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HVX 200 and Firestore


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#1 Markus Rave

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 04:09 AM

I have shot many films either on film or on SD and HD but never with a prosumer camcorder. Now one of my clients will buy Panasonics little wonder, so they say, and wants me to DP on a very extensive commerical show. Reading the forum I find the camera with the upcoming problems not reliable enough to make me feel safe on set. This is due to the heavy compression and partially because there are so many rumours about the P2 cards. Therefore the client has chosen to buy Surestore or Firestore HD recorders and use them instead of the expensive cards.
I have made tests with the Varicam and the HDW 900 extensively and compared frame jitter to shots on 16mm. Using either interlaced or reducing the shutter to 1/3 second when shooting full frame has had very acceptable results and I plan on doing so with the HVX 200. My concern is the recording issue since I know that a dropout at the wrong moment will flush my days work through the drain. Does any of you have encountered problems using Firestore HDD with the camera? Any do´s and don´ts? Is there a good argument to talk the client into a professional format instead? We have to build a whole set on stage, actors, crew, lights and I see no way to ensure the outcome.

Please help.

Markus Rave
DP, Steadicam Op, Frankfurt, Germany
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 04:52 AM

I have shot many films either on film or on SD and HD but never with a prosumer camcorder. Now one of my clients will buy Panasonics little wonder, so they say, and wants me to DP on a very extensive commerical show. Reading the forum I find the camera with the upcoming problems not reliable enough to make me feel safe on set. This is due to the heavy compression and partially because there are so many rumours about the P2 cards. Therefore the client has chosen to buy Surestore or Firestore HD recorders and use them instead of the expensive cards.
I have made tests with the Varicam and the HDW 900 extensively and compared frame jitter to shots on 16mm. Using either interlaced or reducing the shutter to 1/3 second when shooting full frame has had very acceptable results and I plan on doing so with the HVX 200. My concern is the recording issue since I know that a dropout at the wrong moment will flush my days work through the drain. Does any of you have encountered problems using Firestore HDD with the camera? Any do´s and don´ts? Is there a good argument to talk the client into a professional format instead? We have to build a whole set on stage, actors, crew, lights and I see no way to ensure the outcome.

Please help.

Markus Rave
DP, Steadicam Op, Frankfurt, Germany


Hi,

I thought the compression of the Varicam & HVX200 are the same.

Stephen
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#3 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 07:14 AM

I've heard that when using the firestore you cannot take advantage of the cameras variable framerate. I've heard of several people returning them for this reason.

I've not had a problem with the P2 cards. The camera performs reasonably well for a prosumer.
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#4 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 01:51 PM

This camera is wonderful, and what you might have heard about the p2 cards from people that haven't actually used them is false.

The cards operate insanely easily, you an treat them like a standard film workflow. I haven't had any trouble working with my digital media, and prefer it obviously to shooting digital to tape.

The p2 cards are expensive, but add up buying tapes, or buying filmstock/developing ..etc.

It's a great camera, throw a P+S technik on there and be really impressed.
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#5 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 03:05 PM

As was suggested the compression of the vaircam and the HVX200 is indeed the same so I'm not sure why you mention compression as a concern.

I've shot using the firestore drive and have used the footage in both FCP and Avid HD. The process was fairly easy, but shooting tapeless for your first time is pretty unnerving. Here are a few points.

1- You want to use the firestore extended life battery, the normal battery's life is almost exactly as long as the record time of the drive so if you spend a few minutes with the drive on doing tests and checking your settings you may find your battery dies before the drive is full. This happened to me. The good news was that the battery dying did not effect the footage shot up to that point, it was all there.

2- the firewire connection is the weak link in the physical system. The 4 pin plug sticking out of the camera the way it does is scary and you will want to tape both ends of the firewire cable firmly in place.

3- In post an Avid can see and play the video right off the drive if you re-name the folders so the Avid can recognize them. The Avid will only play the clips in low or med res without transcoding. Final cut pro will play clips back at full res with no transcoding.

4- The firestore drives are limited in terms of what frame rates they can actually record, so make sure your shooting will only require rates the drives can handle. You may want to mix up your shooting between P2 cards which can handle all the camera's frame rates and the drives.

5- consider having a media manager on set, to deal with drives / P2 cards. This should be standard workflow for anyone going tapeless.

I am impressed with the camera and the firestore drives but do not recommend them for TV work or in any application where you need camera masters / archiving ability. producing tapes in post is not cost effective at all.
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#6 Mark Allen

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 11:40 AM

I just shot two music videos with this camera. i used BOTH the P2 and the Firestore because I was renting and I needed more storage than I could rent in any one format.

Here are some observations:

1. Firestore does not do slow motion from what I was told by the rental house.
2. Firestore DOES do 1080/30p eventhough the documentation is unclear about that.
3. Firestore makes a littel bit of fan/drive noise which I personally found a concern, but I wasn't recording audio so I don't know if it would read or not.
3. Firestore is much easier on set because it holds so much data. However, if you had 12 8 gig P2 cards, they would be easier because it's really easy to swap P2 cards and you would then have nearly the same data storage.

Both were easy to work with and imported just fine on the first try though I've read in forums where Jan recommends that you check your loaded in footage prior to deleting your footage. I was using a P2store on set so that would not be an option. If I were to do it again I'd keep an OLDER G4 powerbook on set with FCP 5.04+ standing by and import them directly as we went, check the footage (scanning) really quickly and then delete the card and move on. We had 2 8gig cards.

One odd thing about the firestore and I've never heard of anyone else having this problem - but some of my shots once imported were not split at the right point. the cuts were in the middle of takes and the split points were in the middle of shots. However, no frames were lost, was just incorrect split points. I was wondering if the process of "prepare for p2" did something prior to import to cause this to happen.

To sum it up - if I could buy 3 32 gig cards or even 12 8 gig cards for the price of a firestore, I would do that. However, the firestore works, is a great deal for the footage and if you can live without variable speed - will do what you need. Investigate the import splitting to make sure ours was user error somehow and investigate any audio concerns with the drive noise.
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#7 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 11:53 AM

Mark is right that the drives do make a little bit of noise but none of my mics picked it up when I used them, they are pretty quite.

Concerning the file splitting everyone should be aware that the firestore drives have a 2 gig file size limit, so in a long take a shot will be broken into multiple files which are then linked together in post and should be seamless. When shooting with the camera I did many long takes and never had a problem with the files linking together, even though a single shot might have consisted of 10 or more files.
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#8 Markus Rave

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 08:37 AM

First let me thank you for sharing your experience.
I mentioned the compression ration first because I was not aware it is actually as low as the Varicam´s rate and second because there will be extensive postproduction on the material. To clarify, I was rather opting for 35mm because of that. The client was indeed also thinking of only using firestore drives and no P2 cards. Reading the thread I definetely will talk him into using the cards rather than using the drives. In the end cards can be rented I guess.
We will have an extensive test with the camera coming up and I will post the results as soon as the studio sees some free time to do the tests.

Markus
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#9 Paul Wizikowski

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 11:14 AM

Check this out

http://www.spec-comm.../cineporter.php

Its not out yet but it will compete with the firestore. They claim it will allow the capture of every format/frame rate the HVX will record in. Basically its a 320gig P2 card. In my brief reading of the website I didn't see any speculated release but I've heard its only month(s) away.
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#10 Rich Raney

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Posted 13 August 2006 - 08:44 AM

onlocationcomp.jpg Just a note regarding the FS-100... Recently we shot a 9 day national infomercial and another 7 day shoot for James Hardie Siding - 4 :60 second national commercials - at times using 3 HVX cameras/FS-100 units. We had no problems either with workflow or technically.

During the shooting we put the units on 25' jib arms, suspended them from rooftops... banged them around pretty good. Bottom line, the footage both video/audio in DVCPRO 50 (infomercial was shot 30P, there is a workaround to do this) was gorgeous. Posting the footage in Avid Express was seamless with no problems. We used the Raylight codec onsite to view wm AVI dallies. The footage was dumped off to external firewire hard drives via the Sony Vaio.. Very impressed with both the cameras and the FS-100...!
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#11 Mike Pasky

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Posted 13 August 2006 - 10:07 PM

Cool stuff. This was helpful.
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#12 Eric Nirina

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 04:38 PM

The CinePorter might just be the answer to all the P2 workflow problems...

Edited by Eric Nirina, 20 August 2006 - 04:43 PM.

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