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Considering HD for start up company camera


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#1 Steve Nayhi

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 06:21 AM

Hello everyone,

Glad to be a part of this website.

As the title states, seeing as how the prices of many prosumer HD cameras have dropped to the $3,000 mark, I've been considering HD as the medium of choice for my newly formed production company. I'm not doing it to simply avoid being obsolete -- I just think that, in principle, HD will always offer a quality advantage over most SD cameras, especially when viewing on an HD-ready TV.

So, being fairly new to the "HD game," could anyone fill me in on any of the technical must-knows of shooting HD? I mainly want to know what type of setup I'll need to give me the most options for my HD-produced content to be viewed by everyone -- SDTV users, internet streaming, etc. For instance, I don't want to be left hanging when I find that someone with an SDTV can't view my work. I've heard about down converters, but I don't hear about them being used often. In fact, I don't know much about them at all. Are they mainly used for broadcast, or for converting any HD footage for viewing on SDTVs? I should also mention that most of my content will be streamed/viewed online. Anything I should know about HD for online?

To sum it all up hypothetically: Would a Canon XHA1 and FCP HD software suffice? In which cases would it not?

Anything else along these lines I should know about getting prepared to shoot HD?

Any help would be appreciated.

Edited by Steven Nayhi, 07 December 2007 - 06:25 AM.

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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 10:19 AM

HD is really just video with more detail, but it's a sensible bit of future-proofing.

Final Cut is capable of outputting SD versions from an HD timeline. This is a software downconversion; you probably won't ever need a hardware one unless you shoot events live to displays or for live TV and need a realtime, as-you-shoot conversion. In a desktop NLE you'll just set the options when you export your material. And yes, the extra sharpness will turn into a really good-looking result, even if you have to do this to create an SD DVD or whatever. It's common to do this at all levels of the industry as people often need various versions of their material. At the lower levels it can become difficult to deliver HD material in any case - most broadcasters won't accept HDV, and higher end HD tape formats are very expensive.

Shooting HD and down-converting later is done all the time, although this will take longer than just shooting SD in the first place, though, so if you're in a hurry and know you only need SD output, shoot SD.

If you are into doing work for money, I would also consider the JVC GY-HD series. Manual lenses offer more flexibility.

Phil
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#3 Steve Nayhi

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 04:39 PM

Hey Phil, thanks for the quick and detailed response. Seems like my assumptions were right. I just overheard someone talking about HD to SD hardware the other day and it threw me off; wanted to do some research.

Anyway, it just dawned on me that I should probably consider a camera with the option of manual lenses. I've had my eyes set on the XHA1 for awhile now, but I've also had my mind set on the possibility of using those fancy 35mm adapters. Guess I couldn't do that with a fixed lens, huh? So, you recommend the JVC GY-HD? I'll have to search and find out which other cameras offer this option. The work that I'm doing at the moment is mostly music video and other specialty media. Eventually looking to shooting indie features though, and I would like this camera to be a jack of all trades in that sense. Any other suggestions?

Edited by Steven Nayhi, 07 December 2007 - 04:40 PM.

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#4 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 09 December 2007 - 06:58 PM

If you are into doing work for money, I would also consider the JVC GY-HD series. Manual lenses offer more flexibility.

Phil


God I wish they would come down in price.
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#5 Walter Graff

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Posted 09 December 2007 - 09:38 PM

God I wish they would come down in price.


I just did some extensive testing of the HZ-CA13U pl lens adapter using nearly 20 lens of all shapes and sizes on my HD200. We even had four of the lenses used on the original Godfather movie but of course they had Panavision mounts which are just different enough than pl to be called Panavision so can't be used. The results were spectacular and really proove why this camera is the best in it's class. Look at the bottom of this link to see a few shots of some of the more exotic lenses we tested out.


http://www.bluesky-web.com/hdv.htm
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#6 Adamo P Cultraro

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Posted 09 December 2007 - 10:17 PM

I would also look hard at the Panasonic HVX200, which is a lot less money than the JVC. I think the new Sony XDCAM EX looks promising and if I was in the market I'd be looking hard at it. I have an HVX among others and it produces beautiful images and I'm very please with it as well as the solid state workflow, which is undeniably the future.
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#7 Steve Nayhi

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Posted 10 December 2007 - 07:21 PM

Thanks for the feedback, guys.

Here's another question that's popped into my head in the past couple of days: From your experience, which prosumer HD camera on the market offers the most low light sensitivity? In other words, which camera performs the best when you're forced to work with available/practical light? Anyone run such tests/made such observations?

Edited by Steven Nayhi, 10 December 2007 - 07:22 PM.

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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 05:37 AM

When you talk about low light sensitivity you're really talking about noise. My experience is that the HVX200 is very, very noisy. It can look OK in controlled lighting but I would not suggest it for documentary work, not only because the P2 cards are a pain to handle in the field, especially solo.

The JVC is fine, average noise level. The Sony is probably lowest perceived noise, but probably only because it has more pixels to start with so the noise artifacts are smaller in relation to the picture. This is just subjective. But frankly, the JVC is still the nicer camera.

Phil
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