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HVX field report


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#1 stephen lamb

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 06:51 PM

Hey all,
Just shot a short 10 minute piece in Seattle over the weekend. Seems that there are lots of questions and concerns over how well this camera will actually be able to be integrated into a typical shoot. In a nutshell, I thought the camera worked quite well. I haven't watched all the footage, so I won't go into the image quality itself, suffice to say, it's not film (we all know that anyways), but i feel that it blows DV out of the water. I had two 8 gigabyte P2 cards, a powerbook Mac with FCP 5.04 and a LaCie 200 GB external harddrive connected via firewire 800. I used the HVX in 1080i30P mode, which gave me roughly a minute of footage per gigabyte.
The P2 card system works pretty dang well. I had a crew of three, including myself, and we were using a fisher dolly quite often, and i still felt that we were not over burderned with the downloading process of the cards. Generally here's what I did: I had one card in the camera to record on, when that was full, i swapped cards, and gave the full one to my AC, she would go download the card straight onto my external drive, a process that took about 2-4 minutes per card. (i'll get into some details later) Meanwhile, i would shoot away on the other card, or get working on the new setup or whatever else i needed to do. I never had a problem losing data, or the computer freezing, or the cards malfunctioning, worked like a charm. I also never felt that that i was slowed down or hindered by the P2 system. In fact this was probably the smoothest shoot i have even been on, we were wrapped early or on time every day, at every location.
One hint i will say, since i couldn't find it in any manuals, and had to figure it out myself, is this: if you are going directly from the P2 cards onto a laptop, (not using a P2 store...i didn't do it, so i don't know) you can't just drag the file from the P2 card onto the harddrive, final cut won't recognize the file. Simple fix though. Stick the card into the proper slot, let the computer recognize it. Open final cut pro. (make sure it is version 5.04 or it won't work, free download at the apple site if you have version 5) In the browser window, right click and go to import-->Panasonic P2 card. That will open a small window which shows you the files on the card, along with a thumbnail, pick the files you want, and click import. This does two things. One: brings the file into final cut pro. Two: Brings the ACTUAL file onto whereever you specified the scratch disk to be. So, two birds with one stone.
Because i have fairly extensive background with the DVX, the HVX was very familar to me as well. The controls buttons are all in similar, if not the same positions, and i felt the menu button and menu maneuvering keys were much better layed out than on the DVX. It took very little time for me to become familirized with the camera and get rockin with it.
I tested some slow motion stuff, but we didn't shoot any for the film itself, so i don't have too much say, except that the small amount i did shoot looked damn good for digital slow mo. I didn't shoot any undercranked fast motion footage.
Getting back to the image quality. I feel the color rendition was pretty good, if you rated film at 10, and DV from the DVX at say....i don't know, 4. Then i feel this camera is probably around a 7-8. It has a much higher lattitude than DV, holds the blacks and highlights much better. We did a fair amount of dolly work, and i found that the image stayed smooth and fluid, and it doesn't get jittery like i've found the DVX to be when you start to move it around. I have never shot any other high def cameras, so i can't compare that.
I guess my closing notes would be this: This camera is good. I think it's very good. As with any shoot, if you light it well, and adjust the settings properly, it will give very very nice images. If you skip those steps, and just let it go...well, you get as much out as you put in. I found it a faster workflow that shooting on film, yet slower than DV, and for the tiny budget we had, i am extremely pleased with the camera. I believe it fills a niche very well in the market, for those who wish to shoot high quality production values, yet are very limited by budget. I would always pick 16/super16 over this camera if given the chance....but...well we all know how that goes. A great piece of gear, and I am glad i was able to shoot with it. Below is link to a still from the shoot (960x540 jpeg). If you guys and gals have any questions, comments or any experiences you've had with the camera, i'd love to hear. adios!

http://server5.picti.../screenshot.jpg
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#2 DOsborne

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 04:11 PM

One hint i will say, since i couldn't find it in any manuals, and had to figure it out myself, is this: if you are going directly from the P2 cards onto a laptop, (not using a P2 store...i didn't do it, so i don't know) you can't just drag the file from the P2 card onto the harddrive, final cut won't recognize the file. Simple fix though. Stick the card into the proper slot, let the computer recognize it. Open final cut pro. (make sure it is version 5.04 or it won't work, free download at the apple site if you have version 5) In the browser window, right click and go to import-->Panasonic P2 card. That will open a small window which shows you the files on the card, along with a thumbnail, pick the files you want, and click import. This does two things. One: brings the file into final cut pro. Two: Brings the ACTUAL file onto whereever you specified the scratch disk to be. So, two birds with one stone.


So once you have done this, can you take the actual file from your scratch disk and duplicate it onto a DVD-R or an external hard drive for back-up? Or is the file still unrecognizable/unable to be accessed like a regular file?
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#3 stephen lamb

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 02:05 AM

DOsborne,
Yes, Final Cut Pro brings the file onto the scratch disk as a Final Cut Pro quicktime movie. So once you go throuhg the Importing process, you have a normal file to play with. That file can easily be backed up onto an external drive, DVD etc etc.
Steve Lamb
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#4 SDC

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 09:20 PM

[quote name='Stephen Lamb' date='Mar 8 2006, 09:51 AM' post='94421']
HI
I dont understand 1080i 30p. Isnt that mixing up interlaced and progressive scan modes. Did you mean 1080 30p?
Also when hot swapping the cards in the field, could you be recording as you replaced one card and ejected the full card, or did you have to button off the camera to make the switch?
Does FCP handle the footage well? ie did it slow on certain commands, slow renders etc?
Investigating this work flow for a future project
Cheers.
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#5 Phil Aupperle

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 01:00 PM

You can copy the files from the P2 card to another drive, but you have to put the data from each card into it's own folder; i.e. make a new folder for each reel. The lastclip.txt file is the key to unlocking the clips on each card, so if that relationship is broken it won't work.

In FCP, choose Import/Panasonic P2, then navigate to the folders you created. It will recognize the footage and import it, making a regular DVCProHD Quicktime copy in your Capture Scratch folder. You can choose which clips you want to import, too, which halps save disk space.

This is much faster than importing each card to FCP while you're shooting, and also keeps your shots seperated by reel rather than lumping them all together. It's still a good idea to back up your files as you go, though. I like to use two external Firewire HDDs gaffer taped together and RAIDed in OSX for security.

I can edit 1080i footage on my G4 powerbook in real time no problem.
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