Imagine Products' ShotPut Pro Video Offloading Software Review

Offload Your Worries

ShotPut Pro is a useful new application from Imagine Products that simplifies offloading video from memory cards. It’s a tool that can be used along with your favorite NLE or as a standalone application. ShotPut Pro can be configured to do many critical tasks, such as sending video to multiple storage drives at once, thereby making an instant backup. It also has other timesaving tidbits. ShotPut Pro solves the relatively new problem of not knowing exactly where we’re about to put our important video. Instead of using our computer’s Copy and Paste commands, we use ShotPut Pro to make sure our memories are saved. Be it AVCHD video or video from Panasonic P2 and Sony SxS cards, ShotPut Pro gives us peace of mind when we go to offload or delete our memories from our memory cards. If you’ve ever lost irreplaceable footage (who hasn’t?), then ShotPut Pro can help make sure disaster doesn’t strike again.

Opening It Up

You can download ShotPut Pro from Imagine Products’ website with speed and ease. Since the application is available for both Mac and PC computers, you can choose which one to download after purchasing your activation code. However… ShotPut Pro allows you to switch your purchase from Mac to PC and back again later on, using your activation code. Unfortunately, ShotPut Pro requires internet access to start using it. This isn’t a big deal, but it may cause confusion if you download the application and don’t use it immediately. If you don’t have internet access on set, don’t panic, Imagine Products has a phone activation service as well.

Minimum requirements are pretty light, which is also good. Windows XP and Vista are supported for the PC, while Mac users will need OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or higher. Since many memory card manufacturers are making high-capacity cards (4GB all the way to 64GB), ShotPut Pro requires at least 16GB free hard disk space to offload them. The application itself takes up only 4.5MB on your local disk.

How It Looks

We dragged the ShotPut Pro icon into the dock on our Apple MacBook Pro and double-clicked it to start going. The new app opens quickly and has the bubbly dialog boxes typical of the Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) operating system. One tall window is displayed, with a prominent Manual/Automatic button located at the top. Below is a ladder of dialog boxes that really make the app sing. In Manual mode, six boxes appear within ShotPut: one to name folders, another to choose which hard drives to send video to and what to do when that operation finishes, along with File Verification, Logging Type and a final box to select which cards to offload. In Automatic mode, many of the same options appear, minus the final box for choosing which cards to offload. In Automatic mode, ShotPut Pro starts working immediately after you insert a memory card into your computer. Again, ShotPut Pro is a simple-looking app that looks less feature-riddled on the surface than other apps in its price range. It does an important job and does it very reliably, making it worth its weight in 16GB memory cards.


How It Works

We tested ShotPut Pro with both AVCHD and P2 video. Since ShotPut Pro treats our different types of memory cards very similarly, we don’t have to worry about adjusting our settings between offloads. Along with a notebook computer, we have an external RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) to copy our video to. Okay, we first test the Automatic feature. We make sure we do not have any memory cards connected yet, so we can input our settings for ShotPut to use. We add our Custom Volume Name, “Sandymontana,” and check the box labeled Include Prefix. Using this feature, we can add the prefix P2 automatically when we offload P2 video, without having to type out the pesky word each time. Then we choose where the app will copy our video; we select our Local Disk as our first destination, which tells ShotPut to copy our video to our notebook’s internal hard disk. We also select our external RAID disk as a second location to copy video to. ShotPut Pro’s default features include playing a sound when our card is finished offloading and automatically formatting our card afterwards. Formatting deletes all video from our card. This is a great timesaver for us, since we usually have to use our camcorder’s internal formatting feature. ShotPut offers two File Verification features, to be sure our video is byte-for-byte accurate when transferred to our hard disks. We use the faster of the two, which Imagine Products says is more than 99% accurate. Next, we use the default Logging Type, which is called Minimal, to receive a paper trail of our offload. Next, we connect our P2 camcorder via FireWire to our notebook. ShotPut Pro recognizes our P2 memory and our offloading starts immediately. Since we set up Shot Put to its Automatic setting, our video is offloaded to three places at once: our internal notebook disk and the two disks that make up our redundant RAID. The sound beeps, our video is compared to the original, our P2 card is formatted, ready for another use, and our receipt appears in a basic text box. Boom! Done! And now we’re off to shoot more video.

AVCHD video on SDHC memory cards acts the same way within ShotPut Pro. Since ShotPut does not re-compress or transcode video, our wait is very short, and we’re left with our identical copy. Using the Manual setting, we even offload multiple SDHC cards to the same hard disk, all at the same time!

Final Words

ShotPut Pro is a great addition to any video editor’s toolkit, if you have projects with mixed video formats such as AVCHD, SxS, P2 and RED. With all of the new video formats coming out, we think it’s great that ShotPut Pro includes many of them. While ShotPut isn’t a replacement for your NLE, it does act as a solid “first contact” when offloading footage for editing. Our tests ran smoothly and quickly, which makes it hard not to add this new app to our permanent toolkit.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Windows XP: 2GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, 16GB free disk space

Windows Vista 32: 1.8GHz Dual Core CPU, 1GB RAM, 16GB free disk space

Macintosh: OS X 10.4 or later, PowerPC or Intel CPU, 512MB RAM, 16GB free disk space

Strengths

  • Greatly reduces error when offloading memory cards
  • Creates a log of your activities
  • Downloadable version installs quickly
  • Well-made user manual

Weaknesses

  • Requires web access to install

SUMMARY

ShotPut Pro is a simple-to-use application, and it has proved to be a useful tool for anyone who is shooting with AVCHD, SxS and P2 camcorders.

Contributing editor Andrew Burke has worked in all areas of video production on three continents.

Imagine Products, Inc.

1052 Summit Dr.

Carmel, IN 46032

www.imagineproducts.com


Price: $89

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