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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 12th, 2008, 11:10 PM   #1
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Best workflow for EX-1 field production

Hello all,

For the last week or so I've been working with the EX-1 in a field production setting. For our current project we are shooting about 8 hours in a day, then transferring to external hard drives. Preferably we would like to be able to have enough cards to shoot 30 hours, then transfer everything to our servers, but we do not have the budget for that. The transfer process is slower than I expected, but certainly faster than capturing tapes. Unfortunately, working in a tape-less environment means we cannot rely on a tape backup.

Our last trip we had one of the hard drives fail (backups saved us!). Is there a faster way to transfer cards? Is there a safer way to do this to ensure no data loss?

Also, a recommendation for a good HD field monitor would be appreciated.
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Old July 12th, 2008, 11:59 PM   #2
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What are you using to transfer? Laptop with Express card slot or USB?

G-Technology is coming out with a G-Drive Mini 2 which is 2-drives mirrored so you just copy to one drive and you're backed up.

I use a MacBook Pro with a Firewire 800 drive and it's pretty fast. Looking forward to the G-Drive Mini 2 for one slick operation. The drive is bus powered, so it uses the power off the Firewire 800 or 400 port.
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Old July 13th, 2008, 12:09 AM   #3
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We are using an Powerbook G4 (old, yes I know) to transfer all of the media from the cards to drives connected through firewire 800.

I may look into what G-Tech is offering now, thanks.
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Old July 13th, 2008, 07:05 AM   #4
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A low end Macbook Pro with an ExpressCard/34 slot will be tons faster. It takes me around 4 minutes to transfer an 8 gig card.

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Old July 13th, 2008, 08:02 AM   #5
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I am at this writing out of the country and doing mobile EX-1 production.

Using MacBook Pro and Shotput Express (v. 2), I download cards to internal HD of the MBPro. It takes about 6 min for 16 gig card. I ingest into FCP with external FW800 drive. I have a Sonnet Fusion F2 raid but did not bring it this trip. Doing rough cuts saving everything to the FW800 drive. Will then open the project on home system and use FCP media manager to copy the project to my raid.

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Old November 28th, 2009, 11:13 AM   #6
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EX1 + 13" MacBook Pro (2009 - ei. no expresscard/34)

I'll be directing in the field next week, so let's talk through the workflow...

We're on location, taking a moment to dump from the EX1 to my 13" MacBook Pro (2009). If I understand correctly, there are two basic approaches:

1. eject the SxS cards from the camera and dump them via an ExpressCard/34 reader (since the 2009 MBP no longer have the slot, except for the 17" ... bad Apple, bad); or

2. directly connect the EX1 to the MBP via USB

What are the pros/cons of each of these?

Then there are options regarding what software to use. To be on the safe side, what I would like is to preserve the cards' data structure and then later on I can make QT clips that include the metadata for use in Final Cut Pro. Ideally, FCP would be left out of the equation until I'm ready to actually start preliminary cutting.

What would you say is the right way to go?
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Old November 28th, 2009, 11:24 AM   #7
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Why tie up the camera to dump footage? That seems like a production nightmare. I'd certainly have some kind of external reader. And in fact I do. I use MxR adapters though so for me, it's not necessary to have an Expresscard reader, just as SDHC one and those are as cheap as bottled water.

Preserving the card structure is nice, and a good thing to do. I don't know how to do it on a Mac, but if you can find a copy utility that can verify contents after copying, that would be best. Something with a CRC checker.
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Old November 28th, 2009, 12:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
Why tie up the camera to dump footage? That seems like a production nightmare.
I don't think I would call it a nightmare, at least not in this situation. The camera doesn't need to be rolling the whole time. Taking a break to dump footage is also helpful for the interviewee/interviewer to have a break, use the washroom, have a drink, etc. Depending on the circumstances, it could be more efficient to do it this way, perhaps? That's what I'm trying to ascertain.
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Old November 28th, 2009, 01:40 PM   #9
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Now that Apple have removed the Expresscard slot from all except the 17" MBP, I cannot see much point in using a Mac for offloading cards. There are lots of inexpensive PC laptops with slots - use one with ClipBrowser or Shotput to transfer the clips to FAT32 formatted hard drives,then upload to your choice of edit machine at base.
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Old November 28th, 2009, 03:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
it's not necessary to have an Expresscard reader, just as SDHC one and those are as cheap as bottled water.
That depends on what brand of bottled water. :-)
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Old November 28th, 2009, 03:39 PM   #11
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30 hours of XDCam EX footage will take up a little more than 500 GB, so keep that in mind for how much drive capacity you'll need.

If you have enough physical space you could set up a RAID using a Firmtek Spyder hub.

When I travel I just take a pair of MiniG firewire drives and copy to one, then make a backup on the second MiniG drive. I used to haul around parts to set up a mirrored RAID in a hotel room but sometimes I'm living in a small tent or in the back of an SUV. So a much more compact system is a lot more practical.

When travelling I'll split up the drives so that all the eggs aren't in a single proverbial basket.
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Old November 28th, 2009, 04:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Wilson View Post
Now that Apple have removed the Expresscard slot from all except the 17" MBP, I cannot see much point in using a Mac for offloading cards.
Well, I'm using it for a bit more than just offloading cards. ;-)

Point is, what I outlined above is the situation. I won't be buying another laptop just to have something else to offload the clips. I have a a decidedly Mac-centric workflow for many reasons. Anyway, keeping within the boundaries that are before me -- and getting back to the original question -- what is the best workflow for this? I'm only looking at a maximum of 6-8 hours of interview footage on this leg, so my storage solutions are set (G-Tech mini drives). I just need help figuring out getting from the EX1 into the Mac in this situation.
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Old November 28th, 2009, 10:10 PM   #13
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If you find an Express 34 card reader, please post what you've found here. They're not easy to find.

For moving the footage to your editing system, create individual folders for each card. I label them with a name, plus the date and the sequence. For example a typical label is "Tuna Tag 20091128-1". The next card is "Tuna Tag 20091128-2" and so on.

The BPAV folder from the card is then drag/dropped into each individual folder. You can use software for this, but the Mac OS already error checks during the copy process.

Make backups of these folders onto a separate HDD. And you can use XDCam Transfer to convert to QT files for editing.

While XDCam transfer allows me the option of re-naming each clip, I keep the original clip names that are assigned by the camera. That way I can easily track down the original media from any project.
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Old November 28th, 2009, 10:16 PM   #14
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Yep,

I pretty much do the same as Dean, but since I am working on SDHC cards, I can hook my card reader to any computer. Works like a charm, there is always a card in the camera recording, and I have no issues offloading.

I didn't want to get locked into an ExpressCard workflow though I have an Expresscard slot on the laptop. I can now go with ExpressCard, SDHC, CompactFlash (nanoflash), or Firewire if I need to take along the Firestore.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 08:23 AM   #15
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Also, it looks like reliable, rugged and cost effective hard drives archiving solutions are coming up. I am quite intrigued by Maxell's iDVRs field drives and Sony's SxS PXU-HC240 240GB drive cartriges. Short of claiming to be a reliable long term archiving solution (although, time may prove they indeed are....), both units show outstanding environmental and shock absorbtion specs. Maxell's iDVR goes a step further by meeting US Militray specs. Sony's PXU-HC240 is more expensive but when use in conjunction with the new PXU-MS240 SxS Movile Storage unit, it makes for a powerful storage system addressing the shortcomings of solid state acquisition.

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