NEX Camera Workflow

AtticusLake

New member
A frequently asked question with NEX cameras (FS100, FS700, and others which use AVCHD) is how do you go about importing footage from the camera for editing. There are serious pitfalls here -- such as audio glitches in long clips -- so this guide is intended to help get past them.

This guide is not yet complete, and contributions would be most welcome.


Importing Footage with Direct Copy

You don't need to use any fancy utility to import your footage; you can just copy it directly from the SD card.

However, there is one very important caveat: you must copy the entire AVCHD folder -- not just the .mts or .m2ts files within the folder structure. The AVCHD folder contains a bunch of files, and those files are there for a reason -- they contain meta-data which (among other things) is essential for stitching together long clips which have been split into multiple files. If you copy just the .mts files and attempt to stitch them together by hand, your movie will contain serious audio glitches and who knows what other problems (lost timecodes, lost good/no-good markers, etc).

So, with that in mind, here's the recommended workflow. For each SD card you import:

  1. In your project folder, create a footage folder to hold the footage, named as something sensible that tells you what that SD card was -- like "Feb 7 card 1", or "Diner Scene", or whatever works for your workflow.
  2. Copy the entire "PRIVATE" folder, from the SD card as it comes out of the camera, into this new footage folder. One SD card per footage folder.
  3. Import this footage folder into your editor as described below.

Your folder structure should look like this:

Code:
.../Movie Project
     |- Movie.prproj
     |- Diner Scene
     |   |- PRIVATE
     |       |- AVCHD (containing stuff you mustn't touch)
     |- Park Scene
         |- PRIVATE
             |- AVCHD (containing stuff you mustn't touch)
... etc.

Note that with Premiere Pro, I have been able to avoid creating the extra level of folder containing "PRIVATE"; I just rename PRIVATE to something useful, and that works for me. Other apps may have a problem with this, however, so if in doubt, follow the steps above.


For Premiere Pro

Premiere can ingest your footage directly, so there's no reason in principle to transcode it; on the other hand there may be some gain in editing performance if you transcode to an all-intra format like ProRes or DNxHD, though the process of re-compressing the footage will inevitably lose some quality.

The simplest method -- and which will likely work well in many cases -- is direct ingestion. In this case, do not move, rename, modify, bend, fold, or mutilate, any files within a footage folder in any way.

  1. In Media Browser, open up the footage folder (e.g. "Diner Scene"), and then open the "PRIVATE" sub-folder. (If you renamed "PRIVATE", open the "AVCHD" sub-folder.)
  2. Make sure that "View As: AVCHD" is set above the folder contents.
  3. Premiere will display the available clips as mini previews; long clips will be stitched correctly.
  4. Select the clips you want, right click, and "Import".

Done!

Transcoding will involve converting the clips to some other format, and then ingesting the converted clips. How this works exactly will depend on the conversion tool.


For FCP 7

{help wanted here}


For FCP X

{help wanted here}
 
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Importing Footage with Sony's Content Management Utility




{ someone who has done this, feel free to chip in... }
 
Saving Disk Space

Your footage folder may contain some (large) footage files which end up being junk (e.g. you left the camera rolling by mistake); in which case it would be nice to delete them and save the disk space. Doing this in camera should be fine -- the camera will maintain the filesystem structure correctly. But how about doing it after import?

The concensus seems to be that this is potentially a big problem. The issue is that your footage folder would then contain references to non-existant files, which could in theory cause software which follows those references to crash. So in general, I would say don't chance it.

However, I have done this successfully with Premiere. So, if you're willing to take the risk, maybe try this:

  1. Find any unwanted .mts files within your footage folder (under the "AVCHD/BDMV/STREAM" sub-folder).
  2. Move those files (just the .mts files) out of there to somewhere safe.
  3. Carefully go through your project, make suere everything still works, and make sure that nothing you want is missing.
  4. Continue editing.
  5. At a (much) later date -- ideally after you have completely finished your movie project -- delete the unwanted clips.

It's been stated that FCP can not handle folders which have been altered in this way, so if you may potentially be using FCP at any time in the future, don't do this.
 
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Not sure if it's worth noting but there used to be an issue in Premiere with reconnecting offline media that was imported as an AVCHD file in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. This was due to Mountain Lion no longer showing AVCHD files as folders (the way it used to be). A few months ago I had to reconnect offline interviews but it was impossible to do so without pulling out the MTS files (which were stitched clips)--huge headache. But just this morning I had a new project with offline files and it appears the latest updates now allow you to navigate into the AVCHD files in Mountain Lion.

Long story, short: make sure your software is updated if you're having trouble reconnecting offline clips in Mountain Lion.
 
Importing Footage with Sony's Content Management Utility




{ someone who has done this, feel free to chip in... }

Sony CMU auto-stitches segmented video files into one as needed.

- Simply fire up CMU, click Import, and point to the drive that is your FS700 SD card reader.

- CMU will present the list of video files available on the card, along with their thumbnails.

- Mark the files you want to Import by clicking respective checkboxes in CMU file list, and let the Import start.

- Once CMU is finished importing, navigate (via Windows Explorer) to CMU's default Import folder that you set in CMU's Options, and you'll see some subfolders with dates. Open the one with the date of the files imported. You'll see a list of the imported m2ts video files, already correctly stitched as needed - no audio gaps.

- That's it! - just move or copy these .m2ts video files from that folder to your production computer. They are ready to be edited in Premiere Pro now.

NOTE on data management: it is always a great idea to have a dedicated, separate hard drive for the particular client/job, and to immediately Copy your media (SD card's entire contents) to it, every time, BEFORE even ingesting it into CMU. Sometimes things may go wrong, and you may need to fall back on that original backup and re-ingest the videos from there.

Then, after the CMU import and transferring the files to the production computer, back up the production PC's drive onto its own backup system. Now you have a 2nd backup.

And the original files on SD card - do not delete them until you are about to start a new job. This will also serve as a temporary backup.

Happy shooting!
 
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Would you Recommend DNxHD or ProRes as a better deliverable to the NLE say from a BlackMagic Hyperdeck and forgo the in-cam AVCHD? I'm in PreProduction and may hand the Grade to a Colorist for a future DCP just trying to find the best way to deal with the footage so i can get as much DR from cam to data as possible
 
Jay, for the ultimate DR, go with RAW.

I have no experience with Hyperdeck. I do own BMCC, which shoots 2.5K RAW as DNG files natively, and it's awesome.

ProRes is very good too.

DNxHD - again, no personal experience here but it is supposed to be the same as ProRes, quality-wise.
 
Thanks.. I'm shooting with the FS100 and have been experimenting with LOG PP's trying to grab as much DR in cam so as to avoid the bottle neck that is post sensor, I just haven't seen any conclusive evidence of the ProRes or the DNxHD from the hyperdeck being any better then the in cam AVCHD also tried confirming the mt2 files to cineform AVI without much difference being noticeable, anyhoo thanks for the feedback I just may need to bite the bullet and grab a hyperdeck(touch wood) ;)
 
Jay, I did some tests with FS700's SDI output, recording it into uncompressed MOV. It makes very slight difference vs the built-in AVCHD. My conclusion, it wasn't worth it.

The reason for this is, although you are bypassing the internal compression of AVCHD by using SDI output, you are still working in 8bit, and you are still perusing the same debayering algorithm.

BTW FS700 has a fantastic built-in compression, absolutely top-notch. It works fine for many applications.

The better way would be to capture RAW from the camera's sensor. This is what BMCC does natively, and this is what FS700 can provide - albeit with a specialized external adapter + recorder, currently only available from Sony at significant cost. Hyperdeck, which simply captures SDI out - always delivered by FS700 in 8 bit only - won't make a difference in your case, sorry to say.
 
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Thanks Alex i kinda Guessed that may have been the verdict on the BM Hyperdeck(as i assume with the atomos ninja, Odyssey7q and sound devices PIX 240i) all i'm trying to do is get as much data off the sensor so i have options in post and DCP headroom which is why i've been experimenting with the PP's to get as much DR out of the Scene as i could, this is the first pre-production test(lite grade) https://vimeo.com/74338910 Thanks again alex you've been very informative and if there are any other tricks and tips i'd greatly appreciate any Knowledge your willing to pass on :)
 
So, i'm obviously doing something wrong here. First of all, in Premiere, there's no option to view as AVCHD. The only option I can select is "File directory", so that's the first problem. Secondly, if I go and try to just import the PRIVATE folder, the .MTS files do show up but none of them have any sound. Any clue as to what i'm doing wrong?

Also, i've tried using Sony's import tool which doesn't work? I don't like that it converts my file (they've come out glitchy - see here: http://cl.ly/XNg0) and for some reason or another, the audio sync gets really bad over the course of the (2 minute) clip even though i'm conforming the timeline to the clip settings.

I'm switching from FCP 7 + Canon 7D to Premiere + A7S and i'm having one hell of a time re-leaning basically everything i've ever known.
 
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So, i'm obviously doing something wrong here. First of all, in Premiere, there's no option to view as AVCHD. The only option I can select is "File directory", so that's the first problem. Secondly, if I go and try to just import the PRIVATE folder, the .MTS files do show up but none of them have any sound. Any clue as to what i'm doing wrong?

Also, i've tried using Sony's import tool which doesn't work? I don't like that it converts my file (they've come out glitchy - see here: http://cl.ly/XNg0) and for some reason or another, the audio sync gets really bad over the course of the (2 minute) clip even though i'm conforming the timeline to the clip settings.

I'm switching from FCP 7 + Canon 7D to Premiere + A7S and i'm having one hell of a time re-leaning basically everything i've ever known.
First off, use XAVC-S, not AVCHD. You edit the MP4 files right away in Premiere. They're located at /private/mp4something/clips/, I think.
 
First of all, in Premiere, there's no option to view as AVCHD. The only option I can select is "File directory", so that's the first problem.

If you copy the whole PRIVATE folder to your hard drive, and give it an appropriate name -- like "2 Dec" -- then in Premiere, in the Media Browser, navigate to "2 Dec" and select the "AVCHD" folder. Then you should be able to select "View As: AVCHD". (This is in CS6.)

Secondly, if I go and try to just import the PRIVATE folder, the .MTS files do show up but none of them have any sound. Any clue as to what i'm doing wrong?

When you first import clips, Premiere spends some time -- potentially a LONG time -- conforming the audio to some internal format. During this period, if you play a clip, you get no sound. Wait a bit and it will appear.
 
Has anybody found a decent Software to automatically rename XAVC-S footage while ingesting? I hate hundreds of files with the same name C0001.MP4 on one disk. With the C100 came a small program that would rename the clips from an sd card or directly from the camera with date and the time of the shot. very handy.

I'm still a bit nervous taking the mp4 files out of the folder on the card as everybody was saying you shouldn't do it with AVCHD files (another reason i felt comfortable with Canon solution).

any suggestions (i do use a mac)? thanks
 
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