View Full Version : HPX300 Africa footage

02-18-2009, 10:34 AM
Kevin Railsback and I just got back from a couple of weeks in Africa, shooting with the HPX300. Kevin put together a four-minute reel of some of the clips. Check it out!

(obviously right-click and save-as, please...)

02-18-2009, 10:53 AM
Wow, that was stunning!

02-18-2009, 11:24 AM
bad ass.

02-18-2009, 12:17 PM
Standard lens I assume.

02-18-2009, 12:17 PM
It looks fifty times better when you see it on a 1920x1080 monitor, played back from the deck, in the original 10-bit codec. Absolutely jaw-dropping. I'm not embarrassed to say that I sat a foot away from the monitor, staring at every pixel, and I literally clapped at a few of the shots because they looked so good!

Kevin Railsback rules the wildlife-filming universe.

02-18-2009, 12:18 PM
Standard lens I assume.
Actually there's a shot or two from the HPX170 in there, and then much of the first minute is standard lens, and most of the last three minutes are the Canon 21x lens.

02-18-2009, 12:42 PM
KJ or KH series? Either way nice stuff.

Capt Quirk
02-18-2009, 01:00 PM
It sounded great, but it was visually bland. Sorry, the white screen wasn't impressive :)

02-18-2009, 01:38 PM
What I did with that footage is as I shot I threw a few clips together then exported it as a stand alone QuickTime. Then I'd move the MXF files off to a external hard drive.

Then the next day, I'd import the stand alone QuickTime file back into FCP and add a few more clips then export it again and do it all over again day after day.

So the video that's posted has been exported each day that we were gone so I think it held up pretty good for all that.

Also, it was exported as DVCProHD so not as good as AVC-Intra to begin with.

The only shot from the 170 is the opening driving down the road looking at the trees shot.

02-18-2009, 01:40 PM
Kevin Railsback rules the wildlife-filming universe.

You're a funny guy Barry!

Shane Ross
02-18-2009, 01:52 PM
What was fun was watching Barry sit like 6 inches from the monitor when this stuff played back. Kid at Christmas. I said "Dude, you'll hurt your eyes!" He said "Shush, this is the first time I have seen this on a good monitor."

The stuff is really really good. Especially on the new 2550 Panasonic monitors.

Cees Mutsaers
02-18-2009, 05:01 PM
Very impressive footage even on my low res notebook !!!!
To my eyes it looks that the first minute of the footage (standard lens) is less sharp than the rest of the footage. Am I right or is it just me?
The footage is also very static, did you shoot some footage with panning, fast moving animals ?

Mark Smith
02-18-2009, 05:34 PM
These are all nice portraits of African wild life, lush looking and very rich. I don't mean to complain, but there are no shots of the wild life in motion... Which I think should be included. I have no Panasonic, Red, Sony SI 2K, rolling shutter axe to grind here. Matter or fact I just saw Slumdog- SI 2K and with all the action in that film,didn't feel abused in any way by rolling shutter issues, so why hold back here?

02-18-2009, 08:23 PM
I am so jealous, what a gig! looks incredible!

02-18-2009, 08:46 PM
I don't think anyone is holding back. It was more of an issue that we had to turn the van to point the camera. I could only move the camera a couple inches inside the van to shoot out the little window.

If I could have shot outside the van I would have been panning like a mother.

Most of the time by the time we got the van turned around then tilted in the road to get the angle, the animal moved and we'd have to move the van again.

So look at the picture in the article Barry did and you can see there's no room at all to move that camera in the van.

So, it wasn't like someone said "Don't pan in any of these shots." We just couldn't do it in the shooting situation we were in.

02-18-2009, 09:12 PM
Yeah I noticed the sharpness too. The color rendition is also very different between the lenses.
Unless it was modified in post.
But then the 21x Canon is about 23,000 dollars if it's the lens I think it is.
I swear the early footage almost had that same cast that the 500 did before they fixed the look up table on the preset.

Yes I'd like to see some quick motion stuff too. Just got off a Red shoot and we had some probs with rolling shutter. Like dollying across a plank floor shooting down. Just what flavor of Jell-o do you like?

Still for 11 grand it looks like a good compromise to me.

02-18-2009, 10:23 PM
Lesson #2 in your dvd, when in Africa get the freakin' land rover that you can set the tripod up on back like a gun turret for panning 360 degree shots. :)

02-19-2009, 03:33 AM

In Kruger you can't shoot out of the sunroof on the roof or stick anything out of the vehicle.

So yeah, my first thought was to go up on the roof and set up there but no can do.
Barry even tried to dismantle the van to see if we could take out the side window to give me a larger area to shoot out of.

But that's why I was near nuclear meltdown. I was supposed to "do my thing" with shooting wildlife but had to use a van as my tripod. :) Ever try to pan with one of those on a dirt road?

"Ok, angle in just a little farther, now back about two feet. Can you turn a little sharper to the left? Nope, up another foot. Whoops, they moved, back five feet. Can you turn right about ten degrees? Hang on let that car go by. You're off the road, can you come up about a foot. OK STOP! Nobody breathe!! Is someone checking the pictures on their digital camera? Every time you hit the button to look at a picture I can see the camera move."

So, no, we didn't really get any panning shots. :) Sorry.

02-19-2009, 07:13 AM
Yeah I noticed the sharpness too. The color rendition is also very different between the lenses.
Unless it was modified in post.
Not modified in post, but it was modified in camera. Kevin shot two days before I got out there. When I got there we changed a lot of the camera settings. Then a few days later we changed them again to tackle some noise-related issues. So there was a significant amount of fiddling with the settings going on.

But then the 21x Canon is about 23,000 dollars if it's the lens I think it is.
Sounds about right.

Still for 11 grand it looks like a good compromise to me.
That's MSRP. Street price is $8500.

02-19-2009, 09:54 AM
So afraid of the skew,
but the shots of the lions in the rain are so beautiful . Great shots .

02-19-2009, 10:25 AM
Wow that stuff was stunning. I am assuming all this footage holds up really well when it comes to correction and grading?

02-19-2009, 10:29 AM
AVC-Intra can be pushed, pulled, dragged, cropped, expanded, whatever you want, better than any other camcorder codec.

Jim Carswell
02-19-2009, 11:23 AM
Jan or Barry,
Do either of you know whether Panasonic will be posting scene file settings for this camera as they have for all the other P2 cameras as seen here: http://www.panasonic.com/business/provideo/scene_files_main.asp


02-19-2009, 11:31 AM
Hi Jim,

We probably will but you have to know that it took about 7 months to get those done and up. I said at NAB last year that we were doing it and 7 months later we were done. Now granted it was for 4 different cameras, but it really does take time.



Jim Carswell
02-19-2009, 01:11 PM
Thanks for the response. You have really locked in some nice looks with some of those settings for the HPX500 and the HVX200 and it would be great to be able to emulate them on the HPX300.

I certainly understand the time factor when dealing with something like this. I'll keep an eye on the scene file site for any updates.

Thanks again.

02-19-2009, 01:30 PM
Barry even tried to dismantle the van

Ha! ROTFLMAO That would be some sweet footage to show on dvx user of Barry trying to take apart a van in Africa to get the shot. :)

02-19-2009, 02:18 PM
I totally yanked the inner panels off and tried to figure out a way to remove that whole glass window. It would have been fantastic. But, alas, it was not to be... :(

Jaime Valles
02-19-2009, 02:22 PM
Fantastic footage! The close-up of the lion in the rain is stunning. Bravo!

And kudos on the music choice. Makes it all feel so grand...

Joe Lawry
02-20-2009, 01:43 AM
Beautiful, a bit much saturation in the green channel for me.. but all good.

and that shot from the 170 is amazing!

02-20-2009, 02:54 AM
I like the footage overall. It seemed very sharp, however it seems as though a lot of the shots are oversaturated and have a slight yellow/green shift in the white balance. Did you balance to 56K for all these shots or manual from a white card? Was there any CC manipulation in post of this footage, or is this straight out the of cam.

On another note:

1. Is the stock 17x lens image stabilized?
2. Is it still possible to get all the same variable overcrank frame rates shooting in 720p as with the HVX?
3. Does the frame rate hack for the HVX work for the HPX300, I very much like the night timelapse footage the HVX produces with the hack.

Thanks much for posting the footage, I look forward to seeing more.

02-20-2009, 07:57 AM
Kevin will have to answer questions about post, and I'm not sure what he was doing for white balance (whether manual or riding the preset).

1. No
2. Yes
3. Now that I think about it, I'm not 100% sure, but I thought that at least on the first prototype it did. Remains to be seen whether it will on the production versions.

02-20-2009, 12:10 PM
Really fantastic footage Kevin and Barry.

Kevin you have really established a recognizable style.

Even on the lower resolution clip it is evident that large areas of fine grass and leaves hold up better. On the HVX it was always a thorn in my side that they would turn to mush.

02-20-2009, 03:04 PM
Thanks KevinM.

I know it's probably too saturated for a lot of people here but I just showed the footage to a bunch of pro dancers I was filming Wednesday and the first thing they all said after "YOU filmed all that?" was that they just loved the color. But like I said earlier, it goes back to my Kodachrome and Velvia days.

I tried to white balance when I could, but a lot of times i just used the preset.

Barry had a set of warm cards but there was never enough room to stick the cards out of the window. :)

The other white van was often ahead scouting for wildlife otherwise I would have balanced off that. Course, it was covered in red dust from the roads so I guess that wouldn't have worked either. :)

02-20-2009, 10:16 PM
I'm with you on the saturation.

I started as a commercial still photographer and became very accustomed to seeing amazing 4x5 chromes "back in the day". My eye still tends to gravitate to that sort of look.

After using the HPX300 prototype, are you sold? Is this a camera you are likely to add to your bag of tricks? You can PM me if you wish.

02-21-2009, 07:32 AM

I still have a freezer full of Kodachrome and E-6! :) Not sure why I keep it since I'll probably never use it. Maybe the bricks of Kodachrome will end up in a museum or something.
I'm sure in a few years people will think it was barbaric to have to keep pro film frozen. :)

Anyway, back to the 300...

The 300 is a CMOS camera so you have to be willing to accept what all comes with that. Every CMOS camera has it so it's not like this is something new.

Since this was a prototype, I don't feel I can say that there are things I wish were different because they may be different in the final version.

Were these things big enough to make me not want to get one? No. It would be sweet if I could get a final version to see what changes if any were made.

My biggest concern is the form factor. I wish I could have a 170 with interchangeable lenses and AVC-Intra.

Specimen Ridge in Yellowstone is a long hike with a big elevation gain. Hiking with a camera that big compared to my 170 is going to be huge. But, the extra sharpness, the ability to have greater reach override that. If they made a 170 with interchangeable glass and AVC-Intra, I'd go that route because of the size and weight.

So after all that will I get one? As soon as I can get enough $'s in my bank account to pick one up I will.

I can't stress enough what a cluster it was trying to shoot that footage in Africa. It was like the Perfect Storm of things not to do when trying to shoot. Yet, I still got decent footage from the 300. COuld I have shot the same stuff with my 170 using OIS etc? You bet. But not as sharp and certainly not as far away.

Heck, I think those elephants on the river were like a 1/4 mile away or something. I would never have been able to get shots with the 170.

If I had the 300 on a "real" tripod on solid ground we'd be talkin magic.

I just woke up so I'm not sure if this all makes sense or not. :) Let me know if you want me to clarify or not. :)

02-21-2009, 08:27 AM
I'm still on the fence about CMOS sensors but if you shoot within the limitations of the camera, the AVC-Intra is a huge plus.

So much of what I do involves camera movement. I've shot with the RED on my Steadicam and the only time I had an issue is doing a fast whip pan in a room with strong verticals. Most times I'm just not jerking the camera around like that. The bigger issues I had with the RED is that everything just takes longer. The modular design is a plus and minus. The post-production compared to P2 isn't even in the same ballpark as far as convenience. That is why I RENT the RED. Now before people freak out about that, I like the RED. It just doesn't suit all situations.

I also came across this article that speaks well for the whole Panasonic P2 line - including the 300.


Thanks for your input, Kevin. I makes perfect sense, even first thing in the morning.

02-21-2009, 08:42 AM

Sounds weird like I'm talking to myself or something. :)

I think the best thing if you're sitting on the fence is to wait a month or two when the production units start rolling out because you know people are going to put the 300 through hell testing it all out.

I've never used the RED but I've heard it's not the easiest process for getting footage into the computer. The HPX300 is P2 so it's the same workflow with the exception of AVC-Intra.
I had to get a Intel Mac to support the codec and upgrade ShotPut and P2 Log to work with AVC-Intra. I also had to pick up Calibrated's software to let me load AVC-Intra clips right into FCP because I sure as hell can't get FCP to transcode to ProRes for me on Log and Transfer.

Once that was done it's the same workflow as with my 170 or my original HVX-200.

I think even if nothing changes from the prototype to the production model they still have a winner.. Most of my suggestions were tweaks. Like I'll give you one.

I thought the prototype overexposed compared to what it looked like in the LCD.
I know how the footage on my 170 looks compared to the LCD so I shot it that way. On the 300 what looked good on the LCD was overexposed on the actual footage. So, I had to keep dialing it down.
So, I don't know if this is just an adjustment I'll need to make when shooting the 300 vs. the 170 or if this is something that will be tweaked in the production model.

I saw some other footage that someone shot and people thought it was underexposed. So who knows.

But, that's the reason why we keep saying it's a prototype and not finalized. Cause someone will now start a thread about how they hear the 300 overexposes everything when in actuality it could just be the way I was using it.

But, it was all stuff like that. There was nothing I considered a deal breaker knowing it was a CMOS camera and what issues come with that.

02-21-2009, 08:57 PM
This will give you an idea of how far away the croc was in the footage.


02-24-2009, 11:00 AM
wow thats insane

02-25-2009, 07:59 PM
WOW! The footage was amazing, and that still frame above looks so sharp you could probably make a good print of it!

The only thing that keeps me iffy on this camera is the CMOS sensors.

Buck Forester
03-03-2009, 02:12 PM
Excellent footage, both technically and creatively!

03-04-2009, 04:02 AM
Thanks Buck! Glad you liked it.

03-04-2009, 08:45 AM
What setting did you use to create the quicktime? The 40 meg file looks really nice.

David Saraceno
03-04-2009, 10:49 AM

I think you originally planned to shoot with the 170s. Did you find any issues using the manual focus all the time with the 300?

Or had you had experience with it

03-04-2009, 01:39 PM
D10S, I just compressed it in Compressor with a data rate restricted to 1335 kbits/sec


The biggest issue was that I had a hard time getting my arm out the window to reach the focus ring. :)
The LCD is sharp enough that you can focus pretty quickly. But getting your arm out the window, past the camera all while sitting on the other side of the van is tough. :)

Did I miss some shots because I didn't focus fast enough or I was off a tad? Sure. But I also have to look at how I was trying to shoot.

I guess to answer your question best, coming from a guy who has no problems using auto ficus as just another tool in the box, I'm not worried about not having it when I get my 300.

David Saraceno
03-04-2009, 02:09 PM
Kevin, as I read your post, it was the potential loss of an arm to a lion tiger or bear that produces any issues with focus.

Is that a fair statement? :)

03-08-2009, 04:20 AM
Absolutely gorgeous!

The HPX does Africa proud. As do the cameramen.


03-08-2009, 08:35 AM
David, That's pretty much correct. :)

Glad you liked it BK. Slowly figuring out all I need to do to fix all the issues I had filming this first batch of footage. Can't wait to get back there!

matt s.
03-10-2009, 04:21 PM
awesome footage!

03-11-2009, 10:44 AM
Where in Africa? I was in Uganda last year, and all I had was a friggin' Canon XL1, due to my work in the dustbowl we know as Sudan. I'm so friggin' jealous. :)

03-11-2009, 10:46 AM
South Africa. Kruger Park.