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Old March 22nd, 2009, 12:12 PM   #1
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High Def vs. Low light?

So I'm getting a crew together to make our second short film, which is set almost entirely at night and and almost as entirely in a car. We've got the option of using a Sony VX2000, which seems to have excellent quality in low-light, or we can use a HV30, which will be sharper and smaller, but seems to be fairly average in low-light.

I wonder if anybody has any wise thoughts on what we should use - we've got a DOF adapter that fits both cameras, but which will cut down the available light even more.

Size is a consideration, too - we're planning to mount the camera on a rig set up on the roof rack of the car, to shoot in through the driver's or passenger's window, but we're also looking at a clamp on the headrest of the driver's or passenger's seat, and the HV30 has a definite advantage there.

Quality is the main thing, though, and it's going to come down to what the DP and I decide is the priority - HV30 can give us a super sharp image that will look great, but how great will it look if we can't see anything (or if the grain is overwhelming)? The VX2000 will obviously be digital video, but if it can give us a good image otherwise, it may be worth it.

Anything I have't thought of?
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 12:22 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Emma Coats View Post
Anything I have't thought of?
You can light the car so you get good images, but still have it be at night. For instance, try putting those small flourescents designed to put into closets under the dash of the car. Use just enough to get sharper images without making it look like you are in a "lit" car.

Have fun!

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Old March 22nd, 2009, 12:28 PM   #3
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That's a good idea - the producer says he's used Christmas lights before and they worked great (you can bunch them for more light in certain areas).

We're going to do some tests, but one thing I'd love to get is the countryside outside of the car as well - not necessarily in stunning detail, but if the exterior is going to be undefined black we might as well shoot in a garage...
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 03:37 PM   #4
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If it's rural countryside you won't see anything outside the car if you're shooting night for night. The most you'll see are the headlights of other cars or perhaps the lights from a farm or other buildings.

It's pretty common to shoot country car interiors in a studio and rig fake car lights etc. Your average garage is a bit small for doing this. Video projectors also often used to back project background plates. You could shoot these at twilight, so that you do have a bit of a dark skyline outside and the car headlights. However, you do need to shoot these correctly.
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 07:47 PM   #5
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If this was a doco - or meant to be doco style - I'd say go with the camera with better low light.

As it's a drama - light the interiror of the car, forget about seeing the exteriors (unrealistic to capture in anything but an almost Vegas lit urban environment or if the sequence is set at twilight and you are shooting film/very high latitude HD (Viper/Genesis/RED)

Either case, given the shooting considerations, the amount of light that's going to be killed by the DOF adapter makes me wonder if it's really worth using one - how motivated is shallow depth of field for the scenes in question?
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