View Full Version : The HD100 on location in Madagascar - my experience


Andrew Young
January 6th, 2006, 11:39 AM
Several people have written me wanting to know more about my experience with the HD100 during a grueling two week shoot in Madagascar last October. Unfortunately, I have not had time to write it up, but Studio Monthly's Beth Merchant did a nice job summarizing the experience in the current issue.

The article is available on-line at: http://www.studiodaily.com/studiomonthly/currentissue/5887.html

What the article does not mention (because it happened after the interview) is that the camera had to go back to the factory for extensive repairs afterwards. This is not surprising considering that the camera was literally (and unintentionally) underwater more than once - with nothing but a rain cover for protection. But, in any case, you may want to think twice before you run off and try the same thing!

Michael Wisniewski
January 6th, 2006, 11:51 AM
Awesome story Andrew, your experience with the camera is just classic. I love the Gorilla glue. When can we expect to see the show?

Manny Rodriguez
January 6th, 2006, 11:51 AM
Great Job Andrew, I got to tip my hat for you, I read the article the other day, very great job. When will it be on the air? Other threads said it would air this Sunday 8th @ 10:00am, is this true. Please let me know , I am eager to view your footage.

So you shot it in 720p HDV 30fps right? why not 24p, just a question, curiouse of your descion... thanks for taking the time to post a thread Andrew.

Manny Rodriguez

Nate Weaver
January 6th, 2006, 12:14 PM
...why not 24p, just a question, curiouse of your descion...

Likely so he could edit!

Andrew, in the text of the article, you talk about how durable you thought the camera is. In contrast, for some reason over the months I've had mine, I feel a need to baby it...unlike say, an LTR or a BVW-400. I guess I tend to think the lightweight DV transport is easy to mess up.

After all the bouncing around on the shoot, did you have any trouble getting tapes to digitize due to tracking errors/recording head misalignment?

Andrew Young
January 6th, 2006, 01:10 PM
Likely so he could edit!

Hi Nate,

Yes, that's exactly why. I had a delivery deadline to deal with and there was no reason not to shoot 30p for my two clients. The filmout was an afterthought and done as a test. It was MOS, so there were no consequences of slowing the footage down - just like shooting film at 30fps.

Andrew, in the text of the article, you talk about how durable you thought the camera is. In contrast, for some reason over the months I've had mine, I feel a need to baby it...unlike say, an LTR or a BVW-400. I guess I tend to think the lightweight DV transport is easy to mess up.

I don't have that much experience with Betacams, but I would definately not say that the camera is durable like an LTR. Nore was I expecting it to be, given that is has much more plastic than an LTR. I was just amazed that it held up as well as it did.

It is also worth pointing out that while this was a very abusive shooting experience, I have only used the camera a handfull of days since then, so your own experiences may be more telling.

After all the bouncing around on the shoot, did you have any trouble getting tapes to digitize due to tracking errors/recording head misalignment?

I had no such problems, but I did often get the "Heads need to be cleaned" warning, which was very unnerving - although none of the footage turned out to have problems. In any case, I'm anxious to switch over to hard disk recording asap.

Manny Rodriguez
January 6th, 2006, 01:50 PM
what type of type did you use?

when will it air?

Andrew Young
January 6th, 2006, 02:06 PM
Hi Manny,

I used Sony PHDVM-63DM. They're the most expensive ones on the market (about $18). I guess I was attempting to buy peace of mind.

In about 18 hours of shooting I had about a half dozen "incidents." All but one of these turned out to be the tracking errors David Leitner spoke of in the article - not real dropouts. One was a real humdinger - and it was on the very first tape!

Manny Rodriguez
January 6th, 2006, 02:40 PM
I know there was a post on the Panasonic AY-DVM63PQ, out there but can't find it, you ever used these? As per a JVC rep. @ the Los Angeles Dv Expo, they told me to stick with either the Sony 63min pro, Or the Panasonic 63min pro, just stick with one brand, incase of emergency stick your head cleaner and swap the other brand, but they insisted I stick with one. It's pretty hard to decide on what type of tapes to use when you have the end user giving their beleives and expiriences on these products. thanks for your info..

Manny

Jiri Bakala
January 6th, 2006, 02:52 PM
As per a JVC rep. @ the Los Angeles Dv Expo, they told me to stick with either the Sony 63min pro...
They did??? I like those and have been using them with Sony gear but I am reluctant to use them with the JVC. So far nobody was able to really explain the difference between the 'wet' lubricated SONY and 'dry' Panasonic/JVC, etc. tapes.

Stephen L. Noe
January 6th, 2006, 04:48 PM
Several people have written me wanting to know more about my experience with the HD100 during a grueling two week shoot in Madagascar last October. Unfortunately, I have not had time to write it up, but Studio Monthly's Beth Merchant did a nice job summarizing the experience in the current issue.

The article is available on-line at: http://www.studiodaily.com/studiomonthly/currentissue/5887.html

What the article does not mention (because it happened after the interview) is that the camera had to go back to the factory for extensive repairs afterwards. This is not surprising considering that the camera was literally (and unintentionally) underwater more than once - with nothing but a rain cover for protection. But, in any case, you may want to think twice before you run off and try the same thing!

Hi Andrew,

Is it you that's coming to Columbia College on Feb 2?

Andrew Young
January 6th, 2006, 05:10 PM
Hi Andrew,

Is it you that's coming to Columbia College on Feb 2?

Yes, Stephen. I'll be showing the 35mm filmout. I think I'll be doing the same in LA on Jan. 31st, but it's not in stone yet. I'll keep you all posted.

Stephen L. Noe
January 6th, 2006, 05:33 PM
Yes, Stephen. I'll be showing the 35mm filmout. I think I'll be doing the same in LA on Jan. 31st, but it's not in stone yet. I'll keep you all posted.
Good stuff Andrew. Can't wait to see how yours turned out. Our group is working on an HD-100 film out for a follow up event. I'll be there and am looking forward to it.

Charles Papert
January 6th, 2006, 05:43 PM
Looking forward to the LA screening Andrew--did you get to do that second pass on the filmout you were hoping to?

Andrew Young
January 6th, 2006, 07:47 PM
Hi Charles,

Hoping to in the next few weeks. Your mini35 test should be in the mix as well.

Andrew Young
January 6th, 2006, 10:14 PM
When can we expect to see the show?

Hi Michael,

From what I can tell, the first installment will go out this Sunday (Jan 8) on PBS, as a part of National Geographic's Wild Chronicles series. I saw 10am on the web but check local listings. (Ahem... not exactly prime time). The second installment is due to follow a week later. This is a news magazine show, so the segments are fairly short.

For those interested, I shot this material at 720p30, edited at 720p30 on FCP, then downconverted to DV 4x3 on FCP (also did pan & scan on FCP). It was then output to DVCAM for delivery to NGT.

Nathan Brendan Masters
January 6th, 2006, 10:19 PM
Double post. Sorry.

Nathan Brendan Masters
January 6th, 2006, 10:22 PM
Hey Andrew,

Congrats on being able to look so cool hanging off the side of a truck with a video camera. I think images like this connected to articles like this does more to aid in cameras sales than we may want to admit. I graduated from Columbia so I might come up and check it out. Is it free or what?

I loved the article and hope to see more like this in DV and video publications dealing with HD and HDV. But what got me was the gorilla glue. I want to hear more about this. Frankly if I actually end up getting a Canon or even this one I think I may end up finding some way to connect a film lens, which some say will be a cheaper way to go and actually will produce a sharper image. This may be some type of FUD but I'd like to hear your feedback on it.

-Nate

Andrew Young
January 6th, 2006, 10:45 PM
I graduated from Columbia so I might come up and check it out. Is it free or what?
Hi Nate,
I'm affraid I don't have any info on the Chicago event (except that I'll be there). I imagine it will be free. Check the JVC website for a possible posting.

But what got me was the gorilla glue. I want to hear more about this.

The article wasn't really clear on this. What I did was remove the bayonet mount from a Century .7 wide angle adapter and glue an 82mm thread in its place so that I could mount it on the end of the Fujinon that came with the HD100. Not a pristine solution, but the best I could muster at the time. It wasn't perfect, but is was well worth doing.

Frankly if I actually end up getting a Canon or even this one I think I may end up finding some way to connect a film lens, which some say will be a cheaper way to go and actually will produce a sharper image.

I have a Nikon to HD100 adaptor that I purchased from Zoerk and early results look good, but don't expect a solution like this to replace your HDV lens for two reasons: 1) you are unlikely to find larger format lenses that are wide enough to give you anything less than telephoto on a 1/3" chip and 2) HD lenses have a different backfocus pattern than film lenses, so they can not be properly columnated to work on a 3 chip camera - unless you stick with longer focal length lenses, which have sufficient behind the lens depth of field to mask the problem. My Nikon adaptor is great, but only for extreme telephoto and macro (which I actually do plenty of in my crazy line of work).

John M Burkhart
January 6th, 2006, 11:09 PM
Hi Andrew,

As a producer of travel and documentary shows here in tropical asia, I was very glad to read of your real world experiences in Madagascar.

I often find myself in similar environments and far from camera support (and electricity), so any camera I need to bring with me needs to function in high-humidity, adverse conditions, and take the occasional knock or two and keep functioning.

I'm still undecided on which of these small HD camcorders to purchase, since I am more familliar with pro video cameras, I've been favoring the JVC because of it's layout, and I do like the progressive video look. I was though, a little concerned about several reports of camera problems and issues on these boards in regards to reliability.

So I guess the question I'm asking you is that if you had to do your shoot again, but this time had access to the Sony, JVC, Canon, and Panasonic cameras, would you still use the JVC? Why or why not?

Thanks,
John

John Vincent
January 7th, 2006, 05:27 PM
Mr. Young - well done!

I too have a lot of questions - Any SSE problems, etc.?

Basically, would you buy the camera now?

Thanks and congratulations....

John

Andrew Young
January 8th, 2006, 10:02 AM
So I guess the question I'm asking you is that if you had to do your shoot again, but this time had access to the Sony, JVC, Canon, and Panasonic cameras, would you still use the JVC? Why or why not?

This is the big question, isn't it? There were a few times on the shoot when I wished I had a palmcorder - but not many. Usually when I was walking backwards in the forest in front of people. In general, JVC's scaled down ENG form factor works well for me.

Of the other cameras, the Panasonic is in many ways the most interesting and it's the only one with a lens that is wide enough for my tastes. But the lens would not do the extreme macro and telephoto I needed. And most notably, with the short recording time and huge amount of storage I would have needed to offload, it would have been impractical for this type of shoot - especially considering that we often went 3 days without power. But for the right project, and when a palmcorder is advantageous, this camera has real appeal to me.

I've seen some very beautify images produced by the Sony, but again, that camera has the same palmcorder and lens issues and frankly, I prefer the progressive look to the interlaced look.

The Canon would seem a real contender, with what is most likely a superior lens (but still not wide enough). In particular, the HD-SDI out, while not necessary for this shoot, is a real big ticket item. But the fact that they left the audio out of the HD-SDI is a fly in the ointment. And the fact that its 24fs mode is not true progressive is also a concern (though I shouldn't judge until I see what it looks like). But my main gripe about the Canon XL series is that it is not a fully shoulder mounted camera. The fact that you see all those silly braces advertised for the XL series says something about the front heavy ergonomics. Either give me something that's small, light and held out in front, or something that sits firmly on the shoulder. This feels like an awkward in between to me.

That pretty much leaves the JVC. So I guess this is a very long winded way of saying, yes, if I were doing the same shoot again today, I would still take the JVC. For me, it has the best form factor of the low cost HD cameras and I feel that I'm going to shoot more intuitively with a camera that feels more intuitive. Plus, it keeps me in shape for the big cameras. I don't feel that it is a perfect camera by any means. In particular, I wish for better low light performance, a better viewfinder and a way to jam sync timecode so you can autosync double system audio - or PCM audio that works. But with an Antor Bauer adapter and good wide-angle adapter (or hopefully soon, a better lens), the price point seems right for the features. Once the price starts going north of $10,000 (with accessories), it makes me wonder if I shouldn't hold out for a GrassValley Infinity, so that I can have a 2/3" chip and 4:2:2.

Andrew Young
January 8th, 2006, 10:09 AM
Any SSE problems, etc.?

In 18 hours of dailies I saw it only once very fleetingly and that was only after working with the material for weeks. The filmout has several low light shots and no evidence of SSE at all. So it really hasn't been an issue for me, but hearing the stories of others does cause concern.

Basically, would you buy the camera now?

See my long winded response to John M Burkhart.

Ed Hill
January 12th, 2006, 01:53 PM
Andrew,

Incredible article in Studio magazine and very educational on how you solved the problems, with battery life and the lens issues.

I sympathised with the agony of the waterlogged camera because I lost a Sony to salt water immersion while shooting a job for Pinellas County, FL long ago. I was so desperate, that I would have tried baking the camera over a campfire if I had thought of it. Great story. Sadly, the Sony died. I'm amazed that the JVC lived to shoot again. Good thing you sent it for repair.

As a documentary maker and an avid fan of documentaries, I look forward to seeing the images from the HD100. When will this show air and what's the title? I'm not clear from what I've read so far, will the show air in both HD and SD versions?

Ed Hill

John Vincent
January 12th, 2006, 03:32 PM
In 18 hours of dailies I saw it only once very fleetingly and that was only after working with the material for weeks. The filmout has several low light shots and no evidence of SSE at all. So it really hasn't been an issue for me, but hearing the stories of others does cause concern.



See my long winded response to John M Burkhart.

Andrew - thanks for your response. I think the thing that struck me the most in the article was that the jvc's toughness - especially when the camera was dropped underwater and was brought back to life 5 hours later - amazing...

I was sitting on the fence b4 - now, assuming I can find one w/o the SSE problem, I'm going jvc - thanks again for all the info...
John

Jiri Bakala
January 12th, 2006, 03:55 PM
- now, assuming I can find one w/o the SSE problem, I'm going jvc -
That's the key! I picked up the camera two days ago and this one is my second. The first I didn't even take from the store. Two VERY different cameras. The first had a very obvious SSE and a bad colour viewfinder. This one doesn't really have SSE (I managed to very faintly see it when I really fished for it) and FAR better VF. Go figure. I say to JVC: the inconsistency of quality and quality control is very sad because obviously they are CAPABLE of producing decent units but they also throw on the marked very bad units. So, beware and check the camera BEFORE accepting it. It's a great camera if you get a good unit!