Recording Events With the Sony EX1 Video Camera

This is my new toy, the Sony PMW EX1R video camera. Well, it's not really mine, but Near Infinity was kind enough to loan it to us so we could videotape the DevIgnition conference. It's hard to say enough great things about this video camera. For DevIgnition, the camera produced great footage even with mediocre lighting. And for practicality, nothing beat recording to its two hot-swappable memory cards. When one card fills up, simply eject it, download the files to a laptop (with a big external hard drive) and then pop the card back into the camera.

The Sony PMW EX1R video camera is, indeed, a great camera, but we also had some gear that increased its usefulness and improved our video processing workflow. The camera records to SxS cards, which are ridiculously expensive. As an alternative, we used two relatively cheap, 32GB SDHC cards, each encased in an e-Films e-LCR Lockable Card Reader, seen below:

To use the device, simply insert an SDHC card into the unit, then use the device in any EX1 or EX3 series Sony camera where an SxS card is used. This device is a true replacement for a Sony SxS card and can record in any formats supported by the EX1 and EX3 series cameras.

The only real drawback to the device is that the SDHC card locks into place and cannot easily be removed. As an alternative to the e-LCR Card Reader, e-Films also offers the e-Films MxR ExpressCard SxS Replacement Adapter, seen below:

The MxR offers the same features as the e-LCR, but also offers a convenient push-in/push-out mechanism for inserting and ejecting SDHC cards. Frankly, either device is a great choice for professional videotaping.

The truly awe-inspiring feature of the EX1R camera was that the two card devices were used seamlessly by the camera. When card A filled up, the camera automatically switched to card B. Once a card was no longer actively being recorded on, it could be ejected from the camera.

Once the e-LCR card was ejected, we needed to be able to download the video files to a MacBook Pro with an external hard drive (a 2TB Raid 0 Western Digital with a FireWire 800 connection). To accomplish this, we used the E-Films USB Adapter for MxR & E-LCR Card Readers:

This adapter made downloading files easy. We inserted the e-LCR card in the adapter, which connected to the USB 2.0 slot on the MacBook Pro. Once the card appeared on the Mac's Desktop, we simply copied the files to the external hard drive. File transfers for a full card took around 30 minutes. Since each card held about 110 minutes of footage, it was trivial to download the files, then get the card back into the camera before the other card, actually in-use recording footage all the while, filled up.

We taped almost 8 hours of footage for DevIgnition, swapping cards and downloading files as needed. By the end of the day, we had all of the footage in digital form, ready for editing. The best part of it all was the total elimination of tapes from the workflow, i.e. - we received the video in digital form rather than having to go through a painful and time-consuming ingestion phase. I highly recommend the equipment we used in this endeavor, including the Sony EX1R camera and the various accessories.


David Keener By dkeener on Saturday, April 16, 2011 at 10:41 AM EST

This is a great article about the workflow involved in using the Sony EX1 camera, the cards and editing in Final Cut Po on a Mac.

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