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Old October 6th, 2006, 11:21 PM   #1
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Prosumer cams and Digital projection

I always hear questions about how a prosumer cam looks in a film out--but what about digital projection? How do they look when projected digitally at film festivals etc in a large screen? Is a film out still preferable for projection over digital when it comes to prosumer cams?
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Old October 7th, 2006, 02:11 AM   #2
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I wonder about that everytime I see it posted. I can't imagine that many people are going to actually get to the film-transfer stage with their digital productions. It seems that digital projection at a film festival, DVD, and compressed internet distribution are far more likely.
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Old October 7th, 2006, 04:31 AM   #3
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I'm interested in hearing opinions on this too, actually.
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Old October 7th, 2006, 08:42 AM   #4
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I forgot to say that I saw footage from a Z1/FX1 projected onto a big screen at the local film festival last year. It had the usual color look of an HDV camera, but the resolution really seemed to work well on the big screen. I doubt anyone would be able to tell the difference due to the resolution. It's not IMAX, but the quality of the visual is very clean. It was far better than the appearance of an older film print. A new film print in a newer theater looks better, but the digital won't degrade into the dirty mush that is inevitable with film prints.

The image was far better than DV. DV on a big screen can look okay-ish if it is shot properly, but wide-open landscapes completely lose detail. Standard definition simply does not have enough pixels to show distant details. For instance, I watched a movie where some people were traveling across a vast grassland (in Mongolia) and the wide shots that would otherwise be beautiful vistas were very soft. The people in the distance were represented by only a few big, fat pixels. HDV does not seem to have that problem. I still wouldn't shoot with actors as tiny dots in the background, but I think it can be composed similar to the way it is done with film. The big difference is the lower exposure latitude with HDV which can be partially compensated with good lighting.
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Old October 7th, 2006, 09:49 AM   #5
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I don't have any personal experience with the new HD cameras on a big screen, but the following old thread might be of interest.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=14440

My experience there with the little 1/5" PDX-10 leads me to believe that HD projection would look very nice. Watching the footage from the V1 on a 36' screen at the Sony event was very impressive. They showed a clever short piece where a guy comes home to his apartment which has a spectacular view. The gag is that the "view" is actually a projection screen, and in the morning he raises it up to reveal a messy little yard piled full of junk with no view at all. I didn't feel that it had a "video" look at all and the detail in the background image was terrific. Here's a photo I took of the screen.
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Prosumer cams and Digital projection-img_0121.jpg  
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Old October 8th, 2006, 05:54 AM   #6
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Moderator note: the following posts were merged from this three year old thread: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=14440 since they're really a part of this new discussion
____________________________________

Boyd,

Congratulations on the great review. To be recognized and valued for your hard work and artistic integrity must feel quite satisfying.

I am a performing artist exploring the integration of digital projection, shadow play and live performance. Although I have many curiosities about the technical aspects of that work, this really caught my eye:

Quote:
Actually, one of the challenges has been the editing which is an ongoing process of simplifying the video such that it doesn't overpower the live performers.
What sort of images worked best for this production? Was the projection used to create a sense of place, or more as a way of deepening intimacy with the characters? I would greatly appreciate any insights you might be willing to share here and look forward to seeing more stills.

best regards,
thomas
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Old October 8th, 2006, 08:29 AM   #7
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Wow, this is a 3 year old thread you're responding to, and that production is fading from memory :-)

We were dealing with lots of big egos and other strife behind the scenes. I'd better not get too specific, but the singers were concerned that the focus remain on them and their singing instead of the 45' wide screen behind them. It's kind of funny from my perspective... of course the audience will focus on them because it's an opera and they're opera singers. But the whole idea of the video was to create a little more interest on the part of the audience, so they didn't just have to watch someone stand and sing (in technical circles we like to call that "park and bark" ;-) So in other words, we wanted to distract/stimulate the audience a bit.

The images were a mix of computer animation - things like flying over moonlit fantasy landscapes - and footage which we shot of the actual performers near the ocean. It was always related to what the characters were thinking, or an abstract feeling evoked by the music.

I have done video for several other productions since then. For Wagner's Die Walküre we took a somewhat similar approach and it worked pretty well, but was sort of the "production from hell" for unrelated reasons. Then a year ago I used video for Verdi's A Masked Ball and wasn't very happy with it. The problem there was a lack of consistency; sometimes we used it to convey an abstract idea, other times we used it like scenery to establish a location. One of the reviewers criticized it for this, and unfortunately I had to agree. Working with a director who has a strong concept and an understanding of both the live and projected elements is very important, and in that case it just wasn't happening to the degree I had hoped.

Right now we're going into a new production of Rossini's Cinderella which uses video on three screens above the stage. It's all very stylized in a 1960's style with elements from Warhol and Lichtenstein - we're recreating a production originally done in Italy in 2003 and the Italian production team is arriving tomorrow in fact.

They have a lot of comic elements going in the video which includes animation and a lot of green screen work to put the cast members into the video. For example, there's one sequence where a character jumps up and out of the frame on the stage left screen, then he "lands" in the center screen and jumps over to the stage right screen. It's very whimsical and funny. But it will be hectic - we have all the existing video from the previous production but have to re-shoot anything which has people in it because our cast is different, and the schedule is tight.

This will be our most extensive use of video (in terms of minutes of footage) so far, and will involve lots of programming to make it all happen on the three different screens. We're using three networked Catalyst media servers from High End Systems to control the video. They will be connected to a lighting console which will store all the cues. It's a pretty cool system, but it gets complicated: http://www.highend.com/products/digi...g/catalyst.asp

Happily for me, I'm not part of the creative team on this show, but am just trying to put all the pieces together and keep us on schedule and under budget :-)
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Old October 8th, 2006, 01:55 PM   #8
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That's neat.

I wonder about this because I keep hearing how digital projection is gaining a hold with theater owners. What does this mean for traditional film? Would they have to transfer film onto digital and keep it there--and if so--what would this mean for the quality of the image? Seems to me if anything kills film as anything other than a specialty art format it would be the theater owners.
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Old October 8th, 2006, 05:20 PM   #9
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Thanks for your response, Boyd. I followed your link from the Prosumer cams and Digital projection thread and didn't realize I had gone backwards in time. ~~~:o) I just found this community a few weeks ago and have been hungry to find information on using projection with live performance. I've searched a bit, but there's such an amazing wealth of resources here it's a touch overwhelming.

I can imagine the difficulty of dealing with the drama of egos clashing in the high end productions you are involved with. As a solo performing artist (using video I've shot and edited) I don't have to deal with much more than my own technical, budgetary and artistic limitations. My current exploration is integrating live shadows of my movement with images projected from the rear. I'm not concerned here with a real sharp video image--more dreamlike and abstract. Any ideas for alternative screen material or do you think a basic rear-projector screen would be my best bet?

thomas
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Old October 8th, 2006, 05:30 PM   #10
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We are using the Rosco grey RP screen material, but there are other choices as well:

http://www.rosco.com/us/screens/roscoscreen.asp

Gerriets sells comparable products:

http://www.gi-info.com/projection_screens.html

How large a screen do you need? Custom sizes are available with welded seams. The basic material is 55 inches wide, and you can also buy double-width 110" material. You can get an idea of pricing from Rosebrand here:

http://www.rosebrand.com/A_Com/Categ...DID=6&CATID=12
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Old October 8th, 2006, 06:45 PM   #11
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Helpful links, thank-you. I like the screens that can be used for both front and rear projection. It's easy to imagine some fun crossfades with a disappearing shadow effect. I'm looking to create a fairly intimate stage with a screen six to seven foot high, placed mid-to-downstage L at a slight angle.

The performance is a dance/theater work commissioned by a festival in Seattle and will premiere next May. The video images will illuminate one character's interior landscape: memories, dreams, desires. For the second character the projections will portray his deep and magical connection to the natural world with nearly abstract close-ups moving rapidly over wood, stone, water, fire and smoke.

Thanks for the engagement. I love the friendly and helpful nature of this forum.

thomas
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Old October 8th, 2006, 07:02 PM   #12
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Note: I've split off the new responses to that old thread and merged them here where they make more sense.

The "twin white" screen material works for this, but be careful. It's a low-gain screen. It has an excellent flat field without a hotspot which can be viewed from a wide angle when used for rear projection. But the downside is that it really drinks up light. I have found it unsuitable for rear projection since we're usually trying to get as bright an image as possible. The grey material is a high gain screen. It exhibits a minor hotspot (not really a problem IMO) and has a somewhat narrower angle of view, but the image is significantly brighter.

Also try experimenting with theatrical scrim sometime. This is what we used in the Trovatore production for front projection. If you light the area behind the scrim, it disappears and the performers can be seen. But when you keep it dark behind the scrim it appears to be a solid screen.
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Old October 8th, 2006, 08:07 PM   #13
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Thanks for your wranglin', Boyd.

I love theatrical scrim; I've seen it used to great effect in many shows. At various moments in this production I will be behind the screen, moving through the rear-projected image casting shadows. It sounds like the grey material is a good place for me to start my investigations. Also, a while ago I saw a dance performance that used a frosted plexiglass sheet as a digital projection screen. It was quite interesting. Since my show leans towards the magical I'm not so concerned with a clear, realistic image.

Appreciate all the help; you've got me thinking.

thomas
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Old October 8th, 2006, 09:05 PM   #14
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Back when I was in college (about a hundred years ago ;-) and we wanted to make an RP screen we used a variety of cheap alternatives:

1. Shower curtains. The white ones are very similar to the twin white screen material, as long as you don't need something large.

2. Mylar drafting film. This comes in rolls of various sizes. 48" might be the widest you can find. Build larger screens by joining with Scotch "Magic Tape."

3. Muslin coated with a variety of substances, like shellac IIRC.

But if you can afford it, just get the 110" pre-made RP material I mentioned before.
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Old October 8th, 2006, 09:58 PM   #15
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Thanks, Boyd, the grey RP screen material has been added to the budget.

everything flows,
thomas
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