Camcorder’s that pretend to be professional

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mm-cams1hmc71-sideWhy do camcorder manufacturers feel the need to bring out “Walter Mitty” camcorders ?  

Time and time again over the years we see a camcorder design that should have never left the toilet paper it was designed on, why do the broadcast design teams feel the urge to bring out a camcorder that is so far from being professional let alone broadcast that you cringe when you see them displayed at trade shows.

Is there a yearly competition between manufacturers in Japan to design the ugliest, plastic, cheap looking camcorder they can. Take the Panasonic HMC71 it may reach the right price bracket £1800 but it looks no more professional than a gray shoe box. This good old shoulder mounted AVCAM quasi modo is partly responsible for the lack of interest in the far better HMC151. 

You see… people don’t forget basic, poor designs like the HMC71 and associate it with the HMC151 as they say tarring it with the same brush therefore people ignore the 151 as being semi domestic when it isn’t. So you see by cheapening the AVCAM from the start has a knock on effect for sales in the future for better are bolder AVCAM products.

If you are designing camcorders for professionals then please do not bring out poorly designed, grey shoe boxes with plastic lenses, leave them for the domestic boys or better still leave the design in your head.

PS. This is not a dig at Panasonic but the HMC71 is current and hits all the wrong notes.

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Larry Jordan’s Tip of the Day 7

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The Format War…or is it !

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images-7Speaking to a cameraman friend of mine it became apparent there are 2 markets when buying a camcorder. The first is the client that you are doing the whole job for and the second is the client who just wants you to film and hand over the……….!

This is where it becomes interesting, depending what you are filming with depends on what you are shooting on to. This has led to a two tier video market, one to hand over archive and one that doesn’t. The two most common formats in use are Digi Beta and DVCAM both delivered by Sony now why is that not a surprise. Most EX television cameramen who were lucky enough to last the 25 years and get the golden handshake go out and buy the same equipment as they are used to using or their new cliental require.

imagesTelevision broadcasters on the whole have been cleverly indoctrinated by Sony in the early days, that is why we have two levels, Digi Beta for the more demanding customer who needs a tape at the end of a days filming and DVCAM for everything else. Most broadcasters and high end facilities can handle Digi Beta and DVCAM.

If you plan to work for clients who need your footage at the end of the day you have no option other than tape. Camcorder manufacturers do not think about the client when they expect you to pay £250 upwards for solid state media like P2 and SxS formats that least lend themselves to handing over to the client. Sony’s optical XDCAM is a better compromise but do you know anyone who has a Sony XDCAM reader in their edit suite !

The closest you are going to get to “hand over” solid state is SDHC cards, they are relatively cheep at around £30 per 16Gb which will run 59mins in a Sony EX-3 at full 1920-1080 50i with a special MxM adapter. JVC brought out the HM700 camcorder with 2 SDHC card slots and quicktime codec for this very use but sadly at the cost of picture quality using 1/3″ chips. Another card becoming more popular is the tried and trusted compact flash card, both the SDHC and CF cards can be easily read by standard SD/CF card readers which are far more widely available than expensive tape machines at £4K upwards.  

images-13It’s not easy being freelance at the best of times but having to buy kit like Digi Beta which is still expensive and in my opinion a bit long in the tooth just to have the facility to hand over archive is ludicrous simply because camcorder manufacturers don’t take the end user into account when pricing solid state memory. I have a sneaky suspicion that Sony have allowed the integration of the SDHC adapters because it allows the cameraman to hand over cheaper archive, something they never gave thought to themselves.

It’s also the reason P2 has never got off the ground in the 5-10K marketplace even at the cheaper “E” card prices you can’t seriously expect anyone to hand over a £250 card or a client to pay that amount of money for your P2 camera footage. Dare I say it but Sony have almost got it right with their Z5 and Z7 camcorders allowing you to record DVCAM to tape and also to CF card simultaneously (Note the Z5 does not come with the Memory Card unit as standard). So what we need now is “Client Archive Camcorders” a shoulder mount camcorder that also records to both SxS and SDHC/CF in both HD and SD but has a minimum spec of 1/2″ chips.

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Panasonic P2 HPX-301 review coming soon

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Apple 10.5.7 update “Still no RAW image support for Lumix G1”

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panasonic-lumix-dmc-g1Products Affected

Mac OS X 10.5, Aperture, iPhoto

Supported by Mac OS X 10.5.7

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EOS 50D
Canon PowerShot G10
Epson R-D1x
Pentax K2000/K-m
Leaf AFi-II 6
Leaf AFi-II 7
Leaf Aptus-II 6
Leaf Aptus-II 7
Leica M8.2
Nikon D3X
Nikon Coolpix P6000
Nikon D90
Sony DSLR-A900

 

 

File Apple an enhancement request at  https://bugreport.apple.com   (Note. You will need an Apple ID in order to do this)

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Larry Jordan’s Tip of the Day 6

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Prompting…Behind the scenes

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turnberryThe Open Championship returns to the Ailsa Course at Turnberry in July 2009 for the first time since 1994 when Nick Price was victorious. The worlds’ greatest golfers will gather to do battle for the famous Claret Jug on what is considered one of the finest courses on The Open rota. 

Earlier on this week I drove the 55 miles to Turnberry with my ProPrompter kit in the back of the car. I had been hired by Metro Ecosse (Edinburgh) as part of a crew to provide my prompting services. I was rather worried that morning as the sun was splitting the sky’s, great for the golfing shots and the odd interview but as any LCD Autocue provider knows…LCD’s and bright sunshine do not mix. 

apple-iphone-in-hand-thumbv2My prompter is especially different as it is very portable which means it is small, the LCD is only 8″ across so the bright sunlight was not going to do it any favours. I discovered the night before that my expensive prompting software was also available for my iPhone so I downloaded it as a safety backup. This was good news and the iPhone as it turned out was brighter and sharper than my LCD but has one major drawback…you need to upload your script to a dedicated server in order to download the script for use on the day but as any autocue operator knows only too well…changes to the script are inevitable so the iPhone version was a handy back-up but operationally very cumbersome.

As it turned out the piece to camera was delayed by an hour, this allowed the sun to hide behind light cloud cover therefore diffusing the light. Our guest was none other than Jack Nicklaus a legend in the world of golf. Jack had had a grueling day for a man of 69 years of jack-nicklaus-to-cameraage… sat down and presented about 10 pieces to camera as if this was his first call of the day. To say he was a pro is an under estimation, he questioned and changed the script without me needing to change the words and it was over in the blink of an eye.

 

The LCD screen was cranked up full, the words were as big as I dare make them but the important part for me was the job was done and Jack was off to another part of his schedule unaware of my initial anxiety about the LCDs performance in daylight and it’s overall size.

 

 

 

 

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Sony’s HD Format Guide

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From top to bottom; PMW-EX1, PDW-F355L and PDW-700 XDCAM Camcorders

XDCAM – 21st century workflow

XDCAM is the family name for Sony tapeless camcorders and decks. Combining the best of video and IT, XDCAM is ideal for quick turnaround projects where deadlines are tight.

XDCAM EX

An exciting new, low-cost entry point into the world of HD, XDCAM EX records onto “SxS PRO™” memory cards which comply with the ExpressCard™ standard. Up to 100 minutes of HD content can be recorded onto two removable 16GB cards. 1080/720 switchable and supporting a variety of standards, including CineAlta 1080/23.98PsF, XDCAM EX makes it fast and easy to shoot, edit and distribute great quality HD.

XDCAM HD

Featuring camcorders with 1/2-inch interchangeable lenses, XDCAM HD offers an elegant path to HD for cost-conscious users looking to switch from analogue or DVCAM. MPEG HD encoding ensures crisp, clear image quality with true 1080-line HD resolution and a choice of 18Mbps, 25Mbps and 35Mbps recording rates. Over 35 partner vendors ensures seamlessly integration with most of today’s popular NLEs.

XDCAM HD 422

XDCAM HD 422 sits at the top of the XDCAM range and is ideal for applications such as ENG, documentary, European TV drama and mainstream entertainment programmes that require a high quality look. Stunning HD picture quality is delivered using 2/3-inch 1920×1080 resolution CCDs, 14 bit A/D conversion and 4:2:2 recording at 50Mbps – while still retaining XDCAM’s market-leading non-linear workflow.

The HDW-790P was specifically designed for the European market.

HDCAM – Prestige results on Standard Definition budgets

The ideal medium for drama, documentaries, commercials and mainstream television programming, HDCAM has become the High Definition format of choice for discerning users. Already chosen as an “in-house format” by broadcasters around the world, HDCAM offers superb High Definition picture performance while offering a convenient choice of workflow options.

Whether you prefer to post produce in HDCAM or down-convert for editing within existing SD infrastructures, HDCAM offers greater flexibility to match your creative preferences and operational needs. Shoot at 24PsF or 25PsF to give your pictures a prestige, ‘filmic’ look. Alternatively, select 50i or 60i for a more immediate feel, especially with fast-moving action – the choice is yours. 

Providing an ideal migration to HD for customers working within Standard Definition budgets, HDCAM future-proofs and increases the international marketability of all your programming.

Find out more about HDCAM…

The F23 is designed to dock with the SRW-1 HDCAM SR recorder.

HDCAM SR – Ultimate HD performance for the most demanding users

Preferred by leading media industry players thanks to its unparalleled picture quality and ultra-mild signal compression, HDCAM SR has been developed to accommodate the most demanding applications. From movies and commercials to sophisticated green screen effects, CGI, digital intermediates, telecine transfers and archiving, there’s no format to match the peerless performance of HDCAM SR.

Delivering breathtakingly natural, detailed pictures, thanks to true RGB 4:4:4: coding at a bit rate of up to 880Mbps, HDCAM SR ensures that the most prestigious productions will stand out. And with 12 uncompressed digital audio tracks, HDCAM SR is also perfect for multi-channel surround sound mastering. When nothing less than the very best picture quality and performance will do, HDCAM SR is the ultimate choice of the world’s most discerning creative professionals. 

When nothing less than the very best picture quality and performance will do, HDCAM SR is the ultimate choice of the world’s most discerning creative professionals.

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Phil reviews the new JVC 4K camera (See Comic tab above)

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Larry Jordan’s Tip of the Day 5

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