5D 25p Workflow “5DtoFCP” Full details Monday-Don’t miss it !

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5D-Workflow-web

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Alister Chapman Reviews the NextoDi NVS2500

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AC-Review-NtoDi2500

Well… where to start? This isn’t going to be a huge long review as this isn’t a complicated device, but that is exactly what you want for backing up in the field. The NextoDi NVS2500 is really simple to use, very fast and well though out.

So what exactly is it?

It’s a small one piece box that allows you to back up most forms of media to an internal hard drive. It has it’s own internal rechargable battery, a small LCD screen and 2 controls. A power button on the side and a thumbstick on the front. It’s made from a very tough looking plastic and is supplied with rubber boots that go on the top and bottom to protect it from the knocks and bumps it is almost certain to receive out on location. On the top there are slots for Compact Flash, SD cards and Memory sticks while on the side there is an express card slot. It’s this express card slot that makes it different to most of the other backup devices on the market as this will accept Sony SxS cards from the EX cameras as well as a supplied adaptor for Panasonic P2 cards. On the bottom of the device there is a standard mini USB port, a combined Esata/USB port and a Firewire 400 port. In addition there is a power socket for external power and charging. The unit is supplied with a charger plus a cigarette lighter adapter and a small battery box that takes 4x AA batteries.

First Use:

The NVS2500 arrived on the morning of a shoot, so I just threw it in my kit bag and went off on the shoot. At the end of the day I had several full 8Gb and 16Gb SxS cards, so it was the ideal opportunity to test it out. In the past I have used a small Netbook PC with a USB drive to backup my footage on location. This has worked well, but it’s a little awkward as you have both the computer and a drive attached by a cable to deal with. So before I started to pack away my gear I dug out the 2500, turned it on by pressing  the button on the side. After a couple of seconds the device was ready so I popped a 16Gb SxS card into it the side. The NVS2500 checks the card and then asks you if you want to back it up. A short press of the thumbstick starts the card backup, it’s as simple as that!

Now when I used to use the laptop and USB drive I would at this stage continue packing up my kit, go and have a coffee or start the journey home as each 16Gb card would take about 12 minutes to backup. As I watched the copy bar graph on the NVS2500 however I realized that I wasn’t going to get much kit packed before I would need to swap cards. This thing is fast, seriously fast. My full 16Gb card took less than 4 minutes to backup! How did I ever put up with the backup speeds of my laptop? I can now backup my footage at over 10x real time.

Verification:

So what about file verification? Well you need to be sure that your backups are good. There are several ways to do this with the NextoDi. One way is to use the preview function of the NextoDi to play back your clips, that’s right, it can playback footage that has been backed up. It can play XDCAM EX as well as many other formats including Convergent Design NanoFlash files, HDV and most Panasonic DVCPRO and AVC files. AVCHD playback should be coming via a firmware update as well. Admittedly the screen is small and a little dark, and the playback is a bit jumpy but for checking that the backup is good it is perfectly acceptable. Another way to verify your backup is to re-insert the original card. The NextoDi box will automatically tell you that you have already backed up the card (assuming of course that you have) and then give you the option to do a partial or full backup verification. All clever stuff!

NtDi2500

So what else can it do?

If you plug a USB drive in to the Esata/USB host port on the bottom of the unit you can copy backups from the NextoDi to the USB drive using the Sync function. It should be noted that the USB drive must be FAT32 formatted. You can also make simultaneous backup copies to both the NextoDi and the USB drive. These functions are great for creating double backups, either to hand off to a client or for extra security. The only down side is that the copy speed is restricted by the USB interface so using this mode I was back to similar speeds as my old laptop backup system. However the NVS2500 is a lot more portable than a laptop and it’s simpler to use. Trying to create folders and copy files while bouncing down a road in a car with a laptop on your lap is frustratingly hard to do. With the NVS2500 it’s simply a matter of pluging in the USB drive and then pressing the little thumbstick to start the sync process. One small point to note is that if you are using an external drive you must provide the NVS2500 with an external power source. The cigarette lighter adapter works well in a car, but if your out in the field you can use the supplied AA battery box.

Back at base:

Once back in the edit suite there are no surprises. It’s just as simple to use here too. If you have an Esata port on your computer you can plug the device in via that for ultra fast transfers. If you don’t have Esata then you can connect via USB or Firewire, while not as fast you still have full access to all the backups on the device. Each backup is stored in it’s own folder with the time and date of the clips it contains, which is an excellent way of naming folders, helping you find footage easily in the future.

Conclusion:

Well I have to say the NVS2500 has really impressed me and everyone that has seen it. Especially when they see how fast transfers from SxS cards are. My backup laptop is now sitting in a corner in the office gathering dust. I just love the fact that I can pop the 2500 in a rucksack or even a large pocket and I really can do a quick backup just about anywhere with the very minimum of fuss. I really don’t know how I managed without one. It will be coming with me to the Arctic in January so I’ll be able to see how it deals with the cold. The NextoDi NVS2500 gets 9/10 from me. If the LCD was bigger and playback smoother then it would be 10/10, but all in all an excellent device that has been given the nickname “the magic box”.

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Sony’s Online Expo “Less than average experience”

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[xr_video id="21322dace7ac49b283ec227972aeb8c0" size="md"]

Today I took part in Sony’s second Online Expo…is this the future for trade shows…Sony seems to think so but I disagree. The whole experience was sluggish, stuttering video, paused video… a bit of a mess in my opinion.

No expense spared Sony had a top USA sound recordist record a 30sec sound loop at a genuine trade show and added the ambiance to the graphic of the auditorium, this was to be the only sound unless you chose to enter the theatre where you could watch videos by various production companies.

The best part of the whole experience was the live chat with some of the Sony technical staff, they were very informative and answered some further burning questions about the PMW-350…

My first question was about the mysterious SD module… CBK DV01 which turns out to be a download that you up load into your PMW-350 to release the SD mode.

Yes you can use the MxR SDHC card adaptors in the EX-1R and the PMW-350 but you loose the over and under cranking facilities as has been the case with the EX-3 for the last year, over and under cranking is like any effect it can become boring after a while.

Sony-StaffThis is a selection of Sony USA staff who were very helpful but I do question the need for such an event as most cameramen and women I know want to see, feel, smell their new camcorder, sit it on their shoulder before committing to purchase. The only screen beyond the XDCAM EX screen was this one below and if you chose “LEARN MORE” it took you to Sony’s USA web site. No new info or pictures…poor show.

EX stand 350

I do question why their was no mention of the NXCAM, I personally thought that was a very poor omission. All in all it was a less than average experience and the same old footage produced by the same old Sony bashers. One attendee made me giggle when he asked “What is the difference between the Sony EX-3 and the PMW-350″, the staff were all pitching in with various answers …I personally think someone was taking the “P”.

Conclusion…

Sony don’t seem to grasp the need for cheap archive, I asked a further question about client archive, in other words giving the client the footage out of the camera and they could not grasp the idea that there is a need to hand over footage on a card costing no more that £30 or less, mini DV tape was good for this.

I commend Sony for this brave virtual trade show but it needs a lot more work behind the scenes to make it a far more user friendly experience and lets have fresh footage and reviews of the camcorders… people are hungry for fresh information not the same old boring stuff coming off Sony USAs web site !

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Don’t work with Children and Dogs

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Child-&-Dog

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Sony NXCAM “The Bigger Picture”

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NXCAM-big-pics

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Sony NXCAM trailer video

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[xr_video id="a252033a7bee436ab805952d237d8881" size="md"]

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Sony NXCAM…”First Pictures”

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NXCAM-big-pic

New inboard video recording options

In HD mode, Sony’s NXCAM records H.264 in AVCHD format at a maximum bitrate of 24 megabit per second in best mode (“FX”). Fortunately, NXCAM offers full-raster 720p and full-raster 1080i/p (in addition to subsampled 1080 formats, and SD formats encoded with MPEG2). If you live the USA or other (ex-)NTSC country, this first NXCAM will start out (“off-the-shelf”) with the standard ±60Hz-derived formats:

  • Full-raster 1080 (1920×1080) at 59.94i, 29.97p (truly native), or 23.976p (truly native)

  • Subsampled 1080 (1440×1080) 59.94i

  • Full-raster 720 (1280×720) at 59.94p

  • Standard definition (720×480) at 59.94i

  • Standard definition (720×480) at 29.97p recorded over 59.94i (not native)

  • Standard definition (720×480) at 23.976p recorded over 59.94i (not native)

  • If you send a NXCAM to Sony for a WorldCam upgrade, it will also offer you:

  • Full-raster 1080 (1920×1080) at 50i or 25p (truly native)

  • Subsampled 1080 (1440×1080) 50i

  • Full-raster 720 (1280×720) at 50p

  • Standard definition (720×586) at 50i

  • Standard definition (720×586) at 25p recorded over 50i (not native)

  • If you live in a 50Hz, (ex-)PAL location, simply reverse the two above lists to understand your “off-the-shelf” and after WordCam upgrade capabilities.

    NXCAM-insert

    I welcome the native versions of the HD 23.976p, 25p, and 29.97p recordings. I know from personal experience with a client’s Panasonic AG-HMC150 that 720p29.97 is unfortunately recorded over 720p59.94 in that camera. In addition, according to Panasonic’s European spec sheet of the AG-HMC151 (which is the European version of the AG-HMC150), only 23.976p is recorded natively, which implies that 25p and 29.97p in that camera are unfortunately recorded over 50i and over 59.94i respectively. I am glad to see that Sony is offering the desired native modes for AVCHD.

    New inboard audio recording options

    According to Juan Martínez at Sony, NXCAM is the first AVCHD camcorder ever to offer the option of recording audio in linear PCM for higher quality, instead of the more common Dolby Digital. As many other Sony camcorders, NXCAM offers dual balanced XLR inputs which can be individually set for line, microphone, or microphone with 48-volt phantom power. The headphone output has a selector switch to choose among monitoring channel 1, channel 2, or a mix. There is also a menu setting to tell the camera whether the headphones are stereo or mono, which makes the switch work properly in each case.

    NXCAM sensor and optics

    The first NXCAM uses the same renowned 1/3” EXMOR sensor and G lens as Sony’s Z5camcorder. For details about the sensor and optics, see Adam Wilt’s review on that camera. NXCAM takes this image beyond the Z5 (which can only record sub-sampled 1080), since NXCAM can record full-raster 1080. When recording in 720p mode, NXCAM oversamples the video before recording (as the EX1 and EX3 also do in 720p). Also, NXCAM has a much improved image stabilizer.

    Dual solid-state recording options

    NXAM offers recording either to Sony’s Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HD Duo, or a new NXCAM flash memory unit. I received the prototype with a 128GB version of this new NXCAM flash memory unit. This will be optional, and Sony has not yet set the price for it. NXCAM offers the option of creating identical or different types of recording on the NXCAM and on Memory Stick.

    Output flexibility for monitoring and external 4:2:2 recordings

    NXCAM offers both HDMI output and SD/HD-SDI output. When the camera is in live mode, the HD-SDI output is true 10-bit 4:2:2. Unlike some other cameras, which output a live HD-SDI signal at 10-bit which has been derived from an 8-bit signal, NXCAM (as the EX1 and EX3) output a true 10-bit signal over HD-SDI when live. The HD-SDI signal fortunately includes RP188 metadata, which means that a ideal recording can be made with a recorder like AJA’s KiPro (10-bit) or Convergent Design’s nanoFlash (currently 8-bit) with like timecode.

    Multicam with matching timecode

    Although this NXCAM model does not include genlock input, it does include a timecode i/o, which allows synchronizing the clock in multiple NXCAMs after making a temporary wired connection. Using the same connector, there is a switch to indicate whether it is being used as an input or an output.

    Use NXCAM with a video mixer (“switcher”)?

    As stated above, NXCAM does not include any genlock input. However, many recent HD video mixers (“switchers”) have a built-in frame synchronizer on their HD-SDI inputs, which means that NXCAM is a candidate! Some of these video mixers also include a built-in audio delay to compensate the video delay, which is a necessary evil in a frame synchronizer. (I’ll be covering some of those video mixers in upcoming articles.)

    RM1000BP_619

    Although NXCAM includes a wireless remote control, for a multicam installation with a video mixer, a wired remote is much more appropriate. Fortunately, NXCAM is compatible with Sony’s RM-1000BP. In addition to zoom and record start/stop, the RM-1000BP allows access to iris, gain, and all of NXCAM’s menu adjustments. Third parties offer very long LANC cables, which will work to extend the RM-1000BP to wherever the video mixer is located, to facilitate matching cameras.

    GPS

    NXCAM includes a built-in GPS, which adds geo metadata to its video recordings. This information is already available in applications like Apple’s iPhoto ’09. I imagine that it will probably be in iMovie ’10 soon.

    More details

    For now, Sony is not releasing exact model number information or pricing. More details about that should be available in January. In the meantime, I will be publishing more articles about AVCHD workflow with different NLEs in the coming weeks.

    www.provideocoalition.com

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    Sony Teaser with Exmor ‘R’ chipset ?

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    Sony-teaserAll I know is that this is a smaller camcorder…in direct competition with the JVC HM100/Panasonic AG-HMC151 and I will stick my neck out by telling you that it may use Memory Stick DUO Pro HG. It may be 1/3″ chips but I suspect 1/4″ to accommodate the size, 1/3″ would be more preferable but it may also have the Exmor R chipset the one I was expecting to see on the EX-1R…this would set it above the competition.

    http://www.sony.co.uk/biz/view/ShowContent.action?site=biz_en_GB&contentId=1237476931504&sectiontype=Home&preserveContext=true

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    JVC Offering 0% interest free credit on GY-HM700/100 camcorders

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    JVC-0-add-V5

    http://www.jvcpro.co.uk/jpe/en/default/article.3.html

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    XR Exposure Room “Now iPhone Friendly”

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    XR-iPhone-V3

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