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Old September 7th, 2012, 12:08 AM   #1
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5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

Okay, so I've been reading up and down this forum, and up and down the internet through various blogs, PBS POV, and tons others that have articles mentioning the 5D Mark III for broadcast.

If I'm producing an entire documentary for broadcast on a national HD network, in this case PBS, can I use the 5D Mark III? I've looked at the PBS Redbook and it does not meet the requirements for color space, however I know for a fact that many PBS national docs have been shot on DSLR's, many of these using 7D's and Mark II's - some of which include SD footage, which don't meet the specs. I've talked with some people at local PBS affiliates and they guess that as long as you avoid mosquito noise you should be fine, but I need to be sold 100% before I make an investment.

So with the Mark III's fixing the aliasing and moire issue, and the high bit-rate ALL-I codec, I am thinking the color space shouldn't be a problem to up-convert to HDCAM specs?

I hear people telling me how "you will have to send your production to a post house and have it graded to PBS specs for $20k" - Unless someone explains the specifics of this I think this is a bunch of BS. I realize that House was an established show and they pushed for the 5D's to be used, I know these were used for minor shots on 24, and minor shots in Black Swan, and many shots in Act of Valor, all of which have or will be broadcasted.

I can't see a reason to buy a C300 at $15k for documentary work when I feel the 5D III will work fine. I also don't particularly want to use an XF300 or XF100 and loose that nice film look that the 5D provides for my interviews.

Would appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you
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Old September 7th, 2012, 05:45 AM   #2
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

The Mark iii should be fine for broadcast purposes if footage is well shot & graded.
$20k sounds like a lot but if you want your documentary to look consistently good when broadcast, a professional grade can do wonders. You can grade yourself but you've got to take into consideration that a professional colourist has most likely spent many years learning his or her craft and has the right skills and monitoring equipment to make accurate judgments. What looks good on a computer screen doesn't necessarily translate well to television broadcast.
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Old September 13th, 2012, 03:55 PM   #3
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

I don't know about PBS, but here in the UK, broadcasters don't mind some footage acquisition from DSLRs like the 5D3 included within a given program, but that a certain percentage of the program is permitted for non-broadcast approved cameras. In other words, the general rule of thumb is that as long as it's used alongside other, broadcast-approved acquired footage, then it's okay.

The problem you have is that the 5D3 can't output 50mbps, which is a standard insisted on by most broadcasters.

But like Chris rightly points out, it also depends on how well its been shot and the grade.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 08:18 AM   #4
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

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Originally Posted by Kris Koster View Post
The problem you have is that the 5D3 can't output 50mbps, which is a standard insisted on by most broadcasters.
Actually the 5D3 can record at >50Mbps as the All-I mode is about 90Mbps.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 08:33 AM   #5
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

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Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
Actually the 5D3 can record at >50Mbps as the All-I mode is about 90Mbps.
Well it needs to be at least 100Mb/s for intra-frame only video, so the 5D will still be regarded as sub-broadcast quality by the main broadcasters.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 09:40 AM   #6
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

It's all about the content. If you have the right content, they'll show whatever you send. They have to set a standard so they don't get they next big reality show submitted on a gopro.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 10:35 AM   #7
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

BBC standards are certainly a stumbling block, yes. But is this being shown in the UK?

That should answer the bitrate part of the equation.

You can also go the inbetween route between the 5D and the C300 with a FS100 and Hyperdeck or Atmos Ninja.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 10:51 AM   #8
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

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BBC standards are certainly a stumbling block, yes. But is this being shown in the UK?

That should answer the bitrate part of the equation.
Its not just the BBC. They as a non-commercial organisation created the technical case for such standards, but their standards have been adopted by the EBU, and many other major broadcasters around the world see these as important benchmarks, especially if they have any aspirations of selling programmes on the world market.

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Originally Posted by Jack Zhang View Post
You can also go the inbetween route between the 5D and the C300 with a FS100 and Hyperdeck or Atmos Ninja.
That's a possibility, provided the source cameras do not introduce significant artifacts that will multiply through the transmission path.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 12:48 PM   #9
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

There are no rules like this for PBS. Maybe for a regular show shot in a studio like Sesame Street, but if you are making a unique piece, ESPECIALLY a documentary, you really should not worry so much.

Despite the BBC being a well-respected originator of guidelines, here in the US we have major news broadcast networks using footage from flip-phones and screen-shots of the Internet all the time. It's just marketing that makes us think that we need to shoot everything on $20,000+ cameras or else no-one will want to see it. That's not true at all: documentaries, for better or for worse, have a pre-established precedent for lower production quality (MUCH LOWER) than fiction.

Just hire a sound-op and light your interviews well, and your production value will be leagues ahead of most of the rest of us independent documentary producers.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 01:30 PM   #10
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

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Originally Posted by Finn Yarbrough View Post
There are no rules like this for PBS. Maybe for a regular show shot in a studio like Sesame Street, but if you are making a unique piece, ESPECIALLY a documentary, you really should not worry so much.

Despite the BBC being a well-respected originator of guidelines, here in the US we have major news broadcast networks using footage from flip-phones and screen-shots of the Internet all the time. It's just marketing that makes us think that we need to shoot everything on $20,000+ cameras or else no-one will want to see it. That's not true at all: documentaries, for better or for worse, have a pre-established precedent for lower production quality (MUCH LOWER) than fiction.
I have seen some PBS in the US, (admittedly SD so the question of original quality on NTSC is almost irrelevant) and I thought that the content values were much better than the big commercial networks, by UK standards at least.
Now when it comes to News, the rules are completely different, (all over the world) as no editor is going to miss out on an important story because the footage or the sound is below par, and who carries a professional ENG camera all the time just in case they are at the scene of an emergency. Much of the footage from 7-7, in London was from mobile phones, when they were a lot less capable than the norm for today's models. Where sub-standard footage is the sole content available for the article, broadcasters here usually overlay a message to that effect. Otherwise, most 'planned' news articles here, even on the lowest budget channels, are shot to a minimum standard that allows the use of ridiculously low DVB bitrates without the original material's artifacts destroying the image.
As far as documentaries are concerned, the technical quality is usually quite good, even when they give non-professional participants, cameras for their individual inputs. Sometimes, these are Canon XF305s, which are BBC/EBU approved cameras. Maybe there is more international market interest for UK made documentaries than those that PBS produce.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 02:01 PM   #11
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

Paul,

Is this a one-off project or are you looking to do this work on a regular basis?

If its a one-off shoot it with anything you like that suits your needs. If you are looking to move into this area for regular work then skip the dSLR and go with a proper video camera. Its more than just the look of the final product. Using standard gear shows you understand the expectations of the industry. It puts you in a position to be seen as more professional versus content producers using non standard gear such as dSLRs.
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Old September 14th, 2012, 05:46 PM   #12
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
Actually the 5D3 can record at >50Mbps as the All-I mode is about 90Mbps.
I stand corrected! For the most part, the beeb still turn their noses up at it though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Grant
It's all about the content. If you have the right content, they'll show whatever you send. They have to set a standard so they don't get they next big reality show submitted on a gopro.
Maybe so on PBS, but not the case here in the UK - Unless you're hitting the after-hours cable channels.

I'm not as involved as some in the TV industry on these forums, but my personal opinion is that if you plan to make something that your aiming for TV broadcast, especially the mainstream terrestrial networks, you'd better read up on their tech specs first. You don't want to be in the position of getting it turned down because it doesn't make the grade.
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Old September 19th, 2012, 01:38 PM   #13
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

What is "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" shot on? Red? Phantom? Alexa? No. I think not. Every major network reality show in the US including American Idol and the other top shows use DSLRs A LOT. If you have the right content they will not give 2 flips about what it's shot on. Standards or not.
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Old September 19th, 2012, 06:51 PM   #14
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Re: 5d Mk. III for Broadcast - Yes or No?

Bill,

Doesn't that program air on TLC?

"TLC (former initialism for The Learning Channel) is an American cable TV specialty channel which initially focused on educational content."

Which is my point exactly, it depends *which* channel/network you plan to pitch your show to. I happen to know that most terrestrial channels and major networks won't touch shows shot almost entirely on DSLRs. Standards do matter to them whether we like it or not.

I'm not saying it won't get broadcast or picked up by *someone* ... All I'm saying is that the big boys won't touch it unless it's up to their spec, regardless of content. So why restrict yourself to start with, unless of course you are aiming to pitch it to broadcasters like TLC. No problem with it in that case!

By the way, I can't speak for US-made shows as I'm unfamiliar with that territory. Certainly "The X-Factor" or "Britain's Got Talent" which are the UK equivilent of the "Americal Idol" type show that you mention, are NOT shot on DSLRs. Rather, broadcast grade cameras are used for most if not all shots on reality shows here.
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