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Viper vs CineAlta vs Varicam


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#1 Arun Singaraju

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 01:41 AM

Guys,

I am going to be a shooting my first full length feature film pretty soon. The production money has been raised by friends, myself and credit cards. Have spoke to an equipment studio and they have quoted the following rental prices for 40days of shoot

1. Arri/Thomson Viper: http://en.wikipedia....y#Thomson_Viper 70K USD
2. Sony CineAlta 24P HD: 60K USD. Star Wars has been shot on this guy.
3. Panasonic Varicam AJ HDC27FE: 60K USD.

The rental cost includes editing, tranfser to work print.

Which of these 3 would be the best choice for a feature film. Not sure about Viper, though it has been used on Indian films.

Also, is it possible to buy any of those (used/new). I cant find proper links for the 3rd one and the 1st one costs around 150K.

Any feedback is appreciated.

Thanks.

Edited by Arun Singaraju, 12 March 2008 - 01:43 AM.

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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 02:20 AM

I like the Varicam, it's a pretty simple ENG camera, but if we're talking tape based Panasonic HD cameras, I much like the HDX for its performance in low light situations.

I've started prep on a Sony F900R (Attack of the Clones was shot on it) and it's quite nice. It does have its limits though, some issues that we've run into such as not many options in frame rate or shutter angles. So it depends on what model you've been quoted. The F950 is a step up, and XDCAM is something more to consider.

Do those quotes include a lens system and all other accessories?
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#3 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 02:35 AM

You posted this is the wrong place. Maybe someone will move it.

It sounds like you are in over your head and about to lose a lot of money in a storm, honestly. You need to bring in someone to help you understand and figure this all out. And only your DP can help you understand what the best camera is for the feature, no one here can.

Those estimates are very strange to me. How can anyone know how much your post will need? Those costs are never fixed. Does the estimate also include camera support and people who can operate those systems on set? Who gave you prices like that?

Why buy a digital camera of any kind in your position? Rent the camera and lens set or find someone with a package already.
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#4 Michael Most

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 08:33 AM

If you use a Viper, you also need something to record it with, most likely an HDCam SRW1 or a file based recorder, such as an S.two. The Varicam and F900 are camcorders, so their recording devices are part of the camera.
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#5 Tom Lowe

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 11:15 AM

"The rental cost includes editing, tranfser to work print."

What exactly does this mean? The rental house is going to edit your feature??

BTW, you should tell us something about the nature of your project and the amount of experience you and your crew have. I would not drop 50K on camera rentals. That's absurd. You can get a varicam package in LA dirt cheap right now, maybe 15K for the whole time. LMAO at 60K! You would be better off using that money to keep your cast and crew happy.

Tell us more about your budget and your project, then we will be better able to help you.
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#6 Bruce Greene

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 12:22 PM

Guys,

I am going to be a shooting my first full length feature film pretty soon. The production money has been raised by friends, myself and credit cards. Have spoke to an equipment studio and they have quoted the following rental prices for 40days of shoot

1. Arri/Thomson Viper: http://en.wikipedia....y#Thomson_Viper 70K USD
2. Sony CineAlta 24P HD: 60K USD. Star Wars has been shot on this guy.
3. Panasonic Varicam AJ HDC27FE: 60K USD.

The rental cost includes editing, tranfser to work print.

Which of these 3 would be the best choice for a feature film. Not sure about Viper, though it has been used on Indian films.

Also, is it possible to buy any of those (used/new). I cant find proper links for the 3rd one and the 1st one costs around 150K.

Any feedback is appreciated.

Thanks.


The Viper is certainly the best imaging camera of the 3, but will be the most expensive due to the cost of renting the SRW Sony deck to record with. Post costs will also be higher.

Of the Varicam and Sony, I like the Varicam camera a bit more for it's dynamic range, but the Sony f900 has a better recording deck. Even though the Varicam is "only" 720P vs 1080p for the Sony, the resolution of both cameras is pretty close in real world situations. It will be hard to tell the difference on a film out. A plus for the Varicam is that you can capture the tapes to Firewire drives and edit the native original footage in FCP just like mini-dv. I have seen projects shot on Sony and downcoverted for editing and an HD version is never completed due to the cost of the online session. Both these cameras will require some pretty good knowledge to set up for best imaging on the set. Exposure and camera setup will be very important. The Viper is much more forgiving for manipulating the image in post and will record a sharper image than the built in decks in the Varicam and Sony. The Viper is likely to cost much more to use though.
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#7 tylerhawes

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 01:03 PM

The Viper is certainly the best imaging camera of the 3, but will be the most expensive due to the cost of renting the SRW Sony deck to record with. Post costs will also be higher.



Since the poster doesn't even specify what Sony camera it is, there's no way to know if you're right, Bruce. If it's a Sony F23, I and many others would prefer it to the Viper. If it's a 950, I think it is at least debatable. Both of those cameras will also go to SR or disk recorder, so the post costs are the same. Only in case it is a 900 would there be a more clear case of the Viper being better/more expensive post.

At the risk of becoming flame bate, why aren't you considering RED?

Also, with respect, I'll echo that you seem to be in way over your head to be making these decisions and really need to find a good DP who will consult with you to make the choice. You can surf the web and take opinion polls, but that is no substitute for hands-on experience. That is no knock on your intelligence, merely recognition that you can only wear so many hats, and you're serving yourself best by delegating this to an expert and moving on to other problems better suited to you.
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#8 Andrew Koch

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 01:32 PM

Those rental quotes are VERY high. There is one thing I don't understand about your post, what do you mean by a workprint? A workprint is something you would get from a lab after shooting film to look at on a projector. Even a filmout from your digital master wouldn't be a workprint.

For costs like this it would be cheaper to shoot super 16. This would probably be a good choice because you would get a much better image than all three of these cameras (More dynamic range, high resolution, the look of film, etc). Of course this is only if the filmlook is what you want for your project. I would definitely consider this as a very viable format.
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#9 Mike Brennan

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 02:56 PM

Those rental quotes are VERY high. There is one thing I don't understand about your post, what do you mean by a workprint? A workprint is something you would get from a lab after shooting film to look at on a projector. Even a filmout from your digital master wouldn't be a workprint.

For costs like this it would be cheaper to shoot super 16. This would probably be a good choice because you would get a much better image than all three of these cameras (More dynamic range, high resolution, the look of film, etc). Of course this is only if the filmlook is what you want for your project. I would definitely consider this as a very viable format.


The other option is the Sony HDC1500 camera head recoridng onto Stwo or SRW1 which will give the Viper a run for its money and make the f900R look like your old aunts instamatic.

The 1500 is 14 bit AD has similar mother boards to f23 has hyper gamma and 444 output (as options) and soon will have user gamma curves and it is on its third upgrade to reduce noise and a optical block that reduces chtomatic abberation colour fringing that both Viper and f900 suffer from.



Mike Brennan
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