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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
Canon XL2 / XL1S / XL1 and GL2 / XM2 / GL1 / XM1.


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Old September 8th, 2004, 11:03 PM   #1
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Is this the answer for movies shot on video?

Apologies if this has been addressed already.

The XL2 shoots 16x9 and in 24p, and with the adaptor one can add a 35mm lens.

Could this be the formula for shooting a movie on video and having it look like film? (in addition to composition, lighting, etc.)

Or to phrase it better, could this be the way to do it with a camera for under $10,000?

But if you had a few more bucks, think it would better to rent or buy the Panasonic Varicam? and at the moment is the Cine Alta still the king of the hill when it comes to using video cameras to shoot narrative features?
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Old September 9th, 2004, 12:14 AM   #2
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It's probably the best solution under $10,000, to buy an XL2 and rent a mini35 and lenses.
You'll be able to rent a varicam for only about 2 weeks for $10,000 and you still won't be able to edit the footage on your home PC.
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Old September 9th, 2004, 12:41 AM   #3
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Dylan's right you'd only be able to edit on your Mac...
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Old September 9th, 2004, 01:21 AM   #4
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LOL!
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Old September 9th, 2004, 04:18 AM   #5
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Keep in mind that if you buy such a system it will be AT LEAST
$10.000. Rental should be cheaper indeed. Just so everyone knows.
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Old September 9th, 2004, 01:57 PM   #6
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Well of course 16:9 and 24p go a long way when shooting a feature on a very low budget, but as far as shooting with 35mm lenses and the mini35 is concerned, it's out of my price range. $10,000 CND and this doesn't include any lens.

I was only able to find the pro35 for renting in Montreal and it's $600 CND a day, which would bring it close to the price of a new adapter for a 3 week shooting. Of course there's always mechanical adapters to use 35mm lenses, but there's a 7.2x magnification factor, which means, unless you're shooting in the desert and can move back away from your subject to infinity and beyond, there's no way you can use it as is.

Better off with PL mount 16/super16 mm lenses or broadcast 2/3" lenses with the corresponding adapter. I almost bought a nice Canon 2/3" YJ9X18 KRS on ebay the other day that went for $1000 USD but since the adapter is $1400, I'll wait a bit longer to have confirmation on every source of money for my budget before laying out the big $$$ from my own wallet.

In any event, I think the XL2 (this is a personal opinion) seems to be the best camcorder out there if you plan to blow it to film or just look like film for DVD release and are on a tight budget. Not only will the equipment cost just a fraction of the price compared to a movie done on film or HD, but it'll also involve just a fraction of the technical crew needed too, which also significantly lowers the costs.

Use the extra money to get good actors! I've learned in the past this was the most critical expense (much more so than equipment) when shooting a dramatic feature. To put it bluntly, if you shoot a feature on HD or 35mm with actors that suck, your movie will suck as well, no matter how good it looks. On the other hand, use low cost equipment on a killer script played by good actors, and you stand a much better chance to be successful (lots of examples of this, 28 days later by Danny Boyle and The Idiots by Lars Von Trier being some of them).
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Old September 9th, 2004, 03:01 PM   #7
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A couple of things...

Something's off in your math with the PRO35, David...it should actually take many months of rental to equal the purchase price. Factor in a 3-day week (shorter for a long-term rental) and the much higher price of the PRO35 vs the Mini35. I can't take the time to do the Canadian conversion of rates, but I think you will see it would be somewhere between three and five months.

<<Not only will the equipment cost just a fraction of the price compared to a movie done on film or HD, but it'll also involve just a fraction of the technical crew needed too, which also significantly lowers the costs.>>

This is a choice, not a given based on the equipment. The sensitivity of DV cameras is not so much greater than HD that you need less equpiment to achieve a specific look, nor does a HD shoot "require" more crew than a DV shoot. I've been on low-budget HD jobs and high-budget DV jobs. By nature, DV jobs tend to be on lower budgets, otherwise the other formats are considered--but let's not confuse that with technical requirements. "28 Days Later", as you mentioned, was by no means a low budget movie, it was well endowed with crew and equipment.

As far as actors are concerned, I would suggest that money is rarely part of that consideration. Many excellent actors (even well-known ones) will participate in a project for as little as scale if they like it. And there are many others who will work on a SAG experimental waiver. I would actually recommend spending that money on a well-credentialled casting person rather than on the actors themselves! But yes, I agree with you that bad actors will sink a project far quicker than this camera or that camera etc.
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Old September 9th, 2004, 03:26 PM   #8
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Charles,

You are absolutely correct. It's would be so much more beneficial to spend some money on a good casting agent. These people can get your script in front of some real talent that could end up making all the difference in your movie. And like you stated. Working under the SAG experimental program will give access to that talent pool. 90% of all actors are out of work for the most part. If the project looks good, a great number will be willing to work for deferred SAG scale.
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Old September 9th, 2004, 06:51 PM   #9
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You're right Charles about the pro35, what I meant (it wasn't clear) was that either buying the mini35 or renting the pro35 (my only choice here in Montreal as far as I know) would amount to the same kind of money. I know the pro35 is much more expensive, but if the mini35 is out of my price range, the pro35 is much more so. This was in the context of using 35mm lenses.

When I was reffering to equipment, I was also thinking about post-production, especially for film. Film usually involves more people as far as I know from the shoot to the edited product ready for screening. HDTV is a greyer area.

I mentioned 28 days later because it was shot on XL1s and it shows (that it was DV) on the big screen, so does The Idiots from Von Trier. It doesn't take away their quality in the least.

You're right about the casting agency, it's not necessarily the actors that will command big bucks, and you could even find hidden gems fresh out of school that will work for free just to get into the business, but you still have to find them. What I meant was that it's dangerous to think your production will be a success because you bought the best equipment you could afford and then are forced to use your friends to be your talents, a mistake I've done in the past myself.
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Old September 9th, 2004, 07:10 PM   #10
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David,

I don't know if this can help you, but Dennis Hingsberg, a DVInfo member and indie filmaker in Toronto area, rent the mini35 from is production company, Star Central.

I don't know if he rent it for people outside of the Toronto area, but you should try to contact it. It is a really nice guy.

Hope this help,
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Old September 9th, 2004, 08:37 PM   #11
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My feeling about shooting a feature on DV is that the Mini35, as cool as it is, will not necessarily make enough of a difference to a super low budget film to necessarily be worth the expense. Exceptions would be if the production required certain lenses that are only available in the 35mm gauge, or if shallow focus was an absolute must for the style of the film.

The PRO35 (which of course only fits on 2/3" cameras) married to a great SD camera like the SDX900, or HD cameras, is a whole other ball of wax.

Let's compare two pretty comparably-priced packages for a feature:

1) A personally owned XL2 with rented Mini35 and cine lenses
2) rented SDX900 with standard broadcast lens

Which would look "better"? The image from the SDX900 is definitely the winner, and the DVCPRO50 will look nicer on the big screen (not as "lossy").
Would the shallow depth of field of the first setup overcome these advantages though?

Interesting...
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Old September 9th, 2004, 11:15 PM   #12
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Thanks for the heads up Jean-Philippe, I'll be checking that out.

Charles, the thing is, when thinking about a project like fictional work, you have (if nobody backs you up) to dig money from your own pockets.

Now you can rent excellent equipment, and be left with nothing after the shoot if it doesn't work out, or buy cheaper equipment, provided it's decent enough for what you're planing, and independently of what happens with your film, use that equipment to make a little money on the side or worst case scenario resell it in an "as new" condition and gain back almost the totality of your investment.

Of course if you were doing something with guarenteed money at the end, why not rent, it'll pay for itself, but when doing something only you beleives in until it's made (which is quite common if you're a no-name), you better spend intelligently and come up with a back up plan at the end that won't left you ruined. That's why a camcorder like the XL2 and DVX100A are intelligent investments for starting fictional filmmakers. Because at worst, you'll get your money back and be able to try again.
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Old September 11th, 2004, 06:04 PM   #13
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David, I think we agree on all of these points. I think my issue is when folks on a very low budget fret about renting exotic gear like the Mini35 when the net return on the look may not be as substantial as putting the money elsewhere. Some amazing things are being done out there with very simple gear. The trick is to figure out how to get the biggest bang for the buck.
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Old September 11th, 2004, 06:38 PM   #14
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<<<-- Originally posted by Nick Hiltgen : Dylan's right you'd only be able to edit on your Mac... -->>>

You can edit DVCPro100 on a Mac? Or are you talking an offline edit?
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Old September 11th, 2004, 08:17 PM   #15
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In that sense I agree Charles, no need to put yourself over budget for something like the Mini35, I sure won't. The DOF advantage does not (at least for someone with a limited budget like me) justify cuting on other critical parts of your production (like finding good actors, a qualified crew, good locations, maybe even to buy a bit more time and shoot in a more loose and relaxed environment).
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