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GY-HD 100 & 200 series ProHD HDV camcorders & decks.

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Old August 31st, 2006, 11:04 AM   #1
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Location: Brooklyn, United States
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Major Headaches with JVC Service

I'm sorry to use this forum to vent... but I have had a really frustrating experience trying to get good service for my HD100. This is a really finicky camera... and unless you are completely tech-savvy (which admitedly I am not... and most DPs should be) it is a difficult camera to trouble shoot. The fact that JVC makes it nearly impossible to communicate with anyone who may actually fix your cam or give you advice on how to fix it yourself is extremely agravating.

The problem is that the JVC HDV technology which allows you to squeeze such high resolution images onto a miniDV tape is such a dynamic and drastic encode that the camera requires a lot of attention to upkeep and handling... This is not a bad thing - since you should obviously be careful with your camera and attentive to its treatment in different conditions... but in some ways it is antithetical to the basis for choosing the HD100 over say the HVX200 - which is that you can shoot HD footage onto miniDV and avoid the hassle of a P2 workflow. You can shoot documentary, corporate or wedding footage... or very low budget narrative and music video work... and be a 1 man band... the idea is to allow portability and enable HD shooting without a huge crew.

So I have to say that since it is such a finicky technology - in order to get HD onto miniDV we've had to deal with the Split Screen issue... and the dead pixel issue... relearning how to pan and zoom to avoid motion artifacting... figuring out a multi-step import/compression workflow inorder to use 720p24 ... etc etc ... IT WOULD BE NICE if at least JVC could provide a user friendly support network.

I mean... probably most HD100 users know that the best place to find answers about HD100 issues is this board.. from people like Tim, Paolo, Steve Benner, etc. Real tech oriented professionals who are interested and willing enough to share their knowledge on these matters.

I've spent a lot of time on the phone trying to get answers from JVC... and they are not bad people.. its just that the service line is in one place.. and the service center is another.. and like Duane at the service line told me today.. it would cost too much to staff each service center with people to talk to the customer. If you bug them they will give you the number for a phone which rings near the engineer... but if you've tried calling you'll know that it is rarely answered... and if you leave a detailed message... they may or may not call you back...

Then lets say you take the leap of faith and send your camera in... fill out the one page service form and mail your very sensitive piece of technology, as instructed, in the back of a ups truck to the service center... they fix it or make the upgrade, and send it back to you... and you can never communicate with someone that was involved in the procedure to find out what the tests they did entailed, or what their opinions were on how it went wrong in the first place. I just sent my camera in (for the third time) with a description of the history of the problem and large note to please call me before they fixed it, and to please call me before they sent it back (since I am not at my studio.. but on location out of state using a rented camera to replace the faulty HD100... and depending on how long it took to fix.. it would make since to send it here or back to Brooklyn where my studio is).

Of course... if you are still reading my rant you could probably guess that.. they never called me to discuss the problem or the repairs... and they never called to ask where to ship it.. they just shipped it back to the old address they had... and now its in the back of some UPS truck right now bouncing around as they try to deliver and redeliver it ... since I am not there to accept it now.. and it will eventually go back to pinebrook nj ... where JVC will probably ask me to pay for the redelivery... since they didn't read my note.

Anyway... there's my rant... sorry it sounds like a heap of unuseful frustration... but I think this is the issue with HDV... and especially JVC HDV --- One the one hand it is marketed as affordable HD for the DV user. They give us outstanding resolution... and picture quality, colors, shading etc. and the ability to operate without a large crew... the miniDV workflow is simple - pop in another tape.. and keep rolling.
One the other hand... in order put all this information onto such a small tape..JVC has created a camera which requires much more attention, and maintainence than say a DVX100 which is built like a tank and can go anywhere.. do anything without much issue.

And the problem is that HDV (or maybe the prosumer level in general) attracts a lot of shooters like myself... coming from a DVX100 or pd150 background .. who are expecting to shoot HD with the same ease and attitude as they'd shot DV. And this just not the case. Then, when you run into problems JVC doesn't provide any useful tech support over the phone... they just say send it in.. and we'll send it back to you working... and you don't get any closer to figuring out the why/how of the new issues resulting from the HDV shooting/encoding process.

So it is advertised as (or at least appears to be) user-friendly HD for the DV shooter trying to step up... but in the end it is much more suited to the Professional DP or Videographer with a background in high end video cameras, film, or computer technology...

I still love my HD100 - to me the images are much better and more interesting than those captured with the HVX - but I would have a much better experience as an owner/operator if JVC had a comprehensive service line (not to mention a repair shop in NYC and support for 720p24 codec in FCP)...

Anyway.. big props the "major players" and "trustees" for being the Mother Theresas of the HD100 community ... I'd be a lot more frustrated without this group.
Ben Chace is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 31st, 2006, 12:23 PM   #2
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Hi Ben

I think a lot of what you say is very valid. The HD100 does break new ground in terms of form factor (a mini shoulder-mount small chip camera with mainly professional functions and sophisticated user customisation in firmware) and format, where HDV1 is concerned. I agree, too, that the SSE is certainly a less desirable feature of the model (!) as is the extreme CA of the stock lens in certain conditions and those dead pixels just really aren't normal in other pro cameras at the kind of frequency that is evident with this unit. All the same, I must say - in fairness to JVC - that a great deal of the difficulties experienced have been precisely because the HD100 does break new ground (and because of the limits of MPEG2-based acquisition). They have given us an affordable, sophisticated camera. Our recent project (shooting a long-form doco in the field in rural Russia) has only benefitted from the HD100 - and has proven that it is a lot more rugged than many people claim. I should also say that my experience of JVC support (here in the UK) has been overwhelmingly positive when dealing with those technical teething troubles.

I think that the real issue is post production. For many potential users the camera is not much of an option simply because support from NLEs has been tardy or non-existent. Core Avid apps (MC and AXPro) and FCP still do not support this camera fully and there's a huge skill-base that is used to and/or depends on this kit. Both Avid and Apple keep promising but we're not there yet and it must be hurting sales of the camera. We liked the camera so much that we decided to use the HD100 and go ahead and shoot 720p/25 all the same, even though we use Avid. Where there's a will there's a way and we now have a reasonable post workflow. I can only repeat that - on balance - this camera has been fantastic for us.
Antony Michael Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 2nd, 2006, 07:37 AM   #3
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Anthony has hit the issue squarely. Unlike some cameras seemingly coming from a consumer lineage, the HD100 is a significant departure in concept and execution. The HD100 demands a great deal of the shooter (it did in my case). The good news is the HD100's design shares some things in common with much more sophisticated HD cameras. The bad news is the HD100's design shares some things in common with much more sophisticated HD cameras. Compounding with complexities of post requires patience and diligence.

Most manufacturer service departments are pretty thin when it comes to "real-world" problems - like third party interoperability and operating technique. That's the incredible value of a resource like this forum.

Ben, your problems are surely real but if funstrations can be distilled to one-by-one issues, some may already be documented on this forum and there are many particpants who will be pleased to help with the others.

From personal experience, the early HD100 issues like SSE seem to have faded into oblivion. Like Anthony, today the HD100 is a workhorse for me. With patience and diligence it can become one for you, too.
Bob Diesso is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 2nd, 2006, 08:16 AM   #4
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ben. i am sorry for your frustrations with JVC and their camera. i am sure others share your sentiment. and remember the hvx200 does not record HD to minidv tape. only DV. HD can only be recorded to P2. hopefully someone can help you here. i love watching tim and steve easing the pain of frustrated users. those guys are so friggin smart. this reminds me of the old saying {you get what you pay for} because there are other hdv cameras that seem to not have nearly as much problems as the jvc, only they costs almost twice as much. i hope the new 200/250 models don't have these issues.
Lee Alford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 5th, 2006, 10:40 PM   #5
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Location: McKinney, TX
Posts: 516
Hi Ben,

A key part of getting specific things done in service is to get your JVC District Sales Manager involved. Your DSM is your "advocate" - to make sure your issues are resolved. Please e-mail me your dealer's name and location, and I will reply with your DSM's name and contact info.

Regards, Carl
Carl Hicks
JVC Professional Products Company
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