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Received footage copied from optical disc to hard drive via Windows Explorer - any hope?

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Peter Jay Gould
Received footage copied from optical disc to hard drive via Windows Explorer - any hope?
on May 22, 2012 at 10:18:20 pm

I've received a hard drive full of footage that was created out-of-country, in which the media from a multicam shoot was copied directly in Windows Explorer (no drivers or utility software installed). Each complete optical disc was copied in its entirety to an individual folder on the portable hard drive.

I don't normally work with XDCam so it took a considerable time to learn that the problem I was facing is due to the fact that the Sony software stitches the various streams together into a single file, and that if this is not done, no edit software knows what to do with the resulting material. It's all new to me. In other file-based workflows I've dealt with it would be perfectly fine to simply copy the folder from the file-based media to a hard drive or RAID.

Sony tech support says that once optical-based XDCam copied in this way, nothing can be done to restore it. That isn't sitting quite right, given the fact that ALL the raw data - the same data the utility software is looking for on the optical disc - is right here. It seems to me that if they wanted to, Sony could make its importation software able to recognize and mux that data regardless of whether the folder containing it is on an optical drive or a subfolder on a hard drive; but for some reason they've apparently chosen not to. So this is the hand I'm dealt.

Does anyone know of a workaround for Windows-based systems?


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Ian Cook
Re: Received footage copied from optical disc to hard drive via Windows Explorer - any hope?
on May 23, 2012 at 2:01:21 pm

The only possibilities are:

1) Using XDCAM Transfer + FCP 7 on a Mac. Our Transfer plug-in has built-in VFAM (U1 Driver) components because there was a delay in releasing the Mac version of the U1 driver; it can read the raw layer of a disc or disc image and I've been able to get it to read from a standalone PROAV folder. This is an undocumented, unsupported feature (reading raw files from sources other than actual XD discs) and it doesn't always work depending on the structure of the data and other factors, but it's a shot.

2) Copying the data back to a blank disc on a Mac + PDW-U1/U2 with no VFAM driver installed. Not having the VFAM driver means the root of the disc will not be restricted and we can try to put ProAV back onto the disc. This is a long shot and will only have a chance of working if you have the entire contents of ProAV and all its subfolders with the XMLs and other metadata files.

I know neither of these are optimal but it's all I can offer at present. I just pinged our US development team to see if they have any non-official lab-only utilities we might use to re-mux the files into Op1A MXFs. I am pretty sure we do not have any standalone utilities or scripts to do this but will confirm within the hour.


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Peter Jay Gould
Re: Received footage copied from optical disc to hard drive via Windows Explorer - any hope?
on May 23, 2012 at 5:31:42 pm

Thanks Ian.

I would think it would be to EVERYBODY'S benefit for Sony to add what should be a small amount of additional functionality to the existing utility so it can process this file structure anywhere it is found, rather than just on optical media. Prior to this my own experience was limited to P2 media and AVCHD media, both of which can simply be copied off onto a hard drive at the raw file level as long as the entire directory structure is preserved, so this whole situation is a new thing for me.

The Sony rep I spoke to yesterday, who helped me discover what the problem was, seemed astonished that it could have occurred. In fact he said flat-out that you'd have to almost TRY to make this mistake. However, looking through the Internet knowing what I know now, I can see how easy it would be for someone unfamiliar with XD-Cam to make this error, and I'm surprised it doesn't happen more, at least at the nonbroadcast level. When a PDW-U1 drive is connected to a Windows-based computer with no other driver installed, Windows installs a generic USB mass-storage driver, making the raw file structure visible and available for copying. The smart thing for Sony to do, I suspect, would be to set up the firmware so the drive appears as a proprietary device and won't install at all except with the correct Sony drivers in place. Then this really COULDN'T happen.

What happened here is that a local crew was engaged in Denmark and in turn rented the multi-camera package from a Denmark rental house. The PDW-U1 drive was supplied as part of the rental but without a computer, driver install disc or manual. Since it operated when connected to the client's notebook computer, the entire contents of each optical disc was copied to its own hard drive folder. Yes, the local crew, which uses XD-CAM extensively, should have known better. Not sure what happened there but the effect is on the visiting US client who has no recourse in Denmark. And MY company hired the crew, so we're the ones on the hook here.

For those familiar with XD-CAM the idea of raw-copying the files off the drive may seem barbaric but for those unfamiliar it's clearly an easy trap to fall into. And since the ENTIRE structure was copied - all the subfolders and all the XML files, etc., the data is THERE to do the muxing. It's just that no software has been developed to do it.

I'd be thrilled to hear that your prediction was wrong and that there actually is an in-house utility to do the impossible.

Best,

Pete


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Robin Probyn
Re: Received footage copied from optical disc to hard drive via Windows Explorer - any hope?
on May 29, 2012 at 11:38:03 pm

Hi Pete

Does this apply only to windows .. or would the same procedure i.e. copy with desktop only.. from a disc footage to a HDD .. result in the same problem..?

Thanks



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Ian Cook
Re: Received footage copied from optical disc to hard drive via Windows Explorer - any hope?
on May 30, 2012 at 2:05:25 pm

In the interest of closing the loop on this-- Using XDCAM Transfer to re-wrap to .mov and then back to interleaved .mxf is is the only way to do this. I know it's not the tool you have but it's out there and I've been able to help a number of people recover from this same situation using this simple workflow. It's a Mac-only solution but so far this has not been a problem. We do not have a standalone utility which can achieve the same result. If you are still dealing with all this and are in a position to send me the files and a big enough hard drive I can try the conversion here and then overnight the drive back to you. Best I can offer at present..


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Peter Jay Gould
Re: Received footage copied from optical disc to hard drive via Windows Explorer - any hope?
on May 30, 2012 at 2:37:44 pm

Ian,

Many thanks for the offer but fortunately we were able to recover the original media discs from Denmark and transfer the footage properly. The one issue of course is that it has blown all our deadlines but it is what it is.

I would STRONGLY encourage Sony to release a utility to address this sort of situation. The technology obviously exists to do it and I can see this situation happening again to others.

Having now reviewed, in-depth, what happened: the multicamera equipment package was supplied as a rental and included the optical drive but with NO documentation and NO software install disc. The personnel on location installed Clip Browser instead of the driver and then connected the optical drive, which appeared to install properly. The problem wasn't found until the transferred materials reached my facility in the US. Ours is a Windows-only environment so a Mac-based solution would not have been possible.

I do deeply appreciate the offer of converting the drive content if all other options were lost. But you shouldn't be in the position of having to make such a generous offer if the company can solve the whole problem with a simple utility.

Thanks again for the help.

Peter



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