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HD and UHD ( 2K+ ) Digital Cinema
Various topics: HD, UHD (2K / 4K) Digital Cinema acquisition to distribution.


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Old January 14th, 2009, 08:10 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
"Lawrence of Arabia" would be an entirely different film if shot on HDV as against 65mm because the weakness of the 1/3" cameras is that they're OK for the closer shots, but they begin to fall apart on the wide shots rather like 16mm or even Super 16 (although less so) do when blown up to 35mm. To really judge a format you have to project it onto a 25 ft to 40ft screen, then the flaws really jump out at you.

There is a movement towards digital formats to replace film, largely I suspect on TV productions in the shorter term, which are under increasing budget pressures. However, they won't be using HDV cameras, but the 2/3" cameras under discussion here, plus the 35mm sized sensor. The HDV codec has problems as it goes through the post production/ transmission chain, so TV producers tend to only use it on productions or shots which require the use of smaller cameras.
When I first saw Lawrence of Arabia it was letter-boxed on an old 4:3 CRT TV and it was a stunning film even then because of the quality of the cinematography. It is a film that is full of vast wide shots where the DOF is massive. I'm not saying it would look better if it had been shot differently, just that what makes the film incredible is the quality of the craftsmen (and women) in front of and behind the cameras and in the edit suite.

I find that projecting with a good quality projector will hide many of the smaller artifacts that will show up on a big LCD or plasma screen. I have seen a lot of my work projected onto very big screens with 4K projectors and I've seen HDV, XDCAM and HDCAM material side by side and it's often very difficult to differentiate between them. Right now I'm working on a year long 3D HD project that will be projected in 4K. We have done extensive tests and so far the pictures we have been getting have looked IMHO excellent. We are using XDCAM EX's. Despite "only" having 1/2" sensors we have excellent dynamic range and accurate tonal reproduction. Noise is minimal, certainly less than from super 16.

Sure, highly compressed codecs have to be treated with care, but that doesn't mean you can't use them. Just look at Deadliest Catch or Ice Road Truckers on Discovery HD. They are shot on HDV but look very good when you consider the atrocious filming conditions. Would they have looked better shot with 2/3" or 35mm sensors? I doubt it. Can you image how band TV news would be if it was shot using cameras with 35mm sensors. Non of it would be in focus ;)

I've had clips that I shot on HDV included in feature films. We are all getting too wrapped up in the technology, me included. I keep having to remind myself of the old adage:

Content is King.

Any camera is merely a tool to record the content.
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Old January 14th, 2009, 08:47 AM   #17
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I find that projecting with a good quality projector will hide many of the smaller artifacts that will show up on a big LCD or plasma screen. I have seen a lot of my work projected onto very big screens with 4K projectors and I've seen HDV, XDCAM and HDCAM material side by side and it's often very difficult to differentiate between them. Right now I'm working on a year long 3D HD project that will be projected in 4K. We have done extensive tests and so far the pictures we have been getting have looked IMHO excellent. We are using XDCAM EX's. Despite "only" having 1/2" sensors we have excellent dynamic range and accurate tonal reproduction. Noise is minimal, certainly less than from super 16.

Sure, highly compressed codecs have to be treated with care, but that doesn't mean you can't use them. Just look at Deadliest Catch or Ice Road Truckers on Discovery HD. They are shot on HDV but look very good when you consider the atrocious filming conditions. Would they have looked better shot with 2/3" or 35mm sensors? I doubt it. Can you image how band TV news would be if it was shot using cameras with 35mm sensors. Non of it would be in focus ;)
Think that's why people like Discovery want to know your post workflow plans when they commission a production shot on HDV. I don't know about those particular programmes, but one workflow for one of their commissions involved doing the on-line using uncompressed HD that's been converted directly from the HDV camera tapes.

Indeed, much depends on the story you're telling.

I've seen video material which looks OK on a monitor, but looks extremely soft projected onto a screen. Same thing with a video colour grade which had been poorly done, with miss-matched shots that just jumped out at you. I assume the colourist had been using a computer monitor and didn't notice the shots were way out, even though the cameras themselves had been matched on location.
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Old January 14th, 2009, 09:18 AM   #18
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Ice Road Truckers
I thought this was shot on a few 350's as well?

I can't generally trust people when they say they've seen artifacts in various pictures mainly because I only have their word for it that they are looking at a top quality monitor. If I was to judge the EX by watching its footage on a Panasonic Viera for example, excellent TV's though they are, the picture is full of aliasing.

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colourist had been using a computer monitor and didn't notice the shots were way out,
Surely if they were any good they'd see such differences on the scopes?

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Content is King.
Actually as far as making money goes I'd say that schlock is king ;-) Horrible as that sounds. I never cease to be amazed at how much rubbish makes money while more worthwhile stuff leaves the producers penniless.

Going back to the cameras and formats though, far too much is made of it all. There is also too much elitism, like the way most people on the Cinematography Mailing List regard people who use cameras like the XDCAM HD as sub human, or beginners who have never used a 'real' camera. Some of those guys seem to be in a permanent state of irritableness. A lot of them need to ask themselves whether, despite all their 35mm goodness, half of the films they lens would interest an audience at all if they were shot on a PD-170. If the answer is no then the elitists should take a look at what they are really achieving.
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Old January 14th, 2009, 09:55 AM   #19
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Surely if they were any good they'd see such differences on the scopes?

Actually as far as making money goes I'd say that schlock is king ;-) Horrible as that sounds. I never cease to be amazed at how much rubbish makes money while more worthwhile stuff leaves the producers penniless.

Going back to the cameras and formats though, far too much is made of it all. There is also too much elitism, like the way most people on the Cinematography Mailing List regard people who use cameras like the XDCAM HD as sub human, or beginners who have never used a 'real' camera. Some of those guys seem to be in a permanent state of irritableness. A lot of them need to ask themselves whether, despite all their 35mm goodness, half of the films they lens would interest an audience at all if they were shot on a PD-170. If the answer is no then the elitists should take a look at what they are really achieving.
Oh absolutely they should've spotted the grading differences, you didn't even need a scope or a grade one monitor to spot the differences. I think it was just done on the cheap by the producer. The one thing about the large screen was that so much easier to spot the differences compared to the standard monitor size.

The schlock can always find a place on the niche world of multi channel television.

I think Geoff Boyle has always placed CML at the higher end, but I suspect what is taken as elitism, more just being hard nosed. I've never got the impression that XDCAM HD users are regarded as sub human on CML, indeed one of their regulars shoots on a PD 170. More likely that some people believing that RED will create a whole new wonderful world are given a hard time than XDCAM HD people. Currently, most RED discussions on CML are practical and are similar in nature to the professionals found on RedUser. Certainly, there's a lot more discussion about digital cinema on CML than 35mm film at the moment.
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Old January 14th, 2009, 09:59 AM   #20
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To go back to the original post and keeping in the Awards season, in addition to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire is also a product of the digital cinematography revolution and probably couldn't have been made as well if completely shot on film.

They used the SI-2K camera for that film to supplement a 35mm camera and ended up shooting half the film with the SI-2K because of the shooting conditions in the slums and the needed flexibility the digital camera provided. DOP Anthony Dod Mantle did an amazing job with lighting and interweaving both cameras that it is practically impossible to tell when he is using each camera. I know the SI-2K is a bit over HDV etc., but its pretty comparable to the Viper.

Also, they used some Canon still cameras to capture some crowd shots at 12 fps to get a more "real" feel without the people knowing they were being filmed.
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Old January 14th, 2009, 11:28 AM   #21
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To go back to the original post and keeping in the Awards season, in addition to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire is also a product of the digital cinematography revolution and probably couldn't have been made as well if completely shot on film.

They used the SI-2K camera for that film to supplement a 35mm camera and ended up shooting half the film with the SI-2K because of the shooting conditions in the slums and the needed flexibility the digital camera provided. DOP Anthony Dod Mantle did an amazing job with lighting and interweaving both cameras that it is practically impossible to tell when he is using each camera. I know the SI-2K is a bit over HDV etc., but its pretty comparable to the Viper.
Even more interesting in that it's the SI Mini recording onto a laptop rather than the full SI 2K rig. Definitely a 2/3" camera.
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Old January 16th, 2009, 09:22 AM   #22
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Would they have looked better shot with 2/3" or 35mm sensors? I doubt it. Can you image how band TV news would be if it was shot using cameras with 35mm sensors. Non of it would be in focus ;)
Two things about these statements. First, it probably would have looked better if shot on 2/3"/35mm cameras. Why? Because normally bigger chips give you less noise, not to mention that the MPEG2 format tends to be noisy by itself (which, if shot 2/3" into a MPEG2 codec, you might still have a decent amount of noise.) When you go to broadcast that noisy footage, the broadcast codec (MPEG2 I believe) falls to pieces because it's got more information to encode in the same amount of bandwidth. Less noise=better encoding.

I know you put a ;) in your last statement, but I don't want other people to be confused. Just because you have 35mm optics, doesn't mean that DOF is incredibly shallow on everything naturally. F-stop, distance to subject, subject to background, and mm lens is set to, make a huge difference. It's fairly easy to get everything in focus even at 50-60mm on a cine lens. Just go to f11 or above.

Unrelated, I don't know why anyone would want to shoot without some shallow DOF. Our eyes naturally have a somewhat shallow DOF and so it seems weird when I see shots that should have some DOF, without any. I understand it's hard to get shallow DOF on a 1/3" camera without zooming in, but that's a dead giveaway on what type of camera it was shot on (prosumer). I also understand many people not liking the 35mm adapter look. Most of the time when I see it used, the DOF is way to shallow for the shot. Online I see shorts/etc with med wide shots will have a fairly close background that is WAY out of focus--when it should be just slightly out of focus. It's finding that happen medium between making your subject have some depth and making them look like they were shot on greenscreen.

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Old January 16th, 2009, 01:18 PM   #23
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Back in the mid 80's I was a Producer/Director for Compaq Computer. We shot a lot 16mm film projects, primarily to control the scan flicker on computer CRT's. (This was before clear scan). But, it gave us a more national commercial look than shooting Beta SP could have ever provided. Couldn't afford 35mm/ Twice the film, at double the cost, at double the processing, etc. So 16mm worked great for us.

We were shooting in and at IAH airport, large crew, lights, actors. Drew a lot of attention. When a woman Producer from LA walked up asked what we where doing. The standard answer was always a manyonaise commercial. When she saw the Arri SRII she said, "Oh 16, it's not a real shoot unless it's 35." My asst. camera op said, "Hey, if it pays, it's real." The 10 minute video we produced won a regional addy and a couple of telly's. And we were on budget. And everyone got paid.

I don't care if it is 16mm, 35mm, Viper, Red, SI, HDCAM SR, HDV, XDCAM EX, or AVC. If you're good you'll get paid. It isn't show, it is showbidness.

So, as the Talking Heads say, "Same as it ever was, same as it ever was."

Cheers.
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Old January 16th, 2009, 02:22 PM   #24
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Just because you have 35mm optics, doesn't mean that DOF is incredibly shallow on everything naturally. F-stop, distance to subject, subject to background, and mm lens is set to, make a huge difference. It's fairly easy to get everything in focus even at 50-60mm on a cine lens. Just go to f11 or above.
Not really true, Matthew. Check your depth of field calculator for the parameters you describe and you'll find that the hyperfocal (given a 55m focal length) around 35 feet, delivering 17 feet to infinity. Once the subject moves under 12 feet or so, the background will be noticeably soft even at f11. It's best not to shoot with your lens stopped down to the max which is often f16, so this is the best you can do.

Even quite wide lenses like a 20mm on the 35mm cine format can appear to deliver an extensive depth of field, but it's still quite possible to see soft backgrounds as the subject moves closer with an aperture like 2.8, which of course is much more likely for interiors or night work.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 11:34 AM   #25
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motion in film

Can anyone tell me how to make a movie with drama motion effects and not using low framerates like 24P or 25P?
ArildP
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Old January 18th, 2009, 04:25 AM   #26
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Can anyone tell me how to make a movie with drama motion effects and not using low framerates like 24P or 25P?
ArildP
You could shoot at 50p or 60p, but it won't look like film, but more like video. I believe this effect was also noticed on Showscan which was shot on 65mm film, but they used 60 fps rather than the usual film 24fps.

Quite a few dramas are shot at interlace 50i or 60i or in progressive 50p or 60p. However these tend to be the soaps rather than the dramas going for that more "filmic" look. If you're going for TV or DVD distribution rather than a theatrical release (which you will need to shoot at 24p or 25p for transferring to 35mm) there's no problem doing this. The down side would be that if you're looking for the "drama motion effects" you won't get them because they're caused by shooting at 24p or 25p.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 10:22 AM   #27
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Not really true, Matthew. Check your depth of field calculator for the parameters you describe and you'll find that the hyperfocal (given a 55m focal length) around 35 feet, delivering 17 feet to infinity. Once the subject moves under 12 feet or so, the background will be noticeably soft even at f11. It's best not to shoot with your lens stopped down to the max which is often f16, so this is the best you can do.

Even quite wide lenses like a 20mm on the 35mm cine format can appear to deliver an extensive depth of field, but it's still quite possible to see soft backgrounds as the subject moves closer with an aperture like 2.8, which of course is much more likely for interiors or night work.
I'm sorry, I was referring more towards shooting with not a ton of space. If you are shooting outside, for the most part, it's easy to get a decent, shallow DOF. However, it seems like many people think that by shooting with cine lens in a tight space, they are going to have this really shallow DOF--but it ain't gonna happen. Too often, when they get their FOV correct, they find that they are on a wider lens and further away than they need to be. Heck, at 20mm/t5.6 (wider than most prosumer cameras go when you do the size conversion) with my subject standing 2' from the lens I can get a decently shallow DOF. However, that is not all that flattering to my subject and weird slightly weird.

I'm just saying that by using cine lenses in a 35mm size sensor does not instantly produce super shallow DOF. If you look at most wide/med wide shots in movies, there's more in focus than you realize. Even when the background is soft, it's just soft, not way out of focus--just enough to help the subject pop off the screen.

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Old January 24th, 2009, 02:49 AM   #28
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Two things about these statements. First, it probably would have looked better if shot on 2/3"/35mm cameras. Why? Because normally bigger chips give you less noise, not to mention that the MPEG2 format tends to be noisy by itself (which, if shot 2/3" into a MPEG2 codec, you might still have a decent amount of noise.) When you go to broadcast that noisy footage, the broadcast codec (MPEG2 I believe) falls to pieces because it's got more information to encode in the same amount of bandwidth. Less noise=better encoding. Matthew
Why would it have looked better? If you watch the shows I'm talking about you will see that they have very low noise anyway. I just don't believe that it could have been shot with large sensor cameras as for many of the situations the cameras would have been simply to big and bulky. In the case of Deadliest Catch bigger, harder to use cameras would mean less variety of shots, it would be near impossible to hold bulky camera on the deck of a rolling ship with waves crashing over the crew. That would have meant the series would have to have been shot from the ships bridge loosing the impact of being there on the deck with the crew. For me it is that intimate on the spot shooting that make the programmes interesting and enjoyable to watch.

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Unrelated, I don't know why anyone would want to shoot without some shallow DOF. Our eyes naturally have a somewhat shallow DOF and so it seems weird when I see shots that should have some DOF, without any.

Matthew
Actually our eyes have a remarkably deep depth of field down to the fact that they are wide angle lenses with relatively small aperture. The background doesn't disappear into a blur when we focus on a close object. What does happen is that our eyes converge on that object which causes distant objects to diverge and it is this that gives us depth perception and makes the object we are looking at the center of attention. Just go and watch a 3D movie and see how you can have massive DOF yet still bring the viewers attention onto a single plane by messing about with the convergence.
Simple experiment. Hold you finger out at arms length and look at the tip of you finger. Clearly the finger will be in focus while distant objects are indistinct. Now close one eye. The distant objects become much clearer. This is an example of how convergence makes the background indistinct. We use shallow depth of field in 2D video and cinema to try to mimic perception of depth. This supper shallow DOF that some people are obsessed about is not at all natural, but a cheat that is often over done. What we should be doing is working towards shooting everything stereoscopically.

The best sensor to use is the one that is the most appropriate to the shoot/budget and that often won't be the biggest.
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Old January 24th, 2009, 03:55 AM   #29
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In the case of Deadliest Catch bigger, harder to use cameras would mean less variety of shots, it would be near impossible to hold bulky camera on the deck of a rolling ship with waves crashing over the crew. That would have meant the series would have to have been shot from the ships bridge loosing the impact of being there on the deck with the crew. For me it is that intimate on the spot shooting that make the programmes interesting and enjoyable to watch.
I'm not you could sure that larger cameras couldn't be used. Certainly I've used 16mm and 2/3" cameras on a rolling boat, but I'd say an Aaton film camera is much handier than the 2/3" ENG video cameras which tend to be long and have an board battery which bangs into walls and doors.

However, I'd add you'd tend not to want to write off expensive cameras like they do on "The Deadliest Catch". I can't remember the numbers, but quite a few got damaged beyond repair on the series, so perhaps they could also be regarded as crash cameras.

Certainly for what they were filming the 1/3" cameras nicely fit the bill for the story they were telling in the series. However, I would add just because they used 1/3" cameras on an action series like "Deadliest Catch" doesn't mean they're the best cameras for other programmes/series. It's a case of the best tool for the production you're making.
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Old January 24th, 2009, 04:53 AM   #30
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Totally agree with you Brian. For a beautiful period costume drama a 35mm sensor may be the best choice, while for deadliest catch a compact video camera is best. Don't forget that super 16 film is not permitted by discovery because of excessive grain plus you would have the added issue of needing separate sound recording equipment.

It is the use of the appropriate tool for the job, as with any trade. Even if the final work is going to be shown on a cinema screen it is not essential that you use a big sensor and 4k resolution. When I watched the last 4k, 2k and HD demos at IBC in the big theater I really couldn't tell the difference between most of the 4K, 2K and HD at the distance I was from the screen. The biggest difference was in the production values and quality of the camerawork, not the technical specs of the cameras.
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