Table of Contents
The instructions contained in this tutorial are intentionally concise and accessible. They are meant to guide the neophyte through the footage acquisition process when the ultimate objective is the creation of video tutorials and short presentations. Many of the techniques and tradeoffs associated with filming are disregarded in favor of a straightforward exposition. This, hopefully, will decrease the overhead associated with becoming familiar with the equipment and, thereby, entice candidates to embrace digital media.
The HPX170P is nimble and accessible. It can produce quality footage in a format that can be edited efficiently. This tutorial acts as a good starting point for the operation of this Panasonic camcorder. Following guidelines and understanding the fundamentals of digital video will ensure the acquisition of high-quality clips.
The checklist is the most basic procedure that a new user should follow to begin filming in an indoor, well-lit environment. This series of steps assumes that the user has already checked out blank P2 cards along with a Panasonic HPX170P camcorder. There is a video companion (high quality, low quality) to this checklist; an efficient strategy is to follow the steps featured on the video during the setup procedure.
More experienced users may want to go beyond the simple checklist to create particular cinematographic effects. In this case, a more in-depth understanding of individual aspects of video acquisition may be needed. This section offers a brief overview in this direction.
The Panasonic HPX170P camera features a switch labeled AUTO/MANUAL; the automatic mode simplifies its operation significantly. This is especially useful when one must grab the camera and start shooting immediately, with little time to adjust parameters. When engaged, the AUTO mode will take precedence over several functions, including the ones listed below.
The automatic mode will ensure an appropriate level of video quality, although not necessarily the clarity of image achieved through proper tuning of manual settings. When in an extreme hurry, one may elect to go through the following instructions to begin the footage acquisition process promptly.
Nevertheless, this is not the preferred mode of operation. The diligent user should plan ahead and go through manual settings carefully, as explained in the checklist above.
Selecting the various camcorder options manually, when done properly, will yield crisp and clear footage. Parameters can even be tailored to the creation of specific cinematographic effects. The basic settings discussed below are tailored to shooting a short video within a controlled and well-lit indoor environment. Additional details are provided to enable the user to understand potential tradeoffs and make educated decisions about the operation of the camcorder.
The pictures that are acquired in all digital recording format are stored in pixel arrays. A frame rate of 30 frames per second (fps) is adequate for Internet streaming. At this rate, clips offer a temporal feel similar to motion picture film without introducing undesirable artifacts. The favored option for shooting short videos depends on the intended quality of the stream and its potential application. For standard presentation, we suggest the following format.
In high-definition DVCPRO-HD, the preferred shooting mode is 720P/30PN. This mode uses twice as many pixels and better color resolution per pixel to record its frames, as compared to standard definition video. Using the REC FORMAT function on the RECORDING SETUP screen, select 720P/30NP as the recording format. For action scenes and project demonstrations, a faster frame rate may be required. The recording time in 720P native 30 fps is approximately 128 minutes on a 64 GB P2 card.
Proper white balance is essential to faithfully record the colors in a scene. The camcorder can be white-balanced in different ways. If the WHITE BAL switch is set to PRST, then the AWB button on the front of the camera can be used to toggle between P3.2K (indoors) and P5.6K (outdoors). For more control, manual white balance is required. The two channels function identically. After zooming onto a white card, set the WHITE BAL switch to A, press and hold the AWB switch until the camera displays AWB Ach ACTIVE. Any time the light condition changes, the white balance needs to be calibrated again. This is likely the most desirable option for stable lighting conditions. Another approach is to set the WHITE BAL option to ATW in the SW MODE menu. For example, one can configure the camcorder so that B is set to ATW. Then, when the WHITE BAL switch is moved to position B, the camera automatically start to track white balance.
While shooting, one can record up to four channels of sound. When the DVCPRO HD form is selected, the recording mode is fixed to 4-channel recording.
The AUDIO LEVEL knobs can be used to adjust the recording level of the built-in microphones or external audio equipment. Refer to the audio level meter at the bottom left of the viewfinder and LCD monitor to find proper settings.
To employ the playback operation, press the mode button until the MCR light turns on. Video data created on the P2 card in one uninterrupted shooting session is called a clip. While in MCR mode, clips will be displayed on the LCD screen as thumbnails. To play back a clip, select the desired thumbnail and push the operation lever in the play direction or use the remote control. Notice: Only clips recorded in the same format as the playback format (shown at the bottom of the screen) can be played back.
The numbers below are inspired by recommendations from the American Society of Cinematographers . This table stresses how slow the camera should move to achieve smooth motion. In many situations, it may be best to use a static setting.
|Z00/4.2mm||15 seconds||11 seconds|
|Z20/6mm||15 seconds||14 seconds|
|Z36/8mm||23 seconds||20 seconds|
|Z84/30mm||80 seconds||60 seconds|
The chart states that, if the lens focal length is set to 6 millimeter, a user should take 18 seconds to pan 90 degrees with no juddering or stutter when shooting 24p.