The present and future of post production business and technology

Why Final Cut Pro specific cameras?

At the MacWorld Final Cut Pro User Group Supermeet on Wednesday night (Jan 7th) JVC announced two new ProHD camcorders. The 1/4″ progressive sensor 3-CCD compact (prosumer form factor) GY-HM100 and the shoulder mounted 1/3″ sensor GY-HM700.

There are a couple of things that make these two cameras interesting. They record in QuickTime native format ready for native editing in FCP. No import, no conversion – just copy and edit (or edit off the card). They also use SDHC compact memory cards instead of expensive proprietary formats. Both cameras have two card slots and with two 32 GB cards, can record up to 6 hours continuously for just a couple of hundred dollars.

You can read up on the rest of the specs but there are three points I’d want to make.

As far as I know this is the first camcorder made specifically for Final Cut Pro. While there have been some earlier attempts to make Avid-friendly camcorders, they didn’t hit it off in the marketplace. Clearly JVC see Final Cut Pro as a big enough market, with at least 1 million unique registered users (and probably twice that if unauthorized copies are counted) to justify doing a specific camcorder.

Secondly, increased use of SDHC. As well as these two new cameras the AVCHD/AVCCAM (Panasonic HMC-150) use compact flash as does the Red One camera. These are multi-vendor, non-proprietary formats that are readily available up to 32 GB. Take that P2 and SxS media! Of course, all these sources use compressed video of some format.

The third point is the most interesting one. JVC acknowledge that the camera does 720P at 19 or 35 Mbit/sec; 1080i at 25 Mbit/sec (aka HDV) and 1080P at 35 Mbit/sec using an “Enhanced MPEG2 Long GOP Encoder”. Traditionally ProHD has been working within the HDV specifications but there is no 35 Mbit/sec spec for HDV, particularly not one that’s already supported by Final Cut Pro. It appears that JVC are using Sony’s XDCAM EX format or something very like it, for these two new cameras.

This is not the first time JVC has worked with the Sony format. Back in September 2008 JVC announced support for XDCAM EX media and created a version for 720P licensed from Sony, which only supports 1080 in XDCAM EX.

Increasingly, Sony’s XDCAM EX format – at 35 Mbit/sec – is the grown up version of HDV.


9 responses to “Why Final Cut Pro specific cameras?”

  1. But Philip, it’s a JVC. Twice in my considerable life time I have purchased JVC cameras and after a very frustrating time returned them to the dealers. Drop out, tape jam, faulty switches, loose lens mounts. You name a problem and JVC had it. I held the HM100 (not yet a working model) and played with it at the MacWorld FCP meeting. My first thought was what a great idea. No more expensive P2 cards and it is even lighter & smaller than my HVX-200. I could shoot all day on the inexpensive SDHC cards and not have to hire a extra person to keep downloading my P2 cards to hard drives. Then I remembered, It’s a JVC.

  2. I’ve seen some nice gear from JVC over the years, but the prejudice is probably deserved in older times.


  3. Edward G Downie

    I think to shoot in native format of which you edit in is a good idea. I hope JVC is going to come up with 50mbs camera like when they made the Digital S/D9 format which was a answer to DigiBeta at a very good price, I still use them to shoot in 16X9 dock to a Hitachi SK Head not Hi Def but good for use on the internet looking forward to the new camera.

    1. It would be nice if JVC supported the 50Mbit/sec of XDCAM EX but since Sony do not put it in their “affordable” cameras, I doubt they’ll license it to JVC for an inexpensive camera. Sadly. Maybe in a couple of years.


  4. Hi Phillip ,
    Ok’ll get your hands on these JVC cameras way before we do. First off I love the QuickTime recording concept …. out of the box thinking … finally a manufacturer is thinking more about me and my needs than their own damn self serving proprietary formats. I would love to buy one of these puppies just to send a clear message to Sony & Panasonic. So Phillip .. your mission is clear. Once you get your hands on these …(1) lets take a long hard look at picture quality (2) Manufacturing quality and durability..since we have some lingering JVC doubts . And I personally would need a decent wide angle lens converter for interior architectural work. I look forward to your future reports both here and on your excellent podcasts. Thanks BW

  5. Peter Nodiff

    What about XDCAM EX’s 4:2:0 for compositing? And is Final Cut (& Shake) workflow with compositing and graphics made easier by log & transfer to ProRes?

    1. 4:2:0 in HD is pretty good for compositing. Even if you convert to ProRes you don’t gain any color, just limit the loss. If the show was color correction heavy, or compositing heavy, I would convert to ProRes on ingest. The workflow isn’t easier but the computer has to work a little less hard with all I-frame over Long GOP.


  6. Peter Nodiff

    The ‘jist’ of what I’m trying to learn is do I buy a cheap HD cam (with ‘uncompressed’ HDMI out) and an AJA ioHD to capture ProRes into my MBP/FCP? ..OR.. Do I get a JVC HM100 or EX1 and capture to it’s 35Mbps XDCAM EX codec, then transfer to ProRes? Read on..

    My camera needs aren’t the issue since my simple shoots consist of cam sitting with a fixed focus (wide lens preferred)on a tripod with plenty of light. The issue is the codec for cleanly compositing: green screen, graphics, motion elements, 2D & 3D animations, and VFX. I’ll be distibuting HD video (1080P) via proprietary HD internet pay per download and onto Apple TV devices for future industrial clients at tradeshows.

    The advantage of the second scenario (just EX codec cam, no AJA ioHD) for my application is because Final Cut doesn’t recognize 2 io devices during capture simultaneously, and with my MacBook Pro, I can’t capture video via AJA ioHD and simultaneously capture 12-20 channels audio with a high end Apogee audio interface. I’d need two Macs, and that’s out of budget for now.

    The Red Scalet would be my answer if available, but can’t wait for a summer (?) release. Thanks for the help! Peter

  7. Peter,

    If quality of composition is your primary goal, then I think the HDMI to IoHD to ProRes will give the highest quality.

    If convenience (or not buying another Mac) are primary, then work in the EX codec for shooting and convert to ProRes on ingest.