Downloading Tapeless Files on Location

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Michael Slowe
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Downloading Tapeless Files on Location

Post by Michael Slowe » Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:46 pm

I'm sorry but I've only just read the thread from January on tapeless production and wanted to answer Ned's queries about problems on location. I'm shooting XDCAM on the EX camera to the Sony S x S cards. Obviously, with the high price of these cards, we have to re use them pretty quickly. If I get home before I have to download then the files go from the camera via USB to a decent quality drive(capacity 1.25 TB's), pending ingest into my edit suite and the fast drives for editing. If however I'm not able to wait for that I download on location to a 'mini' drive with capacity of 320 GB's which can be USB powered from my MacBook Pro laptop. A 16 GB card takes about 11 minutes to download and since the power comes from the laptop no external power need be available. This seems to work well but until I have at least two copies of the media files I'm never quite relaxed!

As to archiving the final HD production there are still decisions to be made. Like Ned I firstly play safe by doing a DVCAM tape master from my timeline. However, this rather wastes the HD aspect and I am proposing to archive a QT.Mov file of my next HD production to another relatively cheap stand alone drive. This drive will receive very little use so a breakdown is not as likely as it would be if the use was constant and the speed only has to be sufficient to transfer files, not video. There is also available a tape archive system for files called LTO but the recorder / player costs thousands and the tape itself is also expensive. LTO is only for production houses who would do a lot of archiving.

So there you have it. Dealing initially with media files rather than video makes things easier once you get used to it and the cameras are completely quiet in operation with no moving parts and no tape 'drop outs'! Once you ingest the media into what ever editing system you use the process continues as with tape.

tom hardwick
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Re: Downloading Tapeless Files on Location

Post by tom hardwick » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:23 am

I know what you mean about 'no moving parts' Michael, but you still have auto-focus, iris and zoom motors whirring away and Sony's optical Steadyshot is quite noisy. Have a listen - put your ear up against the mechanism as you wobble the camera about.

tom.

ned c
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Re: Downloading Tapeless Files on Location

Post by ned c » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:18 pm

Thank you Michael for your comments on handling and archiving solid state recorded files. I am using SDHC cards which are substantially cheaper than SxS or P2 so can carry enough to get me through a couple of days shooting so don't have to download on location.

Regarding archiving we seem to follow much the same route but as the price of BluRay writers comes down this is another storage medium for the files. Again there is the question about the long term stability of the media. I agree that a dedicated HDD is the easiest way to go at present. I make HDV tape copies as I have an HDV deck, a cheap HDV camera with record would be a way of preserving the info in an HD format.

ned c

Michael Slowe
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Re: Downloading Tapeless Files on Location

Post by Michael Slowe » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:19 pm

Firstly Tom. You and I both know that we don't shoot with the auto focus or auto iris functioning so that only leaves the zoom to make a noise and mostly we try and not operate that during a shot although of course we do! So your point is not too valid.

Ned, as to tape masters, I suppose I could also take HDV masters as, like you, I have the Sony M10 deck but my timeline is in 1920 X 1080 HD,and I would have to re conform the whole programme to go out in HDV. It's going to be drives for me at present.

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billyfromConsett
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Re: Downloading Tapeless Files on Location

Post by billyfromConsett » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:40 am

Question Michael - do you use auto-focus for anything? I turn AF off for some drama stuff, where I've got a moment to frame and focus the shot, but for live action stuff like an occasional wedding or stage show, I use AF, as I just couldn't keep up, or have the confidence to do without it.
I also set the shutter speed to 50 and let the camera continuously adjust the iris to keep the light right. Would you advise a different approach at times?

Michael Slowe
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Re: Downloading Tapeless Files on Location

Post by Michael Slowe » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:01 pm

Well Billy, ever since auto everything was introduced debates have raged as to whether it is best to use manual or auto. As you say it depends entirely on circumstances. If you can it is better to be manual. Auto focus is not always reliable and can 'hunt' at awkward moments and of course for any shots needing focus pulling you need manual although having said that I have sometimes 'pulled' focus by panning from a near point to a distant one (or vice versa) and letting the auto to make the change, that way you don't over run the focus point. Also following a moving object can be managed far easier with a good auto system but here again things can go wrong. If you have an assistant it is always better to pull focus manually as the pros do.

Iris is almost always better in manual. Zoom in to the point of the frame that you prefer to be correctly exposed whilst in auto then switch to manual for the shooting without changing the setting. You can get problems if you pan to a darker (or lighter) scene but if you average your exposure setting the effect is acceptable. An auto iris setting in these circumstances means that the exposure changes as you pan and this very often looks wrong and unnatural.

tom hardwick
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Re: Downloading Tapeless Files on Location

Post by tom hardwick » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:28 pm

Quite so: in movies the rule is (almost without exception) to lock the shutter speed at 1/50th sec, let the camera decide on the aperture (which you can force up or down with the NDs) and then lock that aperture in.

Auto focus suits my line of work perfectly though (run 'n' gun stuff), and I find the Sony 'focus assist' to be a real boon. This is where you're shooting in autofocus but you tell the camera if you want the near or far subject held sharp.

tom.

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billyfromConsett
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Re: Downloading Tapeless Files on Location

Post by billyfromConsett » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:12 pm

I went out today and filmed an old steam engine that was on exhibition, zoomed into the dark cabin, then locked the iris and zoomed out. I also left the iris in manual and used the iris ring a tad - worth it, as I probably lit up the shot a stop or two and especially lit up the engine.

Pleased with the tip Michael. I'll play with manual focus another day, but soon.

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