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Mini35 adaptor on the HVX200


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#1 Roman

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 12:34 AM

Soon, I hope, we'd be shooting a documentary with lot of outdoors, NY panoramics, night shoots and quite a few low light situations indoors. I wonder what kind of advantages / limitations Mini35 adaptor sets on HVX-200?

Preferably we'd shoot 24P/720 hoping for, perhaps, HD to 35mm transfer if the film would not suck once it is done...

Edited by Roman, 05 July 2006 - 12:36 AM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 01:18 AM

If it's a documentary, you don't really need the shallow-focus look of 35mm.

Besides, you'll lose a stop of light in the adaptor at least, and there's not much point in using a giant 35mm zoom lens on it because those are slower and don't open up very wide -- and if it's a documentary, do you really want to be switching between different 35mm prime lenses all the time?
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#3 Roman

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 02:16 AM

If it's a documentary,


Thank you, Mr. Mullen, for a fast reply. As always you have pinned the core of the problem...

To be honest I'm already loosing my sleep over it :) - this project would need quite a few "re-constructions" of the reality, bordering with a pure fiction i.e. we'll use actors, old clips (i.e. different formats involved), flash-backs...

The producer's intent seems to be to raise the doubt - is this a documentary for real or some kind of a joke, a mockumentary perhaps or a pure fiction...

Edited by Roman, 05 July 2006 - 02:17 AM.

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#4 Allen Achterberg

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 04:53 AM

David is right. I just got off a feature with this rig you speak of. I was the Focus Puller, the first. The man stressing from call til wrap, and never slept.

Not only will you have a really heard time seeing anything at night, you'll need a 1st, and one that wont walk off the show because of how rediculous it is for a first.

I do not recommend for a documentary. No way man.

Allen
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#5 Jim McMahon

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 02:35 PM

I have a quick question:

Why exactly is the mini-35 adapter an immediate throwaway because of the "type" of production? What makes a documentary different from a drama, in regard to image quality? All else being equal, I would assume that the more filmic a documentary appears, the better it will be received.

I guess I understand about having the 1st AC for focus needs, but not 100% of the time.

Take for instance stand-ups and sit-downs: the focus remains essentially the same, and I don't think anyone would argue that the film lenses don't make those particular elements much more appealing to the eye by eliminating distracting background elements and creating a more texturized image for long interview segments. No AC needed for interviews!

(Note that I completely agree that this would be impractical on a run-and-gun shoot, but even most run-and-gun shoots take time to interview their subjects, shoot establishing shots, etc. ESPECIALLY since you're not concerned with mixing different qualities of footage, AND that you want to acheive certain looks. Why just throwaway the wonderful opportunities gained through shooting with a decreased DOF and that sweet filmic look?)

Thoughts?

I guess I'm of the opinion that regardless of the "type" of project, the image should look as brilliant as possible, given the specific set of circumstances of course.

The EASY way would be to just say "don't use the Mini35 it because you're shooting a documentary and documentaries can look less than perfect as long as the subject is sufficiently intriguing," but why not try for both an intriguing subject AND brilliant cinematography, if at all possible?

Cheers!

Jim

Edited by Jim McMahon, 05 July 2006 - 02:37 PM.

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#6 Chien Huey

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 03:03 PM

I have a quick question:

Why exactly is the mini-35 adapter an immediate throwaway because of the "type" of production? What makes a documentary different from a drama, in regard to image quality? All else being equal, I would assume that the more filmic a documentary appears, the better it will be received.


Mainly because of the time involved with the mini35 adapter. Time related to:

1. Swapping lenses if you're using primes (you might have to because zooms aren't as fast)
2. More time checking focus because your DOF is shallower and you need to make extra sure.
3. More time lighting because you need more light.

In detail:
1. The mini35 loses about 1 stop. The HVX loses (I forget exactly) but somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/2 to 1 stop because you're zooming into the long end of the lens. You have to zoom in to use the mini35. So before you even select your lens, you're about 1.5 to 2 stops slower than the vanilla camera. It behooves you to go with a zoom and lose more light... The downside to using primes (superspeeds for example) is that you'll probably be changing lenses a lot. Admittedly, not that much time but it all adds up.

2. I ACed an HVX w/ mini35 job as a focus puller and it was difficult. I'm not sure why - maybe because of the pixel shifting - but the image isn't as resolved as say a Varicam. The problem is magnified when you're at the edge of underexposure. During that shoot I would just tape out the focus and pray that it's in focus. The DP would say that it looks soft and I said - it's in focus. We were using an 8" LCD HD monitor. Point is, I often re-taped the focus just to make sure.

3. If you're 2 stops down to start, you'll need that much more light. And obviously lighting takes time. On the aforementioned shoot, the lenses were always wide open at T1.3 and even then G&E was struggling to get that. In the end, with the rental cost of a mini35 setup, lenses, etc. I think it's often better off to go with a Varicam or the new HDX400. You get shallower DoF from the 2/3" chips (granted it's not the same as 35 DoF), no pixel shifting and better lenses (b/c in the end you are still looking thru the HVX built-in lens) and less lighting is necessary because the chips are more sensitive.

Edited by Fast Chieney, 05 July 2006 - 03:04 PM.

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#7 Allen Achterberg

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 03:40 PM

I have a quick question:

Why exactly is the mini-35 adapter an immediate throwaway because of the "type" of production? What makes a documentary different from a drama, in regard to image quality? All else being equal, I would assume that the more filmic a documentary appears, the better it will be received.

I guess I understand about having the 1st AC for focus needs, but not 100% of the time.

Take for instance stand-ups and sit-downs: the focus remains essentially the same, and I don't think anyone would argue that the film lenses don't make those particular elements much more appealing to the eye by eliminating distracting background elements and creating a more texturized image for long interview segments. No AC needed for interviews!

Thoughts?


Cheers!

Jim


Like i stated, I just got off of a feature as the first with this rig. Interviews indoors will be a nighmare for focus, because of the lighting package required and you'll need to do some focus adjustment regardless when the subject DOES move slightly, this rig eats up a lot of light, but outdoors you'll be ok. It's justt a pain in the ass to do, normally when there is time, and a documentary doesn't always grant you time for tweaks with the camera, potentially setting you up for a product that would be less than that if you went naked on the HVX.

and believe it or not, but it's not too difficult to get a good image on that video camera without the adaptor...


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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 05:01 PM

What makes a documentary different from a drama, in regard to image quality? All else being equal, I would assume that the more filmic a documentary appears, the better it will be received.

...

The EASY way would be to just say "don't use the Mini35 it because you're shooting a documentary and documentaries can look less than perfect as long as the subject is sufficiently intriguing," but why not try for both an intriguing subject AND brilliant cinematography, if at all possible?


You seem to be suggesting that a 1/3" chip camera will always look inferior to the same camera with a 35mm lens adapter attached. That's simply not true. These adapters allow you to use some of the optical nuances of 35mm lenses, mostly the shallower depth of field on a larger surface. That's it. Clearly that's not all there is to "brilliant cinematography!" ;)

You can't really say that the more "filmic" a documentary looks, the better it will be recieved. It's never that simple. For example, many documentary shooters (myself included) try to keep a balance of "veracity" and art in the images. That often means getting in close to the subject with wider lenses and deeper depth of field to put the viewer more into the physical space of the subject, mixed with getting farther away on longer lenses for well-composed objective shots. And for interviews, you always want to choose a style that works best for the telling of your story. Sometimes that means going for a shallow depth of field with a more neutral or abstract background to isolate the interviews subjects, other times it might mean interviewing the person in the context of their work, with plenty of the environment in the frame. 35mm lenses don't automtically give you the most options, or the most compelling image.

As noted 35mm adapters are not really efficient or practical in documentary situations. If you want your interviews to look "pretty" it's not that hard to do with 1/3" or 2/3" systems. And the notion that you don't need to pull focus with shallow depth of field interviews is completely inaccurate! I shoot plenty of 2/3" chip interviews and I pull focus all the time. If you've got enough depth of field to cover you for all stand-up, sit-down, lean forward/back subjects, then you're not gaining any benefit by using a 35mm adapter. You're just getting a softer, lower contrast image with a two-stop loss.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 07:52 PM

If you use the Mini-35 adaptor and get typical 35mm depth-of-field in low light, you need a real focus-puller -- and it becomes even MORE critical in a typical documentary situations where you can't rehearse the action.

As for whether a documentary needs a shallow-focus look, it just depends on the type of documentary.

There are more lyrical, visual documentaries that might benefit from that look, but those are usually shot in a more narrative style and aren't shooting unscripted action. A Ken Burns-type documentary could be shot that way, for example (landscapes, still photos, and talking heads.) But I'd still get a focus puller, partially to just help carry all of those 35mm prime lenses...

Until you shoot in 35mm and see the results on a big screen, you really won't understand how critical the focus is. That type of depth of field should not be taken lightly -- it's a real challenge.
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#10 Jim McMahon

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 08:21 PM

I have used the 35mm adapter for the XL1s, and the depth of field was EXTREMELY SHALLOW. I mean, ridiculously shallow, and we ended up not using them because it would have been nearly impossible to finish our project under the very short time constraints. I thought we were doing something wrong, but now it seems like that's just how it is. Damn!

So, do you find the depth of field to be more or less shallow than shooting actual 35mm?

Thanks for all of your answers. David, your answer really brought it home for me. Thanks everyone!

Sincerely,

Jim
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#11 Michael Nash

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 11:30 PM

So, do you find the depth of field to be more or less shallow than shooting actual 35mm?


These 35mm adapters work by projecting the image onto a 35mm-sized groundglass that is supposed to be collimated at the same distance as the film plane would be. So optically the image on the ground glass has the same depth of field as it would on 35mm film. But the mitigating factor is that these 1/3" chip cameras have lower resolution than 35mm film (and also handicapped slightly by the relay ground glass), so they have a larger effective circle of confusion -- meaning essentially more "grace" or "margin" for the extreme edges of the depth of field.

I guess the short answer is that you can expect 35mm film to have slightly less depth of field than what you'd get from one of these adapters (f-stop, focal length, and distance being equal), especially when projected on a large screen where focus errors are most visible.
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#12 Jonathan Engborg

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 11:47 PM

I don't know if it's relevant... but when I shot with the HVX+mini35 I felt that the mini35 softened the image a little. Maybe that was just us not configurating the adaptor correctly...
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 12:29 AM

I don't know if it's relevant... but when I shot with the HVX+mini35 I felt that the mini35 softened the image a little. Maybe that was just us not configurating the adaptor correctly...


No, that's correct -- rephotographing the image off of a groundglass adds some softening.
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#14 Demian Barba

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 12:52 AM

not very related to the discussion at hand, but does anyone knows the stimated weight of the hvx-200 with the mini 35, a carl-zeiss super speed prime, studio mattbox and focus pull system?

thanks,

demian
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#15 George Lekovic

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 09:17 AM

two notes:

:: when I shot my first feature with PS Technik I was told to keep the 35mm lenses always WideOpen so to avoid seeing grain off the ground glass. For stopping down we were to use an optical device that connected our XL2 to the adapter. In hind sight it makes little sense - but that is what we were told. If true this means you have no control over DOF.

:: as per wanting the shallow DOF so much, because it looks so much more like film, remember that Citizen Cane was hailed (among other things) for its great DOF and what great shots and compositions it allowed for - so shallow DOF does not mean great cinematography...

george
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