Monday, July 3, 2006

The Gee Dee MXF Files!

Lots to say for now.

My first foray into shooting slow motion video with the HVX200 was so anticipated; The first day I got my sweaty hands on the camera, I shot water dripping from my father's storm gutter. Just last Friday, I stayed into the early evening, capturing clips of people enjoying carnival rides at the Havre de Grace fair. Yet I couldn't figure out how to watch what I was shooting. Dave had downloaded Final Cut Express HD onto my laptop, since we tried saving alot of money by staying away from Final Cut Pro 5, which was the native software for the camera's "MXF" files.

My storage cards had all of zero minutes remaining, so I took the camera and PowerBook home and tried all different ways to Sunday to get the software to recognize the camera. But, no luck.

I gave up (how many curse words did I fling? That gee dee camera. That effing P2 system. The maw faw software!) and figured that I would come in to work on my day off and see whether the camera would be recognized by FCP5, which is on our Macintosh G5 desktop. And that puppy has so much more power than my PowerBook. Dave was here, but by that time, I realized that FCEHD doesn't recognize MXF files! Only FCP does. I plugged the Firewire cable in, cranked on the camera, and scrolled to "Import P2 files..." and there they all were. Yay!!

But, what's this? I imported the files and eagerly viewed the files that I shot at 60 frames per second. Yet they didn't look like slow motion. What gives?

Perhaps a little more reading of the user manual might be in order. I did read it when I got it, but didn't touch the camera until we got P2-capable software to edit the files. I only know that I did it all the wrong way. All that salivating I did, trying to catch tight close-ups of faces straining under the horizontal g-force of the ride, the Scrambler, was for nothing.

Online, I found a site that explained how to overcrank and undercrank video. If only the manuals showed such concise information. Just skip over to this site:

which will give the complete scoop on making your shoots look like slow motion film or Charlie Chaplin movies.Play with Synchro Scan and move it up or down by the default 180.0d. My experiment worked, but I hate having to use myself as a subject for camera testing. But where else can you go to shoot slow motion at 1:30am Monday? At least I don't have to go to work until 2:30pm. So, make certain that you DO NOT purchase FCEHD, it will waste your money. Get FCS4 or FCS5. I think version 5 has the software that directly recognizes P2 cards, and our version did that flawlessly.

So now, I was told that I have to shoot video of a commuter on the eastern shore Thursday. I have no idea what to do, so I may bring out both the HVX200 and the Lumix DMC-FZ30, which also shoots video. The lens quality is in no way near approaching that of the HVX200.

This camera is soooo complicated. It has menus like a Windows computer. Some nerd came up with all the functions and weird menus in an awkward position beneath the handle of the camera (the buttons share that of the video preview, which I despise). And you have to run between menus to update between film and video, frame rate, and shutter speed. Somehow, they'll come up with a better, more streamlined approach. But I won't trade this camera in for any other, no matter how easy they are. This bad puppy rocks, and I see how it will be there even years later (as long as it doesn't break). It has more than a hundred different configurations, and can shoot anamorphic video, standard NTSC (your regular TV size), and high definition widescreen.

You can make the videos look all different ways, from basic video with the jaggies, to film-quality. As the next couple weeks go by, I should be shooting mainly video, if not all video. It will be difficult to switch between still photography and moving shots. Maybe the next entry I will write might touch on the bit of sadness I feel about switching. It should be fun, like going from Dell to Macintosh. But I don't know... and I'll try to write an entry about it soon.

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