Working Natively with Sony XDCAM Formats in Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro can ingest and export XDCAM, XDCAM HD, and XDCAM EX using third-party Sony XDCAM Transfer software. Editing XDCAM requires a DV or IMX Easy Setup, and editing XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX requires an Easy Setup corresponding to your format.

Figure. Diagram showing the four stages of the native workflow: shooting, ingesting, editing (in native format), and finishing.

The following sections describe the workflow for editing XDCAM, XDCAM HD, and XDCAM EX natively in Final Cut Pro.

Stage 1: Installing Sony XDCAM Transfer Software

Final Cut Pro requires Sony software to mount XDCAM devices, ingest media from them, and export Final Cut Pro sequences back to MXF-wrapped footage. You can download the XDCAM Transfer (PDZ-KP1) software from the Sony website at http://www.sony.com/xdcam.

Optionally, you can use the Log and Transfer window to ingest XDCAM EX media. This option requires the XDCAM EX Log and Transfer plug-in software, available at http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/micro-xdcamexsite/resource.downloads. For more information about using the Log and Transfer window, see “About the Log and Transfer Window” in the Final Cut Pro 7 User Manual.

Complete instructions for using the Sony XDCAM Transfer software and the corresponding XDCAM import and export plug-ins are included with the software.

Stage 2: Connecting an XDCAM Device to Your Computer

Before ingesting your XDCAM footage, you must connect an XDCAM or XDCAM HD deck or an XDCAM EX camcorder or SxS card device to your computer. The instructions in this section use the Sony PDW-1500 XDCAM deck and the Sony PDW-F70 XDCAM HD deck as examples.

To mount XDCAM or XDCAM HD media on your computer desktop
  1. Install a Sony XDCAM File Access Mode (FAM) driver. This driver is installed with the Sony XDCAM Transfer software. For more information, see Stage 1: Installing Sony XDCAM Transfer Software.

  2. Connect the deck to your computer with a FireWire or USB cable.

  3. Enable PC Remote mode on the deck.

To select the PC Remote mode on a Sony PDW-1500 XDCAM deck, the Extended Menu option must be enabled.

To enable the Extended Menu option on a Sony PDW-1500 XDCAM deck
  1. On the Sony PDW-1500 deck, press the System Menu button.

  2. Press the Counter Select and Set buttons simultaneously.

  3. Press the Down button until SETUP MAINTENANCE is selected, then press the Right button to open the menu.

  4. Press the Right button to open the EXTENDED MENU menu.

  5. Press the Right button, then press the Down button to select ENABLE.

  6. Press the Set button to save your settings.

After the Extended Menu option is enabled, you can enable the PC Remote mode.

To enable the PC Remote mode on a Sony PDW-1500 XDCAM deck
  1. Make sure the Extended Menu option is enabled on the deck by following the steps above.

  2. Disconnect the FireWire cable between the deck and your computer.

  3. Press the System Menu button.

  4. Rotate the jog dial until i.LINK MODE (menu 215) is selected.

  5. Hold down the Shuttle button to display the i.LINK MODE options.

  6. While holding down the Shuttle button, rotate the jog dial until FAM (PC REMOTE) is selected, then release the Shuttle button.

  7. Press the Set button to save your settings.

  8. Connect the deck to your computer with a FireWire cable.

    The disk appears mounted on your computer desktop.

You can also enable remote device control on a Sony PDW-F70 XDCAM HD deck and then connect it to transfer XDCAM HD footage.

To enable remote device control on a Sony PDW-F70 XDCAM HD deck
  1. Disconnect the FireWire cable between the deck and your computer.

  2. On the deck, press the Menu button.

  3. With SETUP MENU selected, press the Right button to display the SETUP MENU options.

  4. Press the Down button until INTERFACE SELECT is selected, then press the Right button to display the INTERFACE SELECT options.

  5. Press the Up or Down button until FAM (PC REMOTE) is selected.

  6. Press the Set button to save your settings.

  7. When the deck asks you to confirm your settings, press the Set button.

  8. Connect the deck to your computer with a FireWire cable.

The disk appears mounted on your computer desktop.

Mounting XDCAM EX media on your computer desktop requires fewer steps.

To mount XDCAM EX media on your computer desktop
Do one of the following:
  • Connect the camcorder to your computer with a USB cable.

  • Insert an SxS card directly into the ExpressCard/34 PCMCIA slot in a MacBook Pro computer.

When connecting an XDCAM EX camcorder to your computer, you must set the camcorder to target device mode. See the manual that came with your camcorder for instructions.

Stage 3: Ingesting XDCAM Media

Use the Sony XDCAM Transfer (PDZ-KP1) software and import plug-in to ingest XDCAM, XDCAM HD, or XDCAM EX media from MXF-wrapped or MPEG-4-wrapped media to QuickTime-wrapped media on your scratch disk. For more information, see Stage 1: Installing Sony XDCAM Transfer Software.

Optionally, you can use the Log and Transfer window to ingest XDCAM EX media. This option requires the XDCAM EX Log and Transfer plug-in software, available at http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/micro-xdcamexsite/resource.downloads. For more information about using the Log and Transfer window, see “About the Log and Transfer Window” in the Final Cut Pro 7 User Manual.

Important: Although it is possible to copy MXF or MPEG-4 media directly to your scratch disk, Final Cut Pro won’t recognize the MXF files. Use the Sony XDCAM Transfer software instead.

Stage 4: Choosing an Easy Setup

To edit DVCAM or IMX footage ingested from an XDCAM device, simply choose a corresponding DV or IMX Easy Setup and begin editing. For more information about IMX, see Working with IMX.

To edit XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX footage, you must first ingest your XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX footage to QuickTime media files on your scratch disk. Then you can simply choose the XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX Easy Setup that corresponds to your footage and edit as you would with any other native format in Final Cut Pro.

Note: Final Cut Pro renders and exports LP (18 Mbps VBR) XDCAM HD footage using the 35 Mbps (HQ) codec, so you cannot export back to the 18 Mbps VBR LP format. However, 18 Mbps VBR LP XDCAM HD footage is ingested at a data rate of 18 Mbps, so it still requires less disk space during ingest than the 35 Mbps format.

Final Cut Pro also includes support for real-time playback of XDCAM HD variable frame rate footage.

Stage 5: Choosing a Render File Format for XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX Sequences

When you create an XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX sequence, you can choose to create render files using either the native MPEG-2 codec of your sequence or an Apple ProRes codec.

Rendering native MPEG-2 creates small render files that conserve disk space, but rendering takes longer than for other formats because of the interframe compression this format uses.

If native rendering is slowing down the pace of your editing, you can choose to render segments of your native XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX sequences using an Apple ProRes codec. Because Final Cut Pro supports mixed-format sequences, you can play back the entire sequence, including the Apple ProRes codec files, in real time. In this slight variation of the native Sony XDCAM editing workflow, you continue to edit using a native sequence, but any render files will be in an Apple ProRes codec.

Figure. Diagram of a workflow that includes shooting, ingesting, editing in the native format, rendering in an Apple ProRes codec, and finishing.

The advantages to using an Apple ProRes codec as the rendering codec are:

  • Apple ProRes codecs use I-frame–only (intraframe) encoding, providing faster rendering and real-time playback performance.

  • Apple ProRes codecs have a generous color sample ratio and bit depth, allowing for higher-quality rendering of visual effects.

The advantages to rendering natively are:

  • Conforming for export or output to XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX formats happens faster because the render files are already in the necessary format. If you aren’t outputting to XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX formats, this may not be an advantage.

  • Native XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX render files are smaller than those generated by other HD I-frame-only codecs.

To choose the render file format in an XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX sequence
  1. Select your sequence in the Browser or Timeline.

  2. Choose Sequence > Settings, then click the Render Control tab.

  3. From the Codec pop-up menu, choose one of the following options:

    • Same as Sequence Codec: This option enables rendering with the native MPEG-2 codec of your sequence.
    • Apple ProRes 422 Codec: This option enables rendering with the Apple ProRes 422 codec.

Note: Because HDV, XDCAM HD, and XDCAM EX constant bit rate (CBR) footage use an identical format, the information in this section also applies when rendering HDV footage. For more information, see Stage 4: Choosing a Render File Format for HDV Sequences in Native HDV Editing Workflow.

Stage 6: Editing XDCAM Media Natively

For the most part, editing native XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX footage is identical to editing any other format in Final Cut Pro. However, because of the GOP structure of MPEG-2 media, edits in XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX sequences require some additional processing during playback and output. The additional processing happens automatically, but it is a good idea to understand why it is necessary.

When you edit two XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX clips together in a sequence, the GOP pattern is typically broken. In particular, cutting an XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX clip can remove the I-frame that subsequent P- and B-frames rely on for picture information. When this happens, Final Cut Pro must preserve the I-frame for these other frames to refer to, even though the I-frame is no longer displayed in the sequence. Final Cut Pro reconforms the broken GOPs in the vicinity of the edit and leaves the subsequent GOPs unchanged.

This requires additional processing power and memory not necessary for I-frame-only editing (such as DV editing). During playback, this process happens in real time. For output and export, Final Cut Pro reencodes (or conforms) the areas of your sequence that require new I-frames or GOPs.

To save time during rendering and editing, you can set up your native XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX sequence to render using an Apple ProRes codec. Using an Apple ProRes codec also produces high-quality 4:2:2 render files that, in some cases, may be higher quality than rendering back to native XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX. For more information, see Stage 5: Choosing a Render File Format for XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX Sequences.

Stage 7: Rendering and Conforming XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX Footage

After editing XDCAM HD or XDCAM EX footage, you need to render and conform it.

For details, see Stage 6: Rendering and Conforming Long-GOP MPEG-2 Media.

Stage 8: Outputting to XDCAM Media and Other Formats

If you want to export a finished sequence or clip from Final Cut Pro back to an MXF file containing XDCAM or XDCAM HD footage, or an MP4 file containing XDCAM EX footage, you need to use the XDCAM export plug-in included with the Sony XDCAM Transfer (PDZ-KP1) software. For more information, see Stage 1: Installing Sony XDCAM Transfer Software and Stage 2: Connecting an XDCAM Device to Your Computer.

Note: Exported XDCAM sequences must have four mono audio outputs assigned, regardless of how many tracks the sequence contains.

Optionally, you can export your sequence as a QuickTime movie, export your sequence to Compressor, or send your sequence to Color for finishing. You can also use the Share feature to quickly create and deliver output media files in iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, MobileMe, DVD, Blu-ray Disc, YouTube, and Apple ProRes formats.

For more information about using Compressor, see the Compressor User Manual. For more information about the Share feature, see “Using Share” in the Final Cut Pro 7 User Manual. For more information about Color, see the Color User Manual. For more information about workflows, see Final Cut Studio Workflows, available at http://documentation.apple.com/en/finalcutstudio/workflows.

To assign four mono audio outputs to your sequence
  1. Choose Sequence > Settings, then click the Audio Outputs tab.

  2. Choose 4 from the Outputs pop-up menu.

  3. Select the Dual Mono option for both audio output groups.