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Our first impression of the Sony PMW-EX1

There are lots of impressions of this camera out there right now, so I won't go into detail like the others have.  But here's my impression of this offering from Sony.

We at Schazam Productions got a chance to look at the new Sony PMW-EX1 camera that recent was released to the market.  As some of you may know, we have been an XDCAM house for the last three years, with the last year changing over the XDCAM HD.  We use as out primary camera the Sony F350 with Sony HVR-Z1Us as secondary.  The use of HDV is used because of the nature of the programming that we shoot.  We produce outdoor programming and as many of you know situations can be tough and cramped when shooting in a hunting blind.  Thus we’ve had to result to using the Z1Us in these conditions, or at least until now... We’ve followed the progression of the EX1 since its debut at NAB this past year.  We were really excited about this offering from Sony but I will say we were a little skeptical about its record medium.  Oh no... Another solid state recording camera.  We have noting against recording on solid state but its the archival method that concerns us and in our business using a camera of this type can be difficult at best.  We are praying that Sony will come out with a field deck for this camera. Ok... Enough of that.  Now, on the the camera.   When we first unpacked the camera, we notice right off the bat that the camera was heavier that we thought.  This is great, because its easier to hold steady than the Z1U.  Looking over the small frame, we took notice of button placement and menu settings.  Very nice design.  The focus ring is really cool and easy to use.  We set the camera to 1080p30 mode, set the shutter to 1/60th and shot some video inside my edit bay with ONLY available light.  Now, let me tell you that I like my edit suite to be on the dark side so that I can see my monitors very well for editing and color correction.  Ever since the camera was introduced, everybody started talking about the 3 1/2” CMOS chips and how they would react in low light.  In the past, CMOS chips did have very poor low light capabilities, but Sony has worked their magic on this camera.  We were absolutely amazed at how good the picture looked in the natural light.  The image was almost exactly as your eye could see.  This is totally remarkable for a camera.  I’ve been in this field for quite some time and have never seen anything like this.  I shot several minutes of footage like this, even trying to get some fluorescent lights in the frame to see how it effects the overall image.  WOW!  It was amazing.  I can’t say this enough. Now, it was time to see if Final Cut Pro can handle this footage.  I connected the camera to my Mac Pro via the USB port on the front and told the camera to connect to my Mac.  I opened the XDCAM import software thru Final Cut Pro and up popped all the images that I shot, including some images that another demo had shot at 1080p24.  I imported all of the images flawlessly as I had expected.  I placed them into a timeline that was set for XDCAM EX 1080p30, and viewed the images though our AJA Kona 3 card.  The images were absolutely stunning.  The sharpness and detail were as good, if not better than the images shot with our F350 camera.  We were blown away with the quality that the Sony PMW-EX1 shot.  WOW! We drooled over it and give it a lot of consideration.  If it weren’t for not having a field deck, we would have purchased two of these cameras on the spot.  But, I think we are going to wait for NAB this year to see if Sony has fixed this small but major issue.  I’m sure they will.  So, in conclusion, if its a small camera that you need that has big camera qualities, the Sony PMW-EX1 is definitely the camera for you.  And hopefully, next week, we can get some more time to play with this camera.  


Posted by: Mark Maness on Dec 10, 2007 at 7:10:02 amComments (2) cameras

Ideas for old LaCie Drives?

I just had yet another LaCie drive die on me this week.  That makes four this year.  All of the drives were at least 2 years old with the oldest being 4 years old.  Ok.... the four year old drive I can understand.  It was used pretty heavily.  The others... used on occasions.

Each of the drives were the d2 models.  Two of them were the dual interface (USB and firewire 400) and the other two were Triple interface (USB, firewire 400 and 800).  All of the drives have a one year warranty.  Kinda silly since the physical drives inside have a three year warranty but LaCie does have that option to exercise.

Anybody have any ideas on what to do with my new door stops?

Any ideas of what kind of drives to use now?  LaCie seems to have lost their quality standards. 

Posted by: Mark Maness on Aug 1, 2007 at 7:38:36 amComments (2) storage

What I miss about LiveType...

I'm a seasoned - well seasoned user of Final Cut Pro.  I was totally excited about Final Cut Studio 2.  The features are incredible and outstanding.  I can do more and better work than I have ever imagined before.
Mixing formats, working in 3D in Motion 3, ease of compression in Compressor 3... WOW!  It's been awesome!  And ProRes422 and the ability to work completely in 1080p in any format that I want.  I can't say enough about this awesome upgrade.  Oh yeah, I can't forget Color!  Finally, I got my hands on the most amazing program of the entire suite of programs.
Good Job, Apple!!!
BUT.....  I do have one remorse.  LiveType.  Albeit a simple program that needed some work but it did work for getting graphics out to broadcast.  Now, I'm in the process of converting all of my graphics to Motion 3 and making templates out of them for each of our programs that we produce.  Awesome feature!  But I have to say that working with Motion is more difficult than I usually have time for.  I usually have to crank out shows so fast that having to create interesting and beautiful graphics is much more of a challenge in Motion than it was in LiveType.
Why is it that we have tone of sound effects in surround sound but no pre-canned effects for Motion?  It was nice in LiveType to type in some text and a simple animation.  Yeah, I know that Motion does have pre-canned animations already setup, but in LiveType I could alos use these effects on logos and sometimes video clips.  Motion only allows you to place these on text only.
Oh well.... I guess that is the price of progess.  I'd better go so that I can get my Motion 3 work done.

Posted by: Mark Maness on Jun 5, 2007 at 8:49:46 amComments (3) final cut pro

I should have known...

Well, this is my first blog entry and it's about time I join the rest of the folks out here.
Ok... Here goes....
About two years ago, myself and my producer went to NAB to research the cool products that were coming out.  One thing that we were interested in looking at was a DVD duplicator.  Now.... we are a small company that has large ideas.
So as you can imagine, making DVDs on a budget is a challenge.  We already had computers with DVD burners.  Now, we needed a printer.  I purchased an Epson printer that could print CD/DVDs.  This worked great BUT it took a while to make ten complete discs.  And I had a project coming up that needed 200 CDs.  This way would take about 4 days to make all of them.
Here's where NAB came in....  We researched most all of the companies out there.  We found that in the less than $2000 range that Primera seemed to be the best deal out there.  The others featured a gravity loading feature, which to me seemed like it could be trouble.  (After talking with a friend who has one, it is a real pain, he says.)
We purchased the BravoII duplicator.  AWESOME!  It works great.  It came with the Kiosk kit that allowed me to duplicate up to 50 discs.
Now, it's two years later and I'm starting to see some issues.  I've burned over 1300 discs in this deal.  Now, the robotic arm is having some issues running in the Kiosk mode.  It seems to work great in standard mode (25 discs at a time).  I tried to contact Primera but they will not talk to me UNLESS I purchase an incident ticket for $10.  WHAT!  That's ridiculous!  You've got to be kidding me!  If I had purchased a duplicator that was around $3200, tech support would be free.  I could have purchased an extended warranty for an additional $250 per year.  WHAT! That's ridiculous, too!
Well... The lesson here is.... You get what you pay for.  BUT, $2000 for a piece of equipment is a lot of money to me.  At least, let me talk to tech support before charging me for support, if I have a valid issue.
Ok.... I'm done with my rant.  I hope someone else agrees with me on this.

Posted by: Mark Maness on May 22, 2007 at 11:40:59 amComments (4) dvd

My Rants and Raves, in my opinion...

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