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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 July 6th, 2008, 05:13 PM   #1
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So, how's the EX-1 working for YOU?

I've been keeping my eye on this forum because I'm thinking that one of my next camera upgrades might well be an EX-1 (or EX-3 when out.)

Now that it's been around for a while, I wanted to get a sense of what the initial adopters think about how it's integrated into their workflow.

How are you editing? How are you delivering? When you purchased it, what do you wish you'd known THEN that you know NOW?

Are any of you shooting 16x9 but protecting for 4x3 then delivering that aspect ratio to some part of your client base? If so, how's that working for you?

I'd particularly be interested in hearing from working shooters who also edit their own material into finished deliverable product.

Have you found a workflow that you can depend on? And if so, how do you deliver your finished work, both to SD and HD targets?

Thanks.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 08:16 PM   #2
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All relevant questions. If you've been following this forum since the release of the EX1, then you might also want to be asking about the cost of ownership issues:

a) Sony's build quality (i.e. loose screws, broken mike mounts, evaporating paint, etc.)
b) Component failures (i.e. lenses, LCD's, power related circuits and such)
c) Repair depot effectiveness (i.e. how many times has your camera been to the depot)
d) Firmware improvements and method of delivering updates

All in all, the EX1 seems like is "high maintenance".
Is this what we can expect with the EX3???

Last edited by Barry J. Anwender; July 6th, 2008 at 09:59 PM.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 09:57 PM   #3
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Hmmmm.

1)Editing FCS2

2) Delivering SD DVD

3) What do I wish I knew now what I knew then? If I knew that if you didn't EXACTLY follow the reccomended workflow long (read very important) clips WILL NOT GET IMPORTED and you may format the card without having the data on your HD!!!!

4) 16:9 stays 16:9 for me all the way to SD

I shoot and edit most of my work and or supervise the edits. The cam requires major attention to manual controls. You will increase your post production CC time. The transfer speeds from the cam via USB has been about 2X for me and consisitently so. Others see to get 4 to 6X. My system is fast. File sizes are SMALL so thats great compared to AICC.

Positive news here: Low light is so good (IMO) that it is the ONLY thing not making me sell all of my EX related stuff and go back to a Z1. The Z1 just makes an amazing image so easily it is rediculous. Very little post required. The low light... well just so so.

The workflow for me has been really hard to take. Twice I lost very important clips because I was tired and at 2am HAD to clear the cards for shooting the next day and lost both a ceremony and a super important reception event. Yes it was user error but again the provided software is NOT user friendly. Why the hell should the user beware that long clips may not load? Rediculous.

I am looking at spending MORE money on a card reader to get near the alleged fast transfer speeds available from the early reviewers. $250 +/- AND third party software ShotPut Express ($50) to help with the workflow.

I find myself shooting in 720p because the compression from full HQ to SD DVD is just horrendous. Requiring a trip to QT then to compressor. More time in post.

SO, ( I will be flamed for this ) I spend more time in post, have a harder time shooting, and the end product looks worse than before requiring an additional step to make OK.

I think once I move to HD delivery (thanks for nothing Apple) via third party software and hardware I may enjoy the EX more.

I bought this cam in an effort to gain speed in the studio ( not so ), shoot with less fill light (FOR SURE), and have an overall better image at delivery ( not so ).

There are those magic moments that this cam will just blow you away but I am slowly wondering if those times are worth all of the other hassles.

I shoot events. Live, one take, no set up events. OH sorry, the audio on this cam is great... this is a HUGE plus. Low light and great onboard audio (IMO).

I did have screws loose and my paint is rubbed off on my "wheel" but that stuff really doesn't bother me that much. Haven't had to send in the cam so can't report on that.

OK, I have vented, on the positive side the cam really is a full pro cam. The specs are incredible at this price point for sure so that having been said I still feel that this cam will be the one for many many shooters. Ask again in a few months when I'm making BR disks.

Hope I didn't PO too many people but these are my findings as per the OPs inquiries. Still having a hard time figuring out the final archive deal. Think I may use toast to break the fies to DL DVD sized for archiving.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 11:31 PM   #4
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Thanks for your insights Mike.

I think we all want to hear the real deal, not the script from the Sony brochure.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 11:53 PM   #5
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The only bad thing is that it seems many people have to send the camera in at least once for something, me included.

Everything else is stellar. USB import is 4x and faster with my Export port on my Laptop (MacBookPro).

I haven't lost a clip yet. Sony Clip Browser looks like a BAD piece of shareware and takes some time to figure out given the poorly written PDF manual but once you get over that, it's all piece of cake to me.

I've shot corporate for web delivery.
Digital Signage delivered in wonderful HD (MPEG2 Program Stream HD).
Currently working on a Cable Spot going from HD to 16:9 SD and no problems so far (will be delivered as MPEG Program Stream SD).

So far every client who has seen the footage I shoot with camera is willing to jump to HD even if it's SD delivery for the moment.

I have NO PROBLEM with the workflow at all. Copy to hard drive, backup to DL-DVD, Import and Edit in Final Cut Pro, convert to delivery form (Compressor, Episode Pro, Squeeze). Backing up to DL-DVD is slowest link though. Overall it beats tape "by a country mile" and I have nearly 30 years experience.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 02:56 AM   #6
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Back Focus and Battery Drain when switched off were a problem, but have now been sorted out by Sony with about ten day turnaround and loan camera under UK Prime Support. Image quality is stellar for this price range. FCP is a big NO-NO for editing, far too slow taking 6 -10 times longer to render identical footage than EDIUS on a Mac Pro. No problems with the direct transfer from SxS to EDIUS/HD using the Sony File Transfer software. The slowness of the auto white balance is overcome by pressing the white balance button when necessary if operating in the ATW mode, a small inconvenience, but not major in my opinion. I don't find the rolling shutter a problem in the real world shooting situatiions that I work with and the excess Infra Red sensitivity may be overcome by the use of a suitable filter. I hate the on-off switch! Camera physical balance is not as good as the Z1.

Geoff
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Old July 7th, 2008, 03:36 AM   #7
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Mike DON'T use toast to break up you files. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use the Sony clip browser to do things like that. It has a function for splitting BPAV folders into smaller sizes.

There is a new version of the Clip browser due out very soon that will eventually include a full set of tools to convert the HD files to SD.

I love the EX1, never before have I had quality form a small form factor camera that really offers pictures that rival those produced by full size cameras. You can't treat it like tape, you have to think differently with the workflow, but once you fully embrace it you will never want to go back to tape. I shoot using 8Gb cards, each card gets backed up to a single 8Gb DL-DVD. I find this to be a great simple system, no trying to remember which clips I did or did not backup, one card, one disc, simple.

The FCP workflow is very tightly integrated and fast, no need to use intermediate codecs as with EDIUS so no concatenation issues.

Some of the buttons and switches could be better designed but these are very minor issues.

You should remember that many that post on forums only do so when they have an issue, when everything is working they don't post. Look through all the camera forums and you will see that the vast majority of new camera designs suffer teething troubles.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 03:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Addis View Post
FCP is a big NO-NO for editing, far too slow taking 6 -10 times longer to render identical footage than EDIUS on a Mac Pro.
Geoff
Sorry that's just your personal opinion, FCP works VERY well with EX footage. So what if render times are longer when going to final output, and I would be surprised if the difference is that much,it still wouldn't persuade me to switch to Edius!!

As for the camera, Workflow is fine for the EX once you have done your research and PQ is stunning.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 05:36 AM   #9
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No experience with Edius, but I find it pretty great workflow with FCP. I have no problems with it really and find it all quite zippy. My old company is having many pains with the EX-1 and Premiere Pro on a PC.

FCP is also nice, because it is much more industry standard, and their are many facilities in the area that I can get hired to sit down at and edit because I know FCP.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 06:10 AM   #10
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I run Edius, but edit with the mp4 files, no intermediate codec required at all, and rarely need to render anything - I'd hate to be "industry standard" I'd rather be an "odball wierdo"

Paul
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Old July 7th, 2008, 06:24 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Newman View Post
I run Edius, but edit with the mp4 files, no intermediate codec required at all, and rarely need to render anything - I'd hate to be "industry standard" I'd rather be an "odball wierdo"

Paul
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Old July 7th, 2008, 07:00 AM   #12
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I'm an early adopter of the EX1 in France.
Editing with Final cut pro + color + motion + after effect.
Shooting with this camera is so amazing, easy and pleasant. Never had a camera with so clear LCD you can rely on.
SxS cards are easy to use and to unload using a macbook pro (+ external drive to be secure and unload faster). I have 2x8Go which is enough for fiction as long as you have help to unload them once full. More is comfort.
Low light capability, lens precision iris ring... beautyfull (just take focus point on the LCD, don't rely on the lens mark as long as you haven't tested your lens for back focus issue with ND filters).

Workflow goes like this :
shoot, unload the card (copy the folders) to you hardrive, import in FCP in XDCam EX native. You may set your project to Prores 422 HQ if needed. export to prores and compose in After Effect. Grade, export to whatever you need (MPEG4/h264) using compressor.
I'm still working on a dual 2GHz G5 and it is working fine (previews are slow, of course).
If adding SD footage, just use them in FCP, it will take care of everything. If any problem, after import, recompresss them to prores.
For SD export, use compressor. Nothing more to do.

For SD export, go to mpeg2 for DVD
For HD, go to mpeg4/h264 or use an export card (Decklink or so) to export to HDCam or HDCam SR recorder, or anything your client wants.

This camera is really powerfull, in its image quality (see Phils Bloom work) as well as in the workflow which is rock solid.

For almost 8 months with this camera I never, NEVER, had any problem which was not my own fault.
Of course, this all depends on you. This camera is not the "all automatic" toy you may want to shoot your vacations and edit on iMovie, which is what here seems to be looking for. This camera is professional and need you to have some knowledge.
Please, stop comparing the Z1 to the EX1. EX1 may not be as easy to use but well, you don't drive a Ferrari the same way you drive a bicycle. Or do it at your own risk and don't complain :)
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Old July 7th, 2008, 11:01 AM   #13
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My comments about the better rendering and real time performance are based on extensive experience using both FCP and Edius on the same MacPro. There is no changing of the EX footage to an intermediate codec, real time pre-viewing of multiple 3d picture-in-pictures, for example, does not result in the lost quality as in FCP - if needed, rendering of multiple pips is in excess of 6 times the speed of FCP; there is better colour correction with the addition of adjustable gamma curves that are not available in FCP unless you export to 'Color'; the final rendering is faster. Edius's main weakness, in my opinion, is it does not have such good sound editing software as FCP. I'll agree that there are some things that are better in FCP, such as alpha channel support, but overall I think that Edius is by far the more efficent package. So I would suggest that you download a trial copy of Edius and spend a little time to learn how to use it (tutorials are available on th GV website)and then you will find that what I am saying is true.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 11:42 AM   #14
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Tried it and thought it to be VERY clunky to use compared to FCP with a fraction of the featureset of FCP Studio.

I was talking about your comment the FCP is a "no-no" for EX editing when it clearly isn't!
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Old July 7th, 2008, 11:58 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
interested in hearing from working shooters who also edit their own material into finished deliverable product.
You'll have to prise my EX1 out of my cold dead hands. After a shaky start, I'm firmly committed to this technology, may even sell my Z1s and PDX10 to part fund an EX3.

I shoot and edit 720p25 on corporate events (conferences, seminars, junkets), editing and delivering a finished programme on-site. I use lots of time-lapse and slo-mo, and have built a Picture Profile based on generously shared info found here that gets me what I've always wanted: a sort of Progressive DigiBeta look from a little camera.

My worflow is simple: cards go into MacBook Pro, XDCAM Transfer Tool names clips and bins junk, these are imported onto one or two hard disks (or a backup is copied across), and these folders of QuickTime movies are dragged and dropped into the footage bit of FCP where it becomes immediately available and no less speedy to edit than DV.

I use Colorista for colour correction and look generation, which is GPU accellerated. I use DVmatte Pro for any chromakey work, again GPU accelerated and very happy with 720p footage. At the end of the edit, I export a self contained movie in the same XDCAM-HD format, then use Compressor (with frame controls switched on) to create SD-DVD and H.264, or Episode to create FLV and MPEG1. It can also crop to 4:3 at this stage, though I've only had one 4:3 requirement since buying the camera.

From Edit Sign-off to Finished DVD is about 45 minutes if I make things pretty. Half an hour usually. That includes export, compress, author, burn, test on a project around 3-7 minutes long.

I bump up SD to 720p if I need to incorporate it. I burn all footage to BluRay BD-ROM for archiving alongside the Hard Disk versions. I wish I'd upgraded my Mac to Leopard sooner as I had a scary import bug where 20% of shots wouldn't import on the first, second, third and sometimes 28th attempt. I never lost anything, but I did my ingest in private. On Leopard, it's been (touch wood) perfect.

As for the camera? I'm very glad I learned how to cure back-focus through these forums - thanks to all who shared. I'm very glad I listened to the horror stories, but feel even better that I've not been affected by bad paint. I'm on record for not being seriously affected by flash photography or CMOS distortion on fast pans.

I've seen vignetting twice on my camera, but having recently shot a couple of jobs on my old Z1s, even they suffer from vignetting and I never noticed it before.

Play and test and play and test and measure your results from Picture Profile tweaks. What works for some won't necessarily work for you. When it does work, you'll know - luminous pictures. Wonderful.

What do I wish I knew then what I know now? That you can rent SxS cards, but you want to own at least 4x 16 GB cards. That there is a weird grip that means you can sort of hand hold an EX1 without ending up with one fore-arm like Popeye. That the audio levels lag behind the controls (like picking your nose with rubber gloves on!), that the EX1 is extremely sensitive to very deep bass signals, and that it has a rather crude limiter. That there is no White Balance up/down control, that the Direct Menus control should be set to Part if you want to use switches. And I should have bought the Vortex DVD from the get-go.

For me, it's all the best bits of the Z1, the JVC HD100, HVX and DSR-570 rolled into one.
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