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DV vs. HD


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#1 Tim Bartell

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 07:42 AM

I'm going to direct a series of shorts for online distribution. Debating whether to shoot in 24p DV or to try HD for the first time. It will be a 6 day shoot on a tight budget. I want to shoot with 2 cameras. All the shorts are in one locale - a mock trial, probably on a sound stage. The idea is to well-light the principals, but surround them with surreal darkness. (Think a bit of the war room in "Dr. Strangelove." Without Kubrick's directing talent or budget.)

I like what I have been seeing of HD, even in low-budget shoots screening at festivals. I feel like HD is a nice step-up from DV. But I have seen and heard about troubles in contrast, especially with darkness, using a camera like the HVX-200. Also heard that the film lens packages on the HPX-500 can offer problems in that area. I like the idea of experimenting with HD, especially as I move toward trying to shoot features. But I've already shot in 24p DV, and it handled the low-key lighting and darkness in that shoot so well. (All credit to my talented DP.) Though we will probably play at some fests, our main distribution will be online. I'm wondering if the cost differential of HD over DV is worth it? Given our tight budget, and that most people will be viewing the work on a 2" x 3" space.

I'm open to any thoughts any of you might have. Thanks for taking the time to read my novella of a post.
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#2 Walter Graff

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 11:05 AM

You will gain little shooting HD over DV for web distribution. HD is simply a bigger size version of SD and that shows up with a 40 inch TV set but on a 400x300 web movie the advantages are lost. HD was invented so one could see a picture on a larger set that was slightly closer and not perceive retrace lines in a picture so when it comes to under 38"s of viewing area HD becomes no better than SD. Also 24p will offer you little more over simply shooting 30p. Below is a low rez example of a spot I'm working on. We shot in 30p. Because progressive fills in the gaps of interlaced, the 30p has very much the same motion characteristics as 24p on a progressive computer screen at this size. You'll get a slight bit more of a blur with 24p motion (what we call film-like in terms of viewing) but I find that the differences aren't enough at this size to worry and become more subjective taste than rule.

http://www.bluesky-w...ond4001H264.mov
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 03:30 PM

I like what I have been seeing of HD, even in low-budget shoots screening at festivals. I feel like HD is a nice step-up from DV. But I have seen and heard about troubles in contrast, especially with darkness, using a camera like the HVX-200. Also heard that the film lens packages on the HPX-500 can offer problems in that area. I like the idea of experimenting with HD, especially as I move toward trying to shoot features. But I've already shot in 24p DV, and it handled the low-key lighting and darkness in that shoot so well. (All credit to my talented DP.) Though we will probably play at some fests, our main distribution will be online. I'm wondering if the cost differential of HD over DV is worth it? Given our tight budget, and that most people will be viewing the work on a 2" x 3" space.


Don't confuse the camera with the format. Some HD cameras perform well in low light, other don't. Same with 24p DV- the results you got were from that camera, not the format. There's more than one camera that can shoot standard def 24P.

I agree with Walter that standard def holds up just fine on the web, and even a screen as large as your SD TV at home (DVD's are standard def, after all). Larger screens (like festival projection) is where you start to see the difference between SD and HD.

If you want to step up from shooting MiniDV (assuming you were using a 1/3" chip camera like the DVX100), you can try a 2/3" chip SD camera that does 24P like the Panasonic SDX900 or Sony's DSR450. Stepping up to good quality 2/3" broadcast lenses will do a lot for your production value over prosumer cameras.

And speaking of lenses, you don't need to use 35mm film lenses with 2/3" cameras like the HPX500. The larger chip size alone allows for a significantly shallower depth of field than 1/3" cameras, where 35mm lens adapters are really the only option to create a shallower depth of field.

But if you're only talking about swapping out prosumer SD cameras for prosumer HD cameras, there really shouldn't be any cost difference other than hard drive space for the footage. There is a small rental difference between say two DVX100's and two JVCHD100's, for example, but if a few hundred dollars is a dealbreaker for your production then you probably can't afford to "step up" on this project anyway...
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#4 Tim Bartell

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 01:33 AM

Thanks! Excellent input, guys. Much obliged.
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