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The good and bad about Canon H1


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#1 Stepan Sivko

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 03:30 PM

Hello folks, my company just bought the new canon so i decided Im gonna share with u my day to day experiences how to change the camera to a low budget feature solution. I must addmit that Im very slowly getting involved in HD (Im by heart 35mm follower).
Anyway...lets get to the core....there are several issues that must be addressed right away....

1/big bonus for canon goes for all the safe area markings up to 80%, center cross/line mark, function to turn off the AUTO OFF!!!,B/W mode of the viewfinder...still the viewfinder is uncompareable to PRO viewfinders....quite difficult to judge a sharpness...the jump in to check for focus feature and peaking are useless cos they are only accasible only in stand by mode.....than i saw that canon makes FU 1000...so called PRO viewfinder....we where very happy till the moment we have found out that its only 4:3....so we canceled the order imidietly....

2/the actual zoom lens provided with the camera is a continuation of the XL series...same features just black...things that makes DPs mad...the electronic focus and zoom...(btw in manual mode u can either focus or zoom...forget to do both at the same time)......so we decide to scratch this out completly and go with the PS technik mini 35 converter....should be in about a month so i will let u know...

3/with the mini35 this starts to become a very nice tool for any indie filmmaker...we do have 35mm arri cameras and accessories so we decided to go the 15mm rod support system way...whatch out the rod support system by PS technik is the Video based (DigiBeta,DVcam,Chrosziel) support so not the way for us, we r lucky we have an extra bridge plate that we can easily mount on the mini 35 20mm base rods (the rods that the hole camera sits on) now our accessories become usuful...so as well all other accessories by arri like wireless zoom ,focus,iris,gyro etc. now the fun part..

4/these accessories needs 12volts,HA!...the camera needs 7,2 Volts....looks like a problem....PS technik has a solution its called Mini 35 break out box...which has optional power input (XLR,Anton Bauer,NP) and than redistributes power to camera and as well gives u fisher 4 pin and 3 pin outputs ...mind u this baby adds another 3000Euro to our budget....(we have decided that for now we r gonna build our own box for much less lets say with just one fisher 3 pin for now).....breakout box as well gives u 2 BNC analog outputs for yur onboard/videoassist ..they run the signal from the s-video out from the camera.

5/mind u that deals with analog SQUEEZED video...so ur video assist and onboard must be either widescreens or support the desqueeze function....this all leads me to the biggest struggle we have now...the recording format.....

6/those people which will be happy with a footage shot in HDV on mini DV cassettte using our Zeiss lenses and Mini 35 and canon ....if they are happy we are happy...but what about those who wants to bypass the HDV and record in the uncompressed HD 10 bit 4:2:2? its very nice from canon that they give us this option, but so far i spoke with canon people....they basicly dont try to think further...so that leaves us with few options....simply it becomes in all ways very unportable

a)rent HDCAM SR deck or D-5 and through BNC HDSDI record on those....sounds simple, dont know how in states but in europe any facility that rents such things (if ever) will usualy be forced to rent u one of those that are closed in dust free, airconditioned glass cabinet....so far i checked with couple ...might be an ok for studio work but a big NO NO if u r planning to shoot outside lets say...mine...all the dust!Yummy!
as well this becomes a problem as well financial cos with second company involved ur camera rental jumps to double or triple the price.....simply cos the deck costs more than all we bought so far....

b)rent DVCPro HD deck but will that be so much better than the actual HDV???a question to all

c)build a PC workstation with HDSDI capture card.....sounds nice but storage storage my friends....the raw HD runs in about 1200 Mbits/second !....so unless u wanna have truck with Hard drives on the set.....there might be a solution in applying a codec....just found out today the newDNxHD Codec by avid....see deatails at
http://www.avid.com/dnxhd/
that wil limit u in using avid HD as a recording/editing tool ,probably using AJA Xena ...good or bad?

7/for now we have decided to go the HDV way only just het a HD link from Black magic (converts HDSDI to DVI-D) and buy 1920/1200 LCD monitor (apple,HP,sony,acer,benq)
specialy acer looks very nice in price /output check this out
http://www.tigerdire.....=A179-2400 CA

personaly still somehow HP is HP...the sonys and apple are out of question...triple the price simply said
all this that the DP can watch for lighting ,focus etc.


funny thing is the first film that this camera will be rented on will be the original package ...no mini,no monitor,no focus puller....just the camera it self....Im telling my associate that this will be the case we will NOT put our logo in the credits...simply cos i did two features on HD and focusing is a quite big deal....anamorphic 35mm is a park walkthrough when comparing (u have about 8 times less depth of field)
it has to do with the circle of confusion...as well U NEED the monitor to set up lights properly.

Ok looking forward to any comments ,suggestions,sharing of knowledge!
Best Light
Stepan
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 04:46 PM

rent HDCAM SR deck or D-5 and through BNC HDSDI record on those....


You have to ask yourself if you'd get better quality taking the money you were going to spend to rent an HDCAM-SR or D5 deck and had rented an F900 package instead.
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#3 Joshua Reis

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 05:25 PM

It allmost makes more sense to purchase a Sony JH3 HDCAM player for in house post work/edit. Then rent an F900 and be able to shoot 23.98, 60, 60i or whatever you need per job. Seems like a better investment to buy the deck rather than an HDV camera and not have to deal with VTR rentals. This is assuming that HDCAM will meet your acquisition and post requirements.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 05:52 PM

I'm not saying it's a bad idea to record the HD-SDI out from the camera to something better than HDV, it's just a question of whether the extra quality is worth the expense. It's a little like buying a bunch of cine lenses at $10,000 each to put on a $4000 DV camera with an adaptor. It makes sense if you already owned the lenses.

So in terms of sending out a signal from the Canon HDV camera and recording that, it all depends on how cheaply you can get this other recorder for.
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#5 Stepan Sivko

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 06:27 PM

I'm not saying it's a bad idea to record the HD-SDI out from the camera to something better than HDV, it's just a question of whether the extra quality is worth the expense. It's a little like buying a bunch of cine lenses at $10,000 each to put on a $4000 DV camera with an adaptor. It makes sense if you already owned the lenses.

So in terms of sending out a signal from the Canon HDV camera and recording that, it all depends on how cheaply you can get this other recorder for.


Exactly ...the only thing ..we r lucky that we have all the lenses and other "iron" as we call it...basicly we were deciding for a while ...if to get a super16...lets say SR3 or HDV....to me S16 looks that its no more a solution for ultra low budgets....and honestly thats what part of the market we r trying to address with this kit. The others can still rent the 35mm.
the question to u David ....will u actualy demand to record on external device when the producers will give u HDV as the only option?
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 06:38 PM

Exactly ...the only thing ..we r lucky that we have all the lenses and other "iron" as we call it...basicly we were deciding for a while ...if to get a super16...lets say SR3 or HDV....to me S16 looks that its no more a solution for ultra low budgets....and honestly thats what part of the market we r trying to address with this kit. The others can still rent the 35mm.
the question to u David ....will u actualy demand to record on external device when the producers will give u HDV as the only option?


Again, if it's going to cost them $1700/day to rent a D5 or HDCAM-SR deck, then I'd just assume they rent a F900 or Varicam instead because those cameras have 2/3" CCD's, pro HD lenses, etc. compared to a Canon. So I can't imagine a scenario where a producer demands I use the Canon but gives me the option of renting one of those decks anyway. Either they can afford that much money or not.

However, should I have to use the Canon, I might make a strong argument for any chromakey shots to be recorded to an external recorder.

I kinda think the HDV recording is part of the cost savings of using the Canon; otherwise, use a pro HD camera. Unless you find some cheap way of doing data recording on the set.
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 08:34 PM

Hi,

I have been playing with an XLH1 for the past few days and this occurred to me as well. The hi-def XL lens is pretty good optically, but you're right, ergonomically it's a nightmare and you would want to immediately go to something better. It's also very easy to break the HDV codec - perform a whip pan and find an I-frame - so the power of this otherwise okay camera is rather wasted.

However, there's no sense in going through all that rigmarole to get to a slightly-better HDCAM recording. If you're going to do it, dump it to hard disks uncompressed. You need about eight spindles to reliably record full-whack HD. Pick a 4x2 multilane RAID controller and it could be done for a couple of grand, and you'd end up with 120-odd minute uncompressed HD recorder that could easily fit a 4U rack case. Cost for another couple of hours storage would be probably £500.

You then aren't locking yourself into an incredibly expensive tape format.

However I suspect this is yet another thing that everyone will talk about but nobody will do. Shame. If anyone does feel like trying it, I'm more than available!

Phil
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#8 Tim J Durham

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 12:08 AM

Hi,

I have been playing with an XLH1 for the past few days and this occurred to me as well. The hi-def XL lens is pretty good optically, but you're right, ergonomically it's a nightmare and you would want to immediately go to something better. It's also very easy to break the HDV codec - perform a whip pan and find an I-frame - so the power of this otherwise okay camera is rather wasted.

Phil


Hey Phil,
How big a problem ARE those "missing" frames in a swish pan? I've heard that they only need to be rendered before you begin to edit. Is this right? Or do they show up as dropped frames or what? I may have to do some shooting/editing with a Z1u for the next couple months.

Thanks
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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:47 AM

Hi,

They're not missing, they're just horribly blocky and compressed. There's no "rendering" them, it's baked into the video stream.

Read the next issue of Showreel!

Phil
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#10 Robert Sanders

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 12:10 PM

How often does one do whip pans? And if it's a whip pan than you're talking about massive motion blur. And if you do get a blocked up frame then it's an easy fix in post.

Being an XL-H1 owner who plans on shooting a feature with it this summer, I'm seriously considering a custom made RAID controlled by a Mac strapped to Mag-Liner for about $3000. All dailies will be backed up to LT03 every night with a simultaneous HDV recording in-camera.

Again, HDV does have some issues, but 99% of the time the footage looks great.
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#11 Stepan Sivko

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 01:57 PM

hello everyone....so some new news in building the canon solution for feature films....today we bought the HDlink from black magic and Dell Supersharp LCD monitor ....i must admit that this combination gives u realy nice HD image.....finaly we can see how the footage looks from HDV playback....there are only couple issues i need to address...

1/The HDlink DVI-D connectors are very sensitive even slight movement results in signal drop, that can be taken care by proper profesioanl housing like any video village has..
2/the HDlink gets very hot after couple minutes, but apperently thats its working temperature (u can barely leave ur hand on it)
3/when the canon is running in HD mode and 25F setting the image has a 1/2 s delay, anyone? my guess its the actual software of the camera which resamples the 50i to look like 25...cos if u switch to 50i this delay is around 1/8 of a second....but still...is it the data rate....honestly i did two pictures as a focus puller in HD 750...but i dont remember that delay, but we used pro HD CRT monitor, is that the issue....i cant say cos i never had a time on the set to check...i was mainly sweating from keeping the film sharp...which is a hell in HD cos u have a 1/4 of depth of field compare to 35mm anamorphic! Best light tou all
Stepan
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#12 Stepan Sivko

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 10:19 AM

Hey folks ,so here is the update on our new Canon XL H1 "Arrivised"

we will start heavy tests from monday on (compare with Aaton S16) first the footage will be transfered from both to Digibeta and graded at telecine...i guess on Spirit. Than S16 DI and DI footage from Canon will be burned by Arri laser and later we will screen the footage in one of the Prague Cinemas.

Here is are the images of Arrivised Canon

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#13 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 07:25 PM

Another problem with this camera, of which there are many, is that timcode can never be synced to a slate or other cameras. It is always at least 8 frames off. I've been operating on a show with three cameras and it's a constant nightmare with timecode. Apparently, when we complained about this problem Canon knew nothing about it. We alerted them to this glaring issue. I've yet to hear of a solution for this problem from Canon or anyone else. We call it the Canon XLPOSH1. The POS stands for "piece of poop". We've already had to replace one of the cameras because it wouldn't power up in the morning. The sad thing is we're not using these cameras for budgetary reasons. Production would have been happy to shoot the show on F900's, but the director thinks the small size of the camera is an advantage. We haven't quite figured out what "advantage" it could be, but hopefully we'll find something good about shooting on a flimsy, unbalanced, piece of plastic before the end of the show.
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#14 Tim J Durham

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 11:55 PM

Another problem with this camera, of which there are many, is that timcode can never be synced to a slate or other cameras. It is always at least 8 frames off. I've been operating on a show with three cameras and it's a constant nightmare with timecode.


Brad,
Have you tried using one of the remotes to set the timecode on all three of the cams simultaneously?

http://www.dvinfo.ne...s/article11.php

Should work the same way with the XL-H1.
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#15 Robert Sanders

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 02:07 PM

Funny. I've had none of these problems. Timecode sync works great. HD-SDI to hard disk is fantastic. A truly codec agnostic camera. It's form factor is wonderful and light-weight (unlike the cumbersome boat anchor F900). While I'd prefer a true HD mechanical lens, I've found the stock 20x lens more than adequate.

Then again I'm just happy to be in the ballpark without martgaging the house! Or I'm just a glass-is-half-full kinda guy.

Hey folks ,so here is the update on our new Canon XL H1 "Arrivised"

we will start heavy tests from monday on (compare with Aaton S16) first the footage will be transfered from both to Digibeta and graded at telecine...i guess on Spirit. Than S16 DI and DI footage from Canon will be burned by Arri laser and later we will screen the footage in one of the Prague Cinemas.

Here is are the images of Arrivised Canon


I love that rig. While ours isn't "Arrivised", we like to call it "Starwayised". LOL!

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#16 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 10:28 PM

Funny. I've had none of these problems. Timecode sync works great. While I'd prefer a true HD mechanical lens, I've found the stock 20x lens more than adequate.

Then again I'm just happy to be in the ballpark without martgaging the house!

Then you've done what our Post Production Producer, editors, A.C.'s, rental house rep, and Canon couldn't figure out how to do. If it's true then good for you, but I suspect that you just haven't noticed that it's off.
The lens.....ah, what a joke! It may look nice, but using it for professional production is a nightmare. I'm sure it's great for point and shoot kind of stuff, but it's certainly not cut out for shooting anything in the professional realm.
Being in the ballbark for a good price is certainly an understandable reason for buying this camera. I can't fault you on that. We all have to work with what we can afford. The problem is when you can afford so much more and you get an inferior piece of gear for silly reasons. That's the case for me on this show. I've yet to see any episodes cut together, so I can't tell you how it looks yet, but this camera has caused some major problems, and I suspect the look of the show will suffer for it. The amount of soft shots must be astronomical due to the terrible viewfinder and the worthless focus ring.
Well, I'm venting a bit here. Sorry about that. This camera may be great for certain uses, but it's not yet up to the standards needed to shoot television day in and day out.
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#17 Stepan Sivko

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 02:55 AM

As I mentioned in the previous quotes the canon lens is a nightmare for anyone who spends most of his time around the "real" lenses, however as you say Brad for point and shoot its enough.
As well I totaly agree with you that if you had a budget that you can afford F900 than its silly that the director still demands canon, personaly if you can afford F900 you can pretty much affrod 35 workflow as well, than just it depends on the amount of footage shot.
Canon is not a solution for bigger budget , but its definitly a solution for students and lower budgets that would like to shoot in a film style shooting ,cant afford film and HDCAM is still too expensive (in Czech HDcam F750 package ,camera,pro35 converter,lensset,tripod,HDmonitor,car,technician ...runs for around 3000 Euro a day,
and our company offers the same package with canon for 1/3 of the price)

Last night we shot some tests....sunset sky,trees, night shots,candles....so I should have some images ready soon. Already on the location we have mentioned that the camera doesnt hold exposurewise next to FUJI Eterna 400 in the Aaton, but we didnt brought over our HD monitor so we dont know how much is for real on the tape.
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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 05:24 AM

Hi,

The thing to remember about the Canon lens is that the servo zoom style of construction allows it to be optically much better, assuming it conforms to the sorts of designs I've seen before. It doesn't have to "work" as a fully tracked zoom lens - the camera can electronically adjust things to keep them in focus at all times without it being collimated in any real sense. This means that the optical aberration of a multigroup zoom can be avoided.

I don't know exactly how the H1 lens works, but I suspect it's something like that. It is optically superior to the manual lens supplied with the HD100 by a factor too high to compute.

Stepan, if you rent the XLH1, have you considered renting an uncompressed recorder to go with it?

Phil
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#19 Robert Sanders

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 12:15 PM

I'm using high quality ND .6, Polarizer and (sometimes) a nice grad filter when shooting outdoors. I'm getting fantastic results in the highlights.

Digital cameras still can't resolve extreme highlights and latitude like film can. The ARRI D20 might be able to, but it's a $200K camera in rare abundance.
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#20 Stepan Sivko

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 04:54 PM

Hi,

The thing to remember about the Canon lens is that the servo zoom style of construction allows it to be optically much better, assuming it conforms to the sorts of designs I've seen before. It doesn't have to "work" as a fully tracked zoom lens - the camera can electronically adjust things to keep them in focus at all times without it being collimated in any real sense. This means that the optical aberration of a multigroup zoom can be avoided.

I don't know exactly how the H1 lens works, but I suspect it's something like that. It is optically superior to the manual lens supplied with the HD100 by a factor too high to compute.

Stepan, if you rent the XLH1, have you considered renting an uncompressed recorder to go with it?

Phil


howdy!
well Phil you just hit the nail with the hammer....what to do with the HDSDI out by canon....our company was trying to get the best out of it and I personaly thing the best you can get from it for resonable price is that you use it as a onset reference for a DP for lighting and focus...as well every director who saw the monitor so far is so amazed by it...cos they all r used too pal oncamera out from 35,16mm cameras which looks so ugly specialy when you roll.
Otherwise you can oofcourse rent a HDSR deck (if any company rents it out) but than we will be forced to pay that company same money like they pay us for the hole kit...and than most of the people will just go for
HDCAM package cos it aint no more different.

What might be the solution is some kind of a cheaper external recording system like HR-1 by wafian or onboard (still in development) solution by charon HDU-1.

Back to the canon lens,,,i promise tu run some optical comparison tests with it, i know so far that if you zoom and you have autofiocus on you dotn have a problem ...it starts when you are in full manual.
best light
Stepan

I'm using high quality ND .6, Polarizer and (sometimes) a nice grad filter when shooting outdoors. I'm getting fantastic results in the highlights.

Digital cameras still can't resolve extreme highlights and latitude like film can. The ARRI D20 might be able to, but it's a $200K camera in rare abundance.


My experience so far....use glass NDs as much as you can,dont go for the on zoom NDS!..they create noise!
We just saw today the footage,,,and all the invited DPs including us where stunned by the images such little piece of plastic (sorry Im still a 35mm dude no matter what) can create....the HDV format and 25F by canon delivers images that r from other century....its a beatiful thing ,from now on almost anybody can shoot films and edit them at home and than just bring edited graded film with sound mix to any lab to burn it to film and screen it.....
wow

Good night and Best light
S
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