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Old April 14th, 2008, 06:17 AM   #1
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Documentary Series - What Camera?

I am just putting together a bid and budget breakdown of a proposed 6X30 min doc series which currently has no interest from any specific broadcaster.

Project is 12-15 month shoot with a possible budget of 140k over this period.

I need to decide on which camera to use. I have experience of Z1 (own one) and GYHD100. I have never used a professional broadcast HD camera.

I need the project to be of good enough visual quality to generate in terest from the major terrestrial broadcasters as well as the digital networks prior to a sale.

Most of the program will be shot either single camera with some days shooting 2 camera - this is due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter and the necessity to remain as low key as possible.

I have read a lot about the pros and cons of Z1 vs H1 vs HD200 etc etc.

All I need to know is what camera will produce a suitable limit. Both myself and my second cam op have a Z1 and FX1 between us. Will this suffice or do we need to upgrade to Z7, EX1, H1 or something completely different.

In short I need to be producing broadcastable material, whether this is considered for SD output (as I believe the BBC would) or HD.

I'd like some advice from anyone out there who has experience of producing TV docs using these sorts of cameras. What did you use? Did you have any problems with aquisition? That kind of thing.

Help is, as always, very much appreciated.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 09:16 AM   #2
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So far as the using HDV cameras is concerned, it would depend if you were selling it for the HD channels or SD. For the BBC's SD channels, you'll have no problems with those cameras. However, for their new HD service, I don't think the BBC would commission a production shooting on totally HDV at present and with other options like the EX1 and EX3 now coming up, there's little reason for them to do so in the future.

They might buy it as an acquisition for the HD channels if your subject matter was of interest to them, but I suspect a sale to the BBC alone won't cover your production costs. I also get the feeling that in the short term that the BBC HD channel will be for flagship productions.

Most of the UK broadcasters commission documentary material, rather than buy in, so you really need to have a stunning doc series - award winning helps.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 11:31 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Brian.

This is an unusual case where a sole investor has a story to tell and is willing to stump up the money.

Ultimately he would like to see a doc series produced but has very little knowlege of this sort of thing - he has come to us for help.

I understand the Beeb does not usually buy projects in, rather comissions them, however the individual in question has already had BBC interest but the subject did not get along with the producer! so he is now going down the independent route.

I would anticipate (hope) that multiple sales over several years to both national and international broadcasters would eventually cover costs. But them the money isn't mine...

We certainly have no desire to position this output for the BBC HD channel. We just want to maximise which channels we could sell a series to with our limited resources.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 06:44 PM   #4
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I assume that means that your subject fell out with an in house BBC producer. If that's the case it might be worthwhile re-approaching the BBC as an independent producer and getting a commission that way.

Although, from what your saying, there could still be difficulties in the production if your subject has a "controlling nature".
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Old April 14th, 2008, 07:47 PM   #5
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While you may have no interest in positioning your show for BBC HD most networks are only interested in HD. SD is the past and future proofing shows is very important to BBC, Nat Geo, History, etc. so HD is the only answer.

The above mentioned networks require XDCAM HD, Varicam or HDCAM as the primary format for their docs. No more than 15% can be HDV and no more than 10% can be SD.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 06:37 AM   #6
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The subject did not fall out with the producer.

The subject in question is a group of nuns who have very little contact with the outside world so filming needs to be sensitive and low-key. The production needs to be as unobtrusive on the lives of the nuns as possible.

The funder wants the doc filmed over a 12 month period while the nuns move from their old priory to a new one. The Beeb were only interested in the lives of the nuns not the period of change and wanted to decend on the priory for 2 days with a full crew. That is not the sort of project either the funders or the nuns want produced.

I understand the transition to HD and that SD is widely regarded to be considered as the past but I'm really not sure whether the funder will buy the massive jump in the budget it will take to shoot full blown HD.

As I understand it we would probably be better off buying an HD camera for the project which could set us back around 25k - is this correct?

That said can anyone recommend a model(s) which we should be considering?

While much of the shoot will be single camera we will require multi-cam (2 or 3) recording days.

I am very unfamiliar with XDCAM as I have always worked on tape.

There seems to be a lot of dispute about what format broadcasters will accept with many users of this site giving examples of recent series they have shot on Z1s, Canon H1s etc.

We would be editing on HPxw8200 Xpress Pro 5.8 system. Would this system handle full blown HD I am asking myself?

I don't think we could approach the BBC as an independent as my company has until now been primarily focused on independent film docs and commercial video. This would be a be a big leap for us and since we don't have a broadcast credit I don't think for a minute the BBC would consider us.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 10:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Brooke View Post
The subject did not fall out with the producer.

I don't think we could approach the BBC as an independent as my company has until now been primarily focused on independent film docs and commercial video. This would be a be a big leap for us and since we don't have a broadcast credit I don't think for a minute the BBC would consider us.
That's OK, sometimes "issues" come up and people fall out.

You could try a co-production with a producer that has dealings with them and who you can trust. Although, the BBC has used first timers before, they're worried about their paper trail being complete. It also establishes a relationship with the BBC for you. I know a number of people who've done this and it seems pretty common practise.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 02:15 PM   #8
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HD Production Specs for Broadcasters

From the horses mouth;
http://www.discoverychannel.ca/repor...e.aspx?aid=237
Click on HD Deliverables

I can't find my links at the moment but BBC, Nat Geo, etc. are much the same or comparable. BTW Love my XDCAM HD.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 03:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
From the horses mouth;
http://www.discoverychannel.ca/repor...e.aspx?aid=237
Click on HD Deliverables

I can't find my links at the moment but BBC, Nat Geo, etc. are much the same or comparable. BTW Love my XDCAM HD.
The BBC are even tougher only 1080p or 1080i and only XDCAM HD 4:2:2, not the lower data rates.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/dq/p...ery_v01_08.pdf
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Old April 15th, 2008, 04:23 PM   #10
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Brian,

Are you sure you have that link right to the BBC info PDF? The link is producing a PDF error in my browser.

Last edited by Peter Wiley; April 15th, 2008 at 04:40 PM. Reason: inserted word "error" where it should have been
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Old April 15th, 2008, 04:43 PM   #11
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Brian,

Are you sure you have that link right to the BBC info PDF? The link is producing a PDF in my browser.

The link comes from an earlier thread about the BBC & HD

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/dq/p...ery_v01_08.pdf

It opens as a pdf that you can download

Funny, the link I'd copied earlier didn't open anything when I tried it just now.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 05:22 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
The above mentioned networks require XDCAM HD, Varicam or HDCAM as the primary format for their docs. No more than 15% can be HDV and no more than 10% can be SD.
Rick, can you clarify why this is the case? Isn't the final delivery format a moot point? If someone shot on HDV and then just mastered to the other formats would they really tell the difference?
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Old April 15th, 2008, 05:33 PM   #13
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Here's the link to what I think is the BBC info

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/dq/p...ery_v01_08.pdf

Cutting and pasting links from other threads can be problematic.

Here's a link to all the guidelines on the BBC site

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/

interesting and useful
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Old April 15th, 2008, 06:02 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Aaron Koolen View Post
Rick, can you clarify why this is the case? Isn't the final delivery format a moot point? If someone shot on HDV and then just mastered to the other formats would they really tell the difference?
Even on SD PAL you can tell the difference between the higher end HD cameras and the HDV cameras. It was pretty easy on a BBC natural history programme to spot the difference. The BBC engineers will be using a high grade HD monitor and trained to look for artifacts. The BBC is rather touchy because their MPEG 4 compression doesn't like things like Super 16 500 asa film.

I know of one recent SD programme that got rejected by the BBC for having a sequence that wasn't up to broadcast standard... it just required some regrading.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 06:04 PM   #15
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Even on SD PAL you can tell the difference between the higher end HD cameras and the HDV cameras. It was pretty easy on a BBC natural history programme to spot the difference. The BBC engineers will be using a high grade HD monitor and trained to look for artifacts. The BBC is rather touchy because their MPEG 4 compression doesn't like things like Super 16 500 asa film.

I know of one recent SD programme that got rejected by the BBC for having a sequence that wasn't up to broadcast standard... it just required some regrading.
Wow they are picky aint they?! I guess down here in New Zealand I'm used to low grade TV (Even digital) so just think all stations don't really give a toss.
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