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Re: Any of you kids see any cameras at NAB?

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Jeremy GarchowRe: Any of you kids see any cameras at NAB?
by on May 5, 2012 at 8:50:08 pm

Ooooo. Another juicy topic.

If you think it's difficult to choose an NLE/OS platform, cameras have it beat by an order of magnitude.

I, personally do not hold a camera, but I go to a lot of shoots, talk with a healthy stable of freelance DPs that partner with us, and we own cameras. I approach it from a post side (of course) and the DPs that I talk to want to know what we want, and I want to know what they want in the field. We try and come up with the best solution for any given job.

It used to be that you hire a DP and their camera. These days, DPs in my area anyway, don't own cameras anymore. They own support gear and maybe some lenses, and of course they have a camera that they own, but they don't use it on every single shoot. It's just as crazy for DPs out there as they have to ramp up to speed on a big plethora of camera formats, limitations, shooting formats, media requirements, menus, tricks and know-hows, lenses and their formats, separate audio (or not) as well as keeping it all in focus.

It seems that on all of our recent shoots for the last 2 years or so, there's no less than two different media types, and usually there's three. Not a big deal as all NLEs can handle it, but they all handle formats a little differently.

For our particular business, the race to 4k is not a race we need to run at the moment. We do use reds/Epics every once in a while, they make great pictures, but we never post/deliver in 4k and don't see that changing real soon. You never know, but ultra high resolution isn't the first consideration for our gigs.

I will have to reserve judgement for the Blackmagic camera once we see real pictures. The battery limitation is real consideration for us. Yes, you can hook it up to other power, and yes, other cameras have external batteries, but those batteries mate to the camera without any extra rigging. This is an important detail, at least for us. It also doesn't look very rugged. I think it will make a great studio camera for now.

The fs700 looks awesome. But it's long GOP. When editing long GOP natively, you will need more horse power on your CPU.

The DSLR movement is beginning to wane for a lot of the DPs we work with. They are super limiting, they are difficult to operate most of the time, and audio is a pain, and then theres timecode, but timecode is at least coming along in newer DSLRs.

That brings me to Panasonic. We, as you may or may not know, really like Panasonic. I, personally love p2 and avc-Intra. I, too, was a little disappointed with no major news from Panasonic, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

We have an af100, and it is starting to replace DSLRs on shoots that benefit from short DOF. It is more flexible, has real camera controls, and is fairly easy to operate. It's not our favorite camera of all time, but it does a decent job. Avchd, is very compressed. This is also not my favorite, but if the guys holding the camera prefer that to DSLR, I'm all for it. The images, for the most part, come back looking OK, and depending on the gig, ok is just fine. It does moire sometimes, but much less so than DSLRs. MUCH less so. We went to an af100 launch tour and someone (it might have been me) asked why there wasn't a p2 version. The answer was that the camera would cost $4,000 more.

Uh, hello? For those of us that we're invested in p2, 4 grand would have been well worth it.

This brings us to avc-Intra. I think Panasonic's next big move is AVC-Ultra and it obviously wasn't ready for NAB 2012. AVC-Intra is already pretty great with it being iframe 422 10bit, plugging in to almost any NLE on the planet very easily, and get this, it's cross platform. Besides a coupe of "for pay" third parties, who else is doing that? AVC-I is also a large boradcast standard and thats the market the Panasonic is servicing most heavily. And they should, they are really good at it. A DP we work owns a p2 varicam, and all things considered, it is a really really nice looking camera with clean, sharp, bright images, especially when you add cine gamma. It also proves to be very versatile in the field. There's not much you can't do with it. I am continually impressed with that camera and it's not the newest craze in the midst of whatever is happening in this "camera revolution". It's a true work horse.

Now, take all that and move it to avc-ultra which will be 444 12bit up to 4k and also support all the Intra flavors. That's a pretty big deal. This means we will have a broadcast flavored 4k cross platform post/delivery system that will probably plug in as easily as avc-Intra already does, and it will most likely run on more recent p2 cards. For those invested in p2, this is going to be a very logical and well thought out step. It just wasn't ready for this year, and I think that Panasonic knows that the broadcast market isn't quite ready for 4k either. It's simple math. I think Panasonic will deliver in a big way if it works as well as avc-Intra.

I am super curious about the varicam prototype. Can't wait to see what happens with it. I will be watching.

Then there's Alexa. That camera and post workflow is an absolute dream. LogC is very flexible, and you get post ready files right away. We just can't afford an Alexa on every job. I wish we could. It's DP friendly, it's post friendly, and while it does cost "a lot" to own, there are jobs that we can rent it on and it really makes a big difference in quality.

From a post standpoint, the biggest noticeable advantage to quality has not been the pixel count, but logarithmic workflows and dynamic range. For our deliverables, dynamic range/color are what makes a better image rather than 4k resolution. It's one of the reasons I love the Alexa. We "only" shoot 1080 with it, but LogC allows so much grading flexibility that the resolution isn't as paramount.

It seems that most camera companies are coming out with their own log workflow, which is really really exciting for me.

For us, the red workflow while not hard, is not as flexible, and we need to have as much flexibility as possible in our productions. Right now, Alexa wins over red in that regard, for us and our needs. Red is striving to be a true film replacement, and that is a commendable effort I guess, but we don't have a use for a film replacement.

As with our next step of NLE, we are going to wait just a little longer. I do like what I see though. There's some really affordable decent quality options out there, that aren't DSLRs. I hope Panasonic can come through with avc-ultra as I'm sure it will be a great acquisition codec. And secretly, I wish Arri made a more affordable camera for us non film/non episodic tv guys. In some circles, the Alexa is a tremendous deal, but it's out of reach for our daily driver.

Sorry about the false post earlier.

To specifically answer your question, considering products that are shipping soon, I am most interested in the fs700.

Jeremy


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