Today I would like to introduce the our new software for viewing P2 footage. With a load of new features, we have named it P2 Viewer Plus.
The first point to which I would like to draw your attention is the all new GUI, which has been completely redesigned based on user feedback, for…
I have owned a number of Apple laptops in my day, going back to the original Powerbooks. Apple’s laptops of late have been fast enough for me to favor the portable units for my everyday work, offloading and editing mainly.
I have a nice 2011 15” i7 laptop with Thunderbolt and a 256GB SSD drive. The machine was blazing fast when I got it, and it left my MacPro 8 Core tower in the dust.
When Apple released the 2012 laptops with Retina displays, at first I was very intrigued. After the initial glow faded, I realized that there were too many compromises for me to jump to the retina display. The lack of Firewire was a big obstacle, missing ethernet and the optical drive was also too much to give up.
The non-retina MacBook Pro seemed very similar to my 2011 model, but with the newer logic board that offered USB 3.0 ports.
This was interesting to me for several reasons. One, in my P2 world, having a PCD30 USB3 P2 card reader could provide a nice addition to my PCD20 Firewire 800 reader. Secondly, I could use a faster compact flashcard reader, since no one that I know is making a FW800 CF reader anymore.
So, I purchase the 2012 MBP, and a Hoodman Raw Steel USB CF reader, all excited to see a major speed bump. What I was handed was an empty promise.
The USB 3 reader, turns out in fact to be TWICE AS SLOW as my Moshi USB2.0 reader. TWICE AS SLOW. What is wrong with this picture?
I tested it 3 times, with the same CF card, on different offload drives to make sure. All I can say is FAIL.
I have contacted Hoodman USA, and will wait to hear what they have to say.
Take a look at the results for yourself. Don’t get me started on issues with Thunderbolt.
More to come, I’m sure.
I think it’s fair to say, that anyone who I have worked with or spoken to about cameras knows that I am a fan of Panasonic and their camera systems. For the most part, I have shot on Panasonic cameras since 2005, seven years or so. That’s a lot of time dedicated to one menu system and methodology.
So when I had the opportunity to shoot with a C300 at my client’s request, I was a bit concerned about the system and process.
The Canon C300 is smaller than my Panasonic AF100 in base form. The C300 has a modular LCD/Audio panel, top handle, and hand grip that can be added with ease. I found that it was easy to pack the camera and components into smaller cases that the AF100 wouldn’t fit.
I am not crazy about the audio connectors and the fact that their are fixed to the LCD display. It’s one more piece that could be left behind, and then your screwed for audio. There is also the issue with the two cables that need to be plugged in for the LCD panel and audio to work. They hang right in a vulnerable spot on the camera.
The menu system is nice, with clean text display and a good color palette. The menus are logical after some time with them. I really like having a “favorites” menu, where I can place any command on the camera into this list. Saves a lot of time.
I also appreciate the small details like menus stay where in the last place before one clears the menu. For example, If I am i the Favorites menu, and I format my CF card, then “cancel” the menu, when I return to the Menu button, I go right back to Favorites>format. Saves a tremendous amount of time.
Another nice design feature Canon employed was the ability to load in individual scene files. My AF100 loads in all 6 scene files, even if I just want one. The C300 allows me to do just that, load in an individual scene file into any memory bank I want.
The C300 is super sensitive, with a native ISO of 850. The native ISO of my AF100 is 400 for comparison.
I found myself using lenses that I would have avoided on my AF100, like my Canon 24-105 f4. Shooting at ISO1600 produced clean, noise free images. I pushed the iso to 10,000 for a couple of shots outside at dusk, and was equally impressed.
I am not accustomed to shooting “RAW” for my jobs, and I have never owned a camera that offered it. The C300 does not shoot raw, but it has a cinema mode that shoots flat. That mode promises about 6 stops of highlight and shadow protection. I experimented with this mode, but found that I was more comfortable in controlling my scene with lighting and shooting with a properly balanced image.
The C300 offers a “Video Assist” mode, where the camera can apply a “LUT” to the flat recording for monitoring purposes only. It is handy to have this feature to show clients what the “real” image looks like. I only wish that the LUT could be applied to the HD-SDI out too.
I really like the “Double Shot” feature, where with 2 CF cards loaded, the camera will record simultaneously to both. This came in handy for shooting a series of interviews last week. I found that I could load a large card in one slot, and a smaller card in the other. After shooting one interview, I would remove the smaller card and replace it with another small card while keeping the larger card in the camera. This allowed me to offload the interviews onto their own “reel” while preserving a master card with all of the interviews.
On the topic of Compact Flash Cards, I found that the media doors were difficult to open, requiring two hands. The combination of a slide and pull was more dexterity than I could muster with one hand. Maybe after more use, I would get accustom to it.
I used a set of Zeiss CP2’s on the camera, and found the witness marks to be dead on. Had I needed to pull focus like it, it would have made my life very easy.
My biggest issue with the camera is the price. For $16,000 I expect a few more features, like 1080p over crank above 30p or an on-board 10 bit recording codec.
If I did not own an AF100 already, I might be swayed to find a used C300, but until that day, my AF100 is still the best camera for the dollar.
As I prepare for a week in Las Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters show (NAB), just 2 weeks away now, I start to think about problems that I need solutions for. Sometimes there are several vendors with solutions to my problems, other times, there is only one solution, and occasionally, there is no solution to my unique (apparently) situation. Of course, I always find things that I never even knew I needed :-)
Thunderbolt Options: I find myself using my i7 MacBookPro more and more for editing, not just in the field, but even in the office. My 8 Core Intel MacPro is just not fast enough any more.
Thunderbolt Expansion: Aside from PCIe cards, I would like the ability to expand things like USB3.0, Firewire, and ethernet. Belkin showed off a neat breakout box at CES and I hope to see an update on a shipping version at NAB. Apple has an expansion hub as well, and it includes a 27” monitor!
Video Monitoring: One area that I am looking for some upgrades in is on-set monitoring solutions. Last year the Pix240 really caught my eye as a way to have an on-board monitor and a Sound Devices audio recorder in one unit. This year I am looking closely at wireless video servers for use on set.
Teradek offers the Cube for wireless streaming to iPads or to the web. I like the flexibility this offers, and will see who else is a player in this space. Teradek has teased about new product offerings too.
Production Cases: I am always looking for ways to bring more gear in with me, in as few cases as possible. I own everything from Portabrace to Kata, but a stumbled on this TrekPak concept on Kickstarter, and it seems really cool. They use aluminum clips in place of velcro to re-position the compartments. Looks like a home run.
Cameras: While I am not necessarily looking for a new camera, I do have my eyes on the landscape.
Sony just announced their latest camera, the FS700, which fits between the FS100 and the F3 in price. It fixes some flaws in the FS100 design, but adds a few new features like 200FPS VFR in 1080P, up to 960fps at lower frame sizes and bit rates.
Canon may show a 4K camera in an SLR form factor or maybe as a new model in the Cinema line. The C300 seems to be popular, but the price point has always rubbed me the wrong way.
Panasonic has teased us with talk of high quality recording at crazy bit rates, but no cameras have been announced. I have heard some rumors about an April 5th announcement for a new pro camera, so we will have to see.
As a follow up to my quest for a thunderbolt adapter for my P2 workflow in the field, I have purchased another adapter. This time, the Matrox MXO Thunderbolt adapter.
This adapter is a straight Thunderbolt to PCIe interface, not an Express34 adapter like the Sonnet Echo.
Of course, the MXO Thunderbolt adapter has one purpose, that is to interface an MXO2 to the Thunderbolt port. I am NOT trying to do that. I am trying to interface Thunderbolt to my P2 card reader, the PCD35.
I had successfully used another Matrox card in the past, a e34 to PCIe adapter, which worked great on my pre TB MacBookPro.
Alas, this adapter does not mount my PCD35 either. It may be a driver issue, but the Matrox tech support line has very long hold queues, over 2 hours, so I have not been able to speak with anyone regarding it. I expect that the conversation would go like this: “you’re trying to hook up what? We don’t make a PCD35. No, we do not support that.”
I think I will save myself the time, and go back to a firewire based PCD20.
The music came from the DeWolfe Music library. I am not certain what specific song was used, sorry.
Sonnet first announced their Thunderbolt adapter back in April at the NAB show. I placed my order in September when they announced the product was ready to ship. The units did not actually ship until December.
I mainly use the E34 slot for a Matrox PCIe card that allows me to run my Panasonic PCD35 P2 card reader in the field. I do have some drives with eSata connections, and I have run those from time to time, but the P2 reader is my main need.
The Echo is a small box, about the size of a pack of cigarettes. It has one thunderbolt port on one end, and a e34 slot on the other. Because this unit has only one TB port, it must be at the end of the chain. That also limits the use of something like an external capture card like the Decklink UltraStudio, since that unit is also an end unit.
There is no software to install, and nothing to configure. Plug and Play, as they as.
I first tried the Echo with my Matrox PCIe adapter, the MX17330. This is the card that drives my PCD35. Unfortunately, the card is not supported by the Echo, and I cannot get it to work. Looks as if it needs a driver. I spent an hour in queue with Matrox support before I gave up.
I next tried a eSata card, to see if I could make an external hard drive work. This card is a Griffin e34 to eSata, and worked fine in my old MacBookPro with the e34 slot. In the Echo, I could not get the card to be recognized. Sonnet does have their own esata cards that work with the Echo, that I may need to try.
Next up, a Verbatim e34 to compact flash adapter. Again no go.
In fact, the only card I have that works is a e34 Firewire800 adapter from Nitro AV. This is the least useful card I have.
I did place a call to Sonnet’s tech support. I was told that cards may need driver updates or firmware updates to work with Thunderbolt hosts.
It looks like the AJA card and the Magma card are supported for pcie connections, so I will have to do some more research and try another card.
I will keep posting updates as I sort my way through this.
I followed the Canon event on the live Engadget blog, great job by Michael Gorman on his coverage. Here are my thoughts.
Here is a great page with C300 specs from DVInfo.
Here is a link to the Canon Product Page for the C300.
I will start with the price, because with price comes certain expectations. The estimated price will be $20,000, and that is of course without glass. Quite frankly, at this price point, I expect more:
I expect more in the on-board codec. MPEG2 50Mb recording at 8 bits is not getting it done. This is the same issue I have with the Sony F3, and that’s cheaper at $15,000. For this level of money, I think a 100Mb, 10 bit codec is expected, something like the Panasonic AVC-Intra.
The C300 suffers from the same 8bit SDI output that the Panasonic AF100 has. I can put up with that on a $5,000 camera, but not at $15K or more.
Over-Crank is limited to the 720p mode. Again, at this price point, 1080p is the new threshold.
Cosmetically, I do not mind the design. I think the idea of a rotating grip is useful.
I like the fact that Canon added optical ND filters in the camera, BNC timecode, zebras, XLR audio, and waveform. I like the idea of iPad type wireless control.
The problem is that Sony and Panasonic have already addressed the shortcomings on the 5DMKII. Canon C300 is at least a year late to the party.
At $20K, or even $16K, I think this camera offers too little. At $10K, I think it would offer a lot of value, somewhere between the AF100 and the F3.
Canon was surprised by how well the 5D MKII was accepted by video pros. It really woke up Panasonic and Sony. Canon had a chance with the XF series to do something, but they punted. So now we will see Canon’s vision of a pro video cinema style camera.
I am thinking about my next camera purchase today, November 1st, 2011, days before Canon and Red have independent announcements about their next cameras.
Red is expected to announce that their Scarlet camera is ready to ship with a yet unknown feature set. The Scarlet was originally announced at NAB 2008 as 3K resolution for $3,000 based on a fixed lens ⅔” sensor. All kinds of rumors are flying about the new specs.
Canon is also set to announce something on Nov 3rd, although nobody who knows will say. The rumors are flying fast and furious that this will be a true cinema camera with features pro’s need (unlike the 5D MkII).
While it’s fun to think about these options, but when it comes time for me to spend my hard earned dollars, i need to evaluate my real world needs versus my cinematic desires. Big resolution alone does not make a camera great.
I have always been more of a realist than a dreamer. I know that most of my work will never see that big screen. Sure, I have entered my share of short film competitions, but the corporate and web work that I do pays the bills.
I am quite happy with my purchase of the Panasonic AF100 camera. It serves my needs of pro controls and shallow images, but there are things I would like in my next camera. For me, instead of chasing bigger sensors, and higher frame sizes, I would rather see other features developed.
I am fascinated with the idea of the HDR feature in the Red Epic. This is a feature that would be a home run in the lower budget everyday production cameras. I have walked into many situations where a overblown window in an office ruins an otherwise decent shot. How many of us would really love to have a highlight or lowlight protection? I know i would.
I am equally fascinated with the light field camera technology, where one can change focus after the fact. Lytro has announced a camera that does just that. https://www.lytro.com/camera
So imaging for a moment, a cinema camera with the ability to protect exposure and re-focus a scene in post. Give this to me in HD resolution, I am fine with that. SD cards, fine too. Just price it under $25K. Who wouldn’t want this? I would be the first in line.
To build these features in a high end hollywood camera seems to miss the mark. Hollywood jobs have the budgets to carry crew and equipment to make ANY camera look good. It’s the guys in the trenches, running around with a Lowel DP kit, trying to fight a 15 foot wall of windows with 2 guys that needs these advanced tools.
Who I ask, will be the first to build me this camera?