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HDV on the Big Screen


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#1 Charlie Seper

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 01:08 PM

I've seen "November" stretched out on a 30' screen and was quite impressed with how good miniDV can look on a 35mm transfer when its done right. I've been wanting to see something at the theatre that was shot on HDV also to make a comparison. Has anyone heard of anything released on film yet that was shot on HDV, or that will be coming out before long?
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#2 Michael Collier

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 04:38 PM

I have been wondering the same thing.

I just am in the middle of shooting a feature length on the sony ZU1. I wanted to see certain scenes in 35 mm or 16mm film out.

If anyone wants to help fund a transfer of about 5-10 minutes worth of the video to film I just want to see it once (the cost to rent out a theater to see it in 35mm would cost a lot) after that I can mail the print to those who helped fund it
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#3 Erkki Halkka

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 02:41 AM

Has anyone heard of anything released on film yet that was shot on HDV, or that will be coming out before long?


Well, we did one commercial, shot on FX1, that will run in theaters on 35mm print. So far, i've only seen it on the test theater in the film lab. I need to go to movies to see it on a REALLY big screen... good excuse ;-)

The result was very good, in my opinion - especially considering it was a greenscreen shoot. We asked the film lab dude if he could tell what it was shot on, and he said it "looks like 35mm, but i guess you wouldn't have asked if it was".

The spot is really simple (just a hand holding a card), but it should be enough to tell how things would look in bigger projects too.

We did some post production sharpening etc. for the footage. There were some graphic (text) elements in the commercial, and in the digital, HDTV resolution master they looked much sharper than the FX1 footage.

The FX1 footage looked just as sharp as graphics did on the 35mm print though - the film transfer softens things so much i couldn't see the difference anymore.

Unfortunately, you won't be seeing this one, unless you're planning a trip to Finland ;-)

Edit: fixed a typo

Edited by Eki Halkka, 02 December 2005 - 02:44 AM.

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#4 Erkki Halkka

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 05:11 AM

I need to go to movies to see it on a REALLY big screen... good excuse ;-)


Went to see Harry Potter last night, on a big multiplex, and saw the commercial... It still looked good. About in the same ballpark as other "HD quality" commercials there.

There were also some other spots that were clearly mastered on standard def - compared to those, the HDV footage looked very crispy and nice.

Compared to the actual feature... hard to say how it compared technically, 'cause Potter was done with so much more effort in lighting, color correction etc.

Could some HDV footage have been cut within the main film, without anyone noticing the difference?? In my opinion, probably yes.

Would the main film have looked as good if shot entirely in HDV?? In my opinion, probably not.

Would it have looked good enough for "Joe Average"?? Probably yes.

Oh, BTW, Potter was a good ride, very entertaining IMO - liked it.
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#5 Charlie Seper

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 10:38 AM

Well that sounds promising. Can't wait to see for myself.
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 11:43 AM

Hi,

Decent projection helps. I watched most of one of the recent Star Wars movies projected off a 6000 lumen 3-chip Panasonic DLP - not a true D-cinema projector, but a top end data projector - and it looked startlingly good, even off a commercial DVD. Obviously soft, but not objectionable in too many other ways, and without the complete absence of contrast that dogs video projection. No dirt, no grain, no misregistration, no flicker, and blacks you could grind up and use to make calligraphy ink. Also projected some very run of the mill HD downloadable trailers, which looked even better but for some scaling issues we had between the playback computer and the projector head itself. Given that well-done HDV should look even better than that - I await the results of an HVX-200/Z1 shootout with baited breath.

The projector test was a direct shootoff between the 3 chip DLP and a single chip. The single chip had obviously poorer contrast and saturation, even though the whites were probably as bright.

Phil
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#7 Max Jacoby

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 01:29 PM

Could some HDV footage have been cut within the main film, without anyone noticing the difference?? In my opinion, probably yes.


In my opinion definitely no.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 03:06 PM

Between the high compression rate, limited chroma sampling, small CCD's( so deeper-focus look), and in the Sony HDV case, no progressive-scan option, no -- just because it has HD resolution does not mean it would cut into a 35mm feature and look like 35mm footage, except maybe in a fast-cut close-up during an action scene.
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#9 Charlie Seper

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 04:43 PM

Well, given how good "November" looked, I kept thinking to myself that if it was just a tad less soft it would have been truly great looking. I'm curious as to whether HDV will give me that extra "tad" I'm looking for. There are certain limitations working with miniDV or HDV that we're all aware of, but if you're willing to work within those limitations and keep your editing to a minimum, I think HDV could be a real breakthrough. I hope to see it projected soon for myself. Surely it can't be too far off before something comes out.

Edited by Charlie Seper, 06 December 2005 - 04:43 PM.

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#10 Erkki Halkka

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 06:24 PM

Between the high compression rate, limited chroma sampling, small CCD's( so deeper-focus look), and in the Sony HDV case, no progressive-scan option, no -- just because it has HD resolution does not mean it would cut into a 35mm feature and look like 35mm footage, except maybe in a fast-cut close-up during an action scene.


Well... i'll go through the main reasons why you don't think it would work, and why i think it might:

1. Compression... Yep, HDV is heavily compressed, but if there are no visible compression artifacts, does compression matter?? It's quite rare to actually get the HDV compression to show visible artifacting when watching the actual moving footage. And even then, you'd usually have to really be paying attention to the technical quality, instead of "just watching a movie" to notice it.

2. Limited chroma sampling... the same thing. The chroma sampling artifacts rear their ugly head very badly in some cases (i.e. car's red taillights on a night scene), but on most real life footage, it's hard to notice the difference, especially after proper processing.

3. Interlaced footage... with proper motion detective processing, one can get rather good results when creating progressive footage from interlaced. The vertical resolution does get reduced, but only in the moving parts of each frame. In practice, motion blur hides most of the artifacts.

4. DOF... this depends on the shot. 35mm has much more narrow DOF than HDV at a given F-stop / "apparent" lens length (the same framing). But if you watch the footage in actual films, not all shots have shallow a DOF. First of all, photographers tend to shoot at stops around 5.6 - 8 or so. If you shoot HDV at full open aperture (using ND filters), you get - not exactly there, but closer anyway. Another thing is wide lenses - they have a wide DOF, even on 35mm.


I wasn't trying to say all shots would look perfect, or the same, or as good. But I really do think some HDV footage scene could probably have been intercut with 35mm scenes without the audience noticing, if the work was done properly all the way through.

A lot of this means treating the footage just right in the post production. I've done quite a bit of real life tests on the subject, and i still say you can get surprisingly close to a 2K film scan with HDV in some cases, when you treat the footage correctly.
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#11 Erkki Halkka

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:33 PM

I've done quite a bit of real life tests on the subject, and i still say you can get surprisingly close to a 2K film scan with HDV in some cases, when you treat the footage correctly.


Okay, here's an example:

http://eki.pp.fi/tem..._VS_2K_Film.png

I know this isn't the best example as far as shots go, but the best i could do with footage i happened to have on my machine. The 2K scan is a reference plate from a commercial shot in 35mm (i didn't shoot it, only directed), and the HDV shot is from a music video (this on i did shoot, but didn't direct):

http://poetsofthefall.com/

(The "Lift" video)

I cropped the footage so that the faces aren't seen, as i don't want to post images with recognizable talent without asking permission first - sorry ,-)


Edit: Look closely at the flower and red stripes on the tie on the guy on the right, as well as the lips of the woman. You can see the HDV color sampling errors in the original HDV, but also how they've been reduced to acceptable level in the processed image

Edited by Eki Halkka, 06 December 2005 - 07:36 PM.

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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 04:03 AM

The limitations of heavy compression and color subsampling are more felt when doing post color-correction to the image, or any chromakey work.

Look, if you want to convince yourself that heavy compression, limited color, high depth of field, and interlaced-scan artifacts with motion are not limitations in creating something that resembles 35mm photography, then go ahead.

All these problems have existed for years with DV -- the only difference is that HDV has more resolution. The other issues haven't gone away.

Look, I have problems dealing with pro 24P HDCAM photography in post, so I really doubt that HDV is somehow better than that because the specs say otherwise.

In terms of "November", that was DV but also 24P, whereas the Sony HDV only does interlaced-scan, so you'd get more resolution compared to what "November" got but worse motion artifacts in a conversion to film.

Also, a 1/3" CCD camera shot wide-open at f/2, for example, isn't like using an f/5.6 in 35mm -- that's more like a 2/3" CCD depth of field where an f/2 is like an f/4.0-5.6 split. It's probably more like an f/11 effect when using a 1/3" CCD.

Edited by David Mullen, 07 December 2005 - 04:05 AM.

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#13 Erkki Halkka

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 10:01 AM

The limitations of heavy compression and color subsampling are more felt when doing post color-correction to the image, or any chromakey work.


I'm VERY aware of these limitations. If you took a look at that pop vid i linked to, you probably noticed that it has both chroma keying and strong color correction. All 200 shots of it.

I'm not saying it was a walk in the park to do it... and the result wasn't perfect at HD resolution. This was not a surprise, knowing the limitations. But i'd still say it it was *passable*.

Look, if you want to convince yourself that heavy compression, limited color, high depth of field, and interlaced-scan artifacts with motion are not limitations in creating something that resembles 35mm photography, then go ahead.


Did i suggest it was easy, or that HDV is *just as good* as film?? I don't think so...

The format has limitations, but i think they are a smaller issue than you think - they can be mostly overcome.

I was talking about it probably being passable as 35mm in SOME scenes. You know, scenes that do not need that much post and don't have that much DOF. Cut within the film, not in a controlled A / B test.

All these problems have existed for years with DV -- the only difference is that HDV has more resolution. The other issues haven't gone away.


I'm aware that what you can do with HDV in post colorwise is more limited than what you can do with a good film scan. That's a non-issue.

What i'm trying to say, is that if you take these limitations into account, and know what you are doing, you CAN get very good stuff out of it. Maybe not perfect, but passable.

To get good stuff outta it, you need to light, shoot and post knowing your medium. People who are used on working in film may not always be the best choice when working on a video format. It's a different beast.

Look, I have problems dealing with pro 24P HDCAM photography in post, so I really doubt that HDV is somehow better than that because the specs say otherwise.



BTW, do you think that in some scenes, HDCAM could be mistaken for film??

I haven't worked that much with HDCAM footage lately, but the shots i HAVE done post on, didn't really look much different from HDV. The ones i worked on last time were actually slightly more video-like than my own HDV shots i compared them with, but that was mainly because the DOP had used too much sharpening in the camera.

Anyway, HDV is a bit lower in technical quality compared to HDCAM, but not THAT much.

Resolution is the same. Bit depth is the same.

Color spaces are HDCAM's 17:6:6 (which is roughly 4:1,3:1,3) VS HDV's 4:2:0. HDCAM is only slightly better in this regard, HDCAM saves about 1/3, and HDV 1/4 of the color information.

Even though HDV's compressed much more, the compression algorithm is better/more efficient. HDCAM probably has the edge here though - it should be roughly the same difference as between MiniDV and DVD.

The HDV results should be visually very close to what you get from HDCAM - the technical difference is much smaller than i.e. between MiniDV and DigiBeta - and much, much smaller than the difference between a good DOP and a bad DOP...


In terms of "November", that was DV but also 24P, whereas the Sony HDV only does interlaced-scan, so you'd get more resolution compared to what "November" got but worse motion artifacts in a conversion to film.


Well, one could always shoot in the fake progressive mode, if afraid of the motion artifacts. It still has double the resolution of MiniDv, possibly more, depending on how it's done in the cam.

But, as i mentioned, with good algorithms, one can get really good results when de-interlacing. If you wish, i can post examples or something.

Also, a 1/3" CCD camera shot wide-open at f/2, for example, isn't like using an f/5.6 in 35mm -- that's more like a 2/3" CCD depth of field where an f/2 is like an f/4.0-5.6 split. It's probably more like an f/11 effect when using a 1/3" CCD.


That's why i said "not exactly there, but closer".
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#14 Charlie Seper

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 04:34 PM

Eki,

Can I assume you used the FX1E (Pal Version)? I've heard that the Z1 using the CineFrame 25 mode works really well but that the 24 and 30 weren't that hot. I believe the FX1E just offers the 25 mode, right? So do you avoid it generally speaking and just deinterlace in post instead? I realize that the CineFrame modes aren't true deinterlacing but I was wondering if you thought that deinterlacing in post looked much better?

I agree with everthing else you said. Depth of field is something I'm less concerned with than most people (although if I were a bit richer I guess I could always opt for a mini35 adaptor) and the compression is mostly unnoticable if mpeg is done right. That leads me to another question however: Is the compression scheme utilized by Sony pretty good in your opinion? We were talking about this a couple of months ago. I've worked with a few different mpeg compressors for DVD's over the past 3-years and have found that some can certainly be miles better than others. TMPGEnc is the best I've ever used by far. So it stands to reason that a company could have a great HDV Cam but have a lousy mpeg compression scheme built into it, which would in turn make the footage look less than admirable. So in short, we're not only shopping for a good HDV Cam but for one that handles the compression well. That's something I've not seen any reviewers address yet. I'm not even sure how you'd compare the various compressions schemes in the various HDV cams since you can't take them out and swap the schemes around between cams if you catch what I'm saying.
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#15 Erkki Halkka

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 07:29 PM

Eki,

Can I assume you used the FX1E (Pal Version)?


Yep, that's what i used. 50i. De-interlaced to give me 25 progressive frames / sec. On theaters, the film is played back at 24 fps, so everything gets slown down by 4%.

Here's (roughly) the difference between doing De-interpolation (film look) in camera, and doing it in post:

Posted Image

FX1's cineframe option doubles the fields by interpolating them (simulated at the top), where motion-aware de-interlacing interpolates them only where there's motion in the frame (center) - this example uses After Effect's built in de-interpolator at best settings, which is usually good enough. You can see some reduction in resolution at the top and the bottom of the stationary ball, but otherwise most of the detail is preserved very well.

In the bottom, the original interpolated (field rendered) 3D image for comparision. In real life footage, the difference to original is usually even smaller than here, because the original video imagery isn't razor sharp like my 3D ballz.

Edit: Compression techniques really do make a world of difference. I haven't got slightest idea how "open" the HDV specification is, will there be improvements in the future etc. Also, i only have enough experience from one camera, in one mode (50i), so... dunno. Interesting topic, should try to dig some info out.

Edited by Eki Halkka, 07 December 2005 - 07:33 PM.

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#16 Erkki Halkka

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 08:01 PM

Yep, that's what i used.


No i didn't. 3 am and writing technical stuff don't go together ;-)

I used HVR-Z1, which is switchable between 50i and 60i, at 50i settings. This is essentially the same as using FX1E though. Only real difference is that HVR-Z1 has black stretch, which helps keeping more of the information when shooting - i always try to set the camera as low contrast / flat as i can.
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#17 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 09:18 PM

De-interpolation


De-interlace?
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#18 Erkki Halkka

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 09:45 PM

De-interlace?


Uh, yes.
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#19 Fulgencio Martinez

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 10:18 PM

Knowing that hdcam is far from the 16mm look
why would someone care about how does hdv look on the big screen?
It looks like poop.
maybe someone doesn´t know how does poop look like.
Here is an advise
Watch your feet!
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#20 Erkki Halkka

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 02:41 AM

Knowing that hdcam is far from the 16mm look
why would someone care about how does hdv look on the big screen?
It looks like poop.
maybe someone doesn´t know how does poop look like.
Here is an advise
Watch your feet!


Well, that was civilized ;-)

I guess everyone's entitled to an opinion.
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