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Sony XDCAM PMW-F3 CineAlta
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Old April 5th, 2011, 08:49 PM   #1
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Advice on the Sony F3

Coming from a hobbyist background, and never working with DSLR's, I would like to ask a little advice about the Sony PMW F3. The F3 is probably way too advanced for me, but....


1) Should I use a light meter when filming with this camera? I mean it's digital cinematography, so this should help for achieving better lit shots, and for grading. Does everyone who uses this camera use a light meter?


2) Will the S-Log firmware work when recording to SXS cards? Or does it have to be recorded on to a external recorder at 10 bit 422/444?


3) I downloaded Alister Chapman's F3 picture profiles, in your opinion which of these profiles would work best for colour grading? A sort of S-Log for 420


4) Frame rate is really what I'm stuck on. Do I shoot 23.98p for a filmic look, or 25p as I live in the U.K? I was all set to film in 25p, but a fellow filmmaker insists that I should film in 23.98p. I'm not filming for television, but more for film festivals on a big screen. The short film that sold me on this camera is called Convergence and it blew me away, I must say it is probably the best short film I've ever seen, and it's filmed in 25p.


5) Has anyone on here seen footage shot on SXS cards projected on a big screen? How did the footage look? I should invest in a external recorder, but I feel it would be better to invest my money on new lenses for the time being.
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Old April 5th, 2011, 09:13 PM   #2
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Bagherian View Post
1) Should I use a light meter when filming with this camera? I mean it's digital cinematography, so this should help for achieving better lit shots,
False assumption. The camera, with it's exposure tools like the histogram, is the most expensive light meter you'll own. With the camera, you can tell exactly what's burning and what's getting lost in murk.

In this day and age, when shooting digital, meters are for people like who want to ascertain what level a light is at without walking over to the camera or monitor (i.e. gaffers), or for DPs who just light that way out of habit.

You, on the other hand, would probably be better served by the in-camera exposure tools.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Bagherian View Post
2) Will the S-Log firmware work when recording to SXS cards? Or does it have to be recorded on to a external recorder at 10 bit 422/444?
S-Log is not intended to be recorded to the SxS cards. You might be able to somehow when the firmware comes out, but once you try to add contrast in post with the XDCAM codec material, you will get either some or a lot of posterization. Defeats the purpose of S-Log entirely, unless you WANT a very flat, low contrast image for your final product.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Bagherian View Post
4) Frame rate is really what I'm stuck on. Do I shoot 23.98p for a filmic look, or 25p as I live in the U.K? I was all set to film in 25p, but a fellow filmmaker insists that I should film in 23.98p. I'm not filming for television, but more for film festivals on a big screen.
24 or 23.98 is generally considered the universal framerate. It converts to NTSC and PAL relatively easy, and if you don't know how to do it, any post facility worth anything will.

25 is generally for projects that will ONLY stay in PAL countries.

I'd advise if you're trying to shoot films and get international distribution, shoot 23.98.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Bagherian View Post
5) Has anyone on here seen footage shot on SXS cards projected on a big screen? How did the footage look? I should invest in a external recorder, but I feel it would be better to invest my money on new lenses for the time being.
Your money is better spent on lenses, or things in FRONT of the lens.

Resist the desire to get hung up on camera technology if you are trying to produce a short film. If you get all the camera tech stuff right, it may make your movie 10% prettier than it would have been otherwise, but pretty pictures will not make your movie watchable.

$1500 on a Atomos Samurai or AJA Mini might be well spent, but don't get hung up on it. XDCAM codec can work fine...it's better than the 5Ds codec and lord knows everybody and their mother is shooting on that thing all day long, even for theatrical.
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Old April 5th, 2011, 11:40 PM   #3
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

I agree with Nate. Having made my own films for the last 40 odd years and won the odd award here and there it is the subject matter that wins not the technology.
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Old April 6th, 2011, 04:15 AM   #4
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

Regarding shooting frame rate, use the one that works best with your post production gear. You may find that
24fps might be better than 23.98 fps in the UK, it's something to be checked depending on how you're working with time code.

Lots of UK festival winners have been shot on film using 25fps, you won't notice any difference between that and 24fps. Although, you'll notice a slight pitch change in the sound when its screened at the different speeds, however, this can mostly be adjusted with a pitch shifter during post.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 06:12 AM   #5
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

I note Jason is from the UK - so practically one reason to go with 25fps is that it relates exactly to mains frequency, so far less chance of lamps flickering in shot, as may be the case with 23.98 or 24 working. (I believe feature films normally use a dedicated generator for lighting, with frequency directly related to 24Hz, rather than mains power)

25fps (or 24fps) also avoids all the drop-frame timecode issues that can complicate 23.98 working.

It really depends where you see the main market being - 50Hz countries or 60Hz. If the former, it makes sense to use 25p, if the latter 24p. In either case, the film will normally have to be sped up or slowed down slightly to be shown in the other. In terms of "filmic look" there's nothing to choose between them.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 01:07 PM   #6
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

I like 23.98. It's much easier to get it converted to any other frame rate.

I like light meters too I can't tell with a histogram what my lighting ratio is. If using metering on a screen, a waveform is way more useful than a histogram. One of the features I love about the Cinedeck.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 01:54 PM   #7
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

Agreed a WFM is much more useful than a histogram. On yesterdays cinema commercial shoot we were using some very intense light sources shooting actors wearing white. We wanted the whites to be very bright compared to the background (no, it wasn't a soap ad) but as this was going for film-out it was critical that the whites did not clip. The WFM on the Transvideo 3D monitor was absolutely critical. In addition as it was 3D the Dual overlaid WFM's on the transvideo allow me to ensure exposures are exactly matched. Not a light meter in sight yesterday despite the extreme lighting and a truck load of Arri lamps to play with.

At a push I could have managed with just the F3's center brightness meter. I could have centered that on any part of the scene to measure the spot brightness, but WFM's show you the full exposure range, so much quicker and easier.

We shot for a 25p edit, but the film out will be 24fps, not sure why the producers made that choice, possibly keeping TV options open.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 02:18 AM   #8
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

Agreed Alister, the center meter on the F3 is extremely valuable. This is the first camera I've owned that has it. Now I find it on 100% of the time.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 03:02 AM   #9
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
We shot for a 25p edit, but the film out will be 24fps, not sure why the producers made that choice, possibly keeping TV options open.
Could be a post issue. I directed a 35mm short film, which shot at 24 fps, but we had to do the post at 25 fps because of licensing cost for 24 fps on AVID.

The producer had previously cut a 24 fps short at the same facility, however, it turned out to have been a one off special arrangement with AVID and it would thousands for the license. Lesson: check, don't make assumptions.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 08:53 AM   #10
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

Post is being done by the Moving Picture Company with the edit taking place on FCP. FCP will work with 24 (23.98) without any issues, so I don't know what the reasoning is.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 07:21 PM   #11
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

Alister, I'm one of those crazies who wishes the world standard was 25p, not 23.98. C'est la vie.

Just have to remember when converting 25p to 23.98, raise the pitch on the audio track 6%.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 09:57 PM   #12
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

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Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
Could be a post issue. I directed a 35mm short film, which shot at 24 fps, but we had to do the post at 25 fps because of licensing cost for 24 fps on AVID.

The producer had previously cut a 24 fps short at the same facility, however, it turned out to have been a one off special arrangement with AVID and it would thousands for the license. Lesson: check, don't make assumptions.
What? Can you elaborate how & why AVID charges for editing in 24p?
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Old April 9th, 2011, 02:33 AM   #13
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

This is 10 years ago, but to use the 24 fps you needed to pay a license to get the activation key that allowed you to use that feature on the AVID that the facility house used at that time. At the time 24 fps was a feature on another AVID model but the software was already in the program, so the facility could upgrade using a key.

In the UK the only people who would shoot or use 24 fps would've been theatrical films, everything else was and still is 25 fps. That meant that there would be no need for most people to have 24 fps built in at the time..

I believe AVID still operate a licensing system.
Avid - Software Licensing for Media Composer, Symphony, and NewsCutter FAQ's
Although, I don't know if you currently need a license for 24 fps upgrade on the high end AVIDs in the UK or if it's now a built in feature.
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Old April 9th, 2011, 02:55 AM   #14
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

Any AVID including the software-only version of Media Composer ($295 student price...) is multiframerate/format capable. You can mix any codec, framerates, HD or SD clips in the timeline and it (usually) plays realtime. It also does an excellent job at mixing PAL/NTSC material. AVID has departed rather radically from the way they operated 10 years ago.

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Old April 9th, 2011, 03:12 AM   #15
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Re: Advice on the Sony F3

Yes, it would be very difficult for AVID to compete these days if they weren't more open with the formats you can use.
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