Friday, June 19, 2009

Lil' Buster goes home, briefly

June 19, 2009
Orlando, FL

Infocomm came to a successful end this afternoon, as did my brief friendship with Lil' Buster (The HDV and MPEG-2 Buster) HMC40 camcorder. He was a huge hit, BTW.
But, now he has to go home to Panasonic in NJ, for some cute model shots and advertising posing.
The good thing is that means you will be seeing him everywhere. The bad thing, is I will have to wait a couple of weeks to get him back. It is sort of like joint custody. I can't wait to take him on the road with me. And of course, I will report on our continuing relationship, here on the blog, as we slay HDV and MPEG-2 and establish AVCCAM as the dominant HD affordable solution.

It was a great week. Thanks to all at Panasonic for letting me work with the first HMC40 to come to the US.
Take good care of Lil' Buster and I look forward to his return.

More to Come
The Road Warrior

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cool Features on HMC40

June 18, 2009
Orlando, FL

Lil' Buster (the HDV and MPEG-2 Buster), my trusty HMC40 camera is making a big splash here in sunny Florida at Infocomm. This picture shows Steve Golub, National Product Manager for the AVCCAM product line, next to Lil'Buster. Doesn't he look proud?
I mean Steve. He should be for it is a great camera at a great price.
How much you say? Well, Steve says, the list price will be under $3K! Wow.

I have been shooting with the HMC40 and I am very impressed. The first thing you notice is how light weight it is. Only 2.2 lbs! You could shoot all day and not get cramps in your arms.
The second thing is the image quality. It is stunning.

Lil' Buster shoots at a variety of resolutions and frame rates. And all of the menu settings are accessed by touch screen from the viewfinder. PH Mode (at 24 megabits per second) at 1080/60i, 1080/24P, 1080/30p, 720/24p, 720/30p and 720/60p.

In addition, you can also shoot 1080/60i at lower bandwidths, 17, 13 and 6 megabits per second. The advantage of the 6 megabit per second is that the file size is small enough you can send it via ftp.

As I mentioned in an earlier post the HMC40 also shoots 10.6 megapixel stills.

And another way cool feature that I discovered yesterday while going thru the menus is that you can set interval recording from 1 frame every second to 1 frame very 2 minutes. This allows you to shoot those really cool time lapse sequences.

One thing I did notice while shooting outside in the bright sunlight is that it is sometimes hard to see the touch screen monitor. I mentioned this to Steve and he said that maybe an LCD hood would solve the problem.

Customers here at Infocomm have reacted very positively to Lil' Buster. I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.

More to come,
The Road Warrior

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Leavin' Las Vegas

June 14, 09
Crown Room

(This pix taken with an iPhone)
After making a great impression at National Press Photographer's Association Conference in Las Vegas, it was time to take Lil' Buster (the brand new HMC40 camera) home.
We are off to Infocomm in Orlando, next week.

In addition to taking stunning HD video, the HMC40 also shoots 10.6 megapixel stills. So, after some weird contortions in trying to take a still picture of myself, here are the results.

(This pix taken with HMC40)

More to Come
The Road Warrior

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Do I Have To Sleep In The Cupboard?"

June 12, 2009
Las Vegas, NV

Remember this quote from Chip in Beauty and the Beast, "Do I have to sleep in the cupboard?"
I thought of it this morning when I retrieved the new HMC40 camera from the hotel safe. Since it is the only HMC40 in the US, I naturally am paranoid about losing it. So, it slept in the safe.
Lil' Buster is the name I have given the HMC40, thanks to Tom, one of the followers on this blog. Tom said it is a true HDV Buster. So, Lil' Buster now joins Ole Betsy in my travels on AVCCAM On The Road.

Lil' Buster is having his coming out party here at the National Press Photographers Association meeting. Besides exhibiting, I am giving a presentation each day, "Getting Comfortable Shooting Stills and HD Video." The photojournalists seem to really like the light weight and picture quality from the HMC40. I have too busy to shoot much with the camera yet, but plan to do some shooting later today and tomorrow.

More To Come
The Road Warrior

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hey Las Vegas, say "Hello" to the new HMC40 camera!

June 10, 2009
Las Vegas, NV

Scary morning at the Indy airport. Seems a woman had something suspicious in her bag and TSA locked down all security screening. We stood there right by the screeners with our gear in the tubs and they wouldn't let us out, or anyone else in. This went on for about 15 minutes and then they moved us all to the screening lines as far away from the woman as we could get. Then they let us through, but she was still being held back. Wonder what she had in her bag? And I was sure hoping that she wasn't on my flight.

Anyway, no further excitement and here I am back in Las Vegas. It was only 2 months ago that I was here for NAB.
This time I am exhibiting and presenting at the National Press Photographer Association meeting; tomorrow, Friday and Saturday. Walk in registration is encouraged. See

And here is the big NEWS! Tomorrow, I will receive the first and only HMC40 camcorder in the US. This first production sample was shipped over from the Panasonic factory in Japan. As you can imagine, I am quite excited to get my hands on this camera.
We showed a prototype of this little jewel at NAB, but it wasn't fully operational. This new camera is, and I intend to do some shooting here in the desert and will post my opinions later. The HMC40 is a little brother to Ole Betsy (my trusty HMC150). I will have to think of a name for it. The reason it is a little brother, is that it weighs in at just 2.2 lbs. And, not only does it shoot stunning AVCCAM high definition, but also 10.6 megapixel stills. I am sure the photojournalists will love it.

Should be an incredible few days here in the desert.
More to come
The Road Warrior

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

When Deja Vu Doesn't Work

June 9, 2009
Indianapolis, IN

This is weird! I know I am a Road Warrior, but come on!
I landed yesterday morning in Indianapolis. I have flown here many times before. I get off the plane, it has been a long morning from Knox to Atlanta to Indy, and a short night before, so I am not thinking that clearly, I will admit.
But, still....I feel like I have stepped into the Twilight Zone. I am walking from the gate to baggage claim and nothing, and I mean nothing seems familiar.
I get my bags and walk to rental car area and nothing, I mean nothing, is familiar.
I get the car and start to drive out of the airport, and again nothing is familiar, and my GPS is taking me to roads that don't exist.
What is going on?
45 minutes later when I checked into my hotel in Carmel, IN I asked what was different about the airport. The clerk, laughed and then told me, everything was different, it is a new airport. Indy has a brand spanking new airport. Ah, whew, once again dogged the Alzheimer's bullet.
But, it made for a strange morning.

I am in Indy for the Duncan Video Show.

And what a show it was. Tom Parrish, the Panasonic Sales Manager and I set up a very nice booth, with Ole Betsy (my trusty HMC150), the new HPX300 (a hot, hot P2 camera), the pan and tilt system, a P2 portable and a wonderful 26" monitor.
Attendance was very good. People are really interested in HMC150 and the HPX300. But lots of questions about the differences between AVCCAM and P2.
Hence, my afternoon presentation: Comparing P2 and AVCCAM workflows.

This discussion has to be about Codecs and it unfortunately many people are confused.
This short answer is the P2 cameras record on DVCPRO, DVCPROHD, and AVC-Intra and as a result will always have better images and color space than AVCCAM cameras that record on SDHC cards using the AVCHD codec which is MPEG-4. AVCCAM produces stunning quality with affordable hardware and media costs.
But, where people get confused is that the AVC H.264 MPEG-4 codec also includes the very high end AVC-Intra which is recorded on P2. What gives?
Let me try to explain.

Think of the relative Codec quality as this, from top to bottom:
AVC-Intra 100 - highest quality. Independent frame, 10 bit. It is part of the AVC, H.264, MPEG 4 codec. Recorded on P2
AVC-Intra 50 - the equlivant of DVCPROHD 100 (at half the bandwidth) still Independent Frame, 10 bit, and part of AVC, H.264, MPEG 4 codec. Recorded on P2
DVCPRO HD 100 - the highest DVCPRO codec that is a .mxf file. Recorded on P2
DVCPRO HD 50 - a lower bandwidth a .mxf file. Recorded on P2
DVCPRO - lower bandwidths, a .mxf file. Recorded on P2
AVCHD - 24 - 6 mega bits per second scalable MPEG 4 recorded on SDHC cards. This is a Long GOP (Group of Pictures) format, that is highly efficient for acquisition. It is part of the AVC, H.264, MPEG 4 codec (like AVC-Intra, at the higher end of the quality stack).

I know, clear as mud.
I am working on a graphic to help explain this. Also we need to talk about the differences between MPEG 2 and MPEG 4 but that is for another post.
I have an early morning flight to Las Vegas, hope they haven't changed that airport since NAB, or it will be Deja Vu all over again
More to come
The Road Warrior

Monday, June 8, 2009

Leavin on a Jet Plane

June 8, 2009
Knoxville, TN

Another Monday Morning at the Airport.
Woke up this am with Peter, Paul and Mary's "Leavin' on a jet plane" playing in my head. It was a beautiful drive through the hollers of East TN with a pastel dawn sky.

I am off to the Midwest for the Duncan Video Showcase in Carmel, Indiana. This is always a great event.
Many of Duncan's customers already own P2 cameras and naturally there is lots of interest in AVCCAM. So, tomorrow, Ole Betsy (my trusty HMC150 camcorder) and I will be comparing and contrasting the P2 and AVCCAM Workflow. It will be a fun and hopefully enlightening presentation. If you are in the area, please stop by and say hello.

Then, later in the week, Ole Betsy and I are off to Las Vegas for Convergence 09, the National Press Photographer's Association meeting. Besides exhibiting at the event, I will make three presentations (one each day) on the AVCCAM workflow. Photojournalists are increasingly being told to shoot video as well as stills. Naturally, they are very concerned and anxious about learning new skill sets. There are lots of sessions at this show to address this point. But, of course AVCCAM presents a very easy transition for them. I can't wait to show them the camera and explain the workflow. See:
It should be a good show. Again, if you are in Las Vegas and can attend, I look forward to seeing you.
As always, more to come.
The Road Warrior