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HD to 35mm blow-up


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#1 Mike Washlesky

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 10:45 AM

I was hoping a few of you might have some opinions regarding HD cameras with a blow-up to 35mm. I am gearing up for a feature to be shot in March, with money in the budget for a transfer for a film print of the finished project. Myself, the Director, and Producer are trying to narrow down which HD cameras would give the optimal resolution for the final print. We had decided to pass on the red Camera, as we will be on location in Colorado outdoors (often on a process trailer) and feel a bit wary of using a camera that has yet to be rigorously field tested, although after attending a demo in Austin,TX, was amazed at the quality of the image at 4K.

I have shot 3 features on the older gen VariCam, but none of those projects were blown-up save for a short that was blown-up using a cheap 2K process. I was less than pleased with those results, but am optimistic about the true image scan for this blow-up. We are leaning towards the Panasonic family of HD cameras, specifically the HPX-500 and am curious if anyone had any experience using this or other cameras and the transfer to film. Will the resolution be enough when translated to celluloid? Does this camera carry rez necessary to make this possible? Or will we see the blocky and muddy images I have previously seen with transfers?

Is there another camera that I should investigate that would be better suited for this workflow?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Mike Washlesky

Edited by Mike Washlesky, 18 January 2008 - 10:47 AM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 11:17 AM

"Youth Without Youth" and "Prairie Home Companion" were both shot on the Sony F900 but recorded at 4:2:2 to external decks -- they both looked pretty good (and sharp) in the theaters, even though cropped to 2.40.

You may want to look for the new Panasonic 2/3" 3-CCD 1080P camcorder, the HPX-3000:
http://catalog2.pana...mp;displayTab=O

Truth is that the majority of HD-to-35mm features have been shot on the F900. There have been fewer Varicam features, though "Borat" was one of the most famous ones.

You basically have to decide if you are using a camcorder (camera with an internal VTR), or can afford a two-piece system like a Viper + SRW1, let's say, or a camera that needs a data recorder. Or use the equally-expensive cameras with a attachable SRW-1 recorder like the F23 or Genesis.
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#3 Mike Washlesky

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 11:32 AM

Thank you David, the HPX-3000 looks like it could be an option for us. While I have shot with the F900, I prefer Panasonic HD cameras and like the resolution and sample rates of the HPX-3000. I would love to be able to shoot on the F23 or Genesis but am pretty sure those would be out of the camera dept. rental budget. I am assuming that it would be preferable to shoot 1080p for the blow-up?

Thanks,

Mike
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 11:42 AM

Test. While the math tells you that 1920 x 1080 is more pixel resolution than 1280 x 720 (2MP vs. 1MP), what you see with your eyes on the big screen is not so 1:1, there are other factors that affect real and (more importantly) perceived resolution. Image contrast, for example.

My own experience in dealing with 1080P cropped to 2.40 versus 1.85 and output to 35mm anamorphic vs. flat is that when you're losing some pixels, there is not necessarily a visible loss in resolution but certain artifacts like noise may be more enlarged and thus more visible when working with a smaller file size. But again, even those artifacts can be minimized or masked.

But personally, and maybe this is because half my HD movies were cropped to 2.40, I'd prefer to work with a 1080P camera over a 720P camera for starters, for material headed to 35mm. But again, "Borat" didn't look half bad and it was shot on the Varicam, plus some (obvious) DV.
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#5 Mike Washlesky

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 11:50 AM

Good point on "perceived resolution" and of course the contrast. Although we would love to run some camera tests on the blow-up prior to principal photography, I dont know if there will be enough time to offer us that luxury. Right now it will really boil down to the math and which lenses to work with. Using external decks would be great, but all 7 weeks will be handheld (my back will be killing me as I am CamOp as well) and I figure having these digital recording packs like the Firestore will make my job even harder. P2 is what we will be recording on, I will just need to investigate how to maximize the image quality using the cards.
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#6 Paul Bruening

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 11:57 AM

I know I'm beating a dead horse, but... Have you considered the merits of 2-perf?
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#7 Mike Washlesky

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 12:06 PM

That would be nice but not for this project and specifically with this Director. We will be burning tons of footage with takes as long as 20 + minutes with a very small crew. I have worked with the Director on numerous shorts and his style and work ethic is along the lines of organic growth. The script is a loose framework to work from and the scenes develop naturally with the actors and the situations growing from "take" to "take". Very documentary in style and totally natural. Dealing with the added limitations (tongue in cheek) and cost increase of film doesnt fit with our proven work model.

But it would be fun.
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