Wednesday, July 4, 2007

P2 Workflow, laptops, etc...

Ever since I bought a Panasonic HVX200, my production life has changed for the better. Proof being in the pudding, I won a Telly award this year for a green screen project done on the HVX.

Quality issues aside (the image does look extremely good), the workflow has become all-digital, which I love, but also with pluses and minuses:


On shoots I record to P2 cards, then offload the media to a Windows laptop using P2Genie. Back in the edit bay, I copy this media to a hard drive dedicated to the project, then ingest using Final Cut Pro's native P2 import tools. Works like a charm.

  1. Never have to fool around with tape, and the associated problems, again.
  2. Very limited possibility of dropouts; no possibility of head clog or failure.
  3. Easy to use in rough environments.
  4. Using auxiliary equipment (eg, DV Rack, P2 Store or Focus Enhancements FS-100), recording time to disk can be greatly extended. However, I still recommend P2 cards as one won't have to fool with the camera tethered to another piece of equipment.
  5. Flexibility: P2 cameras can link to auxiliary DV gear, such as decks, etc, for extended recording on tape in DV, DVCPRO, HDV or other formats. I've done this when hired to record day-long events.
  1. Requires management of media, both on site and in post, and even after wrap-up to ensure retrievable media in the event of a re-edit down the line. It ain't like saving a tape.
    1. Saving the raw media on a high-quality hard disk drive that is dedicated to the project seems to be the answer for me.
  2. Depending on the number and size of P2 cards one has, it may require an interruption in shooting to offload the media to disk or laptop.
  3. Cards are expensive. But, you never have to buy tape again. Nor will you explain to your client why you missed a shot because the tape failed.
  4. Must be careful when selecting a laptop.
    1. For example, HP laptops have difficulty reading P2 cards. This was confirmed by HP support. And this is true for P2 cards connected to HP laptops through the Duel Adapter, as well.
    2. I was sure to buy a laptop that had native card support for both PCMCIA and Expresscard. The best I could find was the Toshiba P105-6217. I like this laptop, but think it's now discontinued. Figures.
    3. Win Vista can be a problem. Everything runs under Win XP, but to get some production software (such as DV Rack) to run under Vista might require extra effort. See this for more info.

For me the pluses far outweigh the minuses. I find I shoot more and better in this all-digital scenario.

Feel free to add comments about this, but it's a workflow that really fits the bill for me.

Zebron and James