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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 September 13th, 2006, 12:12 AM   #1
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Independent: use Z1U (or FX-1) or another camera...

Good afternoon gentlemen. I am a producer currently in production on a short in Japan. I cannot decide which camera to use! I love the look of the DVX100 for close/medium shots but for beauty shots/landscape shots (which their will be some of) it loses its sharpness and quality... furthermore, if after producing a DVD version my company feels it is good enough for festivals... I may blow it up to film where, I feel the DV will not hold up. Therefore, I am considering HD. I realize the Sony cam has no "real" movie mode AND it is better to just capture the best possible image with the camera without using any of its "special" modes, then manipulate in Post (we use Vegas). I have been impressed by reading about this camera in reviews and regular user boards. I figure if we shoot in HD we can create a regular DV version and HD version (using Vegas, Apsect DV, and Magic bullet). I am not a stickler for "The movie look" ... I am a producer... and just want a clean pretty picture and of course good acting and story. What do you think? one more thing... I have been studying "modes" used to shoot for planning on converting to film and some say use 50i and some 60i... which is better? what is the difference? Thank you.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 11:34 AM   #2
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Sony FX1 produces beautiful images that can be deinterlaced and pulled down to 24p, transferred to film with beautiful results. Buy an FX1, then purchase CineForm AspectHD and tack it onto the total price of the thing...$3500 for an HD 24p solution. Plus if you're using a 35mm adapter it flips the footage during capture.

DVX produces great images too, it's just that HD footage captured to a CineForm intermediate is much more flexible to work with and responds better to color correction and the like.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 12:58 PM   #3
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As good as the DVX is (and it's very good indeed) it simply cannot hope to match the HDV footage out of the Sony. Yet both cameras cost the same money - go figure and report back.


The 16:9 aspect ratio chips in the Sony are much better than the 4:3 Panasonic variety. You can buy an expensive anamorphic for that camera but I feed being SD its time has run out.

You should really look at the Z1 too. It has far more tricks up its sleeve than the FX1_XLR brigade would have you know. I have both, and it's the Z1 I reach for every single time.

50i is the PAL standard video frame rate and 60i is the NTSC version. Here in PAL land there's very little interest in 24p as 25p is far less damaging to the video image quality. Like Ben says, shoot pure video and muck about in post - that way it's always reversible.

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Old September 13th, 2006, 09:32 PM   #4
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Thank You for you replies

They are greatly appriciated. A.) yes, we are considering the Z1 also B.) Is it your opinion that when capturing the original footage it is better NOT to use any of the in camera "modes" (capture cleanest possible) then mess around with it in post? ... or... does "Cinematone" actually give the image some taste? (I have come to the conclusion by reading that "Cineframe" should be avoided). Just as a little note... as it were... We Americans always talk about the "movie" look, but here in Japan... they prefer the HD look... sharp, clean, detailed.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 10:11 PM   #5
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Examples

A! one more thing. I have found lots of footage/links to strait video output of the Sony cam but none with intended target of the "movie look" using the capture>CineForm AspectHD>Magic Bullet method. Could someone please direct me to a short(s) that have used this method with the sony cam. There are tons of links/short shot with the DVX but... why so few with the sony cam???
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Old September 14th, 2006, 12:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Downs
Is it your opinion that when capturing the original footage it is better NOT to use any of the in camera "modes" (capture cleanest possible) then mess around with it in post?
Short answer: Use black stretch, and that's it.

When I'm 'eating from my own dog bowl' (editing stuff I shot), I'll aim to shoot flat with black stretch on (a Z1-only feature) and lean towards a little underexposure because in shooting, you want to capture as much detail as you can. I may cave in to white-setting off a subtle warm-white card but that's about it. Not CineTone and, as you've found out, definately not CineFrame (even for PAL).

In post you can choose to crush blacks, burn highlights, alter the contrast and colour balance - all because you've got plenty of range* in the originals.

If you do all the CineTone stuff in-camera, it's there for keeps. You lose flexibility in post to try and work two disparate shots together into the same 'look'.

But I will grant you that suddenly you're committing to time/money to do a good grading session as part of your final edit. You can learn it and DIY, but it's a profession - if your production gets a shot at the big time, my guess is that the backers will want an ungraded edit of your film to have the magic laying on of hands.

* I've read a Z1 report by Alan Roberts (now retired from the BBC)demonstrating over 9 stops range with black strech enabled, dropping a bit with CineTone 1 enabled, and dropping a further stop with CineTone, but dropping madly to 6 or *less* by not using the features well.

PS: On the DVD version of Seven, there's a great little treatise about 'The Grader's Art', especially how the last scene (what's in the box) is shot in a cheery field on a beautiful day, and ends up in an arid, desolate, fetid armpit of a place lost in the back of beyond - all down to grading.
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Old September 14th, 2006, 12:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Downs
Could someone please direct me to a short(s) that have used this method with the sony cam. There are tons of links/short shot with the DVX but... why so few with the sony cam???
There are some STUNNING promos done with the Z1, there's also some trailers. People are doing great stuff, but I guess there's a bit of a stigma attached to the Z1. I guess it's seen more as a TV camera than an indie camera, so most people don't touch the Picture Profiles, nor do they venture into HDV, as most Z1s are treated as 16:9 PD150s.

A shame really.

So okay, here's what I do with black stretch. It's not a short, it's not done with Magic Bullet, but it does demonstrate (in the limitations of a web movie) the various 16mm-like things you can do with a Z1 (sorry - you'll need QuickTime 7):

http://www.mdma.tv/movies/royalparks.mov (no tomatoes about the wind noise, please - there's a story behind it)

and another:

http://www.mdma.tv/movies/saudishort_h264.mov (note the vox pops were shot on a PDX-10 by the Producer. And I was almost sick doing the arial shots for the first time from a cherry picker)

Both of these, on DVD, look like good 16mm (because they were edited HDV, exported to DVCPRO-HD, adaptively deinterlaced using DVFilm Maker before compressing to MPEG2/DVD).
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Old September 15th, 2006, 01:28 AM   #8
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Matt, you and I both have Z1s and I can back you on every word you say. Unfortunately I fall into the 'using the Z1 as a 16:9 PD170' group, but even so, you put the arguments neatly and with conviction.

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Old September 15th, 2006, 08:31 AM   #9
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I've had excellent results by shooting full manual with a shutter speed of 1/60th and as wide open an iris as possible. using cingamma, +3 color, sharpness just a tad under middle, +3 warmer color temp.... then in post I run it thru nattress film nicer with a 24p look ( best $100 bucks ever spent ).

the cineframe in camera is to choppy for my taste.

I tend to under expose just a bit as well... looks richer.

I also tend to light like magic hour as well ( rear cross light with a little fill )


I tried a few of the dof adapters and the loss of rez put me off.

just backing up and shooting wide open ( f1.6/8 ) looks filmic enough for me.


I think the FX1/Z1 create amazing images..... I project from a XGA projector onto a 109" screen and viewers are very impressed.
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Old September 15th, 2006, 10:43 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Daviss
* I've read a Z1 report by Alan Roberts (now retired from the BBC)demonstrating over 9 stops range with black strech enabled, dropping a bit with CineTone 1 enabled, and dropping a further stop with CineTone, but dropping madly to 6 or *less* by not using the features well.
Do you have the uniform resource locator for this.
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Old September 19th, 2006, 08:01 AM   #11
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The report is here (a pdf, right click and save as).
I think matt may have misunderstood - in the report Mr Roberts refers to treating the Z1.FX1 footage as film camera footage which would have 10 stops of range, but that the Sonys do not achieve that range - my understanding of it anyway, I may have got it wrong myself.

EDIT: I think actually this may be a different report to the one Matt was referring to, as this chpater refers mainly to Resolution and does not really go into any detail on exposure other than a short mention in the opening section.
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Last edited by Dylan Pank; September 19th, 2006 at 09:36 AM.
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Old September 19th, 2006, 09:33 AM   #12
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