SD post with Varicam tapes...
You don't need any additional equipment in post to edit SD with the Varicam! No additional monitors, no down-converters, not even a different cable! Just plug in any of the Panasonic 720p decks, even the give-away priced 130, and edit away. The Panasonic decks are a direct replacement for your Digital Betacam deck with a SD SDI output. The Panasonic Decks have built-in down-converters that do a beautiful job. They're standard in the 130 and an optional card in the 150. I haven't played with the new 2-hour deck.
Some people think you need an FRC (frame rate converter) to edit SD with Varicam 720p tapes; not so. You can do slow motion, play back your under-cranked material all directly from the decks. With the 130 you'll need some kind of edit controller to play back slower than normal speed, but even the cheapest controller will do. As I understand it, you only need the FRC to do 24p editing. Note that when you shoot 24 fps with the Varicam, the decks automatically produce the 3-2 pull-down exactly like a film-to-tape transfer. Playing back the material frame by frame looks identical to a 24 fps to 30 fps film transfer.
When you are finished editing in your NLE, just master to the tape format of your choice. Note that you cannot record SD to the 130 or 150 decks, so you'll need to master to whatever format you were using. The new 2-hour machine does have an SD input. We still use Digital Betacam as our master machines. By the way the 150 deck can play back any DV format as well!
We are currently editing in serial digital linear, Discreet Smoke (SD), and Final Cut Pro with both Digital Voodoo and Kona SD cards. Works perfectly with the Avid Media Composer as well, but we have converted from Avid to FCP. Not a single problem or machine failure in over a year of hammering on both the 130 and 150 decks.
I am a little confused about your statement that you don't need the FRC to edit the Varicam tapes.
Here in Austrlia, where we are in the 50Hz world, we certainly do need the FRC, but I would have thought that in the USA and 60Hz world you would still need the FRC for the off-speed shots?
The tapes in the camera are always recording 60fps, but if you are cranking the CCD block at say 40fps, then the camera is copying frames to make up to the 60fps on tape. When you replay that 60fps tape into your editing system, don't you need the FRC to drop the extra frames and get back to the original 40fps?
Am I missing something?
Customer Support and Training Manager, Rexel Australia Video Systems
So for shots where you need slo-mo, you set your shutter to 60. Then you play back the footage at .5X when you capture so that you get all the progressive frames for your interlaced SD downconvertion. The edit play back is now at .5X. Is this the workflow? And I guess if you were shooting 24, you would just let the deck add the 3:2 pulldown and then have your KONA remove the pulldown upon capture (if you wanted to edit in 24). Then to use the slo-mo footage shot at 60 in a 24 edit, you would do the .5X play back/capture method but just interpret the captured footage as 24. This would give you .4X slow-mo in 24 versus .5X slow-mo in the 30 edit. This whole process ignores TC (how would you reconform for HD?), and audio capture isn't an problem for the normal speed footage I assume. Is the play back at .5X on the AJ-HD130 without any noise?
The Variable FRC is the puzzle piece for working in HD? I'm guessing you would want to use the FRC to upconvert to 1080p/24 to edit (assuming you shot in 24) and then output with a 3:2 pulldown to 1080i/60 on your 150 or 130. There doesn't seem to be a real workflow for editing 24 in 720p unless you remove the 3:2 pulldown while capturing and add it back on output (just like in SD...feature for KONA HD?). Otherwise, you could capture 2.5X as much data (60p v 24p) and edit with the pulldown in place!
You've hit the nail on the head as far as workflow goes. We make a sub-master of all over-cranked material, laid off from the 150 at whatever playback speed is desired; 50%, 40%, 20%, etc. The sub-master is then used for editing and it's time-code becomes the "master" for going back to the project at a later time.
Does the FRC do a better job at this? I don't know; I'm going to get one in for test purposes and I'll report the results.
For under-cranked material, we just play the deck normally; since the material is already recorded in the camera's deck at 60 fps, no further processing is required.
I've been using this procedure for over a year now without a hitch.
Sorry that I can't address HD as yet.
You are correct regarding the FRC if your intention is to extract the original frames and remove the additional ones repeated created during acquisition. Their is a world of difference when viewing images via the FRC versus the native 60P material.
Panasonic has a CD on the varicam which demonstrates and explains the FRC.