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Old December 30th, 2005, 12:53 PM   #1
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Cinealta or Varicam - which is better to rent?

a client wants the best possible video and is willing to pay. i would be the producer, not the camera operator in this scenario. (i don't have the operator just yet but have several people in mind.)

what are the advantages and disadvantages of these two cameras? is one better than the other? i've been told by one of the potential operators to go with the cinealta, but he's never used a varicam, so may be biased. both cameras are pretty readily available in my area.

i'm getting a bit out of my league with this project and would love some advice! i figure the smartest thing to do is get the best DP and then rent the camera based on his or her preference, but i would like some feedback on this question just for enhancing my own general knowledge.

anybody?
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Old December 30th, 2005, 01:51 PM   #2
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Never worked with a CineAlta. Have worked with VariCam.

The editing workflow is a bit easier with VariCam/DVCProHD if you're using a Mac. It's lossless quality (i.e. - like DV, no further compression unless you add effects). The only "lossless" system for CineAlta is proprietary and made by Sony. The way most people edit CineAlta is uncompressed HD-SDI, which is a big deal which will cost_a_lot_more to edit properly. The CineAlta gear is also more expensive to rent. The resolution is higher on the CineAlta, but the colors tend to be more "film-like" with the VariCam.

Most HDTV's being sold today cannot handle the increased resolution of CineAlta.
You could save a bundle of money if you go with VariCam.
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Old December 30th, 2005, 04:42 PM   #3
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thanks, brian, that helps quite a lot, actually....just the kind of stuff i was hoping for!
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Old December 31st, 2005, 10:14 PM   #4
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I pretty much follow Brian's approach...though note that some outlets want 1080i HDCAM...ya, you could bump it across after you finish...but that's a pain. And Cinealta does look great. I think I'd just follow the lead of my DP and factor in what lenses are available with either rental. If you can get way-better lenses with the HDCAM camera, then that may sway me...

But I'd guess either will keep you client happy. Maybe go for which is cheaper (factoring in post if you don't already have a system to work with uncompressed HD), and spend the extra money on lighting, sound, graphics, etc...

Best,

Jim
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Old January 1st, 2006, 01:33 PM   #5
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The other two things to check out are what your distribution channels might prefer and if you have a post house/editor in mind, what they can handle. While I agree with the opinions expressed above in general, your area might have a post house that can handle the Cine-Alta footage for less because they already have a Sony deck as opposed to a Panasonic one. Your prefered DP might have some suggestions, but you should also call around independently.
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Old January 1st, 2006, 05:31 PM   #6
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Yeah, I agree with Eric. Check with your post house. Does the client want to do the post, or do they have someone in mind? What do they require? Often, what you do in post determines what you do in actual porduction. Seems a bit backwards, but sometimes that's the way it is.
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Old January 1st, 2006, 09:19 PM   #7
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Good points about checking with your post house. Note that in my experience, every post house that can handle HDCAM can handle DVCPRO HD. Even if they don't own a DVCPRO HD deck, renting one isn't very expensive and transfers over Firewire work fine...

Best,

Jim
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Old January 2nd, 2006, 12:13 PM   #8
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thanks, guys, for the excellent advice. the cinealta rental/post-house is down the street from my house, so this should be easy.

this deal, which is still pending, is with a winter sports-oriented company. it is one thing to take my own camera in the field, which is what i've always done, but i'm wondering about insuring such an expensive piece of someone else's equipment. does anybody do this? or would that be covered in the rental price? i'm also wondering if it is even worth it.

so my follow-up question is, is there ever a situation where you talk your client *out* of using the so-called best? it seems like a great opportunity to spend a bunch of someone else's money learning some things, but maybe this isn't the right situation....what to do, what to do?
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Old January 2nd, 2006, 05:17 PM   #9
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Here is my rule.... Varicam for TV/DVD/etc. Cinealta for potential film out... IMHO there is nothing to gain but some more rez from going the Cinealta route. The pastel-ish colors of the Cinealta just arent as pleasing to me as the Varicam. Plus, as noted, the DVCproHD codec is pretty easy to work with and can travel over Firewire....



ash =o)
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 05:35 AM   #10
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Easy answer:
- Cinealta: more resolution.
- Varicam: more latitude, nicer colors.

Any postproducction studio should be able to work with both without any problems.

As Ash said, the sony cameras give a lot more resolution, so i would take them for going to film. But the color, contrast and latitude from Panasonic look better to me and many others, so it is important too.
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