Videotape is history. The two main methods of professional video acquisition are Sony’s HDCAM, which is a 23GB Blue-ray disk, and Panasonic’s P2 card, which comes in 16, 32, and 64 GB sizes. The Blue-ray disk is relatively inexpensive and is also a storage media whereas the P2 card is for acquisition only. Digital data is then backed up onto hard drives and the card is reused up to 100,000 times.
I chose the Panasonic HVX200 camcorder for it’s versatility and 4:2:2 color space so I will list the benefits of P2 (DVCPRO HD).
RELIABLE: P2 cards/cameras are solid state so there are no moving parts in the camera to break down or wear out and the card can withstand shock and record at temperatures from -4 to 140 degrees. You cannot record over your previous clips. There is no drop-out like we had with tape.
FASTER, MORE EFFICIENT WORK FLOW: Recording starts instantly. All clips are immediately accessible as thumbnails just as your photos are on your digital camera; no need to search. If your production requires interval recording (time lapse), fast/slow motion or one-shot recording (animation) the clips will playback in-camera with the intended effect. There is no need for a frame rate converter to see your effects. If you don’t like the clip you can delete it and free-up space for more recordings. If you like it you digitally mark it as “good” which can save time logging. P2 records in a universally interchangeable MXF data file so it’s compatible with Mac and Windows. On location I can unload the data to my Windows laptop through the PCMCIA card slot using the free P2 Viewer software just as I would unload a CF card with photos. Back at the edit suite the camera connects directly to my non-linear editing system where the digitized data files are quickly “copied” to my Mac hard drive or logged directly into Final Cut Pro where they are readily dropped into the timeline. There is no need to digitize the clips as there was with videotape.
The P2 card enables a more efficient work flow in that it allows me to record in the “Native” mode which fits a full 85 minutes of HD recording onto 32GB of card space. I prefer to record in 720P/24PN. The native mode only writes the”native” 24 frames per second to the P2 card. No pull-down frames are recorded. (Animation [one-shot] and time lapse [interval] must be recorded at 30 fps.)
VARIABLE FRAME RATES: Over-cranking and under-cranking were only available with film or expensive video cameras. Now I can record frame rates from 12 – 60 fps for fast/slow motion playback. The effects can be reviewed instantly in-camera. Footage recorded at 60fps and played back at 24 fps shows a very smooth, slow motion.