More WOOT from the MxR folks

E-Films have some great new toys for PMW-EX1/3 owners that update and enhance the successful SDHC adaptors and add a couple of new products that tick a lot of wishlist boxes.

Ross and friends over at E-Films make adaptors so you can put SDHC cards into your PMW-EX1 for cost effective bulk-shooting. They’re wonderful little things, but as we shooters got used to the things, many realised it was a lot easier to let the SDHC cards ‘live’ in the adaptors – one per card – rather than swap them out. Some of the more hamfisted amongst us could occasionally and accidentally pop-out the SDHC card whilst pressing the adaptor into either the camera or the computer. Nothing bad happens, beyond having to unplug, reseat, replug, rinse and repeat. But…

Ross has responded by making an adaptor with no pop-in-pop-out mechanism. Plug a card in, and it’s not coming out without a ‘determined effort’.

In addition, the adaptor has been designed and tested with the newer 32 GB cards (with a view to future high capacity cards). 32 GB cards get you almost two hours of high quality shooting per card. Switch to HDV quality, and you can fit nearly 3 hours of material on a 32 GB card. With one in each slot, you’re good for almost 4 hours of XDCAM or 5 hours 45 minutes of HDV.

But wait, as Steve Jobs would say, “one more thing”. Here’s the Steve Jobs moment. The redesign of the adaptor has left room for (wait for it) a sticky label! Yay! You can write out a label and stick it on the adaptor and it won’t scrape off in the camera or jam up your computer. It sounds a simple thing, but ye gods – I miss my labels. If you’re new to MxR, go for the new adaptors, even if you’re going for 16GB cards, as the non-popup, futureproof capacity and writable labels are must-have features. Remember to get your boxes too!

With lots of cards, and maybe many hours worth of material (event capture, multi-camera) to ingest, with the slower transfer speed of USB, one could be in for some long evenings. I’m writing this whilst I ingest. So imagine the ability to ingest 4 cards at the same time. Boggle!

The E-MCR (Multi Card Reader) comes in a little zip-up soft case which will also store up to 6 MxR adaptors with the cards inside. It will work with ShotPut Pro from Imagine Software which can back up each card to up to three different locations with a range of data integrity checks ranging from a quick copy to bit-for-bit checking.

I’m a bit leery of recommending ShotPut as they’ve not given me particularly good customer service in the past, (the English way of saying ‘it sucks’). But hopefully there’s somebody out there who can give ShotPut the thumbs up.

Their store will point you in the direction of a local supplier or from their own store if applicable.

Am I buying any of these products? Well, right now, no – I’ve invested too heavily in the first round and am getting more than satisfactory (an English way of saying profanely brilliant) performance from my kit. But if I were to be heavily into multicam, or invested in a second camera which needed its own setup, yes: I would. Like a shot.

And if I found that Imagine Products’ customer service stopped sucking, I might look into giving it another go. Word on the wire is that keeping with the original file structure may be a wise thing to do, that we should back up our BPAV folders rather than the QuickTime movies that XDCAM Transfer creates. Right now, I’m not sure why my workflow would enjoy this, but I could be convinced.

PMW-EX owners: WOOT!

Ross Hereweni has done it again. His company, E-Films, produce the MxR adaptor designed to enable the use of inexpensive SDHC cards inside the Sony PMW-EX line of cameras. With a couple of relatively inexpensive 32GB SDHC cards, you’re good for almost 3 hours of shooting without swapping cards.

But there’s times when some need more than this, or need to start editing straight away – which is a problem if your rushes straddle two cards.

So here’s the scoop: his newest product is the HDR. This ingenious device allows you to connect a hard disk – any hard disk – to your EX camera and shoot directly to that. If you shoot conferences and presentation material, or even the ‘waiting for it to happen’ shoots when you have to keep rolling, the HDR is yet another ‘enabling’ technology.

It even comes with an enclosure with – get this – a power supply. So you’re not tethered to a power outlet.

Okay, so Sony makes the PHU-60K – so what gives? Well, if you have 4 days of conference to record, you’ll need two if not three units per camera, plus their batteries. They’re only 60GB. With the HDR, I can get any size I want, at street price, not ‘Sony Price’.

But lets go one stage beyond that. You can elect to fit a Solid State Disk – vibration proof, high performance and so on.

Combined with CalibratedQ software I reported on a few days ago, at last we have a system which enables shooters to capture long-form to disk, stop recording and IMMEDIATELY start editing – and in my little niche, that’s a big deal.

I’d been doing this trick with humble Z1s and recording DV directly to Final Cut Pro via FireWire. This worked well – no loss of content due to tape changes, quick turnaround and so on – but of course requires a laptop and a copy of FCP per camera.

With the HDR, maybe the time has finally come when I can retire my Z1s and invest in PMW-EX throughout, shooting 720p direct to disk (any hard disk) and then multi-cam the edits when done.

And you don’t need a PCIexpress bus on your MacBook Pro – Apple, thank these guys.

When you’ve blown the XDCAM-EX magic smoke…

There’s been a definite meme at work this week. I’ve heard it at training sessions, I’ve had emails, I’ve read posts, and had phone calls all about people having trouble with getting EX1 footage into their system.

Of course, XDCAM Transfer does a great job – check out my tutorial in the How-to section above. But some people have been, well, ‘playing’ – doing things that perhaps they shouldn’t. And suddenly there’s an EX1 card with stuff they can’t view, can’t edit, and haven’t backed up.

So here’s an interesting utility that I’ll be investigating soon:

Essentially, it promises that you can edit the native EX1 files, even if the magic structure of your SxS or P2 card has been mangled out of shape. It promises you can rescue your ‘orphan’ video clips – no bad thing, but hopefully people accept that SxS (or equivalent) cards are like your negatives, your original film. Best not muck around with them too much. But I digress.

Whether this is a codec or a way of generating QuickTime wrappers on the fly remains to be seen, but basically the idea is you can shove the mp4s directly into Final Cut and start editing – straight off the SxS card if necessary.

News cutters: rejoice!