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Jon Allen

Panasonic P2

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Per a brainstorm sparked by a conversation with a co-worker, how can a P2 card be a practicality when dealing with HD footage?

Their sheer expense aside, how could one justify using them for any sort of HD application?

From what I understand, HD footage is 100Mb/sec, which translates to approx. 12.5MB/s. And that means 750MB for ONE minute of HD.

I guess my question is what makes Panasonic think they can get away with only offering up to 8GB P2 cards? Even on their largest card one could only get 10 1/2 minutes of video!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but offering this camera as truly an option for HD shooters, they'll either have to come out with 50+GB cards, or offer some external recording drive.

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Which camera are you referring to? The pro cameras have five P2 slots in them that automatically daisy-chain during recording, and are hot-swappable. You can offload each card as you fill it up if you want, and theoretically never stop recording. The card capacity offerings will no doubt increase over time, but right now they're just obscenely expensive (I've heard $1700 for 8GB this fall). The HVX200 has two slots.

 

Even better, and though I can't get a definitive answer on this but I know they're working on it, you should be able to record directly to a regular ole firewire hard drive and bypass the card system.

 

I think tapeless is gonna be amazing when it's more affordable and higher capacity.

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I guess my question is what makes Panasonic think they can get away with only offering up to 8GB P2 cards? Even on their largest card one could only get 10 1/2 minutes of video!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but offering this camera as truly an option for HD shooters, they'll either have to come out with 50+GB cards, or offer some external recording drive.

 

From my understanding, Panasonic has a USB 2.0 docking bay that you can hook up to your computer for quick uploading. Depending on your computer, that's faster than digitizing.

 

Also, they have a portable HD bank, basically a harddrive with P2 slots that will transfer 8 min of footage in about 4 minutes.

 

The broadcast world has already started using the P2 system... not neccesarily for HD, though.

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Which camera? Either the HVX200 or the SPX800. Even though you're able to dump the cards quickly, that seems like a lot of extra work while you're shooting.

Especially since this is supposed to be the more durable format; who's going to bring along a laptop/card adapter/HD bank in a situation where "superior resistance to impact, vibration and temperature change" is needed? (See HVX Brochure, page 5)

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As long as the cards are expensive to buy, you'll probably be able to rent them inexpensively for jobs where you need extra cards.

 

Otherwise, the files written to the P2 cards can be dumped into any PC/Mac with a PCMCIA card slot quickly. P2 cards can be hot-swapped, and it will also possible to record directly from the camera to a disk drive.

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I think it is important to realize what the HVX-200 is, and what it is not (for now). The reason it can only record 40 min of HD (720 24p) is the shear ammount of data involved. DCVPRO HD is a REAL broadcast quality HD format, not ultra comressed HDV found on the Sony/JVC cams. Better quality=more data. If you need more record time, the Varicam is the better camera for that purpose.

 

Given these limitations, the HVX needs to be thought of in different ways. I find it funny that video people are freaking out about it's record time limitations, while film people are not phased. The camera's limitations will force us to be more creative, with less. It's the Arri S, or Aminima of HD... a small, portable camera capable of shoot high resolution HD images.

 

P2 cards are expensive now, but their price will fall quickly and their capacity will increase... Moore's Law is at work here.

 

Chris Bell

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I think it is important to realize what the HVX-200 is, and what it is not (for now).  The reason it can only record 40 min of HD  (720 24p) is the shear ammount of data involved.  DCVPRO HD is a REAL broadcast quality HD format, not ultra comressed HDV found on the Sony/JVC cams.  Better quality=more data.  If you need more record time, the Varicam is the better camera for that purpose.

 

Given these limitations, the HVX needs to be thought of in different ways.  I find it funny that video people are freaking out about it's record time limitations, while film people are not phased.  The camera's limitations will force us to be more creative, with less.  It's the Arri S, or Aminima of HD... a small, portable camera capable of shoot high resolution HD images. 

 

P2 cards are expensive now, but their price will fall quickly and their capacity will increase... Moore's Law is at work here. 

 

Chris Bell

You mean 4 minutes, right? Not 40. I'd LOVE to be able to shoot 40 minutes of HD without swapping a card!

I think there's a reason us video people are freaking out- we're not used to reloading a magazine after 5 or 10 minutes. But such is the nature of video. Chances are with video is that you're working with a strictly limited budget and not a lot of time & manpower- which makes carrying a laptop, card reader, and swapping cards every 5 minutes a ludicrous idea.

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You will be able to record 20 minutes of 720 @24fps per 8 gig card. Two 8 gig cards will give you 40 minutes of record time. The record time will decrease if you go 60p or 1080i.

 

Chris Bell

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You will be able to record 20 minutes of 720 @24fps per 8 gig card.  Two 8 gig cards will give you 40 minutes of record time.  The record time will decrease if you go 60p or 1080i. 

 

Chris Bell

Are we talking 720p? What would the data rate of this be? I thought the codec was 100mb/s (which equals 12MB/s or 720MB/minute, 8000MB/720=11.11111111...)

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I heard that when recording to P2 cards, you aren't limited to always recording 720 at 60P as with the Varicam -- if this is true, could it be possible to get even better quality than with DVCPRO-HD tape because at 24P, all 100 mb/sec could be used for 24 frames, not 60?

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Since there is no tape deck, the rules change a bit. The codec is still the same, so the data rate for DVCPRO HD 720 at 24fps is 40mbs. 60fps or 60p is 100mbs. The 1080i codec is 100mbs and you will be able to shoot in the 24p advanced mode to extract 1080p from the 60i much like a DVX-100.

 

Chris Bell

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I think it is important to realize what the HVX-200 is, and what it is not (for now).  Chris Bell

 

Wait we're talking about what a camera is and what it is not...

When it is still in prototype form?

And few if any have actually seen it function or used it...

 

What do we really know about this camera except what Panasonic tells us.

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Wait we're talking about what a camera is and what it is not...

When it is still in prototype form?

And few if any have actually seen it function or used it...

 

What do we really know about this camera except what Panasonic tells us.

Oh Jan, where are you???!!!!

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I think this camera looks fantastic. I can easily imagine shooting with this camera with two P2 cards with a station set up with a laptop, hard drive and DVD burner. This way when one card is not in use dump the files to the hard drive and burn a DVD for back up. Not much different than having a film loader on set. I've been to a few informational sessions about this camera and people seem angry about the cards. I really don't understand why people get worked up. This camera actually has some life to it. As time goes on it becomes just as valuable because new cards will have more storage.

 

But what about the lens and the 1/3" chip? How will it compare to the Varicam? The DVX100a footage looks great. I can only expect similar footage but with more resolution to play with.

 

How does DVCPRO HD compare to the codec Sony uses for their cameras?

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I not really sure who Panasonic is targeting with this camera. I work for a church and have used the PD150 for years for smaller shoots that are down and dirty, not warranting pulling out the SDX900. So, we are looking to replace the PD150 and immediately looked a the DVX100... then this HVX-200 thing came out. At first I thought it would be a good replacement/upgrade to the PD150, real HD and everything... but let's look at the logistics of it. You're out in the field with this camera, two P2 cards, and a laptop. You record to the P2 cards, then have to dump that into a laptop, which last I checked is a computer, that does run the chance of getting the blue screen of death and locking up on you. Or, you are in a field somewhere where there is no power and the laptop battery runs out. Your sunk. What if the laptop gets a corrupted spot on the hard drive before you get a chance to dump it to your NLE? And I have to pay what for this convenience?... $1700 per card? Plus, we don't have a dedicated laptop for the field so now I have buy and $1200 laptop? I think all this puts it just out of reach people/organizations like me. Even if the cost was less... fumbling around with P2s having to dump footage... like that other guy said, when your not used to changing tape ever 10 minutes, it's a real big step backwards for us video guys. I wish they could have figured out a way to record HD on miniDV.

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Hi,

 

I just shot a production on the AJ-SPX800, a P2 equivalent of the SDX-900. Catch my review in Newsreel magazine, plugitty-plug...

 

For dramatic production, it's a pain. It's almost as bad as film. I was shooting 25-megabit DV and we only had three 4Gb cards. That's over 40 minutes, about a day's worth, but both days we ended up stopping to download - which brings us on to the second problem. You can't just throw the cards into any PCMCIA-equipped laptop. It requires a special driver, which you only get with P2 devices, and which isn't downloadable from Panasonic website without a password. Okay, this isn't how it's supposed to work, but if your laptop falls over mid production or if panasonic just forget to supply the drivers, you've got a half-hour (or much more with more/bigger cards) wait to download the stuff from the camera via USB. During which you can't shoot. Disastrous single point of failure.

 

The question this provoked from me was why does it require a special driver? PCMCIA memory devices have been standard for over a decade. Why are Panasonic special?

 

My second major plaint concerns the way the data is recorded onto the cards. Panasonic have opted for a split-file MXF approach. I'll keep this brief. because it's techno-dull, but what that essentially means is that your DV25 or DV50 video material is "wrapped" in an MXF framework and your 48k/16bit wave audio is wrapped in another MXF framework in a different directory, alongside four more directories filled with other junk. Panasonic claim this split file approach is a good idea, which I question. Never in post will you ever, but ever, want to look at one without the other, even if your responsibility is to only one. The other thing is that the MXF filetype is currently palpably obscure and unusual; beyond that, they're using a palpably obscure and unusual wrapping method with it, to wrap their own slightly odd brand of DV (especially if you're in PAL world and you're used to DVSD being 4:2:0). This multi-layered oddness means that unless you're using one of Panny's friends' applications, it's going to be very difficult indeed to get at your material without a lot of messing about. I literally had to write computer code to do it. Never heard of Quicktime or AVI, guys? Or just record raw DIF! And with all this wrangling about, the files have meaningless names (0023Q9.MXF?) which persist onto the edit timeline and not even a provision for scene/take info.

 

I relish the argument as to why this arrangement is best.

 

The camera's great. It's basically an SDX-900 with a higher bit count on the first stage A/D, which never hurt anyone, although I suspect that at some point you're just recording enough noise to diffusion-dither the contouring.

 

The systen is clearly aimed at newsgathering organisations, and for them I'm sure it'd be great. Server-based post workflow, Avid software throughout - marvellous. Or at least no worse than tape functionally, and potentially a lot faster. I hope that some of these issues could be fixed with software updates to the camera, but I'd have a lot more respect for Panasonic if they were willing to say "Yes, it's an ENG camera, it won't be so hot at dramatic production."

 

Phil

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Hi,

 

I just shot a production on the AJ-SPX800, a P2 equivalent of the SDX-900. Catch my review in Newsreel magazine, plugitty-plug...

 

For dramatic production, it's a pain. It's almost as bad as film. I was shooting "

 

Phil

 

Almost as bad as film doesn't sound that bad to me, I mean yes you would need a clapper unloader on set and yes it means you lose a lot of the advantages of DV, but you get a whole bunch of advantages in return.

 

From a film makers point of view, you get a very high resolution video image and you don't have to pay for film or processing. Theres also no telecine. So lots of cost savings there.

 

For dramatic production you wouldn't neccesarily have to have the camera running all the time like you might for a documentary or wedding and if it is a short or a music video you are shooting, the short length might not be that big of a deal.

 

But yes, you are back in the world of watching your ratios and stuff.

 

At the moment it is a compromise but the good thing about there being 2 different systems, is that if you are doing wedddings and documentaries you can choose HDV instead but if you feel you really need the extra colour space and resolution you can shoot on P2. Of course if you don't want any hastle you can still shoot on DV, theres nobody to stop you.

 

The P2 system seems like it would be especially good for green screen work.

 

For me the big trouble with the P2 system is simply that it is too new and that the infrastructure isn't there yet. It was quite a while after JVC released the first HDV cameras before people started to get decent support for it. I expect the P2 sytem will be similar.

 

I guess it's like image quality, price, ease of use, choose any 2.

 

love

 

Freya

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Hi,

 

> From a film makers point of view, you get a very high resolution video image

 

Not at the moment, you don't. The camera doesn't exist.

 

Even when it does, you're looking at a small chip, cheap lens camera recording to the lowest-res HD format out there. And it does seem to have escaped everyone's attention that when you're recording 24p DVCPRO-HD on a P2 card, no frame padding takes place, so you're only recording 40mbps of data. Yes, this is also essentially true with the varicam, and it's particularly ironic that DVCPRO-HD at 24p actually records less data than DVCPRO-50.

 

Phil

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Obviously as the cards get bigger (hold more footage), it will get more convenient. As for working out a system, with a back-up plan, to download efficiently, I'm sure that's the challenge but one can get used to any system, I guess. The thing about longer-form projects like features is that you can create a system for doing something and work out the bugs in the workflow.

 

Even the earlier 24P HDCAM movies had workflow issues to work out, although that hit the editorial department even more than the set.

 

But it's good to know that one should have a back-up method of downloading data should one's primary method fail.

 

As for P2 versus a tape deck, I'm not sure the point is to make shooting more convenient (tape is pretty convenient already). The point is to eliminate tape decks in cameras and editing stations, for whatever design & workflow advantages that gives you (like making DVCPRO-HD affordable for a $6000 consumer camera.) So we're trading the convenience of tape for some perceived advantage in camera design or editing room set-up that not being wedded to a particular tape transport system gives you.

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One thing I really like about the P2 tapeless system, is that you don't need to own a camera or an edit deck! That seems like a big advantage to me, as you can rent the camera for the shoot and just keep the data on a laptop or on a couple of P2 cards or something and just have a card reader in the computer.

 

It seems nice anyway, but maybe this is exactly the reason why panasonic are making it hard to get at the data in the way Phil describes.

 

love

 

Freya

 

As for P2 versus a tape deck, I'm not sure the point is to make shooting more convenient (tape is pretty convenient already). The point is to eliminate tape decks in cameras and editing stations, for whatever design & workflow advantages that gives you (like making DVCPRO-HD affordable for a $6000 consumer camera.)  So we're trading the convenience of tape for some perceived advantage in camera design or editing room set-up that not being wedded to a particular tape transport system gives you.

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Hi,

 

> From a film makers point of view, you get a very high resolution video image

 

Not at the moment, you don't. The camera doesn't exist.

 

Well yes we are obviously talking about a camera that doesn't exist, at least not in the real world anyway. I suppose ultimately theres no advantage to a camera that doesn't exist other than it is one less thing to worry about renting or buying. ;)

 

Even when it does, you're looking at a small chip, cheap lens camera recording to the lowest-res HD format out there. And it does seem to have escaped everyone's

 

I thought the camera was supposed to do 1080 at 24p?

 

The cheap lens thing is a big question however as far as I'm concerned. I'm fussy about lenses. Do we really know the lens will be cheap and nasty? Maybe it will only be cheap and not nasty. I have a couple of canon cameras with great lenses, in fact I have a video8 camera made by canon that has a wonderful lens on it, but canon seem to stick great lenses on any old rubbish traditionally. I wish they spent more time on the rest of their cameras in fact.

 

I've no experience with the lenses on Panasonic cameras but I'd love to hear your opinion on the lens on the DVX100A Phil. If the lens on that camera is bad we can assume the same for the P2 camera probably. This would be a big down for me personally, if the lens was very poor quality.

 

This is something that seems really unclear to me about consumer Hi Def in general actually, as I've heard people say the lens on the sony HDV camera is so poor that you would get higher overall resolution shooting on a high quality standard def camera with a good lens. I've never heard anybody deliver a clear verdict one way or the other as to whether this is true however.

 

For me this is a big question because if the lenses are really all that poor then all these lown end HiDef cameras are completely pointless for the most part.

 

But people say all kinds of stuff I guess.

 

attention that when you're recording 24p DVCPRO-HD on a P2 card, no frame padding takes place, so you're only recording 40mbps of data. Yes, this is also essentially true with the  varicam, and it's particularly ironic that DVCPRO-HD at 24p actually records less data than DVCPRO-50.

 

Phil

I think that nobody minds because they figure that 40mps is a lot more than HDV/DV anyway.

 

love

 

Freya

Edited by Freya

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When I showed my computer geek friend the articles on this camera he wondered if the pcmcia hard drive could work instead of the P2 cards. I guess panasonic probably made the camera where it will only work with P2 cards. This would work with the 24fps 40mbps codec http://www4.shopping.com/xPF-Toshiba_MK_50..._5_GB_MK5002MPL since it can sustain 66mbps. I like the price tag alot better too.

 

I think P2 cards have a great chance of becoming popular but not for a while until the cost comes down. Until then for Panny to be successful with this camera there needs to be a temporary low cost solution. Will there be any hard drive solutions for this when it is released?

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Hi,

 

> I thought the camera was supposed to do 1080 at 24p?

 

Yeah. So? It clearly isn't going to be such as good chip block as an F900 or a Varicam.

 

> Do we really know the lens will be cheap and nasty?

 

HD camera.

 

Six grand.

 

Think about it.

 

> Maybe it will only be cheap and not nasty.

 

And on that day the devil will be riding to work on a snowplough.

 

> I've no experience with the lenses on Panasonic cameras but I'd love to hear your

> opinion on the lens on the DVX100A Phil.

 

Never used it. However, it is a magnetically coupled servo control, which is bad, even though the DVX has a fairly sensible repeatable-encoding approach.

 

> I've heard people say the lens on the sony HDV camera is so poor that you would

> get higher overall resolution shooting on a high quality standard def camera with a

> good lens.

 

The lens on the Z1 is certainly nothing to write home about. Someone hacked the front off and replaced it with a C-mount, and even with an SD broadcast lens, the results were vastly better, especially in terms of chromatic aberration.

 

> I've never heard anybody deliver a clear verdict one way or the other as to

> whether this is true however.

 

I don't know, really. HDV as a tape format looks very much better than it has any real right to at the price, probably because the compression is intelligent. It's not a simple question, and very situation dependent. To find out, rent both cameras and compare - and please post the results here!

 

I have a feeling that a Z1 at centre of frame (the best area of the lens) shooting a staticscene with not much detail would probably outresolve a DVW-790. Start to move the scene, put a lot of detail in it, shine bright lights in the lens and move the subject to one of the corners, and you're probably going to do less well. That's just my feeling, though.

 

> For me this is a big question because if the lenses are really all that poor then all

> these lown end HiDef cameras are completely pointless for the most part.

 

That's my feeling. Let's see what this JVC thing's up to, eh?

 

Phil

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HI,

 

> he wondered if the pcmcia hard drive could work instead of the P2 cards

 

I thought I spent half an hour describing above exactly what the problem is with P2 and the specific card driver? No, it wouldn't. And yes, I harbour dark suspicions that this is because Panasonic want a monopoly over manufacturing the cards.

 

Phil

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HI,

 

> he wondered if the pcmcia hard drive could work instead of the P2 cards

 

I thought I spent half an hour describing above exactly what the problem is with P2 and the specific card driver? No, it wouldn't. And yes, I harbour dark suspicions that this is because Panasonic want a monopoly over manufacturing the cards.

 

Phil

 

 

You certainly did, but to be honest, he might have a point, it depends on what the special drivers actually do. It might be they just implement some weird disk format, in which case as long as the hard disk could be formatted the same way then it could work! Of course then you have an issue with formatting the hard disk but there may be ways and means.

 

Of course we don't really know what the silly driver is for!

 

It would be nice to believe that a weird disk format is used to increase throughput and that it isn't a plot by panasonic to create a weird proprietry format that everyone will ignore.

 

It might also be naieve tho. ;)

 

love

 

Freya

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