- Technology & Media
|XDCAM Frequently Asked Questions - Sony
Original article: http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Professional/markets/optical/files/Faqs.pdf
Q: Why is Sony offering the Professional Disc media?
A: Sony believes that the Professional Disc media is a means
by which our customers can achieve benefits in production
workflows, where flexibility, speed, and cost effectiveness
are key requirements. The Professional Disc media has been
engineered specifically for professional content creation;
its data rate, data capacity, transfer speed, robustness,
and instant random access ensure professional-quality performance.
Because the XDCAM Professional Disc series of products employ
existing MPEG IMX and DVCAM codecs, disc advantages are immediately
available without costly infrastructure upgrades, while built-in
network and metadata technologies provide unprecedented levels
of production flexibility.
Q: Is the XDCAM™ system's Professional Disc™ media the
same as the consumer Blu-ray media?
A: No. While there are some similarities, the Professional
Disc media uses a unique phase-change recording material to
support higher read/ write speeds. In addition, the Professional
Disc cartridge shutter supports access by two simultaneous
pickups, while the Blu-ray media shutter accommodates only
one pickup. There is no cross-compatibility between XDCAM
products and Blu-ray products.
Q: What is the difference between the recording material used
for consumer Blu-ray disc and that used for the XDCAM system's
Professional Disc media?
A: The higher transfer rates of the XDCAM system require a
more sensitive phase-change recording layer. The Professional
Disc recording layer must change from crystalline (high reflectivity)
phase to amorphous (low reflectivity) phase fast enough to
enable transfer speeds of up to 72 Mbps per pickup (144 Mbps
with two pickups). In comparison, the writing speed of consumer
media is 36 Mbps. Aside from the different phase-change material,
the track pitch, recording density and production processes
are the same.
Q: How does the read/ write/ erase life cycle of the
XDCAM system's Professional Disc media compare to the Blu-ray
A: They're identical in the minimum spec. Both are rated at
a minimum of 1,000 read/ write/ erase cycles under normal
operating conditions. The Professional Disc media has a maximum
read/ write/ erase life cycle of 10,000 under ideal operating
conditions (73 degrees F, 50% RH)
Q: How does the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media
differ from DVD?
A: Profoundly. Although both are 12 cm in diameter and 1.2
mm thick, Professional Disc media has five times the capacity,
13 times the transfer rate, a shorter laser wavelength and
a protective cartridge for the media. Professional Disc media
capacity is 23.3 GB, compared to 4.7 GB for DVD. The XDCAM
compact decks have a transfer rate of 144 Mbps with 2 pickups,
compared to 11 Mbps for DVD. The XDCAM system uses a blue-violet
laser as opposed to the red laser used for DVD.
Q: Is the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media playback-or
record-compatible with DVD drives?
A: No. They have different file formatting, track pitch and
pickup specifications, in addition to different mechanical
Q: Will the Professional Disc media replace tape?
A: The Professional Disc is a new medium capable of storing
a variety of formats, including DVCAM and MPEG IMX. Therefore,
Sony expects that the optical disc, as a new medium, will
supplement and reinforce existing videotape. There are application
areas where tape media is quite suitable, and areas where
disc technology is more suitable. The Professional Disc media
and tape will coexist for years to come.
Q: For what applications are XDCAM Professional Disc
A: XDCAM Professional Disc systems are intended for all video
applications including news gathering, production, post-production,
vent videography, and so on.
Q: What type of compression does the XDCAM system use?
A: It depends on the video format being recorded. For DVCAM®
format video it is DCT (Discrete Cosine Transform). For MPEG
IMX™ format video it is MPEG-2 (Moving Picture Experts Group),
4: 2: 2 Profile at Main Level, at 30, 40 or 50 Mbps. Proxy
A/ V data uses MPEG-4 Simple Profile video compression, and
A-Law audio at total of 2 Mbps.
Q: What is the maximum transfer rate for the XDCAM system?
A: 72 Mbps with one pickup and 144 Mbps with two pickups.
Q: Is it necessary to format a disc prior to use?
A: Yes. Formatting, which creates a file system, is required
for brand new discs; however, this is a very quick process
that is done when the disc is inserted into a camcorder or
deck. Because this happens so quickly, an end user will not
be aware that the disc is being formatted.
Q: What is the maximum recording time on the Professional
A: Recording time varies with format and data rate. The approximate
recording times for the PFD23 Professional Disc media are
as follows: 85 minutes -DVCAM format 68 minutes -MPEG IMX
30 Mb/ s format 55 minutes -MPEG IMX 40 Mb/ s format 45 minutes
-MPEG IMX 50 Mb/ s format
Q: Can multiple formats be recorded on a single disc
at the same time?
A: The Professional Disc format allows this; however, current
XDCAM products are not capable of writing both formats on
the same disc.
Q: MPEG IMX data streams require a maximum of only 50 Mb/
s, and the Professional Disc media's maximum transfer rate
(using one laser) is 72 Mb/ s, why is there a 22 Mb/ s difference?
A: To begin with, approximately 60 Mb/ s is required for real
time recording of MPEG IMX 50 Mb/ s Video, eight (8) channels
of Audio, Proxy AV Data, and Real-time Metadata. The additional
12 Mb/ s is used as headroom so that data can be accurately
written to the disc even in the event of shock and vibration
to the system or if defects are encountered on the disc.
Q: What is the operating temperature range for XDCAM
A: The specified operating temperature for XDCAM camcorders
ranges from -5° C (23° F) to 40° C (104° F) in ambient temperature,
which is a wider range than current professional tape-based
camcorder products. The PDW-1 Mobile Deck ranges from 0° C
(32° F) to 40° C (104° F), which his equal to current professional
tape-based camcorder products, while the operating temperature
for the Compact Deck ranges from 5° C (42° F) to 40° C (104°
F) in ambient temperature, which is equal to current professional
VTR products. XDCAM products operate as well as (if not better
than) current VTRs and tape-based camcorders operate when
used in the same environment (ex. typical cold winter weather
or hot summer conditions).
Q: Once a Professional Disc has been partially recorded,
can I record more video without first initializing (erasing)
the entire disc?
A: Yes. The disc media is fully rewriteable, and always appends
new recordings to the end of the last clip, regardless of
what position the disc was being viewed at. You can keep recording
more video/ audio until the disc is full. Even then, you can
delete the last clip or all clips on the disc to free up needed
Q: What is the archival life of the XDCAM system's Professional
A: When stored at room temperature (68° F and 40% relative
humidity), the estimated archival life of the Professional
Disc is greater than or equal to 50 years.
Q. Does the XDCAM system's Professional Disc media have copy
Q: Is it possible to erase recordings on a disc?
A: Yes, all XDCAM camcorders and decks can delete the last
recorded shot, one by one. A "Quick Format" of a disc, which
is equivalent to "all file delete," can be done in about two
Q: Is there protection from accidentally erasing data
on a disc?
A: Yes, there is write protection tab on the disc cartridge.
This is similar to a rec/ save tab on DVCAM tape media or
a rec/ inhibit tab on other professional tape media. There
is also a REC INH function on all deck products to prevent
a user from accidentally erasing material.
Q: Can I erase the disc (or files on the disc) without using
A: The camcorder has a DISC MENU (Maintenance Menu Page M17),
this allows the ability to delete that last clip, all of the
clips, or perform a "Quick Format".
Q: Is there a possibility of a bulk eraser type machine?
A: At this time, there are no plans to develop a bulk eraser
type of machine. Unless desired for security purposes, there
is no need to bulk erase data because unlike tape, directly
overwriting data on discs does not degrade quality.
Q: What is the Professional Disc cartridge made of?
A: The cartridge is made of polycarbonate and the storage
case is made of polypropylene.
Q: What is the warranty on the Professional Disc media?
A: Sony warranties Professional Disc media from defects in
material or workmanship for 90 days. See actual warranty for
Q: We want to manage Professional Discs using bar codes. Can
we stick a bar code label on the front of the cartridge?
A: Yes, adhesive labels, including bar code labels, can be
attached to the front of the cartridge.
Q: Are there any effects from magnetic fields or airport
A: Since recordings on Professional Disc media are not made
using magnetic material like tape, or light sensitive material
like film, it is highly unlikely that magnetic fields or X-ray
scanners will affect the media.
Q: Is there protection from accidentally scratching a
A: Yes. A polycarbonate cartridge shields the disc from dust
and prevents the disc from being scratched. Even if a disc
is accidentally scratched, robust error correction enables
data on the disc to be played out. If the scratched portion
of the disc happens to contain the file system, the data that
allows access to all other data on a disc, a mirrored file
system is located on the disc in a different physical location
allowing the XDCAM system to access files.
Q: Is there any way to recover data from a damaged or corrupt
A: The Error Correction on Sony XDCAM products can recover
extensive lost data. However, just as with videotape, if the
damage is too severe for error correction to recover, or if
the media is broken into pieces, there is no way to recover
Q: Can current products (PDW-530/ 510/ 1500/ V1) accept
dual layer disc and/ or 8cm disc?
A: No, dual layer and/ or 8cm disc technology is not supported
by the current XDCAM line-up (PDW-530/ 510/ 1500/ V1).
Q: Can the HDCAM format be recorded on Professional Disc
A: No. With today's technology, it is not possible due to
the transfer rate. The HDCAM format is a 140 Mbps stream,
while the XDCAM cameras utilize a single laser recording at
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Q: How long does the laser
|XDCAM - Laser Specification
A: In the PDW-V1, and PDW-1500 decks, Sony's recommended replacement
interval for the laser is 6,000 hours of operation (recording
and playback combined). This corresponds to three years of use
at a constant eight hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks
a year. On the PDW-510 and PDW-530 camcorders, the interval
is 4,000 hours of operation. These replacement intervals are
based upon our simulation of normal usage. Sony optical products
constantly monitor the laser's health by checking the current
to the laser. As the laser approaches the end of its life, the
current will fall out of tolerance, triggering an alarm. In
this way, you can replace the laser before failure occurs. Sony
also covers XDCAM equipment with a 7-year powertrain warranty.
This provides 7 years of replacement coverage for the spin motor
and optical laser block of the equipment. The warranty covers
both parts and labor for those two moving parts (three parts
in the case of the PDW-1500 since it has dual pickups).
Q: Can I replace the laser myself?
A: It depends. The replacement item is not the laser itself,
but an optical block that includes the laser. Replacing and
adjusting the optical block requires no special skill. But the
installer would require a special measurement tool called an
Autocollimator. However, Sony does not expect that a customer
will want to buy an Autocollimator for such infrequent servicing.
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Q: Do XDCAM hardware and
media work well in humid environments?
A: Incredibly well. Thanks to non-contact recording and playback,
the XDCAM system is completely free from the sticking that interferes
with videotape operation. Sony specifies operating humidity
up to 90%. However, in tests the camcorders have been shown
to operate as long as there is no condensation or dew on the
surface of the disc. Should condensation exist on media while
in a camcorder or deck, the user will be prompted with a HUMID
alarm. In case of dew, allow the disc to acclimate to room temperature
and humidity (68° F/ 40% RH) and you can resume recording. One
other hidden benefit of the media type is that even when moisture
appears on the surface, there are no permanent effects. With
other media types utilizing pins for contact, often when those
pins come in contact with moisture, they have a tendency to
short out, causing loss of data.
Q: Is there shock and vibration resistance built into
A: Yes, Sony XDCAM camcorders use rubber dampers to hold the
disc drive block in place thereby minimizing the effect of
any shock or vibration. In addition, a tracking system, based
on the best Sony servo technologies, reduces the chance of
the optical head recording off track. In the event a shock
exceeds the servo's capacity, causing the head to move off
track, recording continues in a buffer memory until the head
is positioned properly. Once the head is back on track, the
buffered information is recorded to disc. A substantial amount
of buffering is built into the camcorder to operate in harsh
Q: What happens if the camcorder battery is removed or power
is suddenly lost from an AC adaptor while recording?
A: The emergency recovery system is designed to restore as
much AV data as possible even if the file system is not closed
properly. If power is suddenly lost during a recording, the
AV data can be recovered automatically once power is reapplied.
When this type of recovery occurs, the duration of a lost
recording is a maximum of four (4) seconds from the time just
before power was lost.
Q: What if a battery runs out while recording?
A: The system controller automatically stops recording and
closes the file system before the full exhaustion of the battery.
The camcorder also provides customizable battery settings
for notifying the operator when battery power is below a desired
Q: What is the time from power on to being able to record,
if the disc is already in?
A: Approximately 3.5 seconds. Tape camcorders take around
Q: What is the time from pushing the EJECT button to full
ejection of a disc?
A: The EJECT button on the camcorder does not abort the recording
process. Whether an EJECT is done shortly after a REC STOP
or while the camera is idle, the EJECT process is completed
in approximately 5 seconds.
Q: Can I use the Ethernet Adapter and wireless microphone
at the same time on the camcorder?
A: They both utilize the same slot. However, wireless microphone
can be equipped via an optional attachment (part # A-8278-057-A).
This attachment enables the Ethernet Adapter and wireless
microphone to work simultaneously.
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Q: How do I know
my signal is being recorded? Is there a playback confidence
A: XDCAM products automatically confirm laser-writing conditions
by checking the focus servo, tracking servo, reflection of laser
beam, and laser power. An alarm will alert you if an unusual
condition is detected. Because optical recording is fundamentally
different from tape recording, there is no traditional playback
Q: How long does it take from inserting the disc to a
picture being displayed on screen?
A: Approximately 10 seconds.
Q: Is Metadata transferred together with proxy AV?
Q: When an optical deck receives MXF files from another machine,
will there be proxy AV?
A: Yes. All XDCAM decks automatically create proxy AV that
is not included in the MXF file. This function also works
at high data transmission speeds via Gigabit Ethernet or i.
LINK® (file access mode) interface.
Q: Can I play back while transferring over Ethernet?
A: No, it is not possible.
Q: Are the DVCAM files supported by Material eXchange
File Format (MXF) for Ethernet file transfers?
A: Yes, both DVCAM and MPEG IMX formats are supported.
Q: Is MPEG IMX compression supported by the i. LINK® interface?
A: Yes, MPEG IMX compression will be supported
by i. LINK® (File Access Mode). Although this function is
not currently supported with the XDCAM products; it will,
however, be supported in the near future.
Q: Why is the transfer rate slower for 100Base-T than
for the i. LINK® interface?
A: Although the theoretical maximum transfer rate of 100Base-T
Ethernet is 100 Mbps, the effective throughput is around 30
Mbps. In the case of MPEG IMX format material recorded at
50 Mbps, eight channels of audio and metadata increase the
total load of 57.5 Mbps. This yields a transfer rate of 0.5
times real time. In contrast, the theoretical maximum transfer
rate of the i. LINK (SBP-2) interface is 400 Mbps and the
effective throughput is around 90 Mbps maximum. Accordingly,
MPEG IMX format material recorded at 50 Mbps will be transferred
at 1.5 times faster than real time.
Q: Does the product line allow for direct file access
to the disc in any model?
A: Direct file access on the disc is planned to be provided
over the i. LINK interface (via 'file access mode') in the
near future. "File access mode" over the i. LINK interface
will enable such operations as Browse File Directory, Direct
read, Get File, Put File, etc. Since it occurs over the i.
LINK interface, all products will support the feature as all
XDCAM units include the i. LINK interface as part of the standard
Q: I want to convert MPEG IMX format material to DVCAM
format material and output it at the i. LINK interface for
my DV editing environment. Can I do that faster than real
A: The conversion is performed in real time.
Q: How do I get XDCAM video into an Avid® NLE right now?
A: There are two ways currently. Either by capturing in real-time
over i. LINK® (AV/ C) or by ingesting from the standard composite
or SDI XDCAM outputs, or by capturing in real-time over i.
LINK (using AV/ C). Avid announced that in CY '04 high-resolution
file transfers, as well as proxy operation, will be supported
via Ethernet or i. LINK®, at greater than real-time speeds.
Q: Can the Compact Deck or Mobile Deck be used while
on its side or must it be flat?
A: The Compact Deck is designed to be used horizontally on
a flat surface; however, the Mobile Deck can be used vertically.
Q: How does audio insertion work with the deck products?
A: Currently, audio insertion cannot be performed directly
on XDCAM deck products; however, it will be supported in the
future. As of today, audio insertion should be done on either
a nonlinear editor or an editing VTR. Fundamentally, when
audio is imported through an analog or digital (SDI,
AES/ EBU) input, it is overwritten on the existing audio track.
When audio is imported through an Ethernet or i. LINK (file
access mode) port, the audio file is not overwritten. Audio
file insertion should be done by an NLE.
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