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-   -   film cam mode vs. video cam mode (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/panasonic-p2hd-dvcpro-hd-camcorders/470402-film-cam-mode-vs-video-cam-mode.html)

Daniel Weber January 3rd, 2010 07:31 PM

film cam mode vs. video cam mode
I am getting my HPX 170 set up to do a shoot in central Africa in a few weeks.

I have decided on 720p30PN as the format that I want to shoot in.

In going over Barry Green's great book on the HVX/HPX cameras I have been doing some reading on the film cam mode. I have always shot in video cam mode (I have not had the camera that long).

The advantage that I see of shooting in the film cam mode is that I can set up the user buttons to quickly change the frame rate that the camera is shooting in. This will allow me to quickly set up a shot for over or under cranking if needed. The one disadvantage I see is that I might hit one of the user buttons and change the frame rate thus turning off the audio recording.

Can anyone tell me of any other reasons not to shoot with the camera in film cam mode?

The main output of the project will be SD DVD's, but it will be shown in a theater setting this summer in HD. Probably from a Blu Ray that I will master for the occasion.

I am just trying to get my head wrapped around the camera so that I will have everything set up before I take off on the shoot. I don't want any surprises in the field or in post once I get back.


Daniel Weber

Dan Brockett January 3rd, 2010 10:01 PM

Hi Daniel:

Not sure if you have had a look at this but if you haven't, you might find some information in it helpful to you. http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage..._brockett.html

I hate to answer questions with questions but...

1. Are you SURE you want to shoot 720/30pN? Are you positive that you will never have international distribution and will never go to a film print? Shooting 30pN boxes you in in a lot of pretty serious ways if you if need to convert to 50Hz formats or go for a filmout as compared to 24pN or even 60i. I shoot 30pN for a client of mine who has a DVX100 and she always liked to roll 30p on her DVX and asks me to do the same with the 170 and her 200. But her material is never shown internationally and would never go for a filmout.

2. I always shoot in film cam mode for the reasons you discuss, I am constantly cranking and reducing the frame rate using the user button, this is probably the single coolest feature on the HPX170 and even the big brother to it, the HPX300, cannot map frame rates to a user button. Checking audio is easy, just look at your audio meters on screen as you shoot, if you see no audio at all and are feeding the camera audio, you are in a frame rate mode other than 24pN or 30pN. I hate to say it, but one would have to be pretty ignorant and a not very good camera op to shoot and not notice that the camera was not recording audio. One should always wear headphones or ear buds too if you don't have a sound mixer on the crew.

3. Film cam mode also gives your shutter angle in degrees as a film camera does. I prefer this over reading out in fractions of a second but YMMV.

I would re-visit your decision to shoot 30pN, unless you are positive that you will never go international or to film. Also, 30pN has a slightly more video look to it than 24pN, it is kind of halfway between 24p and interlaced looking. Not a bad look but if your lighting and composition isn't up to par for certain shots, 30pN won't help your case in selling the shot as "filmic" looking.

It is your project and you know what is best for it, but 30pN always raises a flag for me.


Daniel Weber January 4th, 2010 06:13 PM


Thanks for your feedback.

I talked to the client today and they want to shoot 24p even though they are not worried about PAL or film out.

I have a question though. They want the best resolution possible, and if I shoot 1080p24 will it be of that much higher resolution than if I shoot 720p24?

I was thinking 720p24pn to maximize the shooting time on my cards since I only have (2) 16 gig and (1) 32 gig card to fill up each day.

So it comes down to what is the best format to shoot in, 24p being the clients choice, that will give the best resolution?

Daniel Weber

Dan Brockett January 4th, 2010 09:00 PM

1080 24pA will give more resolution but at a considerable cost in P2 card dumping. You will only have about 68 minutes of recording time in 1080 vs. 168 minutes in 720 24pN.

Do you have a chance to dump as you shoot or is it running around all over the place?


Daniel Weber January 4th, 2010 10:00 PM


I will need to dump at night after shooting. Sounds like 720p24 will work better logistically.

Daniel Weber

Daniel Weber January 4th, 2010 10:02 PM

Am I correct in thinking that 720p24n will also give more flexibility with over and under cranking?


Dan Brockett January 5th, 2010 09:00 AM

Yes, you are correct. That is the main reason why I mostly shoot 720 24pN. The VFR from the 170 is outstanding and I shoot a lot of material at 32 and 36 frames for just a slight slow motion and I have sometimes under-cranked to make things look faster than they really are. 22 fps and 20fps are good for this.

Resolution, honestly, is overrated. There are plenty of engineering and viewing tests all over the web that prove that average viewers cannot tell the difference between 720 and 1080 in most cases. The only exception would be for theatrical or large screen projection. I recently shot a film that debuted at the IMAX theater in Copenhagen. I was glad that I shot it at 1080 24pA as it was blown up and shown at a huge size in the IMAX dome. While it was not an IMAX photographed film, it still ended up looking pretty decent when projected with their 4k data projector.

But for home video, web, etc. 1080 is mostly overkill IMHO.


Daniel Weber January 5th, 2010 10:37 AM


Thanks for the feedback. The client wants as high res an image as possible. They are planning on showing it on 55" LCD screens off of Blu Ray in a small theater setting.

I am thinking that 720p24pn should be fine for this.

One more question. If you shoot VFR in film cam mode, do I need to use Cinema Tools on the clips to make them 23.98 or will the camera do it automatically?


Daniel Weber

Dan Brockett January 5th, 2010 12:37 PM

I think 720 24pN off of Blu Ray will look very good, provided it is well shot.

You do not need to do anything with VFR clips when shot in 720 2pN, that is the beauty of it. You load the clips into FCP on a 720 24 timeline and they play in VFR.


Daniel Weber January 5th, 2010 12:39 PM

That's what I was hoping.

Of course the camera will only produce good results if we shoot properly lit, exposed and composed images. People tend to forget that part of it and are quick to blame the camera!

Thanks again for your input. Very helpful.

Daniel Weber

Dan Brockett January 5th, 2010 08:52 PM

Let us know how it goes and post some clips if you can when you return. I always like to see footage from Africa, I hope to visit there someday.


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