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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old April 30th, 2009, 03:45 PM   #1
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Question about a deck for the A1s

Hey all,

I'm planning my budget for a low-budget feature. The look and feel of the film can be achieved by using the XH-A1s. However, I don't have a lot of time to shoot this - I'll only have about 3 weeks. So instead of shooting on one camera 3 times, I'm going to try 3 cameras to capture the "good take" once. I don't want to sacrifice quality though and I do know about the camera itself and the 24f recording format. However to get the footage into our field laptop, I was thinking of getting the XH-G1s because it has the jack pack. Then I can capture using HD SDI connection. That is WAY more expensive though. So then I thought - is there a deck that I can capture from? I checked on Canon's website but didn't see one. I'm trying to save some money here and if I can purchase 3 A1s cameras instead of 3 G1s cameras, then I'm going to save about 9k. Then if there's a deck out there that does handle 24f then I can get that for hopefully around 3k. So in the end I've saved 6k.

Any recommendations?
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Old April 30th, 2009, 03:51 PM   #2
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Ooooh.. I think I just figured it out. I can buy 2 xh-a1s cameras and 1 xh-g1s cameras and use the G1s for my capture camera. Does anyone see an issue with that?
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Old April 30th, 2009, 06:23 PM   #3
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There'd be no advantage to having the XH G1 model for the HDSDI if the other two XH A1 cameras are passing their recorded HDV footage via 1394 (firewire) to the G1 for transfer. If you want to do live switching, you'll need all G1 models and the additional switching hardware. One A1 and two G1 models can use the timecode from the A1 to synch but you'll still have the A1 recording to tape or a laptop at HDV quality.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 07:05 PM   #4
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Hi Adam.........

OK, I'll bite, tho' think I really should know better.

Let me see:

"Low budget feature". So, we're possibly already up for three G1s's (presumably with operators, unless they work by some mysterious remote control), a deck, HD - SDI equipped laptop(s), with operator(s).

Then we have "instead of one camera 3 times (Huh?) 3 cameras to capture the "good take" (Huh again?).

Lost me on that one.

Unless each camera is shooting a completly different scene to the other two (we now have 3 Directors, 3 lots of talent and 3 complete crews???) a "bad take" is going to be the same "bad take" on each camera, no? (or did I miss something at film school?)

Which brings me back to this HD - SDI and deck thing.

[You know, the further I go with this, the more I get the feeling someone's slipped me a tab of acid or it's one heck of a leg pull]

HD - SDI is designed to take full, uncompressed "live" ( I stress "LIVE", not from the tape) video to a suitably equipped HD - SDI ingest machine.

If you want HD - SDI then all camera's and ingest equipment must be providing/ receiving "LIVE" feeds, not taking it off the tape, because once it's on the tape it's compressed HDV, not uncompressed "live".

If you're writing it to the tape, what's the point of HD - SDI? It's no longer live nor uncompressed, so you might as well save tens of thousands of $$$ and use Firewire like most everybody else.

Also, if you're writing it to the tape(s), the only deck(s) required are your trio of camera's, presuming you aren't intending to set some sort of record by shooting 24 hours per day every day with all 3 cameras, in which case you'll just have to slum it with a trio of HV20/ 30/ 40's like us plebs (tho' this does imply, by my count, you're up to 9 complete crews running 3 shifts each on the three cameras - getting a tad up there for a "low budget" production, no?).

Recommendations?

I'd really rather not.


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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
OK, I'll bite, tho' think I really should know better.

Let me see:

"Low budget feature". So, we're possibly already up for three G1s's (presumably with operators, unless they work by some mysterious remote control), a deck, HD - SDI equipped laptop(s), with operator(s).
Come on friend - be nice. I don't know as much about cameras as you do. That's why I posted the question. :) And yes I did say low budget feature - the budget is going to be around 300k USD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Then we have "instead of one camera 3 times (Huh?) 3 cameras to capture the "good take" (Huh again?).

Lost me on that one.
Take 3 cameras and set up one for a master and two for your over-the-shoulder angles. Then have the actors act. You get a lot more coverage this way and you light for the entire scene. When you get a good take, then you don't need to do that take again from any of those other angles. It's already captured. Many directors work this way - Spike Lee for one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
HD - SDI is designed to take full, uncompressed "live" ( I stress "LIVE", not from the tape) video to a suitably equipped HD - SDI ingest machine.

If you want HD - SDI then all camera's and ingest equipment must be providing/ receiving "LIVE" feeds, not taking it off the tape, because once it's on the tape it's compressed HDV, not uncompressed "live".
CS
Okay well thanks for clearing that up for me. That's what I was looking for. I am not a camera man or an editor, I'm a producer. So I didn't know that the HD-SDI was for live capture. I was told by someone that HD-SDI is a better way to capture from the camera. I assumed it was coming off the tape - again, I'm not a camera man. I won't be shooting the cameras. I think I'll get 3 XH-A1s cameras then. This is actually amazing news for me because the footage I have seen that came from the A1 is the look I'm going for. The HVX is just a little too sharp for what I'd like to get.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Bauer View Post
There'd be no advantage to having the XH G1 model for the HDSDI if the other two XH A1 cameras are passing their recorded HDV footage via 1394 (firewire) to the G1 for transfer. If you want to do live switching, you'll need all G1 models and the additional switching hardware. One A1 and two G1 models can use the timecode from the A1 to synch but you'll still have the A1 recording to tape or a laptop at HDV quality.
After reading Chris' response now I know what SDI does! Dang, and the whole time I thought that HD-SDI was just a better way to capture from the tape. I'm actually relieved though because now I know the stuff I've seen from the A1 came from firewire. I'm totally fine with that then.

thanks!
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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:54 PM   #7
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Hmmm.........

I appologise if I appeared to come over a bit strong, but for someone talking of doing what you are, your apparent ignorance of the equipment is a trifle scary.

Leaving everything else aside, nobody just picks up a A1/G1 (s) (or even 3) and makes a movie straight out of the box.

I take it you're to be the director?

The best decision as director you can make at this point is to stop talking cameras and get an experienced DOP on the job and ask him/ her what you should be shooting with and how.

Knowing every trick to get the best out of a camera is a long learning process, you haven't got anywhere near the time if this has a 3 week deadline.

Sure, if you try, you'll get video, but it will be a case of:

"It's video, Jim, but not as we know it"

and unless that's really where you want to be going, don't do it.

With a $300k budget you really should have budgeted for a DOP and the best sound guy you can afford - as long as the script will stand scrutiny and the director has some semblence of common sense, those two people can make the difference between zero and hero.


CS
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Old April 30th, 2009, 11:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Rench View Post
I thought that HD-SDI was just a better way to capture from the tape.
Actually it is a better way to capture from the tape, as Scott Billups reported long ago comparing HDV playback and capture over SDI compared to FireWire from the XL H1.
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Old May 1st, 2009, 12:13 AM   #9
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This may be a stupid question, but if you have one camera set up on wide and two over the shoulders, all shooting at the same time, do you plan on erasing the cameras from the recorded footage in post?
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Old May 1st, 2009, 12:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayesha Khan View Post
This may be a stupid question, but if you have one camera set up on wide and two over the shoulders, all shooting at the same time, do you plan on erasing the cameras from the recorded footage in post?
I will use a long lens so that my cameras are out of the shot. :o)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
Actually it is a better way to capture from the tape, as Scott Billups reported long ago comparing HDV playback and capture over SDI compared to FireWire from the XL H1.
Well that's great news! Thanks for the input. I have gone to Canon shows and demos and all they kept talking about was that the H1 had this new thing (at the time) called the "jack pack" and how now they can capture uncompressed. I just assumed that uncompressed was the best and never thought another moment about it again. So thanks for letting me know!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
With a $300k budget you really should have budgeted for a DOP and the best sound guy you can afford - as long as the script will stand scrutiny and the director has some semblence of common sense, those two people can make the difference between zero and hero.
I appreciate your input.
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Old May 1st, 2009, 01:15 AM   #11
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Er, where?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
Actually it is a better way to capture from the tape, as Scott Billups reported long ago comparing HDV playback and capture over SDI compared to FireWire from the XL H1.
I've searched high and low on DVinfo and this piece of information continues to elude me.

The best I've found so far is this:

Scott Billups Tests Canon’s XL H1 for Motion-Picture Production

where such a claim, as far as I can make out, is not made.

Going to take a bit of grey cell pounding to come to terms with a digital transmission using method A being superior to method B when they're both transferring identical digital data.

If you can point out the article I'll take a bash at it.


CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; May 1st, 2009 at 04:59 AM. Reason: Whoops.
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Old May 1st, 2009, 08:23 AM   #12
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If it is any better it's going to be negligible. As one of the posts said, the quality you've seen from the camera is via firewire and looks great.
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Old May 1st, 2009, 09:03 AM   #13
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Well, "negligible" is a highly relative term. For some folks it will be negligible, for others it will be significant... and both viewpoints are legitimate. Barlow Elton leaned toward negligible, while Scott Billups leaned toward significant, and I respect both of their evaluations highly. Anyway here are the previous discussions about the advantages to SDI capture of HDV recordings:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-xh-...questions.html -- posts #6, #8, #11 and on from there.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/sony-hvr-...hdmi-v1-2.html -- posts #17 through #20

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/canon-xl-...t-quality.html -- posts #104, #105, #106

The reference I make to a conversation with Billups happened at CineGear 2006 in Hollywood,
where we chatted at length about it following his hands-on tests of the XL H1. Hope this helps,
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