If you’ve used XDCAM disc media before, you probably know that it writes both high quality video to the disc as well as low res proxy material. This proxy material is great for offline editing. The Sony PDW-F800 and PDW-700 cameras both have this function, as well as the ability to write proxy video to a USB memory stick (firmware 1.51 or higher required). This allows shooters to quickly hand over low res versions of their video without a disc reader.
Here is a quick “How To” guide for both Mac & PC:
First insert a USB memory stick into the camera, any store bought USB stick will do the job. The video data rates is a low 1.5 Mbps so you’ll get about 1.5 hours per gigabyte of storage. Above is my orange USB stick inserted in the camera.
Then we need to setup the memory recording option in the camera, and because the F800 and 700 have the same menu structure this will work for either.
1) Enter the lower camera menu (hold in the scroll wheel while turning on the menu) and enter the Operation menu.
2) Scroll to the Power Save menu and push in the scroll wheel to enter. Enable the Ethernet/USB option, which is disabled by default to save power. Restart the camera and reenter the Operation menu.
3) In the Operation menu, scroll down to the Mem Record page. Here you will find the option to enable Memory Record and also copy existing proxy video to a USB memory stick. You can copy just the current clip or all clips from a disc onto the stick. This is also where you can format the USB stick memory.
When you enable memory record, and a USB stick is inserted, the camera will record proxy data to both the disc and the USB stick.
5) After enabling this function a icon will appear on the viewfinder screen that lets you know if a USB stick is inserted and how much record time is remaining. The image below shows how the icon will appear in different conditions. Note: If this does not appear, make sure that your viewfinder settings are set to show this function on screen.
6) Now you are ready to go, so start recording or copy your existing proxy data on to your USB flash memory stick.
When you’re done you can hand off the USB stick to anyone with a computer. Here’s how to view the material on both a Mac and PC.
Mac OS X
There is one key piece of software for any XDCAM users on a Mac – it’s called XDCAM Transfer. This piece of software is free from Sony and enables the Mac to interface with the camera and other XDCAM hardware. It is designed to ingest material into Final Cut Pro, but it has a host of other uses also. Download the latest version here – XDCAM Transfer v 2.11.
1) Insert the USB stick into your computer. You should see a folder called MSSONY on it; confirm that and we will come back to that later.
2) Run the XDCAM Transfer software, and set up your import preferences. In the preferences menu, you can specify where material is imported to. Specify where you want it to go, because that is where your QuickTime converted proxies will end up.
My import directory is set to desktop right now.
3) Click the ADD button in the lower left hand corner of the window. This will bring up a dialog box to choose which material to add.
4) Now go to your USB stick and open the MSSONY folder. You’ll find a folder in there, and then another, and another, until you reach the MEMREC folder. In this folder you’ll find one or more folders with the name of your disc (or discs). By default this will be a long string of characters unless you specified a disc name in the camera. We will call these “disc folders” to make things easier. Still in the dialog menu, open the disc folder and enter the SUB folder. Select all the proxy clips in this folder and click open.
XDCAM Transfer will display all of your proxy material from the disc folder. If you have multiple disc folders on the same USB disc, then just repeat the step above for each disc folder.
5) Now you can go through your proxy material as needed. If you want to edit this material in Final Cut, then click the Import button. This will copy your proxy material to the destination you specified in step 2 and convert it to a MOV file.
6) Now you can view your proxy video or export it for a quick edit. Oh, and you can put it on a iPhone too.
iPhone / iPod Conversion
XDCAM Proxy material is not in a format that the iPhone can play without conversion, even when it is in a MOV format. But we can convert it quickly and easily.
1) Drag the MOV files you created from your proxy video into the iTunes movie directory.
2 ) Select your material, and choose Create iPod or iPhone Version from the Advanced menu. This will create new clips that will appear as they are converted.
3) Upload to you iPhone and enjoy.
Sony makes a specific piece of software for Proxy viewing in Windows. This is called the Proxy Viewing Software. This is the only tool you’ll need to view your material on a USB stick. Download the latest version here – PDZ-1 Proxy Viewing Software Version 2.60.
2) Run the PDZ-1 Proxy viewing software, and set up your workspace folder. In the tools menu, you can open the options menu. Then visit the workfolder tab and click the Work Folder Change button. The default is the Documents folder on your PC, so feel free to skip this step if the Documents folder is a good location for you to store proxy data.
Here is the PDZ-1 Proxy Viewer Software
Here you can set your work folder if needed.
3) Import the proxy data by choosing Read File From ProDisc from the File Menu. This will launch a window called Select Port Dialog. Choose the USB stick as your source. In this case my USB stick is called ABEL.
4) After choosing the USB stick, another window will appear showing Disc Information. This window lists all the clips on the memory stick in the Import Files section. Because we only have access to the proxy data on the USB stick, just click Execute on the bottom of this window, and it will import all proxy files.
5) Now click on any of the clips to play the back. You can also add titles and comments as needed.