2010-11-09

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/


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5 Comments:

Blogger T-Spect said...

I abandoned Shot Put Pro last year due to the new time stamp whenever it makes a new offload. This is a big no-no for multicam shoot where I need to preserve it. Shooting on 2/3" P2 cam with hi-res proxy MOV, the new time stamp is the current's copy time. Big no-no for reality type of programing where the time code and time stamp has to remain intact. I talked to the developer and they said it's not possible to preserve the time stamp. Oh well, this app needs drastic improvements. Back to the good old OSX Finder and multiple destination copies.

13 December, 2011 08:59  
Blogger Milivoj said...

Well, the Finder has it's own problems. Which is why I prefer rsync (see my update at the end of the post). The main problem I have with the Finder is that not only can you not easily continue an interrupted transfer, but that if you are not extremely careful and familiar with it, you may delete your files. (copy a folder over one with the same name, and unlike all other systems, the Finder will first delete everything before starting to copy. There is a prompt before that, but clicking OK happens too easily. I'm lucky that I never had this problem, but I heard of a few colleagues who did...)

13 December, 2011 15:05  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow, another DIT that uses Rsync. I thought I was the only one!

01 August, 2014 19:59  
Blogger Milivoj. said...

@Unknown: So did I. Maybe when there are 3 of us, we should form some sort of club or something... :-)

01 August, 2014 20:37  
Blogger Jesus Vicente Valadez said...

I did not know rsync existed. I will start using it now. Isn't there also MD5 checksum capabilities built into OS X as well? Can we start that club now?

28 July, 2015 22:57  

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