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Old February 3rd, 2006, 10:27 PM   #1
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First Shoot/Need a better work-flow

Got my HVX two days ago and had an interview shoot today. I went in armed with my HVX, three 4 GB P2's, my 17" Powerbook, my 60 gig iPod and all of the rest of the gear. Shot in 1080 and got about 4 minutes per card.

Had some interesting things happen. For one one thing, even using three P2's is a painful process. 4 minutes goes by very quickly. I felt like I was always pulling out a card ... it's not easy to remove a P2 without making sound or moving the camera. Even harder is to stick a P2 into your PowerBook, dump it to the Mac (or iPod as I was running out of space), trash the content on the card once it's dumped so I can get it back into the HVX fresh for the data handoff. I couldn't keep up and had to stop multiple times to get fresh P2's ... and the interview took longer than it needed to. It also broke the flow.

And, tell ya what ... it's one thing to trash your test footage off a P2 once you've copied it to disk but it is a completely different thing to trash your master, "must have" footage to free up space on a P2. I prayed all the way through the interview!

Other strange things happened ... my Mac locked up and had to be hard-reset at least 4 times during the insert of a P2. Now, thankfully I didn't lose any footage but this was scary to say the least! I have no idea what the conflict was.

So, though I loved the footage that I got in the end, I need to find a better work-flow. Obviously three or four 8 gig cards would help ... though, I wonder if we will see 16's this year, especially with the latest price-drop (just before NAB) of the 8 gigs. But, that's a ton-o-cash. A PA and four or five 4 GB cards would probably create a steady work-flow but that isn't something I'm generally able to pull off. Just me and maybe a guy on sound. Of course there's the Firestore and Cineporter but what about "now?" In addition, I really like to go with something that I can actually use as my edit drives. All of the copying from my iPod to my G5 took longer than tape!

There's something else ... for some reason, through all of the advertising I was under the impression I could "edit immediately" with P2. However, I still have to import the media into Final Cut, even if it is alreay on my drive, copying it into a muxed format that FCP can work with. This takes even longer than digitizing ... am I missing something here???

So, any thoughts out there? I've seen the other threads out there ... recording directly to a PB with Firewire 800, etc. Maybe that's the way ...

By the way ... I also used Panny's BT-1700LH monitor and it looks great and works fabulous ... even on location. I bought it with the case and I can leave the base on while also leaving a VESA mount attached to the back. That way I can drag into post and within a minute it's on my wall (the only place it'll fit ... very small edit bay!) and I've got a great reference monitor that's easy on the eyes for my post needs. The third desktop I get by using the KONA LH card hooked up to it is a very nice bonus as well.

Anyway, I digress ... it was a fun day and I can't wait to do something Narrative with this camera.

Hans Damkoehler
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Old February 4th, 2006, 12:16 AM   #2
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Sounds like you should have just recorded directly to your powerbook rather than swapping out P2 cards. As for the iPod as a solution, that should be a totally last resort approach as they're so slow. It seems you already found this out copying footage back to your systems. You don't need a FW800 connection to record live... Regular Firewire400 still has nearly 4X the headroom needed for DVCPROHD.

The video stored on P2 cards is "edit ready"... It's just that Final Cut Pro doesn't have native support for MXF within the workflow. It must pull the DVCPROHD video stream and audio streams from the MXF and place them in a QT wrapper... This does take time, although shouldn't take as long as it does, IMO. All we can do is whine to Apple that we want full support for MXF within the FCP workflow and preservation of the metadata through the pipeline. Hopefully they will listen, although that's doubtful. Apple is pretty determined to keep everything tied into QT.

In a system like Edius Broadcast or VelocityHD, you have native DVCPROHD and MXF support and you could pop the P2 card into your system and edit right there. But don't worry about it too much... FCP is way more powerful than Edius and has a slight edge in terms of video performance. VelocityHD is about $7500 for the street price on just the boardset and software, not including the system to plug it into. There's also the Matrox AXIO which is about $11K for a complete system setup. Avid has MXF support too, but it's buggy and performance is very poor...

Don't start thinking the grass is greener in PC land though... The prices for the real good solutions are steep. And the more commonly used software like Vegas and Premiere don't support DVCPROHD without using the Raylight codec. It works, but not in real-time. Same with Avid Xpress Pro HD... No realtime there either and buggy too. Edius Broadcast is the most reasonable with native MXF support that is excellent and great performance (multiple streams realtime), but lacks too many features a lot of us use. I'm primarily a PC guy, but had to upgrade my Mac (bought a new G5 quad) and added Final Cut Studio... I've been learning it now for the last 10 days and I'm really liking it. Can't wait to get my HVX... There's still 12 people ahead of me on f/vesco's list and Shawn is hoping for another 5 to 10 cameras sometime from the 8th to the 17th of this month. I hope a couple people drop off the list. I was unsure of the move to Mac at first, but I just did a DVD project with my new setup this last week and I'm seriously impressed. Motion2 is da bomb! Apple has one slick product there and DVD Studio Pro is way better than Adobe Encore. But I knew that going into it. I used to do my DVDs in Spruce on the PC, which is the software Apple bought up and made DVD Studio. The old pre-Apple Spruce was the best DVD software (for under $5K anyway) in PC land and it arguably still is.

I'm planning on 2 8GB cards with my HVX... It will be interesting to see how they work out. For most of my jobs, swapping the 8GB cards to my notebook or dumping to a system when the two cards are full won't be that big of a deal. But I'm supposed to shoot some ski/snowboard stuff coming up and that has me a bit concerned. I'll also be shooting video at the Eenie Weenie Bikini spring ski event at Copper in April. But I may just rent a Varicam or something more suited to longer recording sessions that will also hopefully yield better images if I can figure out how to use it in time... I've never actually used a Varicam.
- Jeff Kilgroe
- Applied Visual Technologies | DarkScience
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Old February 4th, 2006, 03:34 AM   #3
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Well, that of course is the real downside to the HVX workflow. A lot of people say swapping p2 cards is "just like a film shoot", as if that was somehow a feature rather than a serious drawback.

Camera Ops, DP's, Directors, Producers and Actors all hate to stop to switch loads. It's annoying and very much breaks the flow of production. It's a serious drawback to working on film (besides expense), and is something we shouldn't have to tolerate at all anymore in video.

On this Hallmark TV feature I worked on last year, they went to the expense of re-fitting all their cameras to use 3perf 35mm stock instead of 4perf. The main reason cited was longer shooting times between re-loads.

Stopping every four minutes to swap out, and download a p2 card puts a huge time demand exactly in the worst place imaginable: during production. There is no time more expensive than when you have your cast and crew on location, and anything that wastes time there costs you real money.

I'd much rather spend 3 hours logging and digitizing a tape in the edit suite where time is not so much of an issue, than spend 1 hour of my shooting day futzing with p2 cards, and storage, while my cast and crew stand around.

I think the HVX really only becomes really viable once the Cineporter and Firestores come out. Especially for a small crew situation, where you don't have someone solely dedicated to the p2 shuffle.

Even if you do have a dedicated "p2 loader", that's the cost of another crewperson salary, per diem, hotel room, travel expenses, etc. etc. Who could be doing something else.

Still probably in a few years this won't be a problem as p2 capacity rises, and other storage options present themselves.

But at this moment in time, I think the run times are too short, even for controlled feature film work, and certainly way too short for documentary production.

In my opinion, the p2 revolution jumped out of the gate a little too early.
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Old February 4th, 2006, 04:16 AM   #4
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I agree he needs to adjust his workflow, but I don't think P2 is out of the gate too early. They could have waited until they had 128gb P2 cards, but they would have given up a lot of the marketshare to their competitors.

I think the P2 store might help in a lot of people's workflow. It is around $1500, but perhaps you can just rent it for certain scenarios.

That being said, if I was interested in documentary or any other type of workflow that required "continous" or extended shooting, I would not have chosen the HVX200. I think one of the other HDV cameras would be more ideal for that.

Just my opinion.
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Old February 4th, 2006, 04:28 AM   #5
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Hmm.. to keep this on the topic of workflow, and make some helpful suggestions (instead of me just bitching about p2 :)) .

Would it be possible to create some kind of batch process in automator in Mac OSX, that could detect when you mount the p2, then transfer the contents and erase the p2 automatically?

So all you would have to do is insert the p2 card into the mac, you continue shooting, the mac would do the grunt work, leaving you a new blank p2 card in the slot, ready to use when you need to swap cards again?

Kind of what the panasonic p2 store does, but run as a script on your powerbook?

Heck you might even be able to have it automatically back up the previous 4 gig card to the DVD burner as a back up.
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Old February 4th, 2006, 06:33 AM   #6
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With 8G cards, and shooting 720/24PN, I've found the workflow pretty reasonable. You get about 21 minutes per card. It would be nice if FCP could edit natively, but then again you will at least still need to copy the contents to use the card again. The P2 Store helps for longer shoots, although I've found that most of the time, I'm just loading the cards directly into the Mac. I've only had a few days with this setup but I've already found it to be much, much faster than dealing with tape in the whole shoot to NLE process.

Personally, I'll be avoiding 1080 until the cards are bigger or there's an alternative for continous recording. Also, this camera seems a lot more flexible when shooting 720P.
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