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JVC GY-HD200 and the Showscan Format


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#1 Thomas James

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 01:42 PM

The Showscan Format is the holy grail of all cinematography. Showscan is 70mm film displayed at 60 frames per second rather than 24 frames per second. The problem with Showscan is that it is not economical to distribute this format. With a reel of 35mm film costing $1500 to print and 30,000 copies to distribute the total cost is 45 million dollars. Showscan would more than double film distribution costs resulting in heavy losses if a film bombs. So cinematographers slammed the showscan format and said it did not have the film look.

Now in this new era of digital cinematography the costs to distribute films are radically reduced to ones and zeros. So now the Showscan format is again an economically viable alternative for cinematographers who want to shoot fast action films and not be limited to the constraints of 24p. Let's face it as far as film is concerned 24p no matter what the spatial resolution is not high definition as far as temporal resolution is concerned. 24p is simply standard definition. To have real high definition temporal resolution we must shoot at least 50 or 60 frames per second. The upcomming JVC GY-HD200 is the first HDV camera that can record at 60 progressive frames per second giving it the ability to rival Sony's Cine Alta format. Although the Sony is 1080p is can only shoot 30 frames per second at 1080p. JVC trades off the higher spatial resolution of 1080p to give it the higher temporal resolution of 720p. In fact 720p60 displays more pixels than 1080p30.
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 03:59 PM

Hi,

As an engineer, I tend to agree - but I don't think it's the right way to shoot the rather stylised, idealised dramas that form the core of modern commercial cinema. Yes, it's just expectation; yes, it's just attachment to the status quo, but I happen to enjoy the current style and a lot of other people clearly do, so I don't necessarily see what's wrong with that.

Now to give people the option to shoot in some other spatial or temporal resolution, particularly for documentaries, seems to make a lot of sense. The DCI spec includes provision for 48Hz projection, obstensibly for 3D material, but to as large an extent as DCI is actually implemented, the ability to exhibit such material is already there.

Phil
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#3 Mr. Shannon W. Rawls

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 04:40 PM

Let's face it as far as film is concerned 24p no matter what the spatial resolution is not high definition as far as temporal resolution is concerned. 24p is simply standard definition. To have real high definition temporal resolution we must shoot at least 50 or 60 frames per second.

Says who? LOL You're joking right?

So you're saying....the mighty $110,000.00 Sony F950 HD CineAlta is *NOT* a High Definiton camera, but the forthcoming $7k JVC HD200 720p only camera is???

OK....using your theory stated above, no matter what the spatial resolution, then are you telling me that if I shoot 4K24p (which is 4520X2540 but at 24 frames per second)...then that is *not* high definition?

C'mon dude...are you serious?

- Star Wars
- Collateral
- Miami Vice
- Superman Returns
- Wolf Creek
- Once Upon A Time In Mexico

............all the above films were Fake HD in your opinion.

Androbot(thomas james), I've seen you start flamming threads over at the SonyHDVinfo.com and you got slammed by everybody over at CreativeCow.net. Please dude, if you just really like the JVC camera, then buy one. But it doesn't help buy reciting silly nonsense to prove to the world you're in love with a camera that's not available yet. Just like Tim Kolb told you the other day, after you get your beloved HD200 camera some day, then please "report back on how many bids you win with your 720p60 over people offering the F900 1080p24 CineAlta". LOL

Edited by ShannonRawls, 02 July 2006 - 04:42 PM.

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#4 Thomas James

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 07:36 PM

Even 4k shot at 24 frames per second does not have high definition temporal resolution although the spatial resolution is ultra high definition. I mean if you reverse it and you shot 480p at 1000 frames per second would that be ultra high definition? Yes and no. the temporal resolution would be something awesome and you could capture a bomb exploding. But 480p will always be standard definition spatially even if you could shoot a million frames per second. And 24p will always be standard definition temporally even if you have a billion pixels. Look at it this way if you show up at the Indy 500 with a monster truck with a 4000 horsepower jet engine you are going lose even though the horsepower of the formula one cars are only a thousand horsepower. This is because the Indy 500 is all about speed and not about towing capacity. 720p60 cameras are built for speed and all out racing and not just fine detail
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 07:45 PM

Showscan was 65mm shot at 60 fps and projected in 70mm. You can shoot at 720/60P on the Varicam or the JVC or the Panasonic HVX200, and there are Sony HD cameras now that shoot 1080/60P -- but none of these have the resolution of 65mm nor does it solve the problem of 70mm 60 fps projection.

You'd probably need a 4K camera and digital projection system capable of 60P in order to come closer to Showscan. HDV isn't even in the ballpark in terms of spatial resolution, just temporal resolution -- but then, any standard NTSC camcorder has the same temporal resolution.

It was the COMBINATION of high image resolution and high temporal resolution on a big, wide screen that gave Showscan its impact. If shooting and projecting at 60 fps were enough, you could use 16mm instead of 65mm (and HDV is in the same range of 16mm, resolution-wise).
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#6 Thomas James

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 11:36 PM

No NTSC camcorder has the capability to shoot 60 progressive frames per secound like HDV or Showscan. NTSC shoots in the interlace format which is 60 half frames or fields per secound. NTSC can handle progressive but is limited to 30 frames per second. 16mm film or HDV shot at 60 frames per second could be Showscan Jr. since a 65mm print would be expected to yield a resolution of about 4 megapixels which is impossible for HDV.
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#7 Michael Nash

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 12:50 AM

No NTSC camcorder has the capability to shoot 60 progressive frames per secound like HDV or Showscan. NTSC shoots in the interlace format which is 60 half frames or fields per secound. NTSC can handle progressive but is limited to 30 frames per second. 16mm film or HDV shot at 60 frames per second could be Showscan Jr. since a 65mm print would be expected to yield a resolution of about 4 megapixels which is impossible for HDV.


Obviously you admire the higher temporal resolution of 60 images per second, especially combined with the high spacial resolution of 65mm. It offers a more "real" or window-like view of the subjects photographed. If that's what you're after, then don't leave out the issue of dynamic range and color depth either (and where film still triumphs over any HD camera).

But don't forget that the higher temporal resolution of interlaced video (regardless of spacial resolution) is one of the chief complaints AGAINST video compared to film. Most dramatic filmmakers actually don't want that much "reality" in their productions, and prefer the slight "psychical distance" that 24fps offers. That was the main driving force behind the development of 24P video. So I don't know that you could really say that Showscan is the "Holy Grail" of cinematography. While the visual effect is clearly impressive, not every filmmaker wants that level of literal clarity. For some (like yourself, apparently), the JVC is a unique progression (no pun intended).

But I'm also a little curious about your posts -- they seem to be simple statements, with no questions or calls to action attached. What exactly are you trying to say? And your claims of 24P being "standard def" and not "true high def" sound dubious -- are you making up this standard of reference? If so, what's your agenda? Please enlighten us.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 12:52 AM

60i is 60 samples per second, just that each CCD image is captured as a field and interlaced to create a frame. But the temporal resolution is the same as 60P - the motion is sampled 60 times per second. The difference is the vertical resolution is compromised, but not the temporal resolution. This is one reason why when 60P/720 is converted as normal motion to 60i/1080, it looks like standard 60i HD photography, because the temporal effect is the same.

Anyway, my point is that 60 fps alone is not enough to call yourself "Showscan" or "Showscan Jr.", whatever, because one of the objectives of Showscan was to create an immersive big screen experience where the image was so crystal-sharp that it looked real. All you would get from 60P HDV or 60 fps 16mm is the smoother motion and less flicker & strobing in the projected image.

Showscan was born out of Trumbull's fascination with the "Cinerama" effect.
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#9 Mr. Shannon W. Rawls

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 01:32 AM

60i is 60 samples per second, just that each CCD image is captured as a field and interlaced to create a frame. But the temporal resolution is the same as 60P - the motion is sampled 60 times per second.

Wow David, I never thought of looking at it like that. Because in 60i footage, 60 photos are still taken in 1 second. Suffice to say 60i is still 60p, just only at half the verticle resolution because the fields are stitched together to create one full frame.

So technically & mathematically 60i & 60p shares the same "temporal" resolution. Only difference is 60p is double the "spatial" resolution.

(even though we all know this is silly anyhow because HD is not defined by temporal resolution to begin with).... Androbot is not arguing that 60i is not HD like you just proven it is. He seems to be trying to convince the world that 1080p24 and 1080p30 from cameras like F900, Viper, Genesis, etc... is not real HD. What knowledge can you drop on him about that David?

I hope you can lay this to rest for us.

Edited by ShannonRawls, 03 July 2006 - 01:34 AM.

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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 01:38 AM

I believe current definitions of "HD" are 720-line progressive-scan and 1080-line progressive and interlaced-scan recording, aka 720P, 1080i, and 1080P.
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#11 Mr. Shannon W. Rawls

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 02:20 AM

Here Here!
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#12 Thomas James

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 12:23 PM

High Definition compared to what? I suppose 24p could be considered high definition compared to the old hand crank movies which output 8 to 15 frames per second but for a long time 24p was the Hollywood standard. Now of course we know that Hollywood movies offer plenty of spatial resolution but if these Hollywood producers can get away with calling 24p high definition then they will never change. Change only comes when the bar is raised and the only way to raise the bar is to demand higher standards and to demand higher standards we have to reject the concept of the lower standard being called the higher standard. That being said the opponents of high definition will claim that they will never give up their 24p in favor of the 60i interlace standard. No one is asking for a switch to interlace as the technology exists to display 60 full progressive frames per second. For the interlace crowd they would advocate a interlace standard of 120 frames per second if they want an improvement over 60i.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 01:19 PM

High Definition compared to what?


Compared to Standard Definition television. You're using a term with a specific ascribed meaning in a non-standard manner, to describe something else, like temporal resolution or something.

For better or worse, "High Definition" refers to the next-generation video standards above Standard Definition (NTSC, PAL, SECAM). Has nothing to do with improving temporal resolution, just how many lines of picture information there are.

By your definition, IMAX would not qualify as "high definition" since it is shot at 24 fps. Which is fine as long as you are aware of the danger of using a common word in a non-standard personal manner and the confusion that it causes when you do that.

As far as improving flicker and temporal resolution, besides 60 fps Showscan, there is also 48 fps Maxivision, which also never caught on despite demonstrations that showed how much cleaner and smoother the projected 35mm image was when shot & projected at 48 fps. No one wants to pay for shooting twice as much film and getting half the exposure.

Even 60P cameras have this problem -- you reduce exposure time at higher frame rates (compared to 24P), and the only trick to get around that is to not engage the shutter. Now maybe the viewer would be fine with 1/60th of a second shutter speed for 60P material since you aren't aiming for a traditional strobey film look anyway.

Filmmakers are split over the 24 vs. 60 thing. Some people don't like it when a format gets TOO hyper-real and clean. The "reality" of the image actually makes creating a willing suspension of disbelief harder because the "fakeness" of the moviemaking process is more obvious (actors look like actors, sets look like sets, etc.) It seems like a contradiction, but the unreality of 24 fps with a shutter conditions the viewer to accept fiction as reality, maybe because it does not resemble reality too closely, more like a dream-state. 60i/60P tends to feel like a "live" image, not an image in the past like a 24 fps image does. This can be disconcerting.

Of course, this is just conditioning, so viewers can become conditioned to 60 fps over time. But few filmmakers want to expend time and energy making the viewer accept a non-standard process -- they want their movie experience to be like everyone else's so that the viewer just thinks about the story and acting.
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#14 Thomas James

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 03:32 PM

And thats my point is to try and end confusuion. Most people think that full HD is only the 1080i and the 1080p formats and not the 720p formats. But what they forget is 1080i60 is 60 interlaced frames per second and is only half the resolution of 1080p60 and 1080p30 is also only half the resolution of 1080p60. If people get away with declaring that real high definition starts with 1080i or 1080p why can't I say that real high definition starts with 60p or 120i. If that were the case since 1080p60 and 720i120 is not broadcasted people if they want to get the real high definition have to go with the 720p60 format. I mean whats the point in buying a 1080p television with a 25 millisecond refresh rate.
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#15 Michael Nash

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 03:52 PM

And thats my point is to try and end confusuion.


If you're trying to END the confusion about HD specs and standards, then why do you insist on making up your own defintion of what's "true high def" and what's "standard def" temporal resolution? I think most people involved with HD understand that it can be progressive or interlaced, at frame rates between 24 and 60.

We get it -- you like the look of 60P and consider the higher frame rate along with higher spacial resolution an improvement over previous technologies.

So what is that you want people to do? Abandon 24P? What's your point?
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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 07:46 PM

60i may be half the vertical resolution when anything moves, but 1080i is still 1920 horizontal pixels across, whereas 720P is 1280 pixels across.

But in theory 720/60P and 1080/60i are rather similar in overall quality, just that you have a little more horizontal resolution with 1080/60i and a little more vertical resolution with 720/60P -- they convert to each other fairly well.

It's all moot because both are considered HD anyway and they both have the same temporal resolution -- and neither 60P or 60i has the classic "film look" of 24P motion, so they share THAT in common too.
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#17 Thomas James

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 08:50 AM

"Neither 60p nor 60i has the classic film look of 24p motion."

60p is progressive scan which means it gives you the entire picture at once like a series of photographs. Therefore high definition 60p will give you the super film look whereas high definition 60i will give you the super video look. There is something about that progressive scan that gives you the real film look and I don't think a 60 frames per second capture rate destroys the progressive scan film look but of course it completely destroys any remnants of that the old fashioned hand crank look. If motion picture photographers think that the Showscan format looks like interlaced video no wonder they are opposed to it but it was only after the invention of the 720p high definition plasma television that people got to see what 60 progressive frames per second really looks like which is one reason why the 720p progressive scan Plasma TV became the more popular choice over the 1080i television.

And maybe one of the reasons why motion picture photographers think that the Showcan format looks like interlace video is because when they watch what they think is 720p60 on their favorite 720p sports channels like ABC Fox and ESPN what they are really watching is footage captured with a 1080i camera that is converted to 720p.
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 11:00 AM

You're being quite obtuse.

Why would the motion of 1080/60i look ANY DIFFERENT when converted to 720/60P compared to something shot in 720/60P???? Either way, you've got 60 motion samples per second to work with. The ONLY difference is that you are working with less vertical resolution, basically uprezzing 540 lines from one 1080i field up to 720 lines.

Same with converting 720/60P to 1080/60i for broadcast -- THE MOTION WILL LOOK IDENTICAL. IT'S 60 MOTION SAMPLES PER SECOND. The only difference is how it is displayed.

If you'd just stop and THINK about it for one second, it would be clear to you. A 60i camera takes 60 pictures per second just like a 60P camera, the only difference being that those individual pictures are fields instead of frames. But if you convert those fields into frames, it looks identical to the 60P image except in terms of vertical resolution. The motion looks the same if the shutter speed was the same because the capture speed was the same.

THINK, THINK, THINK about it. A 720 line image, 60 frames captured per second. You treat each frame as a field, and you convert 720 lines to 540 lines. Now you've got 60 fields, 540 lines each. You play that on a 1080/60i monitor. IT LOOKS THE SAME AS IF YOU HAD SHOT ON A 60i /1080 CAMERA IN TERMS OF MOTION -- WHY WOULDN'T IT????

Sorry for all the capital letters but it's a bit frustrating that you're not getting it! 720/60P converted and played as 1080/60i does not retain any progressive-scan look, it looks like something shot at 60i. 60 motion samples displayed as fields.

And I specifically said "classic film look of 24P motion" -- in other words, part of what makes it look like film is the use of the common 24 fps rate. 60P looks like 60P but it doesn't necessarily look like film AS WE ARE CONDITIONED TO SEEING IT. This is an important distinction.

In terms of display, yes, 60P display looks different than 60i display. But in terms of motion, 60P converted to 60i and 60i converted to 60P don't look any different other than the loss or gain in vertical resolution because you'll have fewer lines to work with when converting interlaced to progressive.
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#19 Mr. Shannon W. Rawls

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 11:39 AM

Checkmate.
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#20 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 03:49 PM

If the premise of this discussion is that we have the opportunity to reintroduce the idea of Showscan with 60P origination and projection, I don't disagree as long as 60P is coupled with a high-enough pixel resolution to satisfy large-screen presentation. Hyper-smooth, clear, and flickerless images can create very immersive viewing experiences on the big screen, like for an action movie, as long as one was willing to give up on the film-look issues regarding 24P and just let it be a new type of filmmaking.

But if the notion is that a a 720/60P HDV camera is somehow superior in motion rendition or temporal resolution to a 60i/1080 camera, even a pro HD one, whether or not the final footage is shown 60P, 60i, or at 60 fps on film, then I'd say that there is a basic misunderstanding going on here.

In other words, your premise isn't wrong but your logic in getting there is flawed and your understanding of the principles of motion sampling and temporal resolution is wrong. And it all seems to be motivated by a need to promote the JVC GY-HD200, to the point of misrepresentation, and that's what I have a problem with.

I have NO problem with the idea of 60P providing a new type of visual entertainment for future films. I'm well aware of the advantages of a high sampling rate & projection rate for improving picture quality and creating a clearer, more immersive image, providing there is sufficient overall resolution to begin with.

There is a reason why the Varicam didn't provide a 720/60i option -- for one thing, there is no such format, but also, there is no visual difference if you run 60P as normal-speed motion but play it as 60i, except for the difference in look of a interlaced-scan display versus a progressive-scan display.

In other words, if you shoot at 720/60P on the Varicam, you can create a fine 60i/1080 version from it that looks and behaves as if you had shot at 60i/1080 to begin with -- because in both cases, your fields or frames were captured 60X per second. The only difference is how the information is displayed, not how the motion is rendered.
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