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Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1

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Kaya Hacaloglu
Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 2, 2008 at 1:04:55 pm

Hello All,

I am about to upgrade myself to the HD(HDV) format from years of experience and working within the DV format.
The cameras I have in mind are the Sony XDCAM EX1 and the upcoming Sony Z7U, along with a Letus EXtreme 35mm adapter. Since this forum is for XDCam users my queries will go along the EX1.

1- I will be taking long trips and will be shooting for many hours. The ExpressCard recording seems an advantage since the quality of the footage exceeds that of HDV. Plus, the scene viewving option is great for drama usage, minus the archiving (looking and deleting "takes" on the fly. However, I will be shooting documentaries which means of many hours of recording on the field. What makes me wonder is how come not one company in the business has thought of designing an Express card slot which connects to an external portable hard drive (through USB 2.0 or Firewire) and enables transfer of footage. They maybe even can put up a small LCD screen; just transfer and empty the SS cards without the need of carrying a 17'' Laptop !

2- I reside in Turkey. My delivery options are DVD's. First of all, will my 2.4 ghz MacBookPro and Final Cut or Premiere Pro edit the footage without stutters ? I have read the threads about downconverting, I will try my best and follow the peers instructions.

BTW, for those who may not know please check http://www.vimeo.com/ex1
, full HD EX1 footage, most with the Letus Adapter. Please look for Philip Bloom's footages..They're amazing..

REgards to All,

Kaya Hacaloglu


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Craig Seeman
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 2, 2008 at 2:41:20 pm

I think you're a bit confused about some of the features advantages of EX1.

While it can shoot in HDV mode 25mbps CBR it's best when you shoot in XDCAM 35mbps VBR. The ExpressCards handles both. Firewire can only hand HDV mode and there are already had drives than can attach to that Sony DR60 as well as Firestore. Neither can use the XDCAM mode though. The USB is only for file transfer and not a "real time" data port when recording.

If you're looking at EX1 and Z7 you really have to figure out what your needs/your market is, since they are VERY DIFFERENT cameras. Personally I'd prefer the 1/2" chips and the more robust XDCAM codec for professional work.

You could use a 15" MacBookPro instead of 17" Granted that can still be awkward. The cards offload very fast though.

Of course you could certainly use the EX1 in HDV mode and still have the advantage of 1/2" chips and use DR60 or Firestore out of the firewire port. I think the advantage of the XDCAM codec is too great to give that up. HDV codec is just too easy to break





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Kaya Hacaloglu
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 2, 2008 at 2:51:21 pm

Hello Craig,

Thanks for the reply. I would prefer the 35mb/s mode myself. However, what I am refering is that there is no alternative besides a laptop to do the transferring job on location..I wish somebody would come up with an easy solution of a portable hard drive and an Express card reader that would both communicate through usb or firewire and do the transfer without having to rely and carry a 15'' or a 17''..

I have never worked with HDV before. I have had cameramen shoot with Z1's and output that as DV through the camera, but I dont understand your term of "HDV is breakable"..Could you eloborate on that and enlighten my interest please ?

Regards

Kaya





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Don Greening
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 2, 2008 at 6:49:12 pm

[Kaya Hacaloglu] "Could you eloborate on that and enlighten my interest please ? "

The HDV codec records at a constant bit rate (CBR) of 25 Mbits per second. This means that on fast action shots or fast camera moves the HDV codec may not keep up with the action and the picture will become briefly pixelated, etc. This is called "breaking the codec." The worst offenders of this are the little HDV consumer palmcorders for sale these days.

The XDCAM EX codec records at a variable bit rate (VBR) of 35 Mbits per second. This means that on fast action shots or fast camera moves the codec assigns more bits to those areas, resulting in a much better picture. I haven't been able to "break" the EX codec so far.

- Don



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Craig Seeman
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 2, 2008 at 7:34:00 pm

And that fast action can even include rippling water or leaves/grass moving in a gentle breeze.
That can "break" the HDV codec too.

Those same shots look excellent using the XDCAM codec. Like Don, I have not been able to "break" the XDCAM codec.

That's one important reason why the EX1 is in a very different class than the Z7. The other (amongst several) is the 1/2" chips and thusly the ability to create a shallower depth of field.



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Kaya Hacaloglu
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 3, 2008 at 9:54:19 am

Thanks for the responses..

I am keen on the EX1 but still have couple of queries in my mind. My delivery options will be primarily SD, so the footage will have to be downconverted and delivered as DVD or SD DigiBeta etc..Plus, the workflow for SD delivery isnt quite, there yet.
Printing to 35mm or delivering to HDTV, in the near future when SD will be obsolete is exciting..But, that will take a couple of years here. And by then, EX2, EX3 will probably hit the market. I've been waiting a long time and I'm not sure if I should jump into the wagon. yet.

Kaya



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Don Greening
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 3, 2008 at 5:19:10 pm

[Kaya Hacaloglu] " I've been waiting a long time and I'm not sure if I should jump into the wagon. yet."

I was thinking the same thing last fall but then thought it's like anything else: if you wait until the next greatest improvement in technology comes along, be it cameras or computers, you'll never buy anything. I have not delivered one scrap of HD yet but I'm glad I bought the EX when I did. The biggest advantages for me are the faster workflow, the widescreen, the low light capability and last but not least, the downconverted SD footage is light years ahead of my other cameras that shoot only SD.

Of course, the final decision rests with you, but you've been smart enough to ask the questions that allow you to make a choice with eyes wide open.

- Don



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Kaya Hacaloglu
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 3, 2008 at 5:38:17 pm

Don,

Thanks..I always try to keep them open.

BTW, the Sony represenative office where I live has told me that
along with the new EX3 that will be presented at NAB, a portable recorder will also be released allowing HQ (?) 35mb/s content to be recorded. (the model number is recorded at my office's skype chat list). I can post that later. HOwever, I do not know whether that will be compatible with the EX1 or only EX3. Let's just keep our fingers crossed.

Regards

KAya



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Craig Seeman
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 3, 2008 at 6:25:01 pm

My wild guess is that the EX3 is a shoulder mount version to replace or be alongside the F335. Does that jive with what you've been told (if you've been told)?

BTW there are many good business reasons to go HD now.

Once clients see the quality of the down convert to SD, they'll see the advantage even if all they need is SD. That's already happened in my case. Yes the client was willing to pay extra for HD shoot and they loved the results so much they're now talking about expanding the job.

Editing HD material in an SD timeline give you the ability to keyframe moves (sort of a virtual dolly) and reposition shots.

In many cases HD presentation is easy to execute for the client even if they don't have a Blu-ray player. Hook up computer DVI out to HDMI in to an HDTV and it looks amazing. Businesses that have bought HDTVs as presentation displays can now take advantage of them.



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Kaya Hacaloglu
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 3, 2008 at 6:45:37 pm

No Craig, Unfortunately I have'nt been told anything. They don't now yet either. It's all gonna be revealed at this year's NAB which I think is a couple of weeks ahead. Yet, I am very pleased that hard drive recording of HQ mode will be introduced. So that does make me excited and not to worry about expensive cards or carrying laptops..

QUOTE "Editing HD material in an SD timeline give you the ability to keyframe moves (sort of a virtual dolly) and reposition shots. QUOTE

I'm not sure I understand that. What is keyframing moves, virtual dolly; isnt that possible on an SD timeline as well ?

I have read somewhere in this forum or through an external link that the best method to edit HD if to be delivered as SD is to import the footage unto an SD timeline..Is this possible with Premiere CS3, I know it is with Final Cut Pro 6? Does the program do the downconversion (scaling) itself ?

Regards,

K.



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Craig Seeman
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 4, 2008 at 4:44:59 am

If you put an 1920 by 1080 image in a 720 by 480 or 720 by 576 (PAL) timeline you have A LOT of room to zoom in or pan left/right etc without any loss of resolution.

If you're not sure what "Keyframing" is you've got some very very basic things you need to learn about editing and moving objects to learn. Look at some of the COW tutorials or Google for some various tutorials about keyframing. Pick a start point and an endpoint and move an the image.

At this point I would not choose Premiere to edit EX1 video since it doesn't handle it natively. You'd need to convert to another codec. Right now the best choices are Final Cut Pro, Vegas and I hear Edius might be a good choice too.

An NLE can do a downconversion but the results depend on the ability of the NLE. A program like Compressor can do downconversion too.

There's doing and doing well and that really depends on the software (and hardware).

My hunch is that the hardware device to record HQ will probably be more expensive than buying a laptop (although probably smaller). With a laptop you'd be able to screen shots with the client and burn DVD backups on location . . . all while the camera continues to record on one card while you dump the other card into a laptop.

I see lots of risks recording directly to hard drive over solid state memory cards. I've heard of enough Firestore horror stories to scare me away from such devices.

With 2 16GB cards and a laptop could record all day non stop and the client can look at the previous card while I continue shooting.



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Kaya Hacaloglu
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 4, 2008 at 7:40:12 am

I have done keyframing before, mostly on stills so I pretty much know what you're talking about. Though, I don't see how that wold ease my editing since 'm used to seeing the whole picture on an equal size canvas. I will do some tests with Philip Bloom's uncompressed footage that he has posted in his blog..
One strange thing though, on my 2.4 ghz MAcBokPro and Final cut 6.02 Philips EX1 footage playsback stuttering. The image seems to slow down or stop at some intervals..When I changed my playback quality setting under RT to medium (from dynamic) it played smothly with no hick ups. I didnt notice any resolution loss. I asked Philip he said that it is strange and that the MBP should handle the EX1 stream.

I will not be having clients along. My shots will be mostly on the field and I think I can pretty much take care with the LCD panel or a small preview (LCD) monitor. I never used the firestore, I know what it is, although this is Sony releasing its own Hard drive recorder, not a third party product. So, we'll see..

I just might wait for the EX3 and see if it is an upgrade to the EX1. There is a demonstration at a university with the EX1 today, if I have time I'll drop over there and see for myself and grab some uncompressed footage to play with.

Regards,

K.



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Janet Nakano
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 8, 2008 at 10:13:45 pm

Hi,

I'm also having problems with viewing Sony EX 1 footage on my Mac Book Pro with Final Cut 6.0.2. It stutters as well. I changed the playback settings to MEDIUM and it works fine now but I'm concerned that it isn't some other issue. Maybe I have the settings wrong?

Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks,
J



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Kaya Hacaloglu
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 9, 2008 at 12:34:55 am

Hello Janet,

Yes, I'm also on Final Cut 6.02 alongside a MBpro 2.4 ghz. MAke sure your settings are set to XDCAM " EX ", though I doubt that would make a difference. I did not notice any loss in quality, have yo had a chance to hook it up to an external monitor by any chance ?
This could make a new thread; looks like there's something that needs to be resolved..

Thanks for sharing

Kaya



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Janet Nakano
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 9, 2008 at 2:21:02 am

Also, I have 4GB of RAM.

Thanks guys.



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Don Greening
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 9, 2008 at 1:19:19 am

Janet,

You haven't specified where you're storing your media. It should always be on an external drive and not on your startup drive. Having a good media transfer rate will make a huge difference on how smoothly FCP will play back your footage.

- Don


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Janet Nakano
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 9, 2008 at 2:18:08 am

Hello Don and Kaya,

I have a 1TB external hard drive to store all my footage and use an 800 firewire. I just got my MacBook Pro with the same specs as Kaya. So this is why I was surprised to see that it looked like a processing issue.

I'm still pretty new to Final Cut but I think I have my settings correct. Shot and set on XDCAM 1080p30 V.. (the variable setting).

I was told that the quality doesn't actually change when I export so that's good news.

Thanks,
Janet



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kaya hacaloglu
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 9, 2008 at 4:07:53 pm

Your settings need be set to XDCAM EX (not XDCAM only) so they say. But still, it doesnt make the difference and for smooth playback, quality needs to be set to Medium instead of Dynamic.

Anyone can confirm this, I'm on a 2.4 MBpro. FC 6.02

Kaya



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Chris Babbitt
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 3, 2008 at 6:16:20 pm

Don,

What method do you use for downconverting?



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Don Greening
Re: Need Advice - Suggestions for EX1
on Apr 9, 2008 at 1:26:08 am

[Chris Babbitt] "What method do you use for downconverting?"

It's pretty simple, really. The most current project I've done was shot in 1080p 30. I did all the editing and primary CC in the native EX codec, including a round trip with Color. Afterwards I just did a copy and paste into a DV 50 NTSC timeline, rendered and output a self-contained .mov for BitVice. Looked great on a Samsung 50" plasma.

Sorry for taking so long to respond, Chris. Didn't see your post all the way down here.

- Don


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