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Late to the AF100 party. Is adding a Blackmagic video assist the key?

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    Late to the AF100 party. Is adding a Blackmagic video assist the key?

    OK, I'm a Panasonic guy (DVX100b, HVX200, HPX170, HPX250) but I have to say I'm getting sucked into the larger-sensor-is-better thing. I hate shooting with DSLRs, so the AF100 seemed to be the way into the new world, but I also hate AVCHD, so it took me a long time to even think about it. Since I'm still working primarily with FCP7, there are obvious reasons.

    So I buy a nice used AF100 and add a BM Video Assist connected with an SD cable so I can at least record in ProRes. I was shooting an experimental project that will be posted online so I was shooting 1080 30p sending the footage to the VA. It works great. The picture on the VA screen is wonderful. I can't tell how the VA is recording it. I assume it's the same as the camera is sending it. Is there any way to tell?

    Anyway, back to the whole AF100 thing: It still seems like a nice camera, all the conveniences of my favorite P2 machines and the larger sensor. I suppose I keep expecting to see footage come out of this thing looking like it was shot on an Alexa with Zeiss primes, but that ain't gonna happen. Still it looks better than the 1/3 sensor footage I'm used to. It still seems to be a viable platform, albeit a little old now. (Was the 100A really much of an improvement?)

    If I don't want to move to 4K, and I don't, this still looks practical, or has the ship long since sailed on this platform? Is this a common platform combination, the AF100 + Video Assist?

    Thanks.

    #2
    Welcome aboard. While the AF100 is not state of the art anymore, I think for many projects, it is still a good useable camera. Read some of the o,dear posts here on setting up the camera, and get Barry Green's AF100 book (available in eBook, see fixed lists at the top of this site).

    The big advantage of the AF100A, is it can output 1080p60 via the HDMI port for recording to an external recorder like the Video Assist. Otherwise, the HDMI and SDI ports only output a 3:2 pulldown of the selected recording setting (1080p30 for example) to 1080i50.94, as one 1080i (and 720p output is also supported) are the North American/Japan TV broadcast standards (in addition to SD which is also supported) at the time it was made. Also, most external monitors back then only accepted a 1080i signal, due to bandwidth issues in the original SDI (basically a SD resolution port) standard at the time, this was before 3G/6G SDI we have today, which is needed for the higher bandwidth requirements of 1080 progressive signals, which are twice the bandwidth of 1080 interlaced signals. The VA does not remove this pull down, so it records the signal as interlaced, which you can recovery back to progressive in your NLE in post production.

    So your Video Assist recorded files are 1080i59.94, and not 1080p30, the upper left hand corner of the VA shows the camera connection resolution. That said, the AF100 will output a 1080PSF24 signal via SDI (when turned on in the camera menus), which the VA will recognize (when this is turned in in the VA menus) and will record as 1080p24. The paid firmware update giving older AF100s the 1080p60 internal recording capability, and other changes, does not give you a 1080p60 video out, only the AF100A does this, which also adds an improved video processor update (which was worth the upgrade for me) and gives Focus zoom in on the AF100's monitor (not needed if you are using the VA anyway, as it does this too).

    I use a Video Devices Pix recorder with my AF100, as it will remove the pull down and record the signal as progressive, in addition to adding improved audio capabilities. But I had a VA, and it worked well with the AF100, and would record 1080p60 from the HDMI output of the AF100A also.

    I hope this helps.
    Cheers
    Last edited by Denny16; 03-18-2018, 01:13 PM.

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      #3
      Thanks.

      I've spent some time with the Video Assist, but I can't say I see much in the way of settings for the recording format. Yes, I can adjust the 'flavor' of the ProRes I'm using, but I haven't found anything about setting it to 24p, 30p or whatever. As you pointed out, there is the indication in the upper LH corner, which simply says 1080i. Fortunately, for purposes of my experiment, it really doesn't matter, but there will be situations where it does.

      One thing that I keep looking for, but not finding, is some utility that can identify how something is shot. Click on the clip and it will say, ProRes 1080p30 or some such. That would be handy.

      As for the camera, there are many discussions in this forum wondering aloud what is the next stage after you have moved on from the AF100. It's now an old platform (if a "dog year" is 7, then a "camera year" must be at least 15...) but it still does what it does just as well as ever. If you're happy with 8-bit 1080, it can do the job.

      Comment


        #4
        The VA does not have any settings for resolution or frame rate, just setting ProRes or DNxHD compression ratios/flavors.
        The VA just records what the camera is outputting as far as resolution (720p59.94 vs 1080i59.94, or 1080psf24) and frame rates is concerned. The AF100 can only output 1080i59.94/50 or 720p59.94/50, depending on what it is set to, i.e. 720p60 will output 720p59.94 all other settings like 1080p30 will output 1080i59.94 for example. The only other camera setting available is 1080psf 24, which will allow the camera to output a 1080 Progressive segmented frame at 24fps (sent as 48 1/2 frames or segments) out the SDI output only, which the VA (when you set the VA to 1080psf24 downconvert on) will Convert back to 1080p24 with no loss in signal quality. The 3:2 pull down conversion the AF100 uses for all other resolutions to get a 1080i50/60 output has a little resolution loss in the conversion process, when converting the signal back to 1080p30.

        The AF100A, as I previously stated, can output a full quality 1080p60 (59.94) signal via its HDMI, the VA will record as 1080p60 (59.94) in 8-bit. Selection is based in what you want to shoot at, and the project requirements.

        Next, good question, for me, I went with the Blackmagic Micro Cinema and Studio cameras, that use MFT lenses from the AF100.

        In MFT mount, a Panasonic GH4 or the new GH5, is your only choice for 10-bit output to the VA. After that, you are in the $8-10K range of the Ursa Mini Pro (Ursa Mini 4K is about half this), or the new Panasonic EVA-1, which are EF mount at this point.
        Cheers
        Last edited by Denny16; 05-24-2018, 06:04 PM.

        Comment


          #5
          You don't gain anything than larger files with and external recorder on the AF100. Resolution from that camera is more towards 720p than 1080p and it's a dated camera these days. I'd look at something else.

          Comment


            #6
            With the AF100, true, but if you want to learn basic grading with FCPX or Resolve, the ProRes files are better to work with. But, you still have the limitation of a 8-bit file. Yes, it is an older, dated camera, but you can still use it to learn basic skills with it.
            OP has already bought the camera, so going from there.

            Personally, I would look at the new EVA-1, but lacking the $8K, will stick with my BM Micro cameras and MFT lenses. The GH5S would also be a step up from the AF100, but requires additional kit, same with the Micro cameras. That said, the EVA is looking good!
            Last edited by Denny16; 05-24-2018, 06:05 PM.

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              #7
              So back to this chain from a while back, I have been working with the AF100 using the Video Assist, usually recording using ProRes 422. I do occasionally have to do long-form assignments recording things that can go on for 60 to 90 minutes. I did a couple of these jobs using the camera's native AVCHD the camera has and edited in Premiere. Long story short, I gave up my Adobe subscription and I made the idiotic mistake of upgrading my Mac to High Sierra (DON'T DO IT) which killed my old reliable FCP 7. (I'm now trying to get a handle on Resolve 14. I have FCP X 10.3.4 but I am reluctant to spend the necessary time to learn so opaque and inhospitable a program.)

              Since I have nothing that can edit AVCHD files, how does ProRes Proxy or LT compare to AVCHD? I also have ClipWrap which I have used successfully to convert AVCHD files.

              Opinions?

              Thanks.

              Comment


                #8
                Any PR is preferable to AVCHD...but you should really learn FCPX one day; lots of improvements, a very solid piece of software.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I have to say that I am very down on Apple. I've been a Mac user since 1985, but I can't describe how irritated I was to discover that High Sierra simply killed FCP 7 and won't work with Resolve either. I bought FCPX thinking it would be a nice step up, but every time I open the program, I am baffled by what I see (or don't see). If I spend the time and effort necessary to gain some proficiency with FCPX and my aging Mac Pro dies, I have a hard time figuring out what I'll get to replace it. The cost/performance ratio of Apple is getting worse, particularly in its high-end machines. I don't like Windows 10 either, but at least it can run Resolve. There is no pretty prognosis from where I sit...

                  Thanks.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Frankly I'd just bite the bullet and go creative cloud. It's an easy transition from FCP 7, it's platform agnostic so if you are down on Apple you can use it on PC if you ever switch, it's the most widely used professionally, etc.

                    If cost makes that untennable (and I understand that angle), Resolve is in my perspective the most promising future platform. They have shown a genuine sense of commitment to the NLE side of the editor, the color tools are great, and you can't go wrong with the price. But then, you have to switch to Windows 10, which honestly is not so bad. It's a plenty great OS these days, and you don't need to buy new hardware to do so.

                    FCP X is of course your other option but after years of working with track based non ripple editing, and the paradigms set forth by FCP 7/Premiere Pro, I simply can't handle the UI, workflow, etc. Those who love it love it but that's a separate discussion. Regardless of how I feel about relearning their unique in the industry editing paradigm, I lost trust in Apple sometime ago in regards to their commitment to their pro software. I'd rather work with a company who's NLE product is a big chunk of their reputation and bread and butter (Read: Adobe, BlackMagic) vs. Apple who could cut FCPX overnight and barely feel it in their bottom line. I am not saying they will do this, I will just say it took them 7 years to add color wheels to FCPX, so they aren't exactly the sort of pro NLE developer I'll put all my stock in...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Alternatively, try this:

                      https://www.macworld.co.uk/how-to/ma...grade-3581872/

                      PS - while this might be a great stop-gap, FCP 7 hasn't been updated for nearly a decade, and you might enjoy the perks of moving to a new editing platform. FWIW I'd pick Windows 10 + Resolve over Mac OS & FCP 7 anyday. And with dual boot, you could always just make Windows 10 your "work" station and dual boot back to OSX for all the fun Mac perks, which I tend to enjoy more on the consumer end of things. You can also utilize MacDrive and NTFS 3G fuse for cross disk compatibility, and the exFAT drive format. Depending on what applications you use in tandem with your NLE, though, I'd probably want to recommend a personal roadmap to fully commit to one OS - at least in terms of work/play. It's not THAT hard to work over 2 OSes these days with all the tools available, but it's also definitely ideal to consolidate everything into one.
                      Last edited by filmguy123; 02-13-2018, 11:34 AM.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I had Creative Cloud for years long before the subscriber model first emerged. I was working for a publishing/media company at the time and I used InDesign every day, Premiere and Audition less so. I have a PC but lately it has been choking and gagging on the incessant Windows 10 updates. When it was time to renew CC for another year, I concluded keeping Premiere for the sole purpose of editing AVCHD footage was an unnecessary cost. I did all my other editing on FCP7. Unfortunately, expiration of my subscription and my terrible experience with High Sierra happened almost simultaneously leaving me with FCPX (for which I have zero proficiency) and Resolve (which I had never used either but at least it seemed vastly more learnable in a short time) on my PC. How do I deal with the fact that the one editing program which I know something about is now gone? Yes, I could nuke my Mac and restore it with an older OS, but that is such a drastic and annoying prospect to relicense all the other software, etc.

                        PITA. A cautionary tale to anyone considering upgrading to High Sierra. There is all kinds of software that won't run on the new OS. I found out too late.

                        I think you're absolutely right that it is important to go with a platform that matters to the provider.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Unless you have a need for High Sierra you should be able to roll back to an OS that works with FCP7. You may need to uninstall your software and backup before doing so, and then reinstall after the OS is installed.

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