What Format will come out on top !

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Once again Beta v VHS has raised it’s ugly head …this time it’s solid state…P2 v SxS. HD is now catching on in broadcast land and the BBC are specifying more programmes must be shot in HD now that’s fine, the BBC as usual are playing catch up with the independent producers like myself who have been producing HD programmes for over two years now.

The main criteria for all broadcast HD work is 4:2:2 50Mbs minimum spec. camcorders like the new Canon XF305. Canon have caught many other manufacturers snoozing with their astute marketing plan, these camcorders are game changers and the BBC are in the process of buying well over fifty of these Canon camcorders alone.

The Canon’s will be good for fly on the wall, inserts into children’s programmes etc. but most serious DPs are not going to give this camcorder a second glance…so whats the options ?

Surprisingly, there seems to be a two horse race between Sony and Panasonic, both vying for the coveted broadcast market. We have two formats in the running…Panasonic P2 or Sony SxS. Once again Sony have been sleeping and have lost a lot of ground to Panasonic recently with Sky adopting P2 as their main solid state ingest for filming and editing. Taggert made by Scottish Television has recently moved over to P2 leaving the BBC with no clear road other than the new Canon camcorders.

Is it good to pin yourself to one format…good question and one as an independent producer I have already taken, SxS is my preferred option for one main reason…it’s far more flexible. I do not want a format that solely relies on P2 cards nor do I rely on SxS cards because Sony unwittingly allowed an independent producer of card adapters to produce the MxM card adapter (Now the MxR card) that takes easy to source SDHC cards.

You can always source SDHC cards but try getting P2 or SxS cards in the middle of Africa…not only that but SDHC cards are now so cheap you can use them as archive…everything you film on P2 has to be archived onto a server simply because you need the cards back in the pool for the next days shoot.

So why has Panasonic scored so big with Sky Television, Sky had to make a choice and to be fair Panasonic had a ready made 2/3″ solution with the now dated HPX500 camcorders and P2 players, Sony put a lot of time and effort into the optical disc which was not as popular as solid state.

Sony once again have come to the starting line with a product to knock your socks off the PMW-500 but it’s a few month too late, the 4:2:2 50Mbs SxS camcorder has all the right broadcast qualifications but the price is prohibitive at £20K plus lens and viewfinder. I have no doubt that if Sony had the PMW-500 twelve months ago Sky may not have gone P2.

During IBC 2010 in Amsterdam Panasonic announced the HPX3100 2/3″ P2 camcorder which is a tad less than Sony’s £20K and also less spec than the PMW-500 but it’s down to brass tacks these days and in the broadcast world every penny counts.

How does this help the independent producer who has HD programming to produce next year let alone the DPs who have to kit themselves out…well take a tip from me, wait a couple of months…Sony have come to the race late but I think we shall see some aggressive marketing and if I were Sony I would reduce the price of the 500 down to £16K with a viewfinder…let the DPs determine the future of solid state, if enough DPs buy into one format people like the BBC will have no option but to adopt the favoured independent HD format.

Speaking to a few DPs over the last two days we all came to the definitive answer and that is for the edit houses to make sure they can accommodate all card inputs from CF, SDHC to SxS and P2, one company supplies a unit that takes the most common cards used today including P2 and SxS…that’s the Qio MR from Sonnet.

Key Features

Replaces Multiple Card Readers—Comprehensive card compatibility with support for Sony® SxS™, CompactFlash®, Panasonic® P2, and SDXC™ cards (with included adapter)
Fast—Uses PCI Express® bus interface to deliver far superior performance over ordinary internal card readers with USB interface; aggregate bandwidth of 200 MB/sec.
Versatile—Supports a wide variety of ExpressCard®/34 and CardBus adapter cards, including Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi, USB, FireWire®, and more
Built-In SATA Connections—Integrated, fast SATA host controller based on Tempo™ SATA E4P with four eSATA ports supports SATA drive enclosures with up to 20 drives total

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Sony NEX-VG10 “Problem Solved”

Categories: Miscellaneous 10 Comments

Something does not compute, up until today I have had nothing but fantastic quality from my Sony NEX-VG10 and I put that down to filming progressive till you read the Electronic manual and it clearly tells you that this camcorder films 1920 x 1080 50i and todays shots were indeed 1080 50i because they had the famous jaggies you only get with interlaced footage.

Yesterday (Friday) however my footage was jaggie free and looked progressive…now the only clue we get here is Sony’s strange reference to 720p in the AVCHD part of the manual. Why the need to mention 720p if the equipment does not record in 720p or does it ?

As yet I cannot account for my two distinctive qualities…one with and one without jaggies. I will update this post if I get an answer to this puzzle.

UPDATE…Note that like the SLD cameras, the 60 / 50i video is created from 30 / 25p sensor output.

Originally Posted: http://thetechjournal.com/electronics/sony-nex-vg10.xhtml#ixzz11ForQFi7

FURTHER UPDATE SOLVED…It seems what I am seeing is MOIRE due to the subject matter. I was not aware until I filmed roof tops over Edinburgh but this camera suffers from moire as can be clearly demonstrated on roof slates.

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Sony NEX-VG10 lens comparison

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This is the lens that ships with the Sony NEX VG10 the 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 manual zoom lens. I find this lens very useful indeed it is definitely the right lens for the job, a very sharp lens I may add. The 200mm end gives you some stunning shallow depth of field shots. I can’t quite get away with the dynamic range of colours this camcorder produces from deep blacks to pillar box red to very true skin tones.

The camcorder records at full 1920 x 1080 25p this has been confusing me of late as Sony are very cagey about telling us what this camera records on, they even print 1080 50i on the box but the first pictures on the LCD tell you we are filming in progressive.

This is the “Pancake” 16mm f2.8 lens to be quite honest you are only loosing 1 stop between the 18-200 at f3.5 and 16mm at f2.8mm so we don’t get to see what it can achieve in true low light conditions. The optical qualities of the 16mm lens are as good as the 18-200. There is an “A” mount converter LA-EA1 which converts from the “E” mount to the “A” mount. You have a vast range of lenses for the Sony “A” mount system and some mega sexy f1.4 ZEISS T* lenses.

The 16mm E lens has the ability to be converted from 16mm to 10mm fisheye, now as you can see this is mega wide. My only observation is that it’s optical properties are not as good as leaving the 16mm without the converter but as a throw away shot in a wedding it would be fantastic.

During my mammoth corporate edit this week I had the occasion to need further footage of people walking in a town centre so I used the VG10 and the shots were converted from 1080 25p down to 720 50p and no one will be any the wiser plus the shots are very punchy indeed. I must thank Ian one of Preston Media customers who was very kind in bringing his NEX-5 lenses with him…16mm and WA converter.

I am warming to this camcorder the more I use it and I hope to film a video review at the beginning of the week for posting ASAP.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Panasonic HDC-SDT750 3D camcorder “First Play” £1,300

Categories: Miscellaneous 1 Comment

Like the local bus route when you are not looking for a bus along comes two, this happened with the recent delivery from H Preston Media I not only got the long awaited Sony NEX-VG10 but also the Panasonic domestic 3D camcorder. My priority has been to review the VG10 then the 3D camcorder.

Yesterday I had a play with the 3D camera and I did not realise that you have to align the 3D part at the front, fortunately I only shot about 30s worth of footage to see it back to realise there was something seriously wrong with the 3D picture. It’s quite easy as it’s almost like registering a video tube camera…that’s something that was done regularly about 20 years ago.

Once you have aligned the 3D head the rest is child’s play…now you have to understand 2 important rules about filming 3D.

1. Everything is shot at the same focal length in other words you cant use the zoom as it is disabled so you are restricted to one wide shot.

2. 3D depends on the subject matter if you are going to achieve a good 3D image you have to think foreground…3D looks far more impressive if you show something in the foreground…that gives it depth.

The camcorder is childsplay beyond the initial 3D head setup. I filmed my dog walking friends this morning and we noticed a large amount of spiders webs due to the type of morning. It was a tad misty therefore causing all the invisible spiders webs to become visible. Watching the footage back I was stunned by the depth of the spiders web and when I filmed two together you could perceive one in front of the other, fantastic.

This one £1,300 domestic 3D camcorder from Panasonic will in my opinion make the 3D plasma a worth while investment. I have not had much time to look at the instruction book so far so I don’t know if you can copy the footage as non 3D footage or if you can burn a Blu-Ray that will playback 3D from a 3D Blu-Ray player.

I think this camcorder will spark the imagination of young families who want to impress their friends with the latest in technology, 3D like it or loth it is here to stay and that’s mainly thanks to the introduction of the affordable Panasonic HDC-SDT750 3D camcorder.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

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