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Kiarash Sadigh

Corrupted XQD?

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A scary and very strange situation I encountered last week when I was shooting a short film on a Sony FS7 MKI ( my friend's camera, immaculate condition )...Please help if you know what did go wrong here. We shot all morning on the first card ( UHD, 23.98, Cine EI mode ). The DIT wan't there all morning , I was thrown into this situation and didn't know anybody except for the director and the production designer. Half way into the morning we played back one of our takes and everything was there...everybody saw the playback on the monitors and there was no issue with the footage. I played it back myself and all the thumbnails were there and available...nothing to worry about. 

Around noon someone came to the set from the holding area ( same as the DIT area ) which was a block away from the set and received the first XQD card which was almost full. About 15 minutes later they came to the set and asked me and the director to put everything down and go to the DIT...because " there was no footage"!! We walked over in disbelief and met with the DIT for the first time, he was introduced to me as very experienced and thorough technician, and he came across as that....he then told me that the xdroot folder copied had nothing on it and then I right clicked on the xdroot folder from the card reader and it was only 4gb big!!....there was no footage...in panic I took the card, and put it back in the camera...all the thumbnails were blacked out and in front of the timecode there was a red circle with a red slash on it. It was devastating, we had to move fast and re shoot a bunch of scenes, next day I had to travel to attend some family matters so I had no time to think about this...now that the dust is settled I'm becoming very curious to know what could have happened to a perfectly functioning card. Has anyone experienced this? The card is still with the production company and they wanted to revive the footage but from my understanding it was helpless and they gave up on it. I'm yet to pick up the card, I know that's my most important piece of this puzzle...perhaps I can put it back in the camera and record on it to see if it's been permanently damaged or not...but then again I can't wrap my head around what may have gone wrong.  Let me know what you think.

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they did try some recovery programs on it?

broken cards do happen and in the case of those it may require significant lab work and expense to get the footage out. On one occasion it cost close to 10K to get the data out from a badly damaged card but all the clips were restored in the end. was still cheaper than reshooting the whole day.

much more common is though that the file system on the card develops issues.

the most common I have came by is broken partition tables which can happen if the card is for example unmounted the wrong way or the camera just decides to trash it. this type of filesystem damage is most easy to make by removing the card from the camera in the middle of recording a take so that it is removed when the camera is writing on it and the partition table is not updated correctly so that the memory addresses go missing. Data recovery programs can be used in this case and are often very successful. these cases often throw the "the disk is not readable by this computer" error when trying to attach the card to the computer.

it may be challenging to find out though what went wrong with the card. But if they gave up on it already then it won't hurt to try recovery programs on it. sometimes it may help the recovery if the card is formatted first but DON'T RECORD ANYTHING ON IT YET. formatting does not erase the images but rewriting will. (formatting just updates and recreates the partition table so it nulls the disk content on the tables but all the data is still there in the memory, its location and type is just not specified anywhere so the operating system does not know it is there. a recovery program reads all the data in the memory without minding the partition table at all and then the program tries to figure out what type of a files are in question and where is the file start and file end. then it can restore everything which it figured out. )

if recovery does not work then it may be some kind of physical damage. this is rare but it is not totally uncommon. I see it about once in every three or four productions or so. For example there was 3 tv series seasons shooting where one production had one broken cfast card. Flash memory is not totally bulletproof and if shooting long enough with it something will most likely happen sooner or later

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Maybe too late now.. but one thing to try .. if you put the card back in the camera, that was used to record the footage .. you should usually get a "restore media" message .. do this and everything is fine .. usually this happens when power is lost during recording and the clip isn't closed properly.. what type of card was it.. if it was Sony and new it will be under 5 year warranty ..  and the camera was fine with all other cards ? .. 

You can also try copying the clips to another card in the other slot .. but thats very weird .. or some sort of screw up by the DIT.. unlikely but apparently it was fine till they got it .. I always like to down load myself for this reason .. but not always possible ..

Edited by Robin R Probyn

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