I had a chance to spend a couple afternoons this week at the DV Expo East. It was like spending an afternoon at the candy shop.
I'm still looking for HD solutions for shooting and editing and got to put my hands on the new Sony HDV cameras and the new JVC HDV camera. The JVC booth was pretty crowded, so I didn't spend as much time with that camera, but I got a chance to play around with the new Sony Z1U. It's nicely laid out and comfortable to control. The images looked great (at least the direct feed to the monitors did) and I liked the overall feel of the camera.
I spent a little time at the 16x9, Inc booth playing with the Z1U they had tricked out with rails, mattebox and follow-focus. It doubles the cost of the camera, but what a difference having solid controls at your fingertips. The rep there told me you need to use larger than 4 inch wide filters (4.6 I think she said) when shooting HDV to cover the full field of view on the lens. Something that's pretty annoying is that none of the matteboxes are interchangeable with other cameras. The new design of all these cameras places different pieces (like the Z1U's on camera mike) right over the lens so the box has to be re-designed to fit the nuances of each camera body. That wouldn't be such a big deal if the accessories didn't cost so much. Fortunately the follow-focus units only need to have the lens gears swapped out to adapt to new cameras.
The Panasonic P2 HD presentation may have me dropping all thoughts of HDV. Their new P2 camera (due out in November) boasts support for DVCPro 25, DVCPro50, and DVCPro HD. This means HD with no MPEG compression artifacts. The P2 storage system means a silent operating camera with no moving parts (bye, bye head clogs) and no more tapes.
The P2 card will pop into any PC's PCMCIA slot and show up as a hard drive. Dump the footage to a big, cheap external drive and wipe the card clean for another round. The on-set workflow will be similar to a film camera - an assistant dumps the footage and clears off the card after it fills (although you can keep shooting on the second card while the first is being transfered.) This roughly parallels a loader swapping out film mags - minus having to check the gate and thread the film. Current 8Gig cards hold about 8 minutes of 1020i HD footage, but the P2 cards memory is made up of 4 SD cards, the same standard type as are used in still cameras and Palm Pilots, so as the capacity for SD cards increases so will the capacity of the P2 cards. I think the prices for P2 cards will come down pretty quickly once the camera gets out there. Plus, there will likely be a direct to hard drive solution available very soon after the camera is released for folks who need longer record times.
I'm planning on spending some time with this new camera when the start shipping. I'm going to schedule some time over at Abel Cine to play with it.
That big frustration now is, if I use the Panasonic solution for HD, how do I edit the footage in Premiere Pro??? It doesn't have DVCPro HD codecs.
There's more cool stuff that I saw at the Expo, but I'll have to wait to write about it.