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FCP X crash during import erased footage from Sony XQD card

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Kevin McKeever
FCP X crash during import erased footage from Sony XQD card
on Mar 14, 2016 at 8:53:07 pm
Last Edited By Kevin McKeever on Mar 14, 2016 at 11:13:41 pm

Just went through nine days of data recovery hell, thought I'd share info for the next poor guy who goes through this nightmare.

The other week I had a full Sony XQD card of footage shot on my Sony FS7. I opened the import window in FCP X and all the clips were there. I clicked on a few clips to preview. Suddenly FCP X froze (spinning beach ball). I've seen FCP X freeze before when previewing clips in import, but it always resolved after a few seconds. This time it did not resolve, so I forced quit FCP X. When I re-opened FCP X and tried to import, it did not see any data on the card. I checked the card in Finder - the XDROOT folder, which contains all the files, was completely empty. I put the card back into my FS7, hoping it will do a clip repair. It showed an empty card. Probably the most heart-sinking moment of my career. I sent the card to Sony data recovery in Laredo, TX. They were unable to retrieve any footage. Then to make matters worse, they made the horribly stupid mistake of writing some data files ONTO the card, which permanently wrote over some of the footage files. The tech apologized profusely and admitted he should have contacted me first to ask permission, but too late now.

I tried 4-5 data recovery programs. Only Aeroquartet Treasured (http://aeroquartet.com/movierepair/repair) was able to see and recover some of the footage, roughly 75% of what I shot. It's a bit of a process, and it changed my clips from 23.98P to 25P, but it really saved my butt, and the tech guy at Aeroquartet (Javier) who walked me through some processes was extremely patient and helpful. I highly recommend them. If Treasured hadn't worked, I would have called DriveSavers.

I sent this story to Apple via their FCP feedback form, along with the message that THIS IS A MAJOR BUG, AN FCP CRASH OR FORCE QUIT MUST NOT BE ABLE TO ERASE CARD DATA!

Lessons learned:
1. Make a copy of the card and import from the copy, not the original card.

2. If you ignore #1 and FCP X freezes on import, DO NOT force quit until you've first ejected your card. Finder probably won't let you eject it while FCP X is open, so you may have to cross your fingers and just yank the card out. Scary, yes, but not as scary as FCP X erasing your card.

3. If you ever send a card to Sony in Laredo, TX (I never will again), be explicit ten times over that they should not write anything onto the card without your permission. Still can't believe the tech guy made that screw up.

4. If it looks like your card has been erased, try Treasured software. If that doesn't work, DriveSavers was mentioned to me by Sony as a leading data recovery place. I have no idea how much they charge.

5. Two-slot recording and/or redundant recording to my Odyssey is worth the extra time and card expense.

Safe shooting!

Kevin McKeever | Director of Photography and Editor | http://www.image-generation.com
Sony FS7, Canon L lenses, full lighting and audio packages


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Joe Marler
Re: FCP X crash during import erased footage from Sony XQD card
on Mar 15, 2016 at 12:10:45 am

Kevin thanks for that info. Normally FCPX should not do anything to the card data (whether it crashes or not) because the files are probably opened in read only mode. With Windows if the OpenFile() API is called with an OF_READ parameter the app simply cannot do anything to the data. It is probably the same with OS X.

The OS X file system code is not perfect and might infrequently under rare conditions cause data corruption. I had a reproducible scenario a few years ago using high I/O stress with the DiskTestR utility. I discussed with the developer who said he'd reported it to Apple as a known bug but it wasn't yet fixed (back then). FCPX exists at the application layer so it's possible it did the right thing and the fault is with OS X.

Another possibility is the card itself had a failure. Anytime I encounter something like this I am leery about ever using that card in a production environment again -- even if I'm not sure it was the card's fault.

I know lots of people import from cards but out of conservatism and due to our policy of backing up in the field, I rarely import data from camera cards into FCPX. Rather I copy and verify the data with Finder, and Beyond Compare http://www.scootersoftware.com/.

I should probably use ShotPut Pro which is designed for this but so far have not: http://www.imagineproducts.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=5

Anyone who deals with large amounts of production video data has probably seen (or will see) some anomalies. Over the years my documentary group has had a few SanDisk and Lexar SD cards fail in the field, and we've had to do data recovery but usually retrieved most of it. This is very rare but I'm talking about 100+ terabytes of data over five years. In the few failures we've had, the card was never touched by FCPX it was apparently a camera issue or card failure.

It is tempting to say use only dual-card cameras but this greatly restricts camera choice and if the camera itself fails or crashes it could possibly mess up both cards. Likewise if one card fails then the camera OS became unstable and doesn't flush and close the other card it could also be jeopardized. It is relatively common in operating systems (whether computer or camera) that unpredictable "async" events are not handled well. This is largely due to the difficulty of realistically testing these in a multithreaded concurrent environment.


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Jeff Kirkland
Re: FCP X crash during import erased footage from Sony XQD card
on Mar 16, 2016 at 5:21:41 pm

Personally, I doubt that that FCPX erased your card. More likely the card was corrupt in some way and FCPX crashed when OS X stopped being able to read the data. And yes, the lesson is a good one - only a crazy person doesn't make at least one backup copy of their media asap. :-)

Jeff Kirkland | Video Producer | Southern Creative Media | Melbourne Australia
http://www.southerncreative.com.au | G+: http://gplus.to/jeffkirkland | Twitter: @jeffkirkland


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Kevin McKeever
Re: FCP X crash during import erased footage from Sony XQD card
on Mar 16, 2016 at 8:32:12 pm

All footage was there and viewable in FCP. FCP froze. Force quit and immediately re-opened FCP and all footage was gone, XDROOT folder now rewritten and empty. To blame it on the card rather than FCP or the OS sounds "crazy" to me.

Kevin McKeever | Director of Photography and Editor | http://www.image-generation.com
Sony FS7, Canon L lenses, full lighting and audio packages


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Jeff Kirkland
Re: FCP X crash during import erased footage from Sony XQD card
on Mar 16, 2016 at 9:50:06 pm

At the end of the day there's not going to be any way to know the cause.

In theory, a read operation copying files from the card to hard drive isn't doing anything that can erase a card (if there was a write operation involved, you wouldn't be able to write-protect a card while copying) but if that was the cause, it could just as easily have happened copying the files from A to B in the Finder, as FCPX doesn't use any copy process that's different to OS X.

On the other hand, I've seen cards, and hard drives, that for one reason or another failed while being read. One minute you could see the files and the next - nothing. I've had cards come from a camera that wasn't shut down properly on set, that were completely or partially unreadable in OS X. Sometimes putting the card back in the camera and shutting it down properly fixed it, sometimes not. Keep in mind that just because the directory could be read and you could see a list of files, doesn't mean there's no corruption elsewhere on the media.

Anyway, each to their own, I just think card fault caused crash rather than crash caused card fault. Either way it's one of those heart stopping things that causes cold sweat and more than a few sleepless nights. Glad yo got most of it back.

Jeff Kirkland | Video Producer | Southern Creative Media | Melbourne Australia
http://www.southerncreative.com.au | G+: http://gplus.to/jeffkirkland | Twitter: @jeffkirkland


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Kevin McKeever
Re: FCP X crash during import erased footage from Sony XQD card
on Mar 16, 2016 at 10:22:06 pm

Could be - and right, no way to know for sure. It's for Apple to figure out, if they care to. Heart-stopping and cold sweats for sure. Thanks, I'm sure glad I got most of it back too. Did the re-shoot for the rest of it earlier today. Copied the card and then imported from the copy. ;-)

Kevin McKeever | Director of Photography and Editor | http://www.image-generation.com
Sony FS7, Canon L lenses, full lighting and audio packages


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Joe Marler
Re: FCP X crash during import erased footage from Sony XQD card
on Mar 17, 2016 at 2:39:55 pm

[Kevin McKeever] "I sent the card to Sony data recovery in Laredo, TX. They were unable to retrieve any footage. Then to make matters worse, they made the horribly stupid mistake of writing some data files ONTO the card, which permanently wrote over some of the footage files. The tech apologized profusely and admitted he should have contacted me first to ask permission, but too late now."

Yes that technician was irresponsible. The first step in data recovery is you make a block-for-block safety copy of whatever is on the media. The original media is always suspect -- it's usually impossible to tell whether the problem was caused by the app, the OS, a card reader or the card itself. You definitely don't copy files to the original media. If the allocation table is messed up that could physically overwrite otherwise-recoverable data.

The file system on the card is probably exFAT, so it's not highly complex. A recovery technician can normally use various tools to examine this at a low level and assess the situation.

It is still unknown how this happened but FCPX would not be my first suspicion. If there was an FCPX bug whereby it could erase data on SD cards, this would probably be eventually encountered by other users. I have never heard of that but I have heard of and infrequently experienced data loss from OSX file system bugs and physical card failures.

Re importing directly into FCPX, that is commonly done however I always copy and verify at the Finder level, then import from disk. However if the card is flaky this same situation could have happened doing a Finder copy.


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