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Old October 18th, 2007, 08:48 PM   #1
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the 3000 vs. the varicam???

Can anyone help me... im shooting a film in a couple of weeks... and having trouble deciding what camera to use. People tell me that the varicam is very much superior to the 3000. I know that the 3000 shoots 1080p and that varicam does not, that gives advantages to the 3000. But my pos producer tells me that the codec for the 3000 does not work with final cut pro and that p2 concept its a hassle to work with on set.

Can anyone tell me what to do?

Thanks.
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Old October 18th, 2007, 09:49 PM   #2
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Angel,

Either your producer is either mis-informed or, is confusing the technology capabilities of the 3000.

The HPX3000, like every other P2-based camera, shoots a variety of codecs, it's base being DVCPRO-HD, which FCP works extremely well with. However, the 3000 does also shoot the *brand new* AVC-Intra codec which FCP does not have full support for - yet. However unless you need the near-D5 quality video there would be little benefit in using it in a workflow currently.

The Varicam is a native 720p chipset; the 3000 is native 1080p so it has a significant resolution advantage over the Varicam. However, the 3000 does not support VFR/variable frame rates so you can't over or undercrank in-camera. Currently the HPX500 and HVX200 are the only P2-based cameras that shoot VFR.

However after using FCS2's *optical flow* retiming capabilities extensively in the past months, I can tell you that having in-camera VFR is less of an issue since you can now get seamless, ultra-smooth and ramping speed changes in post that you could only do before with either Shake or AE.

The short version: when you consider you won't be purchasing DVCPRO-HD tape @ $55 per AND not having to buy/rent a DVCPRO-HD deck the HPX3000 will pay for itself in one shoot just in offset media costs alone. Not to mention the time savings of having a DTE solution.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 12:34 AM   #3
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So robert, would you recomend for theatre release better the 3000 than the varicam???
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Old October 19th, 2007, 10:56 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Angel Mario View Post
So robert, would you recomend for theatre release better the 3000 than the varicam???
Absolutely.

However, I want to point out a significant distinction about HD; every flavor of HD, whether it's HDCAM, DVCPRO or HDV is a *broadcast* format, not a theatrical one. HD cameras have come of age for one reason: HDTV is taking over NTSC as the standard for TV broadcasters both nationwide and internationally.

It just so happens that thanks to cameras like the Canon XL series and Panny's DVX100 that the independent producer really came of age and especially since the handheld HD cams have come around "moviemaking" has increased exponentially. Just look at all the third party devices and companies that have sprung up just in the last 5 years alone specifically to support the indie filmmaker.

But, HD is nowhere close to the standards of theatre-sized "resolution". If your sole intent is to make movies for theatrical release and you don't want the expense of shooting film, then you should be looking at cameras such as the Thomson Viper, RED, Dalsa and a very short list of other 2k and 4k uncompressed cameras that are currently available and have proven workflows.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 12:12 PM   #5
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Isnt the cinealta HD??? is that anywhere near the Theatrical standard??
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Old October 19th, 2007, 12:30 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Angel Mario View Post
Isnt the cinealta HD??? is that anywhere near the Theatrical standard??
If you're referring to either the F900 or XDCAM-HD models yes, they are all HD cameras, but remember "HD" refers to one of the new HDTV broadcast standards, which is either 1080i or 720p.

"Theatrical" or film standards are far and away much higher in resolution than any HD camera because "HD" was designed for HDTV broadcast standards, not film.

For detailed information about what HDTV and film standards are, I suggest looking at the availalble help in Final Cut: Goto your Final Cut 6 Help menu and select: "HD and Broadcast Formats" which desribes in detail what HDTV standards are.

As I say, if you want the best film-like quality without shooting film then you need a completely different type of camera, one that shoots uncompressed 2k or 4k - refer to the cameras mentioned above.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 01:01 PM   #7
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of coure, but i guess my main question is... wil i get a better picture quality for film from the 3000 than the varicam???
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Old October 19th, 2007, 01:09 PM   #8
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Picture quality is determined by the operator. Choice of camera has nothing to do with it.

Your primary consideration for choosing between the VariCam and the HPX3000 is that of workflow, not "image quality." You need to make a decision about working with DVCPRO HD on tape (the VariCam) vs. working with DVCPRO HD on flash memory (the HPX3000). That's the biggest difference between these two cameras.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 01:19 PM   #9
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What Chris says is really the bottom line - I had a second opportunity to see a theatrical screening of NOVEMBER last week, and believe me, I was being super-critical... It is amazing what Nancy Schrieber was able to squeeze out of those little DVX100s, and at night with wide open lenses in the worst possible conditions for mini-DV...

I wish I liked the movie better, but, still, it stands as the prime example of what can be done with skill.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 08:30 AM   #10
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I think it is worthy noting that the 3000 does have higher resolution (true 1080p)than the Varicam and when you combine that with the new AVC codec you end up with a final product much closer to Theatre resolution than ever before (from Panasonic). The camera has the ability to play this codec in real time via its HD-SDI output in this can be captured by FCP using its new ProRes HQ codec and you are virtualy lossless and good to go.
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 02:53 AM   #11
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The real question is how much will you miss the variable framerate of Varicam - Being able to shoot full variable frame rate is a significant advantage if you have fx work etc that you need slow motion for.
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Old October 24th, 2007, 07:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Matese View Post
I think it is worthy noting that the 3000 does have higher resolution (true 1080p)than the Varicam and when you combine that with the new AVC codec you end up with a final product much closer to Theatre resolution than ever before (from Panasonic). The camera has the ability to play this codec in real time via its HD-SDI output in this can be captured by FCP using its new ProRes HQ codec and you are virtualy lossless and good to go.
Exactly. If you capture your footage to AVC Intra, then output this captured footage trough HD-SDI to Pro Rez in FCP, you should get a much better picture than the dvcpro HD footage of the Varicam.

This is theoreticaly, of course, taking into account the 1280x 720 chips of the Varicam and the fact that it is an older model, compared to 3000, which is a full 1920x1080p camera.

Having Variable frame rates is a nice option, though. Artisticaly, will you need smooth under and over cranking?

Also, you can get superior quality encoding for the Varicam going trough HD-SDI to either a Kona IOHD or the new unreleased Convergent Designs HD-SDI capture module (which looks very portable indeed). It is obviously another option to consider...
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