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rather URGENT question about shoot this Sunday


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#1 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 11:08 AM

I have a shoot Sunday that cannot be rescheduled. I have an HVX-200 with 8 GB card
but was supposed to also have Firestore and workflow tech. person. Now, I have neither.

I can shoot tape if I have to but what about these options?

1. Shoot to P2 and buy a Lacie (I can swing a couple hundred $) 80 GB or 100 GB and offload
to that via Firewire when card is full. I'll have to learn how but I've read up a bit and it seems
doable.

2. Shoot to P2, then downconvert to Mini-DV and re-use card? What's the difference between that
and capturing HD footage and editing and then downcoverting to SD for DVD copies? If I shoot
P2, downconvert and then capture that tape, in either case it's going to be SD DVD as the
final product.

3. I have heard that one can shoot P2 and tape simultaneously (using tape SD copy as a back-up)
but in reading the manuals this does not look possible. It seems to be an either/or situation.
Anybody know?

Thanks!
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 09:43 PM

If you want to record HD, then you need to use the P2 cards. If you want standard definition, then you can record directly to miniDV tape in camera (there is no mixing down necessary). There is no recording of HD material on tape. I don't believe it's possible to record to P2 and tape simultaneously, but it wouldn't do you any good anyway -- you have to tell the camera which format to record in (resolution and frame rate), and you can't put 720/24PN to tape, for example. You would have to use the 480/60i DV25 format, which would defeat your reasons for recording to P2.

For HD material, you'll need a computer such as a macbook with a P2 slot in addition to the external harddrive for downloading the P2 material. You cannot dump footage straight onto a standard external hardrive without a computer.

But since you're trying to produce a standard def DVD, you might as well just record SD to tape in camera. Just think of it as an overgrown DVX at that point. ;) The difference between recording standard def to tape in camera and downconverting HD in post is compression -- In camera, you're using Mini DV compression (DV25), and in post you often have more choices of codecs when downconverting. The HVX can record DVCPRO50 (4:2:2) standard def to P2 cards, for example.
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#3 Michael Collier

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 10:23 PM

Michaels tips will work for you, especially for DVD release. Keep in mind though that VFX work and color correction esp. is much harder when your working in mini-DV. I would recomend DVCPRO-50 if you know it will never project theatrically, in festival or be bumped up to a blu-ray DVD in the future. If either of those are even remotley possible, then go with DVCPRO-HD.

Either of those options still leave you with the need for offloading the cards every so often. With a computer on, that proccess takes a little longer than changing a mag. If you plan in advance you can download every time you wrap a setup (and hope you don't fill the card before the set up is done with) that way it can download while you work.

You will need a laptop on set though. Some laptops can accept the P2 cards directly into their PCMIA slots, if the slots in question are 32-bit. If not you can download it over firewire, with the card in the camera. This makes setting the camera for the next shot difficult, maybe a good time to focus on lighting.

You'll have to look hard at weather you have the resources and time to work with the P2. If you had 2 4gig cards it would be no problem (one can download faster than you'd typically fill them up). But mini-DV is lackluster, no matter the original source. Its fine for TV if you don't do much color correcion or post, but as you add more demands of your video, it falls appart quickly. Its always best to capture as much information as you can and loose it along the post path, rather than through it all out from the get-go.

Plus with the HVX if you want to use their multi-frame rate feature, you'd need P2.
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#4 Greg Johnson

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 10:48 PM

Plan on about 10 - 15 minutes to dump that 8GB card.

I've gone out on a shoot and my guys forgot the firewire cable, after I calmed down I realized the best method at that point was to delete all but the best take of each scene. That made for an easy edit, lol. You can select the thumbnail of the clip you don't want and just erase it.

When I shot our TV pilot on 5 HVX-200's I rented every P2 I could find, then I had a team sitting in a tent with computers, p2 stores, G-raid drives, and a generator all day just capturing footage. If you can look around to see if you can rent or borrow more P2 cards that would be a good idea. I got mine for about $30 a day.

I'd recommend 720/24PN it looks killer. With an 8GB card that's about 22minutes of footage.

Also make sure your gain is at 0db, any gain will ruin your image on that camera.


- Greg
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#5 Ken Minehan

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 12:13 AM

On the HVX200 you cant shoot with p2 and tape simultaneously. It's one or the other. I recommend you stay clear of the firestore. the P2 card is much more stable.
I shot a indie feature with this camera last year and we used the P2 card. We had a guys whose job it was to dump out the p2 footage. So he had a laptop and 2 x 600gb external hard drives. This was enough to fit all the rushes for the whole feature.
we had 4 x 8gb cards on set and we never had to wait for the download to finish. 2x8gb cards in the slot is actually quite alot of footage. especially when shooting drama. treat it like 1 can of s16.

Greg has a good point too. watch out for that gain. What i normally do is to set all the gain settings to 0. because sometimes when moving around from set up to set up buttons accidentally get pushed. Once gain gets in to your picture, the blacks will look terrible.


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#6 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 12:39 AM

Thanks for all the advice.


I have to do this shoot Sunday because the actors will be unavailable thereafter for quite a long time.
However, it's simple lighting of a conversation in one room and only a couple of pages so probably
the best situation if I use the camera to send the P2 data through Firewire to the new Lacie hard drive
I got today.

DVCPRO 50 sounds good. Longer record times and good quality, plus possibility for variable frame rates.
However, I've heard that stuff shot in HD looks better when converted to SD than anything shot in
SD (with of course good lighting, camera, etc.)

Is that accurate? Is it better to shoot HD even to make an (ultimately) SD product look better?

There is a possibility of this being projected at festivals, as it will be submitted, but projected digitally.
We're certainly never going to film out. Would shooting HD help here and how so?

This would be my first time editing HD in Final Cut Pro. Is there anything I need to know about
shooting 720P 24N as opposed to one of the 24P over 60 modes? 24N sounds great and I'd like
to do it and I've read that the quality is superior to other 24 modes but what should I know before
I commit?

I have a MacBookPro which won't accept P2 cards and runs Final Cut Express so I can't capture
the 720P 24 HD footage with it. (The Final Cut Pro system that I can use is in a room and not portable.)

I bought the Lacie so I won't be spending any more money this week. I have to learn how to play
the P2 footage from the camera to the hard drive, how to format the hard drive, how to verify
that the clips have been captured (verifying adds more time to this I understand) and then how to
"erase" (is that right?) the P2 card. I'm doing a lot of preproduction and certainly don't want to be in
this multi hat position again but these things seem possible to learn in order to get this shoot
accomplished. Anytghing special you can clue me into as I test tomorrow?

THANKS!
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#7 Greg Johnson

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 01:37 PM

24 P still records 60 FPS, but there are duplicate frames. To view this correctly in FCP you'd need a 60P sequence. (This option wastes a lot of space, on an 8GB card it will take your 22 minutes down to 8 minutes).

24 PN records 24 FPS native. To view this correctly in FCP you'd just use a 24fps sequence.

720 P is pretty awesome, but if you're going straight to DVD I would personally shoot 480P DVCPRO 50 to buy some extra time. The extended color depth over mini-dv is what I notice before the resolution. And if you're planning on down converting anyway then it's a no brainer. Unless of course you need the extra resolution to play with for effects.

I did the same thing as Ken,.. turned all the L, M, and H gain settings to 0db. I've bumped that switch many times accidentally. I also hit the damned scene file wheel alot and totally messes up my whole shoot. I hate that thing.

There may be software available through Panasonic to rip P2 cards to your hard drive without using your NLE, then you could import them to FCP when you get back to your desktop computer. Still kinda sketchy though.

Good luck with the shoot!

- Greg
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 06:35 PM

There may be software available through Panasonic to rip P2 cards to your hard drive without using your NLE, then you could import them to FCP when you get back to your desktop computer. Still kinda sketchy though.

Good luck with the shoot!

- Greg



Okay, I looked it up in the manual and there is indeed the option to go firewire out directly to an external harddrive ("Copying from P2 cards to the hard disk drive (Host Mode)," pp. 77 & 84 ). It does sound a little scary to me, since there are fewer ways to verify the data transfer is complete and intact. I'd definitely test it before committing your shoot to this technique. But since I've never tried it, it might be easier and more reliable than I think.

But you don't have to go through your NLE software on a computer, though. You can drag and drop the data from one volume to another, just like any other file. And apparently you can connect the camera to the computer via firewire, so if you've got an extra firewire or USB2 connection for the harddrive, you could try it that way. Data transfer will likely be slower than direct from the P2 cards in the computer, though.
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#9 Michael Collier

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 07:49 PM

Thanks for all the advice.

DVCPRO 50 sounds good. Longer record times and good quality, plus possibility for variable frame rates.
However, I've heard that stuff shot in HD looks better when converted to SD than anything shot in
SD (with of course good lighting, camera, etc.)

Is that accurate? Is it better to shoot HD even to make an (ultimately) SD product look better?

There is a possibility of this being projected at festivals, as it will be submitted, but projected digitally.
We're certainly never going to film out. Would shooting HD help here and how so?



If its absolutley never going to be in HD, then shooting DVCPRO-50 would look better, but marginally. I think you might find a few months or years down the road an oppourtunity to show it HD and may kick yourself for not shooting HD.

If festival submission is definatley in the cards I would recomend HD. Most every film fest that has digital projection can accept HD tapes for the screening. In my mind that seems like a requirement, since you'll be competeing with people who shot HD and film, so showing an SD movie directly after those would look soft by comparison (even if its sharp SD)

Either way if you shoot DVCPRO-50 or DVCPRO-HD, edit in its native format and only downconvert when you make the DVD. Downconverting earlier will loose data that might be needed for the mastering phase. Festival submissions usually can be done on DVD for their consideration, and if accepted you can follow up with the HD copy for the actual screening.
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