Is P2 dying out?
Help me out here; we're debating the pros and cons of P2 format in the shop, as we begin to contemplate our first move into tapeless aquisition for HD news and PSA production.
The best selling point P2 has for our shop's way of working is that with their player deck, you can jam the P2 card in a slot and play right to air, instantly, and many times, we could use that ability, when the shooter returns from the field ready to hit the open uplink window with maybe a minute to spare.
That said, the other camp in the office says P2 is unpopular because the cards, cams and playback units are expensive and proprietary. SDHC cards for the same size cost a factor of five less, and can be sourced thru multiple vendors, hell, you could make an emergency purchase of them at the local Best Buy while on the road. Panny seems to itself be moving away from P2 as it begins to offer non-P2 card based options on some cameras.
We're going to remain an Apple FCS3/ FCP7 shop for the next few years, though to help work with tapeless cams we might also get a copy of FCPx. (shudders). If we can bank on at least ten minutes of time before the deadline to transfer the SDHC material to a waiting Final Cut work station and just play off the timeline, we'd be doing what the P2 system can do for less than half.
What say you? Frame this as a business decision.
Since we got the 7D, our HVX200 has sat collecting dust. Panny's ridiculously priced P2 cards are just not what they used to be. Considering there are good options with a KiPro and other cameras with SDI out and capture at prores, I seriously can't imagine putting a future into any p2 based format. Full disclosure though, I haven't done my homework on P2 in years as it's just not on our radar.
Worst case, wait and see what Canon has to offer after Nov 3. There's supposedly a big announcement coming. Perhaps a new camcorder with SDI out and works with Canon lenses? Or a 5D MarkIII that captures at ProRes? Who knows? I'll be watching...
John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.
P2 is not dying and Panny is in full support of the P2 format.
P2 is for the professional line
sd cards are for the pro-sumer line
Video Atlanta LLC
We have both an HPX300 (P2) and a Pany AF-100 (SD Card) and like them both for their respective roles. The HPX300 is more of a run-n-gun camera for us while the AF-100 makes really pretty pictures with the shallow depth-of-field primes.
While I don't know that I would invest any new dollars into P2, I don't see it going away in the foreseeable future. The price of P2 cards have come down (and will probably continue to do so). But you're right - they're still much more expensive than the same capacity Class-10 SDHC cards. And the fact that P2 is a proprietary format doesn't help.
When I bought the P2 a few years ago I remember reading a bunch of stuff about how the P2 card does redundant record/verify - supposedly being a more robust platform with less opportunity to errors. Of course, all of that may have been "marketing speak" from Panasonic and it's really no different than off-the-shelf SDHC cards.
Regardless of the tech analysis, you're right to think of this as a business decision for your particular workflow requirements. My only rule is that the technology generally only useful for half the life (or less!) of the previous generation.
Back in the day, I got 10+ years of good service from my BetaSP camera. My current ROI requirement for cameras is no longer than 24-30 months. If I get more than that, I consider it a bonus! I'm 9 months into my AF-100. So far, so good...
I hope this helps!
All my Best,
Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!
P2 is not dying out. We just introduced the AG-HPX250, the first hand held to have a full 10 Bit Codec to record to and yes it is P2. The SDHC cards are great, but not created equal, you buy your quality and expectations of reliability.
The playback flexibility is un matched in P2, Trust me on this one. AVCHD is great but it is second fiddle to being a Broadcast player format. Good for acquisition for Broadcast but if you need that fast cue up and program play, P2 all the way. Get a demo on the AJ-HPD24. Cool machine!
Jan Crittenden Livingston
Product Manager, AVCCAM, AG-3DA1, AG-AF100
Panasonic Broadcast & TV Systems
We just bought 6 Varicam 2700's so you can bet P2 is not going anywhere. Most of my friends own a variety of P2 cameras ranging from the 200 to the 3700 and they plan to stay on the format for many years to come.
Hello, Jan, long time no see! You're always a great resource for info on Panny products, and it was on your good advice we first got into HD with the HDX900P, and these have been great workhorse HD cameras for us, we still use the heck out of them, plus we've had a great experience with DCVPro25 and 50 as well as DVCProHD.
I'm frankly sad to see the end of tape-based cameras on the horizon. There is something very satisfying about plunking that inexpensive tape on a shelf and knowing that's your archive, that doesn't get lost if a hard drive goes bad, and you can count on it a good long while. And us old farts are always suspicious of whether the camera is recording unless we see some wheels turning in it somewhere:-)
That said, I have been watching my brother (and sister) ENG shooters in the field at events for some time now, (this is speaking only of what I see in my own market) and while P2 is represented there, it's not the most common format the small market stations around me are shooting. They have fractured into many different approaches. They are recording to outboard hard drives, they shoot in AVCHD and MPEG2 and they are using Sony products with SXS cards, I see non-DSLR Canons out there, and they are using Cameras like the EX3 and JVC 700 series.
I asked the gal shooter how she liked her HM700 and she absolutely loved that it was a "real" shoulder-riding form factor camera with a "real" viewfinder, but lighter and more economical than what she ran before. While the sensor on the JVC isn't as big as those of other cameras in the $10k class, that also means fewer problems with too-short DOF in fast-paced ENG situations. And I find that camera attractive because it is ready to play with our legacy FCP NLE systems.
Just running very rough ballpark numbers, to get into P2 in a basic way with a camera, decent lens, and a P2 player, 32 grand is what I come up with, and the big P2 cards at around $700. Each. Ouch. On the JVC side I am coming up with about 8 grand, though that assumes a simple passive card reader and the hassles of loading the cards into the NLE before you can do live play-to-air. That regime is where P2 I think holds and will continue to hold a distinct advantage.
But is that advantage worth the $24k delta between them, on my tiny budget? I look at that delta and think that I could just about get three cameras for the price of one. Or take the small efficiency hit of not being able to play-to-air without using the camera itself, and plow the difference into building a nice SAN to offload these cards to, so you can turn the cards around quick. The SAN issue remains, no matter who's card-based camera you buy. The admittedly slick P2 player has a built-in drive, I know, but the footage can't just all live on there forever, it has to GO somewhere for the permanent archive.
Look, it's not an easy choice to make. Both tracks offer plusses and minuses. But at this stage of the game, I think even if we bought a non-P2 flavored camera and later decided it was a bad move, it's only an 8-10 grand failed experiment, as opposed to something more proprietary and three times more costly. Maybe my answer is to stay in the murky in-between of the prosumer gear for a while longer, and keep looking at the lower-end Panny products.
I think the AF100 looks dreamy, BTW, and the demo footage blows me away, but I didn't put it in my list of cams to consider because the rear-mounted viewfinder and overall form factor would make it less comfortable and practical to me in ENG type use. Though I'd love to rent one for my next commercial or documentary shoot.
Jan, good to hear! I too was wondering the fate after seeing the AF100 come out. Any chance we'll see an AF100 utilizing P2 cards sometime in the future? That would be fantastic!
I just purchased an HPX250 to replace my HVX200 (which I used for years and loved). It's a huge step up and well worth it. For much of my work, it's a great fit. But for some work, I've been looking at the AF-100. I am curious why it was not designed to use P2 cards. It also made me wonder about the future of P2 and if the direction was going to go towards other cards. Any insights into why P2 was not used for the AF-100?
We just tried out the KiPro Mini last night and holy crap that is a sweet little box. Takes the uncompressed signal straight out of the camera and records to any flavor of ProRes using Compact Flash (CF) cards. So no Log and Transfer when you're done, just copy the files over and import.
The cards that AJA recommends are around $400 to $500 for a 64GB card but we tried out two Wintek 64GB cards last night from Fry's Electronics ($150 each) and they worked perfectly fine for 90 and 60 minute recordings.
They do add a little weight to the back of the camera but they are a recorder and player all in one. What's really cool is if you do any sort of remote work, like a corporate convention or something like that, where you shoot all day and then play something back at night, you could lay off to the KiPro Mini from FCP and then play back directly from it as a virtual VTR as well. No need to burn a DVD or make a file to transfer to anything.
I also have a full on KiPro which is total sweetness as well, but for field recording, I can see that this little KiPro is very sweet and of course the CF cards are cheaper than P2. We used it last night with a Panasonic PD-170 recording directly to ProRes.
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media
Blog Twitter Facebook
Walter, can the mini KiPro play out live composite video?
That's what we're still stuck feeding our uplink dish for the forseeable future: we shoot either DVCpro25 SD in anamorpic wide screen, or DvcProHD where we feed either a center-cut 4:3 or a letterboxed 16:9 via a dedicated DVCProHD deck. The news stations that take our feeds can deal with SD anamorphic wide scren without problems, and in fact they seem to prefer the SD feed over an HD one as long as it is 16:9.
[Mark Suszko] "Walter, can the mini KiPro play out live composite video?"
The Mini is SDI and HDMI out only.
The full KiPro has Composite and Component output options.
If you went with the Mini, you can probably pick up a mini converter from AJA to take the SDI and convert that to Composite / analog audio.
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media
Blog Twitter Facebook
Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) is a great way to account for your investment. A CPA can offer a way better calculation than I can.
Regardless, P2 ain't dead. I imagined P2 would be faster than tape, and it is. But there is still a significant Log and Transfer process. Keeping track of files has been rather tedious.
You aren't without relevant tape options: HDCAM for example. But wow, that would take longer to recoup the ROCE. But it might open up new markets, like rentals.
While we are currently shooting HDV (I could not imagine doing a typical two-day 3-camera run and gun shoot where we come home with upwards of 20 hours of tape) using P2 or SxS. We'd need an extra person just to wrangle the data not to mention the media costs. Yeah, I know you pay for the time to capture the tape, but that goes on mostly in the background on a dedicated capture station.
Our next camera will likely be P2 or XDCAM EX.
I was shooting the bull with another ENG shooter at a news event today, while we waited for the event to begin. He was on a small P2 camera system. said he liked P2 all right, liked the workflow, found the cards highly reliable. But he hated the camera, because he felt it was it was too fragile (his engineers told him not to shoot in rain or snow with it) and mostly because he wanted a shoulder-riding camera, not a form factor you hold in front of your chest like a football.
The information I found most interesting though, was when he told me the shooters at his station don't actually shoot HD with the P2, they only shoot SD in 16:9. When I asked why, he said that in HD mode the P2 only gave him about 15 minutes of running time, whereas in SD, he could run all day on one pair.
This gets back to my cost issue with P2 cards vs. SDHC cards. The cheaper SDHC cards enable you to own enough card capacity that you don't ever feel pressured to trade run time for resolution.
[Mark Suszko] "The information I found most interesting though, was when he told me the shooters at his station don't actually shoot HD with the P2, they only shoot SD in 16:9. When I asked why, he said that in HD mode the P2 only gave him about 15 minutes of running time, whereas in SD, he could run all day on one pair."
We run into this issue in hospitals (not with P2 but with limited record times). Many operating rooms have $50K+ recording devices attached to their HD medical scopes. However the included tiny hard drives only hold 30 minutes of HD video, so they use high def cameras and then record SD 4:3 MPG2 and burn to a DVD or copy to memory stick. Some newer models let you plug in a USB hard drive but it is the same concept - sort of.
Mike, we have been using P2 cards for several years now (have the original HVX and HVX A's as well). It takes a little getting use to, but once you have a work flow, you'll never want to go back to tape! It will be scary at first as you don't have a physical tape to hold onto (its just bits on a hard drive), but you get use to it, and the time savings is amazing. We offload everything in the field. With small dell netbooks with PCMCIA slots, and an automated program called P2 Forge, all we have to do is insert it into the slot, and it does all the rest. Come back a half and hour later with the next card and swap them out. At the end of the day, all of our footage is logged and ready to edit. All we have to do is mount the hard drive to the editing computer.
We found two ways of doing this effectively in multi-cam shots. One way is that we have a laptop for each shooter and each person offloads sequentially onto their own system. Second way is to have someone in charge of offloading. Everyone gives her the cards and she copies and organizes them individually. Now that we've been shooting P2, I can't imagine going back. Here's to hoping a P2 AF100 comes out soon!
Am I the only person who sees an ironic sort of hypocrisy in claiming P2 is small and takes up no space... while conveniently ignoring the fact that now I have to haul an entire laptop computer and/or hard drive unit along with the camera rig, just to make the card system work, where with tape, my tapes were smaller than cigarette packs already, but I didn't have to bring another 12-pound dongle along with them into the field? My tapes run out, I eject them, drop in another cheap one, keep going. What P2 guys are doing in the field is like me stopping shooting to make a tape-to-tape transfer in the field, so I can re-use the first tape I shot with.
P2 is nice and all, but not the end of the evolution, by far.
I don't think its selling point is that its smaller. Its selling point is that its extremely reliable, fast, and can hold bit rates higher than a lot of other formats (especially for its size). Its certainly not the only solution. Its not quite as bad as making another tape though in the field. We use small dell netbooks for the offload. Our monitors are about as big as this netbook. Our whole system is automated which means, we have everything logged and organized before ever getting back to the editing room. Then, we don't have to log anything! Meaning, instantly ready to edit. We have the same workflow with AVCHD but with slower transfer speeds, a less reliable medium, and a codec we feel isn't quite as good as DVCPro HD (although please note, I'm not calling it bad either). Like I said, it was daunting several years ago when we went all digital onto the solid state media...but now that I have, I wouldn't have it any other way. The advantages have outnumbered the disadvantage of bringing along a netbook. At least for us it has. But once again, the advantage isn't its size, rather its the quality, speed, and higher possible bit rates in my opinion.