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EX3 files not working in final cut

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Mike NedersEX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 9:39:46 pm

Daughter is putting a film together in college for a class. we rented an EX3 Sony HD cam to film. Finished filming and had little time to return camera so I took it with me, stopped at home and pulled the whole file folder off the card (about 13 gb's) Did not do anything but drag and past the folder to my windows machine. Files on the card were 4 folders: .fseventsd, .Spotlight-V100, .Trashes, BPAV and another looks like document named ._.Trashes

Inside the BPAV folder which is the only one I could open in windows were the folders: CLPR, TAKR, CUEUP.XML and MEDIAPRO.XML

She needed the files so I took just the CLPR folder which has all the clips she filmed and put them on a portable hard drive.

She is now at school and starting to edit and is crying because when she opens the files none of them look High Def as they did when looking at them on the camera. She was told to get a plug in or file from the sony site that would work in final cut. The files play in final cut but still do not look HD. Can anyone help her in what she could be doing wrong or offer any advice? Because she does not have all the files that where on the card be the issue? In one of the 150 folders inside the CLPR folder each one of the individual folders has an MP4 file, an SMI, a PPN a XML and a BIM file folder. Thanks.


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Mike NedersRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 10:12:08 pm

Sorry for posting this and not giving a look at the other forum posts in reference to it. Daughter went into a panic and you all know how we try to keep them happy so I just went right into post mode. I am finding a bunch of info on what to do and how to do it. Hopefully I can figure it out.


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Craig SeemanRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 10:22:40 pm

First the finger wagging but it's a general statement so please don't take it personally since you seem to have been under a time crunch.

The time to ask about workflow, if it's not clear, is at the start of use. One might have posted here a question about the workflow just before leaving the house to go rent the camera or, if one had a chance, after rental but before going off to shoot. Of course maybe you anticipated more time when you got home after the shoot, which is why I say don't take it personally. The problem is sometimes getting the car to start can be a bit more difficult after it's totaled.

Ideally you should copy the card with ClipBrowser with CRC ON (or Off if you must due to a major time crunch which is about the only time you should have CRC Off).

The next asking point would be asking about what's needed for Final Cut Pro import. XDCAM Transfer or FCP Log & Transfer (with Sony plugin) works with the entire BPAV folder intact.

Failing all that, the orphaned .mp4 can be imported into ClipBrowser or XDCAM Transfer. Also the appropriate plugin would play the .mp4 in FCP which, it seems, your daughter did . . . and that should be "all's well that ends well."

Apparently she can play the clips so that's certainly a happy thing.

With that major prologue the question I have is, how is your daughter determining that the clips don't look HD?

If she right clicks on the clip and selects Item Properties and selects Format what does it say next to Frame Size as well as Compressor?
Frame Size will give you that info for the clip
Compressor will tell you the codec (XDCAM EX) for the clip.

If she creates a new sequence does she get a popup box offering to change the sequence setting to match the clip?
That will match the sequence to the aforementioned Frames Size, Compressor, etc.
If there's no pop it means the sequence already matches the clip.
She should be using FCP 6.0.2 and up. Ideally FCP 6.0.6 or FCP 7.0.3 (Current version for each series).



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Mike NedersRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:07:41 pm

Craig, cannot thank you enough for the help and guidance with your response. Yes under the gun and with this shoot, she had close to 25 people involved, several making sure everything was going to be there and the camera was not. The school had given them all out. So the day before the shoot, a Friday, I am looking all over the place where I can rent one and then go get it. Took two days to film and then I had to get camera to bring back to rental place for Monday morning.

When playing them in Final Cut, they look somewhat grainy and not the quality you would expect from a 1080 file. Same thing when I try to play them on my PC using VLC media player which is not the best one out there but plays mostly everything. Not a high quality look.

I will forward this post to her to get the answers you need and post asap. Thank you.


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Mike NedersRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:32:07 pm

ok just spoke to her and this is the info she gave me:

The files are showing as MPEG HD

Bit rate is 35 MBPS
Frame Rate is 59.94I
Aspect ratio 16x9
Frame size 1920 x 1080
Codec is Apple XDcamEX 1080 I 60
Using final cut Pro version 7

She is stating that the files all have a grainy look instead of the high quality you would expect of a 1080 file. She is using the XDCAM transfer
She also stated SIS=sony drive -off site devices which I am not sure if that last bit of info is correct.


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Craig SeemanRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 20, 2011 at 12:05:13 am

It seems like a typical XDCAM EX 1080i59.94 file.
Subjective terms like "doesn't look like HD" are dangerous. HD would be defined by frame size and EX is the codec in this case.

HD, badly shot, can have all sorts of nasty characteristics, grain included. Bad lighting, gain up, poor choice of Picture Profile settings, can all result in grainy shots amongst other problems. If anything, HD requires far more attention to detail because many issues are far easier to see then with SD.

Even "grainy" is vague. It depends on where the grain is in the picture and why it's there.

You may need to provide a screen shot and the camera settings as best as can be remembered.
Alas one of the nifty features with ClipBrowser is that it shows you all the camera settings stored in the meta data . . . that is lost if you toss out those critical folders.



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Mike NedersRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:26:14 pm

Craig, cannot thank you enough for the help and guidance with your response. Yes under the gun and with this shoot, she had close to 25 people involved, several making sure everything was going to be there and the camera was not. The school had given them all out. So the day before the shoot, a Friday, I am looking all over the place where I can rent one and then go get it. Took two days to film and then I had to get camera to bring back to rental place for Monday morning.

When playing them in Final Cut, they look somewhat grainy and not the quality you would expect from a 1080 file. Same thing when I try to play them on my PC using VLC media player which is not the best one out there but plays mostly everything. Not a high quality look.

I will forward this post to her to get the answers you need and post asap. Thank you.


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Craig SeemanRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:44:14 pm

Those questions I have can reveal all, whether she's just having a display issue or the files were transcoded to another codec.

Actually VLC is fine for viewing EX .mp4 files especially if you don't have the codec plugin. Since she has the plugin the files should play in Quicktime directly (although of course you may not have the plugin so you'd use VLC). In fact if they look OK in Quicktime for her, it could point to an FCP specific issue so she might want to do that as a double check.



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Greg OnderaRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 20, 2011 at 12:02:02 am

Craig's analogy that each card is a cassette is right on! You label cassettes with a pen but we label the cards with a folder stating which number it is in the sequence of cards.

Doug Jensen has a good description of the workflow on http://www.vortexmedia.com/DVD_EX3.html.

Greg Ondera
http://www.Plexus.tv
http://www.SurgeonToday.org


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Greg OnderaRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:39:41 pm

I see so many of these kind of posts--people who rent or borrow an XDCam EX camera and then try to cherry pick the video files out of the BPAV folders. Sony actually should have done a better job of teaching workflow but they did a lousy job of it and now it is left to respondents on Cow. This is a brave new world of tapeless workflow and it takes some preparation and thinking, and is not something you want to do after you shoot on a rental, and have to give the cards back with the camera.

But if you have the cards, hopefully you haven't dumped your BPAV folders on the cards. Be warned, they are all labelled BPAV and you need to set up an individual folder for each card, like "Card A" and "Card B" and "Card C" and so on depending on how much you shoot.

Then you should always use XDCam Browser to locate and drop those Clips into the folders you set up on your drive. This actually creates a new "BPAV" folder in the previously empty folder on the drive. DO NOT OVERWRITE THESE once you drop them in. Browser has precautionary warnings and imagery.

Then use XDCam Transfer to re-wrap what is in Browser. Make sure you go to preferences and tell it all to go Capture Scratch and the folder in there you want it to go in. Bring all those cards into XDCam Transfer at once. Highlight all cards, and hit Import All Clips and that sets it up for FCP. Only taking it through Browser does not set it up for FCP. It sets it up for almost all other editing software but not Final Cut.

If you dumped your BPAV folders on the cards, then use Calibrated Software for using in Final Cut Pro at http://www.calibratedsoftware.com/MP4EXImport_Mac.asp and it will cost you, but test it first to see if it works properly. It'll have a watermark on it until you buy it. XDCam Transfer is free, but you may not be able to use that anymore if you discarded the BPAV folders. All those crazy folders have necessary items in them.

Greg Ondera
http://www.Plexus.tv
http://www.SurgeonToday.org


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Craig SeemanRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:51:11 pm

For me, the analogy I like to use would be,
If you had a BetaSP or DigiBeta tape, you would pull the tape out of the cassette and then try to play it.
BPAV is the cassette. Don't open it.

In this case she has gotten as far as getting the plugin for it. The only things I can think of is that either someone transcoded the files or the settings in the timeline are wrong.

Of course maybe the camera operator made some bad decisions with Picture Profile or cranked up the gain.



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Mike NedersRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:53:06 pm

Craig, for some reason my response to your questions is showing on a post back in the thread. Hopefully these responses can shed some light. Thanks


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Mike NedersRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 20, 2011 at 12:45:12 am

Just to update, she has used video cam's very similar to this in the past with excellent results so do not thing the taping of the scenes or how to use the camera is a problem. They have shot short films before with excellent results so we are not thinking first time users here. When reviewing these most recent files on the camera during shooting, the quality was fantastic. She said she hooked her Mac laptop up to the camera at one point and not sure how but was able to watch one of the files on final cut and she said the quality was great. I don't think she would be so concerned about the graininess of the videos if this were not the case and they just do not look great or as good as when first previewed. We do have the BPAV folders intact with all the files in each individual folder of each clip as was stated in an earlier post. I think the issue is now not so much the program clip browser which she already has to get the folders to final cut but the thinking is some drivers from sony or software that works in conjunction with final cut to get the files looking good is missing. Also, many have warned when you go PC to Mac and back it creates issue on occasion. The issue is the time frame she had and the way we got the files by copying them to my pc and then to her MAC instead of having the time and transferring to her Mac right from the get go. On the info I posted in reference to the specs of the files, do they look correct? If so, it has to be something simple in the transfer to final cut we are missing.


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Craig SeemanRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 20, 2011 at 2:54:32 am

[Mike Neders] "When reviewing these most recent files on the camera during shooting, the quality was fantastic"

Which would then point with a workflow or settings issue in post. The mp4 on her computer is the very same thing she saw in the camera. Only a transcode or settings issue can result in degradation.

[Mike Neders] "but the thinking is some drivers from sony or software that works in conjunction with final cut to get the files looking good is missing."

This doesn't make any sense to me at all. Drivers don't change the file. The EX codec is installed with Final Cut Pro and doesn't have any impact on the quality.

[Mike Neders] "Also, many have warned when you go PC to Mac and back it creates issue on occasion."

None whatsoever on file quality. If you don't follow the proper workflow you can get "invisible" files in the folder structure and your post points to such possible oddity but it has no impact on the file. She's using the .mp4 as created by the camera. I've input files into a Windows XP PentiumD and moved them to a MacPro on my network and it's entirely harmless. Even if the folder structure where to somehow become botched, there's no harm to the .mp4 files at all.

[Mike Neders] "On the info I posted in reference to the specs of the files, do they look correct?"

Nope. Not to me. You've got some odd files there. That would have no impact on the .mp4 though at all.

I've also used the CalibratedSoftware EX plugin as well and there's no impact on the .mp4. Sony's wouldn't either.

I'd also add the ONLY way to confirm quality of the recording is on a broadcast monitor or the best possible calibrated monitor you can get, short of that. You can't judge the detail with the same accuracy and confidence using an uncalibrated camera LCD. Since Sony's EX LCD isn't quite the same as other LCDs the only way to judge what reality "might" be is having first hand experience with the LCD and then seeing the resultant file on a Proper monitor. At that point one has the experience to know how the LCD is impacting one's perception. In fact the very first time I did a test shoot with my EX in December 2007 and looking at the results on different monitors, after the shoot, did I realize how different that LCD was from what I had come to expect from other cameras I've used.



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Mike NedersRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 20, 2011 at 2:27:31 pm

Craig, thanks very much for the help and responses. On the quality issue, I agree with the differences between monitors and how it looks but it seems so dramatic in the differences. I guess the best way I can describe it is like the first time you went from basic cable to HD on your TV and thought wow, never thought it could be this good. The link to the person giving some direction on using the camera is very good and I only wish we would have had the time to study it. Also knowing what was planed should have done some posts like I have seen on site with people asking for Guidance before they start. My thought is it would have to be the settings on final cut if their is no change in quality from going pc to mac. Her MAC has a great monitor and she is using the better processor i7 intel with a lot of memory. Only issue is the MAC computers at school are also showing this degradation in quality with final cut. Its like setting that iso way to high and then getting the noise all over the shot. Hopefully it is settings issues and we can correct it because we both think it should look better and as you confirmed the settings on the camera were ok as seen by the mp4 properties. Will keep you posted and respond right away if we figure it out.


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Mike NedersRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 20, 2011 at 3:18:55 pm

Stop the presses! Need to correct some info I have been giving on the video and how it is being played. When she was filming they took the camera and connected it directly to her MAC laptop and played some of the clips they shot directly on a media player on her MAC, VLC Media player. She said the clips, full screen with the player connected to the camera, were beautiful and looked like HD. Dragging the files to her laptop, and then again playing on the VLC video player, major change in the quality. So VLC was reading the files differently off the camera folders versus now reading them off folders on her MAC. She has not viewed them in Final Cut as of yet. My guess is software or video driver issues on her MAC? Could this be the issue? Project is due soon so I am hoping anyone can help. Thanks.


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Craig SeemanRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 20, 2011 at 3:42:21 pm

[Mike Neders] "I agree with the differences between monitors and how it looks but it seems so dramatic in the differences."

In my own experience, I found it far more dramatic on the EX than with any other camera I had used. Of course it depends where you're coming from but the demands for calibrated monitoring whether on camera or in the edit or magnitudes more important with the EX's sensor.
1/2" chips vs 1/3"
Radically improved low light performance
CMOS handling of the image vs CCD
XDCAM EX codec vs others
Radically high resolution of about 1000 lines resolved in some situations.
All this puts huge demands on calibrated monitoring. Noise not visible on the camera LCD would be plan as day on a calibrated monitor.

Once you used the camera in extreme circumstances and the LCD in default and then compare on a calibrated monitor, the differences can be radical. I discovered this first hand. I did test shoots with the camera and saw the differences. Once you know the differences you can compensate in your head but until then it's EASY to make MAJOR mistakes if you used the camera LCD without having first made a comparison.

Once I made that comparison I found there were times I could shoot at night or in dark locations at 0 or -3 gain depending on what I wanted. I knew that I might want to crush the blacks at times. I had basic picture profiles setup and would switch through them on location, knowing what might be good for in camera vs what might give me more flexibility in post.

Given the control it seems people who have shot with $30,000 and up cameras had the experience to anticipate what the EX camera could should like than those with other $5,000 cameras.

Assuming the lower end of the budget spectrum, one should calibrate a monitor with a Spyder Elite (which can be set to target REC 709) or the latest firmware of MXO2 out to an HDMI monitor. It won't rival a higher end calibrated monitor but that will get you close. You simply can not look at an uncalibrated computer monitor and know what you're looking at. You can't look at an uncalibrated LCD on an EX and think that's going to be close to what it looks like on a calibrated monitor. At the very least once you've seen the difference, you can compensate "in your head" on location or otherwise tweak the LCD to match a monitor by eye.

Personally my test shoots were also grainy at first because the LCD was not showing what I was seeing on a larger monitor.


[Mike Neders] "Her MAC has a great monitor"
It's not about "great" it's about calibration. If you've looked at a typical computer monitor at it's default vs a broadcast monitor they are worlds apart.

[Mike Neders] "Its like setting that iso way to high and then getting the noise all over the shot. "

Unfortunately, probably the camera LCD wasn't displaying the noise that was actually being shot. Alternately one has to check on a calibrated monitor to see if the computer monitors are not even close to true. There is no "setting" in Final Cut to fix that. The .mp4 is what's recorded. If the monitor is accurate and there is noise one has to consider how to grade the shots to lower the visible noise in the recording.

The .mp4 info only shows the file is recorded as it should. The settings, F-Stop, Gain, Picture Profile, can still do serious damage to the quality.



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Mike NedersRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 20, 2011 at 7:28:34 pm

Craig, thank you and everyone else who commented and tried to help with this issue. I have the clip browser installed on my pc and I pulled a clip in for viewing after finding the file folder on my hard drive into the program. I had the gentleman who rented the camera on the other phone line as he did the same thing using his MAC and pulled a very clean HD clip he had of something else so we could compare all the settings of each others clip. Not sure why but on the right side of screen in clip browser for PC I seem to have more tabs then the MAC browser or just labeled differently but one of them he did not see was a tab called Acquisition which shows more things about the clip other then what the general tab shows. I am reading them to him and I get to the gain setting and say its 18dB and he says there is your problem. The gain should have been set much lower on the camera and this is what is probably giving the video its graininess. I am guessing this is the case. Told my daughter and she started crying because she had a person who was suppose to know these things and make sure the settings were correct. She must have gotten 6 hours of sleep that whole weekend preparing for this shot and to have this happen really brought her down. The guy on the phone stated viewing the clip off the camera on the VLC player (the person who was helping me also stated not the best video player to judge quality) would not be a true version or look of what it actually looks like until you get it into final cut and see it that way.

We did find a site called neat video which sells a product you can install in several film editing programs like final cut which can remove the graininess and have examples on the site. Do you recommend or think this might help?


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Craig SeemanRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 20, 2011 at 8:55:16 pm

[Mike Neders] "Not sure why but on the right side of screen in clip browser for PC I seem to have more tabs then the MAC browser or just labeled differently but one of them he did not see was a tab called Acquisition which shows more things about the clip other then what the general tab shows."

It's on the Mac version as well. You just need to make sure you're using the same version. 2.6 at the moment I believe.

[Mike Neders] "I am reading them to him and I get to the gain setting and say its 18dB and he says there is your problem."

Yes that's the metadata I mentioned many posts back that ClipBrowser shows if you have the BPAV. That would not be there if you only have the .mp4.

Using 18dB gain is exactly what I was referring regarding experience as well as using the camera LCD. I've shot at night with 0 and even -3dB gain.


[Mike Neders] "Told my daughter and she started crying because she had a person who was suppose to know these things and make sure the settings were correct."

All the above relate to comments I had made. regarding experience and monitoring. One needs to know the specific type of camera and be familiar with how its LCD performs.

[Mike Neders] "We did find a site called neat video which sells a product you can install in several film editing programs like final cut which can remove the graininess and have examples on the site. Do you recommend or think this might help?"

It will help but it will be a compromise. It's not the same as having good video to begin with.
Neat video had a good reputation
http://www.neatvideo.com/
another noteworthy one
http://www.innobits.com/purifier.html
and they have a good reputation as well.
http://www.revisionfx.com/products/denoise/
These might be less expensive
http://www.chv-plugins.com/cms/Fx-Script/Repair-collection/NoiseReduction.p...
Nattress is a great filter programmer as well and has one listed here.
http://www.nattress.com/Products/BigBox/Bigbox.htm



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Mike NedersRe: EX3 files not working in final cut
by on Apr 20, 2011 at 11:19:51 pm

Craig, thank you so much for your patience and time helping us out. Cannot tell you how much we appreciate it. Lesson learned with the Gain setting and I know it won't happen again :). Will check those other sites out.


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