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Sony XDCAM PMW-F3 CineAlta
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Old May 16th, 2011, 09:23 PM   #1
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F3 & FCP workflow advice

I'm receiving some F3 footage to edit and this will be the first time for me working in this format. I've done some research on Final Cut workflow but its not gelling for me.

The footage will be copied from the SxS cards to a hard drive, which is how I will receive it. I also know that it will be the HD HQ 35Mb format

First, how do I ingest the media? Would I use Sony's XDCAM Transfer software and/or Log and Transfer? There's a nice video on the Sony site, but it demonstrates ingest on a MacBook Pro with the SxS cards and its not clear to me if the Sony software will recognize the media after being moved to the hd.

I've heard that FCP can edit HDCAM EX natively, but have also read that converting to ProRes is preferred. If so, how do I do that?

How do I properly setup a new project? I believe I should use Format: Sony HDCAM HD, Use:HDCAM EX 1080i60 VBR in Easy Setup.

Output will be to Quicktime HD h264, which I will do through a Matrox Compress HD card.

Anything I didn't ask about, but should have?

Thanks for your expert help.
Mike.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 10:14 PM   #2
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Re: F3 & FCP workflow advice

Mike,

There are some unknown variables here (from my perspective), but I'll do my best to answer.

First thing: Final Cut Studio 2 & 3 (FCP 6.0 and up) play nice with XDCAM-EX. Studio 1 (FCP 5.0) does not. What follows assumes you're at least using FCP 6, and that you've kept up with Apple patches.

What you receive on the hard drive is likely to be in one of two formats: Raw BPAV folder structure, or .mov files. Which you receive depends on the workflow used on set. You may wish to ask them to transcode to .mov files on set, as it will simplify your ingest procedure.

If you receive .mov files, you merely use the "Import Files" dialog.

Otherwise, you'll need to download some (free) software from Sony to import the footage that is in the BPAV folders.
There are three basic workflows you can choose from at this point:
*Transcode via XDCAM Browser (an external program that integrates with FCP) & generates .mov files
*Download an FCP plugin that enables you to import XDCAM-EX footage using the "Log & Transfer" interface (same as for P2 footage). This is a also a transcode process.
*Or third, download a system plugin that allows you to read the .mp4 files stored in the BPAV folder structure without transcoding them to .mov files. This option generates no new files (using no new hard drive space), but this option is $99. It does have a 60 day fully functional trial though.

Please keep in mind - the first two options transcode. They automatically generate new .mov files. The transcode is pretty much as fast as the harddives can spin. There's no picture quality change, the file is just getting rewrapped and copied.
The third option (cinemon .mp4) makes it so you can use the "Import Files" dialog on the existing folders. It's a bit clunky (for me, generates some extra bins & files in the FCP project that I have to clean up), but it means you retain the raw footage in the original format. Of course, you can do this anyway by just archiving the original BPAVs.

Okay. Some links:
XDCAM Browser: Sony | Micro Site XDCAM EX
The XDCAM Browser is useful. It'll let you watch the video clips. And it integrates with FCP. To import with it, from FCP navigate to Import>>>Sony XDCAM. It'll pop over to XDCAM Browser. Select the clips you want, then use the "Register with FCP" feature.

FCP Log and Transfer Tool: Sony | Micro Site XDCAM EX
This will let you import via the "Log and Transfer" dialog. Ignore references on that website to "XDCAM Transfer" - it's outdated. (Using the log and transfer tool, when not using SxS or p2 cards, you have to tell it what folder(s) to look at. There's a little button top left in the dialog to add folders)

Cinemon .mp4: Sony | Product Catalog Data Storage & Content Management
$99 option to use .mp4 files instead. Not required. Optional. Alternative.

This should get the footage in.

If you're in FCP 2, just use an Easy Setup to generate your sequences in the matching XDCAM EX (not XDCAM HD) setting.

If it's FCP3, and a new sequence, just drop a corresponding clip in first, it should prompt and ask if you want to use matching sequence settings. Accept.

Prores.... that's a longer conversation. FCP has a setting to work with a native codec, but to perform renders to Pro Res.... I tend to use that personally. But the advantages may depend on exactly how heavily you plan to post manipulate the footage.

Hope that helps!
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Old May 16th, 2011, 10:55 PM   #3
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Re: F3 & FCP workflow advice

James,
Wow, that is so much help. I can't thank you enough for being so thorough and so quick!



This is why I come to DVINFO.NET. The people are amazing here.


Mike.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 10:56 PM   #4
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Re: F3 & FCP workflow advice

Do consider CS5.5 on the Mac. I just drag whatever clip I want from the F3 XDCAM folder. Plus the Mercury render engine is blindingly faster than FCP. (I use both FCP and Premiere)
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Old May 17th, 2011, 06:18 AM   #5
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Re: F3 & FCP workflow advice

Mike,

James has some useful information, but his workflow is different that mine. Here's what I would suggest as the simplest and easiest (and best) way to do it:

1) Make sure you're running the latest version of FCP.

2) Do not use XDCAM Browser.

3) Download and install Sony's free XDCAM Transfer for Final Cut Pro PDZK-P1 program. The easiest place to get it is from the Canadian website. Sony of Canada: E-Support

4) Receive the footage on hard a drive. Make sure the entire BPAV folder from each memory card is transferred intact and copied in its entirety. If it is not, then all bets are off. This means you will have a folder called BPAV for each card nested in a unique folder on the hard drive -- such as CARD 1 > BPAV . . . and CARD 2 > BPAV . . . etc. Do not rename the BPAV folders themselves or make any changes inside them.

5) Launch XDCAM Transfer and got to the menu XDCAM Transfer > Preferences > Import > Import Location and choose the destination where you want to ingest the footage to on your editing hard drive. Close the preferences dialog box.

6) In the bottom left corner of the screen, click on "Add . . ." and navigate to the location of your first BPAV folder. All the thumbnails will automatically appear in the main window. You can playback, scrub, view metadata, etc. of any clip. Select all the clips that you want to import.

7) Go to the File > Import menu and select it. All of the clips you selected will automatically have an MOV copy created in the destination you chose in step 5. This is NOT transcoding. This is only re-wrapping the clip from .MP4 to .MOV. It's very fast and causes no harm to the footage. File size is the same as the original clip. ProRes is not needed nor do I recommend it for an XDCAM workflow. The original clips within the BPAV folder remain unchanged and should be archived separately for safety. Those are your negatives.

8) Repeat steps 6 and 7 for any other BPAV folders.

9) Launch FCP and import the MOV files just like any other files into your project. Drag one of the imported clips onto an empty Sequence and then allow FCP to configure the Sequence for you.

10) Start editing.


I might have missed one or two details, but you'll be able to figure it out. This workflow is fast, easy, and nearly fool proof. No extra plugins or 3rd party software is necessary except for XDCAM Transfer. There are tons of other things you can do with XDCAM Transfer to customize how the import performs, but I've only given you the basics.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 11:34 AM   #6
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Re: F3 & FCP workflow advice

Doug,

I used XDCAM Transfer in the past. I had good experiences with it for a long time, but it eventually gave me corrupted database messages.

More to the point though, XDCAM Transfer is no longer being developed, and at the point the PMW-F3 was released, all new development has been for XDCAM Browser. XDCAM Broswer combines the functions of the XDCAM Transfer software, and the Clip Browser software. Furthermore, XDCAM Browser also supports XDCAM HD.

Your install instructions for XDCAM Transfer are no simpler than the install process for XDCAM Browser. An XDCAM Browser workflow, in my opinion is just as simple as an XDCAM Transfer workflow.

Can you clarify for me why you prefer the XDCAM Transfer utility, and any benefits or advantages it specifically has over XDCAM Browser?
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Old May 17th, 2011, 12:20 PM   #7
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Re: F3 & FCP workflow advice

I wrote this last year about version 1.0, but to my knowledge, none of the shortcomings have been addressed in subsequent updates.

Vortex Media: VIDEO & PHOTO Tools and Training

You are correct that XDCAM Transfer will not longer be updated, but I say keep using it as long as you can!
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Old May 17th, 2011, 12:55 PM   #8
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Re: F3 & FCP workflow advice

Doug,

Great article. And some very good points. The latest version of XDCAM Browser would seem to still be missing the features you desire.

The XML files sound really unsanitary.

Personally, I either use the cinemon .mp4, or I use the log and transfer plugin.


But then, my workflow doesn't usually call for heavy logging prior to FCP. I readily admit - XDCAM Transfer was the best program for logging. I'd likely still be using it if my copy hadn't gotten annoying to use due to corrupted database messages.

I'd say if you're doing heavy logging, XDCAM Transfer is currently the clear winner.

That said, for delivery to clients, XDCAM Browser can be handy. You give clients one piece of software to install, and they can readily watch clips, transfer them to other drives, import to editing software, and even do direct exports for the web.

Getting a client to install multiple pieces of software is a nightmare!

I'll confess, the word "Register" really ought to be "Import," but that's a small thing to learn.


I've been telling my colleagues for a while now that XDCAM workflow is like walking through a fairytale forest - if you follow directions specifically and do everything in the exact order instructed, you arrive in an emerald city of amazing footage. If you don't follow directions... your footage turns into toads and newts and you'll rip out you hair trying to save it from corruption.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 02:21 PM   #9
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Re: F3 & FCP workflow advice

Yes, follow the rules, stay on the yellow brick road, and you will arrive at Oz. Drift off track into the forest, and the flying monkeys will carry you away.

I do agree that the new XDCAM Browser is probably worth recommending to clients who just need to view the footage. But for an editor or producer who really needs to learn the best workflow, and have all the tools of the trade at their finger tips, you can't beat the XDCAM EX Browser and XDCAM Transfer combo. As far as I'm concerned the original workflow was (and still is) nearly perfect. I wish Sony hadn't gone screwing around with a good thing. One of these days, after an OS update, XDCAM Transfer won't work anymore and then I'll be one pissed off customer if the XDCAM Browser shortcomings have not been addressed by then. On a positive note, I can assure you that the people I work with at Sony USA are pretty upset with what Japan has given us. They know it's not right and are working to get things fixed.
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