This article is part of a series of tests FreshDV conducted with the Sony XDCAM PMW-EX1. Thanks to Miami rental house and Sony dealer Midtown Video (www.midtownvideo.com) for providing a XDCAM EX camera. And thanks to DSC Labs (www.dsclabs.com) for providing test chart patterns. You can read more about ours and others experiences with this camera here: www.freshdv.com/go/ex1/
For our testing Midtown Video provided FreshDV with an EX1 camcorder with the 8GB SxS media card. Before the camera arrived, I downloaded the latest XDCAM Transfer software and SxS drivers (from Sony's support site). I also had to ensure that I was at the latest FCP version, 6.0.2, and I also brought my Tiger OS and Quicktime versions up date using Software Update (I've been a bit behind, these things make me nervous). I should note that I am using Final Cut Studio on a PPC G5 2.7 Dual. I did not have a computer with ExpressCard slot available for these tests, so the USB connection on the camcorder was used. It simply uses a standard USB cable with mini connector on the camcorder end. Footage shot was a mixed bag...most of the time the card ended up with a mix of SP, HQ, and overcranked 60p footage on it. But regardless of the format, the import procedure into FCP is the same. I wanted to note my experiences with that process. For starters we should note a few things about the camcorder.
Below the rotating handgrip is a small flip-up plastic cover that conceals a line of output connections...A/V, Component mini, and USB mini. The EX has both Camera and Media (VTR) modes, but you can connect to your computer in either mode. When you connect the USB mini cable to the camera and computer, the EX will ask on the display if you would like to connect to the computer...Execute or Cancel. You can use the jogstick at the top of the handgrip to select and click Execute. As a side note, this camera makes you feel really powerful...every confirmation action prompts you to choose "Execute!" The only way that process could be geekier is if the camera gave you a "Make It So!" option. But I digress...
When the camera connects the your Mac, you'll quickly see a new disk volume mount on the Desktop. The camera LCD screen will display USB Connecting and all menus become non-functional until you disconnect. SxS cards are formatted in FAT23, and you can browse the card in Finder just like any other disk or folder. I am told that the cards load on the desktop in the same manner when using a ExpressCard slot instead of USB. If you wish to make a backup of the card pre-import, simply copy the volume's BPAV folder to a directory on another disk. That could be archived or imported/logged later if you wish. As long as the BPAV and ensuing subdirectory files are maintained, Sony's XDCAM Transfer software can import it as if it were a card mounted on your Desktop. Handy.
To import a card into a FCP project, click on File > Import > Sony XDCAM. This loads up the XDCAM Transfer interface separately from Final Cut. I should note that when it loads up, FCP is not "locked" in any way by the transfer software...you can switch back to it and edit while the software imports, etc. Sony's utility loads pretty quickly, and when it does it begins grabbing thumbnails of each clip on the card. These small thumbs are saved as ~50kb jpg in the XDCAM software's database folder structure (which you set the first time you run the software). The Transfer software keeps a log of imported cards on the left side column, and calls up the thumbnails for each when you click on the card name (even if the card is unavailable). This seemed to be of limited use to me, as cards are generally just going to be dumped and erased...but the feature is there. The software allows you to preview clips right there in the window or as full-screen, reveal the clip in Finder, and view generic info on the footage (format, datarate, date/time, but no lens or shot settings seem to be retained). You can also set in/out points for each clip which will automatically create a subclip of that clip which is listed under the Logging tab, and just import the necessary segment(s).