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Need some advice regarding cameras, codecs, and other things!


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#1 Evan Pierre

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 04:42 AM

Hey,
I have been asked to dp a very ambitious short film and have come up with a number of questions. Through discussion with the director we have come to the decision to shoot digitally, preferably HD. He wants to have a camera that has the ability to produce decent slow-motion and also have either interchangeable lenses or work with a 35mm lens adapter. Our shoot is very hectic in nature and involves a huge amount of locations and tons of setups for every day of shooting. Also we are planning to shoot most of the film on steadicam. As such I would like to find a camera that is smaller in size and uses a recording media that will allow for maximum shooting and minimum downtime/hassle. (tape?)

That is as far as we have come regarding choice in camera. I have begun researching for potential candidates but find myself overwhelmed by the absolute sea of options available. From my research both the JVC GY-HD110U and the Canon XL-H1 have begun to look attractive as far as size and cost go. (although they are a bit big...?)

One thing that the director and I have discussed and I am hoping I could get some clarification on is editing HD. We have both agreed that in the end our film is going to be mainly distributed via DVD's. As such we have been discussing whether shooting HD would really give us higher picture quality when in the end it will be authored to a DVD. I have been reading about different codecs and so far HDV is looking the best for our purposes. I will be editing on decently powerful Mac Pro in the latest version Final Cut Studio. Will I encounter any problems working with HDV? Is there a better codec and how does it compare?

As far as steadicams go the rig will probably need to be fairly compact as the nature of our shoot will be very run and gun with lots of "borrowed" shots. I was thinking about maybe going with the steadicam merlin but that would limit the weight of our camera to about 7.5 lbs. Any suggestions?

Thank you so much for any suggestions or advice, I will add more questions as the project progresses.

- Evan Pierre
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#2 Evan Pierre

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 02:24 AM

I haven't received any replies and will be posting this topic in the First Time Filmmakers section as it is probably better suited for there. If you have any advice or suggestions please feel free to answer here or there.

Thank you! :]
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 11:18 AM

I haven't received any replies and will be posting this topic in the First Time Filmmakers section as it is probably better suited for there. If you have any advice or suggestions please feel free to answer here or there.

Thank you! :]


You may consider if you need to shoot in 24P/720 or 24P/1080, and whether you need to edit in 24P. The Canon you mentioned does 24F, not 24P, though for post purposes, you can treat the footage as 24P. Besides the two you mentioned, there are the popular Panasonic HVX200 and the Sony EX XDCAM cameras.

I recommend finishing in HD just in case you ever need to make a Blu-Ray of your project or have a chance to project from HD.
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#4 Corey Steib

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 12:03 AM

You may consider if you need to shoot in 24P/720 or 24P/1080, and whether you need to edit in 24P. The Canon you mentioned does 24F, not 24P, though for post purposes, you can treat the footage as 24P. Besides the two you mentioned, there are the popular Panasonic HVX200 and the Sony EX XDCAM cameras.

I recommend finishing in HD just in case you ever need to make a Blu-Ray of your project or have a chance to project from HD.



I would go with the JVC HD100 because for one I have it and two it does progressive. I just got done DPing a Music Video shooting 720p at 24p and of course I played with the settings and it did far better then what I had planned. So remember with the JVC you shoot 720p but you can also output to 1080i but me I would stay at 720p so you wont lose any information as you would when you shoot interlace. And I would not shoot with Canon I am sorry and their 24f sucks and it's not true 24p. I have heard that shooting with the JVC HD 100 at 720p/24p does feel like 16mm but it depends on how you set up your settings.
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#5 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 01:03 AM

I would go with the JVC HD100 because for one I have it and two it does progressive. I just got done DPing a Music Video shooting 720p at 24p and of course I played with the settings and it did far better then what I had planned. So remember with the JVC you shoot 720p but you can also output to 1080i but me I would stay at 720p so you wont lose any information as you would when you shoot interlace. And I would not shoot with Canon I am sorry and their 24f sucks and it's not true 24p. I have heard that shooting with the JVC HD 100 at 720p/24p does feel like 16mm but it depends on how you set up your settings.



Most of these camera's don't do high speed, or go over 60FPS.

Look into red at 2k, si2K (slumdog was partially shot on this) and the ex3.

Time to put your foot down and let the production know that they have to pay up for what they want. Yes that covnersation is hard, but I don't think it's worth shooting a feature on JVC or Canon cameras, unless your story was amazing and format didn't matter. :)
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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 01:28 AM

A hectic run and gun shoot with 35mm depth of field (on steadicam, no less!) sounds like a terrible idea. I would think about going with a 1/2" or 2/3" camera system so you have more depth of field and worry a bit less about focus. I'd recommend the Sony EX1 or EX3. Both are true 1080P cameras with 1/2" sensors.

You get long recording times on SxS cards, and as long as you have an AC or data wrangler dumping cards and checking footage on a laptop, you can keep shooting all day. The EX3 has a removable lens, which when combined with the B4 mount adapter allows you to use all the fine 2/3" cine-style lenses out there. Fujinon, Canon and Zeiss make great 2/3" B4 cine lenses, both primes and zooms.
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 06:13 AM

Seconded. People grasp for these depth-of-field adaptors like they're the second coming. I won't argue with the idea that the results can be quite nice, and they can have positive effects other than just the focus issue. That said, they're big and heavy (especially if you think an HD100 is big or heavy!) and they require a lot of attention if they're not to become a quality control issue (fogginess, softness, grain, etc). They will cost you sharpness no matter what you do. If it's very run and gun without a full and experienced crew, I'd avoid. You'll just end up with technical problems and it will become a big time sink.

The GY-HD250 will shoot up to 60fps at 720p. Not bad, and the pictures are nice. I did a side by side on the 250 and the XH-G1 (same chips and general configuration as the XL-H1) and assessed that the Canon range probably has fractionally more vertical resolution than the JVC even in the simulated 24p mode. That said, I found the JVC pictures to be a lot nicer-looking, and with greater dynamic range. Canon HDV pictures can be unpleasantly clippy and harsh for dramatic work, although if you wanted a 1080i image for a broadcast documentary I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

I'd shoot on an HD100 or, better, HD250, forget the lens adaptor, finish it at HD and then blow down for the DVD. Good results can be had in this way.

P
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