Workflow When Shooting to an External Recorder

This week has been a busy one at work. We are in the middle of shooting a masterbrand PSA for the hospital. For this project, we decided to shoot with the Sony F3. But instead of shooting to the SxS cards, we chose to go to an external recorder - the Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle.

Several months ago I posted about my initial experiences with the Hyperdeck Shuttle. Here's the workflow that we've adopted for the PSA shoot;

  • We have our 250GB SSD's set to record to 10-bit uncompressed HD. That equals 8GB of footage PER MINUTE. The files are huge, so if you choose to shoot uncompressed HD, have plenty of drives on stand-by.
  • The Sony F3 is set to shoot S-Log, a gamma curve that provides maximum dynamic range from the sensor - about 13 stops. You can get the most out of S-Log by shooting in 10-bit uncompressed.
  • The Sony F3 is set to Dual Link output, meaning that we can send the S-Log signal out through one SDI port to the external recorder, while sending a second signal out through another of the camera's SDI ports to a 7" external monitor that we use for focus.
  • Since the Shuttle has no internal monitor, we loop an SDI signal through the Shuttle to a second external monitor to preview the S-Log picture and to ensure that the Shuttle is receiving a proper signal.
  • We power the Shuttle via the internal battery, but when that is depleted, we switch to AC power. It only takes about an hour for the battery to charge while on AC power.
  • We have to keep a close watch on the SSD as it records. There is no warning when the drive comes close to capacity. If you aren't careful, the SSD can run out of space during a take and you may never notice. That's why...
  • we simultaneously shoot to SxS cards as a backup. Yes, the SxS cards are shooting 8-bit rather than 10-bit, but it is recording S-Log. So if a drive should fail, or if it should fill up without us noticing right away, we have the cards as a backup.

So far the dailies are looking great. Shooting S-Log in an uncompressed format really gives us plenty of latitude for grading in post, which is wonderful for a nationally-broadcast spot.