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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 September 23rd, 2002, 06:35 PM   #1
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VIP: Viper camera

Not sure if anyone had posting anything on this..

Yet it seems to be a direct (camera to hard-drive) feed camera that utilizes a 4:4:4 ratio and multiple frame rates...They say it replaces film.

"The Viper"? ----- it might of tooken master-minds of modern science to label the product of such esqusitry

http://www.pixelmonger.com/hg_cam.html
(scroll to the bottom)
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Old September 23rd, 2002, 09:33 PM   #2
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Adam:

Try searching under "Viper"--a few threads, mostly from those of us who saw it at NAB this year.

Digital is not yet a replacement for film. The Viper is a big step forward, but it is not a practical, working system at this point. The day that a digital system is capable of matching the subtle tonality, flexibility and beauty of a film-originated image, that will be a huge achievement. But it will not be truly practical if it involves fiber cables and workstations and massive drives, and attendant issues in harsh environments under difficult conditions.

DV is a very quick and flexible system, obviously faster to work with than a film camera which has to be reloaded, gate checked etc. etc., but HD tends to be slower than film due to the cables and scopes and massive monitors, etc. We had a day of HD shooting on our set a few weeks back, and we estimated it took 25% longer to shoot in that format than in our normal Super 16mm. Time is a major factor in economics, and economics drive the film industry.
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Old September 24th, 2002, 02:12 PM   #3
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"We had a day of HD shooting on our set a few weeks back, and we estimated it took 25% longer to shoot in that format than in our normal Super 16mm. Time is a major factor in economics, and economics drive the film industry."

i'm hearing the opposite. HD is saving approx 20% time. most of the production using HD are doing for COST and TIME ...
had this project that took 25% longer used HD before ?

"The day that a digital system is capable of matching the subtle tonality, flexibility and beauty of a film-originated image, that will be a huge achievement."

IMO this is where many have it WRONG ..digital doesn't have to equal/match FILM it just has to look good enough to SELL and make those paying persons sitting in theaters THINK Digital is better - MARKETING will take care of that end .. the MASSES can't tell ( IMO don't really care) the difference between 24P (as in star wars) vs. FILM (star wars ) .... bottom line if george had shot FILM it would NOT have sold more tickets.
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Old September 24th, 2002, 11:50 PM   #4
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The big cost to a film production is setup time. Any production serious enough to be shooting on 16 mm, 35 mm, or HD will have separate crews for camera and grip/electric. On any given setup using a film camera, typically the camera crew is finished assembling, loading, mounting, framing, and focusing the camera long before the lighting department has finished their work. So camera isn't the limiting factor.

On HD sets, there's a lot more to do with the camera than just assemble, load, mount, and point. There are cables going every which way for audio and video feeds, big heavy monitors to set up in little lightproof tents, presets to tackle. Also, HD adds an additional member to the camera crew, the HD engineer, who checks levels and keeps close eye on his waveform monitor. The HD engineer is also responsible for knowing all the little tricks with the camera's menuing that the cinematographer couldn't be expected to deal with.

I recently shot a short film that used all three formats mentioned, and our HD shots were the most time-intensive. Part of it was because the set-up times were so much longer with a video camera, and part of it was probably because an HD shot is infinitely more tweakable since the cinematographer can see his final product right there on the monitor.

Pictures of our shoot accessible through my web site!
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Old September 25th, 2002, 12:55 AM   #5
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there are probably trade offs between film /HD that makes crew maybe about equal...

"On HD sets, there's a lot more to do with the camera than just assemble, load, mount, and point. There are cables going every which way for audio and video feeds, big heavy monitors to set up in little lightproof tents"

all my film shoots have video tap .. cables are running to monitors , audio cables are also fed to monitors,director,script person . some directors prefer the tents.

" HD adds an additional member to the camera crew, the HD engineer, who checks levels and keeps close eye on his waveform monitor"

IMO you don't need a loader on a HD shoot ( keep 1st & 2nd) - so replace him with a HD engineer and also give him the video assist person...

as cinematographers shoot more HD 24P they will get to know the menu's and what the camera's can do /not do ... should be just a matter of time before the times are about equal ( film/hd) ...

both FILM & HD have alot to offer ..depending on the project one might choose one over the other ..and on the next project choose the other ..........

other then what was mentioned above the lighting /grip crew should remain the same. seems just the camera dept is re-arranged slightly ...

enjoyed the PARIS photo's !!!! love that city !!!
was this a US production ? or you have Paris connections ?
was that a eclair NPR i saw in one of the photo's ?

how did you like the HD ? panasonic or sonys? ...
how did you set up the menu ? film like gamma ? custom ?
what would you do different next time on a HD project?
is this project going to FILM ?
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Old September 26th, 2002, 01:37 AM   #6
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Well said Robert, you made many of my points for me.

When I referred to the various benchamarks that digital needs to hit to match film, I was responding to the statement that the Viper replaces film.

Yes, economics are the driving factor in production. But there are still directors and DP's powerful enough to mandate their preferred format.

Regarding cables--on most shows I am on, we transmit the video tap to the monitors, making the cameras cable-free. The audio is also transmitted to director, scripty etc. via Comteks.

Moving the "video village" is time-consuming enough when it's just a couple of 8" monitors for viewing the tap image...magnified significantly when it's a full engineering station plus the big HD monitors etc.

I'll admit to being exceptionally biased against HD from a practical standpoint, being a Steadicam operator. We are now having to fly cables (for video out as well as audio on the occasion--yikes!), deal with oddly elongated camera masses AND perform wear the rig longer than before, since there aren't regular reloads nor restrictions on the length of shots.
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Old September 26th, 2002, 02:17 AM   #7
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hopefully i have not mis-undertstood

But, are we not talking about a format that is still really in its infancy, and the support for it, isn't quite as high, as say the traditional methods of shooting on film.

And, I have noticed that many of you are referring to a bigger type of production than many people here get up to.

As a DOP, and occasional director, a lot of the time we are lucky to get a monitor on the site we are shooting. Sheesh we are lucky to really get permits to shoot on the streets we shoot in, hence we are up at 6am, working.

HD to me seems like a wonderful medium because even when downconverted you are still getting a really wonderful image without the massive costs of film, and you really are pushing sdtv to its extreme, usually when i have downconverted some HD video it exploits every single line of rez available, where as sdtv usually falls short of full rez.

I know cables are a hinderence but, i can see for smaller shoots that don't meet the budget of film, it is a small trade off for the advantages of the image, and I give it 1 year before it starts to be as easy as loading up a dv tape into a sd camcorder and pointing and shooting.

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Old September 26th, 2002, 03:31 AM   #8
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I was a cheerleader and proponent of digital cinema until I started seeing it actually being implemented.

HD's current primary technical issues--and these will doubtlessly be improved in the next decade--are noise and dynamic range. STAR WARS was unwatchably noisy (but that was mostly because Lucas was foolish enough to blow up some sequences by 400% in post), and even L'Auberage Espangole, the recent French smash hit, looked noisier in its HD scenes than the grainiest 35 mm stock available today. [Note: a few short portions of L'Auberage Espangole that took place in landmarks and crowded areas were shot on DV, for permit reasons. They were, of course, extremely noisy and extremely low dynamic range in comparison to the rest of the footage. I'm not referring to those.] And the dynamic range of some 35 stocks approaches the equivalent of 36 to 48 bits per pixel in digital representation, but the CCD and A/D in the HD cams will give you at most 12 bits.

Beyond those surmountable technical difficulties, HD is, at the moment, not particularly more economical on a film shoot where stock is only part of the consideration. Yes, when a film camera is running, producers sweat, because that's money being spent. But with a crew of sufficient size (and talent of sufficient scale), setup times have comparable cost to shooting, so the cost distinction between film and HD is eliminated (except that HD takes twice as long to set up and tweak). Another consideration is shooting ratio. There's a break-even point, above which HD is more economical, below which 35 mm costs less, but this shooting ratio break-even point tends to be quite high, 10:1 or 20:1 in some cases. Other incentives like donated film stock make the break-even point higher still.

One final point is the posting of the project. Posting on film is expensive, and almost nobody actually edits film any more because of how laborious it is. If you're going to scan large sequences (versus plain old low-res telecine) for digital color timing or special effects sequences in post, then shooting HD becomes a more substantial choice. The film I just finished shooting was shot on HD partially because there will be a lot of split-screen effects going on, and trying to accomplish those optically would bankrupt the production.

You could plot all of these considerations on a 4- or 5-dimensional graph, and chart a break-even line or break-even plane. This would help you decide what you wanted to shoot film and what you wanted to shoot digital. If the script allows, you could shoot some parts film and some parts digital--that's what we did!

Right now, I wouldn't shoot HD for anything but a short film with a skeleton crew with more than 5 or 6 takes per shot, that needed to be posted in a hurry, with digital color correction and possibly some CGI matted in, and in which nobody cares what it's going to look like projected on a big screen. [Incidentally, this scenario perfectly describes episodic television, which is the reason why ER, The West Wing, and virtually every other telelvision show is switching to the HD format right now.]
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Old September 26th, 2002, 08:18 AM   #9
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A simple comparison.

My old post house was one of the first to use Avids for off lines and later, on-lines. NLE was sold to clients as a time saving device (time=$$$). Everybody bought into the scheme. Clients soon found NLE was costing them more money. Why? The editors spent more time being more creative and fine tuning the finished pieces. The clients were ultimately happier with the projects and increased their budgets for more editing time. What brought down the costs? When the cost of the equipment dropped, more post houses could afford NLE and entice new clients with lower rates. HD will go through the same cycle. Most of the same arguments and objections will be heard. But it's happening. However, the cost of film stock and processing will skew the time table.

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Old September 26th, 2002, 10:37 AM   #10
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Kermie:

This particular thread was initially about the Viper camera, which is the highest-end HD system and thus I tailored my remarks towards its use vs film which would naturally be in a high-budget situation. I don't see anyone using the Viper in a run-and-gun environment any time soon!

Yes, HD is still in its infancy and it will evolve, at an incredible rate (which makes it depressing for those whose livelihoods center around the purchase and rental of equipment, such as rental houses!) The bummer is that with each new camera, the cry of "Film is dead!" rises up from the manufacturers. I have a similar philosophy to Robert, that while I embrace digital media, I am disappointed with the current state of technology when it attempts to "replace" film. It's not quick, it's not all that easy and frankly, it don't look all that great. (when you are having to hang nets or tape ND to every window so that they don't blow out, it becomes a serious time issue compared to film, for instance).

Robert:

"Incidentally, this scenario perfectly describes episodic television, which is the reason why ER, The West Wing, and virtually every other telelvision show is switching to the HD format right now."

The majority of episodic is still shot on film. Some have tested HD and gone back to film for the time being. All the John Wells shows (ER, West Wing, Third Watch, Presidio Med) are shot on 35; those that are presented in 16:9 are shot in the Super 35 format and posted to Digi Beta, with the letterboxing added. What's especially nice about working this way is that unlike most series which have to compose to the 4:3 frame but protect the 16:9 frame for the "future", is that you can make widescreen compositions with full confidence that they will be seen as intended, and you can bring lights and flags right up the edge instead of leaving that "no man's land" of 16:9 emptiness on either side of the 4:3 frame! The executive producer of the show I work on has stated "f**k HD" whenever we are fretting over doing another take because something dipped into that section of the frame.
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Old September 26th, 2002, 11:03 AM   #11
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Hm, I had heard that all the Wells shows were HD now--I stand corrected. Thanks for the heads-up, Charles. Do you know what shows are shooting HD? Friends, along with most of the rest of the NBC primetime lineup, is shot in HD, no?
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Old September 27th, 2002, 01:21 AM   #12
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"Friends", "Frasier" still 35mm...almost all shows that have been around for a while that have been originating on film continue to do so, don't actually know of any that have switched over. I currently work on "Scrubs" which is Super 16, we are continuing to dodge the 24p bullet.

Here is a list from the Local 600 guild magazine, that indicates which shows are shot in 24P (I'm not familiar with most of them, so in case some of them are actually features, forgive me). There may be others that aren't listed as such.

Reba
Still Standing
American Family
Half and Half
One on One
Bernie Mac
Less than Perfect
According to Jim
Life with Bonnie
In my Opinion
The O'Keefes

I thought I had heard that between 15 and 20 prime time shows were originating on 24p this year.
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Old September 29th, 2002, 06:16 AM   #13
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Interresting thread!

I've fiddled around a bit with the HDCAM systems (I've not shot any major work with it yet) and I can't see why they would require more time in setup than 35mm.

I've been shooting digibeta and those camcorders are not that far from HD camcorders (they have b/w viewfinders too). When I shoot digibeta/DVCAM with a God-setup of reference monitors and vectorscopes I do 55 setups a day on a normal feature film. The exact same thing using an Arri 535 or 435 never takes me beyond 30 setups.

The key to speed is exact representation of the image aquired. Lighting the show is much faster when me and my gaffer can view the exact result through a monitor. Often I just have someone picking up a light and walking around with it on the set until he is in the exact spot and I say stop. I view this through the monitor. Half DP, half audience. When shooting 35mm lighting is more my enterpretation based on theory. It's never exact. And not as fast.
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Old September 29th, 2002, 12:05 PM   #14
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<<<-- Originally posted by Robert Knecht Schmidt :

You could plot all of these considerations on a 4- or 5-dimensional graph, and chart a break-even line or break-even plane. This would help you decide what you wanted to shoot film and what you wanted to shoot digital. -->>>

Great idea Robert. Do you have any examples of this?

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Old September 30th, 2002, 05:26 PM   #15
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No examples, sorry, but I'm sure the producers of those TV series that switched from film to HD and back that Charles Papert was talking about have done some break-even cost analyses. If you get in contact with somebody like that, maybe they'll send you their Excel spreadsheets.
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