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Old December 30th, 2009, 10:46 AM   #106
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Originally Posted by Jeff Regan View Post
I would be concerned right now if I owned an F900R or 700/800 because of the 350.

Of course, I'm concerned by all palmcorders, RED One and video DSLR's, not to mention Flip HD at this point! It seems 2/3" cameras just aren't sexy anymore.

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You bring up a good point about obsolescence. I buy a car knowing it's a depreciating asset, not expecting to make money on it. In a different sense I am making money on it, because it makes possible the transportation to and from work that pays the bills.

But I don't have to look at each camera purchase and make the judgment about whether it's a specific bread winner or loser. In the rental business, you do and you've been very clear what your expectation for return on that investment would be, i.e. a rental rate twice what the EX3 brings.

But because I'm not in the business of rentals, I would have no fear whatsoever about owning an F900R, or 700/800. In fact I would love to have one. The choice for PMW350 owes to its up-to-date features and benefits, and price point that makes it reasonable for me to jump into the 2/3 inch class.

These cams all remain usable and desirable, but from the viewpoint of business of rentals, and the concern that consumer choice can be fickle, turn on a dime, and be suddenly no longer desirable because a new flavor of the month appears, I understand you have to be conservative about what is worthy of being added to the inventory list.

Maybe subject for another discussion, is the point you raised about whether 2/3 inch just aren't sexy anymore? To me they still are. I own the 5DMkII DSLR and lenses. The image quality does not satisfy me for 1080p video due to aliasing and CMOS artifacts. I once saw a comparison somewhere, it was the Red One and I believe a Sony F23, not totally sure about the latter, but one of the high end Sony 2/3 inch devices. I understand you achieve whatever look you need from the RAW in post, but I still thought the image from the 2/3 inch cam was more highly detailed, and certainly presented an opportunity for achieving a desirable look 'in-cam'. That really counts with me. Speed is time, and time is money. The convenience of having a wealth of image adjustment controls in-cam is very important to me. Perhaps 2/3 inch isn't sexy anymore, the market is increasingly segmented, with pressure from below with great performing 1/2 inch EX cams, from above with the Red, and from the side with video DSLRs, a wealth of riches, but certain to complicate rental decisions.
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Old December 30th, 2009, 11:36 AM   #107
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Tom,

All good points. My observations are that most young film makers haven't used 2/3" cameras, don't know about proper ergonomics/form factor, don't have a clue about what the menu items in the camera offer as far as image control.

We know that 2/3" cameras are used in the thousands daily around the world to shoot just about every kind of project imaginable. They are good in low light, reliable, convenient, have good latitude, shallower depth of field than palmcorders, less noise, and allow for baked-in image control at a level that the little cameras or raw cameras don't have.

I see people judging cameras via super compressed internet clips, where the things like aliasing on the edges of video DSLR cameras isn't apparent. My 2700 is good for 11-stops of latitude in Film-Rec 600%, a palmcorder or video DSLR just isn't going to achieve that.

2/3" ENG style HD cameras are the best for hand held, the lenses have great focal length range with smooth servos, viewfinders are usually good, monitoring capability is usually superior, with proven, robust recording formats and more recording capacity.

I offer Letus Ultimate 35mm depth of field adapters for all my cameras if clients want a shallow depth of field while still retaining the convenience and reliability of 2/3" cameras.
With a video DSLR like the 5D, you get shallow depth of field whether wanted or not, lousy audio, monitoring, codec, record capacity, ergonomics and CMOS artifacts.

One of my rental house competitors has a few 5D's and he tells me he hopes the fad passes quickly. He also tells me his RED One packages are the most unreliable gear he owns.

I am conservative, I don't want calls from the set or edit suite. I don't want to have to send a backup camera with every rental. I've been in this business for 28 years now and don't want to fall into the same holes over and over again--my clients need to be able to trust any piece of gear I offer for rental. If I lose that, I have nothing.

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Old December 30th, 2009, 07:22 PM   #108
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From another thread on this forum by Gary Natress in answer to whether AVC-Intra is as hard to edit with as AVCHD:

"No it isnt AVC intra is a superb codec and far better for editing than AVCHD, I am using AVC intra 100 a lot and it goes into final cut pro as re-wrapped native AVC to pro res files.

It is a dream to work with and the lower bit rate AVC intra 50 is even easier, the files also go into FCP at 3X real time for AVC intra 100 on my mac machines.

I also use AVCHD from a canon HF11 and find that it is better to transcode to pro res LT than re-wrap and try to use AVCHD for editing.

Hope this helps, I have the HPX301 and the picture quality of AVC intra is superb."

Heard from a DP today who sold an HPX3000 and is considering an HPX2700 now for 720P and overcranking, plus better sensitivity. He has been using AVC-Intra since the 3000 was introduced in 2007 and is very happy with its quality and work flow.

I've been using Intra for a year with sub-rented P2 Mobile, HPX3000 and now my HPX2700, working with several post houses who are editing my client's projects with no problems.

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Old December 31st, 2009, 03:39 AM   #109
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I agree Jeff the AVC intra 100 from my 301 is superb quality and a joy to edit and work with to delivery, I also have a canon HF11 and as you say transcoding to pro res LT is the best option.

Once that process is done it is also very easy to work with, I am considering a 2700 in the new year and with our two 301's it will give us pretty much everything we need for broadcast and on-line shooting. The big advantage is that everything will be in AVC intra 100 and we are also using the 301's as B cameras all the time.

I have looked at the new 350 but it just doesnt make sense for me as I have decided on P2 as my format and having all three cameras shooting the same codec is a good location workflow for edit in FCP.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 08:01 AM   #110
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I am considering a 2700 in the new year and with our two 301's it will give us pretty much everything we need for broadcast and on-line shooting
I'm curious as to which broadcasters are accepting 301 material?
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Old December 31st, 2009, 10:55 AM   #111
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301's are being used as B-cameras to our current hire 2700 all the time and we have had no complaints so far from any of our broadcast clients.

Sorry cant name them as that would breach our contracts but everything is being shot AVC intra 100 on all cameras so the only real difference is the 1/3" cmos vs 2/3" CCD.

To be honest on some of the live music content we have done it is really difficult to tell which camera is which.

I have also just done a feature film on a 301 and the client was very happy with the results and it met the budget that they had.
We also provided a hire 301 for a commercial that is going on air in the new year : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEhVxHNRdz4

I have always done everything with our 301's under the guidance of Alan Roberts report and whilst the BBC do not have it on their list the 2700 is there and we work in a similar fashion to how SD prods have always used Z1's etc for a certain percentage of content, the big advantage is that as said everything is in AVC intra 100 so workflow to edit in FCP and archiving from P2 to hard drive is a smooth process.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 11:06 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by Gary Nattrass View Post
I agree Jeff the AVC intra 100 from my 301 is superb quality and a joy to edit and work with to delivery, I also have a canon HF11 and as you say transcoding to pro res LT is the best option.
Gary,

I was quoting you, I don't have a Canon HF11, although I've used AVC HD for in-car cameras and it was a pain to transcode. I'm sorry I misspelled your name. Glad Intra and P2 workflow is working well for you.

Alister,

In the U.S. there are many shows shot with HPX300's, "Players", a Spike TV national cable show, several local broadcast channels for news and local commercials. I don't know of any national broadcast network shows, however.

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Old December 31st, 2009, 11:25 AM   #113
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Wow Gary, you or your production company has worked on broadcast programmes producing material that is there for everyone to watch and enjoy yet your not allowed to say which ones and on which channels. That sucks. I've never come across any contracts like that before. Sure for confidential material or corporate communications but never for broadcast.

When will your feature film be released and what's it called? I'll keep an eye out for it, will be interesting to see a 301 on a big screen.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 02:10 PM   #114
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I have no problems naming broadcasters and programmes that I work for as a freelancer and that is not a problem as they are on my C.V that is in the public domain, but when it is my own facilities company I dont like to breach confidentiality, its something I actually put into my own contract as it also protects their rights and prevents me from showing or discussing any of their material out of context. You can see a list of my clients on my web site and I have worked for most of the big guys over my 30 years in the industry. Sky is on there but as you may know a lot of the sky channels are run under the blanket of larger companies such as virgin and what used to be flextech.

That way my liability insurance is also lower and there is less risk of me being sued for misrepresentaion, some of the bigger players could wipe me out so I make sure I dont discuss my clients on forums unless they have allowed me too.

I have worked for Disney at AMS Neve and Teddington studios and saw the might of their legal department in action when their company practices were discussed openly. I also witnessed how one client of Teddington after Pearson's had sold it to a private company took them to the cleaners for all sorts of things.

There are some great people to work for but these days of fragmentation it is wise to be prepared and my years of running my own dubbing facility in london 10 years ago have taught me a lot about corporate matters.

The feature is due for its edit in Spain next month so it should be in post for dubbing Feb and ready for release in the spring / summer, it has a working title of "The last straw" but this will not be its final release name, the production guys like to keep things a bit mysterious as its a horror film.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 02:17 PM   #115
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Sorry Jeff I though the words seemed familiar, I must read things more carefully.

AVC intra is better for edit in FCP than AVCHD but once that has been transcoded to pro res LT it all works together fine, not that I use the HF11 as a B-cam though it tends to be for behind the scenes videos and my holidays.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 08:52 PM   #116
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Just to add to what I already have said we as media people really have to think long and hard about all this new marketing from sony and panasonic as it maybe that they push 2/3" chip cmos cameras at 35mbs without checking if this is Ok for the dinosaur UK market.

Remember that sony are selling product and the UK broadcast market is now very very small so long term acceptance of cameras such as the 301 with a codec that is already acepted may be the business approach rather than the cameraman shallow dof luvvie aspect!.

It all comes down to £SD and the 350 may be a great camera for 2/3" camera luvvies but my 30 years experience says that cost is king and most of the broadcast prouducers I work with wouldn't know a 1/3" to 2/3" chip camera anyway. Sad, but its the way TV had gone, like it or lump it!!!
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Old January 1st, 2010, 04:25 AM   #117
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Remember that sony are selling product and the UK broadcast market is now very very small so long term acceptance of cameras such as the 301 with a codec that is already acepted may be the business approach rather than the cameraman shallow dof luvvie aspect!.

It all comes down to £SD and the 350 may be a great camera for 2/3" camera luvvies but my 30 years experience says that cost is king and most of the broadcast prouducers I work with wouldn't know a 1/3" to 2/3" chip camera anyway. Sad, but its the way TV had gone, like it or lump it!!!
The UK broadcast market is probably larger today than it has ever been. There are more channels, on air for longer than there has ever been before. Those channels all require content. There is more content being produced now than in the past. But the industry is totally bloated with media students and TV wanna-be's that don't actually know the first thing about TV, but are prepared to work just about for free in the hope of stardom. This is making it possible for accountants to push down budgets as the crew costs can be much lower than they used to be.

Call me a Luvvie if you wish, but it's nothing to do with shallow DoF and more to do with diffraction limiting, thermal noise and lens design. I don't want to be limited to a usable aperture range of only 4 to 5 stops, noise that increases noticeably when the camera warms up and wide lenses that are soft because producing a HD wide lens with a high enough MTF for 1/3" sensors is prohibitively expensive. There are very good reasons why the BBC, Sky, Discovery etc are all against the use of 1/3" sensors, not just from Panasonic but all manufacturers, Sony included.

Yes TV is largely driven by budget, but the cost of the hardware is normally only a small percentage of any production budget. That equipment is cheaper now than it has ever been. My first BetaSP camcorder and lens cost nearly £50k and that was 20 years ago. My rates have only gone up by a small percentage over the past 10 years, but I am more profitable now than I was 10 years ago because my cameras, edit systems and associated hardware cost a quarter of what it used to cost, is more reliable and cheaper to insure. It is a sad day when the attitude of those making programmes stops being one of trying to deliver the best quality to one of lets make it as cheap as possible. This attitude only helps accelerate the downward quality spiral. It is still possible to make high quality programmes in these days of cost conscious budgets. Perhaps if camera operators tried to educate producers and production companies as to why one camera or system is more appropriate than another as opposed to simply giving in and doing it as cheap as possible we wouldn't be in the mess we are in now. This is why I believe the BBC and Sky are right to enforce the 1/2", 50Mb/s rule for HD. If they don't take a stand and draw a line in the sand, where will it end? Yes there should be dispensations on a production by production basis for shoots where it is physically impossible, dangerous or impractical to use larger cameras. If we, the people that shoot the material don't take a stand and strive for the best possible image quality then our profession will continue to decline to the point where a "cameraman" is simply a person that points a home video camera on full auto in the vague direction of the subject matter. What brings in my income and keeps my clients coming back is the quality of my work. If you work purely on price, eventually you will be out of business as there will always be someone else or another production company willing to undercut you.
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Old January 1st, 2010, 05:14 AM   #118
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I totally agree with you Alister but sadly these days decisions are made purely on cost not on the quality of content for most broadcasters, I dont actually think there is much being made and it is very sad that we have followed the american model of TV and have zillions of channels with pretty much nothing new on air.

The UK broadcast market is bigger but the amount of new content has shrunk and the influence on manufacturers is a lot less than in the USA and other broadcast markets, that is why panasonic and sony are making lower cost cameras that they can sell more of to new media producers, the 301 and 350 will be accepted in time much as the Z1/V1/Z7 is now the bench mark for a lot of news operations.

Less is more as they say but with advertising now driving the industry and the attitude that a Z1 is an HD camera we luvvies are fighting a losing battle.

My freelance rates as a dubbing mixer have not changed for 10 years but I cant even get any work doing that so now have ventured into shooting and editing.

It may be that due to other personal circumstances that I pack this media lark in this year as I am sick of all the petty arguments about formats and the lack of any real creativity in the industry.

I started at ITV Tyne Tees TV 30 years ago tommorow as a 19 year old trainee and it is a real shame that we now have so many opportunities to create new interesting content but it just isn't happening.
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Old January 1st, 2010, 11:12 AM   #119
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This is all a little off-topic so skip on if you wish!!

The industry in the UK is in a sorry state. Governed largely by not what you know but who you know. There are some good commissioning opportunities to be had, but only if you pitch it to the right person at the right time. I recently met with many of the BBC's commissioning editors and one thing surprised me. While the BBC do have a good (??) online commissioning portal that allows anyone to send in an idea, you can actually save yourself a ton of time and effort by emailing most of the commissioners directly. All over the BBC web site it says not to do this, but speak to the right people and they will say, "yes do send me a brief one paragraph outline and I'll let you know whether it's worth taking further". But what struck me about this was that they were discussing this with other known production companies, so this is not the level and open playing field that it is supposed to be. An example of this is a pitch that I put in via the e-commission portal where I got the standard, "nice idea but...." and the exact same pitch sent directly to the comissioning editor via another production company that has a current strand running on prime time TV. This time it looks like we will be making the programme. What's worse is that as there is now a second production company involved, the budget is now higher, money that perhaps could have gone to make a better programme or into other programmes. One thing that often leads to the loss of a commissioning opportunity is that you have to think not just one year ahead but two. Budgets for 2010 have already been spent, so your best chance of a commission will be for a programme that will be competed in late 2011.
The bulk of UK TV programming is made by around a dozen, huge, production factories producing set formats to fixed recipes in large quantities. Much of what they produce is good, some is not, but there is a steady downward creep in quality across the board, both technical and creative with silly little annoyances like dirty lenses and bad focus becoming more and more common, there is no excuse for this as it cost no more to shoot in focus than out of focus. Once upon a time programmes used to be rejected for such things.
Perhaps the industries saviour will in the end will be the internet. More and more people spend their evenings in front of computers than ever before. With very little in the way of advertising and sponsorship regulation, broadcasters and advertisers are using the internet to boost production budgets with cross-platform formats. Product placement and sponsorship of programmes (something the US has always had) will also help as for example companies such as a DiY chain would be able to see direct benefits by having a sponsored program, using their products on TV as well as a website where viewers can watch the show and find out more information and buy their products which then in turn pays for the programme. Hopefully these types fully sponsored, cross platform programmes will then free up funds for the high end drama or documentaries that would not survive on the internet alone. As broadband improves and with computers already using high resolution screens, ultimately web based HD will be the norm.
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Old January 1st, 2010, 02:35 PM   #120
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One thing I have no doubt about, is if your projects gets commissioned Alister, they will be top quality.

Interesting these observations and perspective, Jeff, Alister and Gary. Seems like the newest concepts are from people with no videocam knowledge trying to do it all, or the opposite, the experienced camera operator DP imparts his will at the detriment of creative spontaneity. I guess the best productions are when you can put the two together. I know my own ideas usually are not good enough, but I can get the technical merits correct for something no one wants to watch, I guess...(sigh). I'm glad I have a regular job. We all know how to do something, and what we are best at is usually what we should stick to.
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