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Is the DVX the best camera for the job?


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#1 jamiedocgirl

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 11:13 AM

Hello All,

My name is Jamie Sneider, and I am going to embark on a cross-country (and back) journey with my new, really new, fiancé, also named Jamie. ("Jamie and Jamie: Engaged Cross-Country" -- something like that.)

I have posted here before, and I am in post-production of my first documentary shot on the PD-150.

We want to shoot the trip, and the people we meet along the way. I was thinking of using the DVX-100B, 16x9, 24p. I need to finish my first doc., shot on the PD-100A, and hope to use the DVX-100B in 60i to finish.

We are hoping to make a film, but might try to sell this to TV for an episodic show.

My questions are:
1. Is the DVX-100B, shot in 24p, a good camera to shoot this doc. with hopes of showing at festivals?
2. Would the Panasonic HVX-200 be dramatically better? It is about twice the cost, but if it will ensure playing on TV or in movie theaters, maybe worth it?
3. If there may be low light, should I even consider the Sony PD170, or should I just attach a light?
3. Can I hope to somewhat match (it's okay if it looks a bit better) the PD100A with the DVX? Should I use the 60i, 4x3 frame?
4. What else should I bring? 16x9 adapter, wireless mikes, tripod?

Thank you so much!
Have a wonderful day,
Jamie
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#2 Matt Irwin

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 01:00 PM

Hi Jamie,

The DVX is a solid camera. It's proven itself on MANY, MANY documentary projects, not to mention all the narrative work. I know MTV uses them for a significant amount of their doc work. The Comediens of Comedy (doc that's been airing on Comedy Central and Showtime) was shot on DVX100A's.

1. Is the DVX-100B, shot in 24p, a good camera to shoot this doc. with hopes of showing at festivals?

Yes. 24p produces a look that is not usually associated with documentaries, but it is a very nice look. I would test 24p, 30p, and 60i to see what you think works the best for what you're doing. If you're going for a film out, shoot 24pA. Of course, if you need resolution, there's always HDV, but posting those formats can be a hassle and DV handles fast motion better. For what it's worth, November was shot on DVX100's and won several awards at Sundance (including best cinematography).

2. Would the Panasonic HVX-200 be dramatically better? It is about twice the cost, but if it will ensure playing on TV or in movie theaters, maybe worth it?

The HVX200 will definitely produce nicer images, but if you want to shoot pro50 or HD, you have to use the P2 cards, which are not really suited (yet) for the type of work you are talking about... unless you have a lot of money for extra cards, hard drives, laptop, etc, etc. Considering all the necessary support gear with that camera, using the HVX will cost well over twice that of a DVX.

3. If there may be low light, should I even consider the Sony PD170, or should I just attach a light?

In my experience, the DVX handles pretty well in low light. The PD-170 will perform slightly better, but not enough to justify it over a DVX, IMHO.
Lights would be good to have (do I even need to say that?). I'd take a small on camera light (like a LitePanel) and a small kit.

3. Can I hope to somewhat match (it's okay if it looks a bit better) the PD100A with the DVX? Should I use the 60i, 4x3 frame?

In post you might be able to get close, but you won't get a perfect match. If I were you, and I was taking the PD-100 in ADDITION to the DVX, I would use it as B-roll only and try to match it's color/contrast to the DVX. It's okay to have different looking B-roll footage, IMO. Of course if you can afford two DVX's, go that route.

4. What else should I bring? 16x9 adapter, wireless mikes, tripod?

Tripod? um, YES. Wireless mikes? Definitely couldn't hurt. 16:9 adapter? If you feel the need for it.
You might want to get a shotgun mic to mount on the camera because the built in mic will pick up too much. Maybe keep a boom pole handy as well. A rain cover for the camera would be a good idea. Maybe a reference monitor...

Hope I didn't ramble too much.

Yes, everything is moving toward HD, but standard def is still a legit format, especially for on-the-road docs.

Hope this was somewhat helpful,
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#3 jamiedocgirl

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 01:05 PM

Hi Jamie,

The DVX is a solid camera. It's proven itself on MANY, MANY documentary projects, not to mention all the narrative work. I know MTV uses them for a significant amount of their doc work. The Comediens of Comedy (doc that's been airing on Comedy Central and Showtime) was shot on DVX100A's.
Yes. 24p produces a look that is not usually associated with documentaries, but it is a very nice look. I would test 24p, 30p, and 60i to see what you think works the best for what you're doing. If you're going for a film out, shoot 24pA. Of course, if you need resolution, there's always HDV, but posting those formats can be a hassle and DV handles fast motion better. For what it's worth, November was shot on DVX100's and won several awards at Sundance (including best cinematography).

The HVX200 will definitely produce nicer images, but if you want to shoot pro50 or HD, you have to use the P2 cards, which are not really suited (yet) for the type of work you are talking about... unless you have a lot of money for extra cards, hard drives, laptop, etc, etc. Considering all the necessary support gear with that camera, using the HVX will cost well over twice the cost of a DVX.

In my experience, the DVX handles pretty well in low light. The PD-170 will perform slightly better, but not so much to justify it over a DVX, IMHO.
Lights would be good to have (do I even need to say that?). I'd take a small on camera light (like a LitePanel) and a small kit.

In post you might be able to get close, but you won't get a perfect match. If were you and I was taking the PD-100 in ADDITION to the DVX, I would use it as B-roll only and try to match it's color/contrast to the DVX. It's okay to have different looking B-roll footage, IMO. Of course if you can afford two DVX's, go that route.

Tripod? uh, YES. Wireless mikes? Definitely couldn't hurt. 16:9 adapter? If you feel the need for it.
You might want to get a shotgun mic to mount on the camera because the built in mic will pick up too much. Maybe keep a boom pole handy as well. A rain cover for the camera would be a good idea. Maybe a reference monitor...

Hope I didn't ramble too much.

Yes, everything is moving toward HD, but standard def is still a legit format, especially for on-the-road docs.

Hope this was somewhat helpful,



Hi Matt,

Thank you for your reply.
Actually, what happened was that my Sony PD-100A was stolen. So, I don't have the camera. What I was going to do was buy the Sony PD-170 to finish the doc....but then, I decided to shoot a new doc., and would like to shoot 24p, so that is why I decided upon the DVX.
My only fear is that the DVX-100B shot in 60i will look way to different than the Sony PD-100A, but maybe it really doesn't matter, you know? I think it's stupid for me to buy the PD-170, and then sell it for the DVX. I think it will probably work.

Thoughts?

Thanks!
Jamie
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#4 Matt Irwin

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 01:17 PM

Actually, what happened was that my Sony PD-100A was stolen. So, I don't have the camera. What I was going to do was buy the Sony PD-170 to finish the doc....but then, I decided to shoot a new doc., and would like to shoot 24p, so that is why I decided upon the DVX.
My only fear is that the DVX-100B shot in 60i will look way to different than the Sony PD-100A, but maybe it really doesn't matter, you know? I think it's stupid for me to buy the PD-170, and then sell it for the DVX. I think it will probably work.


Well, I've never had to match a DVX100 to a PD-1xx before, but I would imagine there would be a slight difference at the very least. If I'm not mistaken, the DVX has a higher res CCD, which will result in a noticeably sharper image on the DVX footage. I shot a documentary on an XL1 several years ago and we had to do a pick-up interview with a DVX100. Those pickup shots really stand out amongst the XL footage because there is at least TWICE the resolution and a much cleaner curve.
Shooting 60i on the DVX is a good call, and you will probably be able to get the colors to match in the final grade, but based on my experience, the contrast and resolution will not match up. The DVX is, afterall, about 10 years ahead of the PD150!

All that said, I still think the DVX100b is a better choice than the PD170.
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#5 Hans Kellner

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 09:59 PM

My questions are:
1. Is the DVX-100B, shot in 24p, a good camera to shoot this doc. with hopes of showing at festivals?
2. Would the Panasonic HVX-200 be dramatically better? It is about twice the cost, but if it will ensure playing on TV or in movie theaters, maybe worth it?
3. If there may be low light, should I even consider the Sony PD170, or should I just attach a light?
3. Can I hope to somewhat match (it's okay if it looks a bit better) the PD100A with the DVX? Should I use the 60i, 4x3 frame?
4. What else should I bring? 16x9 adapter, wireless mikes, tripod?

Good answers already but I'll toss in a few responses:

1. Yes, the DVX is a great camera for that purpose. It's light, easy to use, and captures great images.
3. The DVX is ok in low light (not as good as the 150). But I highly recommend a small on-board light. A lite panel as mention above is great.
3. (the second 3 in the list :) ) I believe Murderball was shot mostly with DVXs but some shots were done with PD150s. They were able to mix the footage without ruining the film. There was an article on the Apple site describing the background.

I would not shoot 60i. No reason to buy the DVX if you want to shoot only 60i. Also, why limit yourself? Shoot 24 since that will shine.

4. I don't recommend the 16x9 adapter. Especially for run-n-gun situations. It's tricky to use. Shoot 4x3 but use tape to indicate the 16x9 framing on your LCD. This will allow you to capture full-res and then in post have room to shift the footage up or down. You can then use a scaling technique to make true 16x9 footage.

Yes to tripod.

You might even consider getting a car mount since it is a road trip.

Extra batteries.

Edited by Hans Kellner, 20 April 2006 - 10:01 PM.

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#6 jamiedocgirl

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 10:57 AM

Good answers already but I'll toss in a few responses:

1. Yes, the DVX is a great camera for that purpose. It's light, easy to use, and captures great images.
3. The DVX is ok in low light (not as good as the 150). But I highly recommend a small on-board light. A lite panel as mention above is great.
3. (the second 3 in the list :) ) I believe Murderball was shot mostly with DVXs but some shots were done with PD150s. They were able to mix the footage without ruining the film. There was an article on the Apple site describing the background.

I would not shoot 60i. No reason to buy the DVX if you want to shoot only 60i. Also, why limit yourself? Shoot 24 since that will shine.

4. I don't recommend the 16x9 adapter. Especially for run-n-gun situations. It's tricky to use. Shoot 4x3 but use tape to indicate the 16x9 framing on your LCD. This will allow you to capture full-res and then in post have room to shift the footage up or down. You can then use a scaling technique to make true 16x9 footage.

Yes to tripod.

You might even consider getting a car mount since it is a road trip.

Extra batteries.



Thank you Hans! That is great advice!

I am a little surprised to hear you say not to use an adapter...I didn't realize it was difficult to use. I like the tape idea for framing.

-Jamie
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#7 Matt Irwin

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 01:47 PM

Thank you Hans! That is great advice!

I am a little surprised to hear you say not to use an adapter...I didn't realize it was difficult to use. I like the tape idea for framing.

-Jamie

You can also get some of these: http://www.evsonline...roduct_Count=24

The grid can sometimes help with quick compositions... plus it looks slicker than tape (if that matters to you).
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#8 isaac_klotz

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 04:53 PM

the dvx100 will look good and the hvx200 will look better, even if you are recording to minidv tape.
here is a quick test i did with an hvx200 recording to minidv tape vs. a dvx100a, both in 4:3 24p mode.

http://www.halfelement.com/hvxdvx.mov

i only had time for a few quick shots.

you can also shoot 16:9 to minidv on the hvx using its squeeze mode, which i have done with nice results on a few dv shoots. this would make it possible to get those wide angle shots without using a lens adaptor.

-isaac
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#9 Hans Kellner

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 07:09 PM

the dvx100 will look good and the hvx200 will look better, even if you are recording to minidv tape.
here is a quick test i did with an hvx200 recording to minidv tape vs. a dvx100a, both in 4:3 24p mode.

Interesting. The DVX clips look a bit milky compared to the HVX. I wonder what the default scene settings are on the HVX compared to the DVX.

you can also shoot 16:9 to minidv on the hvx using its squeeze mode, which i have done with nice results on a few dv shoots. this would make it possible to get those wide angle shots without using a lens adaptor.

You don't actually gain a wider angle shot, correct? Squeeze mode simply crops the top and bottom then scales the remaining image vertically to fill the 4:3 space. The lens still captures the same width no matter which mode you shoot.

I prefer to shoot 4:3 since that give me the ability to dynamically crop in post. This is rather easy to do with FCP and PPro. There's also a nice technique for uprezzing 4:3 cropped footage to a wider format (e.g. 16:9) that involves exporting the frames, processing, then importing back in at the new format.


I am a little surprised to hear you say not to use an adapter...I didn't realize it was difficult to use.

Yes, I have one and it's a tricky beast. It can give you some great images but requires taking the time to setup correctly. There's a great little book that explains all the various DVX setting, shooting techniques, using the anamorphic lens, etc. here:

http://www.dvxuser.c...ticles/dvxbook/
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#10 isaac_klotz

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 04:40 AM

Interesting. The DVX clips look a bit milky compared to the HVX. I wonder what the default scene settings are on the HVX compared to the DVX.
You don't actually gain a wider angle shot, correct? Squeeze mode simply crops the top and bottom then scales the remaining image vertically to fill the 4:3 space. The lens still captures the same width no matter which mode you shoot.


actually, in squeeze mode you do get a wider shot. SD modes include standard mode (4:3), letterbox mode which simply crops the top and bottom of the shot like you mention, and squeeze mode which is native 16:9.

-isaac
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#11 jamiedocgirl

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 08:55 AM

actually, in squeeze mode you do get a wider shot. SD modes include standard mode (4:3), letterbox mode which simply crops the top and bottom of the shot like you mention, and squeeze mode which is native 16:9.

-isaac



Thank you all for you advice. Isaac, thank you for those test shots.

Though I do like the look of the hvx better, we are going with the DVX.

I was told, that for the best resolution and look, to shoot 24p advanced in squeeze mode, as opposed to letter box. Would you agree? Thank you,
Jamie
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#12 isaac_klotz

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 06:14 PM

Thank you all for you advice. Isaac, thank you for those test shots.

Though I do like the look of the hvx better, we are going with the DVX.

I was told, that for the best resolution and look, to shoot 24p advanced in squeeze mode, as opposed to letter box. Would you agree? Thank you,
Jamie


24p advanced mode is intended for a film output. it uses a 2:3:3:2 pulldown instead of the normal 2:3 pulldown for 24p mode. if you are finishing on film, 24p advanced, if video just shoot 24p.
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#13 Hans Kellner

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 07:11 PM

I was told, that for the best resolution and look, to shoot 24p advanced in squeeze mode, as opposed to letter box. Would you agree?

I disagree with shooting squeeze mode. You do not gain resolution and you restrict the amount of image that you capture. Squeeze mode work by clipping the top and bottom of the image and then scaling the remaing portion vertically so that it fills the space lost by the clipping. This is then recorded to tape. This is fine if you want a quick and dirty way to create 16:9 footage.

But, by shooting squeeze mode you:

1. Throw away perfectly good image data (top and bottom that is clipped). You will never be able to get that data back. If you happen to misframe too low or too high then you are out of luck. That clipped data is never recorded to tape.
2. Slightly degrade the image (vertical scaling). Any scaling process degrades image quality.
3. Lose most of the ability to adjust the aspect ratio crop in post (16:9, or cinemascope, or...).


The great thing about shooting 4:3 footage is that you will be able to crop/matte to a desired aspect ratio. For example, you shoot some footage that in squeeze mode just cuts off the top of a person's head. Well, you have to use that footage as-is or toss it. If you shoot 4:3 then you have captured a bit more vertically and can shift the crop upward as if you originally shot with the camera framed higher. Footage saved! The crop can also be dynamically adjusted using keyframes. So you subtle tilt up or down can occur in post that might help keep a subject framed better.

I have filmed a couple shorts now in which we shot using 4:3 and then in post cropped to the desired aspect ratio. This provided the best image and the most flexibility.
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#14 isaac_klotz

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 11:42 PM

sorry, i was referring to the hvx. on the hvx squeeze mode does actually get you a wider shot. apparently not the case on the dvx.

-isaac
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