Jump to content


Photo

Obsessed with Pixelvision


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 Thomas Worth

Thomas Worth
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 372 posts
  • Director
  • Los Angeles

Posted 18 September 2007 - 01:53 AM

Ok, I know Brad mentioned the whole PXL2000 thing as nothing more than a witty comeback, but it really got me thinking about using this camera. I mean, I've thought about it before, but this time I decided I was going to shoot something. I'd like to explain what I did, in case someone also wants to try shooting with the PXL.

So, a buddy of mine had one sitting on the shelf that worked but wouldn't record properly. I think the belts are stretched out because it won't turn the tape reliably. Anyway, he let me borrow it and I underwent the task of modifying it to send the composite video signal out the single RCA jack instead of the RF signal.

Doing the composite out mod was easy. You can simply re-route the pure video signal to the RF output jack, and cut the connection between RF and the jack so it doesn't interfere. At this point, you can use the camera, but the video signal is weak. It needs what several web sites refer to as a "buffer amp." Well, to make a long story short I was able to build one by scavenging electronic components off some non-functioning crap I had lying around (a monitor, mostly). After I installed this, the signal was much stronger and the picture brighter.

I have a Sony GV-D900 portable MiniDV deck that I used to record the video signal. The deck is battery powered, so you can strap it over your shoulder and run a single RCA cable to it from the deck. It records the footage 29.97 (more on this later).

Another mod is removing what looks like a little blue square from in front of the camera's lens. Several sites advise removing it because it becomes fogged over time and makes the image look bad. I ended up taking it out, but after I did this and shot some stuff I realized that is some type of infrared filter. The image is bright, but you are recording a lot of IR along with visible light.

About the 29.97 thing: this camera indeed records 15fps, but it adds some kind of pulldown to the video to make it 29.97! Either that, or the deck is doing it. Every other frame is interlaced, a combination of adjacent frames. Pretty brilliant.

Here are some grabs (640x480). Can anyone guess where I shot it?

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image
  • 0

#2 Brad Grimmett

Brad Grimmett
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2660 posts
  • Steadicam Operator
  • Los Angeles

Posted 18 September 2007 - 03:23 AM

Thomas, you're too funny!
Looks like the 3rd St bridge to me.
  • 0

#3 Kevin Zanit

Kevin Zanit
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1223 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • LA

Posted 18 September 2007 - 03:52 AM

Interesting, I'm going to guess the Sepulveda Dam by the 101/ 405 split (just north of the freeway, about 80% of all car commercials are shot there ;)

Posted Image
  • 0

#4 Thomas Worth

Thomas Worth
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 372 posts
  • Director
  • Los Angeles

Posted 18 September 2007 - 04:02 AM

Interesting, I'm going to guess the Sepulveda Dam by the 101/ 405 split (just north of the freeway, about 80% of all car commercials are shot there ;)

Yep, you got it. Although I had originally planned to shoot downtown. I probably would have shot at the 3rd street bridge if I'd made it down there. I've shot lots of stills over the years in that area.

I'll post an edit when I get some time to work on it.
  • 0

#5 Freya Black

Freya Black
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4161 posts
  • Other
  • Went over the edge... Central Europe

Posted 18 September 2007 - 04:44 AM

I have a Sony GV-D900 portable MiniDV deck that I used to record the video signal. The deck is battery powered, so you can strap it over your shoulder and run a single RCA cable to it from the deck. It records the footage 29.97 (more on this later).

Another mod is removing what looks like a little blue square from in front of the camera's lens. Several sites advise removing it because it becomes fogged over time and makes the image look bad. I ended up taking it out, but after I did this and shot some stuff I realized that is some type of infrared filter. The image is bright, but you are recording a lot of IR along with visible light.

About the 29.97 thing: this camera indeed records 15fps, but it adds some kind of pulldown to the video to make it 29.97! Either that, or the deck is doing it. Every other frame is interlaced, a combination of adjacent frames. Pretty brilliant.

Here are some grabs (640x480). Can anyone guess where I shot it?


The camera has to output a 29.97 signal because it's made to connect to TV's and VHS video recorders. If it output a 15fps signal, none of the equipment out there would understand it. I'm facinated by the fact that there are interlaced fields. I've never noticed them but I may not have been capturing at a high enough resolution. I assume the extra fields don't contain extra information and are just a blend of the frames either side? I can't imagine the pxl sensor being interlaced as it's too low res. The creator of this camera was preety amazing! You know it can actually record video and audio on one side of a cassette tape. The cassetes are flippable so you can record on the other side too. As the audio is on one channel the video all has to fit in a single cassette channel! Of course a 90 minute chrome cassette lasts for only 10 minutes but even so!

I really like the footage you shot Thomas but you should be able to get more detailed images than these with a DV deck. The images look blown out a bit. There is a neutral density filter on the lens that you can rotate into use for bright sunlight but I'm wondering if you are having problems because of the removal of the IR filter. It does get fogged because apparently the plastic casing of the pxl gives off a gas over time as it decomposes! :) You can clean the lens if you still have it however and put it back in.

Also I've always wondered if you remove the filter whether you could do IR cinematography with it.
Maybe you could have a go!

I don't care what anyone says, I love pixelvision!

Looking forward to seeing your video!

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 18 September 2007 - 04:45 AM.

  • 0

#6 Thomas Worth

Thomas Worth
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 372 posts
  • Director
  • Los Angeles

Posted 18 September 2007 - 06:15 AM

I really like the footage you shot Thomas but you should be able to get more detailed images than these with a DV deck. The images look blown out a bit. There is a neutral density filter on the lens that you can rotate into use for bright sunlight but I'm wondering if you are having problems because of the removal of the IR filter. It does get fogged because apparently the plastic casing of the pxl gives off a gas over time as it decomposes! :) You can clean the lens if you still have it however and put it back in.

Yes, not only was I using the on-camera ND, but I also had to cut pieces of ND gel and put them in front of the lens. It was very blown out. I suspect this is due to the massive amount of IR getting into the lens with basically nothing to stop it. I tried cleaning the little IR filter that goes inside the lens, but it was still pretty foggy. I might try putting it back in anyway, just to see if I can cut down on the IR. Or I might just try to fit a glass IR filter on there somehow.

Regarding the interlaced thing, I went back and looked at the captures but not all of the footage contains the strange interlacing. Here's a still from one of the interlaced parts. Maybe the timing of the video signal is slightly off due to the signal amp. Tell me what you make of it:

Posted Image

Also I've always wondered if you remove the filter whether you could do IR cinematography with it.
Maybe you could have a go!

I think you can absolutely do it! By fitting the lens with a visible light filter, I think you could shoot some pretty decent IR. I'll try it next time!
  • 0

#7 Freya Black

Freya Black
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4161 posts
  • Other
  • Went over the edge... Central Europe

Posted 18 September 2007 - 06:39 AM

Yes, not only was I using the on-camera ND, but I also had to cut pieces of ND gel and put them in front of the lens. It was very blown out. I suspect this is due to the massive amount of IR getting into the lens with basically nothing to stop it. I tried cleaning the little IR filter that goes inside the lens, but it was still pretty foggy. I might try putting it back in anyway, just to see if I can cut down on the IR. Or I might just try to fit a glass IR filter on there somehow.


I kind of love that you have decided to shoot beautiful models on a landscape renkowned for car adverts.
The blown out photography sort of adds to the effect.
It's the total opposite you expect for a camera that is renowned for having to stop production because the images it produced were too frightening for the children.

I guess this is what people mean when they say that if you can shoot DV you can save more money for the production in front of the lens. Should be even more so with the fisher price. ;)

Anyways, you should be able to get results that look like really bad S8 Tri-x gone wrong.

There must be a way of cleaning the filter. Unfortunately I don't know what it is!
Maybe if you soak it in warm detergent/soapy water over night or something?
OTOH if you can find a suitable filter for the lens then maybe that would be better as you could take it off for when you wanted to shoot IR.

Regarding the interlaced thing, I went back and looked at the captures but not all of the footage contains the strange interlacing. Here's a still from one of the interlaced parts. Maybe the timing of the video signal is slightly off due to the signal amp. Tell me what you make of it:


:) I have no idea. It does look interlacy, however the sensor in the pxl is quite slow and is renowned for leaving trails on faster movement, that combined with the fact it's really pixely might be making it look interlaced. Strangely on my screen it doesn't look quite like the normal interlacing effect or like the pxls pixelation effect either!

I think you can absolutely do it! By fitting the lens with a visible light filter, I think you could shoot some pretty decent IR. I'll try it next time!


Please do! I'd love to see the results!

love

Freya
  • 0

#8 Brad Grimmett

Brad Grimmett
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2660 posts
  • Steadicam Operator
  • Los Angeles

Posted 18 September 2007 - 04:23 PM

Interesting, I'm going to guess the Sepulveda Dam by the 101/ 405 split (just north of the freeway, about 80% of all car commercials are shot there ;)

Posted Image

Ah, of course! Drats, I'm wrong again!
Those stills look pretty cool by the way. If they were higher resolution I could imagine seeing them as a spread for one of the big fashion houses.
  • 0

#9 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11939 posts
  • Other

Posted 18 September 2007 - 05:11 PM

Thomas, you'll have to tell Whitney we all think she looks like a model at 120x90!

Phil
  • 0

#10 Luke Prendergast

Luke Prendergast
  • Sustaining Members
  • 491 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Victoria Australia

Posted 19 September 2007 - 05:53 AM

Those shots are very reminiscent of Tori Amos' Super 8 clips from Scarlet's Walk. Nice.
  • 0

#11 Kenny N Suleimanagich

Kenny N Suleimanagich
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 900 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • New York

Posted 19 September 2007 - 10:11 PM

You should check out Richard Linklaters film Slacker, theres a couple of shots where they used pixelvision and it looks really neat in the setting.

Edited by Kenny N Suleimanagich, 19 September 2007 - 10:13 PM.

  • 0

#12 Max Jacoby

Max Jacoby
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2955 posts
  • Other

Posted 20 September 2007 - 02:55 AM

These shots look great!
  • 0

#13 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5070 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 20 September 2007 - 05:16 AM

These shots look great!


Yes, they have a strange dream like quality or fractured memories perhaps.
  • 0

#14 Freya Black

Freya Black
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4161 posts
  • Other
  • Went over the edge... Central Europe

Posted 20 September 2007 - 07:23 AM

Thomas, you'll have to tell Whitney we all think she looks like a model at 120x90!

Phil


I actually thought there were 2 different girls as one appears to have dark hair and the other lighter! :)

She must look very beautiful in real life too! Believe me the pxl has a LOT of optical distortion going on, it doesn't make people look more beautiful, quite the reverse. (Probably another reason it scared the children). It has this plastic lens that must have cost tuppence to make and add to that it's fairly wide angle and add to that the sensor is tiny so the focal length must be some very tiny number. C-mount lenses are allegedly all preety telephoto on the thing.

Whitney must be very beautiful in real life, she just chose not to be a model.
Maybe she will be a film actress instead.

I actually figured that Thomas had made some model friends on a commercial shoot or something and talked them into helping him out for a bit of fun.

love

Freya
  • 0

#15 James Steven Beverly

James Steven Beverly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4199 posts
  • Director
  • El Paso, Texas

Posted 20 September 2007 - 11:04 PM

My favorite Pixelvision movie is a little film called Nadja (994) with Peter Fonda where the Pixelvision images were used as the vampire's POV. It worked remarkably well. One of these days I'm gonna pick up one of these little suckers. Can't a standard IR filter be adapted to these cameras to deal with the blowout and fading problems? I mean SOMEONE HAS to have adapted a small mattbox from a s8 or still 35mm camera or something to one by now. :huh:

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 20 September 2007 - 11:06 PM.

  • 0

#16 Thomas Worth

Thomas Worth
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 372 posts
  • Director
  • Los Angeles

Posted 23 September 2007 - 08:55 PM

I actually figured that Thomas had made some model friends on a commercial shoot or something and talked them into helping him out for a bit of fun.

There's certainly no shortage of attractive actors in LA that need material for their acting reels. Almost 100% of the time they'll agree to do small projects like this as long as you give them a copy of the footage.

Can't a standard IR filter be adapted to these cameras to deal with the blowout and fading problems?

This should be accomplished pretty easily. The camera already has a kind of "matte box" in the form a rubber shade that contains the glass clear / ND filter. You could just replace it with an IR, or visible light, or your own ND. In fact you could probably just glue a step down ring in there and screw in these filters.
  • 0

#17 Andy_Alderslade

Andy_Alderslade
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1055 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London, UK

Posted 25 September 2007 - 04:16 AM

This discussion is a great antidote to the Red forum pages!

Thomas, I saw the clip you posted, great stuff!
  • 0


rebotnix Technologies

Technodolly

Wooden Camera

The Slider

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

Paralinx LLC

CineTape

Opal

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

FJS International, LLC

Abel Cine

CineLab

Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

Visual Products

Wooden Camera

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

CineTape

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Willys Widgets

rebotnix Technologies

CineLab

FJS International, LLC

Ritter Battery

Opal