Hands On Review: Panasonic 1200A HD Deck

Let me first start by stating that I am not an engineer, or necessarily a technical expert when it comes to the video field. I consider myself very technically savvy, but not in the realm of an engineer. So, I approach technology in the video world (especially the post side of things) from a user friendly POV, a cost POV and a "does the darn thing work right" POV.

Last week I had the opportunity to demo the Panasonic 1200A HD deck. Now, I know, this is not a new deck per se, but it is to me and to a lot of other indie filmmakers, especially when it comes to using it with Avid Xpress Pro HD or Final Cut Pro HD.

I used it with Avid Xpress Pro HD 5.2.1 and it worked GREAT!!! The deck I demo'd (is that a word?) had both HD-SDI and Firewire I/O capabilities. I used the Firewire since Xpress Pro does not have SDI. So the video, audio and timecode all go down the single pipeline into the NLE.

I had heard rumors that it didn't work well with NLE's using the Firewire control - well, I'm happy to report it worked very well. In fact, I was blown away at how well it worked. I use a Sony DSR-11 DVCAM deck a lot and I thought it worked well - and it does - but the Panny deck was even smoother at finding in and out points on the tape. Often times I've found the digital decks being controlled by Firewire are a little "loose" shall we say. They will miss timecode marks, or zoom past them so far they can't find them. Not the case with this deck.

The only issue I had was going through the deep, and I mean DEEP menu. And it wasn't really an issue truth be told, it was just a lot deeper than I expected. Everything needs to be set up just right for the deck to work, and fortunately it was. I did experiment some with changing the upconvert and downconvert settings changing the DVCPRO HD signal to DVCPRO 50 - and again, it worked great.

Why did I demo the deck? Well, I'd like to buy one, but not sure it fits in the budget right now (MSRP $31,000 as outfitted with HD-SDI, etc.) - the main reason though was to recapture my HD camera originals for "Killing Down" (thank you for the demo Marc Stephens and TMTV).

I downconverted the original HD tapes to Beta SP to offline the movie (I would go to DVCAM in the future, but that was not an option at the time I did it due to costs, or I'd just stay in the native HD codec) - anyway, the audio on the Beta SP tapes is analog. So I had to get back to the original digital audio so I could give the audio post house the files to start the sound design, thus, I needed a deck to recapture the media into my Avid system. And, that's what I did and it worked like a charm.

I would highly recommend this deck. For the money is does a lot. Purchase price I mentioned above (although it's less with only Firewire I/O), and a rental rate is around $450/day depending on what market you are in.

Happy editing....


2 comments to "Hands On Review: Panasonic 1200A HD Deck"

  • Hello,

    I found your post on google and I hope you can help me or direct me to someone.

    I am trying to capture 720p material into Avid Express 5.2.4 by doing an upconvert 1080i using firewire. I can control the deck but I cannot the video or audio to come through.

    I think the settings might be deep in the deck's menus. I have the book out but I am stuck. Please help if you can.

  • Please help if you can

Who Am I?

I'm a filmmaker who's produced & directed five feature films including the comedy SPILT MILK (available on iTunes), the new horror/thriller PHOBIA (on iTunes) and the action/thiller KILLING DOWN (which you can buy or rent at pretty much all the usual places).

I also created the Streamy and Webby award-winning web series PINK, which to date has been viewed online around 10 MILLION times at places like YouTube, Hulu, Koldcast and TheWB.com. And speaking of TheWB.com, I also produced and directed an online thriller for them called EXPOSED. It was released summer 2010. And most recently I created a new online sci-fi series called CONTINUUM, which is part of the online indie TV network JTS.tv - Just The Story and NOW available via VOD through indie platform Distrify.

Oh, and I don't shoot weddings. Thanks for asking though.

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