The primary acquisition format at Alt Gobo is Panasonic’s “P2,” a tapeless card-based media. We have been working with the technology since 2006 and have a very solid workflow. If you are not familiar with P2 please refer to this guide when planning production and post-production.

For those who’ve been in the business for many years the first notion to get beyond is the “tape.” Tapes are not used in any part of the workflow. The P2 card is a removeable device but is still considered a part of the camera. These cards are quite expensive so material needs to be transferred off these cards immediately so they can be returned to production. P2 cards are not surrendered or shipped to the client unless supplied by the client (an expensive option). The primary media we use for deliverables are portable hard drives. Please see notes below for guidance on selecting a hard drive.

The Panasonic HPX170 has four channels of audio (except when recording DV, 2-channel mode). The internal mic is recorded (auto gain) on channels 3 and/or 4 if audio is being input to camera channel 1 and/or 2 via the XLR connections. Levels can not be seen on a meter, monitored, or adjusted. You will find the sound when reviewing the material on P2CMS or in your edit system.

On most smaller projects all the material will fit on available P2 cards or a combination of P2 card and P2 Store (shown left). Alt Gobo leaves the material on the media until the next production. This may be a week or the next morning. Clients must evaluate the integrity of their data within a few days of receipt. Waiting several weeks or months will reduce our ability to offer a solution.

Camera resolution
Producer MUST determine the desired setting BEFORE the production commences. If not sure then please consult with your post-production team to determine the best setting. We prefer to shoot all new material in a high definition mode even if final product is standard def or a webcast. HD material can be easily downconverted and this contributes to your HD library for use in future projects very likely to be produced in high definition. HD is recorded in 16:9 aspect ratio. If final product is 4:3 then please inform your camera person to protect for 4:3.

1080i/60i 720P/60P 480i/60i
1080i/30P 720P/30P 480i/30P
1080i/24P 720P/24P 480i/24P
1080i/24PA 720P/30PN* 480i/24PA
*=Alt Gobo preferred setting. Standard definition can be shot 16:9 in “letterbox” or “squeeze” modes. 4:3 conventional is 16:9 with a “side crop.”
Capacity estimates
Use this table when estimating hard drive storage capacity. You can also use this guide to determine how long you can record on available P2 cards before a transfer and clearing of the card is necessary. We recommend getting a hard drive capable of holding double the amount of estimated material.

DVCproHD 1 1
HD (720P/30PN) 0.5 2
HD (720P/24PN) 0.4 2.5
DVCpro50 (SD) 0.5 2
DVCpro (SD) 2-channel audio 0.25 4

Alt Gobo P2 card inventory:
32GB 1
16GB 3

Additional P2 card daily rental rates:
64GB $95
32GB $55
16GB $35
Daily rental rates also apply if client chooses to retain data on card even if not in their possession.
Production scenarios
Depending on the nature of the production there are several options for the workflow. In most cases material can be transferred to a hard drive on location. Alt Gobo provides a MacBook laptop for this purpose. The card must be dismounted from the camera and mounted in a P2 Store USB device also provided. There is an option to transfer material first to the P2 Store (only 16GB or smaller P2 cards) which has a 60GB internal hard drive.

Typically the transfer rate is about 0.6GB per minute. If recording at 720P/30PN then the transfer time is slightly faster than the real time of the recording allowing for continuous recording.

Two or more P2 cameras working independently can record an event. To synchronize the material in post the time code on all cameras is preset simultaneously to the same time-of-day. Audio can be run to each camera allowing for up to two independent channels for each camera.

Camera output is SD-SDI, HD-SDI, or composite NTSC/PAL video. Audio is routed through the camera and is embedded in the SDI signal or output on two RCA jacks for analog. Material can be recorded in the camera and played back through the live connection. Useful for gathering B-roll or pre-recording material to be played out during a later feed window.

Events in progress can be turned quickly for web posting or broadcast needs. Using our provided location laptop with Final Cut Pro material can be ingested directly off P2 cards. Cards can be dismounted if the camera is briefly put in “pause” or after the card is filled to capacity. Camera person can continue recording on other cards. Cards ingested can be returned to the camera either partially filled or cleared. For these events we may recommend a standard def setting to reduce the transfer times. For events in progress an additional editor can ingest, edit, compress, and upload the material through a hard-line internet connection. WIFI and mobile phone tethering is available but data rates are significantly slower.

Ingesting is the process of moving digital material from the P2 cards to a hard drive. Alt Gobo uses Panasonic’s “P2CMS” software. This nearly automatic process creates folders with all the relevant material on the hard drive.

Typically the transfer rate is about 0.6GB per minute. This process can be started on location whenever a P2 card is made available. Be sure to keep the workstation away from mics in use since the laptop cooling fan may kick in. For short projects all the material can usually be ingested by the time the crew is fully wrapped up. Single camera, gavel-to-gavel coverage can be continuously recorded and ingested as long as the recording format allows for higher capacity. A dedicated crew person is recommended. On larger projects (especially multi-camera) material can be ingested off-site and overnight, this is usually the Alt Gobo home office. If the material is needed the next business day then the charge for this function is $123.

Hard drive selection & preparation
We use portable hard drives for all material delivery. Drives can be purchased or rented from Alt Gobo or client can provide own.

If you choose to provide your own they MUST be able to connect via USB 2.0 or Firewire400. Firewire800 drives can be used as long as the proper adaptor cable is included. Units that power off the computer bus are preferred if production is in the field away from an AC power source. Drives can be purchased over-the-counter at popular retail electronics and office supply stores.

Please make sure the power supply is included with the drive if necessary. Drive must be empty and ready to be formatted for Mac. Partially filled drives are OK as long as there’s sufficient space and that it’s formatted for “Mac OS Extended Journaled.” If you are using a Windows machine you can access the Mac hard drive if you install “MacDrive” http://www.mediafour.com/products/macdrive.

Alt Gobo naming conventions are to use a client name for the hard drive and a project/subject name for the database in the P2CMS folder.
500 $100 $35
750 $115 $40
1,000 $130 $45
1,500 $190 $60
2,000 $200 $70
Rental is available if drive is returned or replaced with like model within 30 days. Purchase price is charged if drive is not returned within 30 days.

It is highly recommended you get a fresh drive for each project, they do not cost very much. Drives can be used as an off-line archive. We don’t recommend you use any drive with active material that is not backed up.

We also recommend multiple drives to ensure adequate backup or if material needs to be sent to more than one facility.

Alternate delivery methods
Depending on the amount of material and time allowed material can be delivered on DVD data disks or transmitted via FTP to a client’s server.

DVDs can hold up to 4.7GBs of data. Short programs can be ingested then burned to a DVD on location (limit 2) if folders containing the material are smaller than 4.7GB. Up to a total of 5 DVDs can be processed off-site and delivered in person or via mail. Rush processing available.

Another option for urgent or distant delivery is via the internet with FTP. This is done following the production at the Alt Gobo home office. Depending on connection speeds and volume of material this process is usually done overnight. Client will need to supply the username, password and directory of the destination. The charge to perform this function is $123 and can not guarantee transmission by any deadline.

Field hard drives can be mounted on non-linear editing systems. Alt Gobo uses Final Cut Pro but other popular systems are configured to accept P2 (DVCpro) material. The native format of the files are “MXF” which is also the format used by Avid systems.


In Final Cut Pro use the “log and transfer” function under the “File” menu. Change the source directory to the portable hard drive. In the “P2CMS” folder you will find another folder named appropriate to the project. In this folder are all the clips. Do not drill any deeper then the folders with the clip numbers when selecting the material to transfer. There may be similar procedures in other editing applications. If you drill deeper in the clip folders you will find “audio” and “video” folders but you have gone too far.

This step can be useful for adding information to the material. The log and transfer window can allow you to replace the random clip name with a more relevant title. You can also add additional notes in other fields. If you do not need the entire clip you can select in and out points. This is recommended to save time and storage space.

For multi-camera projects the time code for simultaneously recorded clips will be the same (or very close). When sorting the clips you can distinguish between the different cameras using the camera serial numbers.


Follow this link for instructions.

We recommend that when the material is ingested the destination of the transferred material be a location other than the field hard drive. This immediately makes a copy of the material and the field drive can be taken off-line and stored as an archive. It is recommended that stored drives be mounted twice a year to maintain “refreshed” data structures.