that of the main XDCAM HD cameras. The biggest difference is that the EX records files in MP4 containers on the cards, while the full size cameras have MXF files stored on the discs. This results in a slightly different method of ingest. The EX-1 also ushers in additional shooting modes such as 720P and full 1920 raster. Different enough to require NLE updates for full support of the new camera.

I don't own FCS2 yet, so can't comment on the FCP6 workflow. I don't own an EX-1 either.

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Old January 3rd, 2008, 03:02 PM   #10
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Thanks guys, got the answers I needed.
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