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Abel Cine HVX200 Open House


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#1 Chien Huey

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 03:08 PM

I just got back from Abel Cine's HVX200 Open House in NY. I'd never been to Abel Cine before and was impressed by the facility overall. The interest was so high that they ended up dividing the day into two sessions - morning (10am - 1:15pm) and afternoon (1:30pm - 4:45pm). Content is identical.

There were six booths covering the following topics:
- HVX Camera Tour (basically an overview)
- HVX Firsthand Reports From the Field (given by DVXuser.com founder Jarred Land)
- HVX/P2 in the Editing Room
- HVX/P2 Real World Workflows
- Moving the Camera (not HVX specific - covered the CamTram system and the Sachtler Artemis DV Pro)
- The MovieTube 35mm Lens Converter (prototype PS Technik-type 35mm adapter)

Things I learned/saw:
- CCD specs (I just saw the thread here but haven't been on the forum in a couple days) 960x540
- exactly what 24PN and 30PN mean
- actual HVX200 footage

In brief, the 24PN and 30PN modes available in 720P only record the active frames for any given frame rate. From what the Panasonic rep stated, the Varicam records 720/60P to tape regardless of framerate. The active frames are marked in removed in the NLE to get said framerate. This is due to the fact that the tape mechanism runs at a constant speed. The advantage of recording to P2 is that recording is electronic and hence the recording speed is variable. The main advantage of the PN modes is that you get longer runtimes on P2 by only recording the frames you need -- rather than recording frames you don't need and tossing them in post.

Also saw for the first time HVX200 footage on HD plasma screens (in Abel Cine's very nice plasma screening room). I was impressed by the footage. They shot some martial arts guy doing moves in a variety of framerates in a high contrast situation. Footage was sharp and clear (sorry I have no basis for comparison because I haven't seen F900 or Varicam footage under similar conditions). Jarred also showed a music video that was shot with an early preproduction HVX and there was significant noise in several of the shots. However, the noise appears to have been fixed in production cameras.

I also got a chance to cycle through the camera menus and take a closer look at the camera. Surprisingly, at the end of the morning session, I was able to get about 15 minutes with the camera on my own. It's a nice camera - not revolutionary (I don't think any camera is) but definitely a nice addition to the toolbox.

BTW, I checked with the rental rep and I might be able to rent one for a short I'm shooting later this month.
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#2 jme138

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 03:24 PM

Thanks for the recap! I really wanted to go to that but i signed up too late. Sounds like it was informative.
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#3 Chien Huey

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 08:59 PM

Thanks for the recap! I really wanted to go to that but i signed up too late. Sounds like it was informative.


As it turns out, they didn't check names or anything at the front desk. You just had to sign in. That said, the RSVP process was probably the only reason Abel Cine wasn't completely overrun. The crowd was a mix of shooters and director/producers - likely drawn by the promise of reduced cost HD acquisition. There were quite a few documentary people there.

In the end, the most informative sessions were the workflow sessions and Jarred Land's talk about his real world experiences with the HVX. The other sessions contained information that you can easily get from other sources like this forum and DVXuser.

One interesting note is that Steven Spielberg reshot one scene from Munich (for its international release) using the HVX200. They shot in 720p for the film out and it was a greenscreen shot. He also showed us some greenscreen footage from a documentary he shot. The shot keyed really well - there wasn't any bleeding or pixelation at the subject's edges.

Another experience Jarred shared was that he had minimal issues with the P2 runtime. He had only 2 4GB cards. He did qualify this by saying that the director and producers had a film background and understood the need to download. Also, they used the break to regroup and reformulate their questions based on what was already said.
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