I have ordered my new Powermac G4 and I
have a big need to start burning dvd's here in my home video
studio. But, reading reviews of iDVD3 and all the problems being
reported with it, I started to think about alternative ways to
produce dvd's for my video business. I began looking into the
concept of owning a stand alone dvd recorder deck. This idea
appealed to me for two major reasons: 1) I do not need fancy
titles or authoring and 2) I do not like the idea of having my
computer tied up as it burns dvd's.
When I saw a post on a forum from
a videographer named Anne who owns the Panasonic DMR-T3040, I
I took the leap and last week,
I purchased my 3040 from Band H for just over $800.00. I have
been burning some dvd's and doing some testing and I must tell
you that I couldn't be happier! What a great deck and what awesome
results I am getting on these dvd's. Since I know you are interested
in this whole issue, let me give you some of the specific details
of my dvd journey thus far.
First I should remind you that
I am currently on my old G4 and still using Final Cut Pro 2 in
OS9.2.2. This will be an important ingredient later in my story.
As you know, I am a "professional" videographer, as
I am getting paid to produce video for clients - but it is not
my main thing, just a passion that became a small business.
Two years ago, after producing
an educational video to go along with one of my published books
on acting technique, I suddenly had a bunch of great video gear
and I had trained myself to edit on Final Cut Pro. I then produced
a small documentary for my daughter's school that was very successful
and suddenly, I had a number of requests to do video for people!
Since then, I have done weddings, bar mitzvahs, performances,
documentaries and other video productions.
Recently, I have been getting more
and more requests for dvd's. And in the market here, I am able
to charge a very good fee for making a dvd for clients. For instance,
my wedding clients pay me $229.00 for the first dvd and $159.00
for copies of the same dvd. Before owning the 3040, I was sending
these dvd orders to be burned by an outside company. Now, owning
the 3040, when I do performances (plays, dance recitals, etc...),
I get $79.00 for each dvd. These kinds of performance videos
generate a lot of orders for dvds of the shows. Making multiple
copies of the same dvd made me long for a way to easily burn
a lot of copies of the same dvd without using my computer.
So, now to the Panasonic DMR-T3040!
Well, Fed Ex brought it to my front
door and rang my buzzer. Ok, Ok; I'll skip to the important details.
You don't have to yell!
These past two years, since producing
my first video production, I had my G4 hooked up via firewire
to my mini-dv editing deck, the Panasonic DV-1000. (By the way,
the DV-1000 is one beautiful little deck from Panasonic. It has
been flawless with FCP!) When I ordered the 3040, I also ordered
a little firewire A/B Switch Box, $59.95 from Sign
Video. (They are the folks who make the XLR PRO, which I
use on my GL1 Camcorder. They make very high quality gear. And
the A/B firewire switcher is another nicely made product.)
So, I hooked up a 6 pin to 6 pin
firewire cable from the G4 to the switcher and then one 6 pin
to 4 pin firewire cable from the switcher to my DV-1000 deck
and one 6 pin to 4 pin firewire cable from the switcher to the
new 3040 dvd recorder. This way, I don't have to unplug cables
every time I need to use either one of the decks. I just push
the A / B button on the switcher. Very handy!
The 3040 has all kinds of inputs
and outputs. Enough for every purpose. On the front, lower left
corner, there is a flap that opens and inside is your firewire
input as well as an S-VHS and RCA audio line in. On the back,
you get two more sets of S-VHS and RCA audio lines in, two sets
of S-VHS and RCA lines out, a digital audio out as well as a
component video out.
When I first powered up the 3040,
I did the initial set up like we all have done a thousand times
with our decks, you know, date, time, etc... and I set the input
selector to "DV" This was all very easy. I then went
to my shelf and took an Apple dvd-r to try my first burn. I have
been using the Apple 2x dvd-r's which I buy directly from Apple
for three dollars per disk, you can see how profitable making
dvd's can be with this machine.
I really wasn't sure if FCP would
recognize the 3040 and I wasn't sure if I would be able to record
directly from the computer to the deck. I thought I might have
to route it another way as I knew that the 3040 really wasn't
designed to work directly with a computer. But, I thought I should
try coming directly from my G4 and FCP into the 3040 first and
see what happens.
When I launched FCP, it recognized
that the computer was hooked up to a deck and my program in FCP
opened right up just as it has always done with my DV-1000 mini-dv
deck. I was very excited because this meant that I could record
onto the 3040 directly from FCP either in the "print to
tape" mode or directly from the timeline!
For my first dvd burn, I chose
a 60-minute program I have saved on my computer. Then I set up
"print to tape" with color bars, a few seconds of black
and some black at the end of the program.
Next, choosing the speed to burn
The 3040 has four recording modes,
Panasonic calls them:
(High Quality) puts up to one hour on a dvd-r
SP (Normal) puts up to two hours on a dvd-r
LP (Long Play) puts up to four hours on a dvd-r
EP (Extra Long Play) puts up to six hours on a dvd-r
Because Anne had mentioned that
SP (two hour) mode was just as good to her eye as XP, I used
SP. I did this also because many of my programs are close to
two hours long and I was very interested to see what the two-hour
mode would look like on the dvd. On another note, Anne had heard
that in XP some people were having trouble playing the burned
dvd on some dvd players - where as, SP mode burned discs were
playing on almost every player.
Internal 40 gig Hard Drive
One thing I have not even mentioned
yet is a very big deal. The Panasonic 3040 has a built in 40
gig hard drive. And let me tell you, this is a very important
and exciting part of the machine. With the internal hard drive,
you can record your programs onto the drive and then burn your
dvd-r's directly from the drive inside the deck itself! (Panasonic
calls this "Dubbing" in the manual) And capacity? At
SP speed, this 40 gig drive will hold seventeen hours of DV!
I will tell you more about the hard drive in a while.
Ready to Burn
First, I made sure to set the deck
to the dvd drive (as opposed to the decks internal hard drive)
as I was going to burn directly onto the dvd-r. Next, I pressed
the "record mode" button on the remote and set the
deck to SP speed. (By the way, the remote is not the best in
the world but once you get used to it, it does the job) I loaded
my dvd-r into the deck and then turned my attention back to FCP.
With the "print to tape" all set in FCP, I pressed
the "record" button on the 3040's remote and clicked
"ok" on the "print to tape" box in FCP.
When the program concluded, I hit
the "stop" on the 3040 remote. The 3040 then took a
few seconds to finish "writing" the program to the
On to Titles...
With the program now residing on
the dvd-r, I pressed the "functions" button on the
remote and then navigated to the "disc setting" command
which took me to a screen, which gave me three options: "Enter
Title", "DVD-R Menu Screen" and "Finalize."
First I went to "Enter Title."
Here, I had a screen that had a chart of letters, numbers and
symbols from which I used the remote to choose and create a title
for my program. This would be the Main Title of the dvd. After
I created a title, I "set" it and went back to the
disc setting screen.
Now I went to the "DVD-R Menu
Screen" where I could choose from one of nine different
backgrounds. These are the backgrounds that display when you
play your completed dvd on a dvd player. These backgrounds are
simply designed and you get your choice of a few different colors.
Nothing very artistic, and clearly nothing like the new themes
in iDVD3, but nice enough to present to a client.
Last but NOT LEAST, I went back
to the disc setting screen and chose "Finalize" This
is a significant step! If you do not finalize your dvd-r it will
not play on any dvd player other then the 3040. YOU MUST FINALIZE!
This is a painless process. Simply choose "finalize disc"
and in four to eight minutes, the disc is ready to go!
I quickly took the disc up to my
daughter's room; she has a new dvd player hooked up to my old
Sony XBR 20-inch monitor. (Her room is very popular for "movie
nights" with her girlfriends!) I popped in the dvd and up
came my chosen background with the name of my project. I hit
play and WOW, MY FIRST DVD! And I will tell you; the quality
was simply stunning. Both audio and video, perfect! Obviously,
I was very excited.
At this same first viewing, I also
noticed something about doing titles. The title I gave the dvd
did come up on the top of the menu screen. This was very nice.
But, the program I recorded was then listed under that title
and it had the title of "DV... The Time it was recorded"
and the "Date it was recorded" I wondered how I could
give my program it's own title besides the title I had given
the whole dvd.
Well, shall I look at the manual
This is when I want to introduce
a new character in my saga. Michael Cronan over at Panasonic
Broadcast has been very helpful to me in using the 3040. I was
fortunate to be able to talk directly with Michael on the phone
because the 3040 has one of the most confusing manuals I have
ever read! (As soon as I mentioned the 3040 manual to Michael,
he literally laughed out loud.)
Michael showed me how I have to
go into a portion of the deck called the "direct navigator"
which is where I could edit the program title or if I have a
number of programs or chapters of the same program, I could give
them all their own titles which then get listed in the main menu.
Since I mention chapters, don't
get this confused with the kinds of chapters you can do going
from FCP to iDVD or DVD SP. To create chapters on this deck,
you simply record a program and hit stop on the 3040. Each time
you record a new program, it will appear as a new chapter on
the menu. So in working with this deck, let's say you have edited
a wedding and you want to have three chapters, "The Pre-Ceremony"
"The Ceremony" and "The Party" The best way
to create these chapters would be to put some black in between
the sections inside FCP. Then, record each section separately
onto the 3040, which will create three distinct chapters on the
dvd-r. Then you can title each chapter so that it will show up
in the navigation menu on the completed dvd.
This can also be done the same
way on the 3040's own hard drive. And, once you have the programs
recorded and titled inside the hard drive, it stays there! Then
you can record all of your dvd copies of your full program directly
from the 3040 hard drive and you don't have to go back into FCP
at all! This is simply a most exquisite feature and incredibly
valuable in terms of time and efficiency.
And this in fact was my second
burning test. I recorded a few programs to the 3040 hard drive
and then "dubbed" over to a dvd-r. Quality? PERFECT!!
The 3040, G4, OS9, OS10 and
FCP, very important note...
In my lengthy talk with Michael
Cronan at Panasonic I told him my FCP experience with the 3040.
He immediately said, "You're running OS9.2.2, right?"
"Yes" I said and there was a big uh-oh in my mind.
Then Michael went on to tell me it was "a fluke." In
fact, the 3040 was never designed to work with a computer but
some how, in OS9.2.2, it was recognized and worked perfectly
as had been my experience.
But wait I said, I am getting my
new G4 and it won't boot into OS9! Well as it turns out, Michael
has tried it in all versions of OS10 except for 10.2.4 and the
deck is not recognized. He is supposed to be trying 10.2.4 this
week and he is going to call me and let me know the results.
Somehow, something changed in OS X in relation to the way this
deck interacts with the computer.
Okay, Michael and I started looking
The good news is...
There are some very good options!
First, I can record onto dv tape
and then go from my dv deck into the 3040.
Next, Michael told me something
very interesting. He said that recording via S-VHS was just as
good quality wise -to most eyes - as going via firewire. Hmmm...
I thought, If this is true, it gives me a very simple solution.
That solution is what I have been doing all along to make VHS
dubs of my FCP programs. I do it this way:
I come out of the G4 via firewire
into my Panasonic DV-1000, From the DV-1000 I go into my JVC
S-VHS deck via an S-VHS cable. In this way, the program is coming
right from my G4 and running through the dv deck and into the
S-VHS deck. My dubs have always looked very good recording them
this way. Well, I could do the same with the 3040. I could go
from the G4 via firewire into my DV-1000 and then out of the
DV-1000 into the 3040 via S-VHS Cable.
And this is what I tried last
The results? Fantastic! I really
couldn't tell the difference. Well, I did have a slight inkling
that the version I burned directly from the computer to the 3040
via firewire looked a little better - but I wondered, "Is
it only because I know which was recorded via firewire and which
was recorded via S-VHS?"
So, finally, if 10.2.4 on my new
G4 works with the 3040 directly through my G4 and firewire, then
that's the route I will take. If not, I am pleased to have an
option in which I can still record directly from my computer,
through the dv deck, and produce a dvd that will look just as
good (and I will not have to do the extra step of recording the
program to a dv tape.)
My first tests showed that the
3040 produces DVDs that played on all seven desktop units available
to me. However, I have been not able to play these DVDs on my
Mac G4, OS 9.2.2. Need to test further (OS X). That's my report
Larry Silverberg 2003
Larry Silverberg is the most widely
published actor / acting teacher in the world today and he is
considered the foremost authority on the Sanford Meisner technique
Larry is the author of the internationally
acclaimed four volume series, "The Sanford Meisner Approach:
An Actors Workbook," the two volume series, "The Actors
Guide to Qualified Acting Coaches," and his most recent
book on acting, "Loving To Audition." Larry's newest
book, "Act New York" will be coming out in July. All
of Larry's books are published by Smith & Kraus Publishers.
This article first appeared on www.kenstone.net and is reprinted here
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