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Can Sony HDW F900 do SR?


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#1 Michael Emmett

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 05:29 AM

Okay, hello everybody. My first post. Probably a stupid question...

Can the F900 do SR in 4:4:4 compression? I don't think it can. I think I have to get the HDC 950 for that.

And why doesn't sony.com/professional list the HCD 950? I mean where does a person go to read about it? Do they only sell them in Europe or something?

I'm just looking for confirmation from this forum as I have been reading the pages and everyone seems to know their poop.

Thank you in advance.

Also I am not planning to shoot a film with any SFX/CGI. I only want the best HD quality because if I'm going to be stuck with a camera I want to be able to use it for any type of project in the future. Like a project with lots of SFX/CGI.
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#2 Michael Emmett

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 05:54 AM

And are HDCAM and HDCAM SR two different types of tape? Like can I stick a HDCAM SR tape into a HDC F950, but not in a HDW F900?
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#3 John Ealer

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 10:23 AM

1. The F900 can't do 4:4:4.
2. The 950 is probably no longer listed since it's being replaced by the F23.
3. HDCAM and HDCAM SR use different tapestocks (different metal particle formulations). While I'm SR stock would work probably work in an HDCAM (never tried it), since it costs twice as much, it wouldn't make a lot of sense.

J
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#4 Lance Flores

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 12:59 PM

Okay, hello everybody. My first post. Probably a stupid question...

Can the F900 do SR in 4:4:4 compression? I don't think it can. I think I have to get the HDC 950 for that.

And why doesn't sony.com/professional list the HCD 950? I mean where does a person go to read about it? Do they only sell them in Europe or something?

<snip>

Thank you in advance.

Also I am not planning to shoot a film with any SFX/CGI. I only want the best HD quality because if I'm going to be stuck with a camera I want to be able to use it for any type of project in the future. Like a project with lots of SFX/CGI.


If you're intent is to stay in the realm of HD/DVD/TV then a Sony 900 will be all you need. However, market demands and your "want" for the best HD for the long term, as well as your suggestion that you are planning on"shoot[ing] a film" (or movie feature), you might be best served by the Sony F950 or Viper; something with a 4:4:4 color space. Though viewers wouldn't perceive much difference between 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 on television (generally speaking) there are a number of reasons for the latter.

"[N]ot planning to shoot a film with any SFX/CGI" may be your famous last words. Unless you're planning on doing only documentaries and soap opera stuff, then inevitability, you will be doing CGI of some form; and the better color space and dynamic range [latitude] the better off you will be. This is nature of storytelling involving humans, because much of human thought and perception is abstract and require some presentation of that abstractness in color, visual distortion (alteration of the human 50mm view) or other temporal or spacial/dimensional presentation of a scene/event. In these circumstances you need all the data (image information) you can get out of you acquisition so that your effect, correction, etc. looks natural or real, come edit time. I can't say how many times I?ve expressed vile expletives in the edit room because there wasn?t enough color space to get rid of blue or green traces in certain motion processing, or enough saturation to hold the colors when changing the color temperature of a scene, not to speak of artifacts introduced by errors from tape compression while employing effects.

If you?re decision making for the future and your choice is the F900 or the Cinealta F950, I would choose the F950. But you ought to have an good idea what kind of productions you will be doing. I have a quote from Sony for four 950's with capture stations, but after scrutinizing our needs and what the F950 can provide I?ve decided against the purchase and have chosen a different camera.

Just be sure of your needs and expectations. Without knowing exactly what you want to accomplish, it is hard to advise. If it is HD and not digital cinema, then you can?t go wrong with the F950.
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#5 Michael Emmett

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 03:35 PM

Thank you Lance and John.

My project is a feature. Hopefully to be transfered to film and projected on 52 foot screens. I am using HD for digital cinema. I picked HD over 35mm because I am a computer freak and I figured HD would make the editing process a lot simpler. The project I'm going to do takes place in an urban area (NYC). It is 70% indoor shots, and 30% street/parking lot shots. I figured HD would do the trick.

However, I can't say what I'm going to do in the future. I do know that I want to be able to do something mainly outdoors like "Lord Of The Rings" (which I believe was shot on 35mm, with 5km of film - seems ridiculous compared to a few hard drives). I want to be able to capture the full beauty of nature; mountains, plains, sky, oceans etc. This is why I want 4:4:4.

Am I on the right track?
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#6 Michael Most

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 04:45 PM

I picked HD over 35mm because I am a computer freak and I figured HD would make the editing process a lot simpler.


Editing is exactly the same if you're editing on a computer. The only difference is that you go through telecine prior to digitizing if you're on film. I really don't understand why you would feel shooting on HD has anything to do with "making editing easier."

However, I can't say what I'm going to do in the future. I do know that I want to be able to do something mainly outdoors like "Lord Of The Rings" (which I believe was shot on 35mm, with 5km of film - seems ridiculous compared to a few hard drives). I want to be able to capture the full beauty of nature; mountains, plains, sky, oceans etc. This is why I want 4:4:4.
Am I on the right track?


That depends on what you can afford. And for the record, storing the amount of footage shot for a project like a "Lord of the Rings" picture would take far more than "a few hard drives." The visual effects alone (granted, that was most of the picture) took up over a hundred terabytes - and that was only a fraction of the total exposed footage. Before you start throwing around such terms as "a few hard drives," you need to educate yourself a bit to the reality of what data manipulation entails. Every frame of HD video at 4:4:4 color depth takes up about 8 MB. That means that for every second you roll, you require almost 200 MB, which also means that whatever storage you choose must be capable of at least 200MB per second performance - hardly something you can do with a single drive. And for every minute, that's about 11GB. For every hour, about 700GB. So for every day that you shoot, you need to have about 1.5-2 TB of storage in the field and just as much to back it up. You do the math.

It always seems simple if you've never actually had to do it.
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#7 Michael Emmett

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 06:03 PM

Skipping telecine seems easier to me. Of course this is all just theory to me. Having never done it before.

Edited by Michael Emmett, 29 December 2006 - 06:06 PM.

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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 06:27 PM

Skipping telecine seems easier to me. Of course this is all just theory to me. Having never done it before.


It's just an extra step, an extra day, an extra cost... but it's not "harder" per se, and if you can afford it, the 35mm film, the processing, etc. then the quality is higher.
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#9 Michael Emmett

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 06:33 PM

It's just an extra step, an extra day, an extra cost... but it's not "harder" per se, and if you can afford it, the 35mm film, the processing, etc. then the quality is higher.


When you use a telecine system isn't that basically taking a picture of the film with a digital camera? I would think you loose quality doing this.
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#10 Lance Flores

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 09:31 PM

When you use a telecine system isn't that basically taking a picture of the film with a digital camera? I would think you loose quality doing this.


Wow. Well okay. Now we've got an idea about what you're doing. 52' screen projection from HD is pushing it. If you're going to do that then you ought to be overscanning and do a 2K aquisition rather than doing a 1920x1080. If you're intent on getting the quality I think you're after then you have to think about film or a higher end camera. Michael Most is correct about the "few disks" characterization, and rather conservative on his estimate. Think he was trying not to shock you. I'd be surprised if you could get your movie in done with under 7TB, assuming 2K acquisition and well planned shooting of 3:1 to 5:1.

I understand your drive to go digital, but this must be tempered with what you want to accomplish. So heed David's suggestion about going film, and look hard at shooting with film. If you are convinced you want to go digital then look at moving toward digital cinema rather than the limits of HD, but at the least 2K. We've decided to commit to digital. We also have three feature productions (not all ours) in the cue, negotiating another book deal and writing two more screen plays. So our digital investment is a wash. And here?s some numbers to sober you.

We are shooting with two crews; one for the period shoot and one for the contemporary. Each frame is 46.088MB; 4K 4:4:4 uncompressed. Our SAN storage system is 72TB expanding to 112TB to accommodate the next film while we are editing this one. Scenes: 75% INT, 23% EXT, 1% Other. This should give you an idea what you?re looking at for storage. Of course if you?re in for the long haul ... you can reuse that same space for the next film.

If you work efficiently, shoot 2K, and PreVis everything you can get it in under 7TB and in budget.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 09:45 PM

Sure, 35mm transferred to HD loses some quality since 35mm is more like 4K, not 1.9K, and has more exposure range, better color, etc.

But compared to most HD cameras, 35mm-to-HD looks better than HD origination since you are essentially "oversampling" the image by shooting at a higher quality, with more resolution, and then reducing it to HD, compared to shooting in HD in the first place. Plus you can take advantage of the extra stops of overexposure information that film will capture that the HD camera won't capture.

At some point, visual comparisons start to break down because you are comparing a film image to a digital image. I mean, even a halfway decent DV camera can record a pretty clean, low-noise image whereas film has grain to it.
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#12 Michael Most

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 09:11 AM

If you work efficiently, shoot 2K, and PreVis everything you can get it in under 7TB and in budget.


You cannot "shoot 2K" with any currently available electronic device other than the Dalsa. Every one of the cameras currently available is HD resolution, and that includes the Viper, the Genesis, and the D20. Except for the Dalsa, there is currently no such thing as a 2K motion picture camera. Other than one that records on film, of course.
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#13 Lance Flores

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 11:30 AM

You cannot "shoot 2K" with any currently available electronic device other than the Dalsa. Every one of the cameras currently available is HD resolution, and that includes the Viper, the Genesis, and the D20. Except for the Dalsa, there is currently no such thing as a 2K motion picture camera. Other than one that records on film, of course.


Actually there are a number at various stages of development and production. We just completed testing on the 35mm 2K camera we will be using for some of our shots, and will begin testing the 4K 65mm camera at some of our interior and exterior practical locations as well as building the first profiles and LUT's, on the week of January 13th.
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#14 Balazs Rozsa

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 11:57 AM

You cannot "shoot 2K" with any currently available electronic device other than the Dalsa. Every one of the cameras currently available is HD resolution, and that includes the Viper, the Genesis, and the D20. Except for the Dalsa, there is currently no such thing as a 2K motion picture camera.


A few years ago I read the D20 can output the full data from its 6Mpixel sensor (internally downsampling to HD was the other option). I haven't heard about that since then. Maybe they gave up on that feature.
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#15 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 12:08 PM

A few years ago I read the D20 can output the full data from its 6Mpixel sensor (internally downsampling to HD was the other option). I haven't heard about that since then. Maybe they gave up on that feature.


It's only been recently implemented but I'm not sure what the pixel dimensions are of the data files. Bigger than 1920 x 1080 I think.

This is what the ARRI website says:

In Video Mode, the data coming from the D-20 sensor is processed live in the camera. Color reconstruction is performed simultaneously as the 2880 x 1620 pixel grid is converted to 1920 x 1080 resolution. A sophisticated on-board color management system has been implemented to optimize the camera's performance for different lighting situations including blue and green screen work. In Video Mode, the D-20 can supply a variety of standard HD video signals for different recording formats, including HDCAM SR, thus allowing the D-20 to integrate seamlessly into existing HD infrastructures.

In Film Mode, the unprocessed data from the sensor is output directly to the recorder. Similar to a film negative, this data must first be „developed“ in an off-line process involving complex 3D Look Up Tables (LUTs) before it is usable or even viewable. The advantage is that all the image information captured by the sensor is retained, and being able to use more processing power in post production results in higher image quality. The live HD output can still be used for monitoring and as a guide for color grading. The grading parameters can be stored as metadata with the unprocessed image data.
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#16 Michael Most

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 02:33 PM

Actually there are a number at various stages of development and production. We just completed testing on the 35mm 2K camera we will be using for some of our shots, and will begin testing the 4K 65mm camera at some of our interior and exterior practical locations as well as building the first profiles and LUT's, on the week of January 13th.


Mention names and educate us. As far as I know, what I said still stands, there are none that are currently available in any kind of production version - and that includes Silicon Imaging, which is probably the closest one to actual production. Testing is one thing. Using is another. I don't know of any studio or intelligent production financing entity that would approve untested equipment for actual production. In fact, there are at least two studios that will not currently approve any kind of electronic production for theatrical releases.

One can live in the real world in which you don't use early prototypes that don't conform to any existing standards for actual production work. Or one can live in another world in which anything goes and reality means little. It's an individual choice.
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#17 Michael Most

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 02:51 PM

One can live in the real world in which you don't use early prototypes that don't conform to any existing standards for actual production work. Or one can live in another world in which anything goes and reality means little. It's an individual choice.


Sorry, I just re-read that and it's not what I really intended to say. If I could delete here, I would, but that doesn't seem to be possible.

If you're doing 4K production electronically now, you're probably using the Dalsa, and judging by the figures you're quoting for storage, that would likely be the case. I did mention earlier that the Dalsa is the exception to my contention that there aren't any electronic production cameras higher than HD resolution. Talking about using things like Red and SI that aren't released yet - and thus in my mind don't therefore exist at the moment - is jumping the gun. Complex technology, contrary to some currently common beliefs, does not arrive out of the box heavily tested, proven, bulletproof, flexible, and reliable. It arrives with problems that have to be solved over time, and when millions are on the line, you don't want to be wasting those production dollars on an "iffy" capture system, especially when you could do it on film and not have to think about any of those issues. One of my favorite sayings - never more appropriate than now - has always been "just because you can do something doesn't mean you should." In many, many cases, the only real justification for electronic production - given the current conditions surrounding it - is that it's cheaper than film. But that is not always the case, and if it isn't the case, there should be other justification for it, and there often isn't.
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#18 Michael Emmett

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 03:11 PM

In many, many cases, the only real justification for electronic production - given the current conditions surrounding it - is that it's cheaper than film. But that is not always the case, and if it isn't the case, there should be other justification for it, and there often isn't.


Hmm. According to David, the makers of "Collateral" had a very good reason to use HD.

It's a hard decision to make.
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#19 Michael Most

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 04:11 PM

It's a hard decision to make.


Not if you're experienced, know what you're doing, and know what you want to wind up with.
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#20 Michael Emmett

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 02:37 AM

Not if you're experienced, know what you're doing, and know what you want to wind up with.


I really shouldn't even care. I mean I could goto someone and say, "Get a couple of cameras and find a lab."

I'm trying to understand the technology involved in the process.
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