Importing a DVD into Final Cut Pro

(You probably need the MPEG-2 Playback Component for Quicktime, which is available for around $20 here.)

If you import VOB files directly into FCP, they seem to have no sound.

MPEG Streamclip will let you save them as .m2v video files and .aiff audio files without re-encoding them.

(these tests were done on Mac OS X 10.6.4 with FCP 7.0.3 and MPEG Streamclip 1.9.3b2.)

  • Open the .vob file in MPEG Streamclip
  • If you want, set in and out points (by pressing I and O ) to export only that part
  • In the File menu, select Demux -> Demux to M2V and AIFF...
  • Import the files into FCP, where you can merge back the video and audio.

If you put such a DVD video file on an HD sequence, it is automatically scaled to your sequence settings. You can change this scaling in the clip's Motion tab.

When I did all this, weird things happened, which don't really matter but which I don't understand. If you do, leave a comment. "Demux" (de-multiplex) means separating the interleaved video, audio and other tracks to write them as separate files. So in the example above, the video goes to the .m2v file, and the audio to the .aiff file. And this is how MediaInfo sees the files: only video in one, and only audio in the other. However, when I imported them into FCP, the .m2v file appeared to somehow magically have audio in it... sometimes. And sometimes not.

So you may be able to throw away the .aiff file and skip the merge step, depending on the positions of the stars or on what the LHC is smashing at the other end of the lake...

Labels: , , , ,

XDCAM EX software

If all you want is to quickly download the software you need to work with XDCAM EX files, go to Sony Canada: http://support.sonybiz.ca/esupport/ or skip to the updates at the end of this post. The rest below is just a rant I had to let out.

When you need to download software to deal with XDCAM EX files, the first Google results lead to completely obnoxious Sony pages where you have to register with a lot of personal info, and agree to stuff like "The personal data provided [...] may be used by Sony Europe (Belgium) N.V. and other Sony Group Companies [...] to advise of, offer and supply goods and services, for other marketing purposes, and for additional purposes [etc.]".

In short, after they have sold you a quite expensive camera, they will only let you use it if you agree that they will be able to spam you forever. Then there is yet another license agreement to check before you are allowed to get the software.

The XDCAM EX cameras are really nice, but that Sony company is full of shit!

Except, it seems, Sony Canada, which appear to be the only Sony subsidiary to respect it's customers and be helpful. They have a very simple, directly accessible download page with all the software you need: http://support.sonybiz.ca/esupport/.

(That is in November 2010. Let's hope they keep this perfect download page as it is.)

Update May 2011: The download page for XDCAM EX is now http://support.sonybiz.ca/esupport/Navigation.do?category=XDCAM+EX

Update Nov. 2011: The situation seems to have improved on the pro.sony.com  site. The software is listed here. And now this is the easiest (copy/paste) way for Mac until they change their site or you need a different version. In Terminal:

  • XDCAM Transfer for Apple Final Cut Pro
    curl -o PDZK-P1_XDCAM_Transfer_v2_13_0.zip http://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/assets/files/micro/xdcam/downloads/apps/PDZK-P1_XDCAM_Transfer_v2_13_0.zip
  • XDCAM Browser Software
    curl -o XDCAM_Browser_1_3_Win_Mac.zip http://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/assets/files/micro/xdcam/downloads/apps/XDCAM_Browser_1_3_Win_Mac.zip
    curl -o XDCAM_Browser_200_Mac.zip http://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/assets/files/micro/xdcam/downloads/XDCAM_Browser_200_Mac.zip
    curl -o XDCAM_Browser_200_Win.zip http://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/assets/files/micro/xdcam/downloads/XDCAM_Browser_200_Win.zip
  • SxS Card and iLink FAM Device Drivers
    curl -o SxS_UDF_v1_01_and_Device_Drivers_v1_xx.zip http://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/assets/files/micro/xdcam/downloads/apps/SxS_UDF_v1_01_and_Device_Drivers_v1_xx.zip

Labels: , , ,


Why I hate Shotput Pro

Most people I know seem to be fond of Shotput Pro for offloading XDCAM EX cards to hard disks.

I understand why they like it, but I don't. So I'm still looking for a better solution to recommend to people.

For myself, I use custom shell scripts with rsync, but they need to be configured for each project, which is sometimes too much of a hassle, and certainly not something I can recommend to people who have never heard about Terminal.

Shotput Pro isn't all that bad, and is definitely much better than using the Mac Finder for such an important task. But several details drive me mad, especially because they seem so obvious, and should be easy to fix. Here is my list of ...

...Things I Hate About Shotput Pro

(in no particular order)

  • It doesn't preserve folder dates and times, so you don't see the shooting date straight away in the Finder listings. Since every shot is in it's own folder, the shot list in the Finder is a mess of meaningless numbers used in the folder names, and just as meaningless dates and times.
  • It doesn't find the SxS card automatically, even though it would be very easy (it's a FAT32 partition which is the only one on that disk, and which contains a folder named "BPAV" in it's root; it's also usually labelled "Untitled" by the Mac).
  • When you want to offload cards into folders named by date, which is what I always want, it's automatic naming is catastrophic: it somehow uses your system settings for the date format, which in most cases contains slashes ("31/12/2010")! Of course, slashes cannot be used in names, on any current computer, so the Finder will helpfully replace them with colons behind your back, but still show you slashes. So you end up with folders which have different names depending on whether you look at them from the Finder or from another program (like Terminal) or on another system.
    Then Shotput adds the time and timezone, separated by spaces. Not as bad as using slashes, but still very annoying.
    And the " +" or " -" before the time zone isn't a great idea either.
  • It cannot continue an interrupted transfer. If you have offloaded most of a card but then had to add a few shots to it, or if you just had to suddenly interrupt the transfer to move to another location (which tends to happen when filming), you cannot finish the transfer at a later time. When you restart the offload, it will actually restart from scratch. It will have noticed that you already have a folder with the same name, and instead of a prompt similar to "You already have a folder named '2010-12-31_14h23'. Would you like to update it?", it will just start over into a new folder after appending a "-2" to your folder name.
    A 32GB card takes a lot of time to be copied twice, and with Shotput, you will often be stuck watching it re-copying files long after wrap time.
  • Requires activation over an Internet connection. Well that may look like it's OK, since you do it only once, during preparation. But if you forget it, and rush on a shoot in a remote place without Internet, haviung only your new computer and your fresh Shotput Pro download, you won't be able to use it.
  • A much worse scenario is if your computer dies during the shoot. Before you can activate Shotput on your replacement machine, you first need to deactivate it on your old machine over the Internet. That will be hard if the old machine doesn't boot. I'm sure such a situation can be solved with an email to the company, but that will also require an Internet connection, and not be done immediately on a Sunday at 2AM.

  Update: The way I do the transfers (with rsync) is extremely reliable, preserves dates and times, allows restarting interrupted or incomplete transfers, and doesn't require any extra tools (rsync is part of the base install on OS X, and most Linuxes, and is available for Windows).

However, until I find the time to package it all into a nice and fool-proof script, it is not suitable for people who are scared by Terminal. Basically, the rsync command is:

sudo rsync -rt -vi --progress --exclude=".*" "$source" "$dest"

Before that, I had source and dest initialized by a script, which ends with something like

source=/Volumes/Untitled/; dest=/Volumes/Project_1A/2011-12-14_09h18/

Labels: , , , , ,