Third party memory with Sony Xdcam EX1 and EX3

Ever since the release of firmware 1.11 for the Sony EX1, there’s been some hubbub in the community about support for third party memory cards, as an alternative to the very expensive SXS cards from Sony and Sandisk.

There’s a great thread at DVInfo with lots of real world results about what works and what doesn’t. Shockingly, it seems like the best combo right now is a Kensington expresscard media reader combined with some Sandisk SDHC cards. So, instead of $850 for a 16gig sony SXS, you can drop $65 for a 16gig SDHC card and be on your way. Read the thread to find out the pros and cons – it’s not all puppies and rainbows, but very nearly…

Sony EX3 studio rig

ProVideoCoalition has some shots from a little Sony show out in CA. One of the interesting things is the Nipros rig for the Sony EX3. I’d heard a bit of discussion about this rig in the past, but hadn’t seen any shots.

If you’re familiar with the Camplex line of products, it’s very similar – a little box that muxes together a bunch of connections, spews it down fiber, and another box that demuxes it at the other end.

You get intercom, return video and remote control, plus an HD-SDI feed. There aren’t enough specs out yet to really evaluate the product, but it could be pretty interesting. Sony says $29k will get you an EX3 + the rig, though perhaps you’d want to drop another $15k for a nicer lens.


As promised, I’m posting some sample code for converting from DFXP to SCC. Actually, the SCC generated is contained in a class (captionConvertClass.php) independent of the DFXP parsing. To use it, all you do is:

$myClass = new captionConvert(startingTimecode);


$finishedCaptions = $myClass->outputCaptions();

the “startingTimecode” item is somewhat important. Quicktime files can have timecode tracks that don’t start at zero, but DFXP captions are always relative to a 00:00:00.00 start time. So, if the timecode track of your movie begins at 01:00:00:00 (as any file coming out of FCP will) but your DFXP file starts at 00:00:00.00, you need to let the convertor know so that it adds the right times.

Otherwise, it’s pretty simple and pretty basic. There are lots of things it doesn’t do (scc formating, proper Drop Frame handling, foreign characters, etc). But at least it’s a start. If you want to see conversion done right, look at SCC Tools, which is much more feature complete, at the expense of being much more complicated and … perl.

captionConvert.phps (sample dfxp parsing)

captionConvertClass.phps (plain text -> scc conversion)

Captioning with Compressor

There’s a lot of misinformation on the net about how to do proper Quicktime captioning using Compressor. Here’s the deal.

To start with – Compressor 3.0.4 can caption MPEG-2 files, as well as MOV and M4V files. When it first shipped, it could only deal with MPEG-2, and some sources haven’t been updated to reflect the additional formats. That means, you can add a proper closed captioning track to a quicktime movie, and have it playable on an iPhone or Apple TV, etc.

Next, the captions must be in the Scenarist Closed Caption (SCC) format. This is a really funky format, as my recent rants have attested. The definitive site on the format is that of the SCC Tools project. There’s not a ton of other information out there, as much of the spec is locked up in a design document that’ll run you $170.

I believe the commercial MacCaption application will output SCC, as will a handful of other applications. Next week, I’ll post some sample code for converting DFXP (flash) captions into SCC.

So, to get started, open Compressor and add your video. Highlight the background space of your imported video and then click the “additional information” tab.


Now, select “choose” at the top and point to your SCC file. Click save at the bottom of the pane.

Now you just need to pick your preset (again, any mpeg-2, mov or m4v preset) and submit the job as per usual.

Scenarist captions hurt my brain

If you were going to pick a format for closed captions in the year 2008, would you a) choose and easy to use, xml-based, human readable, machine parse-able format, or would you b) choose a format that uses 7bit hex values with 1bit parity, in two byte chunks with machine level control codes (clear buffer, move cursor, etc) and make it a proprietary format that costs $170 for the spec?

If you selected b), you might be Apple!

Ugh. Scenarist captions. Brain hurt.

I’ll do a bigger post about how to properly do captions with Compressor before too long. As soon as I get done writing a DFXP->SCC parser. Woot.

Http   Localhost ~Colin Captionconvert.Php-1