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Old August 24th, 2007, 08:00 AM   #1
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Best Camera under $10,000 for Large Screen Projection

I've been researching this site for a few weeks learning a ton about HDV and HD, but, in practical terms, I am more confused than ever. So, I am going to just throw this out there point blank.

What is the best camera under $10,000 to shoot a narrative feature? This will be the only sole purpose of the camera. Nothing else.

Yes, go check out the cameras, see the image on a HD display, understand the difference in workflows between P2 and HDV....

To me these are all work arounds to get that image that will hold up to being projected digitally on a large screen or blown up to 35mm without going too soft or noisy.

I am in Korea where a lot of cinemas are projecting independent projects digitally on large screens and have seen many HD films that look quite nice, a little short of super 16mm blown up to 35mm. What can I expect from HDV in comparison to HD? And what is the best camera to achieve this?

Thanks, and you guys have made a great community with this site! Really appreciate everything I've picked up here the past few weeks...
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Old August 25th, 2007, 03:47 AM   #2
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The best scenario for purchase of an under $10k camera is high definition uncompressed, which can be achieved by most cameras through SDI or HDMI; however, you would have to find an efficient and practical way to record the uncompressed images. Currently, none exist, unless a laptop with an external SDI or HDMI capture device digitizing to a huge raid is efficient enough, or a $17k wavelet recorder is practical enough.

As far as picking the best under $10k, that's like apples and oranges. All the three chip cameras mentioned on this site record very nice images. HDV was never intended for the big screen. It doesn't mean it cannot be used, but as the main camera, I feel you're not going to be satisfied with the end product.

Another negative is all of the current under $10k cameras use 1/3 inch or less chips... poor low light performance and low latitude is not ideal for a big screen feature. To be honest, I would not use HDV or any under $10k camera, except for "B" or secondary cam work, for the big screen.

Since this is a one-time narative feature, why don't you rent a 2k camera like "Red" for the shooting? If you're organized, it will fit within you budget, and the images will hold up and look very nice on the big screen.
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Old August 25th, 2007, 05:28 AM   #3
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Hey John,

Thanks for the honest but sobering reply. As I've researched this issue on the net, I knew deep inside it wasn't the right way to go, but there is so much hype and excitement that it can cloud one's judgement.

I am actually considering purchasing a Red Camera but just found out that there is a waiting list till February...?...

Since I am in Korea, what do you think is the best way to get my hands on a rental?

Again, thanks for being honest, much appreciated.
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Old August 25th, 2007, 06:24 AM   #4
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People have been able to get good quality when hooking these "sub 10k" cameras to a 35mm adapter, or if your able to rent out a camera, try using a Sony F900r or for the same amount just hire out a 16mm camera like an Arri SR2 mkII, they rent them out real cheap these days, My point is, there are alot of options, but they have been the same options given to me too, Heck I shot with an SR2 MkII and used my JVC HD100 as my B-Cam, after grading it in post, it was workable. So Try thinking outside the square dude, A good DOP tries to always make magic with what they've been given. If lit right these sub 10k cameras can produce awesome images, well good luck.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 05:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seung Han View Post
Hey John,

Thanks for the honest but sobering reply. As I've researched this issue on the net, I knew deep inside it wasn't the right way to go, but there is so much hype and excitement that it can cloud one's judgement.

I am actually considering purchasing a Red Camera but just found out that there is a waiting list till February...?...

Since I am in Korea, what do you think is the best way to get my hands on a rental?

Again, thanks for being honest, much appreciated.
Gosh, I don't know. Here's a list of some rental companies in your area. Try calling them to see what's available.

NEWCAM
T: +82 2 3444 5611
F: +82 2 3445 5297
junsang14@yahoo.co.kr
www.newcamplus.com
Seoul

OpticalCam
T: +82 2 2234 6224
F: +82 2 2234 4355
opticalfilm@korea.com
Seoul

ProCam Inc.
T: +82 25 555 795
F: +82 25 555 794
procaminc@kornet.net
Seoul

Shin Young Film Co.
T: +82 2 2266 6510, 2274 6062
F: +82 2 2269 8520
syfilm@hanmail.net
Seoul

Some Picture & Rental Co., Ltd.
T: +82 02 2266 6828
F: +82 02 226 6827

I think mostly they have film cameras, but you never know. The post above mentioning The Sony F900 HDCam would be a very good choice as well for a rental if you can't find a 2k camera. It would produce very nice images for the big screen. Silicon Imaging also has the SI2K and the SI2k mini if you're looking to buy a 2k camera.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 06:06 AM   #6
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Here's another company:

AceTronix., Ltd.
Jong Lark Paeng
6F, Irero Bldg, 47-11, Bangi-Dong, Songpa-Gu
Seoul,138-050, Korea
(82) 2-420-2343 (x-119) (ph)
(82) 2-420- 2212 (fax)

You can also try contacting your film commision in Korea.

Good Luck!
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Old August 26th, 2007, 08:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jemore Santos View Post
People have been able to get good quality when hooking these "sub 10k" cameras to a 35mm adapter, or if your able to rent out a camera, try using a Sony F900r or for the same amount just hire out a 16mm camera like an Arri SR2 mkII, they rent them out real cheap these days,
The film/photo lens adapter can just give you a better DOF looking image, but still do depend on the CCD's resolution, which is still 1/3" in sub-10K cameras.

My guess is you mean a super-16 camera, like those you mentioned, no just 16mm. The transfer to video will be much better, using a 2K scanner or better then.

What I have been researching, for a film & video theatrical project I should be shooting next year, is what options I would have to the Sony F900, which is far from cheap for rental. But I still want tape and real 24p.

So I wonder if the Panasonic HDX-900 would cut it with similar quality, as it records on tape, it's HD, has 2/3" CCDs, and being much less expensive that that F900 might be available for less money for rental.

In I would shoot part of the film with super-16, for later blow-up to 35mm.
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Old August 26th, 2007, 08:49 PM   #8
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you might want to look at the jvc 5100. uses 1/2 inch ccd. 800 tv lines resolution.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Camcorder.html
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Old August 27th, 2007, 05:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenneth Johnson View Post
you might want to look at the jvc 5100. uses 1/2 inch ccd. 800 tv lines resolution.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Camcorder.html
Being a standard definition camera recording DV at no more than 520 lines, this is not a big screen camera. You would get more resolution out of an HDV camera. The 800 tv lines you mentioned is the the capability of the lens and imagers, not the recording device. This is a good industrial and event camera but not for cinema or for cinema anymore, considering what's out there today.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 06:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jemore Santos View Post
People have been able to get good quality when hooking these "sub 10k" cameras to a 35mm adapter, or if your able to rent out a camera, try using a Sony F900r or for the same amount just hire out a 16mm camera like an Arri SR2 mkII, they rent them out real cheap these days, My point is, there are alot of options, but they have been the same options given to me too, Heck I shot with an SR2 MkII and used my JVC HD100 as my B-Cam, after grading it in post, it was workable. So Try thinking outside the square dude, A good DOP tries to always make magic with what they've been given. If lit right these sub 10k cameras can produce awesome images, well good luck.
Thanks for your advice, much appreciated. I have been watching a lot of projected HD films in Korea, and they all have great production values but very bad stories. Its a shame but I know these distribution companies are more concerned with the technical aspects in a movie then a good story. I think, I hope, I have a solid script, but I don't want a soft image projected on a big screen to be the main obstacle in dealing with distributors.

I can say I am going to create a masterpiece and the distributors will not care what format I shot in because the movie will blow them away, but, in reality, there are too many factors out of my control that will ensure a smooth transition from I believe to be a great script into a great movie. If I end up with half of what I believe to be in the script on the screen, I think I will have a better movie then most being shown out here. So, if I choose my format with my budget in mind knowing I will have to compete with the other crappy films that just look good then I know I will have a good chance of selling the film.

Mainly, I was curious of how much of a difference people here thought there was between HDV and HD when projected on the screen. Some of the HDV films I have seen on this board look amazing, so I was looking for a professional opinion if somebody knew what to expect in projecting HDV on a big screen... In fact, I'm still curious :)
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Old August 27th, 2007, 06:36 AM   #11
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Wow, thanks John. I guess I better start making some calls...

Also, I just found the Seoul Film Commission, so I'm going to go give them a visit as well.

Thanks again for the list!
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Old August 27th, 2007, 08:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Seung Han View Post
Mainly, I was curious of how much of a difference people here thought there was between HDV and HD when projected on the screen. Some of the HDV films I have seen on this board look amazing, so I was looking for a professional opinion if somebody knew what to expect in projecting HDV on a big screen... In fact, I'm still curious :)
As I am on a similar boat, shooting stuff for a Brazilian film and for another I am directing, I think I can tell you some about my experience:

1) As long as you have enough light on your shot, images will be quite beautiful in HDV. Wider shots may be softer, but as long as you keep your contrast under control there will be little problems. IMHO and probably contrary to what other people think, low contrast images look too flat in video, which added to the flat DOF inherent in smaller CCD cameras, produce unteresting images that your distributors may not like. A higher light contrast ratio, like 4:1 or 6:1, may help there.

2) The main problem in HDV is every time you move your camera. Images get softer, apparently due to longer GOP (15 frames on a Z1) that do not allow for a clear image to be reconstructed. That didn't happen in DV, so in some instances you may even get a final image in DV that will look better than an HDV. I haven't yet done enough tests to prove that or how to improve it. Slow zooms and pans are less affected by this phenomena.

3) Most tests I have seen here that looked well had little movement and had that contrast ratio I mentioned above. Even underexposed areas may look nice if you have an image with clear and dark spaces. You have to be careful with your over-exposures though, which do not resolve as well as they did in DV.

Just a thought on your ideas about why distributors in your country favour certain films, you are forgetting to mention one area: editing. When images look good and scripts are weak, editing can be a very strong tool, probably replacing quite well for lacking script ideas. I don't know how much you know about editing, but you should know quite a bit, particularly for picking shooting angles that you will later use on the film.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 02:35 PM   #13
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I wanted a more intimate feel with a lot of handheld shots like Lost in Translation so if HDV does not handle movement well I might have to scrap the idea altogether.

As far as editing is concerned, yes I agree with what you are saying. Editing, sound mix and music goes a long way in covering up other inadequacies of a piece, like bad story, poor acting and shoddy images. I was a professional editor for five years in my mid twenties when I was making short films, so I learned a few tricks of the trade. Actually, one of the reasons I favor a lot of camera movement is because on a low budget I might come up short on coverage so well executed handheld shots give a lot of leeway in places to cut.

Anyway, thanks for providing more info on the pros and cons of utilizing HDV for a feature shoot...
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Old August 27th, 2007, 03:31 PM   #14
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We're shooting a feature. XH-A1 with a Brevis, and quality Nikon Glass. The hope is to put as much money as possible into the cast, as an extra £X amount of money spent on the image/cam/format is certainly going to help the films chances LESS than that same money spent on great actors. Don't get me wrong, I'm a DOP, but in my eyes we can push the image 90%+ of the way there with the 35mm adapter (essential), great lighting, and solid after effects/ grading work. I have a huge belief in the script and concept- my job is to make it LOOK AND FEEL like a movie, while remaining as mobile and flexible as possible, and without killing the budget to the point where art department, actors, sound post, etc. suffer. I really do believe that- if it looks, sounds and feels like a movie, then the audience will believe it. It may be a tad soft next to a 35mm feature 'when projected', but who's going to sit and compare. (well, probably me, and only me). It certainly doesn't mean that every frame can't be beautiful.

If you're going to be spending big money on your format, it won't be long before you realise that digital is still digital - HDV or F950 or SI2K - it's still not a film print... Distributors will ask- did it originate 35mm? do you have a 35mm print? they will not ask- so, which digicam did you choose? (or maybe korea is more digitally developed, in terms of projection, than the rest of the world...)
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Old August 30th, 2007, 09:06 AM   #15
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I own an HDV camera and haven't experienced the issues people are saying I'm supposed to be experiencing. And successful features have been shot with a lot less than a 10k HD or HDV cam. Haviing said that, if your intent is to only shoot a feature, renting makes more sense.

I like your positive attitude about your project.
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