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Varicam 24P vs. Magic Bullet 24P


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#1 slubig

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 11:27 AM

Hi,

I am wondering what the difference is regarding the following:

1) Varicam shooting at 59.94fps (720P) - the Varicam deck does the reverse 3/2 pulldown when capturing to the computer.

**or**

2) Sony HDW 730 shooting at 29.97fps (1080i) - then capture at 29.97 and use Magic Bullet to perform the reverse 3/2 pulldown.

I am curious if the 720P or 1080i makes the difference. Or if it isn't, could it be the Varicam deck does something Magic Bullet doesn't? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 12:11 PM

Since the Varicam doesn't capture interlaced-scan, and records everything to 60P/720, what capture frame rate are you talking about? Shooting at 24P or 30P?

And since the Sony HDW-730 only does 50i or 60i (59.97i), if you want to end up with 24P, you'd be better off shooting at 50i than 60i.

So if you're asking which would be better, quality-wise, shooting 24P/720 on the Varicam or 50i/1080 on the Sony HDW-730 and processing that for a 25P/24P look, probably the Varicam would be better even if you later upconverted 24P/720 to 60i/1080 with a 3:2 pulldown.

Because 60P/720 and 60i/1080 are similar, resolution-wise, and with the Varicam you can shoot in true 24P or 25P, whereas with the Sony HDW-730, you'd have to process 50i / 60i interlaced-scan footage to simulate it and then record it back as interlaced-scan (if you wanted a 50i or 60i/1080 master.)

Either way, shoot progressive-scan HD if you want progressive-scan HD IF YOU CAN -- don't try and process an interlaced-scan HD camera footage in post to fake it, not if you have the option to shoot HD in true progressive-scan.

Why not just use a HDW-F900 instead of a HDW-730?
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#3 slubig

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 12:37 PM

When you shoot with the Varicam your recording at an NTSC frame rate. Then when you capture the footage to the computer, the deck picks out the corresponding frames to make the footage 24P (23.976). I am just curious how this differs from Magic Bullet doing the same thing instead of the deck?

Also if the Varicam is shooting at 60 progressive frames, then is it shooting 60fps? As opposed to the HDW-730 shooting at 60i or 29.97fps.

I am only wondering because I was talking with my editing friend who is cutting a documentry shot on the Varicam. And at my office (different company) I have a HDW-730 (wish it was the 900), which I use to for shorts, docs, commercials etc.

Thanks for your help!
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#4 Gordon Highland

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 01:51 PM

Yes, the Varicam does 60 actual frames, that's how they get the "variable frame rates" (not really, it's always 60 and they flag for what's selected) and good slow-mo. Bring lots of light. The front end of the cameras divide the image up into whole progressive frames, and it just gets layed to tape as interlace. I'd always go progressive acquisition over post-processing.

Stubacca (Stu Maschwitz) is on several user groups; I'm wanting to say After Effects and/or Vidpro, and I'm sure could explain how his Magic Bullet thing works. But in the meantime. . .

Magic Bullet info
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 07:01 PM

When you shoot with the Varicam your recording at an NTSC frame rate.


No, NTSC is 30 frames per second (29.97 actually) or can be expressed as 60 fields per second (59.94 actually), two fields per frame.

The Varicam records everything at 60 frames per second (60P.) If you capture at 24P or other frame rates, excess frames are added and flagged in the recording to add up to 60, which can be removed later in various ways.

If you shoot the Varicam and actually capture the motion at 60P, and play it back in a 24 fps timeline, then it looks slow-motion. But if you play it back at 60 fps, it looks normal in motion. 60P capture could also be converted to 480/60i or 1080/60i by just converting each 720P frame into a field, and the motion would look like 60i photography.

So you could could convert the Varicam footage to the HDW-730 format (50i or 60i/1080) or viceversa, but the motion rendition won't look the same unless the Varicam is shooting at 50 or 60 fps and played back at normal motion.

In other words, 50P capture or 60P capture on the 720P Varicam, not meant for slo-mo shots, could be converted to 50i/1080 or 60i/1080 to match the HDW-730 but neither camera's footage would have any "film look". Conversely, you could convert 50i/1080 footage shot on the HDW730 to 25P/720 and intercut that with 25P footage shot on the Varicam, but 50i-to-25P would not look as film-like as the 25P captured footage. But it could be intercut as long as you were willing to live with the differences in look.

Probably your best bet is, assuming you don't need the film look, is to shoot the Varicam at 50P/720 or 60P/720 and convert it to 50i or 60i/1080 as normal motion, and then cut that with the 50i or 60i/1080 material of the HDW-730.

Edited by David Mullen, 08 December 2005 - 07:08 PM.

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#6 slubig

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 10:31 PM

Thats great - thanks for all the help!! One last question if you don't mind:

1) Lets say you shoot a scene on the HDW-730 (recording at 60i) and in post convert the footage using magic bullet to 24P.

2) Same scene but it is shot using the Varicam (recording at 60P) and in post only the 'flagged' frames are captured making the footage 24P.

If the two scenes were compared side by side both playing at 24P:

1) Would the footage look different?

2) If it does, what would it be that makes it look different?

3) Which would look more like film (im assuming the Varicam)? Also how close would the HDW-730 scene look to film?

This is how I see my delema: Both are recording more than 24fps and in post production, specific frames are deleted, leaving the final footage running at 24fps. If they look different (which I think they would), why would that be?

Thank again for the help!!
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 12:31 AM

With the Varicam set to capture at 24P, then motion is sampled 24 times per second, compared to the 60i/1080 HDW-730 capturing motion at 60 times per second.

Anyway, you'd be better off if you really are set on mixing the two, on shooting at 50i on the HDW730 and 25P on the Varicam, then processing the 50i/1080 footage to become 25P/1080, and bumping up the Varicam footage from 720P to 25P/1080.

Converting 50i to 25P is a much simpler and cleaner process than converting 60i to 24P.

It also depends on what you are shooting this project for, like if this is for a film transfer. You're more likely to run into motion artifacts in a transfer to film if you have 60i material converted by Magic Bullet into a 24P look, compared to shooting at 50i and converting it to 25P, then transferrring it 1:1 to film frames and just projecting it at 24 fps (just like when PAL is transferred to film.)

In terms of how well would 60i/1080 look converted by Magic Bullet, it's no different than converting normal 60i NTSC to look like film except that you have more resolution to deal with.

Honestly, if you don't have to mix progressive-scan Varicam and interlaced-scan HDW730 footage together, then don't. Just use one camera or the other, or mix them and let them look different, one more film-like and one more video-ish.

Seems to me that you can avoid this problem by not using the HDW730 and just using the Varicam, or vice-versa.

Or shoot on the Varicam at 60P/720, not 24P, then convert it to 60i/1080 and mix it with the HDW730 at 60i/1080 and forget the film look processing, just let it look like video. It's not like a documentary has to have a film look anyway.

Look, you may be OK with the look of Magic Bullet processing 60i to look like film so it's worth testing. You just have to consider what all your distribution formats will be.

Edited by David Mullen, 09 December 2005 - 12:39 AM.

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#8 slubig

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 10:45 AM

THATS GREAT! THANKS DAVID!

I will take everything you threw at me into consideration. I appreciate the Help! I shot a short with the HDW-730 at 60i and used magic bullet to convert it into 24P. It's on my website, under short films if your curious. My first short with a budget, very simple - it's about the acting and story, not fancy camera work.
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