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Old December 20th, 2009, 05:24 AM   #31
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The Discovery mega series has not started shooting yet, they've just finished ordering their gear and the 350 was already available before they made their decision.
Steve, you must be talking about the PDW-350 and not the PMW-350. The PMW-350 EX camera hasn't reached the market yet (next couple of weeks perhaps).

As Alister said they are more likely to use cameras that they already have, or have a good deal on. The 350 would also be a new camera, so a large production might not want to be a beta tester for gear.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 06:26 AM   #32
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You can think all of these things if you like, but it's not correct. They don't use them because they don't think they're up to it. As I already said the if they would want to use the 350 they'd more likely go for the EX3 as it's virtually the same in image quality terms (according to Alister's own tests) but with numerous other advantages for wildlife. The series doesn't start shooting until the new year so they could certainly have waited if they'd wanted to, but no, they went for 5 x 2700s and a 3700.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 10:14 AM   #33
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I have to stay out of this debate. I like both for different reasons. The good news that I just heard is that our first shipment of 350s has shipped. So next week we should have one on our showroom floor and the first orders will be sent out. I'm excited to see the lens that comes with it too.

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Old December 20th, 2009, 11:44 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
Producers or production companies that are not prepared to consider alternate codecs or workflows need to be re-educated. File based workflows mean that there is no reason to be tied to any one codec or recording technology. All the mainstream NLE's will happily mix different codecs within the timeline.
That thought was swirling in my head as well. How do you get to be a production company and remain so clueless about alternate codecs and workflows? It would have to be a deliberate choice to remain stubborn in the face of opportunity. That type of a mindset will not prevail.

Brands have their proponents. I would like to believe I am open minded enough about all of them, but I have seen enough from Sony to persuade me it will be, "up to it," no doubt. I am putting my own money on this.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 11:49 AM   #35
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As I already said the if they would want to use the 350 they'd more likely go for the EX3 as it's virtually the same in image quality terms (according to Alister's own tests)
Steve
When did I say that? The PMW-350 is fair bit better than the EX3. Much less noise (almost a 6db difference) and better sensitivity, plus the use of Hypergammas and Multi-Matrix makes it a significant step up from the EX1/EX3. What I have said is that is similar to the PDW-700.

No major production is going to stick it's neck out and choose an un-tried, un-tested, un-available camera, come on Steve be realistic. There's only been about 10 pre-production cameras around globally for about 2 months and I know that for Europe the first shipments will be in single digits for most countries. Planning for these big budget shoots takes place months in advance, probably before anyone even knew of the existence of the 350. It's common knowledge how little (if anything) the NHU pay for cameras from Panasonic and all the free support, workshops and training that they give them, you can't tell me that doesn't have a significant influence on their choices. If the BBC NHU were serious about quality over budget they would be using better cameras than 2700's. Maybe not 350's or SRW9000's, but certainly a 1080P camera.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 02:27 PM   #36
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Jeff, I'll try and answer your points in a different order.
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What I'm not understanding is your contending that AVC-Intra 100 frames are more compressed than XDCAM 422?
That wasn't really the point I was making, rather a far more general point about 10 bit working. Leaving XDCAM aside, let say we start with an I-frame only system, 8 bit, and 80Mbs available for coding. We then get told we can up the bit rate to 100Mbs - how do we use it? We may decide to make it a 10 bit system, or may decide to improve the overall compression, but keep to 8 bit.

Which would be best? Good question. I'm not trying to make 10 bit out to be a bad thing (far from it), only to point out there is another side to the coin. It's conceivable that it may lead to an undesirable compromise.
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XDCAM 422 runs at 50Mpbs, 8-bit, 4:2:2, Long GOP, MPEG2 based. Add 25% bit rate to that for 10-bit, that's 62.5Mbps. AVC-Intra 100 has a much higher bit rate, a newer, more efficient codec, MPEG4, but is made less efficient by 10-bit and I-Frame. Isn't there still sufficiently high bit-rate to deal with the overhead of 10-bit and I-Frame?
Interesting though the debate may be, there's a limit to how much information you can really get by just looking at the headline figures. They don't tell you how efficient actual coders are, and the results will vary widely from scene to scene. That's why I'm just prepared to go along with the EBU findings - AVC-Intra 100 and XDCAM 422 have both been given full approval. Note that the conclusions have been based on generic tests, not on defined pieces of equipment anyway. So it's conceivable that codec A might have the edge on codec B in generic terms, but when you come to compare physical hardware a device using B may actually perform better than one using A!

But having said it's an impossible task, let's just look at the figures in a little more detail. Long GOP should give an efficiency improvement of something like 2-3x over I-frame only, so XDCAM 422 SHOULD equate to I-frame only MPEG2 at something like 100-150Mbs. If AVC-Intra was 8 bit, it would equate to about 80Mbs in compression terms, all else equal, and the question then becomes how much effect the AVC aspect has. "Up to 2x" is quoted for AVC in general, but a lot of that may only be applicable in long-GOP systems like AVC-HD. There may be less tricks to play with if only I-frames. Lets assume it's about 1.5x. If it was, it gives an "MPEG2 I-frame only" figure of 120Mbs, so very comparable with XDCAM 422. I can believe the EBU recommendations. (Which are at http://tech.ebu.ch/docs/r/r124.pdf for anybody who hasn't seen them.)
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At least we agree that XDCAM EX is not the equal of either of the above.
No - but things need to be put in perspective. Neither DVCProHD nor HDCAM meet those EBU recommendations, neither is as good as either XDCAM 422 or AVC-Intra 100, but they are probably the most widely used codecs around today. You can't always work with the latest and best equipment, no matter what it is. The recommendations are intended as "bear this in mind when you buy new equipment" - along with many other factors.

XDCAM 35Mbs may well rival, if not exceed, both HDCAM and DVCProHD for quality, so it shouldn't be simply dismissed. Codec choice is only one aspect of equipment choice, and realistically practical issues such as power consumption, connectivity, ability to take new digital radiomics, media issues can be highly influential - to say nothing of native resolution. It's a complicated business, and codecs are only a small part of it.

And that said, you can always stick an external recorder on a 350.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 02:48 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
When did I say that? The PMW-350 is fair bit better than the EX3.
If the BBC NHU were serious about quality over budget they would be using better cameras than 2700's. Maybe not 350's or SRW9000's, but certainly a 1080P camera.
You said that the 350 was about equal to the 700 and previously you'd said that the EX3 and 700 were virtually indistinguishable.
You really don't think the NHU are serious about quality vs budget? Less so than you? They can't go for a 1080P camera apart from an SRW9000 or F23 etc., as we need slomo - even 60 fps is not really enough but it's essential, 100% essential, to have at least that.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 02:56 PM   #38
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I have been following this erudite discussion with interest and amusement but it appears that most of the references, in regards to "accepted" formats, chips, etc, have revolved around those of the EBU or the BBC. However, for those of us on the "other side of the pond," who do not submit to the BBC, Nat Geo and others of similar ilk, I respectfully inquire, where is the relevance?
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Old December 20th, 2009, 03:22 PM   #39
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HPX-3700 can do 60fps and shoot 1920x1080, SRW9000 can shoot at 60fps, Sony F800 shoots 1920x1080 and can shoot 1920x540 at 60fps (i admit I'm somewhat suspect of this frame size). What's wrong with SRW9000?

Ron, your right, as I said earlier the BBC NHU is just one very small part of the global HD market, but some seem to think that only cameras used by them are any good.

Yes, I think the EX3 and PDW-700 can at times be almost impossible to tell apart, but I still think the 700 is undoubtably the better camera of the two. I also think the 700 and 350 are very close. Once I get my 350 and spend more time with it I'll let you know whether it really is better than the 700. I suspect it might be. It certainly has less noise. It is CMOS though and that won't suit everyone.

Each step up in quality is not in itself massive, but each one brings a cleaner image. A cleaner image puts less stress on the codec (whether internal or external) and provides an image that is more flexible in post. Considering the feature set of the 350 and colour VF, when compared to the 700 feature set. The 350 has a lot to shout about.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 03:36 PM   #40
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HPX3700 cannot do 60fps, only 30.
Nothing wrong with the SRW9000, but it is expensive, plus tapeless seems a backward step and you need an SR player recorder to use it.

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Old December 20th, 2009, 03:41 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
Ron, your right, as I said earlier the BBC NHU is just one very small part of the global HD market, but some seem to think that only cameras used by them are any good.
.
It's not that I think that only NHU cameras are any good, but that these guys are vastly experienced and working with budgets that most can only dream about and so if they choose one camera (ie HPX2700) over another (ie EX3) there must be a good reason for it.
And again, it's not just NHU, the series for Discovery is nothing to do with the Beeb and they've gone 2700s, same goes for the highly regarded RSPB Film Unit.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 04:04 PM   #42
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They can't go for a 1080P camera apart from an SRW9000 or F23 etc., as we need slomo - even 60 fps is not really enough but it's essential, 100% essential, to have at least that.
I think in a nutshell that's exactly the *MAIN* reason they went for 2700s. As I said before, camera choice at this level is not solely about codecs, not solely about absolute resolution, not solely about any one single factor. And the weighting of all the factors will depend on the main use to which any camera or system is to be put. So what's judged to be the best currently available model for wildlife may not be appropriate for other types of work.

Currently, varispeed filming realistically means 720 working. Is 1080p better than 720p with full raster chips? Undoubtably yes. Would it be worth giving up slomo etc options for the sake of resolution for a wildlife documentary? I doubt it.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 04:21 PM   #43
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David, "is 1080p better than 720p with full raster chips?" Not neccessarily, there are lots of 1080 cameras that won't be as good as 720 ones.
And as for slomo, the EX3 and PMW350 will do 720 1-60fps exactly the same as the Varicam, so it ain't just that.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 04:43 PM   #44
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I try to avoid putting "all else equal" into every post several times, but OK, point taken. :-)

I wouldn't expect varispeed capabilities to be the ONLY reason for choosing a wildlife camera, and 2/3" chips would also, I suspect, be high on the list. (Because of the high range of available lenses, including specialist kit, and especially so if you already have an existing 2/3" investment.) It's for reasons like that I wouldn't expect any non-2/3" camera to be chosen, including the EX3. Legacy issues may also apply - if your entire workflow is set up around P2, it's a big incentive to maintain the status quo, even if something else better comes along. A very different story if you're making the first moves from tape.

If the varispeed capability of the PMW350 matches that of the 2700, it may well be the way of the future for wildlife as well as other programming. (Ignoring anything else in the pipeline from Panasonic.) But the 350 isn't available until next month. At some point, planning has to happen on the basis of what's available at the time.
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Old December 20th, 2009, 05:48 PM   #45
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It is worth remembering that in the U.S., ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and all Fox Networks are 720/60P. I've had to submit D5 and SR tapes in 720/60P to Fox.

When it comes to the original Varicam, there are many, many DP's who still call it the most filmic of all 2/3" video cameras. Many say 720P is kinder to talent. Most 720P was acquired in 720X960 via DVCPRO HD. 720P field acquisition has become better with AVC-Intra and XDCAM EX, 422 being full sample 720X1280.

At Varicamp recently in LA, a large internet company had their video department in attendance because they had recently bought three HPX3700's. They were more than a bit surprised when this six figure investment in cameras would not allow them to shoot 720 or any progressive frame rates over 30 fps(much as Alister didn't know about the 30 fps limit). Apparently they hadn't read the brochure before purchasing. On the last day of the training, they could be seen huddling with Panasonic management, presumably talking about trading in the 3700's for 2700's.

This talk of Panasonic discounting the 2700 due to it being 720P ignores the fact that the 3700 was also discounted the same percentage under the trade-in program. It is also unfair to say that Panasonic gives away cameras or support for high profile productions. Sony has been doing this for as long as I can remember. This is not what put the Varicam reputation on the map.

The Varicam name still holds a lot of cache in the US in higher-end production circles and the P2 Varicams offer a big step forward in most areas. However, the HPX3700 should not have been called a Varicam due to its lack of frame rate flexibility. The 2700 is the true successor to the original Varicam models.

I haven't heard whether or not the Sony 350 XDCAM EX or 700/800 XDCAM 422 cameras do frame ramping during recording, which the Varicam is known for?

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