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Day for Night on HVX?


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#1 Trevor Fernando

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 12:44 AM

Hey Guys,

I'm planning to shoot a feature in NYC on the HVX in a few months. There will be a lot of night scenes, however its an ultra-low budget feature and we want to try and use practical lighting for all the scenes...street lights, neon signs, lit buildings etc. My concern is the HVX won't be able to handle the low light that well.

I'm considering shooting day for night for some or all of the night time scenes. I realize it won't look like natural night time, but if it has an interesting and cool look, that might be okay.

My question is - is it feasible with little to no money to pull off a day for night look in manhattan shot on the HVX and still have it look nice?

I'm assuming that any shots where we can see a street light or a building that should be lit would probably actually have to be shot at night since it wouldn't make sense that no lights were on while being shot in the day. Is this accurate?

What is the best way to do it? What filters should I use specifically, exposure, etc.

If anyone has ever done this before, do you happen to have any screen shots or footage online?

Thanks so much!

Trevor
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#2 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 10:26 AM

Hey Guys,
I'm planning to shoot a feature in NYC on the HVX in a few months. There will be a lot of night scenes, however its an ultra-low budget feature and we want to try and use practical lighting for all the scenes...street lights, neon signs, lit buildings etc. My concern is the HVX won't be able to handle the low light that well.


Hi Trevor:

I have two complete cinema level HVX200 packages in my rental pool and I'd have to say that low light is probably the weakest point on the HVX. Add a prime lens adapter and filtration and you're really going to struggle with it. You're going to have to supplement the lighting I think to some degree in order to get professional quality results. I think there are two low-light scenes on my Steadicam demo reel that were shot on the HVX with mini35 adapter and primes; the hospital scenes. The DP, Tari Segal used a mix of practicals and supplemented with small improvised fixtures ( we had a smallish 5 ton package )

As another example, this past Friday and Saturday I was DP'ing a new national spot for the Hillary Rodham Clinton for President campaign on the HVX's (they requested a P2 workflow for their editors, the HVX was not my first choice). The first day we flew around Nevada on the plane with her to three different rallies capturing speeches and B-roll. Even though the rallies were well lit for TV news, we found ourselves struggling with the available light levels. The second day shooting the main scenes in a private residence I had my favorite local Gaffer and a 5 ton G&E package, no problems there.

There are a few custom scene profiles you can test to try to improve the results in low light. We even hired Barry Green (HVX Bible) as a consultant several times and flew him to our location about two years ago to work with us on a 35 day two-unit shoot to maximize the low-light results.

Also, if you have not done so already you should go to the DVXuser.com Forum and read the HVX threads there.

So, IMHO the HVX would not be the right tool for you based on the description of your project.

All the best!

Robert Starling, SOC
Steadicam Owner Operator
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#3 Trevor Fernando

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 02:22 PM

Hey Robert,

Thanks for your feedback. I've also heard the same about the HVX which is why I've been considering the Day for Night. My main question is, would day for night on that camera be a good solution to this.

Alternatively...what is a good video camera with solid low light capability?

The film I'm shooting will have the look of "Once" or "Quiet City"...very run & gun DV, lots of handheld, etc. I've heard those two were shot with the Z1U but I'm not positive...any suggestions?

-Trevor
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#4 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 06:58 PM

My main question is, would day for night on that camera be a good solution to this.

Alternatively...what is a good video camera with solid low light capability?


Few small video cameras, if any do very well at all in low-light, some likely better than others but I'm not very familiar with all the models and variations out there in the Prosumer / indie filmmaker range.

I would think someone whether individuals, magazine reviews or some web site would have done all the tests and research on the low light capabilities of the smaller cameras. No doubt, some kind of "shoot out" has been done along with the ensuing arguments. All I can speak to for the smaller cameras with regards to low-light are the HVXs and whether you shoot day for night or night, you're still dealing with the issue of these cameras needing plenty of light to overcome the noise floor.

Good luck in your search and with your project. Please post a note on your research, final selection and your project as you progress.

Robert Starling, SOC
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 07:53 PM

I recently worked on a corporate where we had 2 HVXs and an HPX500. I made very closely matching scene files for each and in lighting conditions that the HVX was wide open or a 2.8, the HPX was often running a 4 or even a 5.6.

I don't know if you want to stick with P2 cameras but there's a firsthand comparison for you.
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Glidecam

The Slider

Visual Products

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Ritter Battery

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Opal