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TV series shot with HDR-FX1


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#1 Jason McKelvey

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 05:55 PM

There is a show currently airing on the Food Network, I think it's called The Next Food Network Star, sort of a American Idol for chefs. Anyway, I noticed on the commercials for it that they were shooting with Sony HDV camcorders, given away by the small LCD screen attached to the audio block on the top front. So I watched 2 episodes last night and was a little disappointed. The picture had better color than shows that were shot with PD150s, but still looked soft. And, focusing was a problem; I'm so tired of seeing shows shot with auto focus cameras. The back wall is always in perfect focus, and the subject is soft. Check the show out. I'm beginning to wonder if the limitations of a 1/3" CCD are the culprit. I expected more after all the hype of HDV. OH, I almost forgot, the audio was ATROCIOUS. I don't know what happened there, but it was truly bad.

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#2 David Cox

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 06:16 PM

Yes - we've had a couple of jobs brought to us shot on HDV and in general I agree that they do look soft (even after down resing to SD). I was wondering whether cheap optics might be the culprit? After all, this whole camera costs a fraction of a decent digital cinematography lens.
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#3 Tim J Durham

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 06:52 PM

Yes - we've had a couple of jobs brought to us shot on HDV and in general I agree that they do look soft (even after down resing to SD). I was wondering whether cheap optics might be the culprit? After all, this whole camera costs a fraction of a decent digital cinematography lens.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I would suspect that the shooters are more to blame. I didn't see the show but a good cameraman can make just about any set-up look decent in the same way that Isaac Stern can make a $100 violin sound great.

Don't blame the equipment. I've seen stuff shot on DVX-100a and XL-2 that looked fabulous on a home TV screen. By the same token, I've seen stuff shot on Panavision cameras that looked godawful.

That Sony HDV-cam is a brand new camera so people are still at the left side of the learning curve on it. Capturing unscripted action is a particularly tough subject to get right, that's why people like me still get payed. It's actually good to have a show like this air occasionally, lest producers think they can just pull in any Joe Blow off the street to shoot their show and pay them in food stamps.

Unfortunately, not many viewers at home are so discriminating, they only know when it sucks, may not know why.
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#4 David Cox

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 03:14 AM

I would suspect that the shooters are more to blame. I didn't see the show but a good cameraman can make just about any set-up look decent in the same way that Isaac Stern can make a $100 violin sound great.

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Possibly - although that would suggest that there is no difference in image quality between a $5000 (HDV) camera and a $200,000 digital cinema camera with a decent lens choice? Perhaps they are just charging by weight then - like buying bananas.
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#5 Tim J Durham

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 05:54 AM

Possibly - although that would suggest that there is no difference in image quality between a $5000 (HDV) camera and a $200,000 digital cinema camera with a decent lens choice? Perhaps they are just charging by weight then - like buying bananas.

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Yeah, but they weigh the camera guys (not the cameras) before each show and pay accordingly.
More like boxing than produce shopping.

I watched the film, "Tadpole" about a week ago (and on my set the DirecTV signal is looped through the Tivo) it never occured to me that the movie was shot on a PD-150. Same with "28 Days Later". So if the guy who shot that film (or I had, for instance) also shot that Food Network show, it's likely that you'd have no trouble believing it was shot on DVCam (which is what I shoot on when I work for the Food Network) or digibeta or DVCPro or $200,000 studio cameras.

By the time it gets to your set at home, the signal has been molested by some (or many) pretty incompetent hands. From PA's making dubs, to editors not equiped with waveforms or vector scopes (like the way we had it at CNN), to tape feed kids fresh out of college to satellite techs reading porn while your tape is being uplinked, and all that's happening BEFORE it gets to the guys at your local cable operation. Who knows what THEY do to it.

So I guess my point is: knowing what can happen to your footage after you shoot it, if somebody at home notices that the back wall is in focus and not the talent, the problem lies with the shooter not the gun.
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#6 Stephen Williams

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 06:05 AM

I've seen stuff shot on DVX-100a and XL-2 that looked fabulous on a home TV screen. By the same token, I've seen stuff shot on Panavision cameras that looked godawful.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Have you any examples ?

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#7 Tim J Durham

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 06:20 AM

Have you any examples ?

Stephen

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Of the fabulous or the Godawful?
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#8 Stephen Williams

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 07:20 AM

Of the fabulous or the Godawful?

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Where DV looked good and Panavision looked bad. Examples of both please.
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#9 Tim J Durham

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 08:06 AM

Where DV looked good and Panavision looked bad. Examples of both please.

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Well, for examples of the good, it would take a deck which I don't currently have access to, but
there is a current thread discussing films shot on DV, some of which I thought looked great like
"28 Days Later" and "Tadpole".

For bad looking films on Panavision (well, 35mm atleast, don't know if they used a Panavision) I can name one and I'd only do that because the guy's been dead for 30 years, but "Plan 9 from Outer Space" would be one. Although the terribleness is integral to my enjoyment of it. Unless you buy into the theory that Ed Wood was some sort of misunderstood genius?

Are you saying you've never seen anything shot on a Panavision camera that you though was sub-par and therefore believe that the format is the only determining factor of quality?
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#10 Stephen Williams

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 08:39 AM

Are you saying you've never seen anything shot on a Panavision camera that you though was sub-par and therefore believe that the format is the only determining factor of quality?

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I was thinking that all the pictures I have ever seen from 1/3 inch chip cameras were disappointing. I liked the film 28 days later but thought the pictures were '1/3 inch chip looking'. With a budget of 15,000,000 USD I was not impressed.
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#11 Jason McKelvey

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 09:29 AM

28 Days was shot on XL1's. Aren't XL1's 1/2"? I don't know. But I do know that 28 Days was shot with 35mm film lenses and an adaptor.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 10:47 AM

28 Days was shot on XL1's.  Aren't XL1's 1/2"?  I don't know.  But I do know that 28 Days was shot with 35mm film lenses and an adaptor.

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1/3".

Of course production design, lighting, etc. make a big difference in how good an image looks, but technically, the gap in quality between 1/3" CCD consumer DV and 35mm color negative is HUGE.

As for "28 Days Later", the "grunge" look of DV plus the harsh lighting served to create an appropriately bleak post-apocalyptic look. But technically, obviously the quality was fairly low on the big screen. The use of a 35mm cine lens adaptor did not mean that they got away from the depth of field of a 1/3" CCD camcorder. You'd have to use something like the P&S Technik adaptor to retain the field of view / depth of field characteristics of the lens in 35mm.

Artistically, one can do good (or bad) work in any format. Technical quality though can depend heavily on the recording format, the cameras, the lenses, etc.
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#13 Tim J Durham

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 01:47 PM

I was thinking that all the pictures I have ever seen from 1/3 inch chip cameras were disappointing. I liked the film 28 days later but thought the pictures were '1/3 inch chip looking'. With a budget of 15,000,000 USD I was not impressed.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think I read that they wanted to shoot in another format but ran out of $$ so were forced to go with Mini-DV. I saw it in the theater not knowing it was shot in that way and enjoyed it quite a bit.
Finding out later it was shot with an XL-1 impressed me greatly.

Maybe your standards are too high or mine are too low? It wouldn't be the first time someone's accused me of that.

I can forgive alot if the story is involving. I've seen many, many films with amazing cinematic feats of technical and visual virtuousity, but if the story sucks... I'd gladly trade 10 "Independence Days" for one "Dancer in the Dark". As a viewer mind you, not as a studio exec.
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#14 Rik Andino

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 03:57 AM

10 Independence days for 1 Dancer in the Dark...
That's losing over 300mil ten times! :) Where's your business sense?

Anyways when it comes to the small screen you can shoot stuff on DV that'll good.
Tim is right many times it's the experience of the shooters
Also coupled with the way the production is handled...that makes for bad footage.
I'm not saying DV or HDV will look like something shot with a better camera...
But it'll look decent for television (at least Stan. Def.)


The sad fact is however that many of these badly shot shows are popular...
And it seems shooting the footage badly is becoming a desired look
I mean look at half of MTV's programming...Jackass, Viva La Bam, Newly Weds...

Producers (like me :) ) don't care anymore if they have to hire PAs
And college students to operate cameras...they'll save money...
And the great part is that people will still watch the crap...
And as we all know it's the ratings not the quality that really matter.
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#15 Stephen Williams

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 06:31 AM

I think I read that they wanted to shoot in another format but ran out of $$ so were forced to go with Mini-DV.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



They could of easily shot 35mm for that budget.
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#16 Tim J Durham

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 07:03 AM

They could of easily shot 35mm for that budget.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Says here the budget was $8 million (that's USD not British pounds), so I don't know where you got your $15 million figure:

http://pro.imdb.com/...89043/boxoffice

And the take was $45 million. Perhaps they budgeted originally for $15 mil and were only able to raise $8 mil. That would make the choice of miniDV understandable. I'm sure he would liked to have shot in 35mm, as evidenced by having shot his next movie, "Millions" that way (which I saw the opening weekend and liked immensely, what a great kid).

To Rik Andino who said:

That's losing over 300mil ten times! Where's your business sense?

I say: read my post again! The part where I said, " I'd gladly trade 10 "Independence Days" for one "Dancer in the Dark". As a viewer mind you, not as a studio exec."

The last sentence was crucial. I like making money as much as the next guy. However, if I could trade places with any producer or director, it would not be Jerry Bruckheimer or Joel Silver, it would more likely be someone like John Sayles or Jim Jarmusch. They don't make a huge amount of money, but enough to keep going and they get to do what they want thanks to a small, dedicated audience.

I like money, but I like to think I could refrain from being greedy given the opportunity.
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#17 Stephen Williams

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 08:52 AM

[quote name='TimJBD' date='Jun 8 2005, 01:03 PM']
Says here the budget was $8 million (that's USD not British pounds), so I don't know where you got your $15 million figure:

http://pro.imdb.com/...89043/boxoffice

I stand corrected. I got the figure $15 million from a thread on CML.

Stephen
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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 08:55 AM

Hi,

Those HDV cameras certainly do have rough optics; I'm sure I've mentioned before the Italian guy who grafted a C mount onto one and replaced the lens for visibly much better results. And the replacement lens was just a normal Canon ENG zoom, not even glass intended for HD work. So yes, the glass is not great.

But the problem, I think, even more than the crew themselves is the sudden imposition on workload and the tools available to meet it. I have to admit I have no idea how big the chips in these HDV cameras are, and though I assume they're smaller than on an F900, the focus situation is still at least twice and perhaps three times as critical as on a PD-150. Now I wouldn't expect that to be an enormous problem with a proper lens. I've shot handheld with Varicam and I'm used to being accurate with focus on documentary shoots, although I'm sure the smaller depth of field would preclude certain things I'm used to doing. The problem here is that with a servo lens and a worse-than-useless, low res LCD viewfinder, I know for a fact that it's hard to hold focus in unscripted situations in SD, let alone on a higher res format - and we all know what the auto systems do.

Phil
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#19 thetony

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Posted 15 June 2005 - 11:47 AM

could the fuzziness just be simple focus issue?
i mean its HD so there is bound to be focus issues unless you really take advantage of that 4x zoom on the lcd to really focus.
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#20 Tony_Beazley

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 03:35 PM

<<Producers (like me :) ) don't care anymore if they have to hire PAs
And college students to operate cameras...they'll save money...
And the great part is that people will still watch the crap...
And as we all know it's the ratings not the quality that really matter.>>
__________________________________________________________


And this is why we the professionals don't get hired...
the "no need for experience" mentality.....
and they bought their cameras at Walmart too I'm sure to
shoot the show.

..... what ever happened to hiring quality and craftsmenship for
an actual broadcast show.....

Edited by TonyB, 02 July 2005 - 03:37 PM.

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