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Old July 27th, 2005, 04:47 PM   #1
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Indie film/music video cameras - What to use?

Hey there guys. My name is Jeff Jassky. I think this is my second post on these boards in the last few months.

I'm looking to buy a camera that I can use to produce a film look for indie films, and/or music videos. Right now I own an XL1, but the saturation, contrast, gamma curve and other things aren't at all what I'm looking for. I've looked at video samples from an XL2 shot at 24p and it was still nothing like what I'm looking for. I see it's much closer than the XL1, but not close enough for me.

Has anyone has ever watched a show on MTV called 'Laguna Beach'? I encourage you to watch it for a few minutes and look at the video production (even though the show is ridiculously stupid). If you watch this show, you will see the type of image I am trying to acheive. From what I read, the camera that they supposedly use is a Panasonic DVCPRO50. Seeing as how I don't have a $25,000.00 budget for a camera, I'm looking for a less expensive camera that can produce a similar look.

I would consider myself a an advanced-novice in professional film/DV. So any help from some pros would be very very appreciated :).

Also, seeing as how I'm trying to learn about this stuff more and more, I'd love to find someone who's doing some flim work in my area (texas) that needs an extra person on their film crew ;). If anyone knows of a website or publication that could help me out with that, please let me know.

Thanks alot guys. I really appreciate the help. You can email me at (jeff at embraced-dc.com). Thanks again.

-Jeff
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Old July 27th, 2005, 08:03 PM   #2
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Standard definition video cameras simply lack the resolution to achieve a film look. To get a film look you need to go big screen and standard definition looks too blurry to look good on a big screen. In my opinion progressive high definition video cameras like the JVC HD100 will give you a film look but without the grain of film. 24p will give you closest to the film look but only if you transfer the footage to film. In my opinion 30p will look more film like if watching it on a television because 30p is more compatible with televisions and avoids all that 3 & 2 pulldown. With 30p no complicated pulldown is needed just double each frame to convert it to 60p in order to be able to watch it on a television.
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Old July 27th, 2005, 09:54 PM   #3
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Well, if you want to boost saturation that much and have gamma curves galore, you'd probably want to wait until the very affordable Panasonic HVX200 comes out. It's DVCPro50 in SD and DVCProHD in ... well... HD. At 4:2:2 color sampling (twice as much as DV's 4:1:1, or 4:2:0 in PAL land), I'm sure you'll revel in the options this camcorder will provide, amongst other things of course.
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Old July 28th, 2005, 02:20 AM   #4
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Hey guys. Thanks alot for the fast replies. I appreciate it a ton. Since I posted this early today I've been doing alot of research. For the longes time I was trying to find a decent way to get a similar to 35mm DOF on my XL1. I'm aware of the canon adaptor, and of course the insanely expensive mini35 adaptor system. a few hours ago I was looking into the different panasonic cameras.. and I found the new hi def camera that will be coming out soon - HVX200. I've been aware of the decent color that panasonid's cameras produce (such as the DVX100A - I have a friend who owns one). After learning about a new similar camera that shoots HD, I then found the two 35mm adaptors that will work with it.. the Guerilla 35 (http://www.guerilla35.com) and the Micro 35 (http://www.redrockmicro.com). I looked at samples of these lens mount units shot with the DVX100A and was very very impressed. I believe that I would be very happy with one of these adaptors, and the new Panasonic HVX200.

If you guys have any comments about this setup; good, bad, anything, let me know. I really appreciate you guys. I think that pair would give me the type of image I'm looking for :)

Thanks again
-Jeff
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Old July 28th, 2005, 06:55 AM   #5
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We plan to get the JVC HD100.
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Old July 28th, 2005, 08:14 AM   #6
 
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I don't know that we'll be getting the JVC or not around here, but I can say that I've been using the RedRock Micro for a few months, and very impressed. They've recently changed out their glass which not only was a huge improvement, it also makes it much easier to work with whether the motor is on or off.
My singular complaint is that changing the battery is a monster PITA.
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Old July 28th, 2005, 08:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
I don't know that we'll be getting the JVC or not around here, but I can say that I've been using the RedRock Micro for a few months, and very impressed.
I wrote those guys yesterday asking whether their adapter has the
7.2 mag. factor when using 35mm SLR glass ala the XL1 & EOS.
I actually want that and hope their adapter will work with either the HD100
or the HVX200 (more likely to get my money).


Can you tell me as there is nothing about it on their site?
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Old July 28th, 2005, 09:18 AM   #8
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Tommy,

I find your comments suspect... You state that SD cameras lack the resolution to achieve a film look. Yet many productions have achieved a "film look" with SD cameras for many years now. Furthermore, I have yet to hear of anyone who can agree on what "film look" even is!

I do agree with you that 30P is a much nicer frame rate for achieving a fluid motion signature that is still a step removed from 60i. Yet I personally prefer the 24 frame motion signature over 30P for most applications.

I would love to hear about your experiences with JVC GY-HD100 since this camera is of great interest to me. I didn't know that the camera was shipping already or that anyone has had the opportunity to work with it. Please tell us about your experiences working with the HD100 and how your experience lead you to your opinion that the camera produces a "film look".

Jeff,

Some of the pick up shots and B roll on Laguna Beach is shot with the DVX100A.

I too am eagerly awaiting the release of the HVX200. Though I am not a fan of 35mm adapter systems.

I have not worked with the RedRock or Guerilla. So I cannot comment on their performance.

I have worked with both the Mini35 and the Pro35 on everything from MiniDV to HDCAM. And I feel that the image degradation from these adapters is objectionable. With the exception of the Sony HDW-F900. These lens adapters suffer from incredibly soft focus due to the relay system employed to maintain the same DOF as 35mm. The high resolution of the Sony HDW-F900 can handle the softening of the Pro35 without much problem. But even cameras with high resolution such as the Varicam become objectionably soft. And the results with MiniDV cameras are even worst.

You also have to factor in the cost and avalability of 35mm Cine lenses. Remember, the adapter is nothing more than an adapter. You still have to rent the lenses to put on the adapter. And those lenses can be pricey to rent.
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Old July 28th, 2005, 09:50 AM   #9
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<<Yet many productions have achieved a "film look" with SD cameras for many years now.>>

I think he is correct about NTSC looking soft when projected on a large
screen.


<<<I too am eagerly awaiting the release of the HVX200. Though I am not a fan of 35mm adapter systems. >>>

You would be if you had an XL1 and the standard 16X lens that came
with it, and then switched to EOS and SLR glass. But, that is only because
the 16X resolves only (guessing) 250 lines.

From what you state, it appears what you
dislike is an adapter that inserts MORE glass between the camera
image sensors and the lens you want to implement. I always found
it strange that someone would use a fixed lens camera with the PS
system. I also heard that their systems didn't play well in HD.

<<But even cameras with high resolution such as the Varicam become objectionably soft.>>

What you want is a camera system like Kinetta, which if/when delivered.
has a large enough CMOS sensor to forgo any glass adapters and use
PL mount lens directly. I hope Jeff K. can bring it to market well under
the current $60K projected MSRP.

<<<I have not worked with the RedRock or Guerilla. So I cannot comment on their performance.>>>

Spot?
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Old July 28th, 2005, 10:14 AM   #10
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I don't disagree that NTSC can look soft depending on how it is projected on a large screen. But Tommy's statement was that "standard definition looks too blurry to look good on a big screen". Standard Definition and NTSC do not in any way refer to a specific camera or format. So to make a blanket statement that ALL Standard Definition footage or NTSC originated material "looks too blurry to look good" makes is sound unusable, and is irresponsible.

Regardless of the stock lens, the XL1 has always been a resolution challenged camera. My first experience with the Mini35 was with the XL1. And it was probrably the worst performing of the MiniDV cameras I used with the Mini35. Even with the ability to remove additional glass between the adapter and CCD, the image was still objectionably soft. The Mini35 looked significantly better on the DVX100, than the XL1. Fixed lens or not, my personal opinion is that the Mini35 degrades the image more than I am willing to accept for minimal gain.

I have also used the EOS adpter on the XL1 and was not impressed. The magnification factor was too great to be viable for most applications that I am involved with.

What I've experienced first hand is that the Pro35 does not play well in HD on any camera except the Sony HDW-F900. And even then, I feel it's usefulness is only for projects that will be distributed via SD. The Pro35 softens too much for my taste. But many of my colleagues like the Pro35 on the Varicam and even the SDX900. So everyone's opinion on objectionable softening differs.

I don't know what you mean by "what you want", as I am not in the market for anything. I am a Cinematographer whose only interest is to know what systems are best suited for particular projects through first hand experience. And to share my experience with systems I have already used with others.
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Old July 28th, 2005, 12:32 PM   #11
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Jon, I can't remember the specifics, but didn't that article in AC last year test an XL1s with Mini35 against its stock lens, and the Mini35 resolved better?

I think that sharpness is a matter of taste--I have found some HD to be unnaturally sharp, to the point where it almost makes me uncomfortable to watch. As we know, it's a tough thing to quantify--it's not about lines of resolution or anything that can be measured on a scope or a chart, it's about the personality of an image.

For me, the Mini35 softens the DV image in a good way (aka filmic) rather than in an out-of-focus, blurry way. When we did those Jerry Seinfeld/Superman webmovies a few years ago, that was with the 300 series Mini35's and straight XL1's--a combination that by definition should have been noticeably soft, but was apparently good enough to be shown as a primetime NBC special (and they looked good).

I certainly agree that DV falls short when projected theatrically. HD and HDV offer an obvious solution in that department. However, I'm often put off just as much by compression issues as I am by resolution issues--it's an annoyance to me when a fade in or out has that sparkly/blocky look to it. HDV would still present these issues, no?

Finally--increased resolution does not equal film look, to me. I've said it enough times on this board that I should just put it in my signature--average-looking video shot on HD is just sharper average-looking video.
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Old July 28th, 2005, 01:20 PM   #12
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Charles,

I didn't catch that article. I'll definitely find it and read through it. Though it doesn't surprise me that the Mini35 with 35mm lens resolved better than the stock lens. Regardless of whether or not it resolved better, the low pixel count and upsampling of the original XL1 was still too much of a softness barrier to overcome for my eyes.

Certainly sharpness is a matter of taste. And I agree that some HD can be unnaturally sharp. But part of the beauty of HD is having the ability to manipulate the image to achieve just the right aesthetic desired. As a Cinematographer who is also a DIT, I find it preferable to use a superior DigiPrime or EC zoom for maximum optical sharpness and use the camera's detail circuit to tune the sharpness to my taste.

I most certainly agree that increased resolution does not equal film look. That was my original point that I wanted to make. Though I also must admit that higher resolution does provide the ability to capture the subtle nuances within an image and can aid in providing a gentler transition between highlight and shadow. But knowing how to use that resolution to your advantage to actually capture those subtle details without looking oversharpned is another issue altogether.
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Old July 30th, 2005, 11:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Jassky
Has anyone has ever watched a show on MTV called 'Laguna Beach'? I encourage you to watch it for a few minutes and look at the video production (even though the show is ridiculously stupid). If you watch this show, you will see the type of image I am trying to acheive. From what I read, the camera that they supposedly use is a Panasonic DVCPRO50. Seeing as how I don't have a $25,000.00 budget for a camera, I'm looking for a less expensive camera that can produce a similar look.
Jeff, if the the look you're after can be described by using words like saturation, gamma, contrast, etc, then it's extremely likely the look you're after was created in a color-correction suite, not in camera.

Color-correction in a telecine suite with a Devinci is responsible for pretty much all of the memorable color looks in film-for-video in the last 20 years.
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