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PDW-U2 - unusable transfer times

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    PDW-U2 - unusable transfer times

    Good morning everyone,

    Welcome to the next week ahead!

    For my entire history with XD-Cam, up until recently, I would hand in 23 or 50GB discs, and would have nothing further to do with the media or footage. With the repurposing of these cameras beyond network news, I am in the domain of delivering shoots to remote clients via FTP (or for the larger shoots, sending out flash drives).

    I am finding that the PDW-U2 is essentially useless. It took 5 hours and constant work to transfer the contents of one disc. It's potentially very tricky to troubleshoot this workflow issue, as I'm now dealing with a device that is interfacing with a computer (MacBook Pro). In one other test, the footage come over VERY low rez, looking like a proxy version, but again with exceedingly slow transfer rates. Is there anyway to make inroads to this issue? Sony Pro staff are not equipped to delve into issues like this, based on my experience with them.

    In a well planned situation, I capture everything outboard (HD-SDI, prores), and this media issue is avoided. There are some issues with this - sometimes the camera flies from camera bag to shoulder, and there just isn't time to mount the ATOMOS gear. Other times the rec trigger has not worked. The ProRes files are at least 2x the internally recorded camera files, and a shoot that was supposed to be followed by a quick FTP delivery can become unmanageable. Everything starts to get pretty tense, as an overseas editor waits.....

    At this point, I would sacrifice the portability/compactness of the U2 for any other XD-Cam device that could do the job, such as an XD-series deck, but I was not able to determine if any of the 'VTR style' desktop units are also able to do a file transfer. My impression was that only this disk reader can do that.

    When I have asked fellow owners of similar gear, and with same workflow concerns, I have found that they gave up, and simply replayed the entire shoot from the camera, recapturing into an SDI recording device. That's an ugly strategy for obvious reasons!


    The maximum transfer rates of XDCAM weren't even half of USB2.

    Extremely archaic technology and you might as well digitize tapes or splice film.

    I understand repurposing cameras when doable, but why not just use something modern if you and company are pressed for time?

    [If certain hardware is available, you can transfer multiple hours in a few minutes with newer solutions.]


      There's no question that ingest from optical disc is slower than modern solid state media, but it is nowhere near as slow as is being implied in this thread. Do you think big reality shows such as Survivor would still be shot on F800/700 cameras in 2021 if the workflow sucked that bad? Although I haven't had any reason to use it for a few years, I still own a U1 and the transfer times were acceptable. I'm thinking maybe about an hour for a 50GB disc if memory serves me right.

      BTW, I can now ingest a full 240GB SxS card in less than 3.5 minutes. Times sure have changed!

      Grant, my bet is that you are missing some drivers. There used to be special XDCAM drivers for all the devices. I'm sorry that I can't be more specific but hopefully I've pointed you in the right direction and you can track them down.

      Maybe this will help:

      Doug Jensen, Sony camcorder instructor


        Just to clarify, I think the media is very robust and very reliable, but it's beyond slow than I am even personally implying.

        I said the speeds weren't even half of USB2 but I was being nice because the truth is the technology maxed out at 86mbps with one optical head reader (which most people used) and that's ~18% of USB2's speed.

        If you worked in the higher end, you had about 172mbps max (~35% of USB2) with a dual reader which larger productions undoubtedly used.

        I always saw complaints like the one below about transfer speeds on other forums, maybe here too, but it was usually around the later years when people were starting to get used to SD cards.

        Very slow technology in 2021.

        But no problem at all if you have endless amounts of media or time as many productions had for decades with real time tapes.


          That link just proves there's a lot of people talking about a lot of stuff they have no clue about. Drivers. You have to have the right drivers.
          Doug Jensen, Sony camcorder instructor


            Ha, ha. I found a 9-year old post by someone who actually uses the gear he is talking about . . . me.

            Using a original U1: Ingesting a 23GB disc takes about 12-18 minutes. Double that time for a 50GB disc.

            A U2 drive would be even faster.

            Pretty good speeds for back then and certainly nothing to complain about back in 2012. And still acceptable today for non-fast turnaround productions.
            XDCAM optical was a rock-solid format and was ideal for 50 Mbps HD codecs.
            Doug Jensen, Sony camcorder instructor


              lol. Anyone can just do the math for a general ballpark figure based on the variable window of transfer speeds.

              Your post of 18 minutes sounds perfect for a full 23GB disc at higher transfer speeds with ideal hardware (no bad cable, updated drivers, etc), even 15 minutes or so, but 12 minutes seems to be pushing it (unless the disc isn't full).

              But if there's anyone in the world who can make a transfer speed up faster than it's technologically designed to do it's going to be you DJ, haha.

              I figured the OP might be getting those times with a 128GB disc and slower transfer speeds (not sure of the above workflow), but IDK.

              Obviously 5 hours for a 23GB disc would be silly, even with the slowest speed.


                Good morning again everyone... What a difference some key pieces of information make!

                Here is a snapshot of a very successful outcome. I am hoping that this post will be of value to others struggling with Sony XD-Cam workflow issues.

                Issue, recapped - completely unworkable xfer times from XD-Cam, using PDW-U2, Thunderbolt dock, MacBook Pro8,3 (late 2011 17") fitted with internal 4TB SSD.

                1. From information above, I went straight to XDCAMDriveSoftware, current version on offer for Mac users is 6.1.1 (Sep 14, 2021). Re-inserting the download link here, provided by Doug.

                I am going to assume that any required drivers are part of this installation, because I am not able to find any part of the Sony software sites that mention downloadable drivers

                2. Decided against installing Catalyst Browse, just to see if this bare bones installation would work for my needs

                3. Hooked up PDW-U2 via USB 3.1 port on Thunderbolt dock (OWC, connects via thunderbolt port on my MacBook Pro). (My assumption is that thunderbolt will capture most of the transfer speed of USB3.0 paths, but I'm not sufficiently knowledgeable to comment on that).

                4. Launching XDCAMDriveSoftware, and noticed a firmware update option for the PDW-U2. I. It was probably a significant one (v 1.450 to v 3.300)

                5. Test parameters for ingest : 23 GB disk, 5 clips shot @ 1080p/29.97, total duration 6 mins 27 secs, total data on this disc 3.08GB

                Launched Shotput Pro, and selected entire disc contents and file structure for ingest.

                Ingest time with Shotput Pro 2 mins 5 seconds

                Ingest time inside Final Cut Pro, from internally stored but not yet transcoded files - less than 10 seconds

                This is an outstanding and totally workable result for me. The heaviest lift I can think of here in terms of testing the workflow is to fill a 50GB disc with a single clip. I can post that result if there's interest.

                I am so pleased to have cracked this. I will no longer feel the need to try to mount an outboard HD-SDI recorder in a rushed situation (not to mention the added clunkiness of getting all of this up onto my 60 year old right shoulder!).

                Of course, if it's a well planned multi-cam shoot with 2-3 hours of set-up time, well, yes, it would be nice to have the 7" screens, extra focusing tools, and ready-to-edit .mov files. But from now on, it's an option, not a mission critical issue.

                In appreciation, Grant.


                  Amazing difference those drivers make Doug mentioned.

                  He's probably right when he hints at many not knowing about them and so many people probably never had them on their computers for years.

                  Just a quick note about FCP: Not sure if you're using the older software or the new FCP (which dropped its X), but that 10 second import time might have been with the setting "leave files in place". Do you know?

                  I know you mentioned "not yet transcoded files" so you probably know that already if so, but just FYI because then those files aren't actually in FCP and are just a reference/shortcut to what's on the disk that the NLE sees as a harddrive.

                  If they are indeed the files (the ~3GB), it would be interesting to see how they edit.

                  Nevertheless, even if you had to use Shotput Pro it seems like it would take roughly 30 minutes for 50GB with the U2 which definitely isn't terrible. I'd test it out for fun.


                    Good afternoon NorBro.

                    Good point about the location of the source files. In this case, the original disc contents were now moved onto my internal SSD. This will explain the very fast xfer times.

                    Here's the information I was able to gather. The 2nd test is probably the one of greater interest, as it represents a 50GB completely filled (albeit with a single clip). You'll see that a quick takeaway is that with this particular setup (taking account of the platform and the other hardware involved) I accomplishing a transfer rate from disk to internal folders of aprox 3.5 x real time for the material. A very good result for my needs.

                    Test 1 : run on 3.08GB total data on 23GB disc, total footage 6 mins 27 secs

                    Ingest time with Shotput Pro 2 mins 5 seconds

                    Speed calc : 6.5/2.1 => transfer is 3.1 times shoot time

                    Ingest time inside Final Cut Pro - less than 10 seconds

                    This file content becomes 3.12 GB when imported to SSD

                    The transcoded clips generate 2.93GB of data in total

                    (side note : A single test 5 min clip generates a 2.22 GB transcoded .mov file)

                    Also updated ShotPut Pro from v 2021.2.1 to v 2021.2.6

                    Test 2 : run on totally filled 50GB disc : 46.91GB total data on disc, total footage 1 hr 38 mins 8 secs (Disc specs 50GB disc, formatted, shooting single non-moving scene - total run time on disc to full is 1 hr 37 mins 08 secs 28 frames )

                    Ingest time with Shotput Pro 20 mins 26 seconds

                    Speed calc (Shotput Pro) : 98/20.5 => transfer is 4.8 times shoot time

                    Ingest time inside Final Cut Pro - 26 mins 36 secs

                    This file content becomes 45.44 GB when imported to SSD

                    The transcoded clip is 43.88 GB in size

                    Speed calc (FCP ingest) : 98/26.5 => transfer is 3.7 times shoot time

                    Regarding the version of Final Cut Pro. I'm not quite so behind that I'm still running ver (is anyone, at this point?), HOWEVER, I have lost count of how many versions of FCPX that I am behind. People with a history with Apple know that their hardware gives a great run, but eventually they end the party by making core updates 'incompatible'. My MBP8,3 dates back to late 2011! As such, I'm stuck now with FCP v 10.4.6. I'm also unable to update Compressor and other applications. But this machine is a workhorse. With maxed our RAM (beyond officially permissible specs) and a total of 5TB of internal SSD storage, it's still a ripper machine. Boots up in under 10 seconds, and overall runs excellently. I'm still avoiding a machine where I cannot change anything internally. (doing my part to resist the inevitable).

                    If I was still shooting/editing/delivering news packages each week, I would have been compelled to update hardware/software. My last regular Euro correspondent left just as Trump was being sworn in, and I have not delivered under editing deadlines since. Sigh.



                      Thanks for the follow-up!

                      If you ever decide to invest in a new Apple machine and haven't by any chance done any research on the new M1 Macs released last year, check them out.

                      They have made all of their own Intel machines obsolete overnight.

                      The world has never seen anything like it before.

                      I know that sounds dramatic, lol, but it's true.


                        You are probably correct. I'm turning into a grumpy old guy. I like my 17" screen, and I dislike buying a machine that is absolutely locked up as far as final configuration goes. Is that the case with the latest MacBook Pros? In this venerable ole machine, I have replaced batteries, optical drive, hard drive and RAM. I'm guessing that will not be happening again!


                          It is the case, but Apple's new silicon technology is so much better that there is nothing on the market that exists that you could buy to replace it inside the new computers even if you wanted to.

                          In other words, you'd be buying inferior components like RAM and SSDs and batteries that would make your new computer weaker because they wouldn't be optimized in Apple's new architecture/chain.

                          The computers also provide more power than most need...even for some tasks that were painfully difficult for machines to execute yesteryear.

                          But it's really the prices that make this whole technology ordeal comical. $700-$1000 systems are outperforming $15,000 machines. Check out benchmarks and tests on YouTube if interested.

                          It broke the Internet last year...crazy stuff.