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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old September 21st, 2007, 01:54 PM   #1
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Mixing the XDCam EX with an HVX200

OK here is the situation I would be in. I would like to possibly purchase 2 of these cams for my wedding and event video business. I currently have an HVX200 that I will have to keep in order to continue shooting SD (My market has no support for doing a commercial in HD and all of my clients currently want 4:3 aspect ratio)

With weddings and event, I could go to a widescreen only format and mix the 3 together using multicam in FCP. My question would be whether I could mix the 2 formats (DVCProHD and XDCAM) using the multicam feature in FCP 6? I really cant afford to buy 3 of these cameras, but 2 of them would be quite doable, and much lower in cost than 2 more HVX 200's with P2 cards and firestores.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 07:35 PM   #2
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Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer:
You can do multicam with different codecs- but your machine has to be up to decoding all of them simultaneously.

Right now I think if you want to mix DVCPRO HD and XDCAM for multicam in a ProRes project the words "Mac Pro" had better be in your studio.

By the way...

if you need to use one of these cameras for an SD project in your area, you can always just crop the screen edges from the 16:9 image. Heck you could even "Pan and Scan" the footage.

I don't know if either of these cameras (or potentially your monitor) include guide's to help you frame for 4:3, but if nothing else you could use tape to mark out a 4:3 region at the edge of your monitor.

You also build yourself a nice revenue stream for when HD does come to town- you already have HD footage, a quick re-edit results in an HD version of the spot and there's some quick cash.

That revenue stream for you can even be a selling point- your image acquisition is "future proof."
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Old October 1st, 2007, 08:11 PM   #3
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I don't know if either of these cameras (or potentially your monitor) include guide's to help you frame for 4:3, but if nothing else you could use tape to mark out a 4:3 region at the edge of your monitor.
the EX1 has 4:3 markers. Was playing with the camera last night at the Sony NZ launch.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 11:06 PM   #4
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the EX1 has 4:3 markers. Was playing with the camera last night at the Sony NZ launch.
Brilliant! I think its a great feature to have for any camera that eschews SD acquisition.

Sony seems to be making all the right moves with this camera.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 11:11 PM   #5
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FYI: these two cameras will never match perfectly. The different chip sizes, lenses, notorious Sony and Panasonic colourimetry etc. For anything that is critical, such as broadcast or feature film production, it's almost impossible to match different cameras from different manufacturers. It's difficult enough to match the same cameras...:-)

It might be acceptable enough for weddings and event videography, particularly if the odd camera (in this case the HVX200) is used to cover wide shots that the two EX's do the closeups. I would test first before purchasing the new cameras.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 11:50 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jiri Bakala View Post
FYI: these two cameras will never match perfectly. The different chip sizes, lenses, notorious Sony and Panasonic colourimetry etc. For anything that is critical, such as broadcast or feature film production, it's almost impossible to match different cameras from different manufacturers. It's difficult enough to match the same cameras...:-)

It might be acceptable enough for weddings and event videography, particularly if the odd camera (in this case the HVX200) is used to cover wide shots that the two EX's do the closeups. I would test first before purchasing the new cameras.
Perfectly? If you want true perfection then I doubt anyone anywhere could match two takes taken on the same camera, with the same choices for every variable, match "perfectly."

Acceptably for feature film work? You can make just about anything match if it was shot close to correctly. (i.e. decent exposure, focus etc.)

Not only can cameras with wildly different specifications and technologies match in theory- they have very often done so in practice.

Take Star Wars: Episode 2. You didn't spot the XL-1 footage did you? Did you notice where they intercut 35mm with HDCAM? Did you notice the changeover to HDCAM SR?

Cameras like the HVX200 have been used as crash cameras in a bunch of features that were shot primarily on film.

Heck... As part of the Final Cut Studio demo, Apple includes footage shot on an HVX200, a Viper, and one other camera I can't remember all in the same project- and they match. They mention it explicitly if you see the Apple Color demo. It all intercuts beautifully for the Ducati commercial.

I could go on and on, but I trust my point is made.

One of the primary responsibilities of a Director of Photography is to make shots that match. I don't think its ever easy, especially as standards go up, but it is possible.

I have every confidence that, assuming only that you have a qualified DP, the HVX200 and XDCAM EX will make an acceptable match- even for theatrically projected materials.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 12:11 AM   #7
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you can also use: sony vegas + cineform neo hdv + inifiniticam. i've mixed multicam hdv and dvcpro-hd (hvx200 originated) with no problem.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 12:21 AM   #8
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...boils down to $$, experience and technology. If you have the Star Wars budget, or even the Apple marketing dollars and software, yeah, you can get it pretty close. But we are talking event and wedding videography here. Not exactly the time and money to tweak and tweak to no end. Not exaclty the situation where the DP has control over lighting and other elements. Not even the luxury of having three matching and properly calibrated monitors on the set to make sure. Weddings and events are often very challenging lighting-wise and rarely offer enough time to set up everything well. Enter low-light and mixed lighting, three different camera operators and no monitors and you are going to get three different looks (even if the cameras were identical).

But it doesn't have to be only this; just this past season I was a shooter on a TV series and we did a number of bigger shoots with two or three cameras, all Panasonic SDX900. Matched with the SD card, one (very good) DP overseeing the look, monitors and all, yet, there were some instances where the post people complained that the cameras didn't quite match. The difference was usually in the lens, sometimes a wide vs. standard, at other times Fujinon vs. Canon. At one point there was a question about one of the cameras not getting calibrated (internal settings) closly enough to the other, which was newer.

At the end of the day, I am sure, no viewer out there called the network to complain about less than perfect match. Like your example with the Star Wars. Nevertheless, matching cameras is a tricky business and for someone who wants to use them day in and day out this way, it's far more preferable to get the same cameras. He will save himself the hassle of having to spend extra time matching the looks in the post.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 12:28 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Alexander Ibrahim View Post
Take Star Wars: Episode 2. You didn't spot the XL-1 footage did you?
Er, no. Wait, let me check the date on this post -- no, it's not April 1st. So -- XL1 footage in Star Wars Episode II? Do you have a source for that?

Quote:
Did you notice where they intercut 35mm with HDCAM?
If you're referring to the shot of Anakin and the hideous "midichlorians" scene, yes -- it definitely looked different. But that was in Episode I, not II. Was there even a frame of film involved in Episode II? I think it was all F900.

Quote:
Did you notice the changeover to HDCAM SR?
That happened on Episode III. Difficult to notice unless maybe you saw II and III back to back...

Last edited by Chris Hurd; October 2nd, 2007 at 08:41 AM. Reason: typo
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 12:56 AM   #10
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Er, no. Wait, let me check the date on this post -- no, it's not April 1st. So -- XL1 footage in Star Wars Episode II? Do you have a source for that?
That's funny, Barry....:-)
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 01:54 AM   #11
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Er, no. Wait, let me check the date on this post -- no, it's not April 1st. So -- XL1 footage in Star Wars Episode II? Do you have a source for that?
lol

To be fair , I wasn't playing fair. The XL-1 footage wasn't used for any full frames.

Some live action characters were shot with it, keyed or scoped and then inserted into predominantly CG scenes. None of the characters I'm talking about was even a quarter of the frame size.

Most of this was done after principal photography was done and the fancy prototype cams were gone. Lucas decided that he needed some extra stuff going on in some scenes, and that's how he did it. I think a lot of the Jedi in the big Arena scene were added or modified this way.

I bet its starting to sound more believable- I mean only Lucas right? The main technology advance since 1977 in his eyes is that he can alter his films faster now. Pray he doesn't alter them any further right?

As far as the reference goes check the DVD and the appropriate Videography magazine issue. I didn't check them myself- cause I don't care- but I am leaning towards the DVD's.

I did check American Cinematographer and Cinefex, so what I say in this post reflects that- and will reveal some of the inaccuracies of my memory.

Quote:
If you're referring to the shot of Anakin and the hideous "midichlorians" scene, yes -- it definitely looked different. But that was in Episode 1, not II. Was there even a frame of film involved in Episode II? I think it was all F900.
Episode 1 was all 35mm scanned at 2K. If the midichlorians scene looked different to you its probably because you were trying to gouge your eyes out. I know I do every time I am subjected to it. I have been reliably informed that attempting to gouge out your eyes may alter your normal vision.

Episode 2 is the one with the mishmash of cameras.

They got some prototype cameras. They kept tweaking and modifying them throughout the shoot. Sony continuously altered the cameras throughout episode 2 though. Basically the F900 was invented for Attack of the Clones and developed throughout principal photography.

I don't think they ever recorded onto HDCAM or HDCAM SR media- they just used the camera sections and made their own recording arrangements. Hence the development of the F950 which is what they shot Episode 3 with... not HDCAM SR.

Quote:
That happened on Episode III. Difficult to notice unless maybe you saw II and III back to back...
Well, after checking it turns out they didn't use HDCAM SR at all, or HDCAM. Like I said before.

Basically Lucas seems to have done these films not for any normal film making motive, but rather as a rather huge tech test.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 11:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Ibrahim View Post
Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer:
You can do multicam with different codecs- but your machine has to be up to decoding all of them simultaneously.

Right now I think if you want to mix DVCPRO HD and XDCAM for multicam in a ProRes project the words "Mac Pro" had better be in your studio.

By the way...

if you need to use one of these cameras for an SD project in your area, you can always just crop the screen edges from the 16:9 image. Heck you could even "Pan and Scan" the footage.

I don't know if either of these cameras (or potentially your monitor) include guide's to help you frame for 4:3, but if nothing else you could use tape to mark out a 4:3 region at the edge of your monitor.

You also build yourself a nice revenue stream for when HD does come to town- you already have HD footage, a quick re-edit results in an HD version of the spot and there's some quick cash.

That revenue stream for you can even be a selling point- your image acquisition is "future proof."
Good think I bought that 8 core mac pro back in july along with AJA card and Panasonic HD moniter.....hopefully that should set me. I am waiting to get myhands on one of these cameras to test it all out. It is really exciting to me :)
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