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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 19th, 2015, 11:01 PM   #1
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Old HV20 returns as a working prop!

On the current series I'm shooting, we had a storyline where one of the characters wants to try out for "The Bachelor" so she has another character shoot her audition video. The footage from the camcorder was to be cut into the show so it needed to be a working prop. The director wanted to record while the camera is being held by various actors (including at one point an 8 year old), rather than have us do a secondary take with my operators using the camera. As a result, I realized that we would need to live monitor the footage to make sure the framing was OK and didn't swing around to catch our cameras/lighting/boom etc. However, we couldn't cable the camera because that would be seen in the primary footage and wouldn't make sense. Finally, the camera needed to be light and easy enough to operate that the actors would be comfortable, and for the sake of the storyline it needed to be a few years old rather than state of the art.

I still have my 8 or 9 year old Canon HV20 around which one of these days will be used to transfer my small pile of HDV tapes to hard drive. I haven't touched it in years, but was glad to see that it worked perfectly well. I had to order an inexpensive replacement battery as a backup but the original issue still held a charge, not bad for Li-On!

The HV20 was one of the first camcorders to sport an HDMI port, and rather entertainingly at this point in time, a full size one at that. I realized I could use a Paralinx Arrow to transmit the video so we could monitor the camera, but now had to contend with powering the transmitter and making the whole thing self-contained, and it had to look believable on camera. I came up with the idea of turning the Arrow into an onboard mike by adding a foam windscreen on the front. To mount it convincingly, I took a little hot shoe mount and screwed a thin piece of plastic on top, then velcroed the Arrow to the plate to set it off from the camera body For power, I velcroed a Mophie Juice pack to the bottom of the camera. Fortunately the color scheme of the camera being silver and black, all of these components tied in visually!

Since the Arrow terminates in a male HDMI connector, I needed a short HDMI male to female cable and the only one I could find was notably stout. With a lot of coaxing I was able to make it describe a short arc from the "mike" to the camera. The USB power cable for the Arrow was much thinner and I taped the two together with electrical tape as cleanly as possible. As can be seen from the picture below, it's not perfect but I think very few people will suspect anything when they see it in the show. The Arrow worked perfectly (we kept the receiver as close as possible) and thus we were able to monitor the HV20 along with our two Alexas at all times.

It was a full success! The actors had no trouble working the camera. The 8 year old was particularly adept; we rehearsed her once, I gave her some framing notes, and she killed it take after take (while acting in the scene on top of everything!). It occurs to me that today's kids have grown up shooing stills and video so their inherent sense of operating a camera and framing is a great improvement over previous generations.

We had a little trouble transcoding the footage--it seemed illogical to capture via old-school firewire as an HDV signal and transcode in this day and age, so we played it out of the camera via HDMI into a Blackmagic Intensity Extreme and captured through Media Express as ProRes422HQ, same as our Alexas. A few dropped frames here and there necessitated additional transfers of select footage down the road. We shot in the camera's "24p" mode which is really just flagged frames in a 59.94 file, but it was easy enough to reverse telecine to a 23.98 file which post took care of for us.
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Old HV20 returns as a working prop!-hv20teachers.jpg  
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Old April 20th, 2015, 10:05 AM   #2
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Re: Old HV20 returns as a working prop!

That's brilliant, Charles. Thanks for sharing a real world Story from the Trenches.
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Old January 27th, 2016, 01:34 PM   #3
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Re: Old HV20 returns as a working prop!

This episode of Teachers airs tonight on TVLand at 10:30/9:30c. It's probably one of the best episodes of the season, other than having the HV20 appear in it!
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Old January 28th, 2016, 01:22 AM   #4
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Re: Old HV20 returns as a working prop!

I went to a race track today and shot some drifting action. Took several cameras; FS7, XF305, AX100, XLH1A and..... my HV30. Doesn't see much use these days, but I needed all cams to cover multiple angles. Now it's "capture time". Where's that firewire cable?....

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Old January 28th, 2016, 06:50 AM   #5
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Re: Old HV20 returns as a working prop!

Nice lighting balance between ambient (studio) and LCD brightness too, Charles.
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