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HD - looking for advice for a project


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#1 Chris Millar

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 07:46 PM

Hello all,

long time lurker, first poster

... Coming from a film world where I have mostly shot 16mm on my own projects and not paying much attention to the video cameras I have been given to shoot with on other jobs (not having much to do with post) I need some advice as to where to begin for a project I have coming up ...

I will be following a group of individuals traveling around USA making a kind of road trip/vignette/doco/diary style presentation - There will be non-soundsync parts shot in 16mm but the bulk of it will be in some kind of video, as it can shoot sync sound as a matter of course (on board mic will do fine) and they also have the ability to shoot long takes and not be restricted to 100' or heavy 400' loads.

I would pick up something like a DVX-100 which I have used on occasion and the miniDV tapes are no mystery to me, in terms of usage and getting them on board an editing system. I thought however I should investigate the possibility of HD but dont know where to begin.

I need something comparable with a miniDV SD camera in terms of the ability to shoot on tape, so when the tape runs out I put a new tape in etc... lots of tapes at the end -

P2 cards ... they require to be downloaded to a harddisk when full correct ? so I'd have two 16Gb cards and download (upload?) one whilst the other is shooting ? I'd need a laptop and large hard disk right ?

I'll be on the road for a month or so (solo) shooting a tapes worth potentially everyday and want to keep weight and gear to a minimum. What kind of system/set up would everyone recommend ?

25fps TV will be the final output but it would be nice to keep the front end as high-res as possible for future use if it doesn't present to many logistical issues in the first case

I hope the question isn't broad in scope (pretty good for a first post ?!?) its just I need to begin research somehow.
thanks,
Chris
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 05:31 AM

I think you should really have a play with some of the HDV cameras plus the HVX 200 and possibly the new Sony EX. They'll all do the kind of documentary shoot you're talking about and in the end it could come down to which camera you prefer to shooting with. From what you've said, I assume you will be shooting progressive, so that might rule out the Z1 for you. If you want progressive frames on tape, the JVC cameras will do that or you could use a Canon using its 25F setting.

However, if you wish to shoot in low light conditions you might want to consider the new Sony EX over the 1/3" chip cameras, although this doesn't record onto tape.
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#3 Mike Williamson

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 04:19 PM

Of the small cameras out there right now, my preference is for the HVX-200. You would need to download the P2 cards to a hard drive once they're full, then reuse them. If you're by yourself without any help, I'd suggest getting four 16GB cards just to be safe. You should also think about how much hard drive space you would eventually need, maybe 500GB to start with.

Another option would be an HDV camera, but I'm not a big fan of them. The good news is they shoot to tape, so there's no downloading. The bad news is HDV can be a major pain to edit, which could get even worse if you're trying to move from 24 frame material to 25 frame for the final output. I don't like the concept of shooting an mpeg stream rather than real, discrete frames. But I would pick HDV over a regular mini-DV camera any day.

You should also figure out how you're going to get to 25 fps, whether in camera or convert to it after editing. My instinct would be to shoot everything at 24, including the film footage, and then convert later, but I'm not an editor. So it's a discussion to have with somebody. Good luck with the project!
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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 04:42 PM

You don't say if you're PAL based. I'm assuming that you are, given your delivery frame rate, so all the HDV cameras you will purchase in the your home country will be set for shooting 25 fps. As you know, the 16mm film will be telecined at that same frame rate, even if you shoot at 24fps.

Certainly you should discuss the post workflow with your editor, otherwise you could run into difficulties.

Edited by Brian Drysdale, 27 January 2008 - 04:43 PM.

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#5 John Brawley

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 05:52 PM

P2 cards ... they require to be downloaded to a harddisk when full correct ? so I'd have two 16Gb cards and download (upload?) one whilst the other is shooting ? I'd need a laptop and large hard disk right ?

I'll be on the road for a month or so (solo) shooting a tapes worth potentially everyday and want to keep weight and gear to a minimum. What kind of system/set up would everyone recommend ?


Gday Chris.

I think P2 is a good way to go, and there's a few ways you can go about it. If you feel you'll have a little time at the end of the day, i suggest you get the larger 32GB P2 cards and then do your back up at the end of the shooting day. You can always have another 32GB just in case, but work out what you'd shoot at most in a given day, and get enough P2 cards to cover it. (32gb should give you near 60 mins in 720 which is what the camera's native size is)

You can get a low cost PC and then back up to hard drives. I've used a 2TB Western Digital RAID which holds close to 50 hours depending on which HD and frame rate, and there's a fair degree of safety with it being RAID1. This can be something that is largely autonomous at the end of the day. It would take perhaps an hour or so for 2 x 32GB cards, but you don't have to be there aside from a card change over. This way too, the hard drive and laptop only come out at the end of the day. It's even possible to actually dump from the camera STRAIGHT into a hard drive if you want.

Otherwise you can get a firestore or similar hard drive, which has a much larger capacity (up to 160GB now?) and would mean you wouldn't have to download or backup as often, but Im personally a bit worried about carrying an actual moving hard drive around with me. It's also an extra *thing* you have hanging off your camera which also requires charging. Plus i hear that there's a high failure rate on the firewire connector that it plugs into.


jb

Edited by John Brawley, 27 January 2008 - 06:31 PM.

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#6 Chris Millar

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 05:05 AM

I am leaning towards the use of tape as due to the nature of the trip the less gear the better - the tapes could be mailed back to base and not worried about - If I were to shoot P2 and download to a hard-disk and it were to be stolen or damaged then I would loose weeks worth and the trip would be a failure (or bodged together in post to make it look like it wasn't lost, something I'd rather not get into) ...

So some (all?) cams can record straight to hard-disk - or download direct to a hard-disk ? (skip the laptop) that could be an option ... I'd could have a few smaller of harddisks floating about, one on me and two in the mail - one on its way to base and the other on its way back - sort of hedging my bets that way ?

Maybe I could dump and store the data at a few post houses on the way ?

Is this system silly ? Either that or its HDV (or SD) ...

and yes I'm in 25fps/PAL world ... At this stage I will be the editor (scary huh, asking these kinds of questions!) I'm more of a director when it comes to post and a film nut when it comes to front end, though in the case of this query I need to be an actual editor editor and an HD nut front end, hence your help is appreciated

Do any of these cameras come with intervalometer functions ? I was going to shoot the road trip segments in 16mm intervalometer from outside the car but some occasional internal time-lapse stuff could be good also ...
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