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#1 Robert Gardner

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 11:04 AM

Hi there,
I've never worked with the Phantom before and am about to very soon.
We are shooting a music video and are thinking of using a Phantom and a Red.
There are a few questions I have about working with the Phantom. It would be great if anyone could answer some. Here we go....

-Only reason for using the Red is for the 25FPS stuff, I've heard that the Phantom is a great cam also for slow frame rates. Does anyone think that would make the Red unnecessary? Should I just stick with the Phantom?

-Lighting for the Phantom! I was thinking of HMI's only. I am shooting in England so we have 50Hz.
Will there be any problems with flicker if I shoot over 100fps? What is the min. size of lights to avoid flicker? Shall I mainly go 4K's and up?

-Shutter angle on Phantom? Will the shutter angle also affect the flicker? Lets say I shoot 100 fps and up, shall I keep 180 degrees shutter or go higher?
Is there some kind of general rule, the higher the fps the higher the shutter angle (360 degrees)?

-When shooting regular 25 fps and I lower the shutter angle to about 60 degrees will I get the same sharp image and 'needle point' image as I would get with a 35mm camera?

I hope someone can answer a few of my questions. Thank you so much in advance.

Rob
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 11:43 AM

At very high frame rates, you start to see the hertz flicker even in tungsten bulbs, so you have to use very large tungsten lamps with large bulbs, like 5K's and bigger. Anything smaller will start to flicker. But I think we're talking about rates above 500 fps. Supposedly Kinos are safe but I don't know about flicker-free HMI's.

Shutter is less of a factor, it's just that it will look more film-like if you don't turn off the shutter.

You should make sure you get the Cinemags with the Phantom. The real problem with using it for ordinary 24 fps dialogue scenes is that the Phantom merely stores shots temporarily in a frame buffer until you save them. The Cinemag at least lets you hold more footage in the temporary buffer but at some point, you still need to hit "save" and wait as the system saves the files, which takes time.

So if you shoot an hour of footage before lunch on a narrative shoot, I don't know the time it will take to save that footage if you aren't saving it after every take. And it's hard to take the time to save it after every take too, so you end up with a dogpile effect.

Hopefully Kevin Zanit or Mitch Gross will answer here about some methodology that allows you to save the footage on one system while you are still shooting somehow. I don't know the actual save time either for a shot. We did some 1000 fps shots that ran about 2 secs. in real time, and I recall after a couple of takes of taking fifteen minutes off as Kevin saved the shots.

But all of this gets even more complicated if you are talking about a two-camera shoot.

The danger in not saving the shots until much later is that sometimes you find a problem with saving the shot.

So my feeling right now is that the Phantom is not really designed for large volumes of 24 fps shooting as is typical for dialogue scenes, particularly if using two cameras.
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#3 Christopher Bojilov

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 11:56 AM

Hi Robert,
If it's not a budget issue, my suggestion is to use the Phantom for both - hi-speed and 25fps. If you have and the Cinemag in the package, no doubts - use the Phantom. Better picture, better depth, much better in the dark areas. For both cameras you'll need good camera technician. For the Phantom you don't need so much lights (especially indoor) - the sensor is much more sensitive and there is no noise in the dark zones, that you will see if you choose Red. With the Phantom your picture will be sharper and with noisless details. From my experince any type of PL lenses works fine - Cookes S-4, Ultraprimes, the old Zeiss 1.3 - it depends of your taste.
The Red writes files that they say are great - if you decompile them you'll see that this is just Jpeg2000 compression. The Phantom cine files are great, full with details in the picture and even all the camera info is written there (without the lens size). The files conversion is very important - so, you'll need someone experienced with color grading, but even you at home can convert the files using the utility from Vision Research (it's free) or the Glue tool dongle for Final Cut (not free - about 700$). But the VR utility is good - my advice is try not to convert the files in avi or mov format - convert them in uncmpressed tif (filmstrip), after you can open the shots in Lightroom prehaps to grade the first image andf to apply the settings to the whole filmstrip. Also if you plan to transfer your movie to the 35mm, believ me the results with Phantom are much better than the Red. nfortunatelly the Red so far is a big marketing campaign without real results (just advertising).
Good luck!
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#4 Christopher Bojilov

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 12:13 PM

Sorry, I just saw David's post here.
I'm shooting mostly commercials with the Phantom and my DoP's use mostly tungsten, dino's or flo's especially on rates above 150-200. You can record directly in the Cinemag if you shoot up to 400fps. (not in the camera buffer). Concernign the files saving: if i don't have Cinemag on the set we copy the file after each shot - perhaps if you shoot 2K on 1000fps you can record up to 4,5 seconds in the camera that is quite fine for such type of shots (this is more than 2 minutes in real time). The time needed between the shots is no more than 5 minutes. Probably David's technician didn't enabled the jumbo packets in the ethernet adpater of the camera and the host computer (with jumbo's enable you can experience 9000MTU transfer on regular lan card of the host computer). also be sure that you use SATA drive or if it's external hdd is better to be connected via eSata interface to the host computer (not USB or firewire). Test it and you'll see the performance.
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#5 Robert Gardner

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 08:49 AM

Thank you guys for your advice,
reallly helped a lot. I am looking forward to the shoot now.
Cheers,
Rob
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#6 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 01:05 AM

Hi,

I second a lot of what was said here. The Phantom is great at 24fps with the Cinemags as long as you also anticipate the large amount of data in post. Now that the docking station for the Cinemag is available, it is possible to just setup a separate computer and rotate the mags throughout the day.

In terms of lighting, the safe bet is always big tungsten units (5k and larger). That said, I have seen plenty of highspeed shot with 18ks. It seems that if you have enough units (on flicker free ballasts) going through diffusion the problem can go away/ not be noticeable. It is a little hit or miss. Softsuns are great units with the Phantom, though I don't know if they are available in England. The flicker issue has been discussed a lot in the past so also try a search.

Post production is crucial to getting the most out of the camera. With a proper processing of the RAW Cine files the camera creates you can end up with amazing results.

Kevin Zanit
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