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Canon VIXIA Series AVCHD and HDV Camcorders
For VIXIA / LEGRIA Series (HF G, HF S, HF and HV) consumer camcorders.


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Old June 2nd, 2007, 08:39 PM   #1
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Need help pioneering use of HV20 for pro shoot

Hello all:

I have an upcoming shoot in LA with the Varicam and I am exploring the use of the HV20 as a "stunt" camera where we will be mounting onto the body of a 12 year old a la the Doggiecam (Requiem for a Dream, countless music videos). The HV20 seems like a great choice because of the small form factor/weight/state-of-the-art picture quality combination. As a last resort we will be recording on the internal HDV tape but I want to explore the feasibility of tapping out of the camera pre-HDV compression and recording externally for a location shoot. Obviously things are moving daily on this issue, so by the time of the shoot (less than 2 weeks out) this will hopefully be resolved to some degree, otherwise we may have to scrap the concept.

If anyone has the requisite hardware (Blackmagic card etc) and wants to tech this for a "real" shoot, I would be delighted to have you. We will need to shoot tests in the upcoming week at Alternative Rentals in LA (this camera against the Varicam, to make sure they will cut OK) and you would be free to post stills and footage here and elsewhere from the tests if you wish. The shoot itself will be between the 15th and 19th (these particular shots have not yet been scheduled within the shoot dates).

I've been following the various threads here but I have my hands full with all of the other details of the shoot so I can't spend much of my time trying to solve the puzzle, hence my desire to have someone else problem-solve the setup.

Please email me at info@charlespapert.com and let me know what you have and what you would need for the hardware side of things. I already have the HV20, it's the capture technology that I'm looking for. And we will be out on the streets, so it will need to be somewhat mobile (a follow vehicle or cart is assumed).

Some thoughts and questions to be answered:

We would ultimately be needing the files in DVCPROHD (to be edited in FCP); would we be better capturing in a more robust format and downconverting?

Would analog component out of the camera (available now) be too much of a compromise or not? Given our delivery format, what percentage of picture quality would we be sacrificing recording in HDV vs analog component vs HDMI out ("a lot" doesn't help--it's all about the comparison to the Varicam footage).

Thanks in advance.
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 10:54 AM   #2
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Depending on how you're using the footage (no chroma keying I assume) I'm not sure you'd lose a lot if you had to record to HDV, especially if they're just quick cutaway shots. Of course using the component out or HDMI out would be better color space (and no compression), but you'd have to rig a laptop to the person too I would assume, or some kind of cart as you mention. But that wouldn't make it very "mobile" in my opinion.

I have shot with the Varicam a lot and have successully cut DVX-100 standard-def footage in with it (upconverting through a Teranex box), so cutting HDV in would seem to be no problem, and look fine. Especially since the HV20 is shooting 1080p (with pulldown) and the Varicam is 720p. My main concern would probably be gamma curves matching, especially if you're shooing in FILM REC mode on the Varicam.

Good luck on your shoot.
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 12:54 PM   #3
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Thanks Blake.

I agree about the gamma curves, but fortunately the look of the particular section that this will be used in is somewhat distorted with a blown-out highlight vibe (which will be done in post) so I think we will be safe. This film is headed to festivals (Sundance, Cannes etc) so I'm trying to be extra cautious about the compression issues--I haven't seen problems with the HDV footage from this camera yet, but there is potential for the types of shots that we are doing for a certain amount of camera wobble so I don't want to risk anything.

Certainly it wouldn't be a truly mobile/run-and-gun setup if we were to use an outboard recorder but the shoot can certainly accomodate that, not a concern. Having a long enough cable is probably more of a concern, which as I understand is an issue with HDMI anyway. Under no circumstances will the actor be saddled with a laptop!
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 01:37 PM   #4
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just curious charles whats the movie about can you give brief descrption ???
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 01:41 PM   #5
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It's called "Shy", and it's about a 12 year old boy who has agrophobia and is forced to deal with it by going outside in his rough urban neighborhood. Since the film is essentially told through his perspective, his first trip outside will be visually heightened in various ways, including the various shots where the camera will be mounted off his body.
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 07:10 PM   #6
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Cool concept. Good luck with it. Let us know how it all works out!
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 07:27 PM   #7
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BM Card via hdmi to your mac in the trunk would be cheap
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Old June 4th, 2007, 12:40 AM   #8
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Depending on the money you're willing to spend, here's another option:
$750 for a Magma Expressbox, adapts PCI Express cards to expresscards for laptops like the MacBookPro (the new expresscard standard is essentially a small form facter that uses standard pci-e or USB for connecting devices instead of wacky Cardbus).

Plus another $250 for a Blackmagic Intensity card that lets you capture HDMI.

This lets you tote around a rather unwieldy, but still (relatively) portable uncompressed solution. In my mind, I would be using a MacBook Pro, and probably compressing on ingest to ProRes422 so I wouldn't need to tote around a RAID Array. You're still limited to HDMI cable length, but if you've got good cables it should work as long as you're not trying to do toooo long a cable run (monoprice.com has a 100-foot cable for just over $100)
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Old June 4th, 2007, 05:28 AM   #9
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Isn't Compression an Acceptable Compromise?

especially since…
"…the look of the particular section that this will be used in is somewhat distorted with a blown-out highlight vibe…"

100' cable and laptop in the trunk sounds thoughtful but no cable seems… "most excellent" : ).
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Old June 4th, 2007, 09:35 AM   #10
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Cable isn't an issue at all. I'd rather make compromises on the shoot in terms of mobility which will be extremely minor, we'rd not running down the street and into buildings etc. rather than have "nasties" show up in the footage later.
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Old June 4th, 2007, 09:37 AM   #11
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My biggest concern is that the Blackmagic is not "officially" working for everyone via HDMI...this "depends on the cable" issue seems very dicey to me.
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