Episodic TV Series shot with Canon XL1s and the mini35 at DVinfo.net

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Old February 17th, 2004, 11:59 AM   #1
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Episodic TV Series shot with Canon XL1s and the mini35

I have noticed alot of talk in the DVi community about the Canon XL1s used in conjunction with the P+S Technik mini35. In the past few years since the release of the mini35, I have had the good fortune of using the rig on several occasions, most often for dramatic shorts.

This past summer (2003) I had the opportunity to dp a television series called "Moccasin Flats", using the XL1s and the mini35. The show is currently airing in Canada on APTN and will re-air in April on Showcase Television. The series was born out of the dramatic short of the same name. The short was subsequently screened at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival.

Each time I set up a shot, and put it up on my reference monitor on set, I'm impressed with how good the image looks.

The invention of the mini35 changed my outlook on the miniDV format, as a viable option for creating quality images that hold up well through post and out to air.

The Canadian Society of Cinematographers publishes a monthly newsletter, in the November 2003 edition; you can read more about my experience using the mini35.
http://www.csc.ca/news/default.asp?aID=1038

Is there anyone else out there who has shot with the mini35 on a dramatic episodic TV series?
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Old February 17th, 2004, 12:31 PM   #2
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Oh Wow. I totally want to see this ..
but I don't have Showcase ... rrrrr
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Old February 17th, 2004, 12:38 PM   #3
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I'd read that article recently, Matt, it sounds like a great project.

Isn't it interesting how the phrase "broadcast quality" has no real meaning anymore--when a $4K "prosumer" camera is not only acceptable from an image quality standpoint, when used in conjunction with 35mm optics, it is likely to convince all but the most critical viewer that it originated on a more sophisticated format than the top of the line broadcast camera?
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Old February 17th, 2004, 06:06 PM   #4
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Charles....Yes, the definition of "broadcast quality" has become a little gray. Unfortunately the definition of broadcast quality as it relates to content these days is also very gray, if you know what I'm saying.
These little miniDV machines can look pretty good for sure. It makes the choice to go HD a little harder. Have you checked out the new gem from Panasonic, SDX900 24p DVCPro? One of these machines coupled with the Pro35 would give HD a run for it's money. I'm hoping to use one on a short later this spring.
Given the choice, I would still prefer film if it's going to be projected, however, if your staying in the realm of TV land, then the choices now are even greater!
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Old February 17th, 2004, 08:28 PM   #5
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Matt I'm excited to read about your experience with the mini35 and also the fact that I too am currently living in Mississauga!

I just got the mini35 in November and finished shooting a short with it, now I'm getting ready for the next project. I'm using f1.2 55mm, f1.4 85mm lenses and have a wide angle but poorly rated. I'm also using a PAL version of the XL1s for the extra resolution and lower frame rate. When I transfer it to NTSC I get excited like child at how film like the motion characteristics become.

If I could ask you a few questions about the production of "Moccasin Flats" using the mini35, I would really appreciate any info you could provide.

Was the footage edited in DV format, or transferred to a different format and then edited? I've been wondering if there's value in editing in a "better" format even though the originating footage was capture on miniDV.

Secondly, how did you find the detail level of wide or long shots with miniDV? I find long shots lacking in detail but understand that this is more of a miniDV attribute - not the mini35. How can one overcome this?

Lastly, was frame mode on the XL1s used or just the "normal mode". I understand that with frame mode you lose 25% of your vertical resolution but closely resembles "progressively" shot video.

I can't wait to watch Moccasin Flats in April!
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Old February 18th, 2004, 05:53 PM   #6
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First, welcome aboard Matt! Good to have you with us. Secondly,
thank you for posting your story and article about the mini35
on your shoot. Since not a whole lot of people that come to this
boards can play with such a device any info is always much
appreciated. Thank you.
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Old February 18th, 2004, 08:40 PM   #7
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Dennis...the edit was done in the dv format using FCP.
When you say "long shots" I think you mean, wide shots, Yes I do think there is an inherent issue with minidv in terms of it;s ability to handle all of the information it is sometimes asked to in a wide shot. That said, if you are finishing for television, that's less of a problem. The other thing is, be diligent about checking your back focus on the mini35, it only takes a few seconds. Temperature and mechanical vibration can play havoc with back focus. One thing you can do to help with the wide shot issue is to stop down to 5.6 or lower when on a wide lens, thus increasing your effective depth of field.
As for the frame mode...it was on. As to it's degradation qualities, the jury is still out. I think in the end, your post process can have alot to do with wether it's good or bad. Shoot your own tests, and post it, then decide.
Thanks for your reply, and your questions.
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Old February 18th, 2004, 08:53 PM   #8
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Thank you for the welcome reception Rob,
I glad to have so many eager replys so quickly. Sharing information is what it's all about, and in these times of rapid technological change, it's hard to keep up on it all and that's a great feature here in this DVi community. It's good to know that my working experinces can be helpfull to others. Work is quiet for me right now and so it's good to use this down time to keep the creative techno spirit alive!.
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Old February 19th, 2004, 05:38 AM   #9
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If you have some time look around the forum where you posted
this thread in. There are probably posts around that could benefit
from your input / knowledge / experience.

Thanks.
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Old February 20th, 2004, 03:48 PM   #10
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Hi Matt--I am about to embark on shooting a spec reel with the mini35 and DVX100A package and noticed you mentioned on one of your posts that you sometimes stop down to a 5.6 or lower to increase your DOF. When you did this, did the ground glass in the mini35 become visible to the point that the image was unusable? I am sure that for different shots there were different "cut offs" for stopping down, so I'm curious to hear what ranges you were able to work in. Let me also say how great it is to have another industry pro on dvinfo.net. I think you will find that it is the best dv board on the 'net.

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Old February 21st, 2004, 06:19 PM   #11
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...this definitely is the best DV board on the net!

Matt - thank you for your response. I will try stopping down to f5.6 next time on wide shots and see if it doesn't help.
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Old February 22nd, 2004, 09:23 AM   #12
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Just to throw in my 2 shekels, I found 5.6 to generally be the cutoff before the ground glass becomes objectionable in the series 1 through 3 Mini35's. The fourth generation appears to last well up to 8/11 or better. All of this is dependent on the background--the more uniform, and the more static the shot, the more likely you are to see the Spinning Vortex of Death.
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Old February 22nd, 2004, 10:27 AM   #13
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I haven't tried this yet (perhaps now that I'm mentioning it however I will) but I wonder how some noise reduction software would handle the spinning wheel artifacts?

Another thing I have noticed, is that footage with some spinning wheel artifacts do not show up on CRT displays as easily as they would on LCD or Plasma. Perhaps the CRT softens up the image in the process of being displayed? Even the noise I see on my LCD while editing does not show up on CRT when watched on VHS or DVD.

I will try the experiment of using noise reduction processing on some footage from my XL1s and mini35 at above f5.6 and post the results and which software/method worked best.
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Old February 22nd, 2004, 12:22 PM   #14
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That is great news about being able to stop down that far, Charles...certainly makes the mini35 a much more versatile instrument. I noticed in another post that a dvinfo member was having trouble finding a system to rent in LA. Where do you rent yours? Or do you own?

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Old February 22nd, 2004, 01:29 PM   #15
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F5.6 is quite a small exit aperture, I wonder if any vignetting cuts into the image?

I would be interested in the result of a test from a M35 owner which can confirm no vignetting at this F-stop by shooting a well lit white piece of paper
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