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General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition
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Old June 15th, 2006, 01:08 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
We'll all be much balder, fatter, and wiser when that day comes to the broadcast world.
Well, I'll be at least 2 of those 3 things. I let you figure out which one I'll be missing. ;-)

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Old June 15th, 2006, 02:22 PM   #17
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USA NETWORK’S HIT TELEVISION SERIES “THE 4400” ADOPTS
PANASONIC AG-HVX200 SOLID-STATE HD CAMCORDER FOR
CHALLENGING HANDHELD, POV AND ACTION WORK

Many of the most intense and kinetic scenes in the new season of the USA Network’s acclaimed supernatural series The 4400 have been captured with Panasonic’s AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD solid-state camcorder. The 4400, which returned to air earlier this month, is broadcast on Sundays, 9 p.m. EST/9 p.m. PST/8 p.m. CST on USA Network.

After rigorous testing, Director of Photography Tony Westman and Digital Imaging Technician Chris Oben integrated the hand-held, production quality HVX200 camcorder into production of the third season of The 4400. Westman, an Academy Award nominee, is an award-winning Director of Photography with credits including The Sentinel, The Muppets Wizard of Oz and Dead Like Me. Longtime collaborators, Westman and Oben co-developed the Magic Lantern HD Framestore™ system, which enables full HD resolution playback on-set.

The 4400 is produced for USA Network by CBS Paramount Network Television in Association with Sky Television, Renegade 83, and American Zoetrope. Since its inception, the series has been shot on high definition cameras in Vancouver, Canada. The original six episodes were shot with two Thomson Vipers, while the second two seasons have used multiple Panavised Sony F900/3s. Season three will continue exploring the travails of the 4,400 abducted individuals who all at once returned in a ball of light to Earth. Though the returnees had not aged physically, many of them reappeared with dramatic abilities ranging from enhanced reflexes to precognition.

“As the DP of numerous television series, Tony Westman has long been awaiting a more portable HD camera. In the past, shots have often been compromised due to the sheer length and weight of an F900 with a normal matte box and onboard battery,” said DIT Oben. “When shooting film, Tony regularly uses his ‘Pogo-Cam,’ essentially a counterweighted post that the operator can literally run with. The ‘Pogo-Cam’ adds a kinetic element unlike a Steadicam™ or hand-held. This has been possible with 16mm and even 35mm Eyemos but not on HD – until the advent of the HVX200.”

The HVX200 uniquely combines multiple high definition and standard definition formats, multiple recording modes and variable frame rates, and the vast benefits of P2 solid-state memory recording in a rugged, compact design. The DVCPRO HD P2 camcorder offers production-quality HD with independent intra-frame encoding, 4:2:2 color sampling, and less compression, making HD content easier and faster to edit and more able to stand up to image compositing versus long GOP MPEG-2 systems.

“On the hunt for a handheld HD camera, especially to supplement our action work, we tested the Sony HDVZ1U HDV camera last season,” said Oben. “We looked at contrast and exposure, motion artifacting and overall image resolution and reproduction, and concluded that the camera did not meet our strict standards for motion and compression artifacting, particularly in 24 frame ‘Cinetone’ mode. Also, we felt that the ergonomics of the camera, such as the iris, focus and zoom controls, were not suited for the rigors of a production environment.

“We likewise tested the Panasonic AG-DVX100A Mini-DV 24p camera. While there was no comparison in image quality between the Standard Definition 1/3” CCDs of the DVX and the High Definition 2/3” CCDs of the F900, we did like the low light sensitivity and the look of the 24PA 2:3:3:2 pulldown when transferred to HDCAM. Additionally, the intuitive ergonomics of the DVX100A gave us confidence that the camera could be used in POV situations where an actor would be given a camera to operate, which we did in episode 8 of the second season.”

This third season brought a new round of tests, with the HVX200 becoming available just in time for pre-production earlier this year. DP Westman and DIT Oben oversaw a series of comprehensive camera workups with the HVX200, initially examining all the HD formats and frame rate under available daylight conditions.

“In testing, we shot with both available light in an uncontrolled outdoor environment and in a low-lit studio,” Oben recounted. “With the outdoor shots, we concentrated on how the HVX200 captured subjects in motion. After closely examining the footage at various shutter speeds and frame rates, it was apparent that the HVX200 DVCPRO HD output resolution of 1080 lines gave adequate vertical resolution and produced an image that had no dramatic compression, resolution or motion artifacts. Nor was there any discernible evidence of aliasing or quantizing.

“We then looked at the footage shot in the dramatic, low-light, studio scene and were immediately impressed. The images shot at preset tungsten white balance already looked very good without any specific adjustments other than exposure. Both color and contrast were acceptably reproduced and came quite close to matching images shot simultaneously with the F900.”

The cinematographers’ final round of tests assessed how well HVX200 footage would intercut with HDCAM acquired material.

“Our first ‘off the record’ use of the camera was in an action scene,” Oben said. “In the first episode of season three, the story calls for a scene where a footrace takes place. Tony felt this would be an ideal opportunity to test the HVX200 in the field, again in an available light situation. The scene would be shot concurrently with our two Panavised Sony F900s and the HVX200. The P2 camera would be used as a ‘chase’ cam. However, because the HVX200 was not officially on the day’s shot list, we literally had to gamble and shoot when the studio cameras were not rolling.

“During rehearsal for the running shot Tony asked our Steadicam™ operator, Robin Forst, to operate the P2 with a Fig-Rig [a circular camera mount designed by filmmaker Mike Figgis]. The Fig-Rig allowed Robin to hold the camera in positions not possible in handheld configuration. Robin was also able to truly run with the actor at a speed that could not be easily achieved with his Steadicam™ and the full-sized camera. Once the running footage was recorded, Tony decided to operate the P2 as a ‘C’ camera during the special effect shot of glass breaking.”

Oben continued, “This P2 footage was ingested into our G5 Framestore (with Final Cut Pro 5.04). Having the footage in FCP allowed me to create a rough edit, and the P2 material was intercut with compressed HDCAM, all on a DVCPRO HD timeline. The edit looked fantastic and with minor tweaking, I was able to bring the P2 footage into line (contrast and brightness) with the HDCAM. The kinetic energy of the P2 footage definitely added to the intensity of the scene, and even the breaking glass footage, which was a static shot, intercut nicely. The P2 material was sent to the lab along with the HDCAM tapes. When feedback arrived from post-production saying they loved the footage, this proved that our efforts with the HVX200 were paying off.

“Our success with the HVX200 to date led us to believe that the camera could stand up to the rigors of a sync sound scene. The F900s are quite cumbersome and long (over 3 feet in length with matte box and on-board battery), which normally means budgeting for the time-consuming use of a process trailer and ultimately shooting the scene from outside the car. Tony and the director of the episode agreed that in the interest of expediency we would shoot the scene from within the car using the HVX200. Tony’s challenge was to expose the interior of a vehicle that was passing in and out of sunlight with various hot or dark backgrounds.”

Oben added, “Our operator Robin Forst framed the shots from the back seat. An NTSC signal was transmitted to a follow vehicle that allowed Tony and the director to see the action and assess exposure. Once one side of the scene was recorded, we reviewed the footage directly from the HVX200 via the Y, Pb, Pr analog component cable. We could tell that the color tone and exposure were perfect in the sun, but that in the shade we were a little underexposed. Armed with this info, we set out to shoot the other side of the scene.”

With season three of The 4400 still in production in Vancouver, Oben uses the HVX200 at least one day per episode and declared that “it seems likely that more and more story points will be best captured with this technology.”

“With the HVX200, Panasonic has found an excellent balance between size and quality,” he said. “The DVCPRO HD codec stands up to the requirements of broadcast specifications and can be intercut with HDCAM-acquired footage.

“The best characteristic of the P2 is its compact size, affording us increased artistic choices, especially with handheld work, ‘actor action’ shots and POV work. Overall, we feel that using the HVX200 adds another color to the palette from which we make creative choices.”
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Old June 15th, 2006, 04:22 PM   #18
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My question is, did they test the HD100 at all?
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Old June 15th, 2006, 06:28 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
We'll all be much balder, fatter, and wiser when that day comes to the broadcast world.
If we're using my weight and hairline as a guage, the good news is 1080P will be available and plentiful by next year :-)
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Old June 15th, 2006, 06:55 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Ash Greyson
The F900 is a 3:1:1 color space camera... still most in broadcast prefer it to the 720p 4:2:2 of the Vari.
That's because for a direct comparison it would make more sense to describe HDCAM as 6:2:2, since the "4" of the Vari reference references to 960 - the "3" of the HDCAM reference references to 3/4 of 1920, both the number of horizontal pixels.

These colour space ratios are badly misused, and it is less ambiguous to quote absolute horizontal resolution numbers. In that case HDCAM is 1440 for luminance and 480 for chrominance, DVCProHD is 960 for luminance and 480 for chrominance. Note they both have the same number of chrominance pixels horizontally, but HDCAM has 50% MORE of luminance.

Now is that what "4:2:2 v 3:1:1" would have you think.....? Since most HD displays tend to be typically 1200-1400 horizontally, this increase in luminance resolution is far from academic in broadcast.
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Old June 18th, 2006, 01:09 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Ash Greyson
HDV is a terrible format for editing. I either shoot straight to a 1200HD deck via HD-SDI or transfer to tape and capture from them. DVCproHD is much better to work in but if you do more than one or two CC stages you really need to work uncompressed for the polish.
I am working on short project where I won't be able to shoot HD in any of its better forms (Sony or Pana), and availability to other cameras here is limited to Sony Z1. As final copy is going to be 35mm film, I am trying to think of my best options for that path.

From what I could get on another thread, my first choice of shooting 50i and then doing a direct path to film from 25p seems to be my better option for a less expensive transfer.

But I am planning to do an off-line on my Avid Xpress Pro, so I am not so certain on which would be my best choices to finally get to the transdfer machine from my HDV originals. What to capture when and from what media.
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Old June 20th, 2006, 03:25 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Stephan Ahonen
My question is, did they test the HD100 at all?
Why? You cannot edit the 720p24 footage it shoots on ANY NLE. Only 720p30. 720p24 mixes very well with film productions. Given that limitation I'd pass right away.

Well, given that it is HDV makes me pass right away.
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Old June 20th, 2006, 09:46 AM   #23
 
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Originally Posted by Shane Ross
Why? You cannot edit the 720p24 footage it shoots on ANY NLE. Only 720p30. 720p24 mixes very well with film productions. Given that limitation I'd pass right away.

Well, given that it is HDV makes me pass right away.

Uh...Sony Vegas has been capable of editing/capturing the footage from the JVC since day one.
Your "pass" because it's HDV is equally ignorant.
they're just tools. And there are right tools for the right job. Apparently you don't have access to all the tools, which would suggest you're not getting the right jobs.
We own all of the HD offerings ranging from an old LDK Philips to the small Sony HC3 and EVERY camera in the lower HD offerings including the Panasonic HVX. Each of them has their place. If you're of the mind that the Panny is better because it's not HDV...you're seriously in the dark, and I'd suggest you experience the cameras first hand without making a pre-determined decision.
We shot AMA superbikes this past week using Z1's and HVX. The overcrank on the HVX was sexy on these monster bikes. But it doesn't upsample to 1080 as well as I'd like and the 1080 on this camera is laughable, while the 720 is very nice. The Z1 is significantly sharper and more color rich. But it's interlaced. Fortunately the client wants interlaced 1080. But if they didn't, the Z1 downconverts to 720p just fine. The JVC isn't a good choice for these events because it has no auto, and occasionally we need a fast autofocus when these bikes hit hairpins.
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Old June 20th, 2006, 12:45 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
Uh...Sony Vegas has been capable of editing/capturing the footage from the JVC since day one.
720p24...24p? Sure about that?

I guess it all depends on what you are doing. We have shot test footage with the JVC and the Sony HDV cameras and haven't liked the results. It is one of those cameras that works for some, but not for others.

Yes it is a tool, a tool that every network I submit work for has turned down flat.
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Old June 20th, 2006, 01:39 PM   #25
 
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Originally Posted by Shane Ross
720p24...24p? Sure about that?
Yes it is a tool, a tool that every network I submit work for has turned down flat.

I can think of any number of responses, but yours is insulting enough without me adding fuel to the fire. Buy my HDV book, get the 24p footage, put it into the trial version of Sony Vegas. (Vegas was the first lower cost tool to do 24p about 4 years back, btw) Or, get hold of one of my several books on Vegas going back to version 4, and read/experience 24p (which is really 23.976 on a PC and 23.98 on an Apple) from the author's viewpoint, complete with sample 23.076 footage.
Or just view a screenshot.
http://www.vasst.com/Tempfolder/24pjvc.jpg

Every network huh? Damn. Don't know who you're submitting to, but just last night and this morning, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, FOX national, and CNN ran/are running footage shot with the Sony A1u and Z1 cams. I shot much of the footage myself, in case you'd care to know if I'm sure about that, too. TNT and TLC have contracted footage from us, same with Nat'l Geo, Discovery, etc.
HBO runs HDV every night in some form, Fox uses HDV on "24"; the list is long and lengthy of HDV being used in high-profile, professional applications ranging from extreme sports to dramatics.

You're welcome to your opinion, as am I and everyone else. But on one hand you say you "tested the camera" and on another hand, you say that networks have "turned you down flat." Are you suggesting you submitted test footage?
Broadcasters world-wide are putting up HDV-acquired footage every hour, every day. If broadcasters are "turning away flat" all your test HDV footage, then maybe it's not the camera....? If you're *really* suggesting that the HVX is acceptable but the HDV is not, please cite specifics and show images to demonstrate your point. From Adam Wilt to MTV to Z-Channel...no one else can see these "turned down flat" quality differences, which leads me to suggest either poor camera skills or an exceptionally biased opinion. I'm very biased in favor of HDV for what it is, but I also have purchased every one of the cameras out there including the HVX for either our use, or our rental stock. The HVX is a very nice camera. But to suggest you can see quality differences that would cause a network to "turn down flat" the footage is so far past ridiculous that....

That said, if you're suggesting they won't accept HDV tape as the delivery format, they also won't accept P2 as a delivery format either, even if you could get 20 mins or 52 mins on a P2 card. Either way, it's gonna be delivered as HDCAM, D5, or disk drive for a media server.

It's kind of tiring to keep reading these "HDV sucks" posts from guys who haven't used the camcorders in real situations. All of them are very good tools. None of them are *significantly* better than the other. That can be said by throwing the HVX in the mix too. It boils down to the application and needed featureset when choosing a camera. If you want 1080, you've got the Canon and Sony. If you want true progressive, then you want the JVC or Panny. If you want full-raster, 24p, 720, then you get the JVC. If you want horizontally and vertically upsampled media with under/overcrank, then you have one choice there, too.
The JVC has substantially greater resolution than the HVX, it's the *only* full raster cam out there in the sub 10k price range. Yeah, it has it's faults. So does the HVX. So does the Canon, and so do the several Sony cams. This can be said about any sub 75k cam in the HD world. With over 250,000 HDV cams out there, are you suggesting that everyone is making mom/pop videos?

Then again, maybe all the guys and gals from the numerous broadcasters out there are just morons making their full-time living shooting HDV as part of their toolbox, and you're the only guy right about shooting something else.
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Old June 20th, 2006, 02:27 PM   #26
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DSE,

I wanted to thank-you BTW. I just got your HDV book and the 3-disc absolute training for Vegas. The product was shipped to an Island in Canada within 3-days and both products are great. Definitely paid for themselves in time savings already.

I appreciate reading all your posts, and benifiting from your wealth of experience in the field.

Thanks,

Ken.
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Old June 20th, 2006, 02:51 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
The JVC isn't a good choice for these events because it has no auto, and occasionally we need a fast autofocus when these bikes hit hairpins.
I've never gotten this "need" for autofocus. Spend some more time shooting video with manual focus. You get far better results without any of that obnoxious "hunting" for focus.
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Old June 20th, 2006, 03:02 PM   #28
 
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Originally Posted by Stephan Ahonen
I've never gotten this "need" for autofocus. Spend some more time shooting video with manual focus. You get far better results without any of that obnoxious "hunting" for focus.
You're very much invited to come teach us and the crews of CMT and ESPN how it should be done. All of us are using autofocus on some areas of the track given the distances involved and speed of the shoot. Manual focus rules the day, but having that autofocus button at hand from a long shot is very helpful at times.
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Old June 20th, 2006, 09:55 PM   #29
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I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound condescending. But name-dropping big networks doesn't impress people. I've worked for ESPN myself. A lot of people have. Never shot racing though, so I really don't know what that generally involves.
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Old June 20th, 2006, 10:08 PM   #30
 
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With the heat that rises off the track coupled with the gum and smoke, all of the cam crews are struggling from time to time, depending on time of day, and the autofocus or a marked position (similar to measure/mark of film) is very helpful in those situations. Later evenings or earlier mornings there is no need, but in the afternoon heat when the track gets up to mid 100's, story changes fast.
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