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Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XL H1S (with SDI), Canon XL H1A (without SDI). Also XL H1.


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Old December 24th, 2008, 02:26 PM   #46
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We're in the final leg of a worldwide rights deal with a reputable distributor. So we haven't had to resort to selling the film territory by territory even though we were fully prepared to do so.

I have, however, been hearing two schools of thought regarding DVD sales. The distributor I'm doing business with is actually quite excited about the future. As far as he's concerned DVD sales/rentals goes up and theatrical box office takes the biggest hit. However, I've heard from a separate international distributor that DVD licensing deals for independents in many European countries has dried up.

Because our film is a science-fiction/disaster film (Cloverfield type) we're being told our market sub-genre is currently under served and is expected to do well. I have definitely heard that independent dramas, comedies with no names, holiday themed, and romance pictures with no names is dead, dead, dead. Certain types of creature features and traditional slashers are not doing very well either. Buyers ARE paying attention to the Friday the 13th reboot, though. If that does well it might be a good time to sell a similar film.

Another thing we've learned is that if you plan on producing an independent film with no names (or barely recognizable names) is that you shouldn't let your budget exceed $500K or you risk not earning it back. If you have a couple decent names then you want to limit your budget to $1M to $1.5M.

Sci-Fi Channel, Showtime, Pay-per-View, and closed circuit hotel chains are still pretty good areas to earn some coin. You WILL NOT get rich on any of these cablers. But they are still buying content. However, they all want names in the cast. If you don't have any names then your execution and production values need to be really high.

Here's my last little piece of wisdom I've learned through the course of making this picture: make sure you have some fees for yourself in the budget. I know it's tempting to forgo fees or to defer all of them in order to help get the picture made. Don't. Get your fees once you're funded. If you don't then it may take a very long time before any deferrals kick in. In other words, if you think you're going to make some fat cash when the film gets sold, you're not. In todays market it will take a year or two before you see all your residuals trickle in. Bottom line: the only way to earn a living making independent films is via your fees. It is NOT on the back-end. Not right now, anyway. So do yourself a favor and pay yourself first (especially considering you're the one doing all the work, getting the ulcers, pulling your hair out over all the legal details and contracts).
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Old December 25th, 2008, 06:05 PM   #47
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Thats a great film Robert, I saw it at Birns & Sawyers a few months ago....keep up the good work!
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Old December 25th, 2008, 07:26 PM   #48
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Awesome Robert. Finished post on our 84 min SCI-FI / Horror feature called "Bio-Dead" a month ago. We haven't officially sought distribution yet (yet two reps have contacted us via AFM). Can you PM me with advice on agents reps? Did you rep the film yourself?
Thanks,
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Old December 25th, 2008, 11:30 PM   #49
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And it looks amazing projected 2.35:1 on a theater screen! ;)
Hey Robert,

Didn't you mention that it was actually projected in 4K? If so, what was the process? Did you upres the material yourself, or was it all done by some hardware system? Also, did you screen from HDCAM, HDV, computer QT/WMV, or even Blu-ray?

Just curious, and congratulations on all your success so far.

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Old December 30th, 2008, 05:42 AM   #50
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Hey Robert,

Didn't you mention that it was actually projected in 4K? If so, what was the process? Did you upres the material yourself, or was it all done by some hardware system? Also, did you screen from HDCAM, HDV, computer QT/WMV, or even Blu-ray?

Just curious, and congratulations on all your success so far.

Barlow
We encoded the film to a DCP package using the QuVis Wraptor software plugin for Compressor. There were several bugs we needed to resolve. The Sony servers required different file extensions. So we had to manually convert the file extensions and then we had to edit the Assetmap file to reflect those extensions. Otherwise the Sony server wouldn't properly load the package.

The movie needed to be pre-prepped for the QuVis software. The software is limited to 2K. So for a 2K "Scope" presentation we had to scale the film to 2048x858, which is a 7% scale increase. Once loaded onto the Sony server the projector scales the 2K footage to 4K on the fly. Plus the six channels of audio needed to be properly ordered (L R C LFE Ls Rs). I learned that in a theater auditorium the surround channels needed to be about 3db louder and the overall mix needed to be "brightened" to compensate for horn loaded tweeters.

I was really worried about how all this image manipulation would have on the movie. But man it looked GOOOOOD. I was floored. The black levels were spot on perfect. The color rendition was perfect too. The movie looked sharp. The noise looked natural and film like. The HDV footage that was mixed in looked really good. I'm almost pissed off I went through all that trouble to shoot the film straight to disk, that's how good the HDV footage looked. Of course, it was properly exposed daylight footage. But nonetheless, there was no macroblocking present.

So...the big lesson learned is that 1080p is "good enough" for theatrical presentation. I'm not sure how well it will scan out to 35mm. I've never tested it (particularly anamorphic scope). But for digital projection 1080p scaled to 2k looks great. Don't get sucked into the "4K is the only way" hype. Yes, 4K is amazing. Yes, James Bond was jaw dropping in 4k. Yes, 4K RED footage projected in 4K is amazing. But 1080p looks goddamned good too! LOL!
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Old January 6th, 2009, 10:12 AM   #51
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Love the trailer for your film Robert. Just finishing off editing of a picture I recently directed, though it doesn't look as slick as yours.

I was considering going tapeless for my next feature, though it's obviously more inconvenient to lug around the extra hardware.

Do you definitely reckon recording to hard disk makes little difference when compared with miniDV footage?

Could you possibly tell me what editor system you are using? I'm using Avid Xpress Pro HD at the moment with its built in HDV codec and shooting in 1080 25P (PAL) on my XHA1.
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Old January 6th, 2009, 01:49 PM   #52
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Love the trailer for your film Robert. Just finishing off editing of a picture I recently directed, though it doesn't look as slick as yours.

I was considering going tapeless for my next feature, though it's obviously more inconvenient to lug around the extra hardware.

Do you definitely reckon recording to hard disk makes little difference when compared with miniDV footage?

Could you possibly tell me what editor system you are using? I'm using Avid Xpress Pro HD at the moment with its built in HDV codec and shooting in 1080 25P (PAL) on my XHA1.
Thank you for the kind words.

At the end of the day, if someone tells you that HDV is rubbish and is not a proper "acquisition" codec they're wrong. The HDV footage we shot cut relatively seamlessly into our ProRes footage. However, if you're going to be flirting with under-exposure or very dark scenes then I believe the ProRes footage wins out. The grain/noise is more defined and film like. There is no macro-blocking compression artifacts.

Shooting 90% of the movie in ProRes did give me a lot of peace-of-mind knowing that it's full-raster 1920x1080 10-bit. But shooting HDV sure is a helluva lot more convenient.

I cut the film on Final Cut Pro and mastered it entirely in ProRes.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 10:45 AM   #53
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Thanks for the info Robert.

Think I'll stick with miniDV for now.

Is ProRes an alternative codec to HDV? How does it differ?

I'm using the Avid DNxHD codec at the moment.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 02:28 PM   #54
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ProRes is Apple's answer to DNxHD. They're almost identical codecs and are both DCT compressors (similar to JPEG).

Basically we bypassed HDV altogether and went HD-SDI out of the H1 and into a Kona card. Rather than lug around a RAID we opted to go compressed via ProRes so we could use SATA drives. Brilliant solution, if you ask me.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 03:34 AM   #55
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I understand now. Thanks Robert. Wouldn't fancy dragging a RAID round myself either, I think you'd need a golf buggy to carry a big one!
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Old January 12th, 2009, 01:52 AM   #56
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Hey Robert,

I hadn't checked into your site for awhile, that Blackout trailer looks freaking fantastic. Thanks for generously sharing your experiences. I've been following along since Day11.

Very interesting to hear your take on budgets and distribution. Especially where talent names are concerned. Sadly, I think that it may be easier to sell a piece of crap with recognizable faces, than something far greater with no names.

Keep up the great work. I think this work will catch you a lot of attention that will lead to bigger and better things.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 02:50 AM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Sanders View Post
ProRes is Apple's answer to DNxHD. They're almost identical codecs and are both DCT compressors (similar to JPEG).

Basically we bypassed HDV altogether and went HD-SDI out of the H1 and into a Kona card. Rather than lug around a RAID we opted to go compressed via ProRes so we could use SATA drives. Brilliant solution, if you ask me.
Wait- What?! Hold on, I thought SATA wasn't fast enough for Pro-Res HQ. Were these drives a software RAID in your Apple Box? Also, If you are capturing dallies using a Kona board, doesn't that mean the best it can do is 23.98 over 60i HD-SDI? Didn't you still have to de-interlace via AE or Compressor to create your HD-CAM Master (ie remove pulldown from the Kona's card)?

Also, just so I get a ballpark - how many TB are we talking here - over 3TB for your raw footage? Did you offload / mirror this data?
Were you able to use a 500 ft HD-SDI cable so your capture box didn't have to move much?
Did you use a laptop controller over RJ-45 (ethernet) or just plugin keyboard and mouse / monitor.
Lastly, how did you monitor - going out of the Kona's component?

Thanks Robert - your wisdom on these issues will save me time on the next one. I was considering DNxHD but if it means no RAID - I'll go ProRes instead. Although, the Avid can record true 23.98 on injest.

-C
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Old January 13th, 2009, 09:11 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by Christopher Drews View Post
Wait- What?! Hold on, I thought SATA wasn't fast enough for Pro-Res HQ. Were these drives a software RAID in your Apple Box? Also, If you are capturing dallies using a Kona board, doesn't that mean the best it can do is 23.98 over 60i HD-SDI? Didn't you still have to de-interlace via AE or Compressor to create your HD-CAM Master (ie remove pulldown from the Kona's card)?

Also, just so I get a ballpark - how many TB are we talking here - over 3TB for your raw footage? Did you offload / mirror this data?
Were you able to use a 500 ft HD-SDI cable so your capture box didn't have to move much?
Did you use a laptop controller over RJ-45 (ethernet) or just plugin keyboard and mouse / monitor.
Lastly, how did you monitor - going out of the Kona's component?

Thanks Robert - your wisdom on these issues will save me time on the next one. I was considering DNxHD but if it means no RAID - I'll go ProRes instead. Although, the Avid can record true 23.98 on injest.

-C
SATA is definitely fast enough for ProRes HQ. No software RAID at all. Which was very nice and much cheaper. We never dropped a frame. Ever. Not even during editing or mastering.

Yes, the Kona card captured the 23.98 over 60i. And yes all the footage had to be reverse telecined via Cinema Tools (that was the hardest part). We did this to all of our footage before we started editing. That way our edit timelines were 23.98 and our subsequent mastering was also 23.98. However, you can do batches in Compressor.

We shot about 2.5TB of raw footage. Our edit system has about 7TB. We backup all shot footage to internal SATA drives (cheaper) using a hard drive enclosure and then had those drives put in a bank vault.

Our longest HD-SDI cable was 80 feet I think. Maybe 100.

We had a digital capture guy/gal run the FCP station which was a wheeled cart. He would listen for "roll camera" and basically hit "capture" on FCP. Then they'd open the clip and control playback for us. FCP would send the HD-SDI signal back to a HDLink box hooked up to a 23" Cinema Display. Worked wonderfully.

I know the G1 adds pulldown flags to the stream. I don't know if the H1S adds flags to the stream. I've heard it doesn't, but does include audio now and is 10-bit. And those flags are the only real missing component of making a H1/ProRes/IO-HD or Kona solution perfect.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 07:40 PM   #59
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I wondering if this is the same movie available on netflix?

Netflix Online Movie Rentals - Rent DVDs, Classic Films to DVD New Releases
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Old March 19th, 2009, 12:45 AM   #60
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I don't believe it it. The movie on Netflix is Blackout. The movie in this thread is The Blackout.
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