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Old September 7th, 2006, 06:40 PM   #1
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Project with Willie Nelson

So my school is currently working on a project with Willie Nelson, Shoot out of Luck (http://www.myspace.com/shootoutofluck), we're filming it on Nelson's ranch in Texas; and my teacher is currently debating wether we should shoot with 2 HVX-200s and a CineAlta (main cam.); or 3 HVX-200s. What do you guys think, should we stick with three 200s so we get consistency between the cameras? Would the chip size not cause a noticable difference, if we went with the two HVXs and the Alta? He wants interchangable lenses, so I suggested three HVX-200s with M2 lense adapters so we get the interchangable lenses with a consistency between the three cameras.

So what would you do in this situation? Nelson's not turned off by shooting with small cameras or anything, we shoot the trailer on 2 DVXs without lense adapters, so it's not like camera size is a big deal.
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Old September 7th, 2006, 09:31 PM   #2
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I'd absolutely want a 2/3" chip camera in my arsenal, for the A cam. The depth of field characteristics are so different than either the HVX or the HVX with a prime lens adapter. It's an essential arrow in your quiver, IMO. Easily 50% of my shoots, I feel hamstrung by the HVX's short focal length, and I'm actively shopping for a second, larger camera.

I'd strongly suggest you try shooting with the M2 (and intercutting it with non-M2 footage) before you settle on that route... It's a specialty tool, not a replacement for a larger camera. I own one, but it's used sparingly.
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Old September 7th, 2006, 09:46 PM   #3
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Well the thing is the cameras have to match because two out of the three cameras will be used at the same time, with the third coming in for action intense scenes. So 80% of the shots we'll be using 2 cameras.
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Old September 8th, 2006, 09:37 AM   #4
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There is no way you should avoid the larger cam.

Do you really need to shoot this on HD? Realistically, I have seen good film blowup on XL1s. Why incur all the expense?

Look, if you are planning on shooting on a higher format, shoot on a higher format, don't back down. But do you really need all of that stuff? There are a lot of 16x9 SD cams that look great in the blow up, and cost less, and look great all along. They also do 24p if you're all about that.

It's very simple, you should utilize the better 2/3" camera as much as possible. Period. All the time. Mater of fact, you will soon realize that the chip and the lens are the difference between terrible and great 90% of the time after you set the format. The overall output will be better when you set your work on lenses instead of formats. I worked in a news department that had Mini DV, HDV, and Beta SP, and SX. Guess what was the best all the time? SX. It shoots 16x9 in most cameras. Why? Because when you shoot SX, you use a 19x Canon or Fuji zoom lens.

So the answer is, from a guy that shoots every day as a newsman, under day and night conditions, think about your glass first after you set your money. Which would you rather have? HD format, or crisp focus and depth on all cameras? If you go with HVX cams, you're going to have mud. It's the lens and the LCD screen. You'll have a tough time with those little viewfinders, and their little flip out screens. I should know. I worked for months with a Z1U and worked years with every Sony Beta format.

This is a realistic question. For the same price as a HVX and a Varicam, you can get two really awesome 2/3" DVCam cameras that perform as well, and don't have the lens issues. They look like Beta. And beta looks better than any small lens camera. Keep in mind that some DV25 formats look better than Beta after post, but not much, and a good beta beats an XL2 and any little HD camera any day. You will be able to tell immediately. It's the lens.

If you color it right, even use magic bullet, everyone thought you made it on HD. Willie won't know at all. Also, if you're going 24p to just go 24p, without the film blow up, you might want to question whether you're just being a film goober over formats. I know I have to back off on being a film goober screaming, "I want 24p!" all the time, but honestly, it just doesn't jive for most productions. You can still get your 16x9, and wow all your film buddies.

Better yet, rent two Panasonic 900s (the ones they shoot Project Runway on) for the same price and go from there. You speak of action sequences, then you need to realize that you can shoot "action sequences" with one camera with skill, two cameras if there is an interview, and realistically, you don't need a third camera. That's it. Your camera work is your action, not the number of cameras. You need good lenses. That is why Robert Rodriguez shooting Once Upon A Time in Mexico was done on a ViperCam, and he used expensive film primes. What did it look like? Film. Why? Film lenses.

If your "action sequences" are smoky bars and music performances, the HVX is going to fall apart because it has a tiny lens, and simply put, the light level to get a good image in those conditions requires a 2/3" 80mm lens and some gain. You're going to get black snow shooting anyone at night, even with the 24p extra exposure time.

If you're working in the dark, good luck, the HVX is going to get you, and it's not the coolness of the format that will save you, it's the raw physics of working with smaller lenses with tiny throats.
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Old September 8th, 2006, 09:46 AM   #5
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Think about your cameras better than that.

First of all, a CineAlta is Sony. That means that it's going to have a Sony look to it, very accurate, very flat. HVX200s are Panasonic, which means that that color gamma is going to be hotter, and more, filmy than crisp. You should match Sony for Sony, Panasonic for Panasonic. The best move in this situation is get a 16x9 DVCPro 50 with a good lens, and do the HVX cams with it. I have shot with every large camera format in SD, and if you're under the impression that Pana will match with Sony, well, it just isn't going to look right.

There will be an automatic difference that you cannot correct for, but the bigger issue in all of this is the lens for the buck.

Do you really need to shoot this on HD? Realistically, I have seen good film blowup on XL1s. Why incur all the expense?

Look, if you are planning on shooting on a higher format, shoot on a higher format, don't back down. But do you really need all of that stuff? There are a lot of 16x9 SD cams that look great in the blow up, and cost less. They also do 24p if you're all about that. Get more glass for your money. It will make a world of difference, and it will look better specifically because of that, and that alone.

It's very simple, you should utilize the better 2/3" camera as much as possible. Period. All the time. Mater of fact, you will soon realize that the chip size and the lens is difference between terrible and great 90% of the time after you set the format. The overall output will be better when you set your work on lenses instead of formats. I worked in a news department that had Mini DV, HDV, and Beta SP, and SX. Guess what was the best all the time? SX. It shoots 16x9 in most cameras. Why? Because when you shoot SX, you use a 19x Canon or Fuji zoom lens. It's the glass! Everybody repeat, "It's the glass!"

So the answer is, from a guy that shoots every day as a newsman, where I can be in professionally lit conditions or no lighting at all, under day and night conditions, please think about your glass first after you set your money. Which would you rather have? HD format, or crisp focus and depth on all cameras? If you go with HVX cams, you're going to have mud. It's the lens and the LCD screen. You'll have a tough time with those little viewfinders, and their little flip out screens. I should know. I worked for months with a Z1U and worked years with every Sony Beta format.

This is a realistic question. For the same price as a HVX and a Varicam, you can get two really awesome 2/3" DVCam cameras that perform as well, and don't have the lens issues. They look like Beta. And beta looks better than any small lens camera. Keep in mind that some DV25 formats look better than Beta after post, but not much, and a good beta beats an XL2 and any little HD camera any day. You will be able to tell immediately. It's the lens.

If you color it right, even use magic bullet, everyone thought you made it on HD. Willie won't know at all. Also, if you're going 24p to just go 24p, without the film blow up, you might want to question whether you're just being a film goober over formats. I know I have to back off on being a film goober screaming, "I want 24p!" all the time, but honestly, it just doesn't jive for most productions. You can still get your 16x9, and wow all your film buddies.

Better yet, rent two Panasonic 900s (the ones they shoot Project Runway on) for the same price and go from there. You speak of action sequences, then you need to realize that you can shoot "action sequences" with one camera with skill, two cameras if there is an interview, and realistically, you don't need a third camera. That's it. Your camera work is your action, not the number of cameras. You need good lenses. That is why Robert Rodriguez shooting Once Upon A Time in Mexico was done on a ViperCam, and he used expensive film primes. What did it look like? Film. Why? Film lenses.

If your "action sequences" are smoky bars and music performances, the HVX is going to fall apart because it has a tiny lens, and simply put, the light level to get a good image in those conditions requires a 2/3" 80mm lens and some gain. You're going to get black snow shooting anyone at night, even with the 24p extra exposure time.

If you're working in the dark, good luck, the HVX is going to get you, and it's not the coolness of the format that will save you, it's the raw physics of working with smaller lenses with tiny throats.
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Old September 8th, 2006, 10:05 AM   #6
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We're really set on using HD, so I'm guessing the HVX200 with M2 and Arri lenses is the way to go, so we don't get any differences between the cameras.
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Old September 8th, 2006, 10:52 AM   #7
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Hello,

One suggestion. Don't shoot with a lot of different formats (HDCAM mixed with DVC Pro HD). We've had a great deal of experience with this and it's bloody hell in post. DVC Pro HD is easy to work with in post and the HVX200 has many great workflow advantages. I've seen a lot of fantastic looking clips on this forum from professionals using the HVX200. I'm sure you'll be able to produce something nice with or without an M2 if you know what you want to accomplish. Just settle on what you're comfortable with (format and form wise), get some practice, be professional and have a good time!

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Old September 9th, 2006, 07:43 PM   #8
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Okay, so we are leaning towards the 3 HVXs with M2 and Arri lenses. Thanks for your help.
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Old September 11th, 2006, 10:31 AM   #9
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Andrew,

Not to spin your head even further, but here's a simple method for considering the best format/camera etc: Shoot in the format you're going to deliver in.

What I've just learned from some low-level testing and, watching 2 programs shot both by the Discovery channel (one was Mega Machines: U.S.S. Ronald Reagan) is that SD-widescreen on the SDX900 looks BETTER on a SDTV than an HD format that's been down-ressed to SD-widescreen. Why? For many of the same reasons that Alex has pointed out and, because HD looks soft when down-ressed to SD. Period.

That Mega Machines program blew me away; I thought for sure I was watching footage shot in HD and downconverted, but no, it was shot in DV50, 16:9 native. And let me tell you, the detail, color and overall "feel" was some of the best video footage I've ever seen. I'm still excited about it! And, just this weekend I saw DV50 footage shot on the SDX900 up-ressed to 720p HD and it was flat-out amazing - there's no way to tell visually it was originally DV50. My jaw dropped it was so good.

If your project is destined for broadcast (and more than 80% of TV's today are still 4:3 SD) or DVD and all you have the budget for is a DV-form factor camera the my choice would be the HVX, hands down. BUT, if you have the budget to either purchase or rent either the SDX900 or SPX800 (same chipset and features, one is tape, the other is the 5-slot P2 body) and lenses then that is the way to go, no doubt.

Alex is 100% correct: the real key to quality images (other than having large chipset real-estate) is the lenses. There's no DV-type camera that will ever be able to compete visually with a 2/3" inch mount lens. It's a matter of simple physics and the properties of light transmission. Honestly, I wish I had the budget to shoot my current project with the SPX800 but that'll have to wait. (I hate waiting - laughs)

In point of fact, I was all set to get the HPC2000 when it's released next spring. But since all my projects are destined for DVD in the forseable future and, after what I saw and realized this past weekend I'm instead going to build my 2/3" system around the SPX800. I'll keep my HVX for the B-roll stuff and any over/undercranking I need to do.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 07:16 PM   #10
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I believe our final format will be film but we have no desire to shot film, as it takes to much extra time, we could edit the HVX200 footage as soon as we take that card out. Nobody from my school (which will be the crew of this production) has any experience with film. And it costs to much compared to HD, especially since one P2 card can be written over 100,000 times without quality loss, so right there we save on stock. We're all about speed without sacrificing quality. So we decided that the HVX200 with 35mm Arri Lenses would be the best choice.
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Old September 16th, 2006, 04:57 PM   #11
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Let us know which adapter you end up using. If you can rent the Mini-35 that would probably give you the easiest and most robust workflow.
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Old September 16th, 2006, 07:46 PM   #12
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What kind of footage are you shooting?
Did I miss where that was described?
I could give no advice at all until knowing that.

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Old September 16th, 2006, 07:58 PM   #13
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I don't see why you couldn't go with 2 or three SDX900's. They are dirt cheep now and some say blow up better then HVX's do.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 06:42 PM   #14
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Even in his 70s, Willie's apparently still quite the partier...

http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/Musi....ap/index.html
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Old September 29th, 2006, 09:30 AM   #15
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Just an update, we are now going with two Sony F900R CineAltas. Although, now my school is not getting cameras out of this, because we're renting the CineAltas instead of buying the HVX200s.
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