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Sony TRV950 / PDX10 Companion
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Old September 11th, 2003, 11:14 PM   #1
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PDX-10 comes through

On Tuesday Kay and I spent a long day shooting on location by the ocean with the PDX-10 and a van full of opera singers and support staff. You could actually make a pretty interesting movie in itself about all the things that happened that day! We were hoping for a misty day with diffused light to match some sequences we shot earlier, but instead we had clear skies, bright sun and 30 mph winds! At one point my tripod blew over and the camera got covered with sand. In fact, everything that I own was covered in sand by the end of the day!

Anyway, I just wanted to share some stills from this event as they may help answer some questions about what this little camera is capable of. I've always liked my PDX-10, but now I think I'm in love ;-)

This footage has been processed in various ways to enhance it. For starters, everything was run through DVFilm Maker to de-interlace. Then several filters were used in FCP, which vary with the clips. Typically I used the diffusion effect that comes with Joe's Filters to soften the image, and FCP's 3-way color corrector to adjust tonality. Some of this was needed in an attempt to soften the harsh look of the direct sun. I also found the diffusion effect useful to minimize grainy noise in some of the dark scenes. In all cases I used manual exposure and focus and a custom preset that turned sharpening and color level all the way down.

The acid test for all this will be our production of Il Trovatore where it will be projected on a 43 foot wide screen with a 12,000 lumen DLP projector.... wish us luck on this 'cause we're gonna need it! ;-)

http://www.greenmist.com/trovatore/film/20030909
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Old September 28th, 2003, 07:39 PM   #2
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Cool

Nice shots Boyd. I am always wondering how to get more out of my PDX10 like those shots of yours, but mainly do weddings for which it has served well.
Good luck on the big projection.
How do you save a preset - I have not stumbled on that yet.
Al
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Old September 28th, 2003, 09:44 PM   #3
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Alan,

Do you mean save custom presets? If you do, open
custom preset
customize (color, sharpness, white balance, etc.)
set SET at top of this menu to ON
end menu
all done!

If you mean to save settings of buttons on back of cam, they should stay set if left engaged, or if the HOLD switch on left side is switched. Hope this helps,
Shawn
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Old September 28th, 2003, 10:38 PM   #4
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Re: Cool

<<<-- Originally posted by Alan Herr : Nice shots Boyd.
Good luck on the big projection.-->>>

Thanks Alan! We are now "on the big screen" with a pair of Barco SLm R10 DLP projectors. These are very impressive (and expensive) units that are phenomenally bright, with a 1600:1 contrast ratio. We are running them in anamorphic mode. At first we planned to overlay both projectors for more intensity, but a single unit is proving bright enough, even with stage lighting. The second projector is just a backup.

Video is fed from a pair of Doremi hard disk recorders via a component video interface. We're using a firewire to component transcorder to get the video out of Final Cut Pro on a laptop and record it onto the Doremi's which are operated via some Dataton software through a laptop with an RS-422 interface. The vendor who is providing all this equipment is Scharff Weisberg, and they have also been really helpful as consultants in spec'ing the whole system. They really know their stuff!

I'm really pleased with how the PDX-10 footage looks. There are some inevitable problems as you might expect when you project footage that isn't always optimal on a 40 foot wide screen. Most of the computer animation looks very good as well - everything was compressed as DV and edited in Final Cut Pro, then run through DVfilmMaker.

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. This show has spread me pretty thin since I'm also designing the scenery and lighting... something I won't be ready to attempt again for awhile! Kay and I are looking forward to the day when we can do something simple... like making movies ;-)

We're pretty crazy right now with the show opening at the end of the week, but when I get some time I'll post some hi-res still photos that show the sort of resolution and brightness we're acheiving onstage. If any forum members happen to be in the Philadelphia area during the next few weeks please drop me an e-mail. Schedule permitting I'll try to show you around backstage.
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Old September 29th, 2003, 06:47 AM   #5
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Good

Very interesting job you have there. I read how you are projecting the video via the projector - is there no audio that you have to send out as well?

I do rehearsal dinner shows and have to project still photos and I use my PDX10 to do it and it works well except I hate being in a crowded room with kids who might trip on a cord. I use a Sony CS5 - only 1800 lumens.

My sister lives in Phila. wit her guy Salvatore - he and I would love a backstage tour. I am in NC but we visit around Thanksgiving time. What is your schedule then?
Al
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Old September 29th, 2003, 06:56 AM   #6
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Thanks Shawn

Thanks Shawn. So that's where it is... However I don't see the settings change (like sharpness etc..,) when I change them though after opening the preset menu. Perhaps just filming my desktop is throwing me off.
Al
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Old September 29th, 2003, 08:57 AM   #7
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Good luck with the show Boyd. Found the info you shared to be very interesting. Look forward to more follow-up info after things settle down for you.

Nick
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Old September 29th, 2003, 02:04 PM   #8
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Sure thing, Alan.

Not sure if I understood your last post. You can't get the settings to stay changed?

SET must stay ON; leave it ON; if you want to go back to factory presets, turn it OFF. And when ON, all changes you make will stay set. Hope that's what you meant.
Regards,
Shawn
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Old September 29th, 2003, 07:12 PM   #9
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Settings

Thanks Shawn - I understand now. I was doing something wrong...

Can you save more than one preset, say "preset no. 2 of 3" and then call it up and instantly start using it?

Al

I guess I could look in that bloody manual for myself but I have trouble finding anything in there.. anyway if you know , if not ok.
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Old September 29th, 2003, 07:52 PM   #10
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That's an interesting question, Alan, something I hadn't thought of. I'm inclined to say no, but do check the manual. I'll do the same.
Regards,
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Old September 29th, 2003, 09:35 PM   #11
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Re: Good

<<<-- Originally posted by Alan Herr : is there no audio that you have to send out as well? -->>>

Well we're an opera company, so the "audio" comes from the orchestra pit, and out of the singers' mouths! ;-) No amplification around here...

<<<-- we visit around Thanksgiving time. What is your schedule then? -->>>

Sorry, our fall rep is over in late October this season...
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Old October 2nd, 2003, 03:36 AM   #12
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Alan,
It's often said that the PDX is not good for weddings, but I see you say it has worked out well for you. I was wondering if you could elaborate a bit. Do you use it as your main cam? How does it work out in most churches? And what about the reception, do you use extra lighting?
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Old October 2nd, 2003, 07:23 AM   #13
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PDX for weddings

Hi Dave,
The theme to follow is irony and "BUT."
I like the compactness of the PDX10 - as you can remove the XLR mic attachment somewhat swiftly after the ceremony. So it is good for weddings in terms of weight BUT you might develop a sore wrist/arm as you then put a large battery on there and the camera is then more balanced but kinda heavy for an all day hand hold. I have this issue.

The camera has a great picture AS LONG AS YOU HAVE ENOUGH LIGHT. Ceremony's usually are well lit so it is good and you are on a tripod so all is well. BUT if you have lights hanging down (a style I see all the time in churchs) the PDX will have streaks all the way through the picture from the lights. As far as I know this might happen to alot of cameras.

For receptions again the mobility and smallness are good (you are less noticeable without having a camera on your shoulder) but most receptions ( I do a wedding just about every weekend) are intentionally dark and the PDX is dissapointing BUT maybe it is doing as well as it can. So I put a light on there (3watt Sony) which helps BUT then you have the factor of blinding people and HAVING to go out ON THE DANCE FLOOR to make the light worthwhile; i.e. closeups.
On most receptions it is not sufficient especially since it forces you to be on top of people to get a well lit shot.

So in summary I think it has worked out for me as I continue to work around the light issue either in editing or how I shoot the wedding. It is my main camera but next year I might get something that does low light better as this is a factor in weddings for sure. I would not buy it again if I knew I was mainly doing weddings but only for this reason - otherwise the touchscreen, the 16x9 feature etc..., are great.
Al
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Old October 7th, 2003, 09:41 AM   #14
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Just a followup on our production of Il Trovatore that uses DV projections on a 40' screen. I'm pretty much a burnout after a few weeks of hell leading up to the opening, but we're getting some nice feedback. I think the PDX-10 footage has held up very well on the large screen, as has the 3d animation which was also compressed as DV. In fact, it seems that the Barco DLP projector actually smooths out some of the problems.

For example, when viewed on a monitor (LCD and CRT) I see grainy noise in some of the footage, other parts show noticeable banding where there should be smooth gradient transitions and there is also some flickering graininess in much of the 3d animation where the DV compression causes an annoying effect around small objects that are static or moving slowly. None of this really seems to come through on the big screen. In the case of the noise and graininess I'm theorizing that the little micromirrors on the DLP chip just can't move fast enough to render it.

I've started to shoot some high res (5MP) photos of the projections on the screen and will post these in a week or so, along with still frames from the actual video for comparison. It's interesting to see the difference. One thing which probably helps us is that we aren't just showing a movie, there are also live performers on stage. That provides sort of a "high resolution" foreground to the video, which is more acceptable as a softer background.

As a shameless, self-serving plug, here's an excerpt from the Philadelphia Inquirer's review:

Quote:
At key moments, diaphanous video projections light up a scrim between the Academy of Music audience and the singers, contributing a mood or a thought to the action on stage. Much of the footage is of nothing more than one of the characters standing on a windy beach (shot on digital video at the Jersey Shore by director of design and technology Boyd Ostroff). But looming large, the images give the audience otherwise rare glimpses of facial expressions. Elsewhere, large flames appear to lick the entire stage as Dever implodes.

The idea is a smart one, but only because the polish of the video work is so high.
You can read the full review here: http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/6949369.htm
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Old October 7th, 2003, 11:05 PM   #15
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Congratulations!! Looks like things panned out as you'd hoped.
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