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Am I Crazy? SD just fine for now.


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#1 John Grimshaw

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 11:26 AM

Hi, new guy here.

So, 2 years ago started really using my DVX100B, purchased the Letus 35MM adapter and currently rent primes from my local rental house. Put the camera through its paces and have read everything about Cinematography I can get my hands on and of course, tried to learn from the masters (Gordon Willis) as much as I can on my own. Now, all my colleagues are telling me I'm behind the times and if I don't get an HVX and go HD I won't get any work. I don't buy it. I've seen some of their HD work, poor lighting, horrible casting, no real concept, weak sound, but damn, it sure does have great resolution!

The ONLY reason I can see for me to even consider "switching" would be the possibility of a theatrical release, in which case I would hope to shoot on film anyway (with a great DP).

I'm shooting an independent feature this fall and plan on using the camera and lenses that I know and love (and have spent so much time learning to use). Anyone have a thought on this? Am I crazy, naive, ignorant, or just stubborn?

Thanks!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 11:36 AM

Am I crazy, naive, ignorant, or just stubborn?


Yes, probably. But if you have a creative reason to stick to SD, then do it. If you are just being cheap or lazy...

Otherwise, recognize that there are a lot of HD channels now looking for content that you are basically not going to make a sale to.

It's just a business decision -- most people making features make back their money piecemeal, so they avoid shooting in formats that limit their sales overseas or for different TV channels, etc. For example, don't shoot 30P 4x3 SD if you have hopes of selling it to 50i countries that mainly transmit 16x9.

Sure there is crappy HD-shot stuff out there, but I'm not sure why that is relevant. You wouldn't want to shoot crappy HD anyway -- you seem to be making a false choice, i.e. I can shoot good SD or bad HD. Why is that the only choice?

If you are shooting a documentary, it matters a bit less because content is king in a documentary, but again, you may sell it to a few more places if it is in HD. And if you are shooting for a local SD channel, then SD is fine. You just have to know your market - there are still a number that only need SD. And really high-end 16x9 SD, like from a Digital Betacam, would probably convert to HD just fine.

This is the whole problem with owning digital equipment these days, you have a harder time jumping to new gear because you feel the need to keep using what you have.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 11:54 AM

David puts it quite perfectly. I would suggest that you perhaps consider renting HD for your own film and just keeping your DVX 'round for the smaller things you get, where you really need an hour run-time on tape. It's been awhile since I've shot HVX, but the longest I can recall in terms of run-time I've ever gotten was around 30 min at full quality. On my own HD system I get 56 minutes, which works well (most of the time...)
When it gets down to making a movie, I personally think that you must choose the camera which best compliments the story; as David puts it, a creative reason for SD, but also one for HD, and then once you choose HD which HD camera (HVX/HPX/EX1/F900 etc....)
You mention your friends have shot HD; do they own the camera? If so, why not just borrow theirs? or work it out in trade; I'll let you borrow my letus if you let me pilfer the HVX

Good shooting.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 12:00 PM

Now I'm assuming that this is a serious feature with plans for sales to different markets -- broadcast, cable, home video (DVD and Blu-Ray), if not theatrical.

But if this really is a personal lark with your friends, or an experimental movie ala Lynch's "Inland Empire", or you literally have no money to make it on, then it matters less what format you shoot it on.
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#5 John Grimshaw

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 12:01 PM

Thank you David! A reasonable and logical response which is exactly what I was hoping for. I recently went through the process of converting a doc shot on Mini DV 16:9, 24P to Digibeta with great results, will see how the HD conversion looks. I like the concept of utilizing whatever is right for the unique shooting situation and not forcing a particular format just because that is what I am comfortable with at this time. Thanks, JG
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 12:04 PM

There is something to be said though for working outside of your comfort zone, as a growing experience...
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#7 David Rakoczy

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 12:34 PM

Over the past three weeks I have been converting my entire workflow from SD to HD... it has been a pain in the (arse) as they say in the UK but hey... who wouldn't swap 720 pixels for 1280...? You are almost doubling your resolution! Now that most every Station accepts and broadcasts in DVCProHD 720p/60 why would you want to stick with Digi-Beta or DVCPro 50?

The main problem is framing 16x9 and keeping everything in 4x3 Title/ Action Safe.. sad really.. we have this beautifully enticing 16x9 canvas and have to scrunch everything in the middle for all the 4x3 TVs :huh: On top of that FCP does not have a 4x3 overlay to use when in a 16x9 sequence :blink: You have to make your own overlay :wacko:

Been there... done that B)
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