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P2 vs. DVCPRO HD tape

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Chris Monette
P2 vs. DVCPRO HD tape
on Mar 14, 2008 at 2:50:26 pm

Hi There,

We're thinking about our migration in the land of HD and I see that a lot of people are going the P2 route. I'm having a little difficulty getting my head around the benefits of this. Can any one out there tell me what the pros and cons of P2 vs DVCPRO HD tape are? I've noticed that getting the video into an edit system is easy and fast, but there seems to be a labour intensive backup process that shooting on tape seems to overcome - by this I mean that by shooting on tape you always have a backup of the raw material and you can always just re-dig if something catastrophic happen, unlike the P2 cards, which have to be transferred and backed up with a DLT or Blu-ray DVD, etc.

BTW, the digging process is valuable to me as it gives me a chance to see everything in realtime and begin to make edits in my head. Getting footage on to the system quickly is a nice perk, but not essential.

Thanks in advance,

Chris




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Dan Brockett
Re: P2 vs. DVCPRO HD tape
on Mar 14, 2008 at 3:06:53 pm

Hi Chris:

I have been shooting a lot of P2 for the past three years. I own an HVX-200 and regularly shoot also with the Varicam and HDX-900.

At the last production company I worked at, we shot P2 and archived it out to DVCProHD tape, how's that for a backwards workflow?

Benefits of P2
Great for shooting - instantaneous response
Can use loop record and not miss the beginning of an event
Easy review and management of clips as you shoot
Only way to use a previously $60,000.00 Varicam codec in a $5,000.00 camera
Most beautiful slow motion, time lapse and VFR you can imagine
Instant ingest for editing
P2 cards, in long run, are cheaper than tape to shoot with

Downsides to P2
Long term archive must go back to tape, either DVCProHD or LTO
Must dump P2 cards as you shoot unless you have a lot of cards (this is becoming less and less of an issue as 32GB and soon 64GB cards become available)
Cards are another significant capital cost
Reader for MBP with Duel Adapter/PC with PCMCIA slot is easy, but for reader for MacPro or PC towers, you must tie up a camera or invest in fairly expensive readers. Most people use a laptop to dump P2 as they shoot so this may or may not be an issue for you
Short term working format becomes hard drives. You must probably invest in a lot of drives. I only consider P2 safe if you always have at least two copies of the media, a working drive and a backup drive.

In a way, it doesn't matter if you get P2 or not, in production, tape is rapidly dying. In a few years, tape will be an antique rarity. It would probably not be a smart near term decision to invest in tape decks and cameras and other than HDV, tape cameras are becoming more and more rare. Panasonic's entire line of camcorders will be non-tape, I think they are only making a few tape models at the moment and after NAB with the introduction of the DVX replacement, I think that might be it as far as tape cameras for them.

Best,

Dan


Providing value added material to all of your favorite DVDs


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Al Hodges
Re: P2 vs. DVCPRO HD tape
on Aug 18, 2010 at 5:53:53 pm

Very cool thank you. I think Im ready to switch to my P2 after reading; this post was more helpful than the companies site.


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Bob Seabold
Re: P2 vs. DVCPRO HD tape
on Mar 14, 2008 at 3:22:48 pm

I'm certainly not as experienced as others here, however these are the advantages for myself...

The advantages are many.

You do not need an HD deck to get the footage in...pretty substantial cost savings...

You have the flexibility of shooting in a variety of formats (DV, DV25, DVCPRO50, 720, 1080)...you can shoot progressive or interlaced, different framerates.

You can shoot natively to the P2 card (PN) as opposed to the varicam which shoots "over 60p"

Reviewing in the field puts no wear and tear on the heads, cause there aren't any!

No making the client (or yourself) wait for rewinding and recuing in the field...press a button -- choose your clip -- play it -- click a button and go back to shooting...no timecode worries...

With the larger P2 cards being available you may not have to move data around in the field.

You add the possibility of editing in the field...checking chromakey etc. for less cost...(bring your laptop with NLE)

The biggest disadvantage for me is the tape/archive problem...we are all pretty comfortable with tape...I just use multiple harddrives for now...and have had no problems. Most of the problems I've come across in my day to day business are user errors. It reminds me of film back when I used to be an AC...There is a particular workflow that needs to be followed, after all when working with film there were chances to ruin the footage...we were just careful and methodical.

Those are the ones just off the top of my head...

Good Luck!!

Bob Seabold





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Chris Monette
Thanks Dan and Bob
on Mar 14, 2008 at 3:57:58 pm

Thanks for your replies.

The cameras we are interested in are the HDX 900 (tape based) and the HPX 500 (P2 based). As I understand it, both of these cameras record in the same HD and SD formats, so I don;t feel we are losing anything in terms of quality.

In terms of archiving, this is the strategy we were thinking of if we went P2: We shoot, transfer the footage to the edit system (FCP 6) and then backup all of the footage to a large capacity firewire drive (like a lacie 1 tb drive, which here in Canada I can get for $350). Do you think that this is a viable strategy?

Also, we like to do offlines in the DV codec (25mbs). With tape, we can dig at that resolution and then just hi-res when we are ready. Can you do this with the P2? That is, can we shoot in full HD (1080i@100mbs), transfer it to FCP in a DV sized codec and then later hi-res only the footage that makes it into the final video?

Thanks

Chris






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Jim Carswell
Re: Thanks Dan and Bob
on Mar 14, 2008 at 4:40:56 pm

Chris,
Regarding your desire to offline. FCP handles DVCPROHD just as easily as it does DV. So, for most people offlining has become an arcane strategy for post production. By onlining from the beginning you are saving a lot of time and effort.

Also, if I'm not mistaken the HDX900 is more on par with the HPX2000 not the HPX500. You might want to look into the tech differences between the HPX2000 and HPX500. It really depends on what you want to do with the camera.

Jim

Jim Carswell
Spyhop Productions, Inc.
Savannah, GA
http://www.spyhopproductions.com


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Bob Seabold
Re: Thanks Dan and Bob
on Mar 14, 2008 at 10:10:42 pm

The HDX900 only does 1080i and 720p...so HD only...no variable frame rates.

HPX500 is like the hvx200...does hd and sd and variable frame rates and progressive and interlaced...except the hvx200 does dv to tape as well as p2.

HPX2000 does hd and sd...not sure but I think that it does not do variable frame rates but it has more pixels than the hpx500...1 million versus 600,000

I've used the hdx900, hpx500 and hvx200 but not the 2000...

I really liked the 500 for its versatility/cost (like the hvx200)...



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Dan Brockett
Re: Thanks Dan and Bob
on Mar 15, 2008 at 11:45:09 pm

Jim has it right.

The whole beauty of shooting with P2 is that DVCProHD codec is so small, efficient and easy to work with. The prod co I worked at for the last three years had eight AVID Xpress DV systems laying around so we did do the off-lines on them at DV res and then used the DVCProHD format material for the on-line on a Nitris Symphony. It was a stupid workflow and I told the owner for years to switch to FCP to avoid all of this unnecessary labor but hey, it wasn't my company.

The HPX-2000 and 3000 are beautiful cameras that create really nice images but unfortunately both lack VFR, which once you shoot with, its hard to give it up.

The HDX is a great camera, I used four of those on the Family Guy 100th Show special. Beautiful images and nice camera but who wants to buy an outdated camera? Tape is really going away quickly.

I was at the first RED LA User Group today and the turnout was really healthy. Of course RED is not the most practical solution for EPK but if you are in that price range, depending on what kind of work you do, it should be considered as well.

I really like the HPX-500. I wish that it had bigger CCDs but the performance that it gets from the CCDs that it has can be impressive. And most importantly, the HPX has VFR! The HDX and HPX-2000 and 3000 do not. Strange product grouping from Panasonic. The two cheapest P2 cameras do have it and the two most expensive ones dont.

Best,

Dan



Providing value added material to all of your favorite DVDs


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Dave Neyman
Re: Thanks Dan and Bob
on Mar 15, 2008 at 1:38:04 pm

[Chris Monette] "In terms of archiving, this is the strategy we were thinking of if we went P2: We shoot, transfer the footage to the edit system (FCP 6) and then backup all of the footage to a large capacity firewire drive (like a lacie 1 tb drive, which here in Canada I can get for $350). Do you think that this is a viable strategy? "

I would consider buying a raid 1 system (mirrored). That way, once the data leaves the P2 card it is backed up in two places. If one drive goes bad you've got one more chance to save it. I have used this system this with over 30 TB of data and not had a problem (knock on wood). I sleep easier knowing that it is in two places.

I use a Sans-Digital raid and 500 GB or 750 GB drives that I just swap out as needed. Just label each set "A" and "B" and you are good to go. I then use a Sans-Digital single drive reader to read the files into FCP. The other drive goes in a safe place. Even using two drives, the cost is cheaper than tape.



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David Jones
Re: Thanks Dan and Bob
on Mar 15, 2008 at 3:51:13 pm

I haven't used the new P2's ether but, I have been doing research into the differences between all the new cameras out there. I recommend checking out the comparson chart at Fletcher Chicago http://www.fletcher.com. It covers every camera from the Panisonic HVX-200 to the ARRI 20D. You'll find the 900, Varicam, and the 2000 to be pretty much the same in terms of quality. For my projects (documentaries), I'm planning on using the 3000.


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Rennie Klymyk
Re: Thanks Dan and Bob
on Mar 16, 2008 at 8:08:29 pm

Thanks for the post but it's fletch.com for their web site not fletcher.com which takes you to an investment company. (we have better things to invest in)


http://www.fletch.com/images/HD_Camera_Comparson_Chart.pdf


"everything is broken" ......Bob Dylan


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Bob Seabold
Re: Thanks Dan and Bob
on Mar 15, 2008 at 5:54:29 pm

I use the caldigit firewire vr in the field and the s2vr on my edit system...

Bob Seabold



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Rich Rubasch
Re: P2 to Tape etc
on Mar 17, 2008 at 2:02:19 am

Ok, so I had three hours of 720P footage on a SLOW USB drive from a client. It took nearly 6 hours to log and transfer all the clips. I just double clicked them all and added them to the cue.

Then I strung them out onto 1 hour sequences matching the footage. Since the source timecodes were sequential I set up the start timecode in the sequences and they had continuous unbroken timecode that matched the source clips.

I output the three 1 hour sequences to DVCProHD tape. Took about three hours for the output.

So now I have three one hour tapes with essentially a clone of all the footage with matching timecode. We can delete the material on the hard drive and use it for a new project.

We will use this broll footage now in an SD project (DVCPro50) with some interview footage shot on a Varicam (tape). So having the tape is valuable now to upload just what we need at DVCPro50. Later, these tapes can be valuable as broll in an SD or HD project, and they can be stored with the other original Varicam tapes so the project stays together.

There have been quite a few posts about P2 workflow issues, but for us, getting this footage onto a tape that can be used later as SD or HD without having to warehouse a bunch of hard drives makes a lot of sense. The importing of clips has to be done regardless, so the extra time of basically outputting the footage and the cost of a tape is worth the peace of mind having a tape as a source.

Final thoughts...

I might be unique, but we do projects for other production companies....we are sort of a boutique with special skills. We plug into many different workflows. Hands down I'd rather have a tape than ANY hard drive. I think shooters and production guys are the ones saying "tape is going to be dead" like a broken record. Post guys and gals want a tape.

I have received 720 P footage (which is way less resolution than 1080i) because the shooters only had two 16 gig cards and 1080i "takes up too much space on the cards". The rest of the project was 1080i on tape from a HDX900.

"Tape is cheap" seems to apply these days over those cards that no one seems to have enough of.

Then, when we get a hard drive from a client with P2 footage, it is usually one of those super cheap USB only deals that have the slowest transfer times ever! Now it's the post house's responsibility to transfer that footage all day. Now if I had Firewire 800 drives that's another thing...

Dan suggested that the P2 card means "instant ingest for editing"..,in my 17 years of experience there is no such thing in this industry as "instant". Please do not tell your clients on the shoot that this new fangled camera you're lugging around makes the post process "instant". We will be upset when you hand us your $89 USB drive with 250 gigs of P2 card footage and the client expects "instant" gratification.

We are still editing an awful lot of SD around these parts. I like both ProRes and DVCPro50 for our SD projects. I prefer a tape to digitize from. I only take what I want, at the resolution I want. If I have a 1080i project and I have 720P tapes, I can let the deck or the KONA card do the conversion to the right format. Doing it on the FCP timeline or in compressor is much less "instant".

Many people suggest hard drives for back up. Great. But I will guarantee that after you have about a dozen or so hard drives on the shelf you will be back wondering if there is a better way than to keep buying up these hard drives...and how do you catalog all those drives? And should you start charging the client for those drives? A $30 tape is understandable, but now you want to charge me for a $200 hard drive? That might fail? How many posts do you read about failed hard drives? How many for a failed tape? ANY?

I'm feeling like an old fogey writing this, but I trust tape, it is versatile for SD or HD projects and it is cheap.

And please don't EVER call the P2 workflow "instant"...honestly, it's just not.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media



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Dan Geller
Re: P2 to Tape etc
on Mar 20, 2008 at 1:09:41 am

I wish the 3000 had tape built in as well as P2. Tape is king for long-form work, field documentary work, work that a client needs in hand to take away. Hard drives fail - even just sitting on the shelf. We do ingest everything to Rorke HDX arrays, so that's great for redundant and fast near-term storage. For studio long-term archiving, we have LTO3, but that's a clumsy way to create a non-flash based near-term asset.

Yes - having a Panny deck or Kona card up/down/cross convert in realtime is also a huge advantage. P2 and other flash media could be fine if prices drop drastically so that it becomes the equivalent of tape - write once, never record over it. I see why news stations like P2 because they often do record over their tapes and are dumping daily to NLEs. I see why feature film sets can deal with flash recording because they have the budgets for an IT person to be shuffling and archiving on set or overnight. But for the many, many of us in documentary production we don't want to shoot all day only to stay up all night getting data off cards to drives or tapes. And for corporate productions, where footage often needs to go to a post-house right after the shoot - tape again makes more sense.

That's why we're shooting our current documentary on the HDX900 - renting it - and have delayed our Red order and not jumped at the Panny 3000 either. If Flash gets super cheap, then tape can be proclaimed as dead for field acquisition - though not for archiving (LTO3/4, etc.)


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