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John Doe

Setting up from Scratch

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Hello Wetpixelers,

 

Trying to make some baseline decisions on which way to start off setting up. I would really appreciate some observations from some of you very experienced editors. I do not intend this to a be a what is best type question - i dont think there is a best - it depends on ones own needs and desires and what is best for you may not be best for me etc. Having said that i would really like to hear why you prefer your setup and if you had the chance to start from zero which way would you do it today.

 

Back Ground ;

 

At this stage i have no Video camera at all. I was going to go the 7D route but all the reports i read say its somewhat limiting at this stage so not going that way now. I am therefore going to go either Scarlet or Ikonoskope. I know it could be a long wait but the appeal of shooting raw is too much to pass over. I was going to go ahead with an EX1 but i dont think that makes sense now given so much time has passed on that tech and the fact Scarlet is edging closer.I realize the cost of setting up for scarlet and am prepared for it including housing etc.

 

Given i think we are still in for quite a wait for Scarlet i want to go ahead and setup an editing machine over the coming summer. I will use this workstation for photoshop etc while waiting for scarlet and to start learning my chosen editing software , whatever that turns out to be. Note i dont have Photoshop either at this stage so i need to decide whether to be Mac based or PC based - so many implications to all this. But before i even get to PC Vs Mac i need to decide on a platform to edit on. I have never edited before on any platform so i have no bias in any direction. I will have sufficent time to learn all this in the coming year and i live right next to the water where i dive so i can dive everyday at my whim - have a dive compressor and equipment at my beach shack etc - so plenty of time to experiment and hone skills - i am very determined to produce some UW video of my niche interest area and i want to do it to the highest standard i can - the only limiting factor should be my ability , not the equipment or platform i chose to work on.

 

So all that said i see my choices as ;

 

1 FCP - seems this is the one to go for but having no direct experience i dont know. Supports Redcode

2 Premier Pro - I dont see many posts about anyone using this software - has advantage of being 64 bit and ties in with CS4 (5) well - Supports Redcode

3 Avid - even less info around - know little about it other then it is high end - no redcode support as far a s i know so it seems to be out for me given my Scarlet bias

4 Vegas - seems a bit lower end but supports Red code.

 

Should i go PC or Mac ? I am starting from scratch here so either platform is fine and i intend to spec out a high end workstation which ever way i go. Money is always an issue but its not the limiting factor to get all this setup - it will be in the future though when i stop work so i cant afford a massive platform change in the next few years.

 

So if you were starting with a blank canvas which way would you do it today and why ?

 

 

Thanks for any suggestions on issues i need to carefully consider before i start of down this road.

 

 

JD

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What you are asking is quite open ended, to give everyone a better idea probably we could do with a little more info:

 

1) Budget, for camera and housing, lighting and editing suite

2)What you will be doing, home videos, DVD production, Broadcast, Feature Films...

 

At this stage Scarlet is way off, I believe RED may just have a semi working Epic by NAB so Scarlet will be a while after that is ready.... I wouldn't think you would get one for at least a year and then the housing guys will need to get that together.

Ikonoscope I don't think has any housing options at this stage

 

EX1R is still an awesome cam, and by the looks of it nothing is being released in the near future that will compete, the new Canon cam looks good but is still 1/3 inch chips.

 

PC vs Mac... there are great solutions for both which can handle all the above formats,

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I think that you'd benefit from hands-on experience to narrow your search. You may well have friends using FCP and PP. Most editors are evangelists for their system and would let you test-drive for a bit to see how it works. Either program will do the job and there is no right/wrong answer. See if you can get your feet wet from an editing standpoint.

 

As far as camera systems go- it sounds like you want to jump right in at the top but I wonder if a less expensive HDV 1-chip system would allow you to see what you really need in a system. There are plenty of used systems about that would not crimp your budget much but would give you a head start in knowing what you want out of a camera. You can probably sell it again without much of a loss.

 

Just a thought. Happy shooting!

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Although some may disagree, I've found over the last 2 years that shooting high quality underwater video is 80% skill and 20% equipment. No matter how much money you have, you won't get good results before learning the craft. So, you could invest a ton of $ now in equipment only to find you can't use it to the potential of technology before it becomes obsolete and you get better.

 

I use FCP on a Mac, but the learning curve for the software is incredible. With my "daytime" job, I haven't had the opportunity (or energy) to invest the time in really learning FCP. But, that said, I love my Mac and you haven't lived until you use a Mac 30" display.

 

I'd suggest starting smaller. Get a higher end 1080P smaller HD camera in a nice housing. It's easy to use underwater. Invest in the super wide port, external monitor and lighting. Learn the craft. Wait for the technology to mature. It's great to shoot in RAW, but what are you going to watch or broadcast it on that uses the full potential of the technology?

 

You can always resell or re-use some of your purchases for the next system...

 

Good luck!

 

Andy

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I am not as experienced as most on this board, but that may be a good thing from your point of view.

 

How often and where will you be diving can make a difference. If you are diving everyday, a higher level system might make sense since you'll be learning everyday. But, if you are not diving that often, a lower level system makes more sense. You'll need time and experience to learn the craft.

 

Your port/lens selection should be based on where you will dive. A good super wide is super expensive. Not sure that makes sense if you will be diving in areas with good macro and little wide angle. Lights can always be added later and if you are diving in clear tropical water, I would wait on the lights. External tilting monitor is a very nice feature since it gives you flexibility with your dive positioning.

 

PC vs. MAC ? Do you use a computer at work ? If you are more familiar with one platform over the other, that is what I'd go with.

Edited by ronscuba

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I would agree with Drewski and Wilklml.....Since you have little background, if any, in this field, I would suggest you start off with one of the smaller and less expensive systems so that you know what you are getting in to. While I am a Mac and Final Cut user and have been since version 1, I do not think it is any harder to learn than anyone starting out with any NLE (non linear editing) system. In fact, it is much easier to learn FCP now since there are so many forums and supplimental learning materials for it on the market. I doubt if anyone would argue that Macs provide a more stable platform with far fewer system and down times than PCs seem to offer. However, a good Mac Pro is a bit more costly.

 

Drew is a PC user whose opinions I respect and he is a big advocate for Edius software so you might want to look into that. Recently Adobe flew me up to their headquarters for a few days of indoctrination for their new CS5 production suite scheduled to appear in the next couple of months and there are some really good improvements in both speed from their new Mercury engine and integration of their software. I was especially impressed with some of the new features in After Effects and look forward to Adobe sending me their new collections.

 

Bottom line, is that there is a learning curve with any software whether it is a PC or Mac. Remember that if you have 64bit capability, it does no good if the software is written in 32 bit code.

 

Steve

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Thanks for replies.

 

Yep lots to consider and good points made. I do understand comments about starting lower down the scale and learning the ropes to know more about what you actually want in a high end package. Makes perfect sense. But then again............, its all money at the end of the day and equipment that is old tech these days is a dead end, and what do i do with it a little ways down the track?. It will just sit unused after a year or so. How many of you have a mini DV cam sitting around that cost good money in its day but has not seen the light of day for a looooong time now.

 

I'd rather put my money into current raw acquisition cams and learn the ropes on that. At least i learn the pitfalls of raw capture etc and at the end of the day if the cam is not what i want i can sell it on really easy for the next year or two. Still what do i know - this is all hypothetical to me. Just trying to think it all through logically and not make a rash decision one way or the other.

 

In any case we are still some time out for actually delivery for any of these cams, but they are coming and nothing is going to hold back the flood gates once they start to leak. Look at the new Panny 4/3 sensor thing. And Sony with their new announcement. So why go HDV now? I think the thing that is not changing is editing. The computer may change, the programs can become 64 bit etc, bu the basic skill of editing is never going to change. So i'm looking at turning my attention to learning that craft first. Its not going to be quick i should think , so it gives time for the cameras to come out, and hopefully housing manufacturers to start producing housings for them.

 

Now MAC or PC? FCP or AVID? Adobe's latest PP has some amazing new tech on-board (if you believe the hype) and the Ikonoskope supports the DNG format. hmmmm.

 

Bottom line, we live in amazing times.

 

Regards

 

J.D

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JD, I've used Avid, FCP and to a much lesser extent, PP. Each have short comings. Avid can edit .rd3 now and to me, is the better platform for it due to the better EDL and DPX handling. FCP is also good but both edit at 2k res before having to switching to something like Symphony to finish or you really have to finish TO Scratch :D

I've decided to use FCP primarily because of integration with Shake and Color. You can get similar integration with Adobe CS PP and AEFX, which is better than FCP to AEFX. Choose what you are going to be doing with your files then choose a system which matches. FCS is an excellent package, especially with Color thrown in. That alone can make badly WB clips look decent without a colorist.

I think Ikonoskop's DNG system will need computers that are at least 2 generations down before it can be done quickly enough. As a B roll/cam, it's perfect due to size but as a primary camera, going through hours of DNG clips will need a processing farm and adequate throughput to do it quickly. Remember it's at 270MB/s so you'll need SAS/RAID 0 etc to get that speed.

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Remember it's at 270MB/s so you'll need SAS/RAID 0 etc to get that speed.

 

 

And a tonne of HD space!

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Well Jonny anyone contemplating shooting with Scarlet or Ikonoskop for years to come and want to keep stock will have to have a SAN like XSAN or MetaSAN, all fiber channeled for speed. :D

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Drew,

 

To be honest i was leaning towards FCP on a MAC Pro (waiting for new one to be released though). However i've been doing WAY WAY too much reading on this - losing my perspective on it i think - and i am now leaning more towards Avid. The new MC5 has just been announced at NAB as you would most likely know and it addresses a lot of Avid short comings. Very interesting to say the least. It does Red better now as well.

 

I am way more interested in the editing/production side then the actual shooting. To me the cam is just a tool to get the footage back on the desktop. Having said that, its important to capture the best image you can of course. Rubbish in , rubbish out, right? That Ikonoskope is so appealing - the size is insane. Makes it easier to be covert which is really important where i live. I want to go up the Congo coast line and the place is rife with unpaid soldiers, bandits everywhere and there are pirates on the lake. Small is good. Small cam, raw capture, S16mm lenses widely available (lusting after Zeiss) whats not to love? - downside - processing power to actually use the footage as you note, storage ( but hey its getting so cheap now )

 

Now if they would just release the darn thing.

 

J.D

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.... I want to go up the Congo coast line ....

...downside - processing power to actually use the footage as you note, storage ...

 

downside... stable electricity to charge it and to run the server farm without blowing it all up? LOL

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Solar panels and batteries + Genset for days when need equalizing charge to batteries and overcast wet days = very stable power. We run on batteries and inverter now to get stable power- its the only way out here. Could never ever ever put sensitive equipment on the local grid - yikes!

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Well JD, I can say an Ikonoskop is the LAST camera you want in DRoC. 12 mins limit on the card, and where are you going to store the downloads in the jungle or get power to run the drives and computer? It's insane small but also insane for use on field location without logistical support. Generators work but what about your drives? How many do you need for 3 x backup copies?

You want clandestine? A small handycam with superlong battery life and recording ability will be much more useful than a camera twice as big, requires manual focus and exposure, plus tons of drives to backup clips. A handycam with good battery power can shoot up to 6 hrs before needing a new battery and download. The new Pana HM700 for instance, shoots 1080/60p for hours on end. You want lowlight like a moonlit scene, nothing beats a nikon D3s with a f1.4 lens at 100k ISO.

The Ikonoskop is designed to follow their previous SP16, which means it's a specialty camera which can shoot in small places etc. It may work for underwater because of the size and thus housings shouldn't be an issue to custom build. A Sony EX, Canon XF or Panny AJ would probably be more practical and easier to work with in the field. All now have broadcast codecs (with a little aid from devices like Nanoflash) and should be relevant for 3-5 years at least.

As for Avid vs FCS vs CS5, it's a practical issue for me. FCS has more tools including Color, CS5 has AEFx. Avid is an excellent NLE with better offloading to bigger machines for finishing. Color correction isn't really as powerful as Color and compositing etc is AEFX's power zone anyhow. For a small production house, FCS or CS5 makes more sense. Avid is de rigeur for an editor to know if that person wants to be in the business, but as a production house, it's not as necessary.

I'm not going to recommend Mac or PC as it's a personal preference. The eight core machines now are capable of editing even uncompressed. DNG however is going to be much more demanding, especially at 25-30fps.

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Yes all good points Drew. There's a lot to consider which is why i am seeking the advice of those who know. I dont mind the manual focus and exposure - i worked a Cannon New F1 in full manual mode (focus and exposure) for 14 years before i left photography so quite used to it. But as you say storing the footage. !2 mins clips are no problem - forces you to really THINK about what you are shooting. I dont know about you but in the film days with a roll of 36 frames i always had a real look at what i was shooting before i pressed the trigger - these days i tend to just fire away and take the attitude if i shoot it 10 different ways I'll get what i want and sort it out later. Does this lead to less precise shooting? I dont know.

 

Anyway the camera is not even out yet. Looks Scarlet will beat them to it and it will have a much bigger user base and support behind it and almost certainly will have housings produced for it. Interesting times as i said before.

 

I think i am going to go MAC pro. But what is apple up too? What is it now 445 days since an update? In the MAC forums lots of debate about apple maybe ditching MAC pro - who knows. Certainly apple seem focused on phones and small devices and that seems to be their profit driver - would they dare disgruntle their professional creative user base???

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John,

Apple won't be ditching the Mac Pro, if anything and for the first time in years, they have their back up against the wall to rewrite the previous 32bit code for Final Cut Pro to 64 bit. This will take awhile; at least until 2011 but they are on it. No way will they let Adobe's new CS5 64bit mercury engine impinge for long on Final Cuts rep as head of the class. All the studios that use Final Cut do not run them on iMacs but on Mac Pros, so if anything, you will see new Mac Pros with even more cores, and hopefully faster processors, capable of using much more Ram than the Final Cut Pro's limitation of 4gigs ram usage now. Remember that Final Cut Pro was originally a Macromedia software that was then bought out by Apple back in 98. It was all 32bit. Newer versions of Final Cut Studio as well as third party plug ins have their newest features written in 64bit but the core of the program has always been 32 necessating the need to re write the core as 64. That's what I am looking forward to.

Steve

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