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Could the HVX200 be used to shoot an Indie feature?


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#1 Shaun Kendall

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 01:23 PM

I'm thinking of purchasing an HVX200 and was wondering if it is a good enough camera to shoot a feature that would have the possibility to be transferred to film and shown in theaters. From what I understand, if you shoot in true HD you can transfer it to film and still have very good quality. I assume that 1080p would be sufficient for this, but I'm unsure on that point.

I know there are adapters available for the HVX200 that would allow you to use 35mm lenses with it, so I could rent those.

Just wondering if this camera would have the ability, or if it's really only good enough for television/DVD.

Thank,
Shaun Kendall
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#2 Mr. Shannon W. Rawls

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 02:20 PM

short answer: ABSOLUTELY!

the HVX200 is a phenomenal camera. Be sure to do your full research and as much due diligence so you will fully understand the capabilities of the camera beforehand. Especially in terms of your projects visual style. If you do this, your movie will come out looking wonderful.
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#3 Chris Burke

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 03:36 PM

I assume that 1080p would be sufficient for this, but I'm unsure on that point.

I know there are adapters available for the HVX200 that would allow you to use 35mm lenses with it, so I could rent those.

Just wondering if this camera would have the ability, or if it's really only good enough for television/DVD.

Thank,
Shaun Kendall



For a feature ,1080p would be the best way to go, but perhaps not with this camera. I know of a feature that shot in Colorado that used this camera. They found that 720p was far more reliable format to shoot with. Some issues arose with the P2 cards in 1080 mode, they opted to shoot 720. For a feature, you may want to spend the money you would on the camera, renting a much better one with better glass. The adapters you speak of are a compromise any way you cut it. Some produce better results than others, but I have seen and heard of less than stellar results when blowing up for the big screen. Keep in mind, the cost of the camera, the P2 cards, the P2 reader, the adapter, the cine lenses will probably cost more than renting a much better format camera for the length of your shoot.
On a side note, shooting with the P2 cards is kinda like shooting with film where you have to reloads the mags more often, depending upon the format chosen. You said HD, so that will be often. On the project I mentioned before that chose to shoot 720p, they were constantly changing out cards and dumping them onto a hard drive. In the course of the shoot, they erased several of them with out any back up. That mistake cost them about 20k in reshoots. If you go the tapeless route, be careful.

Chris
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#4 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 03:46 PM

The HVX200 is actually quite good.

Do you really think that your independent movie would go to film? More likely to DVD in which case it would look excellent. Not to say that your movie couldn't get a film out, but most don't. Anyway, it is a good camera and for that price/quality range it should suit your needs.

Cheers!
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#5 Jonathan Engborg

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 04:06 PM

I would have to emphasize what zaefod said... Make sure to have the workflow figured out before you start shooting. I shot a student short with the HVX200+Mini35 and a lot of work and manpower was spent on copying the cards and backing them up. Be sure to have at least one set of harddrives used for backup only. When a HD dies there is no tape to go back to... We used two setups of two 400gig harddrives for backup only... Maybe 2 backups was a bit to much, but then you never know.

The Camera setup was great though! :)
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#6 Mr. Shannon W. Rawls

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 04:10 PM

On the project I mentioned before that chose to shoot 720p, they were constantly changing out cards and dumping them onto a hard drive. In the course of the shoot, they erased several of them with out any back up. That mistake cost them about 20k in reshoots. If you go the tapeless route, be careful.

Lord have mercy! I too know someone who lost a scene because of P2 error. He had to cut his move around it because he couldn't afford to re-shoot the scene. I also know of a reality show that lost its P2 footage. Luckily, they discovered it early and were able to re-shoot it that same day. The shows producer went back to Digi-Beta after that episode. But your Colorado story is the biggest horror story i've heard thus far.

Sheesh, what can one do with $20,000.00????

- buy and own 4 JVC HD100's
- buy and own 2 Canon XL-H1's + 2 tripods + 2 mattboxes + 2 indi-follow focuses + a box of HD tapes
- buy and own 1 Canon XL-H1 + a P&S mini35 adapter + a full set of good pre-owened zeiss superspeeds
- buy and own a new Sony XDCAM HD
- buy and own a RED
- buy and own a pimped-out sound department, with a fancy cart, mixer, PD6 or DEVA IV 8 ch. timecode recorder & all the wireless mics you'll ever need
- blow up an HD feature movie to 35mm film
- buy and own a truckload of lights (including an assortment of all the kino-flo's and even a couple HMI's)
- buy and own a cube-truck to carry it in
- send your parents on an all-expense paid vacation anywhere in the world and say "thanks for being you!"
- downpayment on a house in southern california to be used as income property for the rest of your life

or

of course....

- you can re-hire your cast, re-hire your crew, re-rent the location & re-shoot your lost scene using your HVX200.
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 04:18 PM

Hi,

Having seen them all side-by-side on high grade monitors, I have to say that the HVX is probably my last choice on raw picture quality. Mainly, that's down to noise, which would appear to be a direct tradeoff for the variable framerate functionality. The pictures, give or take progressive scan, were utterly eclipsed by the XLH1.

Also, it's a complete waste of time to shoot 1080 on the HVX; the chips aren't even 720, so you're just using the same space to record the same data spread out over a larger compression radius!

P2 is utterly, utterly horrible to post as well - a complete abortion of an idea and a completely unforgivable vandalism of MXF which we are now likely to be stuck with for some time.

Phil
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 04:59 PM

Also, it's a complete waste of time to shoot 1080 on the HVX; the chips aren't even 720, so you're just using the same space to record the same data spread out over a larger compression radius!


If 1080 is your target delivery though, would it be better to record 1080 in camera or upconvert the 720 in post?
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#9 Mr. Shannon W. Rawls

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 05:05 PM

Mike,
many people still record 720p and upconvert to 1080i/p because they trust a software upconvert of 720p over what the camera can do.

HOWEVER,

Barry Green....arguably the most knowledgable "real-world" person on the planet when it comes to the HVX200 still advises everyone to shoot 1080i/p with the HVX200 because it produces a better image then 720p. In fact, Barry shoots exclusively in 1080 with his HVX200. Why most people don't listen to him, I don't know....I personally think they are just trying to save P2 card space, but using "720p is better" as an excuse so they don't look like $$$ & time is the issue.

me personally, I would do whatever Barry advises.
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#10 Michael Nash

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 05:11 PM

The Panasonic reps will also tell you that 1080 will look slightly better than 720 (screen size being equal), because of simple oversampling (but that's a rep talking). I wonder how much the compression difference is really visible?

I've never been able to compare the two recordings side-by-side, so it's only theory to me at this point until I can get more real-world feedback.
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#11 Chris Keth

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 05:35 PM

I'm sure the camera could be used that way. In fact, I would be EXTREMELY surprised if a feature hasn't already been shot with one.
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#12 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 05:46 PM

People are definately shooting features on this camera but as people have mentioned it has its difficulities.

Realize that going tapeless adds time either on set or in post or both. Its a good idea to have one person dedicated to down loading the P2 cards, backing up, file naming and management. This should probably be the assistant editor, that way he/she can keep everything really clean and will have less problems organizing and loading the footage into your editing system when the time comes. keeping a database of your shoot is also a good idea. If you edit in an Avid all the files will need to be transcoded before you can view them at high res.

As for image quality, Phil is right that the HVX200 can be pretty noisy but I have to say that in a test I did about a month ago with VER of the panasonic HD line there were lighting conditions under which the camera performed great, and could be intercut with the vaircam. the HVX200 is not such a hot low light camera though.

As for adapters check out the red rock adopter and see what you think, just keep in mind that any such device for that camera is going to throw the balance way off so if you are doing hand held it will be almost as silly as shooting on an XLH1 hand held.

shoot 1080p and don't worry about what the critics say, you will be fine.

Wearing my post supervisor hat for a moment, I spent two months trying to make tapeless workflow feasable for my company and it just isn't. But I work in TV and in TV you always need a camera master because that is part of the backup / delivery requirements, so going tapeless is more expensive and more time consuming for TV since it means creating tape back-up in post which is more difficult than just recording to tape in the first place. I don't exactly know what people are doing on the indi feature side, the stories I have heard from friends thus far have been scary, people going tapeless are playing fast and loose with their files. As others have said, be caraefull!
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#13 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 11:00 PM

Its a good idea to have one person dedicated to down loading the P2 cards, backing up, file naming and management

That is KEY. Not only should someone be offloading and moving p2 cards back to set... someone should be responsible for the footage once it leaves the camera and in communication with the script super on which clips stay and which ones go. Your HD space will fill up pretty quickly if your taking all the footage and not just circle takes. I just did a short film with the HVX where we did have a guy offloading and moving the p2 cards from cpu to camera all the time... but mistakes were made by the Scripty and a circle take was mistaken for a non circle take and we had to a reshoot. So make sure they know whats going on.

Edited by Chayse Irvin, 11 July 2006 - 11:05 PM.

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#14 Mr. Shannon W. Rawls

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 11:15 PM

mistakes were made by the Scripty and a circle take was mistaken for a non circle take and we had to a reshoot.

Wow, two horror stories in 8 hours on the same website. Thank goodness you guys caught it before you wrapped the day out and went home (or worse, wrapped the movie).

If I used P2, I wouldn't delete anything on the day of the shoot. I would keep it all....including mistakes. *smile*
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#15 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 11:57 PM

I worked on an indie feature as a B camera operator a few weeks ago, and I have to say that the bad hype is overrated.

This camera is wonderful and the workflow is simple. Get 2 8 gig cards and you have 40 minutes of 720p 24 pn which looks great.

Hooke it up to a P+S technik adapter with 35 mm primes and you have a gorgeous image.

I've come to the conclusion that it's either film or digital digital, no more "digital to tape". Instant playback and the versatility of that camera is great.
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#16 Alexandre Lucena

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 06:32 AM

blow up an HD feature movie to 35mm film

with US 20,000.00. Where Shannon?
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#17 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 09:07 AM

Hi,

I have worked as a data recording engineer on various productions and I take a very dim view of deleting "unwanted" takes. You aren't objective enough on set; modern directors, especially commercials directors, are apt to assemble scenes from a variety of takes, and I think that it's unreasonable to expect the end-to-end-perfect take to ever exist.

Equip yourself to keep everything and maintain film-style camera discipline. Said discipline has been absolutely laughable on many digital shoots I've done on both tape and data and it is incredibly unhelpful.

Phil
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#18 Mr. Shannon W. Rawls

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 10:34 AM

I feel you Jamie.....me, I like the "digital to digital+tape" which is the best of both worlds. (ala firestore).

My XL-H1's will be the last "tape based" camera I buy. When the time comes to upgrade, I feel safe with XDCAM cartridges or direct to hard drive. While I completely trust the compact flash card in my D-SLR to take a single photo when out on vacation with my wife, I am not confident enough in technology (especially with horror stories popping up every single day) to take 24 pictures per second for 60-180 seconds at a time totalling over 60 minutes in one day when out doing my day job. Maybe in a couple years when all the kinks are worked out, but P2 was introduced only in 2003.....I'm not interested in beta testing the technology with my movies on a $5k cam. Even Panasonics newest camera on the market, the new soon-to-be-released HDX900 is still tape based. To me, that proves Panasonic still knows better then to gamble with P2 with their "big spenders".

One things for sure....even XDCAM and Hard Drive recording formats will be a thing of the past, and solid state will take over. And guess who will be at the helm of the ship.... PANASONIC! They are the pioneers of that technology. I'll just wait a bit until it's all worked out. *smile*

Alexandre, www.DVFILM.com will do it for $20k. Read the 1st FAQ at this link: http://www.dvfilm.com/faq.htm

Phil, I agree 101%

Edited by ShannonRawls, 12 July 2006 - 10:38 AM.

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#19 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 11:50 AM

Even Panasonics newest camera on the market, the new soon-to-be-released HDX900 is still tape based. To me, that proves Panasonic still knows better then to gamble with P2 with their "big spenders".


That's right if they go tapeless with cameras that will be used by television productions they will be shooting themselves in the foot. Frankly the tapeless workflow has limited applications in the professional world unless there are significant changes in the way televison and film production companies work.

One things for sure....even XDCAM and Hard Drive recording formats will be a thing of the past, and solid state will take over. And guess who will be at the helm of the ship.... PANASONIC! They are the pioneers of that technology. I'll just wait a bit until it's all worked out. *smile*


I disagree that this is "for sure." Reality TV, news, large budget features, and docs shoot way too much footage for solid state to be a real option, also don't forget about stock footage libraries. What people tent to forget is that tape is cheap, stable and an archival format (although not a great one). Computer files and hard drives are not that robust and therefore not archival formats, despite being fairly cheap at this point. The removable media of the XDCAM system is viewed by many as a step in the right direction, it provides the ease of transition to post with a camera master, but the problem with XDCAM is the use of GOP compression which some of us won't touch with a ten foot pole as long as Panasonic is making interframe HD compression products for the same price. The problem with Panasonic is that rumors abound that they may be leaving the DVCPRO codec line in the near future which makes me not want to spend $200,000 on equiping my company with their gear if there is a chance that in 2 - 4 years it will be unsupported.
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#20 Shaun Kendall

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 12:23 PM

Hi,

Having seen them all side-by-side on high grade monitors, I have to say that the HVX is probably my last choice on raw picture quality. Mainly, that's down to noise, which would appear to be a direct tradeoff for the variable framerate functionality. The pictures, give or take progressive scan, were utterly eclipsed by the XLH1.

Also, it's a complete waste of time to shoot 1080 on the HVX; the chips aren't even 720, so you're just using the same space to record the same data spread out over a larger compression radius!

P2 is utterly, utterly horrible to post as well - a complete abortion of an idea and a completely unforgivable vandalism of MXF which we are now likely to be stuck with for some time.

Phil


Phil, what HD camera would you suggest (under $10,000) that would be better? I'd like to use the camera to shoot a feature (which I know I'd be better off renting a 35mm or 16mm camera, but I'm wanting to purchase one since I'd also like to use it for future films and projects).

Thanks,
Shaun Kendall
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