Using the XDCAM EX Clip Browser

by Gary Rebholz

The Sony® XDCAM™ EX line of cameras offers a great form factor and workflow. They're perfect for any shooting situation where you need a lighter, more compact camera, but don't want to sacrifice image quality. They also provide a simple, tapeless workflow that speeds up your file transfer and editing process.

While Sony Vegas™ Pro software offers robust support for the XDCAM line in the form of its built-in XDCAM Explorer window, the EX cameras work a little differently than other XDCAM cameras and decks. To make the EX cameras smaller and thus more portable, these cameras shoot to SxS memory cards instead of the XDCAM discs that the rest of the XDCAM family uses. These SxS cards are not supported in the Vegas Pro XDCAM Explorer since the cameras don't create the same file structure on the cards as those that the larger cameras create. Therefore, you'll need different techniques for transferring your footage from your EX camera's SxS card than those you use for the larger XDCAM cameras and their discs.

The good news is that it's not a complicated procedure at all. Your EX camera ships with a CD that contains an installer for an application called the XDCAM EX Clip Browser. You'll integrate that application into Vegas Pro to give you the tools you need for transferring your footage from the SxS card onto your computer hard drive so that you can edit with it. In this article, we'll walk through the process of transferring your footage with the XDCAM EX Clip Browser.

First, you need to install the XDCAM EX Clip Browser software. You should check on the Sony for Professionals website for updates to the software and install the latest update version you can find. Now that you've got the XDCAM EX Clip Browser software installed, you can link it to Vegas Pro software to make it easy to access it when you need it without leaving your editing project.

To do this, inside Vegas Pro software, choose Options | Preferences and in the Preferences dialog box, click the Video tab. Select the Use external video capture application checkbox. Then, click the Browse button. Assuming you installed the XDCAM EX Clip Browser into its default location, browse to the c:\program files\sony\XDCAM EX ClipBrowser folder. Select the ClipBrowser.exe file and click the Open button. The ClipBrowser.exe file is now listed as the external video capture application of choice as you can see in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Set your preferred external video capture application to the ClipBrowser.exe so you can start the XDCAM Clip Browser application directly from Vegas Pro.

Click OK to close the Preferences dialog box.

Now you're ready to start the XDCAM Clip Browser application. Choose File | Capture Video. In the Capture Video dialog box, notice the note just above the OK and Cancel buttons that indicates that if you choose the DV radio button, Vegas Pro software will start the specified external video capture application. In other words, it will start the ClipBrowser.exe that you just specified back in the Preferences dialog. So, select the DV radio button and click OK. This starts the XDCAM EX Clip Browser.

Next, if your computer has an SxS card reader, remove the card from your camera and insert it into the reader. If your computer does not have a reader, plug your XDCAM EX camera into your computer with a USB cable so that you can use the camera as your card reader.

Turn your camera on in Media mode. The camera asks you to confirm that you want to connect to the computer via USB. On the camera, choose Execute to confirm that you do indeed want to connect. Your camera display now says "USB Connecting" which indicates that you're ready to transfer your files from the camera to your hard drive.

Your SxS card—whether you've connected your camera or have inserted the card directly into your computer's card reader—now appears in the list of your computer drives in the XDCAM EX Clip Browser. Click the drive letter that corresponds to your SxS card in the list at the left of the top Explorer pane. A thumbnail now appears for each clip on your SxS card as you see in Figure 2.

Figure 2

The files on your SxS card show up as thumbnails in the Explorer pane.

The Folder Tree Display/Hide, Clip List, and Details buttons give you some flexibility in how you want to view the files on your memory card.

You can also work with the clips right here in the XDCAM EX Clip Browser if you want to. For instance, you can play any of the clips. To do so, right-click the clip you want to play and choose Play from the menu. The clip begins to play in the video preview pane. Use the buttons across the bottom of the video preview pane to set new in and out points for the video, add essence markers, and more.

But let's assume that you want to work with this clip inside Vegas Pro software where you have all your powerful editing tools available. All you need to do is to transfer the clips from your SxS card to your hard drive or network drive. Right-click any clip and choose Export | MXF for NLEs from the menu. You can also select multiple clips simultaneously. If you do this, right-click any of the selected clips and choose Export | MXF for NLEs from the menu. This opens the MXF for NLEs dialog box. The clip or clips you selected appear in the list. You can see in Figure 3 that I've selected four clips to export and they appear in my export list.

Figure 3

The clips you selected in the Explorer window appear in the MXF for NLEs export dialog box.

Specify a save location for the transferred files in the Export to field. Click the field's Browse button and choose a path if you don't know it off hand. Then, click the Execute button to start the export process. The XDCAM EX Clip Browser not only exports the files to your specified location, but also simultaneously transcodes the files from the MP4 format the camera shoots to into the MXF file format so that they can be efficiently edited inside Vegas Pro software. When all of the files are done, click the Close button to close the MXF for NLEs dialog box. Assuming you've transferred all the files you need, close the XDCAM EX Clip Browser application.

Back in Vegas Pro software, the files are now ready for you to use in your video. Use the Explorer window to navigate to the location into which you transferred the clips. Figure 4 shows my Explorer window and you can see the four clips I transferred visible as MXF files and ready for me to use.

Figure 4

The export process complete, you can now use the Vegas Pro Explorer window to navigate to the location into which you transferred your clips.

As you can see, the workflow for transferring your clips from your SxS card into Vegas Pro software for editing is straight-forward and simple. And the XDCAM EX Clip Browser integrates easily into your editing workflow making the Sony EX cameras great companions for a Vegas Pro based editing suite.

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