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Old March 30th, 2006, 01:21 PM   #1
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Using a laptop as a monitor

I'm using the HVX200 for the first time this weekend. Unfortunately, the director does not want to pay for a proper monitor so he wants to use his Powerbook w/ FCP as the monitor. I've searched this forum and the DVXuser forum for posts regarding this.

All the posts I found covered using a laptop as a capture device but not as a monitor (or at least the posts said capture worked great, didn't say anything about how well the laptop worked as a monitor). The camera package includes 4 4GB P2 cards and a P2Store so we won't have to capture to the laptop. But how well does monitoring the footage work. I also have a Windows laptop with Avid Xpress Pro HD.

I'll have time to test this set up before the shoot but would like to hear your experiences with this configuration.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 01:31 PM   #2
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Regardless of whether or not you can make it work, you should argue for a real monitor. I would never trust a laptop screen for critical color and contrast. A real reference monitor is an important investment for a shoot and the director should be willing to fork out for a rental so you (DP, right?) can ensure the best image possible is being recorded.

I would try to convince him that a small HD monitor with component-in is important because you need to be able to judge critcal focus, color, and contrast. At the very least an SD monitor w/ component will be better than nothing and not very expensive to rent.

just my 2¢.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 01:42 PM   #3
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I completely agree. I floated the SD w/ component as an alternative and that cost was deemed too much. I thought briefly about shelling out my own bucks to get rent a monitor myself but decided that that would setting a bad precedent.

On the same tangent, I might be able to call in a favor and borrow a friend's 14" monitor. But it only has s-video and composite inputs - is it even worthwhile to pursue this avenue?

And yes, I am the DP.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 03:21 PM   #4
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Which will cost more?

Chien,

I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir on this one ... but can you pose the question: which will cost more, a rental or a blown shoot?

I've shot with the HVX into a PowerBook with an external monitor a LOT lately. Trust me, what I thought I was getting with color on the laptop did not compare with what my production monitor showed me. (Also, I ended up capturing footage that was too dark on my first few tries because I was watching the computer and not the monitor with a scope.)

Second, the little powerbook monitor forgives focus mistakes much more than a production monitor will ... just like the problems with the LCD monitor on the HVX.

Which costs more ... a rental or a reshoot?

Good luck!
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Old March 31st, 2006, 05:55 AM   #5
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It's a fight to get c-stands!

In retrospect, this job really should be a DV job - or at least I should I pushed for it to be a DV project. With DV, I'd be kitted out properly and I'd be able to use my DVRack setup. The producers on this gig specifically did not want to use DV because of what they felt were quality issues (kinda ironic, eh). But even though I was able to get some nice deals on a DVCPRO50 or DigiBeta camera, they didn't have money for the post on those formats. Which led us to the HVX. Problem there is that almost the entire camera budget was spent on the camera alone (no accessories or monitor). I'm sure a lot of us here are familiar with the "let's get a great camera and that will take care of everything mentality".

Hans, I'm with you there. I do appreciate you sharing your experience with how the laptop screen is different (his laptop will undoubtedly do the opposite and be bright vs. dark). I'm hoping to "calibrate" my laptop to a proper monitor during checkout today. Anyway, thanks all for insights - I follow up with what ends up happening.
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