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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old February 7th, 2004, 02:53 AM   #1
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I want to shoot widescreen

I have a VX2000 and want to shoot TRUE widescreen. What do I do? What do I need to buy?
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Old February 7th, 2004, 08:20 AM   #2
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Can you define "true widescreen"? If you switch to wide mode on your VX-2000 it will crop the image to 16:9 and then stretch it anamorphically so it displays properly on a widescreen monitor. So in a sense that's "true" widescreen, since it conforms to the standard.

But the problem is that you will only be using about 360 of the 480 available scan lines so your resolution suffers. If you want to shoot 16:9 and really use the whole image area then the only solution is to use an anamorphic adaptor lens like the ones from Optex or Century. Get ready to spend some $$$, they are somewhere in the $600 to $700 range I think. They also have some significant limitations. You can't zoom through the whole range, you will get vignetting at the full wide setting, you will also have to buy a relatively expensive matte box if you want to use filters, and you can't add wide or telephoto adaptors.

Like you, I wanted to shoot 16:9 on my VX-2000 and studied the options for awhile. I was not at all impressed with the built-in wide mode because the image looks very blurry to me. But I just couldn't bring myself to spend all that money on an anamorphic adaptor and matte box, especially considering the limitations. Instead, I ended up getting a PDX-10 which has higher resolution CCD's and can do native 16:9.

Do a search on "anamorphic"and "wide screen" here, lots has been written on this topic.
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Old February 7th, 2004, 02:46 PM   #3
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I agree with Boyd, The best widescreen DV cam out there right now (IMHO) is the PDX10 (especially for the price!). Just don't expect it to perform well in low light and when I tested it next to a PD150 at NAB, it didn't seem to do well in 4:3 but that may have been the location and camera set up.

Your only other low cost choice is to get an anamorphic adapter for your VX2000.

HTH,

Doug
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Old February 16th, 2004, 10:41 PM   #4
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Your best bet would be to wait for the new Century
anamorphic adapter to be released.
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Old February 17th, 2004, 11:44 AM   #5
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This probably depends on your definition of "true" wide screen. If it's true wide screen, by one definition, then it is anamorphic, and if you play it on a 16:9 monitor, it looks good; but if you play it on a 4:3 monitor, everybody will be streteched out short and fat, or you will have to make a letterbox copy with black bars at the top and bottom

Another definition of "true" wide screen is that which is shot with 16:9 chips or an anamorphic adapter.

Why don't you try the 16:9 mode on your camera and see what it looks like to you before buying anything. It may or may not be acceptable to you in terms of the added softness and noise it picks up.
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Old February 17th, 2004, 12:25 PM   #6
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A fellow by the name of Adam Wilt has said that the
picture quality, when doing widescreen, goes in this
order, from best to worst:

1. Using 16:9 chips
2. 4:3 chips with an anamophic adapter
3. XL1/GL1/GL2 in-camera widescreen mode
4. VX/PD shot normal and converted to wide in NLE
5. VX/PD in-camera 16:9 mode
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Old February 17th, 2004, 12:38 PM   #7
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That may be true for the VX2000, but he should check it out for himself. I have a DSR250 as my second camera and for a long time never shot 16:9 with it because I assumed it would look crappy. One day I did a test, and under most conditions, it was very acceptable. There is a slight softnening of the picture (sort of like an XL1 look) and if you compare side by side to the 4:3 mode you can see added noise (grain). However, the differences were not great enough to make me not use it. I know the 250 comes out of a different factory from the VX2000 and PD150 and may have some different sort of signal processing than they do, but it shouldn't be that much different. My point is, while there are differences and always a degradation in quality when doing electronic 16:9 versus shooting with 16:9 chips or an anamorphic adapter, the differences may not be all that significant. A lot of it depends on what you're doing too. If you're shooting news type footage under a variety of crappy lighting conditions, then it might look worse than under controlled conditions. The only unacceptable thing I saw in my test was that when panning across a blown out window with venetian blinds, I got jaggies on the diagonal lines which I don't get in 4:3. In my normal shooting situations, however, I wouldn't do that without lighting the shot properly.
If you want to see some 16:9 shot with the 250, there's some on our website, www.opuskc.com. Go to training products, then Management Collection. There are 3 clips there that intermix 250 footage with 500 footage. You can see the differences of course, but it's not too bad. The quality of the streaming video sucks, of course, but the comparison is accurate.
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Old February 17th, 2004, 01:04 PM   #8
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One argument in favor of doing this in post with an NLE: you can position the letterbox cutoff wherever you like, depending on the composition of the shot. For example you may choose to show the top 2/3 of the image and cut off the bottom. Yes, you lose some resolution, but you gain greater creative freedom. Or, you can stick with 4:3 if you decide you like that better.

On the other hand, if you do this "in-camera" you're stuck with whatever framing you shot in the field.

I use some of the memory stick letterbox images (www.streamovie.com/vx2000.htm) to check composition in both 16:9 and 4:3 in the field. Then I shoot in normal 4:3 and decide which framing I prefer in post.
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Old February 17th, 2004, 01:22 PM   #9
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This is true, you can adjust framing by doing it that way. However, what you have is a 4:3 image that's been cropped, rather than a "true) 16:9 image. If it's shown on a widescreen monitor, it will be distorted, unless you do a resized version with the aspect ratio changed.
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Old February 17th, 2004, 01:49 PM   #10
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For what it's worth, my own quick tests with the VX-2000 seemed to give better results when cropping and stretching in post, versus in-camera 16:9. I think that the DV compression does some damage to the in-camera 16:9, and I think this is why Adam listed his priorities as such. But I certainly agree that everyone should do their own quick tests and decide for themselves, that's what I did.

It's easy to make your image anamorphic in post, at least in FCP. Just create a new 16:9 sequence and drop your 4:3 clips into it. They will shrink down and be "pillarboxed" in the middle of the frame. Now reduce the canvas view scale so you can see the gray border around the image. Now grab one of the corners and stretch until the width fills the 16:9 frame. At this point you could also slide the 4:3 frame up or down as Brian suggests, and you can even animate this with keyframes if desired. Of course you will need to render this, but afterwards it will be "real" 16:9 that will display properly on a widescreen TV. But the downside will be the lost vertical resolution which is unavoidable no matter how you do 16:9 on the VX-2000 (unless you have an anamorphic adaptor lens).
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Old February 23rd, 2004, 09:55 AM   #11
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Got myself the century 16:9 lens a few weeks ago in preparation for an upcoming shoot. The footage looks real good. Most definitely.
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Old February 23rd, 2004, 12:22 PM   #12
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Kevin,
Did you get the one that Century just came out
with, the one that's fully zoom through? Or is
it the one that has been out for awhile?
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Old February 23rd, 2004, 12:26 PM   #13
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i got the old one. non-zoom through with some quirks but nothing you can't work around.

The new one is not out yet and is 3x the price. That's a whole new cam for that kind of money.
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