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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CCD HDV camcorder.


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Old January 25th, 2005, 01:44 PM   #1
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Sony HDR-FX1 no budget horror Feature

Aloha,

We have just finished shooting our no budget sci-fi/horror feature "The Orb", using the new Sony HDR-FX1 camera. We shot with two HDR-FX1s and the cameras did great durring shooting.

We had one camera go a little nuts with the image stabilizer. I am not sure why it was on, but the camera just started floating the image around. The camera was on a hi-hat at the time and we thought maybe bugs under the hi-hat were crawling and moving the camera. Turning off the image stabilizer solved the problem. We'll have to take it in to Sony and see if they can fix that.

Our biggest complaint about the cameras was the iris. Since we were doing a two camera shoot most of the time we would have one camera wide and one long on the lens. The wide camera would want to be at an f1.8, but the long camera couldn't go lower than a f2.8. That got old really quick.

One good thing about having to stop down the iris was these camera are VERY DIFFICULT to roll focus on. Focusing close to the camera is nice and controled, but as the focus gets farther away it jumps from 10m to 20m to 50m.

We are just now starting post and have a whole new set of issues. We are trying to use a Decklink Multibridge for analogue to digital conversion and that is not working yet.

For more information about the movie check out our website:
http://www.sandust.com/theorb.html
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Old January 25th, 2005, 02:08 PM   #2
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Hey Dustin, can you allow us to follow you through the process? Post stills and clips while you edit. We in-turn will definately contribute our skills to help with technical problems..

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Old January 25th, 2005, 02:17 PM   #3
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Dustin, there's nothing wrong with your camera and there's nothing for Sony to fix. Anytime the camera is mounted on something, sticks, high-hat or whatever, you must turn image stabilization OFF otherwise you're asking for problems. The image stabilization will want to fight any intended camera movement and you've already seen the results of this self-induced conflict. Hope this helps -- thanks for the report!
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Old January 25th, 2005, 02:29 PM   #4
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Murph,

I plan to keep updating the website with as much detail as possible and adding lots of pics/screen shots.

Our plan for post right now is:

1. capture downconverted DV footage into FCP and do cuts only offline edit. Each scene will be it's own timeline.

2. recapture analogue to digital footage through the Decklink Multibridge to either DVCPRO HD 1080i or 10bit uncompressed. We haven't decided which yet. We don't have drive space for 10bit, so that will cost a little and we aren't sure there will be any noticable quality difference in the two codecs since we are starting with 8bit footage. Any thoughts on 10bit vs DVCPRO HD?

3. with the HD footage we will color correct using Color Finese.

4. export from FCP using Automatic Duck and import each individual scene into After Effects. We have a lot of FX shots in this movie and it seems that the 16bit render in AE will give us better quality. Mostly we have several old computers laying around so we can make a little render garden and hopefully speed up rendering. We will render out image sequences from AE.

5. We have not decided what we will use for audio editing. We know we want a 5.1 track and FCP doesn't support that YET!

6. Once we have audio completed we will combine the image sequence and the 5.1 audio track. Hopefully FCP will support 5.1 by the time we get there and we can just sync everything up on a timeline and render out the final movie.

Our final destination is DVD.

Thanks for any input.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 02:36 PM   #5
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Chris,

This was a problem with the camera. The camera was locked down and the stabilization was set on minimal. I have seen what image stabilizers do with pans and this was something totally new. With the camera locked down and nothing moving in the frame the image was slowly moving up and down and left and right. It was very wierd.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 03:17 PM   #6
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Re: Sony HDR-FX1 no budget horror Feature

<<<-- Originally posted by Dustin Cross: The wide camera would want to be at an f1.8, but the long camera couldn't go lower than a f2.8. -->>>

You really shot with auto iris?
Those aperures are in the specs:
Aperture Range: f/1.6 (full wide) or f/2.8 (full tele) to f/11 (24 steps)
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Old January 25th, 2005, 03:35 PM   #7
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Toke,

We did not shot with auto iris.

We manually irised the cameras and we were always trying to be as wide open as we could the get the background out of focus. We would set up one camera as with an ND .6 and an f1.6 and it would be great, but the other camera wouldn't open past a f2.8 so we would have to change everything, put an ND.3 and set both cameras to an f3.1 or remove NDs completely and put both cameras at f5.6.

It really killed us for trying to get a shallow depth of field.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 05:36 PM   #8
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Dustin, I think 10bit is better if you want to do effects work. It creates more color space for changes and won't messup as much when rendered.

That's what I've read elsewhere anyway, but I'd double check it. In my opinion, if you can swing it...go for it. Every "bit" counts after you've poured your soul into something.

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Old January 25th, 2005, 06:20 PM   #9
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Hi,

Just out of curiosity, did you shoot 30i or the 24 frame look? How about Cinegamma, didi you use it at all?
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Old January 25th, 2005, 06:48 PM   #10
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Yea, we are really leaning towards 10bit uncompressed for the final render. It will be better quality, but I bet 95% of the people who see our movie won't be able to see the difference.

We shot CF30 with Cinematone. After a lot of testing we decided we liked that look best. Straight 60i might have been a better idea, but we really liked CF30 and everyone we showed the test footage prefered CF30 too.

We really wanted to get two HDR-FX1e 50i cameras, but they weren't available in the US when we wanted a camera by. Plus we will only ever see DVD distribution, so 24p was not a priority, but we would have really liked it.

Here are the settings we used:

Color Level: 0
Color Phase: 0
Sharpness: 10
Skintone Dtl: 3
AE Shift: 0
WB Shift: 0
Cinematone: On
Cineframe: Cineframe 30

Manual Iris, manual gain, manual shutter speed, and manual white balance. Actually we used the outdoor white balence preset on both cameras to make it easier to match cameras.

We used the auto iris to find where the camera wanted to be and then switched over to manual for shooting.

About 50% of the movie is day for night. We had no budget for generators and lights to shoot at night,plus we couldn't get permission for our location at night. We had several long discussions about shot the entire movie in day or do day for night. In the end we decided a horror movie entirely in the daylight would loose something and we have done come successful day for night in the past. We used an 80A blue filter and an ND .3 to bring everything down one stop (instead of the typical two stops) figuring we could darken it a little in post if needed, but brightening the image in post would be trouble.

We also shot about 25% of the movie at 1/725 shutter speed. All of our chase scenes and intense action scenes are at 1/725.

Most of the movie is shot on tripod, but we shot all the high shutter speed stuff handheld using a DVRIGPRO shoulder mount. The DVRIGPRO was new for us and we really liked it.

We also got a slate with a color clapper to hopefully help with color correction in post.

For the entire 90 pages script we shot about 33 hours of footage using two cameras.

We used Panasonic MQ tapes because we had tons of them in stock.

That is all the details I can think of for the shoot. If anyone has any questions let me know.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 06:50 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Dustin Cross : We would set up one camera as with an ND .6 and an f1.6 and it would be great, but the other camera wouldn't open past a f2.8 . -->>>

Dustin, unless I'm not understanding you, this is the way virtually ALL prosumer cameras work and it's a lens design trade-off. See the following recent thread which covers the optical issues pretty thoroughly, especially Andre's and Robin's posts on the second page:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=37475
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Old January 25th, 2005, 06:57 PM   #12
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Boyd,

You are correct. It is a design of the camera and we knew about it. Having never used a camera with this design flaw though, we just didn't realize how much of an issue it was going to be.

I don't think the XL1 or DVX100 have this problem do they?
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Old January 25th, 2005, 07:16 PM   #13
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Interesting... according to the DVX-100a specs you're right, it says f1.6 4.5-45mm. I didn't know that, thanks for pointing it out.

I got lost on Canon's website trying to find that spec for their lenses. I could only find the focal lengths which appeared without listing the f numbers. Perhaps Chris can shed some light on that....
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Old January 25th, 2005, 08:16 PM   #14
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Most all Panasonic DVC and DVX series camcorders have identical max. apertures at either end of the zoom range:
the AG-DVC30, DVC60 and DVX100A are all at f/1.6 at each end, for instance.

Max. apertures on the Canon XL series tend to vary with each lens:

20x L IS is f/1.6 at full wide, f/3.5 at full tele
16x Manual is f/1.6 at full wide, f/1.6 at full tele
16x IS II is f/1.6 at full wide, f/2.6 at full tele
3x Wide is f/1.8 at full wide, f/2.2 at full tele

Canon GL1 and GL2 is f/1.6 at full wide, f/2.9 at full tele

Sony DV camcorders all have different max aps at each end:

VX2000 / VX2100 / PD150 / PD170 / DSR250 is f/1.6 at full wide, f/2.4 at full tele
PDX10 and TRV950 is f/1.6 at full wide, f/2.8 at full tele

Interesting to note that the vast majority of professional broadcast lenses, whether they're Canon or Fujinon or whether they're for 1/2-inch or 2/3-inch cameras, all will have different maximum relative apertures at each end of the lens. In other words, this is so common in the industry that the exceptions are quite rare (in fact I can't think of one off hand).
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Old January 25th, 2005, 10:21 PM   #15
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DVX is 1.6 on the wide end, 2.8 on the tele end.
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