nanoFlash with tape based camcorders (HDX900, F-900R, etc.) at DVinfo.net

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Old November 29th, 2009, 05:34 PM   #1
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nanoFlash with tape based camcorders (HDX900, F-900R, etc.)

I think these cameras may be in the minority of cameras being used with C-D recorders, but they do provide some advantages and disadvantages to non-tape based cameras.

One advantage is that we can roll tape as a backup, which is a cheap, reliable archival format.

One disadvantage is that it is necessary to roll tape to trigger the recording of the nano. Reaching over (or up) to trigger the nano manually is impractical, unless one is in a stationary position on a tripod and recording very long shots.

Fortunately, those two things work pretty well together... as long as record run time code is being used. If free run time code is necessary (as in many multi-camera shoots, where the cameras can't be connected to distribute time code to all) that presents a problem. If the camera's TC is left free running, the nano will continue to record.

The HDX900 does have a power out/tally out connector, which is on the back of the camera. It is typically used to power wireless receivers or to provide remote tally when the camera is on a jib or crane. I imagine that a cable could be made to trigger the nano by connecting the tally out connection (requires a 4-pin Hirose) to the 10-pin Hirose female connector supplied by C-D. Is that a cable C-D could make if I supply the pin-out?

Is there another more practical solution to this?

I thought it might be possible to make a one-size-fits-all cable with a sensor, which could be affixed over any tally light and connect to the nano's remote connector to start recording. That would work for any camera with a tally light.

Sensors such as these are currently used to wirelessly transmit tally for jib operators. Maybe we could steal their idea for our own purposes?

Your thoughts?
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Old November 29th, 2009, 06:37 PM   #2
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Dear Steve,

We have multiple options.

If you want to record in camera and with our Flash XDR or nanoFlash, then the Record Run option is available. We agree with your statement that this is not always a great solution. I try hard to explain this to everyone when we talk about the Trigger on Incrementing Timecode.

If you do not want to record in camera, we have a Remote Control cable for the nanoFlash. This has a tally light. You could also record in camera, but this would require pressing two record buttons, not very practical.

We could design a general purpose sensor that would attach to your tally light.
It would be more difficult if your tally light flashes.

The HDX-900 has a Record Tally light output on the 4-Pin Hirose Power Out connector, Pin 1 = Ground, Pin 2 = Record Tally (Open Collector).

We could design a circuit to work with this output.

Also, some cameras put out a Record Flag in the HD-SDI output. If we can get this to work, it would be the best option. But, as usually, we do not expect every camera to set this flag.

So, we have many options.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 07:17 PM   #3
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Dan,

I do use the incrementing time option to record audio, video and TC through the HD-SDI stream. That works well as long as record run TC is being used. I have to record on tape in the camera with the HDX900 because there is no other way to get the TC to increment in record run mode... hence the problem. I don't know if the HDX900 has a record flag in the SDI stream, but that would be great if it could be used instead of another external cable.

I have thought about buying a couple of the remote cables (one for each camera and nano) to use as an optional way to trigger the nano separately while recording with free running TC. As you stated though, it would be a little clumsy to have two record buttons.

I will check with Panasonic to see if there is a record flag in the SDI stream.

I am attaching a .png file of the pin-out for the camera's tally connector. This agrees with what you stated in your reply, but there is also a record start/stop switch on pin 3, which is in parallel with the record buttons on the camera and lens. I don't know if this would sense the start/stop from the other buttons or if it only provides an additional location for that function... just wondering.

Thanks,
Steve
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nanoFlash with tape based camcorders (HDX900, F-900R, etc.)-panasonic-power-tally-connector.png  
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Old November 29th, 2009, 08:30 PM   #4
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Dear Steve,

We could built a custom remote control that started the nanoFlash and your HDX-900.

There is a danger, since these are pulse operated, that they could get out of sync, so I would recommend that we do not make one of these.

As I read the manual, it is pulse to record, pulse to stop.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 08:36 PM   #5
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Dan,

I agree... that seems a little risky. It looks as though the best way to do this would be via the tally or via a record flag in the SDI stream. I don't see how either of those could get out of sync with the camera's recorder.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old November 29th, 2009, 11:28 PM   #6
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On a somewhat different note...

I posted this in another thread, but had actually meant to include some of this info here, since it pertains to tape based cameras. Some of the info below pertains specifically to the Panasonic HDX900, but some would be pertinent to all tape based cameras.

The nano does record if the camera is rewound for a playback check. As soon as the tape rolls, the time code increments and the nano starts to record. I don't know if there is any way for the nano to differentiate between TC from record mode or playback. (Can it be set to look for generated vs. regenerated TC?)

For that reason as well as a couple of other reasons, I currently have the HDX900 output set to "Camera" instead of "VTR", so that rewinding for playback check will not start the nano recording. Of course, I usually check playback from the nano if I have a monitor hooked up. But, if you don't have a monitor available for playback and you need to view a take in the viewfinder, this setup won't trigger the nano.

Another reason to use "Camera" instead of "VTR"...

In the Goodman's Guide, Robert Goodman wrote about the difference between the VTR output and the camera output. The VTR output is 8 bit and the camera's output is 10 bit. (FYI, I believe that info is also found in the mostly useless Panasonic manual.) I have not been able to determine whether the EE output (with the switch in the "VTR" position) is 8 bit or if it is still 10 bit unless the tape is actually playing back. So, just to be safe, I keep it in the "Camera" position.

And yes, I know the nano is only an 8 bit recorder, but one should still realize a better quality recording on the nano if the signal it receives is cleaner.

Also, I record from the "Monitor Out" connector instead of the "Video Out" connector. I use the "Monitor Out" because I have all menus, characters and markers for the monitor output turned off in the camera's menus. Turning those back on requires going into the menus and going to some trouble to turn them back on.

The video output (on the back of the camera) is much easier to turn characters on and off and is therefore, much more prone to disaster. I use that for monitoring since it won't matter if characters are superimposed.

FYI, it's a good idea to save your user data file after making changes such as these. If you have to re-set your camera for any reason, you won't have something defaulting to the wrong setting. Remember, your scene files won't change these items, but a card file might, depending on how you have your camera set to read and write to and from the SD cards.

I hope this helps.

Steve
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Old November 30th, 2009, 12:21 AM   #7
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SDI record flag would be good

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
Dear Steve,
Also, some cameras put out a Record Flag in the HD-SDI output. If we can get this to work, it would be the best option. But, as usually, we do not expect every camera to set this flag.

So, we have many options.
Dan it would be great to have support for the SDI record flag as I can envisage cameras supporting this with their EXT REC function in the way they currently do with FireWire.

Regards

Dave C
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Old November 30th, 2009, 03:01 AM   #8
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Dear Dave,

We just need to determine more information about this flag, such as where it is in the HD-SDI data stream.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 01:58 AM   #9
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About using that Monitor Out on the HDX900...

In regard to the info I posted above about using the Monitor Out from the HDX900, it occurred to me tonight I probably should have included a couple of additional tidbits. So, here goes...
  • "Video Out" is affected by the VTR/Cam switch on the "driver's side" of the camera. (For those of you in the UK, I guess that would be the passenger's side.)
  • "Monitor Out" must have the VTR/Cam selection chosen from the menus as follows:
    "System Settings" > "Output Select" > "Moni Out Mode" - Once you're there, select "Cam". No matter how the VTR/Cam switch is set, the Monitor Out will not be changed... only the Video Out will be changed.
The entire menu should probably read as follows:
  • Output Item - TC
  • Moni Out - HD-SDI (of course)
  • Moni Out Chara - Off
  • Moni Out Mode - Cam

The HD-SDI setting in the second list item above is another good reason to use the Monitor Out instead of the Video Out. The Video Out connector has two possible down conversion settings... SD-SDI and Composite. It would be really easy to move that switch accidentally while changing time code or an audio setting. And wouldn't it really suck to do an entire shoot and only record SD-SDI?

Happy shooting!

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10-20 Productions
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Old December 1st, 2009, 06:39 AM   #10
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Hey Steve, after using the Nanoflash with my F900 these are my observations,

Since the Nano is taking in HDSDI you can put it almost anywhere on set. If the TC needs to be set to record-run you can hook the gizmo up to video assist and have that operator start/stop it, to the sound recordist if you're doing a dual-system record or even just next to a monitoring station for a PA to press the button (and confirm it's rolling).

The Nanoflash does roll for 5 sec when you Rec Review to check the gate but the clips are all almost the exact same size so it's pretty easy to sort by file size then delete the small files. I never found it tough to clean them out and they don't take up much room on the cards/drives. Should take you about 60 sec to clean out those files from a project.

Just my 2
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Old December 1st, 2009, 10:38 PM   #11
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Paul... good suggestions if one is working in a studio situation or anywhere a Video City might be set up. When I work as EIC, I'd love to have the nano on my cart instead of at the camera.

I'm more worried about the times when we're shooting ENG or EFP style, where the nano has to be mounted atop the HDX900.

This is especially a problem for the multi-camera situation and free-run time-of-day is necessary. It occurred to me that a solution to that would be for each camera to receive wireless time code. Time code, and therefore the nanos, could be remotely started by someone sitting at the TC generator.

Of course, that only works if everyone is shooting the same scene in the same area. I'm just thinking out loud here.

I wish I had the nano when I was doing a ton of multi-cam shoots with a switcher and full flight pack rig.
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Old December 30th, 2009, 04:14 PM   #12
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Another question, Steve...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Brown View Post
[/list]The entire menu should probably read as follows:
  • Output Item - TC
  • Moni Out - HD-SDI (of course)
  • Moni Out Chara - Off
  • Moni Out Mode - Cam
Hey Steve,

First, thanks for all the guidance!

I was finally getting around to putting your comments together for the HDX-900 owners I work with and something about your Monitor Out Menu settings raised a question.

Above you note that the "Moni Out Chara" should be set to OFF. Is this setting independent of the VF display? Can the operator have his preferred VF characters ON while the Monitor Out spigot has none? That would make my camera ops very happy.

BTW, just got your info off your website and I'll add you to my HDX-900 owners list.

Thanks!
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Old December 30th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Keaton View Post
Dear Dave,

We just need to determine more information about this flag, such as where it is in the HD-SDI data stream.
There is record start/stop information in the VITC/LTC user bits data. It is located on the last digit of the users bits data. Many Panasonic decks can record on start/stop using this.

To avoid the other problem, where the nano is triggered during playback, you could take the TC from your TC Out instead of the embedded TC, and then set your TC to TCG only. This way it only outputs timecode when generated, not on playback.
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Old December 30th, 2009, 11:24 PM   #14
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Dear Andy,

Thank you for posting this valuable information, this is just the information that we needed!
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Old January 5th, 2010, 11:41 AM   #15
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Bob,

I'm sorry I didn't see your post. I must have forgotten to subscribe to the thread.

I'm pretty sure the viewfinder display is completely independent of the monitor output. It has been so long since I set up my viewfinder display that I don't actually remember exactly what I did there. I have the inportant info there, but I don't have it cluttered with every possible choice. That info doesn't change much for me. Just keep in mind that, if you make changes like these, to save them to your user data file. If you don't, you could have problems if you have to re-set the camera.

The monitor output is a little harder to get to and to change since there isn't a switch on the camera. That's why I use it for recording to my nano.

I hope this answers your question. I will do a quick check when I get to my shop today to see if there is anything I'm forgetting regarding your question.
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