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  • AMA and XDCAM EX workflow

  • Frank Spencer

    May 14, 2010 at 9:57 am


    I am an old school editor and I am having real trouble getting my head around the best workflow for XDCAM EX projects (EX1R) on MC 3.5. using AMA

    Can anyone give me a summary of how best to work with this media. Sorry this is so long – I can’t really find what I am looking for in other posts.
    Currently I can look at the SxS cards (or the native media copied onto a local drive) using AMA. But this just seems to be a way of viewing the footage – not really an import. Using AMA clips on a timeline for example only allows one video track and media manager stuff seems to be unavailable. So I can’t edit with AMA can I? Is this right or am I missing something?

    So I consolidate the media – this doubles the disk space needed, gives me new clips with annoying extensions, doubles the number of clips (2,000+ in my current job), takes quite a while (negating one of the main benefits of tapeless, looses metadata – it’s all starting to get very messy.
    But at least the consolidated media now behaves like we would expect in Avid.

    My next big worry is being able to link back to the original media. We need to be able to ‘reload’ jobs years after they have been finished and taken off the system. But now I am not sure where my ‘rushes’ are. My edits are all with the consolidated media – not the original media, so the backups of SxS cards we keep doesn’t seem to link to the edit so I can quickly re-populate a timeline as I would with tapes.
    I haven’t yet had to address moving a project to an online facility – but I guess there is more to think about then too – what would they need?

    This all seems so much more complicated and confusing than tape (but then I have spent 15 years with tape)- what should I be doing?

    BTW we also have a few Final Cut systems, so I don’t really want to extract the rushes wrapped as Avid MXF only – I need to be able to choose which system we edit on after the project has been shot and backed up.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Frank Spencer
    Avid MC 3.5
    PAL UK

  • Kris Anderson

    May 14, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Hi Frank.

    Here’s one way of working that might help.

    Go to your ‘settings’ tab and select AMA settings. Turn AMA off. AMA is useful but only if you have your source media connected at all times. Avid reads it directly off the SxS card so you’re correct in assuming it’s not an imported file.

    Quit and re-start Avid (just the software, not the whole machine) to complete the AMA switch off.

    The go to ‘File’ -> Import and direct yourself to the location of your XD Cam footage. Alternatively, you can select ‘file’ -> Import XDCam Proxy which will give you a lo-res version to work with for offline editing purposes. When you’re done and ready to online just batch import your clips or sequence at high res.

    Hope that helps.

  • Frank Spencer

    May 16, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Thanks for that Kris

    I understand that this is possible, and it would solve some of my problems, but it seems a backward step (ie fits my tape based view of the world) and not what Avid are recommending. Everyone else seems to be using AMA and lovin it.

    I think it comes down to one major obstacle for me;
    I can only get my Avid (3.5.4 + Adrenaline, PC) to give me ONE video channel with AMA footage. Putting AMA footage on V2 or putting the viewer on to V2 (or any other channel)above the media shows ‘Media Offline’, viewed on channel V1 it is fine – but I am limited to only one channel?!?. Consolidating, transcoding, importing solves this but I loose most of the AMA advantages (as in my previous). I want to avoid delay, double copies (original + MXF wrapped), loss of metadata, duplicated clips, automatically renamed clips, loss of linking to original footage etc.

    Does everyone have this problem or is it just me?

    I am using Sony EX1 OR 3 XDCAM EX, 35Mb, BPAV folders on local drive.


    MC 3.5
    PAL, UK

  • Andrew McKee

    May 17, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I use version 4 put I’m pretty sure I did the same thing when I had 3.5 so let me just explain what I do. I copy media from the SxS, keeping the BPAV folder, over onto our ISIS. Each BPAV folder will go into a different folder named “Card 3” or some other sensible system. I AMA link in Avid to the folder which contains all my “Card 1”, “Card 2” etc folders and it automatically brings in all my shots. They appear as yellow in the bins to show that they are AMA clips but I just use them however I want them, rename them, sublclip them, edit with them, it all works and its referencing the full res media. Then once my sequence is editited I just consolidate the sequence like I would any other, to either DNXHD 185x or 1:1 and then its off the online. There is no need to reingest because you’ve not lost anything in the capture stage. I also find that you can keep the media and project quite seperate and then bring them back at a later stage just by redoing your AMA link. Avid is clever enough to link all your subclips and sequencnces to the media because it recognises the metadata. Although obviously your consolidated sequence will not link. This is all covered in the new Avid101 book if you want to grab a copy.


  • Frank Spencer

    May 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks Andy

    This is very helpful, it seems a simple and robust workflow – It just wasn’t working for me. I have now realised that not everyone has the same problems with AMA as me. I have just upgraded from 3.5.4 to 3.5.9 and the problems have gone. I can now edit with AMA footage the same as MXF footage. It seems 3.5.4 did not implement AMA properly.

    The question of when to consolidate seems to be a matter of choice. A lot of people are consolidating near the start of a project to improve system responsiveness, but surely this looses any link to the original ‘rushes’ files. I read somewhere that each clip carries a unique number and it can be re-linked. Is this possible? I am used to being able to re-build consolidated timelines from tape – why not files too?


    MC 3.5
    PAL, UK

  • Andrew McKee

    May 17, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Yep, has worked like a dream on all my projects. Much faster than having to digitise tapes, which is the whole point of tapeless. I mean, what’s the point in tapeless if you have to just import instead and recreate media that already exists? Not sure about a worflow to rebuild consolidated timelines from the rushes. I suppose the solution would just be to keep the sequence that links to the rushes as well as the sequence that links to the consolidated files?


  • Frank Spencer

    May 18, 2010 at 7:58 am

    You’re right.
    Two big adavntages for us – no ingest and no tape costs.
    By consolidating early in a project I loose both advantages – it slows me down and costs of storage go up.

    But I’m still experimenting with linking consolidated clips to original media. I can’t seem to get it to work, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t.

    It would be useful for a few reasons here (useing other CODECs in mixed media SD/HD jobs and stuff). But I can’t contemplate it until I find out how to link back to the original media, or my backups would be useless.
    I wonder if I have to upgrade to MC4 (for now I’m waiting for 5)

    Thanks again for your help. I’m getting there.


    MC 3.5
    PAL, UK

  • David Lewis

    May 24, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks for your posting on this subject. I am days away from a shoot with XDCAM (JVC camera) and editing with MC4. I had worked out some of these kinks a couple of weeks ago with some test footage and it took awhile to get a handle on what would be the best way to work with the footage.

    Your postings here has help me clarify and improve on some issues I was having.

    It appears that having your material on a connected hard drive, or even better, internal hard drive makes using the AMA format very easy for importing directly into the AVID. Also, having the XDCAM EX Clipreader (a “light” weight free program you can download) lets you view/log the footage outside the AVID on your computer.

    As noted in your thread, I simply used AMA to import the files from my hard drive, edited them as I liked. I also toyed with consolidating to DNxHD and editing that way (I had a very small test project, so it was easy to do). A co-worker explained that consolidating to DNxHD is “easier” processing on the computer, so he recommended that codec for editing and final export of the program.

    I’d be interested to know what your experience ends up showing you on the programs you edit ( that is, using the XD “yellow” footage through AMA, or editing with DNxHD.

    Here’s to continued great editing with the AVID.

    David Lewis

  • Frank Spencer

    May 24, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I have not finished these programmes yet, but it is now progressing smoothly. I tried transcoding (not consolidating) as I am working on an Adrenaline which isn’t quite fast enough with the full XDCAM EX (35Mbit/sec) AMA clips – even on local media drives. DNxHD is faster to edit with on my system but takes a lot more hard disc space than the XDCAM EX footage (files are around 5 times bigger at 145Mbit/s). This combined with the time it takes to do, means that it is not my preferred option right now.

    On the other hand. I use quicktime reference files a lot to get work in progress out of the system and onto the web (via squeeze). This is a real pain now. You can’t make QT refs with long GOP timelines – so I first have to transcode anything that is going out. It is really slow and painful – stops me editing. I’m hoping this might improve with MC 5 and better quicktime support – but I don’t know if it will.


    MC 3.5
    PAL, UK

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