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Old November 8th, 2007, 04:42 PM   #16
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One of the important things that George Lucas persuaded Sony to do was to make a 24P camera. In that case what you need is a camera that shoots progressive frames, so that would rule out using a Z1. It also depends if he would want to shoot all that green screen stuff, but I'd assume you're not planning that.

I'd tend to go for one of the JVC' HD 100 or HD 200s they shoot progressive and have interchangeable lenses or a Canon XL H1 that shoots 24F. These are all HDV.

An alternative would be the HVX 200 that uses P2, although perhaps the new XDCAM HD EX looks more interesting.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 05:15 PM   #17
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To ask for Hollywood-style production values with little money / crew is asking a lot.

On the other hand... check this out:
http://www.poetsofthefall.com/videos/
I believe the "carnival of rust" music video was shot on a z1. Some important things to note are:
A- A lot of what you see in that video is matte painting / virtual set work. (Similar to star wars.) I believe the software for doing that is pretty affordable (unless you want custom effects that you get a programmer to code for you). However, it's a labour-intensive process and usually you need to pay somebody to do all that work.
B- Keying HDV material is not that fun... the compression artifacts take extra work to deal with. Keying not-very-compressed footage makes your life a lot easier. Right now, you'd probably get a camera that shoots real progressive (i.e. not cineframe, not the z1) if you want to do that kind of work. Or better yet the Red camera looks like a real winner for this type of work (very low noise from the sensor and compression).
It is likely cheaper to use more expensive cameras if you price the VFX artists' time reasonably.
C- The use of virtual sets lets you get pretty interesting-looking stuff without having to spend a lot of money, though you need to spend a lot of time on the project. That time normally costs money unless you get people to do that work for free/cheap... e.g. some people are doing some pretty good VFX for those Star Wars fan films out there.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 07:01 PM   #18
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Brian - lets say I did intend on using green screen, what were you hinting at with that? educate me :)
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Old November 8th, 2007, 08:00 PM   #19
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I think you're asking about a lot of different things at once.

A lot of "is this good enough" has to do with your final product as well as the path your footage takes to get there. If you're looking for your projects to look great in SD resolution for DVD release, then yes, in many instances you could use something like an XH-A1 to intercut with something more robust. With careful shot selection and color correction, the footage could work in concert. However, if your question is - could George finish Star Wars using only an XH-A1, then the answer is not likely.

There is a WHOLE lot more to a camera than resolution, although theoretically the XH-A1 records about the same resolution as the F900. In a wide shot, consumer HDV cameras use all of their bandwidth to try and fit the every detail of the scene. This results in a look that can sometimes be confused as blown focus. Something like an F900/950 or F23 has a LOT more bandwidth to work with, milder compression, cleaner chips, better lenses, larger chips (less DOF, hence less "unimportant" detail to try and compress), meaning that wide shots will look far, far, FAR superior to consumer cameras. The gap closes drastically on closeups though, where there is less in-focus detail for the camera to compress. This is where you could theoretically intercut between vastly different price classes of camera. Theoretically.

Beyond the compressed resolution is also color depth. The F950 and F23 can shoot 4:4:4 color, which means that all of the color is preserved, meaning that the colorist has a lot more information to play with before the picture is completely degraded. This also affects the ability to pull a clean key. While there certainly are good tools out there to get HDV to key, it's like trying to make a moped go 100mph. Theoretically, with enough time you could do it, but there are certainly better vehicles to start from.

As for virtual sets, they have come a LONG way. I think, however, that if you talk to any first-class cg artist, you'll find that set extension generally turns out more realistically than complete virtual sets. This is especially true if there's a lot of movement. The software is so good now that tracking camera moves is less important than it used to be. However, there is still a lot of attention to detail which needs to be kept to make the illusion work. Things like focal length of EVERY shot need to be noted, camera lens height, lighting angles, etc... need to be noted so that when the green screen is keyed out, it doesn't look like what it is. Green screen is a way to make backgrounds softly fall out of focus, as if using larger chip cameras, though the illusion can be a little discomforting when the entirety of the real foreground is always completely sharp (thanks to 1/3" chips).

Now all that said - a number of years ago when the XL-1 came out, I'd heard a lot of raving reviews of it. I saw a lot of footage, and couldn't for the life of me figure out why people were so excited. Everything I saw looked like complete crap - and I was pretty easily impressed then. 4 years later, when the camera had been updated, I saw some footage from the original, and was blown away. The difference between "most people" and a good eye behind the camera was beyond night and day. As resolutions go up and viewing screens grow, skill becomes more important than ever. There is no formula for making a camera look "professional." If there were, boards like this wouldn't exist - the formula would be included in the packaging of every camera sold. The best formula I could think of would be this - learn to light; whether adding natural light, subtracting natural light, or adding artificial light. A well-lit scene that's appropriate to the material will look professional, no matter what the camera.
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Old November 9th, 2007, 03:04 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan View Post
A- A lot of what you see in that video is matte painting / virtual set work. (Similar to star wars.)
Matte painting? Sorry, new term for me.


Quote:
I believe the software for doing that is pretty affordable (unless you want custom effects that you get a programmer to code for you). However, it's a labour-intensive process and usually you need to pay somebody to do all that work.
So, I suppose that sort of thing exceeds the limits of Vegas eh..?

Quote:
B- Keying HDV material is not that fun... the compression artifacts take extra work to deal with. Keying not-very-compressed footage makes your life a lot easier. Right now, you'd probably get a camera that shoots real progressive (i.e. not cineframe, not the z1) if you want to do that kind of work. Or better yet the Red camera looks like a real winner for this type of work (very low noise from the sensor and compression).
Keyings is simply adjusting the light so that the image that you are placing over the green screen fits or doesn't look fake, correct? And this is difficult with HDV because there is so much detail thus more, as you say artifacts, to adjust? Therefore, a camera that shoots 24p or 24f (any others?) would be best for green screening. Am I on the same page? haha.


Again, thanks alot Glenn for helping me out with this stuff, very much appreciated.
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Old November 9th, 2007, 03:17 PM   #21
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Jaron - Wow, that is a lot of information to digest. Thank you very much for taking the time to reply.
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Old November 9th, 2007, 03:30 PM   #22
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I suspect it might be worth your while reading one of the books on Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).


http://www.amazon.com/Industrial-Lig...4642856&sr=8-1
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Old November 9th, 2007, 03:33 PM   #23
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A history of matte painting:
http://www.matteworld.com/projects/siggraph01.html

Lots more info if you google matte painting. That site also has some matte painting breakdowns.

Quote:
So, I suppose that sort of thing exceeds the limits of Vegas eh..?
Some large VFX houses have programmers to code custom software for their 3D work.... e.g. stuff where they aren't happy with the limitations of their current 3D systems.

2- The problem with HDV and keying is that the noise will cause the key/matte to 'boil' or flicker.

There are also a number of other issues to watch out for when doing greenscreen/keying work. Lighting, motion blur, spill, reflections, hair, etc. etc.
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Old November 9th, 2007, 10:37 PM   #24
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Some large VFX houses have programmers to code custom software for their 3D work.... e.g. stuff where they aren't happy with the limitations of their current 3D systems.
So its not seprate software unless you want something specific, and the matte painting and virtual set stuff can be done with something like Vegas then?

I read that entire page you gave me on the history of matte painting. It appears in that short historical overview that matte painting is becoming a thing of the past and virtual set building (e.g. 300) is becoming favorable because with matte painting you are restricted to static still shots.

Now, just to make sure I understand matte painting, It is simply where an artist paints a scene on a glass plate which is slid into the matte box right? But matte painting can aparently be done on a computer and then integrated into the scene.

I learn something every time I get on this site...Amazing!
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Old November 10th, 2007, 01:17 AM   #25
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Take a look at Bryce and/or Vue (by Eon) These are good for building virtual scenery, "painting" vegetation in place etc. Vue (maybe Bryce - I don't use it so am not sure) will also import Digital Elevation Maps derived from US Geodetic survey data so you can for example import the topography around Denver accurate to within 30 horizontal feet or better.

The complete digital topographic maps of Mars are also available so you could model any surface feature you wanted.

You might also take a look at something called XFrog which lets you "grow" highly realistic virtual plants, trees, cacti, bushes etc.

One of the complaints about Vue, etc is the render time - as you add vegetation, clous, etc render times get really long - they make video rendering look positively instantaneous.
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Old November 10th, 2007, 04:45 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Terry Lee View Post
I read that entire page you gave me on the history of matte painting. It appears in that short historical overview that matte painting is becoming a thing of the past and virtual set building (e.g. 300) is becoming favorable because with matte painting you are restricted to static still shots.

Now, just to make sure I understand matte painting, It is simply where an artist paints a scene on a glass plate which is slid into the matte box right? But matte painting can aparently be done on a computer and then integrated into the scene.
The traditional glass shot used to be painted on location. They weren't put in the matte box they were on large sheets of glass in front of the camera.

A matte is a mask that prevents part of the image being exposed. You can make cut outs that mask part of your shot in your shot and place them inyour matte box. A travelling matte is basically blue screen or green screen effect.

Later the paintings were mostly done in post and using the camera negative, and a matte (which can be on high contrast stock) in an optical printer onto duplicate negative. To prevent a quality drop, special effects companies would shoot material on Vistavision or 65mm.

It's also possible, with a lot of testing, to use the original negative by holding back the unprocessed take and using processed test sections of the film match up the painting.

They weren't always static, motion control offered a lot of possibilities for movement and one helicopter shot in the Indiana Jones series has a painting as an element and the whole shot has a floaty helicopter shot feel.

Now these paintings tend to be done in the computer, but films like Blade Runner and the early Star Wars are full of these "glass shots". However, using the computer is a new tool for the painters doing these shots and it does offer new possibles.
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Old November 10th, 2007, 02:38 PM   #27
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Quote:
So its not seprate software unless you want something specific, and the matte painting and virtual set stuff can be done with something like Vegas then?
2-D paintings are usually done in Photoshop or Painter (or similar app), with a tablet instead of a mouse (e.g. Wacom).

Interestingly enough, if you wanted to you can build a miniature and use a photo of that instead of doing actual painting. Though I don't believe that's a mainstream technique.
http://www.hatchfx.com/matte-paintin..._miniature.jpg

I am not very familiar with the 3-D side of things.

2- You also need talent. :D It's still mostly painting.

Quote:
It appears in that short historical overview that matte painting is becoming a thing of the past and virtual set building (e.g. 300) is becoming favorable because with matte painting you are restricted to static still shots.
Some people use matte painting as an umbrella term that includes the new techniques.
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Old November 10th, 2007, 02:42 PM   #28
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As an exercise, try reading the credits for Superman Returns (or any other Hollywood blockbuster) and figuring out what every job is. e.g. rigger (the 3-D kind, not grip), Inferno, matchmove, etc. etc.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0348150/fullcredits
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Old November 11th, 2007, 04:29 PM   #29
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Well for the most part I feel I have a grasp on the concept at its simplest, however I would like to know more in-depth details about matte painting and virtual set design. Im interested in miniature set building as well, and have had experience with building large miniature scenes myself. I guess what I don't understand is how you make something 10 inches tall and made of plastic look 10 feet tall and made of metal. George Lucas pulled this off beautifully and made it look easy, but how? Is there a "cook book" that walks us through how George pulled some of these things off? I've been looking on Amazon for books or videos and have found a few interesting ones but im not sure if they will enlighten me on what im confused about.


On and Glenn - Im looking through the credits for Superman Returns. Good idea, thank you!
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Old November 11th, 2007, 05:11 PM   #30
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[QUOTE=Terry Lee;773843]Well for the most part I feel I have a grasp on the concept at its simplest, however I would like to know more in-depth details about matte painting and virtual set design. Im interested in miniature set building as well, and have had experience with building large miniature scenes myself. I guess what I don't understand is how you make something 10 inches tall and made of plastic look 10 feet tall and made of metal. George Lucas pulled this off beautifully and made it look easy, but how? Is there a "cook book" that walks us through how George pulled some of these things off? I've been looking on Amazon for books or videos and have found a few interesting ones but im not sure if they will enlighten me on what im confused about.

QUOTE]

George Lucas didn't do this he's only the director, it's all the people in ILM who pulled it off. Quite a few of the special effects books with five stars beside them look worth reading, although they are expensive. Other books are pretty old, but they go through a lot of basic stuff.

You could go down to your local bookshop, some have quite well stocked film sections and might have some of the more popular books on the subject that you can look through.

The books on ILM will go through the Star Wars films. Although, one does appear to cover the later digital effects.
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