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AVID - Sony Z5U Workflow

23.976fps Progressive Footage using the Sony HVR-MRC1K Compact Flash External Recorder

This wiki is designed to help you understand how to get the footage, recorded with the HVR-MRC1K External Memory Recording Unit, from the Compact Flash (CF) card into the Avid Media Composer to begin the editing process.

The Technical Overview:  the Sony HVR-Z5U camera is part of Sony's HDV series of professional compact camcorders.  Some of the praised features include excellent low-light sensitivity, improved imaging with its 1/3 inch-type 3 ClearVid CMOS Sensor System, and its HYBRID Progressive Recording Solutions with the optional HVR-MRC1K External Memory Recording Unit, allowing simultaneous recording onto both tape and non-tape media for improve Non-Linear Editing (NLE) workflow efficiency.  The later feature, the external recording device, also allows progressive material to be recorded to Compact Flash (CF) cards and directly ingested into the NLE faster than real-time (unlike capturing from tape.)  Thus, recording with the HVR-MRC1K is both convenient and ideal.

The Problem:  the HDV video codec was originally designed to play at 29.97fps, often referred to as 30i.  Like DV video, HDV video is typically interlaced - meaning the image is comprised of two separate fields (upper and lower) overlapping to make one singular image.  However, with the 23.98 Progressive Option enabled on the Sony HVR-Z5U it is possible to record as a singular image (the opposite of interlaced) which has a cinematic quality desired by many filmmakers and videographers.  The problem is the Z5U will actually record progressively to both tape and CF card.  The tapes will not playback in our HDV decks due to unsupported playback formats.

The Solution: use the HVR-MRC1K External Memory Recording Unit to record all of your material bypassing the need and cost for tape.  You can then ingest the material directly into your Non-Linear Editing (NLE) application.  In this particular instance we will be using Avid Media Composer version 6.5.3.

  • For more information about setting up the Sony HVR-Z5U to record progressively click here

  • For more information on how to setup the HVR-MRC1K HVR-MRC1K External Memory Recording Unit click here

Step One: When finished shooting, back-up your card data! 
Use a USB CF card reader like the ones in Studio 4B Control (CMB_4.108) to access your data
Copying the root level folder of the Compact Flash card keeps the card structure intact.  Use subfolders to help organize your data.  For instance, "DAY_01_CARD_03" helps identify which Day and which Card were used.  We also advice to always backup data to two separate hard drives for redundancy.  Card-based workflows can be dangerous; once a card has been formatted the data is gone forever!  Do not be hasty - be sure to take the time to be thorough and complete with you data backup(s.)
Step Two: Launch the Avid Media Composer application either from the icon in the dock or from your Applications folder.
Step Three: We need to create a new project.  Click the radial button labeled ExternalThis allows us to choose a custom directory location to save our project to.  Next, we need to click on the folder icon to choose the external directory.  Typically, this directory path should be set to your portable storage device (ie. /Volumes/My_USB_Drive/Avid_Projects.)  Lastly, we need to create a new project so click the New Project button.
Step Four:  At this point, we need to setup the settings of our new project to best match the format and frame rate our footage was shot.  In this instance, we shot progressively with our HVR-Z5U recording at 1080p24fps (which is actually an abbreviation for 23.976fps) with our HVR-MRC1K External Recorder.  Therefore, our Format should be 1080p/23.976.  Our Color Space is YCbCr 709Raster Dimensions can be left at 1920x1080Don't forget to give your project an applicable name.  In this scenario, we've labeled ours AVID 2398 HDV Project.  Click OK after naming your project and making the necessary adjustments to your project settings.
Step Five: Select the newly-created project, AVID 2398 HDV Project.  Depending on your directory location you may have more than one project in your directory.  Once the project is highlighted & selected, click OK to open the new project.
Step Six:  Now that we have an Avid Media Composer project to work with we need to begin the acquisition of our media, often referred to as ingestion.  Before we can do this, we'll need to create a Bin to store the footage in.  All clips, movies, audio, graphics, & sequences are stored in Bins in the Avid Media Composer.  To create a new bin simply click the New Bin button in your project window.  In this instance, I have created a new bin and labeled it jeremy_hdv Bin.  Double-click the bin icon to open the bin.  With this bin open, now choose from the top screen Application Tool Bar → FileImport.

Step Seven: A secondary window opens allowing us to choose which file(s) we'd like to ingest into the project via import.  Typically, the import process relies on a function known as transcoding - converting one type of file or video compression into another.  However, due to the unique nature of the HDV codec, we'll be using a function in the software known as fast-importing.  To do this, navigate to the location of your card backup and select the file(s) you'd like to importIn this instance, we have two M2T video files we'd like to fast-import.  To select both, hold down the Command Key while individually selecting each file.  Choose a destination you'd like to store the newly created media we're fast-importing.  Again, this is typically your portable media drive (ie. /Volumes/My_USB_Drive.)  Lastly, we need to ensure our [import] Options match those of the material we're trying to fast-import.  Click the Options button.

Please note: the resolution settings can be changed in this window to determine what video compression will be used for the transcoding.  However, since we are fast-importing the resolution will remain native to the HDV M2T video files we have.  Therefore, we can ignore the resolution settings in this instance.

Step Eight: A secondary window opens giving us options to change the settings that affect the import process.  As displayed in the image, make sure the Image Size Adjustment setting is set to Image sized for current format.  Also make sure the File Pixel to Video Mapping setting is set to 601 SD or 709 HD (16-235.)  Lastly, make sure the Alpha Channel setting is set to Ignore.  Click OK.

In short, image size raster of the imported footage will match project's format.  The color space/profile of the imported footage will match the project's color space/profile.  Lastly, the imported footage has no alpha channel so we should ignore looking for one.

With the selection of these settings our HDV M2T video files recorded via the HVR-MRC1K External Memory Recording Unit should fast-import into our bin (jeremy_hdv Bin.)

Step Nine: Make sure your M2T file(s) are still selected in the import window and click Open.  Confirm fast-importing is working by reviewing the labeling on the secondary importing progress window.

 If you should have any troubles with this workflow, please contact either Susanne Kraft or Jeremy Gruy

  • For more information on setting the Sony HVR-Z5U to record progressively click here
  • For more information on setup of the HVR-MRC1K External Memory Recording Unit click here
  • For more information about HDV video click here
  • For more information about interlaced video click here

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