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Erich Roland
New Products
on Feb 12, 2009 at 9:20:15 pm

Dear Panasonic, (open letter) Part 1

My Name is Erich Roland, I work as a Cinematographer in “long form” Documentary segment (mostly) with 33 years of service notched onto my belt. Thank you for the Varicam. This camera was ground breaking and has been my primary tool for the last 7-8 years shooting 95% of everything I work on. Until the Varicam came out most of us from the “film” community were unhappy with the look of video and this camera gave us the tool to help make the inevitable transition into tape and HD a bit easier. This camera still looks great and has set the standard.

I also own/run a small camera rental house in Washington DC, the combination of these two positions offers me a decent seat and view towards the market place, or at least a corner of the general market here in DC, and in the documentary segment of our business. (I have little experience in the broadcast world) The Sony Betacam (200-600 series) was the only video camera of choice for a solid 15 years. When HD came into play the F-900 or the Varicam were basically the High-Def choices for roughly the next 8-10 years. This made choosing a camcorder system relatively easy, and therefore easy sales for both Panasonic and Sony.

The number of products that Panasonic have rolled out in the last few years is dizzying. In this respect Sony has done a much better job in clearly defining a camera for a certain segment of the market (no matter the merits). The f900r still holds the “top of the ladder” position for Sony’s portable, 2/3 inch “one piece” camera system. The Sony blu-ray 700 is slated to be the mid level camera, and then the mini camera’s where too many models has made that segment very confusing for Sony as well as Panasonic. If you’re in the market to buy a 2/3” Sony product, the decision is very easy to choose which model to purchase.

Within Panasonic’s current HD line up we have 7 cameras in the (2/3”) camera line up. Varicam, HDX-900, HPX-2000, HPX-3000, HPX-3700, HPX-2700, and the HPX-500. Our rental business depends on staying on (or near) the front edge of what people want to work with, and I’m a user also. I’ve been engaged in this conversation a lot lately with our rental clients (including other cameraman) and many people are as unsure as I am about what to own (or shoot with) going forward with Panasonic products. In order to have my bases covered for rentals I should buy 3 more Panasonic models beyond what we currently offer.

With the economy looking scary and ever dollar being scrutinized I don’t want to invest in extra cameras to have the many models clients may (or may not) ask for. With the Panasonic product line it will cost us twice as much to cover my bases and twice as long to recoup our investment for the SAME amount of demand. Not good business choices for me (I’m writing out of this frustration). The result of too many choices is I’m buying NO new Panasonic cameras right now. In the 1/3" camera (mini's) segment its even crazier with yet another camera just announced yesterday.

(see part 2)


Erich Roland
http://www.dc-camera.com
HD camera rentals, Washington DC


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Erich Roland
Re: New Products
on Feb 12, 2009 at 9:27:57 pm

Dear Panasonic (part 2)

I’ve never written to a manufacturer before, or ever felt the need. P2 is not a mature record medium and many producers and cameraman DO NOT want to use it. I believe you needed to (begin) to phase out tape with combo (P2/tape) camcorders for a period before eliminating the tape option once P2 is clearly mature. I don’t know how many of these cameras you have sold, but I’d venture to guess that it would be 20-30% more if you’d combined a tape transport into these new Varicam products. I know a lot of people who feel the same way.


If designing a camera system were my responsibility I would clearly define what part of the market each camera is designed for and take away competing cameras out of the line up. Tape is not dead, and I think it's a mistake for Panasonic to try and force it out before its natural time to go.

This is what you should be selling right now.

- High end (45-50k). A 2.2 million-pixel camera that records to both P2 and tape, that also has higher frame rates. There must be a way to offer a higher frame rate (maybe120fps) while giving up resolution or adding compression (when using higher fps) to keep the data rate down... and all in the SAME camera. I look to RED as to what’s possible. For those who prefer tape they could shoot all the 24/30 shooting to the tape drive, and when its time to over or under-crank you switch to P2 and do your “Native” off speed or variable rates with the higher data rates possibly being more compressed, etc.

- Mid level (25k). A 1.1 million sensor with both tape and P2, maybe with less cine gamma function or other bells and whistles to keep the 2 cameras further apart and define clearly their market position. Up to 60FPS on the mid level.

If you had these cameras available above I would make an order TODAY for 2 of each, but instead I am frozen in fear of buying the wrong product because currently each camera offered is too specialized, or not adaptable enough and has competing models in the same space. Having the P2 broadcast versions (2000, 3000) come out before the Varicams has confused our market. Then offering the lesser pixel camera (2700) with higher frame rates has made the decision of which camera (if you were to just buy one) a very difficult choice, because who doesn't want the 2 mil pixels?

It’s never too late to be smarter about your product line.

Just one guy’s opinion.

Sincerely, Erich Roland
Dc-camera


Erich Roland
http://www.dc-camera.com
HD camera rentals, Washington DC


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John Cummings
Re: New Products
on Feb 14, 2009 at 2:02:36 am

Erich-

Just in case you think you're a lonely voice in the forest, rest assured you're not.

And good luck tilting that windmill.

J Cummings
Cameralogic/Chicago
cameralogic.tv
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50


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Chris Bell
Re: New Products
on Feb 14, 2009 at 4:15:46 am

I too concur with your assessment. There are way too many options, the line is too fragmented. We need a high end version of the new 300. A 2/3" 1080p camera that records both 1080p and 720p. Tape would be good too, but clearly there will be no more innovation in that department.



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David Jones
Re: New Products
on Feb 14, 2009 at 6:47:04 am

While I disagree about having a P2/tape deck camera, mostly because when tape does finally die, you're stuck lugging around a useless tape deck on your shoulder (I'm not even sure they could put both in a camera body, anyway), I couldn't AGREE more about the number of choices of cameras from Panasonic.

What I think happened, is that the name Varicam became so popular, that they had to come out with a camera just with that name on it. Even though, the HPX3000 should have been looked upon as the tapeless replacement of the Varicam. Why there are two versions, though (the 2700 & 3700), I don't get. And now the HPX300 with, still, 1/3 chips. Panasonic REALLY needs to re-think that.

I don't know what the answer is; they can't just start discontinuing cameras (like the 2000 and 3000) without causing even more angst among users. But, you're not alone in your frustration.


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Joseph Farris
Re: New Products
on Feb 15, 2009 at 12:34:29 am

Couldn't agree more. Just wanted to throw my name to the list of frustrated shooters.

Joseph Farris
Director of Photograhy
Visions of Light, Inc.
http://www.visionsoflightinc.com


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Ethan Sigman
Re: New Products
on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:33:21 pm

you have made two different points. they are related but not as intertwined as you would suggest. There is the conversion to tapless, and the number of cameras.

Tape won't go away for a while, so if you really love your million dollar deck and your tape transports, you can use and repair them for years to come- they become perversely more expensive to repair but cheaper to replace as people trade out and more used gear is available.

The simple answer to all the complaints is that Panny has given everyone more options. When it comes to options (and all other "normal" economic goods)- more is always better. While i agree that your rental customers are probably a bit confused, part of the new burden of technology operators is to educate. It seems a simple sale to say "sony gives you small medium and large, while panny gives you every option under the sun for technology, features, and budget." The 300 is a CMOS chip. CMOS is lower power and lower heat technology and therefore can be cycled faster without requiring the same cooling (fan noise, more power). this is how red accomplishes its feature set so while you say you look to red for what is possible, panasonic has done that already, and probably before red- except they invested far more in R&D before releasing the product- we all know the first reds were all but unusable.....

CMOS is an overall more efficient chip but it comes with a rolling shutter, IR sensitivity, color reproduction, and a higher propensity to smear downside.

1/3" and shoulder mount are to fill the void that Zacuto has been feeding on. I am one of the suckers with the $4000 shoulder mount studio rig added to $5000 "handheld" camera . Only 3 servo speeds on an HVX/hpx leave plenty of desire for real lenses- its pretty easy to see how this camera makes sense. While i also own a 2700 and find this disconcerting on some level, i think the camera represents a general swelling of the video industry, which always requires more and more specific tools, and volume always puts pressure on pricing.

Incidentally, i will be playing with a 300 today, and will post some pics and thoughts here and over at http://www.VaricamUser.com and at http://www.ProductionMeeting.com

http://www.EZSproductions.com
http://www.productionmeeting.com/profile/EthanSigman


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Erich Roland
Re: New Products
on Feb 18, 2009 at 11:21:55 pm

Ethan, you make good points, and obviously know a lot about these cameras, more then I do. I'm just a DP who feels like he doesn't see the product he wants to buy on the horizon. (and business is slow so I have time to talk to people and think about this stuff)

Its interesting and scary times in this declining economy. Companies are going out of business and unemployment is going up. Those who are in strong financial positions and able to play defensive will survive to play another day. Those stretched out too far may very well have problems surviving in the coming months and years. Business is bad in every corner of our economy today, except for the bankruptcy lawyers.

Suffice to say, I wouldn’t want to be the company counting on new technologies taking root, and relying on big CAPX spending to get up to speed with new gear to basically deliver what customers had already in a slightly different shape.

P2 and flash recording is fairly new to this industry and many are resistant to this change. Digital tape recording wasn’t broken, and isn’t in current need of fixing. I’m not saying P2 doesn’t have its place in this world it absolutely does. Not only does it, but I can easily see the future coming fast with some sort of flash record device, and it will be great. It will be cheaper then today’s P2, easier in the field (no transferring because it will be cheap enough), auto archiving, meta data everywhere, etc, etc. And it could be as close as the next step in the technology. Put I don’t think we are there right now, because a lot of people I know including myself who have used P2 still prefer to shoot tape, and I don’t see that changing dramatically in the near future anyway.

I believe Panasonic is trying to force this change upon us, but I (for one) think that’s a mistake they may soon regret, because they seem to have put all eggs in the P2 basket going forward. I have nothing against this company in fact I love the (tape) Varicam product, and rely heavily on Panasonic products in rentals. I’m motivated to speak out because I want them to survive and have good products that help me do well in my business, and in yours.

But I think they are (1) spreading themselves too thin, (2) producing products that miss the mark of what’s needed today as in trying to force P2 and not allowing tape to decline when its ready to go, i.e., a combo drive Varicam would be the perfect solution to ease the inevitable transition. (3) They are spending a lot of RD and sales energy on things like “intra” record codec technology or 4;4:4 cameras that isn’t really as important as having the features we want in a camera. (My opinion, don’t get yourself worked up Jeremy).

The “intra” codec is a very positive step in “field acquisition” technology for sure. There are arena’s at the acquisition stage where having a master quality original recording is important. Shooting green screen is one of those places. Shooting for mattes, or heavy layering is another similar angle. Producing for a big screen release is a reason to consider every part of the chain and every piece of hardware and software involved in the process, certainly the record codec.

Up till “intra” arrived the only way to step above HD-cam in the field was to rent a very expensive Sony SR 2 piece system and lug it around. So this kind of recording was left to those who REALLY needed a Master quality record codec, and of coarse post mastering. Id guess there are maybe 200 of these portable SR systems in the entire world today (if that). In other words, we didn’t really need this higher end record codec in the field for basic field shooting. For the same reasons we don’t need 4:4:4 output in our field cameras. This is also a waste of technology in all but studio special purpose cameras and recorders. Mainstream doesn’t need it; its “overkill”, and our television networks don’t require it (not yet anyway). Let Phantom and SonySR35, etc do these highest end tricks that sell just a few hundred of cameras total worldwide. If they want to compete in this space then fine don’t call the 3700 a ‘Varicam” and put it in a field size body and shape, etc. The Varicam marketing campaign is confusing to the consumer where Varicam means something else to most who use it.

DVC-pro HD is more then good enough for most if not ALL field shooting in this year 2009. Now that “intra” is here and in our cameras, and working into software and being used, terrific I’m all for better quality recording... but not at the expense of other things we need MORE in field cameras. I don’t blame them for hitting this feature hard in sales talk, but potential buyers should understand its overkill for many if not most field productions. Again, I’ll take it as a free ride, but if it makes the camera more expensive (too late), then leave it off my camera please!

If the choice comes down to a camera with all the features I want that has a less robust codec, vs. a camera that doesn’t have multi formats, and doesn’t have higher frame rates, but has the “intra” codec... this is no contest.... get rid of it.

Bottom line... this new "intra" codec is more capable (in the field) then the network we produce programs for, has spec requirements for.

I’d rather Panasonic had spent the R&D budget, energy and time improving the low light capability, or figuring out how to get us 120 FPS, or developing a 2.2 mil sensor into a mid level camera (without 4:4:4), or the next generation CMOS chip, etc. (OR... make us a 35mm size sensor camera... god forbid do something really cool)

Thanks for listening. And I thank the Cow for hosting this forum that allows me to voice my opinion, which is only that... one guys opinion. I'm just a camera guy.
(Have at it boys)

Peace, Erich


Erich Roland
http://www.dc-camera.com
HD camera rentals, Washington DC
(and Cameraman)


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Ethan Sigman
Re: New Products
on Feb 23, 2009 at 3:12:12 pm

I don't wand to be combative or beat a dead horse, i confess, i love the sport of this debate... I don't disagree that tape was a mature technology that had evolved to manage many of its own shortcomings, though i would debate some of your points.
i think tape shooters, (who basically have a deck in their cam) forget the cost, space, and weight of that deck. if you want to watch your footage, you pop it the cam.... but producers gotta find that deck to see what they have....I find it kind of hard to complain about cost, when a shooter/editor no longer has to think about purchasing a piece of deck gear that cost as much as the camera and only functioned to move your footage to a computer. the cost of that function in $50k decks is astronomical compared to my $110 duel adapter that puts my footage at my fingertips for editing in a shorter process than digitizing and saves me log and capture labeling..... last week i used a 1 terabyte raided bus powered drive to allow me go directly to the train station from my shoot and offload, view, and edit my footage on a train between boston and new york.... you just plain can't do that tape.... so while you say it wasn't "broken".... i would just argue it wasn't capable or affordable for the type of doc work i have been doing lately.

like every piece of gear in production, p2 products need to fit your workflow but i can tell you as a p2 shooter for years now, don't underestimate some of the subtle dynamics of Intra. amongst my bigger issues with P2 is an archive strategy, intra gives me better performance images, and an advantage in the archive space because amazingly the 4x more efficient codec actually means you save drive space compared to dvcpro100 also. so intra is more for less in more dimensions than many realize...... i am not going to tell you that P2 won't make shooters learn more and work a little harder, and i see that shooters who are only shooters don't care about most of the advantages of P2. But if you own the process beyond shooting, p2 pays you back elsewhere. the reality that the post production has heaped more burden onto production, but the whole process is cheaper, faster, and better so if you need to manage media creation from start to finish you appreciate it. Tape shooters don't have to like solid state because, in reality, aside from footage lost in a tape jam, it doesn't help to much- you could get a pretty image captured before and this has not changed. but shooters are going to have to realize that they are part of a much larger process that sees far more benefits to the workflow efficiency- and the world is correctly beginning to recognize and value TIME as the only truly scare resource in the universe.

http://www.EZSproductions.com
http://www.productionmeeting.com/profile/EthanSigman


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John Cummings
Re: New Products
on Feb 23, 2009 at 3:51:48 pm

Thwack
Thwack
Thwack (Flies buzzing)

The sound of a dead horse being beaten.



J Cummings
Cameralogic/Chicago
cameralogic.tv
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50


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Erich Roland
Re: New Products
on Feb 23, 2009 at 4:22:51 pm

Hey Ethan, I like the debate as well, and the horse is still kicking a bit.

You make many good points and I agree with most of them. The world is changing fast, and many people have already adapted to flash record, and reap the benefits every day of fast transfers, immediate edit-ablility, and less storage space. It makes sense for many people, and clearly has an important place in the industry.

You talk about 50k decks, but I can buy a feed deck (Dvc-Pro) used for between 8-12k, or even 15k for a new 1400 if one were starting at square one today. I can only buy like (6) 32gb cards for the price of a used 1200 deck! P2 cards are still way too expensive to be practical (i.e., no transfers in the field).

But, more to the point, there are many of these decks out there working away in post production edit suites, bought and paid for already. And in long form, few of these producers (if any) need to be editing that same day, and.... they don’t have to make an extra step to archive, it’s done. This is how they have worked for many years and it has worked just fine (not broken). These are the people who don’t want to learn a new trick until its field ready for them (or their deck dies), but these decks that have worked just as feeder decks don’t work very much and have many years of life left on them. This is why tape sill lives on, because we have lots of tape based gear that has years of life left, and the reasons to jump ship and move to P2 aren’t solid enough to leave good solid gear behind to do it! P2 isn’t ready yet, and our tape gear works just fine. Add a horrible economy where dinera is tight, forrgget-aaboout-it.....!

To try and scuttle tape before the producers and cameramen who still use it everyday are ready to change is a mistake in my opinion. I think we easily have one more round of product cycle left in tape (2-3 years maybe) before they should think about retiring it alltogether. A combo P2/tape camera would be a perfect transition product. Does't mean they shouldn't have produced P2 (only) cameras, they just should have thought it through a bit more, and even talked to the free lancer rather then just the networks (called “homework” before product commitment).

Your argument seems to be along the lines of “if you had to choose one or the other” then P2 is the logical choice. My argument is, we don’t need to choose one or the other because there is still need for both and in fact the best choice for most freelance owner/operator’s is not to own 2 expensive cameras but to own one that does both P2 and Tape. But Panasonic is short sited (and not too clever), because of all the tape decks and tape cameras still working away out there, in no hurry to change.

I’m afraid in this down economy the reality is that the freelancer is frozen wherever he sits, and not buying into the 2/3” P2 products. But if there were a combo/cam available he would be buying this camera as soon as he could justify the huge quantity of sheckles needed (or gets the big P2 job).

Alas, the perfect time for that transition camera design was at the last NAB. It may not be too late, but just a missed opportunity to have the right product at the right time.

best, Erich


Erich Roland
http://www.dc-camera.com
HD camera rentals, Washington DC
(and Cameraman)


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Ethan Sigman
Re: New Products
on Feb 24, 2009 at 2:50:41 am

ok, my last one on this one. i think we agree much more than we diagree. opposite sides, but close to the middle-in fact, we can team up and be "ideal"- let me know if your in the big apple;)

i would summarize my argument by saying that while p2 is expensive, it is empowering in new and exciting ways and creates many subtle time and cost savings that make it actually cheaper than it appears when applied to a volume of work. I think panasonic attempted to address both your combo cam complaint and the field offload complaint when they gave you the "gear" and the "110". the gear will attach to your camera (albeit, perhaps awkwardly) make it a combo cam that records intra, and simultaneously lets you use your deck to play your archive through the gear to get meta on your legacy footage. it also does byte for byte offload verification. the 110 has 6 p2 slots that do byte for byte verified, automated, field offloads, will edit and hook up to a satellite or drives. don't forget the p2 store, the belt worn verified 60gig drive- though i don't own any...

I don't think Panasonic believes tape is "going away".... they will sell parts for their decks so they can run as long as there is call for them to justify repair and it seems they believe it will live on in the rental market for a long time. i just don't expect them sell the two cams side by side with great success and the reality is that it is cheaper to make the solid state cam. car manufacturers don't sell the old model anymore either, it just sort of seems reasonable, though perhaps not required. tape transports are high precision tolerances, they cost a lot to manufacture and are prone to break. not to mention to cost of tape stock. i would point out that the original varicam sold for 70 grand, plus the cost of the deck which i might be overestimating somewhat but, regardless, it pushed the price of the camera toward 100k, and it had a 1 year warranty. a new 2700 lists for 40k and comes with a 5 year warranty because solid state is seriously reliable. consider the cost of ownership with no repair costs ammortized over 5 years. to me it is like when i got a digital still camera, even the first one that shot to the 1.44 mb floppy disks. it only fit a couple pics, disks weren't that cheap, had to be backed up etc, etc, but you could delete your bad ones, offload the good ones, and re-use the disks and i shot my face off with what felt like no marginal operating costs compared film. it didn't look like film but shooting more pictures for less money was the way to shoot more overall.

I agree tape is great for some things and p2 is a compromise in some ways also, i just argue that it saves you time and money too and the features in the "pros" category of p2 are the features that have more "mojo" with me, making the "cons" a worthy price. cheers, catch you on the next one.

Ethan

http://www.EZSproductions.com
http://www.productionmeeting.com/profile/EthanSigman


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kevin bachar
Re: New Products
on Feb 24, 2009 at 6:36:55 pm

Dear Erich,

I think what happens on some of these threads is the difference between what you and I consider shooting out in the "field" and what others consider "field" production. For shooter/producers like us the "field" means jungle, in tents, powering off a 20 year old honda generator that only runs 6 hours a day to conserve fuel. While for many others the field is out in their city and back to their facility or hotel room at the end of the day. This is where P2 cards and tape diverge. I'm not sure where my savings are on the P2 front if as some broadcasters still require a tape based delivery. So I'm saving time on ingesting into my NLE at the head of the post, but then I'm making 50 to 80 tapes at the end for delivery.

Again, to make it clear. I am not anti solid state. Our series for A&E Jacked! was shot with three EX1 cams and we shot in Newark and handed off the cards to be dowloaded every night and then back out again the next day. I couldn't imagine shooting it any other way. I'm also not anti Panasonic as I own a Varicam as well as a SONY 900.

The fact is I would love the Panasonic Varicam 2700 if the P2 cost the same as the EX1/3 SxS cards. But they don't. I would also love the PDW 700 if it shot variable frame rates and was classified as Gold by certain networks. But it isn't. To make a purchase for a less than top of the line camera does not make sense for me or many other owner operators. So the HPX 500 or 300 or the Panasonic 3000...or the PDW 700 don't really work, because so many clients don't look at them as the best. And the truth is if a client will accept a lesser format but I offer them the F900 or the Varicam they will never say no, but there is no way to make that work the other way. My two cents.

Kevin Bachar - http://www.pangolinpictures.com



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Tom Kaufman
Re: New Products
on Feb 25, 2009 at 3:54:36 pm

Guys, I have to chime in for a moment. As long as the cost of P2 cards remains as high as it does, and as long as the material shot on P2 needs to be archived in some less-volatile format, I do not see any cost savings. If a producer adds a crew person in charge of data wrangling, the cost is higher still.

Of course, the price of P2 will come down. But to make it feasible, we need a P2 card that can hold 30 minutes of material and cost about the same as a 30 minute tape. It's all about the hand-off. Now, some shooters will edit their own material, and for them P2 may be a good thing. But I'm a just a shooter, and at the end of the day/shoot, the producer takes the material and walks. I have friends who shoot P2, one of them saw a problem in the field -- a card wasn't reading correctly -- the producer wanted to take the shooter's P2 card with him. My friend said fine, and didn't get his card back for about 6 months.

I see Panny's efforts at P2 as their wanting to stay ahead of the curve. That's good. But I do feel we're being forced to accept P2 when it serves Panny's interests better than it serves our own.

The idea of a camera that does both makes a world of sense. Probably why we'll never see it.

Yes, the day will come when we're all shooting tapeless. Expensive decks will be a thing of the past, CF cards will be cheap, and back-up archives will blend seamlessly into the post chain. But until then, could we hold off on trumpeting the "death" of Varicam?


Cheers,





Tom Kaufman,
DP


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Helmut Kobler
Re: New Products
on Feb 27, 2009 at 8:55:39 am

Tom, what happens if the producer brings his/her own P2 cards, and simply hands them to you when you're ready to shoot? That way, the media resides on the producer's property, and they take it with them at the end of the day. Problem solved. It requires a change in the way things currently work between *some* producers and freelancers, but that change brings many benefits.

I'm working for a production company that puts around 50 shows per year on networks like History and Discovery. They spend a lot of money on DVCPRO HD tape (which they buy and supply to their freelance cameramen across the country) and could save half of that cost in the first 1-2 years simply by buying a bunch of P2 cards (even at today's prices, which are likely to drop by NAB). This company would also save a ton of money by seriously downscaling the tape dubbing room that runs 12 hours a day.

Yes, archival would be treated differently than simply putting a tape on a shelf. But even small companies are beginning to put SANs in place, and creating a long-term backup strategy using LTO-4 tapes would not be a big step beyond that.

Imagine: 5 64GB P2 cards hold 12 hours of 720P material. They come back from the field and are plugged into a 5 card P2 reader, which offloads the video in a single hour onto a blazing fast, ultra secure RAID 6 SAN, which every editing station can access. At the same time, the footage is automatically converted into small MPEG-4 proxy files, with timecode burn, which are instantly emailed to any producers attached to the project, along with a transcription company. These proxies also get quickly incorporated into a database of company-wide footage, so any employee can see any shot the company has ever recorded, right from their desk. At some interval, the project also gets backed up to an LTO-4 tape (800 TB per tape...ie, 12.5 hours of full 1080 footage). When the project is done, everything is again archived to a couple of tapes (as opposed to 40 or so tapes), and those sit safely on a shelf somewhere, up to 30 years.

This is all very possible now, at affordable cost, and more and more companies are going to go this way in the next couple of years. And P2 tech works FAR better in this sort of scheme than tape, or even XDCAM disk. It's a different animal, and it doesn't work if you try to force it into the same tape-based workflow that's been used since....what, the 70s? It requires a different workflow, but if you're willing to make the investment, it can definitely pay off.








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Tom Kaufman
Re: New Products
on Feb 27, 2009 at 4:35:59 pm

Helmut,

You raise some valid points here. And I don't mean to say that P2 has no place in the grand scheme of things. With example you mentioned, I can see P2 working well for that producer. I did a P2 shoot over the summer that was much like what you're describing.

But in your example, who is doing the data wrangling? If it's the producer, does s/he have enough hands on deck to allow her/him the time to load P2 cards onto a hard drive? And if the answer is yes, would that producer have saved money by shooting tape and not needing as much help on set?

As to savings, I'm not sure that the amount of money you save by not having to use tape at the front end of the shoot is more than the amount you'll have to pay in storage at the back end.

I have no doubt that, someday, we will all be shooting direct to cards/disks, it makes sense this will happen. Bu the lack of standardization means the market will have to shake out some formats while others survive. As an owner of Panasonic products, I have a vested interest in their survival. That's why I'm disturbed by their totally tapeless line-up of cameras.

Just one camera guy's opinion, of course!


Tom


http://www.thomaskaufman.com




Tom Kaufman,
DP


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Helmut Kobler
Re: New Products
on Feb 28, 2009 at 5:31:22 am

Hi Tom,

As for the data wrangling, that's exactly why I mentioned 64GB p2 cards in my example. With 5 of those cards, you can shoot for almost 12 hours at 720 (30p). At 1080, it's a little less than 6 hours. That's a lot of footage, and many productions would have a hard time filling it all up in a single day. Given this, the field producer wouldn't have to worry about data wrangling. They simply bring the cards back to the office at the end of the day, and then do the transfer and erase the cards there (or the post guy does that).

I realize not *all* productions can work in 6 or 12 hour blocks at a time, but a lot can. For instance, at this company I work for, I recently tracked the typical number of tapes a field producer brings back from a shoot (these shoots take place all around the country). It's very very rare that a producer brings back more than 5 hours of taped material at a time (10 DVCPRO tapes), so that would easily fit within P2's 5 card capacity. I also think a decent P2 cameraman is going to be able to get his/her shots using less hours/minutes, thanks to P2's ease of erasing bad clips, and the interval recording features which let you keep recording into a buffer constantly, but hit the record button only when you see a good shot taking place. If tape-based shooters had these features, I think they would come back with even less tape.

So what about the times when a producer is away from the office for more than 6 or 12 hours worth of footage. In that case, the cameraman can take along a Raid 1 drive (two mirrored disks in one enclosure), like this miniature one that uses 2.5" drives:

http://www.cooldrives.com/2usb2alrahdd.html

Or this one that uses 3.5" drives:
http://www.icydock.com/product/mb662us-2s.html

There are plenty of other options.

Anyway, just dump the cards off to the drive directly from the camera. Or you can take along a P2 Gear or a laptop and avoid using the camera as the drives. Any cameraman in the digital age should be able to handle this, and it woudn't take long to train a field producer.

I guess I just don't see the big deal with making this work. With 64GB cards, so many productions can get away without data wrangling during the day.

One more thing: I really have my doubts that a Panasonic tape/P2 hybrid would sell. It would require a tape drive like a Varicam, plus all the circuitry that supports the cards as well. That means it would be bigger and heavier than a normal camera, the ergonomics wouldn't be great for one format or the other, and it would certainly cost more. You wouldn't get a 5 year warranty either (God I love that...5 years!). I think when faced with those compromises, most shooters would simply choose a "pure" solution--either tape or P2.

But that, too, is just one guy's opinion! ;-)





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Tom Kaufman
Re: New Products
on Feb 28, 2009 at 9:43:24 pm

Helmut, you make a good case for P2. But if you're out in the filed shooting P2 all day, who is it that downloads the cards at night, prior to the next day's shoot. If you're doing documentary television production, then you know what a slog it can be -- often days run over 10 hours. It's too much to ask someone who's been out in the field all day to stay up for X hours more and transfer that material to hard drive, then go out again the next day. So, I guess I'm asking, in a multi-day shoot, wouldn't you need either a data-wrangle on location, or someone back at the hotel to do the transfer to hard drive?


thanks,


Tom


Tom Kaufman,
DP


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Erich Roland
Re: New Products
on Mar 1, 2009 at 5:06:00 pm

Helmut, All your P2 arguments make perfect sense, but your talking to mostly camera guys who come from a different place. Your trying to convince folks who somewhat don’t care, and are just trying to make a living. It’s not a question of convincing me what’s better, in fact I shouldn’t give a hoot one way or another, I do have an opinion but it really doesn’t matter what I think (ok, Id rather not do transfers in the field). If you haven’t worked as a freelance cameraman you may not get our point of view and long establish way of doing this business of shooting other peoples projects for a living.

What matters most to us.... is that we have the equipment available to service our client’s format choice for their project, and it needs to fit our business model. I don't want to be in a position where I have to convince a client anything. You see, a large share of this business is serviced by freelance (independent) cameraman, and the client who hires us usually dictates what camera they want to shoot and/or what format to shoot on. Those who support P2 in this thread are most likely either Post people or independent production companies where they can shoot whatever they choose. Many freelance Camera folks can only afford one very expensive full size camera, and probably another mini system.

For the last 6 years or so most of the work I’ve done (and what my clients ask for) is shot with the Varicam or F900. Things have shifted a bit in the last 1.5 years may now be split between the HDX-900 and the Varicam with a bit less going to the F900. Here on march 1st 2009, easily 95% of my clients still ask for these cameras with tape recording. I know a lot of people who do the same thing I do (freelance camera), and everyone I have talked to about this (with very few exceptions) feel the same way about they’re tools, they will buy what they’re clients ask for (if they can), but the cost to change is expensive and they have to be very careful, the risk is high when there are too many expensive choices available and a wrong move can hurt the freelance camera person badly. The margins are thin and getting thinner, as we have more choices for our clients. Many have bought into mini-cam systems, and spent money to run into the same problems where the client wants the other brand then what we have bought. before it was only the Sony camera or the Panasonic camera, now there are multiple choice within each product line and this is confusing for all.

Most camera people in this business took a long while to upgrade from standard def cameras to HD cameras because it was a huge hit with expensive lenses, etc. Many are still paying towards the High Def upgrade having bought into a Varicam or HDX-900. The idea that they already need to buy another (45-65k) expensive camera body for the occasional 2/3" P2 request is not in the realm of possibility right now with a bad economy and too few requests for 2/3 inch P2. To sell the tape camera and buy a P2 camera would be suicide at the moment for most. This is why nobody (that I know) is buying these 2/3" P2 cameras Panasonic is offering. I don’t know one person who owns a P2 Varicam, not one! (I know ONE guy who bought the 2000, and that’s it). And if you could afford just one, you need to get the very best model so you don’t cut out the higher end requests. You can always give away a better camera, but never can we bring the lower end camera to the high-end format shoot, it wont work!

I also run a small rental house and I have had very few people want to know when I'm getting a P2 varicam, and the (2) P2 2/3" cameras we did buy have sat mostly. Show me the demand and I’m a buyer. If the clients wants to rent chisels to make wood cut images I’m a buyer of chisels. With no demand, I’m holding onto whatever cash I can to survive a tough economy.

Bottom line, my opinion comes from what my clients (who produce television shows) want. From my seat at this game it looks to me like many (or most) have adapted to P2 or SxS in the small camera market segment, but most 2/3” camera producers have not changed to flash recording. Full size camera production is a different market. There are thousands of great tape cameras owned by excellent cameramen, and thousands more 1200 and 1400 decks installed in producers edit suites and the whole system of using these tools still works just fine with little incentive to change. Will these producers and cameramen eventually switch to newer tech? Yes absolutely, and maybe it’s the first choice on the list of anybodies next big expenditure, but my guess is it’s not for a few years because... it’s a big expenditure! With this very scary economy what ever is working will likely keep working the same way it’s been, because this way of producing TV is not broken.

Early adapters tend to pay the highest price when the systems are not fully mature (as flash is not). My guess is the next round of improvements from the manufacturers will bring the flash system further into maturity and the costs further down, and have MORE of the production population on-board, but until that time its too early for most of the folks I know. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the P2 medium itself is just a transition peice of hardware, and we soon see a new, faster, cheaper, larger capacity flash medium of some kind that may even have more of a industry wide acceptance so we don’t have the old beta vs. VHS or P2 vs. SxS wars. P2 was tossed out of our fancy new Mac books on almost the same day it was introduced by Pany... go figure that bit of unbelievably bad timing!

Hello Panasonic.... P2 flash is too expensive in this year Two Thousand and Nine! Guess what.... Compact flash cards are very available and becoming very cheap by comparison (and they do the same thing) we can all see whats going on here!

Canon Mark 2 is the newcomer (at the bottom ladder rung) and Red is already changed scarlet in response to this market threat. it will be interesting to see how Canon adapts and how this new idea affects things going forward all the way up the product lines of all video cameras going forward. If I can make a better looking image spending 10k with a full set of fast prime lenses, why should I spend 65k for a body and another 25k for a High Def lens???

Helmut, I disagree that a combo concept would make a much bigger camera. The HVX-200 was only very slightly larger then the 170 without tape drive. In this day and age they stuff more and more into smaller places, microchips etc. Soon (if not already) they probably could design all that’s in a full size 2/3” camera body into a much smaller form but professionals want a full size, shoulder balanced camera , so the demand to shrink the camera mostly lives at the mini camera segment. With an HDX size tape drive and only 2 or 3 P2 slots, this combo camera is a “no-brainer” that would have been selling right now during this transition period to newer technologies, when nobody (en mass anyway) is buying the new Varicams. Bad call by Panasonic in my opinion.

The other smart way to go (for the next move) is a breakaway 2 piece system like Sony has done in the past betacam albeit a bit clunky then. It could be much slicker with current/next technologies. Some of the high-end gear is there already with drives that mount like a film magazines, etc.

We could have a camera (front section) and hang a recorder on the back, then you can swap out the camera or the recorder. We could have 2 different levels of camera front ends with a 2.2-mil sensor camera, or the mid level 1.1-mil sensor, and then 2 or 3 different back-end recorders with P2, Tape, Hard drive (or the next new thing).

This idea makes perfect sense in this 2009 but the manufacturer wants to sell us new cameras every time a slight improvement in the recorder comes out, and a new recorder every time an improvement to the camera section arrives. Guess what... many of us are already hanging hard drives off the back of our tape cameras... and soon the new P2 recorder coming out will be offering more of the same. The future is here now, but the solutions are much clunkier then it could be if designed properly. This 2 part idea would sell like crazy because you’re somewhat protected from improvements making what you’ve just bought obsolete next week (we are all afraid of this), then we could just sub rent the recorder for your camera if the client wants a format you don’t have, or rent the higher end camera section for the one job if most of our work comes from mid level 1.1-mil pixel clients.

I believe Panasonic is stretched way out with too many products that don’t make sense. A 2-piece system makes perfect sense today but the marketers want to sell us more crap we don’t need, and is too specialized. This tough economy will punish companies that sell stuff that don’t make sense. We will see I suppose, the next few years will shake out the weak, or the "not too clever" where the marketer rules.

(Wow, way too many words).

As always, just one guy’s opinion.

Peace, ER


Erich Roland
http://www.dc-camera.com
HD camera rentals, Washington DC
(and Cameraman)


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john sharaf
Re: New Products
on Mar 1, 2009 at 6:35:09 pm

Gents,

This is a great discussion, and one unfortunately that the manufacturers needed to hear long ago, but alas, despite the pro forma meetings they did sponsor with end users (I've been to some) they rarely listen.

There is no dispute that we as freelancers have to buy into the cameras and formats that our clients dictate (mostly net news clients) and the recent history of that segment has shown that they're the laggards in this area and the freelancers have had to stake out their own territory as many of us have done with the F900's and Varicams.

I'm still pissed at Panasonic for dividing the Varicam business with the X900; they should have just lowered the price of the Varicam to $25K and then introduced a 1920x1080 Varicam 2, but despite all the "advances" in technology, apparently this was not possible. I agree with Erich and others about the disservive that continues to the freelancers with the two current P2 Varicams and told everyone I knew at Panasonic last April on the floor of NAB when I first saw what they had in mind. I told them they'd never sell any of these cameras I believe that I've been proven correct. I understand that they've "given" units to Panavision and other rental companies. This is not to say that the 3700 is not a great camera, it is, but cameras/formats must be client driven not determined by the marketing department, despite recent successes with that formula.

I know this is a Panasonic forum, but I do find it interesting that there has been no mention of the new 2/3" HD XDCAM from S**Y. It's propriatary media is cheap, permanent (50 years) and can be screened/digitized with a $3K reader. The camera itself benefits from the mature chipset and DSP from their best OB camera (HDC1500) and shoots 1080, 720 and SD at all speeds including PAL (with the final addition of 24p with software option soon) and has already been adopted by CBS and I expect will be by NBC and ABC as well (I understand that ABC has bought five already to supplement their need for more SD XDCAMS because they realize how ill-advised it is to buy more SD cameras). I own three of these cameras already myself and am very happy with them. I know that the MPEG2 422 GOP format is "stunted" and no rival for AVC-I or DVCPRO100 for that matter, but it is perfectly fine for television (and obviously lesser uses like the internet) and at least eliminates the horizontal down sampling that even the mighty F900R does in recording to HDCAM.

I would suggest what several others have eluded to in this discussion, that P2 is likely to go the way of the dodo (M2) precisely because of the cost of the media and the need to process it for use and archiving.
Furthermore the PDW700's lower cost (than Varicam and F900) will stimulate it's acceptance, and despite the difficulty in actually getting delivery of the camera Sony has somehow managed to produce almost 4000 units worldwide already (see release notes for version 1.24 software). This is probably the reason that they're so hard to get; users throughout the world, notably broadcasters in Italy, Germany, Japan and elsewhere have jumped on this camera for the two reasons that I find it so attractive - low price, permanent/cheap media. P2 and tape for that matter, step aside or get rolled over in the deluge.

JMHO,

JS





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John Cummings
Re: New Products
on Mar 1, 2009 at 10:41:35 pm

Good point about the PDW.

It's a very versatile camera and comes closest to the ideal of having one camera for many customers. Unfortunately, The PDW700 itself is a compromise. The XDCam at it's current specs can only be regarded as a "mid-level" HD camera. It is what it is and I applaud Sony for it.

While the idea of going back to a "dockable" camera system seems like it might be worth another look, the reality of getting these manufacturers to agree on anything would be akin to herding cats in a thunderstorm. Too bad...there are possibilities there.

Here's where I think Panasonic can do better...

1. Combine all the features of the two present Varicams into one camera.

2. Then they should come up with a large chip PL mount version for all of us that are tired of jumping through expensive and cumbersome hoops to get a shallow depth of field. That's where all the action is right now. It doesn't have to look like a science experiment gone bad...just the same great shoulder mount camera with a twist.
Isn't that the logical next step for the Varicam?

Something like that would likely drag me into the P2 camp.

J Cummings
Cameralogic/Chicago
cameralogic.tv
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50


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Robin Probyn
Re: New Products
on Mar 2, 2009 at 2:08:48 am

I wonder can the P2 cards become bigger (data storing wise) and down to $40 for say 40mins.Then just treated as tapes/DVD,s
No problem with the extra data wrangler on the crew,or mucking around with HD,s in hotel rooms till 4am.
Then wouldnt the P2 camera,s be better than the XDCAM? esp if they make just one Varicam with all the bells and whistles.
I,d have thought it would be worth Panasonic to heavily subsidise the P2 card costs,to make their format the dominant one.. then put the price up :)



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john sharaf
Re: New Products
on Mar 2, 2009 at 2:15:47 am

Robin,

Yes, all good points, but according to Moore's Law which predicts price decrease for such a product it will take so many years for that equation of $40 for 40 minutes to occur that there will certainly be other cheaper faster and more capable storage systems (holographic?) in use by then.

JS



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Robin Probyn
Re: New Products
on Mar 2, 2009 at 2:27:54 am

Yes I guess if they could,they would have by now.

I waited ages for the PDW700,which always seemed to just around the corner,while renting mostly the HDX900 for HD work... and then woke one day and smelt the coffee.. and rushed out to buy the HDX900 that I had already spent so much money renting!!!

Hopefully will get at least the money back on the HDX900,bought last Oct,and most likely make some money.. and then buy the PDW 700 .. when its become as popular as I thought it would be originally.
Just should have got the HDX900 at least a yr earlier.. the price of procrastination !! or avoiding the $50,000 door stop.



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Kevin Bachar
Re: New Products
on Mar 2, 2009 at 5:31:35 pm

Hey All

My two cents....of course I saddle up with Tom and Erich. Which is how we owner operators work in the documentary field. 5 cards shoots 12 hours...big deal!!! On an extended shoot in a foriegn country with power coming off a back up generator that runs for 6 hours a day...what good is that. Those 12 hour cards will have to be dumped and re-used 3 times. Who is downloading...who is doing double back-up??? I think there is a big difference between shooting in a city...or your own city with your own post house nearby...so you can throw your cards into a reader and download...and shooting in the "field"...and by field I mean a place without running water....or power ...or ..you get the picture. Again, don't get me wrong ....I am not anti- panasonic or anti - sony as I own and operate both an f-900 and a Varicam. I also am not anti-solid state as I finished a big series for A&E called JACKED! which was shot with three crews a night on EX1 SXS cards. But that was shot near my office and we were able to download every night and get new cards out for the next days shoot every day. It was also only possible because of the inexpensive SXS cards which we needed in bulk to equip 3 crews shooting approximately 6 hours a night. Again, P2 would have been too expensive. On the PDW 700 front and the SDX900 the problem with those cameras are they are both at this point not considered GOLD by some networks. I love the Sony PDW 700 ---but no over cranking....and no 24p at this point. I mean what was the thought process - The earlier XCAMs had over cranking but this one doesn't? Huh????? Does that make sense? No...of course not. And like I said don't even get me started on the P2 Varicams. How are you saving money on tape costs, when you have to either hire someone to do the downloads in the field or work someone to death and then you have to archive at the end. And again...maybe this isn't known to some...but you have to deliver not just the finished film.. but all the footage. Where is the savings now??? Anyways...my 2 cents...keep and eye out for my Kilauea:Mountain of Fire film for PBS Nature on Sunday March 29th. Shot on the SONY 900 and EX1.

Kevin Bachar - http://www.pangolinpictures.com



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Jeff Regan
Re: New Products
on Mar 2, 2009 at 11:03:37 pm

I am a freelance DP and owner of a small rental house. In my area, the HDX900 is the de facto HD camera of choice. However, most of my clients ask for our FireStores and bring their own hard drives on set. Once they see the advantages of file based recording, the tapes are only used for archival purposes.

Ater buying an HPX170, I am more of a P2 fan than before.
The reliability of solid state media, not having to do realtime ingest, rent a deck, clips being so easy to find at any point are all pluses. My editors won't let me into their edit suites with tapes in my hand anymore.

As far as P2 card pricing vs. SxS, a 16Gb SxS card is $745, 16Gb P2 is $800, 32Gb SxS is $1425, 32Gb P2 is $1400. Using AVC-Intra 100 and 720/24P Native, you can get the same amount of recording time as SxS(80 minutes), and this at 10-Bit, I-Frame 4:2:2 vs. 8-Bit, 4:2:0 Long GOP of XDCAM EX. With AVC-Intra 50, 720/24PN, record time is 160 minutes. 1080/24P Native with AVC-Intra 50 is 80 minutes, just like SxS/XDCAM EX.

What I have found is that those who don't like file based recording are those who haven't used it. All of the DIT's I hire do data wrangling as part of their day rate, so file based recording is a net savings for my clients.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com


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Kevin Bachar
Re: New Products
on Mar 3, 2009 at 12:08:28 am

Dear Jeff,

Did you read my post? You mention a set...which is precisely what I was saying about what some people call being out in the field and what people like myself, Tom and Erich consider the field. Sorry but for us ...the set...doesn't come into play. As for DIT's...well let's see on my "set" I have the DP, Sound and Director. No room for a DIT in the tent. P2's have their place...but shooting in the "field" docs is not want of them...yet. And as I stated I am not afraid of solid state my series JACKED was shot on it. Also parts of my Hawaii film for PBS were shot on the EX1 so ...sorry it isn't fear it is what works and what is practical for shooting real in the field documentaries and not set work. Not saying one is more important or better or anything like that just saying you don't use a hammer when you need a screwdriver.

Kevin Bachar - http://www.pangolinpictures.com



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Jeff Regan
Re: New Products
on Mar 3, 2009 at 12:31:37 am

Kevin, my sets often consist of race tracks and runways and beaches and salt flats. You don't have to have AC power to do FireStore or P2 or SxS transfers.

Often, my sound persons are also DIT's, not on a narrative, but doable for a doc.

My points stand, you don't have to be on a stage or in a hotel room for data transfer, P2 cards are priced similarly to SxS cards, you don't have to hire an extra body as a data wrangler, tape is not part of the future of field acquisition.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com


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Erich Roland
Re: New Products
on Mar 3, 2009 at 3:39:36 am

Jeff, There are some like you who have adapted well, and that's great. There are also many who have responded in this thread who are not ready for some reason, maybe good reasons. You are right in that the future is not with tape but... P2 is also not ready for prime time (so to speak). Its not mature, and most in the main stream are not using it. Mini camera production has gone in the flash direction because you couldn't get higher quality recordings from HDV tape, and that was the main driver towards flash. We have high quality recordings in 2/3" tape systems so the driver (to change over) isn't fully cooked yet. The cost of P2 (or SxS) media, and to change over cameras, and systems in general is a big expence and therefor a big problem in a bad economy, and its not getting better anytime soon! Also the choices of Panasonic's 2/3" products are confusing and not on mark for the needs today.

So this transformation that will happen eventually may have to wait till the next advance in flash medium (or holographic) or whatever, because most of the people in the full size pro market are not buying it from what I can see. I would guess 2 years minimum before we can say most productions are not using tape. If the economy tanks for a long time it could be longer then that. Many tape cameras and decks are working happily with no reason to change, because the (no-brainer) incentives are not there. Give it time we will all understand what you have discovered but it will be cheaper, easier, and make sense to everyone, and then this conversation will no longer exist. Just the fact that there are so many nay-sayers tells the story of a cameras and decks that work just fine.

When the HDX-900 came out half the cameramen I know were lined up to buy them, and many more have bought since. Now that was a product movement that made sense and had legs! (Even though it killed many peoples Varicam's value)

I know a lot of people in 30 years as a free lance cameraman and I don't know one person that has purchased a P2 Varicam... not one! Its the wrong product.... or bad timing.... or both!

best, E

Erich Roland
http://www.dc-camera.com
HD camera rentals, Washington DC
(and Cameraman)


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Jeff Regan
Re: New Products
on Mar 3, 2009 at 4:08:07 am

Erich,

A look at my market, the SF Bay Area would tend to validate your posts, just a few 2/3" P2 cameras in the rental market, however, one only needs to look at the success of the RED ONE, and EX1/3 and the dozens of HVX200's, the latter of which, of course, use P2 cards. This speaks to the adoption of file base recording. I was offering it to my clients in 2006 with nNovia HDD's for my DSR-450WS DVCAM cameras.

The reality is that the F900R and HDX900 are the last of the 2/3" tape cameras. Panasonic took my market from Sony comprehensively, there are no XDCAM HD cameras in the rental pool.

Aside from HDCAM SR, AVC-Intra is the best codec going, and the same P2 cards get to be used for it. Panasonic needs to get traction with this codec, which is why they came out with an under $10K camera with AVC-Intra and the P2 Portable.

Two P2 Varicam models is a mistake, and so are $50K 2/3" cameras at this point, in my opinion. The game will go to inexpensive large sensor cameras with cheap solid state memory, but in a more user friendly, more refined package and workflow than RED or Scarlett. This is Panasonic's opportunity and I believe we will see some more offerings from them at NAB. The days of any format/codec or camera that will be viable for 8 or more years are over.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com


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Helmut Kobler
Re: New Products
on Mar 3, 2009 at 10:14:24 am

Hi Kevin,

For your extreme "in the field" shoots, where you have no running water, and generator-supplied power, I bet you can still make P2 work. It doesn't take much power to run a small 2.5" raid 1 enclosure off a laptop or P2 Mobile.

Also, solid state backup drives will also come of age in the next year or two. Right now, you could assemble 500 GB of solid state, palm-sized backup storage for about $1000-$1100. Since the drives are solid state, they are very low power, very rugged, and very secure. That gives you another 10-20 hours of media backup that you can perform in the field. In a year, you'll probably be able to buy a terabyte of solid state storage for the same price. So that's 20-40 hours of solid state backup capacity in an enclosure slightly bigger than a 2.5" drive, which doesn't need its own power source. And if the cameraman is worth his salt and has prepped his scene files before the shoot, the footage already has reasonable clip names and basic metadata baked in, which will definitely come in handy for editing. And if a producer or assistant producer has some downtime during travel, he/she can use a 2.5 pound P2 Gear/Mobile to watch the media and further annotate it for editing later. Plus, the team doesn't have to carry 20, 30, 40, 50 blasted tapes/xdcam disks around as well. And no poor SOB in the editing room has to log one tape after another once the footage is back to civilization.


Anyway, I think it's also worth asking: out of all the videography that happens in the world, what percentage of it happens in extreme situations where you're basically living in the wild, away for electrical power for days and days at a time? I have to think it's a pretty small percentage of the whole, and it doesn't seem fair to judge a camera format based on how it serves an extreme situation which many shooters rarely encounter...especially when that same format (p2) beats alternative formats (like tape) in many shooting scenarios that are more commonplace.







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Kevin Bachar
Re: New Products
on Mar 3, 2009 at 3:55:48 pm

Dear Helmut,

When I read your post it sure had a lot of ..."in one or two years". I'm working now ..not in the future...unless I can get that Delorean working again with those Jilowatts. On the how I work question ...I can only talk about how I work and what I do. On the power front, I'm heading to Argentina now to shoot and the generator at the place where we are staying is only on for 4 hours a day. So ...you tell me do I break in the middle of the day to get my download time in? I don't think so. As I have said ...if P2 works for you ...great...but in my conditions for my shooting it doesn't. i was at Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in 2005 when Panasonic introduced the first P2 camera. Needless to say...there was excitement...but a bit of - huh? How does this work for us in the field...it almost seemed a step backward in terms of downloading - reminded many of changing mags...and needing an AC or now a DIT. Of course the P2 has come a long way since then..but one of the essential questions raised back in 2005 was this. I asked everyone to raise their hands if they have had a computer or hard drive crash over the last year...half the room raised their hands. I then asked if anyone had had a tape failure in the field over the last year...no hands raised. Again...let me make it clear I am not against solid state for the right shoots..go to http://www.aetv.com/jacked/ to see my series that was shot on the EX1. Like I said the proper tool for the right job...it's just what you are hearing from people like myself and Tom and Erich is that the F900, and the tape based Varicam, or Panasonic 900 is still the best way to get the shot and show in the can. I'm glad it works for you in what you do, but for others, sorry it isn't working. The 3700, the 2700 and now the mini 1/3" 300 (Big HUH! who is that for)....3 cameras and each does something different...how about one that does it all. I think if you have invested in one of these then of course you need to make a case for why it works and why it works best. For me I own both Sony (F900) and Panasonic (Varicam) product and EX 1 (3 of them) so I really don't have my apples all in one cart. I'm looking at this from a strict production view and what is best for the projects I work on. Anyways...as always ...my two cents...nothing more.

Kevin Bachar - http://www.pangolinpictures.com



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Tom Kaufman
Re: New Products
on Mar 4, 2009 at 3:20:33 pm

I'm really happy the COW provides a place for us to exchange out ideas. I also wanted to state that myself, Erich, and probably Kevin are keenly interested in new technology. Maybe I'm generalizing, but I think most DP's love the technical aspect of what they do. For me, learning HD has helped keep this business fresh and interesting.

All of which is to say I have no problem whatsoever with the IDEA of solid-state recording, and that includes in the field (which for me would be sub-Saharan Africa, not my local sound stage).

The things that make me hesitate have been mentioned by myself and others in great detail, so I won;t go into it again. I just wanted to say that we're not troglodytes -- just the opposite. We dig the new stuff and love to play with it. But from a business viewpoint, it has to make sense.


Thanks,


Tom


Tom Kaufman,
DP


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kevin bachar
Re: New Products
on Mar 4, 2009 at 7:32:44 pm

Amen Tom.


Kevin



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barry Lank
Re: New Products
on Mar 4, 2009 at 8:10:02 pm

You are bang on. I bought one of the first Varicams in Canada and think it is just great. I hate P2 and will either go to Sony HDCAM or wait for Panasonic to make a camera for cameramen not computer technicians. I think Panasonic needs to talk to us not their engineers. Make the camera for us, ask
us what we would buy. I too will not buy anything from Panasonic at this time. They need to make a new Varicam that we can all feel good about.



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Robert Sullivan
Re: New Products
on Mar 22, 2009 at 9:03:21 pm

Erich, Tom, and Kevin....Your are soooo... correct in your equipment assessments....As an.. err...elder camera/sound person, I would like to see two products that I could actually lift off the the ground to my shoulder where a properly balance professional camera should be.

1. A Panasonic HD-300 A with the H264 codec that uses the sd cards that power the little Panny
150 camera.. Only God knows why an $8500 camera needs a billion dollars worth of P 2 cards to keep it running on the low budget stuff that camera will be good at.

2. A Sony EX-4 (that sits like a proper camera balanced perfectly on your shoulder) with the same boring H264 codec that takes those same cheap, dull, dependable little SD cards.

Transfer the SD cards to PR 422 for editing and put the cheap archival SD cards on the shelf...I would trust data lasting on those cards more than data lasting on any hard drive.

Ciao, Sully



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