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Old May 28th, 2006, 05:02 PM   #1
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DVX or HVX for our biggest shoot? the good, the bad.

Hi all.
I'm sweating a bit because our biggest proposal to date (10k+ euros) has just been accepted and I must decide whether to use our DVX100AE or rent an HVX200. If we shoot in SD the budget drops 3000 euros. So I'd love to come through with the HD option and put that extra budget into entering the HD world, but the client also cut the project time from 2 months down to 1 month. Which means I've got no cushion time. Here are my issues. I'd love any advice you could offer.

NEW Technology/Workflow;

The BAD:

1- Though I've shot almost 700 hours on our DVX, but the HVX would be new to me and is thus most likely going to throw me some delays in my workflow (even though I've been reading the HVX, DvInfo and 2pop forums like a demon to try to get informed) But I'm sure there'll be surprises and that's extra time I may not have.

2-It seems the only way to shoot 720pN in PAL and then edit in FCP is by using HDLog (imagineproducts) with it's new MXF to QT conversion option. This is a new program to me as well and though useful (and probably intuitive,) it will undeniably have a learning curve - again, time I probably don't have.

3-I might be limited by our current hardware setup. 2 DP G5s, 1 Powerbook G4 1GHz Titanium (is the PC card slot in the Titanium even compatible with P2? That is, is it a PCMIA slot?), and 4 Wiebtech Dual FW800 drives + 50 IDE 200GB Harddrives. I don't have a DMA (digital media assistant) while I'm out shooting, in fact, I'm often alone, and it seems a bit of a liability (as well as bulky) to be carrying around my Powerbook and external hardrive as well as the camera. I should mention I shooting city and country scenes in this promo video.

The GOOD?: The limited storage space and being forced to stop to download to the P2 cards mean I'll be shooting less than I did with my DVX. I will also mean I'll need to be more selective in what I shoot. This may be difficult for me though since I'm used to shooting lots and lots (with DV25 tapes) in order to catching the magical and spontaneous things that happen on location (the handshake, the smile, the hug, the natural way things happen at my clients business or in the field). This style of shooting simply means that I have to do tons of marking and selecting in post. But that's OK as long as I got the shot. To be limited by how much I can shoot both because of needing to download and because of limited storage space, means I'll need to be more selective while out shooting (the good - less time selecting in postproduciton, the bad - might miss that magical spontaneous moment). Anyone else dealing with this issue?

Bottom line; I've got an HD or SD project that if I turn it in in HD will pay for a half the HVX (that doesn't happen every day). But by doing it in HD (as opposed to SD on my DVX with it's already established DV workflow) I could risk 1- not making deadline, and 2- not achieving the shots I wanted. Should I just stick with the tried and true method I've already got and wait a little longer (like until FCP supports 720PN) before jumping on the HD bandwagon? Or should I risk it and go HD? And try to grow in the process?

Closing: A few years ago the 2-pop forum guided me onto the purchase of my DVX100AE. It's been the best decision I ever made and have since been able to create a successful business around what I've shot with that camera. I say this just so you know that the advice and support of these forums has been and I hope will continue to be invaluable to me. And of course I will always reciprocate whenever I can.

Best to you all,
Mike


PD: It occurs to me that I might want to rent the HVX anyway, shoot HD and decide depending on what I've just shot whether to keep it in HD or just pass it off to DV as B-Roll. If final output is for SD PAL 720x576, will alternating shots between SD and HD be very noticable?
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Old May 28th, 2006, 05:16 PM   #2
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Dvx100be

Hi Mike,

Based on everything you've given for information I'm going to suggest a 3rd option: Get the DVX100B-E (assuming the euro version exists). Here's why:

- Although shooting HD is cool and would get you ready for future HD projects there is a fairly steep and time consuming adjustment curve in getting the hardware, software and yourself up to speed with all that is different.
- The P2 workflow will force you to deal with your media in a manner that you're not used to and could cause some issues with having a smooth workflow - which it seems you already have with SD tape capture.
- There are additional costs involved with completing the HD hardware environment. You'll need either a KONA or BlackMagic card to be able to view your HD clips externally to your production monitor - you cannot get real-time previews of your clips externally with Firewire.
- You've already figured out that location work with the HVX will require either A) extra stuff to offload your clips while you're working or B) Multiple P2 cards which is cost prohibitive right now.
- The DVX100B is a significant improvement over the "A" version and is something you can stick with for years until you're really ready to delve into HD.

The short version: Stick with your current SD setup and or upgrade to the DVX100-B. It makes the most sense for you - right now.
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Old May 28th, 2006, 05:38 PM   #3
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DVX100B is a significant improvement over the "A" version

Thanks a lot, Robert, for you quick response!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane
- The DVX100B is a significant improvement over the "A" version
Do you mean in terms of image quality? Because the new multiple-camera-shared-timecode and the corrected squeeze-mode viewing are features I don't need much. But better image quality... That's always exciting.

I hadn't considered your 3rd option before because I've been assuming the DVX100B would give me more or less the same image quality that I've been getting with the 100A.

It's definately a viable option, though. But I must admit my heart's calling to the HVX. I'm dieing to shoot "varicam" style footage, really smooth slow motion, etc... And that extra 3k could go nicely toward the hardware you've mentioned. Though, like you said, there's the learning curve and workflow issues. And in the end if the project's not turned in on time, it almost doesn't matter how good it looks.

PS: Using my "unlimited" DV shooting style, I got some great footage of a police helicopter buzzing us up on Camelback a few months ago. I loved your city. (Was there for a wedding.) I love any city that's got a few mountains sticking up in the middle of it!
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Old May 28th, 2006, 06:13 PM   #4
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I am sure Lane is right, or in other words he has the enough experience to defend his opinion about...But I "feel" that you has the enough experience too for to take the risk...If you has not a "criminal" deadline go for the HVX and the 3K too....You can do that...do not be afraid...

PS: By the way If at the end you fail...don't shot me...hehehehehehe
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Old May 28th, 2006, 06:54 PM   #5
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Ever since playing with it at NAB, I'm a fan of the HVX200, but I question whether it really works for your workflow, unless you go with a Firestore or other direct-to-hard drive solution.

In my situation we would be doing narritive film with quick cuts, swapping cards as needed, and having a crew member download the cards and assemble quickie edits that we can check. The big advantage for us is being able to do a quality check before tearing down the setup. We'll be able to keep rolling and walk away knowing that there are no holes.

In your situation it sounds like when you're capturing, you're not shooting. And if you're not shooting, you're missing things. If you're doing unscripted work, that may be a mistake.

In my opinion the P2 thing works best if you have short takes and somebody to hand the "exposed" cards to. Otherwise, you would really want more capacity.

As much as I plan to avoid HDV for my work, it may make sense for your workflow - but you would still want to log things carefully, so you're not transcoding a bunch of junk. To me, that's the real cost of HDV - the MPEG-2 to intraframe transcode.

One trick would be to bring a cheap voice recorder with you. When you get something worth saving, you record yourself saying the tape number, time code and event. You'll still end up with a stack of tapes, but you won't have to capture/transcode them all.

Just a thought. Choose the job first, the tools second.

All the best...

-Jon Fairhurst
http://PoorlyProjectedPictures.com
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Old May 28th, 2006, 07:44 PM   #6
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The HVX has a better image quality dlso in DV mode, maybe you should consider renting it even if you'll shoot in DV. However, in the operation aspect the DVX is much nicer to work with. It's lighter, smaller and it's zoom is faster. The HVX is not good for all kinds of situations when shooting in HD, you'll need lots of cards or a Firestone hard drive able to store 2 hours of footage. If you'll shoot more than that you'll need to carry a laptop around with an external hard drive, it isn't pratical.

Maybe you could rent a JVC HD100 camera, it is HDV but it's much more versatile... and it has a real professional body, much more confortable and easy to use. When using tripod it's not a problem, but for handhelding you just can't attach the firestore to the camera because it becomes even more heavy and unbalanced.

Check this article:
http://www.bluesky-web.com/HDVHVX.htm
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Old May 28th, 2006, 08:33 PM   #7
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You might want to contact a local dealer and ask them to lend you the camera, or 'rent' it at a low rate for testing purpouses. Explain to them you want to get comfortable with the equipment and workflow before you decide to use it for the project. If you plan on using them for the rental of the hvx, they may let you test out the camera since you may do business with them for the project.
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Old May 28th, 2006, 09:40 PM   #8
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buy then sell

Mike, If I were you, I'd buy the hvx or hd100 use the camera for the shoot, keep it for a few months on other jobs if you get them, then sell it. Both of those cameras have excellent resale value at this point. I'm sure there is no way you would lose more than a few days rental price. For the extra 3k you're getting paid, to me this is a no brainer.
good luck
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Old May 29th, 2006, 09:31 AM   #9
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Hi Mike,

Barry and Jarred did a review of the "B" version; they didn't make any mention of improved image quality, just improvements in the hardware, LCD/EVF and some functionality added.

I still think you're better off sticking with what you have for now. The extra $3k won't offset the cost of purchasing the HVX AND the additonal equipment/hardware you'll need to support it.

Realistically, if you upgraded to the HVX you'd be spending at least $10-12k to really be ready for it's capabilities, from P2 cards or a Firestore/Cineporter, any hardware and software upgrades that you don't already own, faster (or bigger) HDD's and of course a video card to allow for real-time previews externally to your production monitor.

Renting or purchasing the body and selling won't work because you'd still lack the hardware/software support needed to properly edit/view your footage.

I'd say the most logical path would be to start putting aside money and when you have the $10k to invest or, start upgrading your hardware/software piecemeal then make the jump to buying the HVX. In the meantime, you can keep reading posts here and elsewhere and learn the hidden pratfalls that the rest of us are figuring out, then you'll be prepared to deal with them when it's your turn.
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Old May 29th, 2006, 11:10 AM   #10
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Option 4

Thank you all for your advice! It's quite varied really. And, of course, much appreciated.
Here's an option that combines bits of what many of you have proposed.

Since this is a 5-6 day shoot, (starting on a Thurs and with a weekend break) I'd rent the HVX, the P2 cards (8GB, 2x4GB) and the AJ-PCS060 for the 1st 2 days of the shoot (Thurs/Fri). I'd also bring along a my Powerbook and hire a production assistant (to help watch over the stuff and to download P2s to the P2Store or to the laptop if I'm busy shooting). This would give me a chance to tryout the workflow and compare the imagery with what I'm used to from the DVX.

Regarding workflow on location, I'd selectively shoot between SD (to tape) and HD (to P2) depending on how promising the subject matter I had before me at that moment. Regarding the trickier handheld travelling shots I could even shoot a few SD practice shots and then switch to HD for the final take(s).

In order to solve the editing "problem" back at the studio, I'd downconvert everthing I shot in HD to SD on location and use this downconverted SD material, plus any other SD material I'd recorded as my raw footage, that is, I'd only edit in SD PAL - thus solving the problem of the missing HD25P codec in the current version of FCP, and could also avoid the learning curve HDLog would present me with.

Then, in the future, when HD-DVDs (or whatever) finally becomes a viable format for public distribution (it still not here in Spain), and the client wants their HD version of the video, we go back to the orig. P2 HD footage which I'd still have stored on hard drives, and swap in those original HD images using FPC - which by then will have created the propper plug-in.

Regarding the 3k. I'd be honest (obviously) with my client and say we'd try to shoot in HD, but most likely wouldn't be able to shoot it all in HD, and depending on how much of the video was in HD, we'd charge somewhere between the SD budget and the orig HD budget.

Benefits - if the shooting goes well those first two days, and I like the workflow, I could continue this way the second week of the shoot. If not, I fall back on my DVX and it's business as usual. And with the little extra we'd charge for those first few days of HD material we'd cover the rental.

Cons - like Robert accurately said, we'd not be able to monitor HD (lacking the graphics card, monitor, etc.) but this would be resolved because we'd be editing it in SD (downconverted), so at present there'd be no need. Another, con, if in the future they ask for an HD-DVD, version and some of the shots were originally shot in SD, those shots would probably stand out, no?

Still, sound like a plan, right?

By the way, am I right in believing there's no realistic way for my client to view their project in HD (1080i or 720P). I mean, as per my proposal they're expecting me to give them a DVD-Video, but the only DVD-Videos in common use are still SD, correct?

Again, tks un millón!
Mike
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Old May 29th, 2006, 05:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Plonsky
By the way, am I right in believing there's no realistic way for my client to view their project in HD (1080i or 720P). I mean, as per my proposal they're expecting me to give them a DVD-Video, but the only DVD-Videos in common use are still SD, correct?

Again, tks un millón!
Mike
That's right; if you're downconverting to SD for editing, then they will never see it HD regardless of how you output it. The only way they would every see it in HD is if you allow them to view the RAW footage on your editing system or, took the original HD clips prior to downcoverting, edited them into a H.264 Quicktime that they could view on their computers. Other than that, no, there is no way for them to see the HD version of the footage. Otherwise, you'd be forced into shooting AND editing in HD and outputting into and HD-DVD format and they would have to purchase the Toshiba HD-DVD player to watch it.
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Old May 29th, 2006, 07:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane
The only way they would every see it in HD is if you allow them to view the RAW footage on your editing system or, took the original HD clips prior to downcoverting, edited them into a H.264 Quicktime that they could view on their computers. Other than that, no, there is no way for them to see the HD version of the footage. Otherwise, you'd be forced into shooting AND editing in HD and outputting into and HD-DVD format and they would have to purchase the Toshiba HD-DVD player to watch it.
There are lots of ways to distribute HD video today, including the following:

Encode to MPEG2-TS and distribute on DVD or other media for playback using products like the Avel Linkplayer2 or Toshiba HD DVD player.

Encode to H.264 or Windows Media and distribute on any suitable media for playback on computers.

Record to HDV tape and play from an HDV camera.

Encode to MPEG4 and put on a flash memory card for playback using a Sanyo HD1.

Record to D-VHS and playback using a D-VHS player.
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Old May 29th, 2006, 09:31 PM   #13
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Kevin,

Those are *possible* methods, but not very practical and requires either the client or Mike to purchase additional hardware/software.

To maintain a professional image to a client, I would never tell them, "sure, you can see my stuff you hired me to do, just spend more of your money on new equipment so we're more compatible...".

*Possible* methods don't always translate into a good business presentation to a client, new or old. It's best to give them something that's useable with the infrastructure they currently have, not force them into an upgrade path they might not necessarily need outside of your business dealings with them.
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Old May 29th, 2006, 11:10 PM   #14
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Just for the record, the 100B has a notably less noisy picture than the 100A, while the resolution is the same, the image quality is actually quite improved. It was always and issue with me, I also find the colors a little more realistic.



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Old May 30th, 2006, 12:32 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane
It's best to give them something that's useable with the infrastructure they currently have
True, and not only that, but they may very well want to mass copy this video to send out to potential clients, so the issue of compatibility is crucial.

Do you think a downcoverted SD image from the HVX is noticably better in image quality than an SD image originally shot on the HVX in SD, or even on the DVX100A or B?

Also, am I correct in thinking that because of the image ratio of HD, all downconverted SD will be 16:9?

Thanks for the 100B input, Ash. Hadn't heard that before.
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