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Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old January 10th, 2009, 12:19 PM   #1
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What's the best workflow for EX1? From storage to editing???

Hello everyone,

Thanks again for helping me solve my monitor flicker problem...
Now, I have one more important question...
Can you make suggestions as to what is the cheapest and safest way to transfer my files when shooting a documentary film on location in the bush over a longer period? And then to view them? I am planning to buy 8 to 10 SDHC cards to use with the adapters I have... and a laptop with Expresscard slot for transfering and viewing the media (should be as light as possible but not very expensive yet very fast... )... and external hard disks (2 x 1TB) for storage... then a software to edit (I currently use Adobe Premiere but may switch to another software that will suit better for HD editing)... So, any suggestions, alternatives???? Anything I am forgetting??? Do I need a card reader???
And one more question: What do you guys use as a protective cover or case for the SDHC adapters? I checked the stores here but didn't see anything that would fit (Istanbul)...
Thanks a lot!
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Old January 10th, 2009, 03:18 PM   #2
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workflow on remote locations

I have just returned from the Himalayas won foot for six weeks without mains power. I took 40 GB of storage in SXS cards plus 2 TB of ruggedized LaCie hard drives (mainly 320 GB size but also some 80 GB Seagate Momentus 5400.3 hard drives in enclosures. The latter are better at altitude as they have a bigger air gap between the head and the drive and should work up to 6000m. I also took a Vaio VGN-FZ38GU laptop with clip browser installed. The older version gives a better picture than the new version with this computer as it uses less computing power. I also took an old LG laptop with an 80 GB Seagate hard drive installed as a backup at high altitude but didn't need to use it. Downloading was directly by express card or if I had used the LG by USB cable. If they had been available I would have taken some of Ross Herewini's MR card adapters and SDHC cards, although I didn't have any issues with my gear. The Sony Vaio was used up to 4200 m without problems. Anything shot higher would be returned to that altitude for download. Power was the big issue and I did the following. I took a backup large Sony battery as it churns through the power (98watt), two Sony camera batteries for convenience on quiclk shots and most importantly two Polarmate Li-ion power stations of 230 watt hour capacity. These units come with a host of adapters and will output anything from 3 to 26V. Their advantage is that they will power the camera at 12V through the external cable input (which means that the battery can be kept warm away from the camera. They will also power the laptop and are very reasonable in price. You need to establish a fail safe protocol on their use as it would be easy to send 26V to the camera if the high low voltage switch is misset. To charge them I had two quite large conventional solar arrays each putting out 60 watt at around 20 V. I ran through an inverter even though it is less efficient as I was worried about lack of protection on the batteries on very bright days. This all worked extremely well but I would have preferred the flexible solar cells which can be more easily carried. I always downloaded in the middle of the day to conserve battery power.
In general the camera worked very well but there were some issues. In very cold conditions at altitude (-15Deg C above 5000m) you can hear the shutter mechanism and zoom in the internal microphone. One sound channel also buzzed under these conditions initially only with the internal mic and then with an external mic. I also had a problem using a radio mic which sounded as if the automatic sound switch was on- change in background levels in pauses of speech - any views on this. The sound buzz disappeared at lower altitude. Almost all the time we used the IR-UV filter as the camera picked up differences in blacks in our clothing. At times we used grads. We didn't have any problems shooting on snow under very bright conditions, but were always conscious of not stopping down the aperture too far and picking up dirt on the filters. No attempt at editing was done on location- just checking shots using clip browser for technical quality. I had one assignable button programmed for quick removal of the last unusable shot and this meant that we were able to have a high proportion of useable shots. Sound was mainly done using a Rode NTG3 mic with their new blimp. The latter was terrific and with the help of Rode I slightly amended it so that the handle could be easily removed and the whole thing fitted into a 150 mm case made from plumbing pipe with screw cap at one end. There were no problems of any sort with the blimp or NTG3 even under extreme conditions. We had two Sennheiser radio mics but found them unusable due to wind and clothing noise during action and the earlier mentioned sound issue. We also took a Miller DS10 carbon fibre tripod. An excellent unit but it needs to be weighed down in wind or on high zoom shots. (Took some reuseable canvas shopping bags which we would fill with rocks and hang from the head and this worked very well). External sound effects were recorded on a Marantz PMD620 which worked very well. Sometimes it was used instead of a radio mic for long shots with a clap for sync.

Changes for another expedition- use the MR adapters with many SDHC cards. Use a laptop with solid state storage, still download to ruggedized external hard drives but be aware of head gap issue, use flexible solar arrays. Take better lighting - we only had one small LED on camera light which was barely sufficient. Most of the time we used a Wescott 6 in 1 reflector kit. Use of reflector kits tends to draw attention to the shoot much more than the camera and can give rise to problems with authorities who may be sensitive to filming. Try for better success with the radio mics. (Be aware that some countries have different bands for these than posssibly your own- eg Australian mics are not legal in the UK)

I'd be happy to provide additional information to anyone planning a similar journey.

Peter Donaldson
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Old January 10th, 2009, 03:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elvan Kivilcim View Post
Anything I am forgetting?
You may want to check out ShotPut Express.

ShotPut EXpress - Video Offloading for Mac and Windows

Not a magic bullet, but respected if you want to back up the cards instead of backing up what you're going to put in your NLE.

You didn't mention Blu-Ray or DVD-R archiving. I like optical backups - no moving parts. I have 17 year old CD-ROMs that are fine. The only problem was the format of the files I backed up - some are no longer readable by modern software.
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Old January 11th, 2009, 05:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Donaldson View Post
I have just returned from the Himalayas won foot for six weeks without mains power. I took 40 GB of storage in SXS cards plus 2 TB of ruggedized LaCie hard drives (mainly 320 GB size but also some 80 GB Seagate Momentus 5400.3 hard drives in enclosures. The latter are better at altitude as they have a bigger air gap between the head and the drive and should work up to 6000m. I also took a Vaio VGN-FZ38GU laptop with clip browser installed. The older version gives a better picture than the new version with this computer as it uses less computing power.

Thank you, Peter! This all is very interesting and helpful!!!
I am not going to high altitude but tropical humid climate... Yet, I am familiar with some of the issues you mentioned i.e. shutter sound, etc. from previous shoots with another camera. As for hard drives I am planning to take 2 x 1TB externals to remain at camp at all times... That should be more than enough for storage. Then I will take a laptop with with 320 or 500G harddisk, which should be enough for immediate transfer on location. I was thinking of Vaio and after your recommendation, I will go for it.

I also took an old LG laptop with an 80 GB Seagate hard drive installed as a backup at high altitude but didn't need to use it. Downloading was directly by express card or if I had used the LG by USB cable. If they had been available I would have taken some of Ross Herewini's MR card adapters and SDHC cards, although I didn't have any issues with my gear. The Sony Vaio was used up to 4200 m without problems. Anything shot higher would be returned to that altitude for download. Power was the big issue and I did the following. I took a backup large Sony battery as it churns through the power (98watt), two Sony camera batteries for convenience on quiclk shots and most importantly two Polarmate Li-ion power stations of 230 watt hour capacity. These units come with a host of adapters and will output anything from 3 to 26V. Their advantage is that they will power the camera at 12V through the external cable input (which means that the battery can be kept warm away from the camera. They will also power the laptop and are very reasonable in price. You need to establish a fail safe protocol on their use as it would be easy to send 26V to the camera if the high low voltage switch is misset. To charge them I had two quite large conventional solar arrays each putting out 60 watt at around 20 V. I ran through an inverter even though it is less efficient as I was worried about lack of protection on the batteries on very bright days. This all worked extremely well but I would have preferred the flexible solar cells which can be more easily carried. I always downloaded in the middle of the day to conserve battery power.

I have one Sony B-60 and 1 Sony B-30 battery for the camera... I am planning to get another B-60... Do you think that will be enough to power the camera, perhaps with use of a sungun sometimes? After reading your reply, I also deided to go for a universal external notebook battery... though i found a tekkeon mp3450 on B&H site, I think I will go for it. As for recharge, we will also use solar panels... flexible ones, indeed :)

In general the camera worked very well but there were some issues. In very cold conditions at altitude (-15Deg C above 5000m) you can hear the shutter mechanism and zoom in the internal microphone. One sound channel also buzzed under these conditions initially only with the internal mic and then with an external mic. I also had a problem using a radio mic which sounded as if the automatic sound switch was on- change in background levels in pauses of speech - any views on this. The sound buzz disappeared at lower altitude. Almost all the time we used the IR-UV filter as the camera picked up differences in blacks in our clothing. At times we used grads. We didn't have any problems shooting on snow under very bright conditions, but were always conscious of not stopping down the aperture too far and picking up dirt on the filters. No attempt at editing was done on location- just checking shots using clip browser for technical quality. I had one assignable button programmed for quick removal of the last unusable shot and this meant that we were able to have a high proportion of useable shots. Sound was mainly done using a Rode NTG3 mic with their new blimp. The latter was terrific and with the help of Rode I slightly amended it so that the handle could be easily removed and the whole thing fitted into a 150 mm case made from plumbing pipe with screw cap at one end. There were no problems of any sort with the blimp or NTG3 even under extreme conditions. We had two Sennheiser radio mics but found them unusable due to wind and clothing noise during action and the earlier mentioned sound issue. We also took a Miller DS10 carbon fibre tripod. An excellent unit but it needs to be weighed down in wind or on high zoom shots. (Took some reuseable canvas shopping bags which we would fill with rocks and hang from the head and this worked very well). External sound effects were recorded on a Marantz PMD620 which worked very well. Sometimes it was used instead of a radio mic for long shots with a clap for sync.

I have one sennheiser shotgun and boom and one sennheiser wireless mic... i also have a rode, and now that i read your review, i will take it with me as the sennheiser doesnt fit to the mic holder of ex1... but you got me worried about the wireless mic... how can one improve performance??? i am considering a digital audio recorder now... a great idea!

Changes for another expedition- use the MR adapters with many SDHC cards. Use a laptop with solid state storage, still download to ruggedized external hard drives but be aware of head gap issue, use flexible solar arrays. Take better lighting - we only had one small LED on camera light which was barely sufficient. Most of the time we used a Wescott 6 in 1 reflector kit. Use of reflector kits tends to draw attention to the shoot much more than the camera and can give rise to problems with authorities who may be sensitive to filming. Try for better success with the radio mics. (Be aware that some countries have different bands for these than posssibly your own- eg Australian mics are not legal in the UK)

solid state storage laptop??? gotta research that one... any more tips will be welcome... especially w/r to how to deal with humidity issues, if you had them...

I'd be happy to provide additional information to anyone planning a similar journey.

Peter Donaldson
Thanks again!
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Old January 11th, 2009, 05:18 AM   #5
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Ooops..

Peter, I wrote my reply in your original message by mistake!
I am still new to this forum :)
Here is my reply again...

Thank you, Peter! This all is very interesting and helpful!!!
I am not going to high altitude but tropical humid climate... Yet, I am familiar with some of the issues you mentioned i.e. shutter sound, etc. from previous shoots with another camera. As for hard drives I am planning to take 2 x 1TB externals to remain at camp at all times... That should be more than enough for storage. Then I will take a laptop with with 320 or 500G harddisk, which should be enough for immediate transfer on location. I was thinking of Vaio and after your recommendation, I will go for it.

I have one Sony B-60 and 1 Sony B-30 battery for the camera... I am planning to get another B-60... Do you think that will be enough to power the camera, perhaps with use of a sungun sometimes? After reading your reply, I also deided to go for a universal external notebook battery... though i found a tekkeon mp3450 on B&H site, I think I will go for it. As for recharge, we will also use solar panels... flexible ones, indeed :)

I have one sennheiser shotgun and boom and one sennheiser wireless mic... i also have a rode, and now that i read your review, i will take it with me as the sennheiser doesnt fit to the mic holder of ex1... but you got me worried about the wireless mic... how can one improve performance??? i am considering a digital audio recorder now... a great idea!

solid state storage laptop??? gotta research that one... any more tips will be welcome... especially w/r to how to deal with humidity issues, if you had them...

Thank you! Elvan
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Old January 11th, 2009, 05:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Daviss View Post
You may want to check out ShotPut Express.

ShotPut EXpress - Video Offloading for Mac and Windows

Not a magic bullet, but respected if you want to back up the cards instead of backing up what you're going to put in your NLE.

You didn't mention Blu-Ray or DVD-R archiving. I like optical backups - no moving parts. I have 17 year old CD-ROMs that are fine. The only problem was the format of the files I backed up - some are no longer readable by modern software.

Yes, thank you... I need to think about Blu-ray or dvd-r archiving... which one do you recommend? vortex media dvd recommends dual layer dvd-r... but i have 16g cards... would blu-ray make a difference?
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Old January 11th, 2009, 07:08 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Elvan Kivilcim View Post
would blu-ray make a difference?
The cost of DVD-R per gigabyte is way lower than Blu-Ray at the moment, but the inconvenience of splitting over multiple disks kinda spoiled it for me. So I
  • back up BPAVs in the field
  • convert all footage to QuickTime in XDCAM Transfer
  • Archive the QT versions to BluRay
  • Delete the BPAVs! Controvercial, I know, but hey...
  • Edit and backup the project to hard disk
  • Do a Media Managed version of final project and archive that to BR
  • Create a low-compression master of the movie and archive THAT to BR

Your mileage will probably vary and you may be better off archiving the BPAVs. I edit my own footage and find more value in having all my footage as easily watchable and ready to use QuickTime files.

Toast does a great job of taking a folder full of 'stuff' and spreading that over X discs without chopping files up.

All the above may be seen as sound, but a random note of warning: last month, my shed was torched in a random act of arson. Inside were all my optical backups in boxes in metal cupboards. They melted, so I have the joy of re-doing my archives. Hooray for off-site backups and all that, but goes to show bad things do happen.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 02:26 PM   #8
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thanks

thank you everyone! this all was a great help!
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 03:30 PM   #9
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Not sure how you are getting shutter sound as there is no shutter as such. The shutter is electronic and has no moving parts. Are you sure your not confusing the noise with the noise autofocus can make, a kind of humming buzzing noise. Your probably picking up more noise at altitude and in the cold as the rubber isolation mounts become ridged in cold temps and transfer noise from the camera body to the mic much more easily.

The EX cameras have an audio limiter which cannot be switched off. If you overdrive the audio inputs the limiter comes in and you will hear audio pumping during quiet periods, much like using AGC. It is best to keep the audio well out of the red with the EX. I normally set my audio to peak around 75% to avoid the limiter/compressor. This may be what you were hearing with your radio mic.

I was not aware of the problems with hard drives at altitude. Thanks.
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