This has been a big week for the discussion surrounding the HVX200, starting with the release of top secret, behind-the-scenes technical info on the making of the camera by Tosh Bilowski’s camera blog Def Perception. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly a journalistic scoop, since the entire blog is in fact a Panasonic-owned marketing tool, and they now admit that Tosh doesn’t really exist.
Nevertheless, there is some interesting data here if you overlook the PR spin. For starters, we now know the actual size of the CCD array, and it is not good. However, there’s much talk about the special new processing that upscales the image, and it is supposed to be very good. There’s also quite a bit in there about color depth, but they’re very sketchy about which sampling modes apply to which shooting modes. Having seen some 1080i DVCPRO HD footage grabs, I’m not so sure that it’s still 4:2:2 at that rez.
But most of the more colorful discussion regarding this camera relates to the P2 card system, not the image quality. A few days ago Tommy D. posted a brief run-through of his experiences using P2 on the DV.com forums (also mirrored here). Most of the issues that he ran into are simply due to using a new workflow, and the difficulties of planning around that. Shooting to P2 was all very well, but dumping the P2 cards to the P2 Store took time, and director then wanted to review footage from earlier in the day, things unraveled a little bit.
Admittedly, many of the problems there resulted from trying to use a Mac to monitor the workflow (P2 supported by FCP 5.0.4 and higher only), since the P2 Viewer is PC only, and the final product was destined to be edited on a PC-based Avid. Adding the extra step in the middle was complicating, but the entire process is awkward and confused by the fact that interviews can’t always wait for a card swap if one or more of your cards is being held up for review by the director.
It’s also nerve-wracking to work with untested cutting-edge tech, transferring your data back and forth when there are no backups. In FresHDV.com’s recent interviews, Josh Oakhurst was highly critical of P2’s cost-to-space ratio, a position that he better explained on his own blog. In addition to those concerns he also pointed out that Panasonic has a long history of introducing new formats, none of which still exist. MII was beat by Beta, 6mm tape was beat by 8mm, and so on. Will an upgraded XDCAM format be the future shooting media of choice?