Sunday, May 31, 2009

So Florida Final Cut User Group Meeting

May 28, 2009
Miami, FL


Well, the rain didn't stop. But that didn't stop people from attending the So. Florida Final Cut User Group Meeting held tonight at Videoscope, in Miami. Thanks to Bill Craig and everyone at Videoscope for hosting the event. We had standing room only.
The program consisted of my friend, Orlando Luna, from Apple demonstrating work flow with new DSLR still cameras that also shoot video, and yours truly presenting "Why in The World Would You Still Shoot on Tape, or MPEG-2?



I started by challenging the audience asking how many are still shooting on tape. About half raised their hands. I then asked how many were shooting on HD, less than half this time.
I then boldly stated that within 2 years they would all be shooting HD and none of them would be shooting on tape. That always get the evening off to a rousing start. The beauty of these presentations, is I get to present my personal perspective as a user. As always the opinons expressed in the presentations and on this blog (for that matter) are mine.

But, the actual fact of the matter is that all of the camera manufacturers are moving away from tape and towards solid state, optical disc, or flash memory recording.
Panasonic is the world's leader in solid state HD cameras having introduced the very successful P2 line of cameras a few years back. Now, of course, me and Ole Betsy (my trusty HMC150 camera) are on the road to talk about the AVCHD format and Panasonic's professional line of AVCCAM products that use the AVCHD format. And very wisely, in my opinion, Panasonic has decided that their AVCCAM products utilize SDHC cards to record. They are reliable, robust, available everywhere and their price continues to drop. Music to my ears and shooters around the country. Here I am pushing this advantage.

The question I always get at this point is can I use any SDHC card, and the answer is Yes, But...
In order to shoot in the PH (Professional Mode) with the HMC150 camera you will need at least a class 4 SDHC card (and a class 6 is recommended). And be careful, just like you wouldn't buy cheap no name tape, avoid SDHC cards from companies that you might not know. Panasonic, of course, makes a full line of SDHC cards all the way to 32GB.

The audience appreciated the features of the camera and were intrigued about editing with Final Cut. It is very easy and I demonstrated that to them. They also were very interested in the new AVCCAM products coming this fall including a couple of new cameras and a very exciting AVCCAM portable field recorder/player.

The crowd asked very intelligent questions and maybe nobody wanted to go out into the rain but they stayed till almost 10pm.


When we finally finished, the rain had stopped. It was a great evening, I enjoyed meeting with them and I guess it was a success as they have invited me back in the fall when the new equipment comes out. I will be there, hope the rain is not.
More to come
The Road Warrior.
PS thanks to Marlene and Orlando for the pix.

Scalable Bandwidth in Miami?

May 27, 2009
Miami, FL

You know you are approaching Miami, when the pilot tells you the descent will be bumpy, and he spends the next few minutes swerving around magnificent thunderheads. But, I love Miami for it's diversity, vibrant neighborhoods and general good vibe. However, at this time of year, you can count on rain.

This afternoon, I had the pleasure to speak to one of Panasonic's customers. This is a company that specializes in IT design and installation and they have recently purchased an HMC150 camera. They plan on using the camera to produce both internal training videos as well as online sales and marketing efforts. I pulled out Ole Betsy (my trusty HMC150 camera) and walked them through the basic camera set-ups. But, when they told me about their web-based goals, I showed them a little understood, but very cool feature of the Panasonic HMC150, namely scalable bandwidth.

So, what is scalable bandwidth? Well, one way to think about this, is that whenever you shoot digital HD video, you are recording your information (or data) at a certain number of mega bits per second. This is also referred to as bandwidth. Among other things, the higher the number of mega bits per second, the better your image will look, but also the bigger your files will be.
The HMC150 camera was the first camera to record in the AVCHD format with the new PH (professional mode) at up to 24 megabits per second. The results are stunning images.

However, the HMC150 also allows you to record at different and lower bandwidth settings. As noted, the HMC150 will shoot 1080/60i in the PH mode (up to 24 mega bits per second), but also in the HA mode (17 mega bits per second) HG mode (13 mega bits per second) and HE mode (6 mega bits per second).

When I first heard about this I was confused. If I have a camera that will shoot at 24 mega bits per second, why in the world would I want to set it to record at a lower bit rate? As, I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that if I was shooting a static talking head, with not much action maybe, just maybe, you could get away with a lower bit rate.

Well, a few months ago, we decided to do a side by side bit rate comparison, so we could see what happens to the quality when the bit rate changes. Here is one of those tests, courtesy of Panasonic. This piece was shot by Bentley Nelson.

video

I realize that this is hard to critically evaluate over the internet, so, if you would like to see this and more clips, in better detail, stop in at your Panasonic Professional Broadcast Products dealer. Play with the camera and ask him to show you the AG-HMC150 DVD that contains these bandwidth tests (under the DVD ROM content).

Frankly, I was stunned at the results. The HE mode at 6 mega bits per second looks surprising good. Is it as good at the PH mode at 24? No, but it is not bad at all. Most importantly, the resulting file size is very small. So small that the files can even be sent via ftp. That is pretty amazing, HD files zipping through the internet as ftp files.

The customer agreed that the 6 mega bit clip looked really good. I suggested that for their initial in- house training videos they shoot at 1080/60i in the PH mode. But for their web-based clips, I suggested they should do some tests at the lower bit rates. It is quite possible that 6 mega bits will work just fine for them. It will be interesting to see how they proceed.

Tomorrow, I am off to present to the University of Miami and then to the So. Florida Final Cut User Group Meeting. Should be an exciting day. Hope the rain stops.
More to come.
The Road Warrior

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bound for Miami and FCP User Group Presentation

May 24, 2009
Knoxville, TN

Ah there is nothing like warm weather for camera tests. Here is a pix taken last year in Miami as I was comparing the Panasonic HMC70 camera against a number of other cameras. Having shot the Iditarod Dog Race in Alaska at -67 degrees, I like coming to Miami.

Well, Ole Betsy (my trusted Panasonic HMC150 camera) and I are headed off to Miami next week. A number of meetings are still being finalized. But, if you are in the area and can make it to the So. Florida Final Cut User Group meeting on Thurs night. I invite you to come on over.
I will be there presenting "Why in the World Would You Still Shoot on Tape, or MPEG- 2, For That Matter?"

Here is a link to their meeting site page with directions, etc.
http://www.soflafcpug.com/html/meet.html
You will need to RSVP.

Hope you can make it. Please say hello if you do.
More later
The Road Warrior

Friday, May 22, 2009

You Know You Have Been On The Road Too Much When....

May 22, 2009
Chicago O'Hare Airport 8am




OH NO!
In my haste to catch my flight this morning, I mistakenly checked my camera bag with trusty Ole Betsy (my Panasonic HMC150 suggled inside). Because I often fly on small regional planes (like this morning) I always take Ole Betsy out of her bag and hand carry her on and place her under my seat. This morning, I was distracted and checked two bags. One, the camera case containing the camera. I left the bags with the agent and was started to security when I realized what I had done. Running back to the agent I frantically convinced him to grab the bag, just as it was about to descend into the bowels of the airport. He was amused by my anxiety.
Anyway, all's well that ends well, here I am with the rescued camera. Hope the rest of the day isn't as stressful.
BTW, carrying the camera on board always elicits comments from the crew and other passengers. On a couple of flights ago, I convinced the gentlemen seated next to me that this was the camera he needed. And he said he was going to buy one later that day.
Ah, the Road Warrior selling even at 30, 000 feet.
More later
The Road Warrior

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Kind of Town...Chicago Is

May 21, 2009
Chicago, Il
What a gorgeous day. High 70's, low 80's and no humidity. This is a time of the year that Chicago looks great, fall is another. I grew up in Aurora, IL not far away and Chicago has become prettier and more gracious, as I have gotten older. I wish I could have grabbed Ole Betsy (my trusty Panasonic HMC150 camera) and shot the skyline and along Lake Shore Drive today. It would have been stunning. But, alas, I was once again being the AVCCAM Evangelist. So, on my next trip to Chicago, I hope the weather will co-operate and I will try to shoot something wonderful.
But hey, if you have to work inside, work on something that you believe in, something that you feel passionately about, and I am all over this format AVCHD, and Panasonic's Professional line of products AVCCAM, that use the AVCHD format. But, I would guess you have gathered that by now.
Anyway, on to the day's activities.
First, rush hour in Chi-Town. Come on, I left Aurora to go to UCLA Film School. Having lived in LA for many years, I know rush hour traffic (it is in fact a 24 hour phenom).
But, I experienced it here in Chicago this am. And the roads are not as good as LA. They have huge pot holes from all the ice and snow. And the drivers are worse. (Sorry, Chicago)
Trusting my loyal GPS, I headed off for Resolution Digital Studios, a great studio and venue. But, the GPS had a mind of it's own, so I got to see the Cook County Jail, up close. I hope never up close and personal! And I got to see parts of Chicago I have never seen before and you will not find in the tourism guides. But, not to worry, I arrived safe and sound, if a tad late.
Hey, I operate on LA time.
Roscor, one of Panasonic's great dealers held their Roscor 09 event. Sort of a recap of NAB for those who couldn't attend NAB. This was day two of the event. You will remember, or can remember, if you read yesterday's post, I missed day one of the Roscor event, as I was at the Illionis Videographer's Association meeting, a scant 12 miles away. Hence my rant on Chicago rush hour this am.




This picture shows me at the Roscor event with my trusty Ole Betsy (HMC150 camera). Thanks to Arthur from Panasonic for shooting this pix, as you know, I am rarely in my own pix. If you look closely on the 17" monitor to the right of the picture, you might be able see Arthur shooting the still. He is being captured by the HE100, a really cool robotic camera, which is actually the HPX200 in a robotic housing. Thanks, Arthur. The check is not in the mail :-)
It was a great event. I got to speak to a number of Universities, and Schools that were very interested in the HMC150 and having me come out and do a presentation to faculty, students and staff. Also met with a number of corporate clients that also showed interest in this low cost, incredible HD camera line up. It was fun and I was glad to support Roscor.
After the event, Ned Johnston of Panasonic and I visited Calument Photographic. We discussed the possibility of an upcoming AVCCAM presentation at Calument. When we have firmed up the details, I will post here.
I have a ton of editing to do this weekend. Oh, wait isn't it supposed to be a holiday? Yeah, right.
I am also writing all the NLE white papers for editing AVCHD on www.panasonic.com/avccam.
Currently, FCP, Adobe and Pinnacle are done. I am working on Edius, and Sony Vegas and the rest. When they are done, I will post here as well.
And next week I am in Miami
Life on the road with Ole Betsy is good.
More to come.
The Road Warrior

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Illinois Videographer's Association Expo


May 20, 2009 - Countryside, Illinois
Ok, here is the scene. Wed. am bright and early near Chicago.

The Event? The Illinois Videographer's Association hosted their 2nd Annual Midwest Expo at the Holiday Inn here in Countryside (a Chicago suburb).
Event kicked off at 8am this morning. They had 75 people attend this all day session. I met most of them and they are dedicated video professionals who are trying to make sense of the changing technologies in a challenging economic environment.

The day was set up with presentations from industry professionals with break outs in the exhibit area. The exhibitors included: Grass Valley with their Edius editing software, Classrooms on demand (makers of great training software), Canon, Weva, Blue Media, Event DV and of course yours truly, representing Panasonic.
Here are a couple of shots of the exhibition table. Since I was the only person here, it was impossible to get my image in the pix, but from the first image you can see the layout of the table.

I had a 17" Panasonic Professional Monitor, and a Panasonic Blu-Ray Player. I put an SDHC card in the Blu-Ray player that contained a high def version of the popular HMC150 DVD. I had Ole Betsy (my trusty HMC150 camera) and lots of literature. I was ready!

Here come the crowds. The second pix I took by stepping away from the table for a minute to show some of the activity. People love the HMC150 camera. Everyone wanted to hold it, to shoot with it. I also had my MacBook Pro laptop so that I could show them how easy it is to edit with Final Cut Pro. If you would like to download a white paper on the FCP AVCHD Workflow that I wrote for Panasonic go to www.panasonic.com/avccam and you can discover for yourself how easy it is to edit AVCHD footage in FCP.

One comment I heard a number of times was how is this camera different from the JVC camera that shoots directly to Quick Time (making editing in Final Cut very fast and easy). That is a great question, and I have a very detailed answer that actually needs it's own posting. So, watch this space. Suffice to say the HMC150 slays the competition.
But, I digress. In addition, to the exhibition, all the vendors were invited to present to the crowd. So, I got up and challenged them immediately, with my personal prediction that in 2-3 years none of them would be shooting anything, anymore on tape, or MPEG 2, for that matter. And that in the same time frame they would all be shooting HD. Needless to say that got their attention. As I say, this is my personal observation, not a Panasonic statement. I challenged them further to say, invite me back in 2 years and I will prove I was right. This definitely started intelligent conversations :-)

The actual focus of my presentation was a Panasonic NAB update. So I talked about the new P2 products including the new E series P2 cards and of course, the hot, new HPX300, (list price $10,700) with interchangeable lenses and the AVC-I codec (only previously available on cameras over $30,000.) Way Cool.


I talked about the new P2 Varicam, the Rapid Reader and then I moved to the new products in the AVCCAM line (near and dear to my heart).

Joining the HMC70 and the HMC150, Panasonic announced a new hand held HMC40 that not only shoots 1080i and 1080p and 720p but also captures 10.6 megapixel still images at the same time!


I had the pleasure to be the first person to shoot with the HMC40 days before NAB. I got a hold of a pre-production engineering sample and shot a number of scenes out in the Nevada Desert, Lake Mead and the Vegas strip at night. Great camera.

Next up was the new HMR-10 a hand-held battery operated, AVCHD recorder player. With this little baby you can record the output of any HD/SDI camera onto AVCHD. And it features a 3.5 inch LCD color monitor so you can instantly play back your SD cards in the field. This is a killer product, I can't wait to get my hands on it.


There is also a new POVCAM the AG-HCK10 that can connect to the hand held recorder. Perfect for helmet cams, wildlife, surveillance, etc.
It is always a rush for me when the audience seems to get the message. In this case the message was simple, AVCCAM provides stunning HD images (now on a every growing family of cameras and a recorder) at affordable pricing, on inexpensive and readily available SDHC cards.
I love talking about this stuff. It is great fun to see the audience get it.
More later
The Road Warrior

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Up Before Dawn

Tues May 19, 2009
Knoxville, TN

Man, you know you are a road warrior when you are up before sunrise. Ah, the joys of air travel.
I am off today to the Windy City of Chicago (routing thru Atlanta, of course). I am once again armed with my trusty Panasonic HMC150 camera. I need to come up with a nickname for it. Since I am living in TN, I guess I will borrow Davy Crockett's name for his rifle and call my HMC150, Ole Betsy. Won't be killing any bears, but will be slaying AVCHD format confusion. Anyway, we are off to the Illinois Videographers Association 2nd Annual Midwest Expo. I will man an exhibition table as well as make a presentation talking about Panasonic's NAB announcements and new products. I spoke to this group a few months ago, they are very knowledgable shooters. It should be a fun show. If you are in Chicago come on by and say hello.
For info on the event please see: http://www.eventdv.net/Articles/News/Breaking-News/IVA%27s-2nd-Annual-Midwest-Expo-set-for-May-20-in-Countryside,-Illinois-48733.htm

On Thursday Ole Betsy and I are off to Roscor Corporation's Roscor 09 Communications Technology Exhibition. See http://www.roscor.com/content/view/569/921/
More later
The Road Warrior

Dallas Production Roundtable Event


May 12, 2009 - Dallas TX
Quite an event held at the Studios at Las Colinas in Dallas, Tx.
I was there to support some of Panasonic's dealers and to speak. My presentation was unfortunately scheduled as the last of the day. So, I expected a smallish crowd. Wrong! I gave my "Why in The World Would You Still Shoot on Tape or MPEG 2" presentation. It went really well. I showed lots of examples of AVCHD footage shot on the Panasonic HMC150 camera. I showed MPEG2 and MPEG-4 comparisons (MPEG 4 is the winner), as well as bit rate comparisons. Yes, the HMC150 let's you pick the bit rate you want to record at, and let me tell you if you want small files that can even be send via ftp, the 6Mbps recording looks surprisingly good. We talked workflow, it is my experience that people love the camera, but wonder how to edit with it. It is easy and I showed editing on Final Cut, Premiere and Pinnacle. I knew I was the only person standing between the crowd and Miller Time, but they stayed for a good additional 40 minutes to ask questions. It is another clear indication of just how popular the Panasonic HMC150 camera is.
More adventures just down the road.
The Road Warrior

Monday, May 11, 2009

Here we go again

May 11, 2009
Ok, the blog is started. We will see how it goes.
Me and my trusty Panasonic AG-HMC150 are on the road again. This week it is Dallas.
Now, flying from Knoxville, you have to go thru Atlanta, or Cinci. I chose Atlanta this trip. Flight from Knox was delayed, almost missed connection in Atlanta, but made it. That is the down side of small town (Knox) airport. The upside, no long lines at security. Anyway, storms over Louisana made for rough flight. Staying at Doubletree Market Center (a bit tired both me and the hotel). Dallas Production Roundtable demos tomorrow. http://www.videotexsystems.com/pages.php?pageid=28
For more info on AVCCAM go to www.panasonic.com/avccam
More later.
The Road Warrior