P2 & M100
Hello all, I'm looking for any info or opinions from here in the pasture.
My boss' boss recently worked with a crew shooting with one of the new Panasonic P2 camorders (not sure exactly which model, but shoots HD, variable frame rates, and costs about $6K US), and got excited about buying one for our production department. I've been shooting Beta for a over a decade and a half, so it's like breathing for me. I'm not opposed to checking out new stuff, but before throwing cash at new toys, I'd like to see how they will mesh with the tools I presently have. I edit on M100i (no need for HD yet, or for the forseeable future - unfortunately) and am curious about importing files from the new format, shooting HD but edit SD, etc.
We've researched prices of cameras, drives for dumping field footage, P2 cards, etc., but haven't talked to anyone using them in a similar edit environment. Is there someone out there with a similar setup?
And if someone has experience with these cameras, are there things to be aware of with lighting, file corruption, or any other issues? I shoot a combination of very contolled studio setups; chroma-key; and run-and-gun under indoor and outdoor "available light" conditions.
Thanks to all who can help.
We shot a feature in July with 2 of these cameras and ended up needing 8 8 gig cards just to keep from interupting the workflow. Even with a dedicated P2 transfer station on set - we still lost time and most horribly some shots on import after we had already changed setups. I would not recommend this camera for "run and gun" situations. Beautiful images when lit for film but I am not convinced about the capture technology benefits vs price for storage cards/reliability etc. Our editors (who work on a long running tv series) are still getting different stories on what the definitive post flow should be 5 months after wrap. Ask a lot of questions!!! Best of Luck and Kind Regards, Chris
Chris, thanks for the quick response. This is the type of info I need but the sales folks forget to mention when I'm cutting a check to them.
It's very common for that to happen. With many different brands and models, there are certain things certain cameras do well. Sometimes things done really well in one area force sacrifices in others. Sales people are pressured to sell product - so many times they tell you what you want to hear. There really isn't a bad camera out there - it's just that some might perform badly in the parameters you're asking it to perform in. When you're dropping 6k on the basic camera - don't hesitate to make that sales person work with you - even when they roll their eyes - then come back to the cow and ask more ?s. I can't tell you how much great advice I've gleaned just by reading the cow on a daily basis. It was the single most helpful tool I've ever discovered. Best of luck in your search! Kind Regards, Chris K.
Media 100 HD ver. 11.5 is the version (Producer or HD) that works with P2 and even then not all of the codecs (no 720 or 480 progressive) The camera you want for run and gun would probably be one of the more expensive models as they will handle more like the camcorder you are used to. News in SD works pretty well with these cards but for HD the workflow is more like film. Make sure you have plenty of storage and back-up the files in more than one place. Working with the metadata is an issue if you need to find shots later as its the only way to find anything. No more tape on the shelf means you need to think more in IT terms with NAS storage SAN editing drives and Blueray DVD, DLT or LTO backup. We took the plunge and are still adjusting to the workflow ourselves.
We recently shot our first project with a Panasonic HVX-200 and a Firestore FS 100. It was a standard definition project shot as DVC-Pro. 20 minutes of raw footage (84 clips) imported into Media 100 HD v 11.5 in just over 2.5 minutes. Obviously considerably faster then digitizing a tape in real time. The import P2 interface of Media 100 allows you to select which clips you want to capture. So if you've logged a bunch of bad takes you could opt to not to import them. All in all this will be a time saver for some of the projects we do.
There are issues you have to deal with. For example, long clips get segmented into 2 GB chunks. If you're shooting DVC-Pro HD that means those 2GB chunks will 2.2 minutes long, 9 minutes at DVCPro data rates. It's not a huge issue for most of our projects but if you're recording a long performance it could prove to be a little bit inconvenient. We've done some tests with long, segmented clips and have found nothing that would indicate a problem. It would be nice if the Media 100 software could recognize segmented clips and combine them in the bin for us. I would imagine the media files would or could remain segmented. Sort of like the old days when all long clips were segmented anyway or a least you had the option to segment them.
Using the firestore itself is pretty straight forward. I'd love to see a feature that would easily allow you to delete bad takes in the field as long as you could quickly undo your delete. You can do it now but your have to jump through a few hoops via menus. The menu system is a little clunky but much better than say a Marantz digital audio recorder. There are options to record in other formats but using the P2 format appears to be the best choice for working with Media 100.
I've done limited testing with DVCPRO HD. It seems to work fine but I have yet to use it on a real project. I'm guessing that importing DVCPRO-HD is going to take 4 time longer than DV so 20 minutes of footage would probably take 10 to 12 minutes to import. Just a guess.
We don't have any P2 cards. While they are convenient, the cost per GB is still to high compared to an HD recorder.
As someone mentioned earlier, you don't have the benefit of tape on the shelf so we are using low cost hard drives in firewire enclosures to back up and archive video we want to save. Data back up tapes might be more reliable in the long run but hard drives are definitely faster and easier. We've had issues with data backup tapes in the past too. So I just don't think any solution is absolutely bullet proof.
I'm not a huge fan of any of the "prosumer" cameras like the HVX 200 or XL-1 or PD 150. I prefer cameras with a "real" lens and iris. However for the price, these cameras do take some impressive pictures. I am looking forward to the day when P2 card prices and capacities become more useful.
With storage getting better, faster and cheaper, I think this type of work flow is something we'll all enjoy. No more digitizing tapes. As with any change, there are a few trade offs. I think the future will bring improvements that will lead to better and better products. For many of us this is probably the beginning of the end of tape. It's been 31 years since I shot my first back and white reel-to-reel video tape in junior high. It will be interesting to see how long the transition to tapeless will take.
I really appreciate the info and advice out here in the cow pasture. As usual, there's MANY things to take into consideration when taking up an offer of a new camera, and I'm glad I can get some good, unbiased info. Sounds like there may be some times when the Panny wouldn't be the best camera choice, other times it would work fine.
I guess the next question would be "What are they going to come out with six weeks after I buy this camera?"