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Beginners: Basic hacks questions, series 2
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  • Hey can I use a complete manual setting in ptools?

  • @docz

    Get StreamParser and use it to see actual bitrate.

  • @docz why 50p? Is the whole thing 720? You should really go for 1080p or at least MJPEG to probably get a better key. But if you're trying to go 50p then that would be problematic.

    One thing you could try is setting GOP lower and upping the bitrate a bit. Rigs 1080p GOP1 hack is too unstable for me, but if you change it to GOP4, it becomes very stable and can shoot at peaks higher than 100mb max latitude hack. For 720by50 try GOP5 and see if it records.

    You might also try the purple filter theory. If you put a purple filter in front of the lens, you trick the camera into adding more color information into the weaker red and blue channels and could give you more bitrate. Once you remove the purple in post, even the greens look awesome.

    Also, what WB are you shooting at. I feel the lower settings 4k or less give less digital noise and could also give you a cleaner image.

  • "If you put a purple filter in front of the lens, you trick the camera into adding more color information into the weaker red and blue channels and could give you more bitrate. Once you remove the purple in post, even the greens look awesome."

    But this doesn't actually work. The filter approach is not doing that (believe me I'd like it too, but the evidence isn't there and my god I've tested it enough), it isn't improving the quality of the red or blue channels. Plus you aren't going to remove the filters cast in post fully/accurately anyway. At best it just removes a bit of noise. @CRFilms Did you try that LUT I created for your filter to remove it from footage ? I'd be interested to know how bad a job it does with outdoor footage (badly I reckon).

    Green screen I reckon its best to use a GOP 1 setting and shoot 24p, as thats the closest your going to get to a high bitrate that will be close to CBR. Then convert to what you need, mind you it is doable I reckon with a 50p setting if you're willing to put the work in. You'll not get a perfect key though (even with 24p), its hard to get a truly perfect key even in a studio environment with a great camera. I think its worth saying this cos I get the impression some people think that pulling keys is easy with perfect conditions. Expect to have to use multiple keys, combining them into your single matte. Also expect to build your own despill matte, do a bit of channel maths, and have to crack out the roto tools too.

    @docz With your shots you could improve the consistency of the green by taking a shot without the talent there. Then pull a key from both the shot with the actor, and the shot without them. Then invert both the mattes/alphas from the keys, and merge them together with a divide function (divide the empty plate by the shot with the talent in it). Then create a constant of a colour you sample from the green screen, merge that with the shot without the talent (by subtracting/minus it from the constant). Then multiply that result by the matte/alpha you've got from the divide based merge. Then add/plus that to your original shot with the talent there, and this should create a shot with a constant green screen (no artifacts/colour shifts) which you can then pull a better key from. Yeah, sounds more painful than it is, but YMMV. Breaking it down like this though you can use various other correction tools within the process. It means you can clamp more out of the inital keys to solve some, if not all, of the artifact problems.

    Edit: Ha, er obviously this is only going to work with a locked off shot as in the camera doesn't move, your plate without the actors has to be taken from the same position too. Oddly, I assumed they were both static camera shots, I dunno why.

  • Thanks for your suggestions guys. The reason I am using 50p is because I need it for slow-mo. I know that keying is not a "one-click" operation, to me it looks like the best footage to key on these cameras is the MJPEG >50mbit stuff. That office scene is a lot easier to key then the car scene - even though the car scene is in a well lit studio, and the office scene is just a sheet hung in my living room. But 30p->25p and slow-mo on some shots is just a nightmare - I haven't found any good workflows for that without a lot of transcoding, audio-sync issues, motion artifacts and so on. Target medium is 720p25 for this particular project. The car scenes that are locked off I will use that technique that Stray talked about isolating a background plate. But for the other scenes with camera movement, I will try to figure something else out. I was just hoping to get a little more IQ in the greenscreen footage, I feel that just a tiny boost in encoding bitrate would give med a little more detail in the washed out areas. I was also wondering if I had done something wrong in the hacking process since the bitrates were so low. I did open the files in StreamParser, and it to reports the same bitrates that windows does.

    WB is set to 5300K for all lit scenes, since that is the whitepoint of my lights. And for the outdoor scene with a blue tint I shifted the WB because that is shot to be Day-for-Night. I found that giving the WB a blue tint helps even out the contrast and retain a bit more information once I crush it in post to make it look like night - that works really well.

    I haven't found any GOP1 setting that will record for more than one second on my cameras. Lowest I can go (but I may be doing something wrong...) is GOP 12

  • @docz Cool. Have you tried a faster SD card for the GOP1 patches, though I know getting GOP1 at 50p or even 50i is extremely difficult. I don't know of any settings that do that successfully/reliably, but hope someone will correct me and recommend one if I'm wrong. Pretty sure there are good GOP3 and GOP6 settings for those framerates though, lowering the GOP will help you a lot. Could just be a slow or flaky SD card.

  • I've used 95mb Sandisk Extreme on the GH1, it's no more stable than any other card. It's not the cards, it's the hardware. The 100mb max lat is pretty much the highest it can go, but I have changed the Max Lat's stock GOP to 4 and it was decently stable. But that's at 1080x24p.

    GOP2 at 50i is surprisingly stable and you MIGHT get a better overall bitrate if you do 1080x50i and convert it to 50p you'd probably get close to 720 resolution. Check my purple filter thread, the user Aki is doing a 50i at GOP2 hack that he likes and says provided superior resolution to even 1080p, but the hastle of 50i to 25p to 24p is too much for me, but it might work for you since you're in PAL country.

  • Something I found confusing at first, which beginners might care to learn, are the letter assignments that Panasonic give to the different bit rates:

    Format name Bit rate

    PS 28 Mbps (1080p 50/60)

    PH 21 Mbps (VBR)

    HA 17 Mbps (VBR)

    HF 13 Mbps (CBR)

    HG 13 Mbps (VBR)

    HN 9 Mbps (VBR)

    HE 6 Mbps (VBR)

  • @mozes He's talking about the GH1. Will that patch work on it?

  • New GH2 body will not recognize hacked firmware?

    I am sorry if this issue comes up often, but I have exhausted my searches through past posts and cannot find a solution. As a former owner of a GH1 that I have installed several hacks, I am frustrated with my new GH2 (came preloaded with ver. 1.1 factory firmware). It simply will not recognize a hacked firmware loaded on any of my cards. I am using the latest version of ptool, saving my file as GH2_V12.bin in the root of an in-camera formatted card. Nothing works.

    I did read in the FAQ that perhaps I need to do with the version increment number, however I am reluctant to do that since the latest version of ptool says "1" should be selected, I am not sure if I should alter that field?

    Thanks for any help!

  • First, check that battery is fully charged.

    Second, check that your SD is not empty (have at least one photo made).

    Third, if this did not help, use higher increment. 10 will do.

  • Are you putting a double underscore in the filename? ie. GH2__V12.bin That caught me out the first time.

  • @CRFilms i think not!!

  • Well I found the problem. I always eject my camera mounted storage prior to disconnecting the USB cable from the computer, however I found that you MUST remove the USB cable from the camera regardless of whether or not it is connected to anything - otherwise the hack will not load.

    This issue did not arise with my GH1, but certainly the GH2. Thank you Vitaliy and pundit for the suggestions. The good news - my GH2 has the patched firmware and the results are outstanding as expected.

  • I want to take slow motion videos (i.e., shoot them at high frame rates, like 240 or 600). Can PTool be used to enable me to increase the frame rate on a Lumix GH1, perhaps by reducing the size of each frame?

  • It's been a few days since I posted this question, and there have been no responses. I originally posted this question in a different location, and was told to post it here, by Vitaliy, so I know this is the right place. I'm puzzled.

  • I don't know about the GH1, but I believe for the GH2 it's only possible to film at 60 frames per second max. I don't think PTool can help you there, but I have heard some good stuff about "Twixtor", which can help with slow-motion (check some vids on vimeo for twixtor).

  • jonbondy, PTool can't increase the frame rate. Please see the FAQs:

  • Well i have a strange thing ad the moment.
    I was improving the sports setting, and it says Framerate 50,199 fps ?
    And in ntsc Framerate: 60,150 fps where does that ,199 and ,150 comes from?
    Pal 46mb
    Ntsc 52mb

  • I am having the same problem with firmware not being able to be loaded. I took the following steps...

    1. Installed the 44 mbs patch. I named it GH2__V12.bin. It worked fine. I didn't notice a huge difference in quality.

    2. I then installed the 88mbs patch. I named it GH2__V13.bin. My current cards aren't fast enough to support it so I tried to load Panasonic's firware GH2_V11. The firware would not load.

    3. I then tried to reinstall the 44mbs patch and it worked.

    4. Now the camera won't recognize any firware when it's loaded.

    Any troubleshooting suggestions?

  • Hello Everyone!

    After reading for a couple of days, this newbie is starting to get the picture, but I need your guidance.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears to me that the following may be true:

    • Ptool is an application that allows access to GH2 settings that are normally hidden from the everyday user. It

    changes the firmware as far as those setting are concerned, but does nothing to change the inner code of the firmware.

    • Patches are just like custom presets that you might save in a compression program or your NLE. It is just a

    collection of your favorite settings... am I right?

    • Ptool allows you to make those aforementioned changes and save them to a file, which is then called a patch (like a

    custom preset). Ptool also lets you prepare a SD card with your "patched" firmware to be applied to the camera.

    • Driftwood, Flow Motion, and the like are just these saved files, much like a preset that can be shared and loaded

    into your NLE system.

    • Using Ptool, you can make your own patch... true?

    • If you can use Ptool to make your own patch, you can share it much like Driftwood, etc... right?

    • If that is all true, Ptool has a function to save your patch for sharing and later use... correct?

    • The reason we don't hear much about noise when it comes to the hacks is because the hacks only address settings, not internal code, which handles how the sensor information is processed by the DSP. And noise is probably more of a factor of the sensor circuitry and has physical limitations as to what can be done given the hardware being used.

    Either I finally got it, or I took the wrong train and am heading to territories unknown...

    Which is it? :-)

    All guidance is Truly Appreciated!


  • How do you switch in the camera from PAL to NTSC and vise verse? ( My understanding is that can be done right? )

  • questech, wrong on most points. :) Please read the FAQs:

    PTool modifies firmware images. Each modification is a patch. Any other use of the word "patch" is incorrect. Some of the modifications are simply changes to constants in the firmware image. Other modification are changes to the executable code.

  • Hello & Thanks for the reply!

    Damn - I read that thing casually more than once (and lots more - maybe too much in one sitting) :-)

    • OK, I can see how a patch isn't exactly analogous to a preset, but I get it now... Thanks!

    • "Ptool is an application that allows access to GH2 settings that are normally hidden from the everyday user. It changes the firmware as far as those setting are concerned, but does nothing to change the inner code of the firmware."

    So other than the last part of this statement "but does nothing to change the inner code of the firmware." my statement is true... so I get partial credit.

    • Using Ptool, you can make your own patch much like Driftwood, etc... true?

    Two Followup Questions Please:

    • Regarding Noise - Is there any hack that can help with noise reduction, especially in ETC mode?

    • Once you hack your GH2, do you loose all of your previously saved setting like Custom Mode, Constant Preview, Function Buttons, etc?

    Thanks Again!!!

    I guess I have to re-read everything :-)