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XDCAM Import settings

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Jana Novosad
XDCAM Import settings
on Sep 1, 2008 at 7:37:49 pm

Hello wonderful people,

i'm hoping you might be able to help again.

I want to import excam ex files in their native resolution into FCP (without any compression). The files will be going onto the Xsan which is formatted to hold uncompressed hd footage.

I called apple support here in UK and they said that the highest resolution i can import these files in is Apple Pro Res 422 (HQ). I was also told that my capture setting in fcp is my import setting?? So far, whenever i imported a quick time or anything else into my projects (not that i had to do it many times), it came in in the same resolution as the files were made in, regardless of my capture setting. Hope i'm making some sense so far?
Surely, i must be able to change my import setting to pretty much anything i want to import at but i was probably so far completely overlooking such a setting. Would someone be able to tell me where to find this or how to change it? So far, i would import a QT, drag it onto timeline and render to my timeline settings.

Also, do i have to compress the xdcam files to get them into the project? Thank you so much again.

All the best,
Jana


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Don Greening
Re: XDCAM Import settings
on Sep 2, 2008 at 4:53:53 am

[Jana Novosad] "I was also told that my capture setting in fcp is my import setting?? "

Yes. Basically, importing or capturing/transferring EX footage from SxS Pro card to NLE is the same.

[Jana Novosad] "So far, whenever i imported a quick time or anything else into my projects (not that i had to do it many times), it came in in the same resolution as the files were made in, regardless of my capture setting. Hope i'm making some sense so far?"

Yes, your understanding is correct. However, this is not a tape based format where you can capture something like HDV to Pro Res on the fly using firewire with just your Mac.

[Jana Novosad] "Surely, i must be able to change my import setting to pretty much anything i want to import at but i was probably so far completely overlooking such a setting."

Yes, you can do this provided you have a 3rd party capture PCIe card like a Kona board. A device like this will allow you to transcode your footage on the fly in real time through the SDI port of the EX. If you don't have this capability then you'll have to transcode after you've transferred your "as shot" footage, whether it be directly in the FCP timeline or with Apple's Compressor application. If your intent is to create an SD version of your HD footage you can set the EX to do a down convert of your footage, but again, you need to be able to utilize the SDI port of the EX.

[Jana Novosad] "Also, do i have to compress the xdcam files to get them into the project?"

No. Just use Sony's Transfer Tool app to import the native EX files into FCP. The FCP editors I've talked to who edit EX footage recommend that you transfer the EX footage into FCP "as shot" and then do any down or cross conversion after the fact. Contrary to what the folks at Apple have told you, you cannot gain any more quality by converting to another codec like Pro Res. The best quality is the unaltered format the footage is shot in. Apple's Pro Res codec is not going make anything look any better.

What Pro Res will do for you is to reduce the rendering time if you choose to set FCP to do the renders in Pro Res, which is an "I Frame" codec as opposed to the EX Long GOP recording format. For example, let's assume that you have EX footage shot in HQ 1080p 30. FCP will know the shooting mode of those clips and will import them correctly. In order to edit in a timeline without rendering you need to have the sequence settings match the transfer/import settings. Then set the sequence to do any renders in Pro Res by going to the Sequence menu>Sequence Settings, clicking on the Render Settings tab and changing the render codec to Pro Res instead of "use sequence codec." Using this method is a win-win situation because you get the small file sizes of the EX Long GOP format but the short rendering times of Pro Res.

I hope I've understood your questions correctly and answered them in a way that makes sense to you.

- Don



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Jana Novosad
Re: XDCAM Import settings
on Sep 2, 2008 at 10:33:49 am

Hi Don,
thank you for your reply, everything you've said makes perfect sense. I'm really greatful you've taken time to explain my questions to quite a depth, i was getting slightly confused by the responses from elsewhere. Really greatful.

I've got another, probably quite simple question but just to make sure that i don't screw up. My client shot the feature at 1080p24 (23.98p) 35Mb/s VBR, which is the way they be now imported into the project.
I've set the project settings as follow: Format: Sony XDCAM HD, Rate: 23.98fps, Use: XDCAM EX 1080p24 VBR in the Easy set up menu in FCP. Am I right? Do you by any chance know if editors are having problems playing out from an XDCAM EX sequence in general? I'm obviously expecting some problems, simply because thats the way it sometimes goes. I do have the AJA Kona card.
Thank you so much ance again.

Jana



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Don Greening
Correct EX Settings for 24p and FCP?
on Sep 2, 2008 at 5:03:05 pm

My knowledge of 24p is quite limited because I've never used it. My understanding of the workflow is that first and foremost you need to know what the final output is going to be. Knowing that will determine how you work with the footage and what your sequence time base should be set at.

I'll leave your question to others that have more experience working with 24p footage. I don't want to impart what little knowledge I do have and end up confusing the issue for you. That's why I changed the subject title to attract attention.

One day soon when I have the time I should definitely go through the EX 24p/FCP workflow to see how everything works.

- Don


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