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Old May 19th, 2009, 08:34 AM   #1
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Panasonic AG-HMC151E - Workflow, settings etc - newbie

Hi there folks,

My name's Matty, I've just bought a Panasonic AG-HMC151E and wanted to ask you a few questions from folk in the know-how!

Basically, I come from using Sony PD-150, everything to date has been filmed in DVCAM which has suited me fine but with the increasing demand for HD etc I decided to go with this cam. I really wanted to hear your thoughts on 1) the workflow and 2) best settings

I'm waiting for two 32GB SDHD cards to arrive so thought it best to do a bit of research prior to recieving them. In preperation for working in this format, I've upgraded my macs to Final Cut 6. I've bought a 1.5TB USB2.0 Seagate FreeAgent external drive to store all my footage, and have a 1.5TB external Lacie drive connected through Firewire to edit in FCP. When I'm out on shoots I'll take my Macbook pro and just store the footage in a little 500GB western digital hard-drive so I can delete the footage of the card and off I go filming again.

For you guys working with this cam, does this seem a decent workflow? Any suggestions to improve?

Secondly, I'm going to keep working with the PD-150 as a second camera in DVCAM/mini DV as I still think this little baby holds up fantastically well, especially in low-light. Myself and my friend have a documentary coming up where we are going to use both the PD-150 and the AG-HMC151E. My next question would be trying to combine both formats to edit with.

Going by my research so far, it would seem that I would just shoot in AVCHD with the Panasonic and when it came to the edit convert the footage to SD to work with the DVCAM stuff shot with the PD-150. Has anyone worked this way previously? I have toast and compressor with FCP so I assume I can use one of these apps for this? Can anyone suggest please, what I should be downgrading to so as to edit fine with the other SD footage?

Lastly, I'm obviously going to go out and have a play this week when the cards arrive, but was just wondering what people thought was the best options to shoot with? I've used a Z1 before where it was shooting at 1080i50, and the footage looked quite nice. Again, it's all very new to me - a forum I was on yesterday said shooting in 720p was where the cameras sweet spot was found! But I'm curious what format people are shooting in, and wondered if anybody could offer some suggestions based on their experiences? I will be primarily using the cam for short documentaries, corporate work, weddings, and indy film-making, that kind of thing....

Thanks very much for reading this far, I apologise in advance for my being a bit behind with the technical side of things but thought best to get as much info as I can before I start work with it!


Matty Ross
Sleepysoul Productions
Sleepysoul Productions - Video - Edinburgh - Scotland - UK - 2006/7
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Old May 20th, 2009, 05:47 PM   #2
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its the same cam as the HMC150, just the European version....
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 05:58 AM   #3
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Well, I'm in the same position as you, having just bought the camera. Mine arrived last week, as did a 70, 32GB SDHC card (cheapest I found, let me know if they are cheaper anywhere) from

My first thoughts about the camera was that some of the low light performance is a little grainy. I was a little disappointed with this at first but it didn't take much of a raise in light level for the camera to really start performing well.

So far I have only shot in PH mode and I am pretty impressed with the results. I'm really getting used to the cameras settings, since I want to do everything manually. I intend to keep shooting in PH mode because my own feeling is that it is better to convert down rather than up.

I'm a PC:
Asus mobo,
2.4 GHz Quad Core,
8GB Ram,
NVidia 512mb graphics card

Even before buying the camera I knew that I would have to transcode the footage so I am currently looking in to transcoding solutions to find out which is the best for me. What I have found, using very short clips for testing, is that the computer holds up quite well with the AVCHD format but it is starting to lag as much as the footage from my JVC Everio GZHD7 does when editing much longer videos. That's no surprise really and I think my eventual solution will be to transcode to a pro format. Other than that, I am lost for which would be best to retain quality and edit quickly, I know there will be a trade off somewhere.

As a computer professional I would suggest you look at your macs and see what they can handle in terms of the AVCHD format. It is massively more processor intensive than any of it's rivals seam to be. The footage is, to my eye at least, beautiful but you may need to transcode to get it to play nicely with FCP (depending on your current set-up).

From what I have read, mac users are currently having slightly more of a problem than PC users so it is worth searching for other mac users solutions. In terms of the actual drives you are using, they seam perfectly good enough for the job and it's a great idea to have a mobile card-copying solution for those long shoots.

You might want to think about getting yourself some extra batteries for the cameras. I don't know if you've noticed but the battery takes nearly as long to charge as it will power the camera for. I have decided to get two more long life batteries (around 170 each) which will eventually give me about 7 hours of actual 'on' time. Less of a problem if you can't get to a plug socket.

Sorry I can't be of anymore help at the moment but if I discover anything I shall let you know. I'd also be interesting in hearing more about your exploits with the machine.
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Old May 24th, 2009, 05:03 AM   #4
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I raised a similar question with Richard Payne (who works for the UK distributor Holdan), His reply on process was:
"What I do is convert AVCHD into HQ using AVCHD2HQ converter Version 3.1 which is accelerated by the FireCoder Blu.
I can then edit and output the timeline to Blu-ray disk with EDIUS 5.11

I would archive the shots I want to keep as AVCHD onto Blu-ray using the AVCCAM Viewer software."

He also sells the Edius/Grass Valley hardware/software mentioned in his reply. HQ is the intermediate codec used to facilitate editing; it comes with Edius and Edius Neo. The AVCHD2HQ converter is free, as is a viewer - both obtainable from the GV site. FireCoder Blu is a PCI Express x1 card which comes with FireCoder Writer for creating BluRay or DVD discs. FireCoder Blu provides significant hardware acceleration when decoding and encoding.

Link which may be useful to explore:
Grass Valley Desktop & Enterprise Video
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Old May 24th, 2009, 10:22 AM   #5
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Thanks for that guys,

I got two cards for around 95 each so Steve I think you got a good deal there mate!

I had my first play around shooting on Friday and found it really good experience. It was in daylight mindyou so I have yet to test at night.

The only prob I had was I have a Seinheiser K6 shotgun mike mounted to the cam, and with the rycote covering it was in frame far too much so ordered an extension mount yesterday to get rid of that problem. The audio buttons I wish werent covered by the plastic covering as it makes it a bit fiddly to control.

I shot everything with the default shooting settings 1080 50i I think it was, but tested at the end each settings to have a look at on the mac. Having moved from filming from a PD-150 and everything being in DVCAM, I still am a bit of a novice when it comes to these shooting settings! Any help, clarification on these would be extremely helpful. I'm shooting a doc on Wednesday using this cam so would really appreciate some feedback...! I have heard that you can create slow mo really effectively with these settings and would love some hints, tips or links to give me some knowledge in which to play around.

I am at the moment trying to get the mts files into FCP, I have seen a few forums that discuss this so will continue reading up. The file structure is a bit complicated at first glance, I have a few docs and weddings to film in upcoming months and I am hoping that it will just be a case of copying the STREAM folder over to my mac, format the 32GB card and use the spare one to keep on going. I am hoping the process of dumping the footage is not too time consuming but I fear this may not be the case. If anyone reading has experience with FCP and AVCHD I would appreciate feedback, as the actual process of getting the files from an external drive into FCP to work on I can see being a bit of a mission. Hopefully not though.

See with your 32gb SDHC cards, how long approx hours of footage are you able to get with them?

Completely agree with point about the battery life - it really does eat away doesnt it?! I bought a long life battery to go with the one included but I fear I may need another. The doc Im doing on wed on the break for lunch just going to have to find a power connection and charge....

On first usage though was really happy, unbeliavably light camera for the size and I found myself warming to it really quickly.

My only real headaches is the data management side of things and working with the files after the shoot! Im using the PD-150 as a backup cam on Wed so going to have to downgrade the footage to an SD timeline so as to work with both. That is unless I suddenly win the lotto and can afford another HMC-151 to use as camera 2!


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Old May 25th, 2009, 01:12 AM   #6
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Buy stock in Seagate. Something tells me those are not the last Free Agent drives you will be buying. With the file sizes this cam generates (after Transcoding, about a GB per minute) it would be a wise investment!

With respect to settings....FWIW, I have had pretty good luck shooting in the default settings in a pinch. The HMC seems to be very flexible, easy to get decent results with using minimal extra tuning. It seems to me to be much like the Sony VX2100/PD170 in that respect. I just manually white balance at each shoot, that to me seems to make the biggest difference in PQ.
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