When we first started this project, we always had the HVX-200 in mind. Our original start time was in September, when the cameras were slated to become available. But just as our start date was pushed, so was the release date of the camera. All the while we were researching and testing…and anxously awaiting the HVX.
Then came the LAFCPUG meeting on Nov. 16, 2005. Panasonic reps were slated to explain the P2 workflow…and we were all hoping to get to see a working camera. But no…just the mockup. BUT…there was a huge silver lining. I learned a bit more about the workflow, and my producer befriended one of the Panasonic reps and explained our project. She was every interested in it, and our wanting to use two HVX-200 cameras to support our main camera, the Varicam. He explained how we were shooting in the first week of January, and would really like to use the cameras. The rep was very interested in our project, so they made arrangements for us to test the HVX-200, alongside the Varicam.
We went to a staging area that had a pre-lit stage with their several cameras aimed at it. So we shot with some footage with the Varicam (that was expertly set up in advance by a professional DP…for 20 min) and some footage with the HVX-200 (that was just taken out of a locked cabinet and handed to my producer…no setup whatsoever)…I got to the the lovely model. We were a bit perplexed by the camera settings, but luckily Gary Adcock, a DP from Chicago and beta tester of the camera, was on hand and helped us set it up. Then we shot the tests.
At the time, the drivers for the P2 were only PC, so they had to transfer the footage to our hard drives for us. When I got them to my system, I realized that I couldn’t convert them…as I needed a version of Quicktime that had yet to be released. So we went back to Panasonic and they converted the footage for us. We intercut the Varicam footage with the P2 footage, and noted that the footage was a little soft. But I suspected that was because of our inexperience with the camera. We added a Sharpen Filter at 15%, and did a bit of color correction with the 3-way, and were ready to export.
We took our G-Raids to Lightning Dubs, which recently acquired the Post Group…and their editing facilities. We arranged an edit session in a Final Cut Pro bay equipped with a Kona 2. We needed to output to D5 as it was our required delivery format. The Kona 2 has the wonderful ability to upconvert on the fly…as you output. We needed to deliver a 10-bit uncompressed HD master on D5 at 59.94fps, yet we were editing at DVCPRO HD 720p24 at 23.98fps…and all our footage resided on a G-Raid 500GB firewire 800 drive. The Kona 2 took our footage and upconverted it to 10-bit uncompressed at 59.94 and laid it to tape. No copying the footage into a 10-bit sequence and rendering…no fibrechannel drives. Just the original source footage and a firewire drive. The output looked great, and we sent it off to the network for QC, and waited anxiously.
A few days later we got the call. The engineer asked about our workflow…and we told him. He was quite impressed with the test, and we passed QC. The camera and format by itself didn’t pass the QC, but our entire workflow was taken into account.
So we were greenlit to use the camera. We were at the top of the list to get the cameras, and we received two of them on Jan 9, along with five 4Gb P2 cards (the 8GB ones weren’t available). Literally 3 days later we had our first shoot, and would test our field workflow for the first time.
COMING UP: The HVX-200/PC Laptop workflow.