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XDCAM HD & EX best practices?

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Stewart Grinton
XDCAM HD & EX best practices?
on Aug 8, 2012 at 8:08:07 pm

I've done a bunch of searches on the topic but haven't quite found the info I'm looking for. I'll describe my current workflow and if you kind folks have any pointers or constructive criticism I'd love to hear it.


We shoot XDCAM HD with a PDW-335L and XDCAM EX with an EX3. Most of our projects use both XDCAM and EX footage. We had planned to build a new NLE based on FCP but that was last summer when Apple abandoned v7. So we now use the Adobe Production Premium 5.5 and OSX 10.6.8. Our hardware is a MacPro 3.33 6-core, 32GB RAM, 240GB SSD boot drive, 6TB internal RAID 1 storage (MASTER) and Kona LHi with breakout box. On the MASTER storage drive we have folders divided by type including Video, Audio, Graphics, DVD etc. where we store assets depending on the job. PPro and other Adobe project files are run off the Boot drive and back-up via Time Machine.

Current Workflow:

Video comes in from the field and is copied via drag'n drop to the Video folder on the MASTER drive. If it's XDCAM HD we load the disc into a PDW-F75 deck and copy via iLink to a folder hierarchy which retains the structure of the optical disc. So the top folder is given a descriptive name by subject and within this there are however many other folders with disc contents (Disc 1, Disc 2 etc.)

EX footage is copied the same way only using the SxS reader and drag'n dropped into a descriptive folder by card number preserving the BPAV hierarchy.

So many times there will be a folder of video which has both Disc contents and Card contents. In Premiere Pro 5.5 we simply use the Media Browser to copy all of this footage to our project and begin the edit. Typically we upload or ftp finished edits encoded for either YouTube or for local broadcast.

Thoughts for Improvement and Questions:

After reading the forums I've only just today installed Sony XDCAM Browser v2.1 (trial) with necessary updated drivers. It seems this is a superior (only) way of organizing footage and making changes to metadata before import to PPro.

As I understand it using the Browser software with an optical XDCAM HD disc I would make any metadata notes to the disc contents first by adding title names, creators and descriptions to each of the clips. I would write these changes back to the disc by clicking "update" when I'm done. Then I would selectively copy the clips I want in my project to the Video folder on my storage drive. XDCAM Browser generates the folder disc structure at that location on the drive and contains only the clips I've copied. Great! But after attempting all of this, why when I import the footage from the hard drive do none of the metadata (title 2, creator, description) show up in PPro except for Title 1? Even the original alpha-numeric file name is used if you look at what was copied to the hard drive. Is this just the nature of the file management structure within XDCAM media that you can't change the file name of video clips?

The EX workflow is similar. Because there is no disc/tape I wouldn't make notes to metadata until after copying the footage to the Video storage drive. The Browser software allows me to transcode MP4 clips to match my MXF footage. But what's the point of that if the beauty of PPro is to mix and match theses such formats at whim? And why won't the changes I affect to the clip data in the Browser software show back up in PPro anyway?? I still end up with a video file named a gobbly-goop bunch of numbers.

I've got another question but I will break it out into another post for brevity's sake.

A preemptive thank you to anyone wishing to impart their wisdom upon these ramblings.

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Ian Cook
Re: XDCAM HD & EX best practices?
on Aug 8, 2012 at 9:06:50 pm

This is normal for PPro (CS6 works the same way); let me check with Adobe on when we might see this change. The metadata is part of the disc images you are creating and should carry over. Other editors can see it fine. I know that with the introduction of Prelude there was supposed to be a big update in the amount of metadata Premiere supports but we may have to wait for the next dot release. Stand by or email me offline at ian dot cook at am dot sony dot com

JFYI re the title metadata vs file names-- the files on the drive retain their original names when you apply titles. Titles and File Names are separate entities. The title is a piece of optional metadata that the NLE or other software has to parse out of the MXF/MP4; the file name is mandatory and isn't changed unless you change it at the disc level or using special software (easier to do with MXF than MP4 because of how the file systems work)..

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Ian Cook
Re: XDCAM HD & EX best practices?
on Aug 10, 2012 at 8:09:17 pm

I'm afraid this is normal. Premiere Pro will only retain the updated metadata if:

-You archive your media first and then do your logging/updating of the stored card/disc image

-You edit from the original media

The former seems like a fairly painless workaround but it depends on your overall ingest/logging/storage workflow.

We have asked Adobe to take another look at this and hope to see the metadata handling improve soon.

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