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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
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Old April 24th, 2007, 01:26 PM   #1
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HV20 Questions for Indie Film

What a great resource this forum is! I've been trying to research this camera as many other threads point to its superior image quality. I've been planning a short film for the past several years, and at first I looked to rent a Panasonic DVX100A. I have three kids and a small budget, so I've been contemplating a consumer HD cam that I can use for home movies after my film is shot. I'm looking for the best possible picture on a tight budget.

I plan on capturing my own sound on a seperate device (ipod perhaps, as seen in other threads), with a shotgun mic and pole so the sound recording doesn't bother me as much on the HV20. The types of shots I'll be attempting are during the day, on grassy hills with small groups of trees scattered about. (example of the area:http://bgbg.blogspot.com/postimg/hills.jpg) I will be following one live action character, and merging in one CG character as well. Many shots will be pans and follows, but movement is going to be a garauntee. I plan on building a poor-man's steadicam that i've found online, to practice with. Here are my questions that are tailored more toward an indie film shoot on the cheap, than general family and nature tripod shots that I've seen posted.

1) I need to get this out of the way, but why hasn't the Canon HV10 or HV20 been compared to Sony's HDR-SR1? I know they capture differently and Sony's model has issues with software support, but they are evenly priced and if Canon's model is superior to the HC3 or HC7 in terms of picture quality then it comes down to my choice of tapeless vs image. If I had a close comparison to the SR1, I'd know just "how" much better the HV20's picture truly is.

2) Should I worry about the camera wearing out (heads getting dirty, parts getting stressed) by reviewing footage directly from the HV20 to an LCD screen multiple times during shooting? (assuming I go with tapes and not DTD) I plan to purchase a small LCD screen to attach to the camera's boot for framing and reviewing.

3) I've read that you cannot adjust white balance on the fly, and I have some concerns about shooting the ground and panning up to see the sky with my characters silhouetted and getting blown out. Have many users found through practice that this is not a terribly strong negative feature of the HV20?

4) Is there footage anywhere with movement via steadicam, following subjects aound? Nearly every single one I've seen is with the camera operator standing or using a tripod. I assume to hide a flaw, but I'd love to be proven wrong :) My shots will attempt to have a "war documentary" style at certain points in my film, where I really want to move quickly beside my actor.

5) Is there a device that will allow me to take recorded tapes out of the HV20 and transfer them to a PC? Hopfully saving my camera's life and allowing me to transfer tapes on one device while continuing to film with my camera in the field.

6) Assuming I attempt the direct-to-drive on the cheap, could I simply use a hard drive, the HV20 and an LCD screen mounted on top to capture to HD and review on the LCD? I read in this thread: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=41177 about capturing to this tablet, but I'm still not sure if you can actually review the footage on the tablet. It appears to strictly be for capturing and not reviewing, which i'd just prefer a hard drive in that case.

Thank you, these are my questions that I haven't been able to hunt down the answers for and I really wanted to showcase the HV20's power in my film. I'm sure I will have more questions before I purchase one but i'm really leaning toward the HV20.

Thank you,
Stephan
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Old April 24th, 2007, 01:42 PM   #2
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If you plan on adding a CG character you would want progressive footage, dealing with interlaced video is a pain. The HV20 does progressive. Skip AVCHD camcorders, HDV's PQ is better. Any of these CMOS camcorders have rolling shutter artifacts which makes it difficult to match panning or hand held plates in the computer for CG elements, pan slowly and move the camera slowly.
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Old April 24th, 2007, 01:44 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Steve Royer View Post
3) I've read that you cannot adjust white balance on the fly, and I have some concerns about shooting the ground and panning up to see the sky with my characters silhouetted and getting blown out. Have many users found through practice that this is not a terribly strong negative feature of the HV20?
You can change exposure on the fly, white balance has nothing to do with what you are trying to avoid here.
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Old April 24th, 2007, 03:05 PM   #4
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HV20 Facts of life:

1. In 24p, you will get the jerky 24p motion. To reduce it, shoot at 1/48 or even 1/24. Motion blur will reduce issue.

2. If you are doing a lot of panning, then you should consider shooting in 60i. Point is test it out.

3. You could live capture HDV to a laptop. If your laptop captures DV okay, HDV is same bitrate, so that should work, assuming you have right software. This will be HDV compressed level video, though. You may be able t0 record uncompressed via HDMI cable, but I have no experience.

4. Tape is actually still most reasonable raw storage format for us mortals. Live with it.

5. Separate tape deck? Get a second HV20, its cheaper than most tape decks, and you will have a second camera.

6. You can adjust exposure on the fly, using the exposure control, and the mini "joystick". Its a little different process, that say an FX1, but it works fine.

7. You can also lock exposure, so that changing scene won't change the relative exposure of a particular object.

8. HDV had gotten a bad rap about movement. In most situation, and I include running rivers, and windblown grassy field, I have seen great results. See my test film here, for instance (remember it is compressed down for web):

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=K6KWAEHG
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Old April 24th, 2007, 04:16 PM   #5
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Hi Steve -

The PQ of the HV20 will definitley be better than the SR1 - the tapeless compression doesn't seem to hold up to HDV from the reviews I've seen.

I believe most manufacturers rate the heads in the thousand hours range - but you run the risk of head clogs and wear on your tape and heads if you do a lot of "reviewing" back and forth.

White balance and exposure are two different animals - exposure is what you're more concerned with, and it should be adjustable on the fly acccording to Wes & Chris - you can also control your video quality to some degree with filters - probably a good idea in bright sunlight.

There's "lots" of "steadicam" footage out there - a "real" stadicam will run you way more than the camera, and have a steep learning curve. I've experimented quite a bit with various approaches to steadying small camcorders - it's far more problematic because of the small mass/inertia. Frankly the "poor mans steadycam" will probably cause you more grief because the counterweight will tend to swing the rig more than steady it. There are a couple "mini" steadying rigs out there - there was an old Hollywood Lite unit (the VS1) that I've used with pretty decent results with the small cameras - it's fairly small itself. IF you can even find one, they're probably affordable. The REAL Steadicam JR is also good, but figure $300 used. Myself, I've gone over to a rig with two camera flash brackets (three actually now, thanks to another similar rig I saw somewhere on the web), configured sort of like a mini "Fig Rig" - with a bit of practice, it's as stable as anything I've used - although I haven't tried running with it. If you have the "steadicam glide" (walk) down, it works surprisingly well.

In short, image stabilization is a whole 'nother ball o' cheese - you'll want to really consider that most "productions" spend a ton on tripods/cranes/dollys/steadicams to get the "look". Not to mention if you're going to CG something in, it will have to match your camera moves 100%...

As for "direct to disk" recording - you could consider firewire to a laptop as one option, but now you won't be moving very far... and won't be "flying" your rig steadicam style, as you've now got a tether!

Sounds like you're in early planning stages - don't let anything I've said discourage you, but hopefully this will give you some things to think about!

DB>)
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Old April 24th, 2007, 10:50 PM   #6
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HV20 questions for indie film

Steve, for the Steadicam Merlin in use see the thread "HV20 and Merlin" in this forum.

Charles Papert posts links to a photograph of the Merlin and a short video shot with the HV20 mounted on the Merlin.

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Old April 24th, 2007, 11:47 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Steve Royer View Post
I plan on building a poor-man's steadicam that i've found online, to practice with.
Would this be the $14 steadycam? I built one of those a couple of years ago myself... Tried it with the HV20 this morning and it works really well. Recommended.
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Old April 25th, 2007, 12:18 PM   #8
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Wes: Yes you're right I confused the terms, it will be a learning experience. I apologize for the amatuer question. It's great to hear my concern won't be an issue!

Chris: So what shutter speed (or other adjustements) would you recommend if I "want" that "Saving Private Ryan/Documentary" feel? Crank up the shutter speed extremely high? Also I've been looking into an external hard drive by Seagate: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822148154
I'm downloading your video now Chris thanks for the info!

Dave: Great information, thank you. I am in the early planning stages of filming, because I chose not to use an experienced crew and do this all myself. This information is not discouraging at all, it's exciting stuff! I'll have a small group of talented CG artists who've worked on several Hollywood films assisting me on the camera moves and any green screen work.

Andrew: I'll head over to that thread now, thanks for the info. Any results with steadicams and the HV20 are very valuable to me.

Glenn: The $14 steadicam is the exact one I was talking about. It's a bit on the ghetto side, but seems to get the job done just fine. Glad to hear it worked out for you!

I think a laptop is the way to go, has anyone tried a UMPC yet? It seems that it'd be an ideal match for portability, a rugged touch screen and power on the go. Thanks again all.

Last edited by Steve Royer; April 25th, 2007 at 01:05 PM.
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