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Working with XDCAM EX Footage in Final Cut Pro 6

Don't forget to manage the data/media and the processed clips, and back-up the original data/media By Heath McKnight

The Sony XDCAM EX line of cameras, which include the PMW-EX1 and EX3, offer full HD resolution recording (1920 x 1080), which record onto non-linear flash-based cards that Sony has named SxS. Speed is always of the utmost importance, so it's great to be able to get clips into Final Cut Pro fast and easy.

There are two techniques for importing and processing Sony XDCAM EX footage in Final Cut Pro 6, including using tools found within Final Cut Pro, or using Sony's third party stand-alone software application. We'll take a look at both, but first, let's discuss the best way to manage XDCAM EX data/media first.

XDCAM EX Data/Media Management
Once the SxS flash memory cards are filled up with the data/media of the footage you've shot, it's time to transfer it from the cards to a second internal hard drive or external FireWire drive. From there, the data will be processed into clips that can be edited in Final Cut Pro (FCP). Try opening one of the raw clips found in the BPAV folders with QuickTime, and you'll get an error, so they need to be properly processed. However, you can watch them with the VLC app (www.videolan.org/vlc), but there won't be any sound.


A second internal hard drive or external FireWire drive is extremely important, because putting footage on a start-up disk, where the operating system and software lives, can destroy the hard drive, taking valuable data with it. The technique I prefer to use to manage the data/media is to create a folder in the second drive (control- or right-click, New Folder), then I name it after the project name and add "Data" to it, so I know it's raw SxS data/media. For example, "Off Air Data." Create as many folders as SxS cards used for that specific project, like "Off Air Roll 1, Off Air Roll 2," and so on.

Using either the EX 1 or EX 3 camera, or a Sony SxS card reader, transfer the data off each card. Ensure you're moving over the folder called BPAV from each SxS card to the proper folder with the "Roll" designation. Please note that you shouldn't rename the BPAV folders, which will cause them to be unreadable in FCP or Sony's software app. Also, don't put them in the same "Roll" folder, because it will overwrite the previous BPAV folder.

Because this is where your raw data/media will reside after the cards are wiped, it's a good idea to back them up on a separate, preferably external FireWire drive. If anything happens to the original drive, you can re-process the data/media from the back-up drive.

During a long shoot, it's good to have an SxS card reader and a laptop with an external FireWire drive, so you can pop out cards and transfer the data. Later, after the shoot, you can process the clips. If you have a MacBook Pro, simply put the card in the ExpressCard slot and move the data over to the second drive. After transferring data/media, use the camera to format the SxS card for the next round of shooting, then prepare to process them into clips to edit in Final Cut Pro.

Final Cut Pro Log and Transfer

The Final Cut Pro Log and Transfer window


Using FCP's Log and Transfer option is the closest to using Log and Capture when digitizing footage from a tape. If you've used this option with Panasonic's P2 cards, then you'll be familiar with processing SxS card data/media. This process is the easiest, and was only been added to FCP with the most recent update (6.0.4 and higher). All the clips will be processed and will automatically end up in the Capture Scratch folder on the second drive, and footage will be found in the bin designated in FCP's browser. Go to www.sony.com/xdcamex and click on the Resources tab and download the Log and Transfer Utility for Apple FCP. 

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Related Keywords:video editing, NLE, non-linear editing, XDCAM EX, video logging, sony sxs, flash based camcorder


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