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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old May 15th, 2005, 10:18 PM   #31
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Thanks Pete for restoring some order around here!

Jay, if Pete thought you had said anything that was impolite, I'm sure he would have pointed it out already.

Mark, I'm definitely glad that you bothered, as your extensive two-part post will make a wonderful article for our content side of DV Info Net. I read every word and thought it was right on the mark. Very much appreciated!
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Old May 15th, 2005, 10:53 PM   #32
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Kelly, this is kind of an interesting time to be buying gear. HDV is in it's infancy, Panasonic's version will be coming around December, so we're just not sure what's going to happen or how much demand there will be for HDV. I personally am not a fan of HDV, but you have to keep an eye on what's going on in the marketplace.

I do prefer Panasonic's version of HDV, even though it's vaporware at the moment. I did see Jan Crittenden Livingston the other day at the Panasonic demo held at Abel Cine Tech in NYC. I like what they have planned for HD and their version of HDV. The HVX200 mock up costs twice as much as the proposed camera. The mock up costs about $20K. I would like to get my hands on one and play, I really like the idea of the P2 cards, or a big tank to dump the info into. No more digitizing!

I don't have much experience with the Z1U, but I'm not sure that early adoption is a good thing right now. I'm curious to hear what other folks say. I know there is a thread about XL2 vs Z1U. Screech. Sorry, starting to veer.

Do you need to buy a camera? Maybe you get your NLE system and rent a camera? I'm a DP shooter, so me owning a MiniDV rig helps get me some smaller gigs. If you want to direct, maybe it would be better to hire a DP and put the money towards your short films. But hey, if ya gotta shoot, ya gotta shoot.

Oh, Hi Chris! Thanks. The one thing I forgot to say is that film and video are tools and each has their own use.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 01:19 AM   #33
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Yes, I've worked in production departments (preproduction and production) for serveral Hollywood features, and several independent films/videos (pre-, pro- and post-production), so my knowledge of camera operations and lighting setups come from cinematographers (Walt Lloyd, anyone?) and on-the-job training. I've just finally completed my degree in digital cinematography (and no, my parents didn't pay for it, I did). I've professionally DP'd four short films (1 film, 2 SD video and 1 HDV). I'm a professional photographer and graphic designer. BUT, most importantly, I used to do 60i-to-24p conversions at a post house, with 'film-like' color correction to boot. The company dictated a protocol for DP's using video to maximize the 24p conversion.

You won't believe how many people do telecine film to miniDV, because it's easier to edit. Most independents won't fork over the cash to rent Betacam or even DVCPro decks because those can be several hundred bucks a week, then they need a RAID and a relatively expensive "non-compressed" capture card for component analog video, or rent an edit suite. Again, expense.

One thing about this whole thread is that Kelly is going to shoot on video, not film. He also said he's doing "independent film production", so this typically means low budget. So, the question that I tried to answer was how to best achieve a "film-like" atmosphere without the expense of film. I have debated the "if you want a film look, shoot on film" argument for almost four years with film purists, and then it's almost like attacking a religion, or Apple Computer (a cult... hehehe!). The only thing I ask the film purists to do is to at least try video with a film-like mentality.

I've only had one cinematographer take my challenge, and guess what? After the first day of his shoot, he let go of almost half his crew, returned two-thirds of his lighting gear, used three and five point light setups (outputs were 500w or less; lights were sculpted with reflectors, scrims, flags, gels) and his footage was freakin' unbelievable (both at 480/60i and when converted to 480/24p - Sony PD-150 was the camera). He was able to compose his shots after about 2 minutes of camera setup... checking the gate, measuring focal distances, etc: gone. His was able to do a planned 14 day shoot in 5 days, and he told me he slashed his $20K budget to about $8K. And again, the footage didn't look like video, even at 60i. It was beautiful. It was kinda like seeing HD for the first time, but this was SD!

I will admit that I'm a bit of a technologist. I'm willing to give technology a chance to replace old school stuff. Applying the same care and attention to detail to video as you would film will increase the perceived production value without the expense of film. This is absolutely critical when you have no/low budget. I've been to Kodak's seminars where they proclaim that if you want true HD, use film... just another company trying to protect its core business. I wonder why Kodak now makes digital cameras? Evolution?

Oh, "Xander" is another nickname of "Alexander". So please don't put my name in quotes.

Have a happy day!

Xander
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Old May 16th, 2005, 06:47 AM   #34
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xander Christ
The only thing I ask the film purists to do is to at least try video with a film-like mentality.
That makes sense, and I can agree with that!

Quote:
I've only had one cinematographer take my challenge, and guess what? After the first day of his shoot, he let go of almost half his crew, returned two-thirds of his lighting gear, used three and five point light setups (outputs were 500w or less; lights were sculpted with reflectors, scrims, flags, gels) and his footage was freakin' unbelievable (both at 480/60i and when converted to 480/24p - Sony PD-150 was the camera). He was able to compose his shots after about 2 minutes of camera setup... checking the gate, measuring focal distances, etc: gone. His was able to do a planned 14 day shoot in 5 days, and he told me he slashed his $20K budget to about $8K. And again, the footage didn't look like video, even at 60i. It was beautiful. It was kinda like seeing HD for the first time, but this was SD!
That qualifies what you were saying earlier (and which I evidently misunderstood), so now I understand what you're saying and where you're coming from.

Thanks for the clarification.

Jay
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Old May 16th, 2005, 07:53 AM   #35
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Well, I worried last night that I may have been too harsh. But whether I was or wasn't...ahhhhh, the tone is better here already! Looks like we might be ready to resume discussion of the XL2, its capabilities and limitations.

Kelly, I'll try to do a quick test shoot this week along the lines of what you were originally asking about. Between returning from back-to-back business trips, my wife's birthday, going to a preview showing of the new Star Wars movie, and catching up at DVinfo, I just didn't have time this weekend to do that.

And now, sadly, I see it is time for me to go to my Monday morning meeting -- sighhhh ---- :-(

More later!
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Old May 16th, 2005, 09:50 AM   #36
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Buy a used video camera with 2/3" chips. This will greatly improve your DOF.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 09:04 PM   #37
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Kelly et al,

It's no masterpiece but I did a "quick n dirty" Depth of Field demo with the XL2 and stock 20x lens:

http://www.geosynchrony.com/scratchpad.htm

Hope y'all find it useful.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 10:54 PM   #38
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Thanks for taking the time to put that all together, Pete. I took a quick look around and there's a lot of good stuff there. I'll take a closer look when I get a chance next week.

Best,

-M
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Old May 20th, 2005, 12:52 AM   #39
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Xander:

I've been essentially taking on the challenge you describe for about 4 years now, since I was asked to shoot a short on DV rather than film for budgetary reasons, but with a film look. I've done a few projects with minimal gear, but then again I've shot film with minimal gear also. Basically I light both mediums nearly identically, with the same equipment. Video requires more attention to highlights as we all know, which means more grip gear to balance anything that involves daylight.

In the example you described, it is my guess that the DP was experimenting with different approach to the two mediums, not that he was able to achieve the SAME results on DV with less gear and crew than he would have needed on film (less the obvious camera loader and probably 2nd assistant).
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Old May 21st, 2005, 09:35 AM   #40
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Hello,

I find the XL2 DOF workable for most circumstances. We use the tools that we have, the best way we know. The limitations of the tool foster creativity... at least that's what we say until we get money :-)
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Last edited by Anthony Marotti; May 22nd, 2005 at 04:03 PM.
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 03:41 PM   #41
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I think the bottom line is with a little work (not much) you can get enough of a shallow dof with the XL2 to point your audience to what they should be paying attention to.

If you want more arty, super-shallow "Lost in Translation" dof, use a different cam.
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 10:27 PM   #42
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Thanks Pete!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Bauer
Kelly et al,

It's no masterpiece but I did a "quick n dirty" Depth of Field demo with the XL2 and stock 20x lens:

http://www.geosynchrony.com/scratchpad.htm

Hope y'all find it useful.
Pete,

I'd like to personally thank you for putting that together on your site. You really answered the specific questions for me in a way no words could.

Thank you for taking your time out and doing that. It really makes the capabilities of the stock camera less abstract.

Thanks again,

Kelly
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 10:30 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Struthers
If you want more arty, super-shallow "Lost in Translation" dof, use a different cam.
Wouldn't a $500 micro35 (whenever it is available) achieve this effect much more cheaply than a stock camera that would?

This is an honest question, not sarcasm. I've been looking at the micro35 and although it has limitations, it looks like it could raise the XL2 DOF to that higher level at a very low price.

By the way, I'm in no way associated with that company.

Thanks,

Kelly
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 08:12 PM   #44
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micro 35

I just ordered one for my current GL2. And I'll be able to switch it to an XL2 when I make that purchase. From the footage I've seen in various forums, the DOF looks great, and seems to be capable of shooting what I'm looking for.

Last edited by Guest; June 24th, 2005 at 07:51 AM.
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 09:55 PM   #45
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DOF is not really something that varies much on cameras IF they have the same size CCD's. The best way to get a shallow depth of field that is more film-like is basic: move as far back as possible and zoom in. This is singularly the best way to do selective focus.

Remember that "film look" is a WAY over-used term and I agree with the posts above about using the medium you're working in for the best picture possible. If you have a deep DOF, use it! Ever watch Citizen Kane where everything is in focus? Incorporate the tools you have (video & deep DOF) into your planning for your shoot.

That said, if I must give away some of my class pointers on achieving a film-look, I shall:

7 key areas to work on: 1-Motion Characteristics, 2-Production Techniques, 3-Grey scale/contrast, 4-Saturation, 5-Grain patterns, 6-Depth of Field, 7-Aspect Ratios

Okay, use the XL2 and you right away can nail 2 of these: Work in 24p or 30p to get a more stuttered, filmic look to your picture. Use 16 x 9 to have a more theatrical widescreen look.

Now, #2 Production Techniques is the next biggest one to achieving a filmic look: USE A TRIPOD! Light like FILM! Compose standard filmic shots, etc. etc. etc.

My quick tips recipe for making video look MORE like film:
1-Shoot 24 or 30p and 16 x 9 (or 4 x 3 & letterbox)
2-Use high production values (NO handheld! A 5 lb camera doesn't move like the big film cameras when on a shoulder)
3-Light like film which means contrast. Don't high-key light it where everything is lit. Have a dark and light area in every frame, if possible to imitate the dynamic range of film.
4-Shallower DOF-Move camera as far back as possible, zoom in
5-Color correct every shot-Experiment with more or less saturation depending on the look you want. Add contrast.

Hope that helps or gives some fuel to the film-look fires out there.

Kevin
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