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Old April 25th, 2005, 10:20 PM   #1
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How to Maximize Distribution Options

I can't tell where in the current forum structure this should be, so I'll just put it in the HVX200 because I think it's the best camera to meet this need.

MY OBJECTIVE

I want to shoot a 90 minute feature, and I want to maximize my distribution options:
  • 35mm film
  • HD Cable and Satellite channels
  • HD DVD (in whatever standard is adopted)
  • Progressive DVD

QUESTIONS
1. What is the best camera (under $10K) to shoot with
2. Are there any special lenses or adapters I should use
3. What is the best PC or Mac based NLE to use?

DISCUSSION

Of course, I want to do this for the minimum cost. I'm assuming that shooting HD video will be cheaper than shooting 35mm. If you know otherwise, please correct me.
I want the "film-look" to be obtained for all options as best as technology will permit for a reasonable price.

My current thinking is that the HVX200 will be the best camera for this, assuming it delivers on its advertised specs.

Your thoughts?
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Old April 25th, 2005, 11:11 PM   #2
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QUESTIONS
1. What is the best camera (under $10K) to shoot with


Your best bet is to rent a camera, you'll get more camera for your money.
You should probably make that decision with your DP.

2. Are there any special lenses or adapters I should use

Without knowing what you are shooting, that's a rather impossible question to answer. Lens choice should come from the material (and, in a practical sense, from the locations). These decisions should really be made in conjunction with your DP.

3. What is the best PC or Mac based NLE to use?

Most NLEs are basically the same, they all cut, they all dissolve, etc.
Just about all major NLE systems have software demos you can download.
I would highly recommend testing a few out and seeing which one you like the best. Personal preference plays a large part into what NLE is "the best."
In the end, it's the editor that makes the biggest difference.

Of course, I want to do this for the minimum cost. I'm assuming that shooting HD video will be cheaper than shooting 35mm. If you know otherwise, please correct me.

It can be, but again it all depends on what/where you are shooting.
Without any detail it's really hard to answer any of these questions.
Every movie and every production is different, and what may be "the best" path for one production is not necessarily 'the best' path for all productions.

Do you have a finished script?
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Old April 25th, 2005, 11:44 PM   #3
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Luis,

Thanks for your reply.

Your best bet is to rent a camera, you'll get more camera for your money.

I agree, but that doesn't change my question. :-) I was only providing the purchase price as a guideline for which equipment to consider. Obviously a $60K camera cost more to rent than a $6K camera.

Lens choice should come from the material ...

In general you're correct. However, there are lenses and adapters that are widely used with shooting video to obtain the film look. For example, the mini35 adapter for the XL1/XL2, and the anamorphic lenses for 4:3 DV cameras.

FYI, all decisions will be make with my DP (of course you don't know that could even be me :-))

Most NLEs are basically the same, they all cut, they all dissolve, etc.

Duh!!! This I know already. I'm trying to find out about the ADVANCED features of NLEs. Perhaps some support HD and 24p and DVCProHD and color correction better than others.

And, yes, we already have a finished script, although I'm not sure how that matters.

I think you're missing my main point. I'm looking for guidance for shooting with perhaps DVCProHD with the thought that it gives us the maximum flexibility for distribution. The point being, what format converts best to a variety of other formats.

Best Regards,
Pete
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Old April 26th, 2005, 12:03 AM   #4
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Hi Pete,
Luis was jsut trying to be helpful with regar to teh information you have provided in your thread.. I might be missing something here, but your response was a lil harsh with "duh" comments

to answer your questions based on experience with a company doing what your doing...

1. What is the best camera (under $10K) to shoot with

For output to film, I would have recommended the Z1 initially, followed by deinterlacing and editing within Avid for output to film.

Now however, i wouldnt recommend anything other than a HVX... frame size may be the same as HDV, but comparing the two just isnt justified. Theyre very different formats and DVCProHD really does shit on HDV... On top of that, you have the option to shoot at 24p off tha bat, so theres no deinterlacing required.. only the removal of the pulldown config..
From here, i would NOW recommend and Avid system running Avid Express Pro HD with a Mojo DNA (if cost is a factor this is your cheapest bet.. )
With regard to colour grading I would also recommend the magic bullet filters for Avid.

There are options in Avid for film configuraitons such as 16/35mm film, as well as the ability to database all your clips and audio and have 2 or 3 editors working on the one project..
A cheaper alternative is Vegas 6.. prolly the closest thing to Avid when it comes to media management, however at this time, it doesnt support MXF (it will soon though)

2. Are there any special lenses or adapters I should use

((U can get softening filter which mounts to the front of the lens, this gets rid of the digital jaggies when rescaling or super high res flckers from thin vertical and horizontal lines.. the HXV however can be configure to soften the detail within the cam (detail coring as in the DVX) or this can be done in post too... ))

3. What is the best PC or Mac based NLE to use?
((theres no best anything im afraid.. they all have their strnegths and weeknesses.. however in this case and for the most optimal workflow with HW support and acceleration, Avid would be your best bet... ))

DISCUSSION

Of course, I want to do this for the minimum cost. I'm assuming that shooting HD video will be cheaper than shooting 35mm. If you know otherwise, please correct me.
Theoretically, you are correct.. however there are many elements to consider... as you already know so i wont harp on them..
one thing which wasnt mentioned though, which could save you ALOT of time and prolly even more money, would be your storyboards and their management...
To save alot of mucking about, now that you have your script, go grab a program called Frame Forge 3d Studio. Its a software based storyboarder which creates flash videos and is fully animated in 3d. The environments are based on the data your povide it, and you can also record voiceover script readings to it, or, u can allocate elements of the script to certain frameboards and print those out and give to your talent..
This way, you can test out scene pacing and even get to work on the soundtrack based on that.. you can literally make ur movie this way without even hittin record on the camera.. and with the HVX release in about 6 months or so, you have the time to get this story board happening before you even hit record.. Oh and the best thing.. capture it with Camtasia and throw on the dialog voice over and voila, instant special features for your dvd..
Its an incredible program..
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Old April 26th, 2005, 12:14 AM   #5
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I agree, but that doesn't change my question. :-) I was only providing the purchase price as a guideline for which equipment to consider. Obviously a $60K camera cost more to rent than a $6K camera.

My point was that in order to maximize your distribution options, you are better off not purchasing and renting the best camera you can afford for the job. Why would you limit yourself to renting a camera that costs under 10K?

Do you have 10K to spend on a camera package? If so, you can rent quite a bit of camera for that much.

In general you're correct. However, there are lenses and adapters that are widely used with shooting video to obtain the film look. For example, the mini35 adapter for the XL1/XL2, and the anamorphic lenses for 4:3 DV cameras.

Again, I would say that all depends on the material you are shooting.
There is no adapter that I would see as a 'catch all' to be used on every production.

Duh!!! This I know already. I'm trying to find out about the ADVANCED features of NLEs. Perhaps some support HD and 24p and DVCProHD and color correction better than others.

Considering you were so concerned with the best output possible, I assumed you would use the editing software for just that, editing. If you really want the best output possible you shouldn't be doing any color correction or effects in your NLE.

As far as HD and 24P support, every major program supports these now.
Premiere Pro, Avid Xpress HD, FCP5, Canopus...etc.

And, yes, we already have a finished script, although I'm not sure how that matters.

Well, I was hoping that if you could give us some insight on what you were shooting, then we'd be in a better position to give you some more fitting advice. There's a big difference between planning for a film which will be mainly nighttime exteriors vs. daytime interiors, etc. I mentioned that specifically in regards to your question about whether or not 35mm could be less expensive than HD.

I think you're missing my main point.

I don't think I did, but if I did I'm sorry.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 12:52 AM   #6
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Peter,

Thank you. This is very helpful. All of your suggestions were on the mark.

My inclination was to go with the HVX200.

Luis,

Thank you for your effort to help. I guess it just came across to me like I didn't know anything. I have a lot to learn, but I didn't fall of the turnip truck yesterday. :-)

I am NOT the producer, but I am trying to advise the producer. We don't have a budget yet, but I know it's going to be tight. So I know we are not even in the range of rental prices for a $60K camera. My hypothesis is that the HVX200 will fit the budget AND satisfy the distribution options. I am trying to determine whether or not my hypothesis is valid.

I am well aware that the lenses, filters, etc. depend on the specifics of the shoot. I am not asking for advise concerning this. ONLY about those things which can be done that will help enhance the film-look.

I also am fully aware that the most important things for obtaining the film-look have NOTHING to do with the media the motion picture is recorded on.

I am trying to investigate the technical things that can be done to enhance HD video.

With all respect, Peter's response is the type of response that I am looking for. Your first response was not helpful. You just told me that I should talk to my DP. And you made a lot of assumptions about my knowledge and skill, which are far off the mark.

Perhaps my questions came across as naive. I can assure you that they were not. The basic question I asked is a hard one -- how to shoot in one format and yet have the benefits of shooting in other formats. If this can be done, then this will be an additional selling point to investors. The more distribution options, the greater the potential ROI.

Best Regards,
Pete
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Old April 26th, 2005, 01:34 AM   #7
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Thank you for your effort to help. I guess it just came across to me like I didn't know anything. I have a lot to learn, but I didn't fall of the turnip truck yesterday. :-)

I didn't mean to imply that I thought you didn't know anything.
I just find it difficult to offer suggestions for a project when there are no details given about the production.

If what you are concerned with is the most flexiblity in post your best bet is to try to shoot on film. 16mm and Super16 are still very viable options. If you can't afford that, 24P HD is obviously the next choice (Either VariCam or HDCam). I can't really suggest the HVX as we haven't seen any footage from it yet. If it's as good as everyone is hoping, then it might be your best bet. Footage will probably be available in late August/September. This camera would be helpful because it takes the deck out of the equation in post, which would save you a chunk in rental fees or downconverts.

As far as post goes, I would seriously look at FCP (and I say this being an Avid editor). I think either of those are both your best bet, and I think that FCP might wind up being less expensive.

Look into color finesse (either the plugin or the new standalone 2.0 verison) for your color correction. You want to do color correction in a seperate program from your NLE. Most NLEs will only render out to an 8bit space. For the best quality, color correct, composite, etc, in a 16bit or 32bit floating point space and then render out to a 10bit uncompressed codec (such as blackmagic's). Then you can master that to HD D-5 or Sony HDSR, or go to a film print directly off an external drive. That way you aren't recompressing your master more than is needed.

I am well aware that the lenses, filters, etc. depend on the specifics of the shoot. I am not asking for advise concerning this. ONLY about those things which can be done that will help enhance the film-look.

I would HIGHLY recommend staying away from any 'softening' filters.
Most video looks soft already when projected, and softening is simple enough to do in post if required. You can't take it away if you shoot it that way. Shoot it clean and that gives you the most options later. I'd be leary of using a Mini35 for anything that might be projected in a theater, but if you're interested in that I would shoot some tests first.

Your first response was not helpful. You just told me that I should talk to my DP. And you made a lot of assumptions about my knowledge and skill, which are far off the mark.

Sorry you didn't find it helpful.
I didn't make any assumptions, I was just trying to answer questions the best way I knew how given no knowledge about where you were coming from, what you are trying to shoot, and what you need.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 01:49 AM   #8
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Thanks Luis, that was very helpful. I appreciate your thoughts.
Sorry if I misunderstood your first post.

I'll take a look at the higher-priced cameras and see if we can afford the rentals. But I'm not hopeful.

Appreciate your suggestons about color processing outside of the NLE. This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. The editor hasn't been selected yet, so I don't know how much knowledge he/she will have about this. Hopefully we can find someone who is experienced with this type of workflow.

I guess I did leave a lot out. We're not shooting until late fall, or early 2006, so I hope to have some reviews and test footage of the HVX200 prior to making a decision. I'm just hoping it comes through as well as advertised.

Best Regards,
Pete
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Old April 26th, 2005, 07:10 AM   #9
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Before you do anything, whether you are the DP or someone else, you should do a lot of research. Our tastes in gear may not ultimately be what you want to use. Before I shoot my next feature, I test (and have been testing) HDV cameras with my DP and also by myself.

With an NLE, you can usually download a free trial, like Premiere Pro, etc., to test. Though I don't think Apple does that with Final Cut. But test that, too; I spent $600 on Premiere 5.1 for a Mac 6 years ago, and was so disappointed, I bought FCP 1.0 without testing it (which could've been disastrous, except the system is great for me).

If you are planning on doing film outs, HD DVDs, etc., I'd have tests done. Check out a few film out places, like www.dvfilm.com, and see how it looks.

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Old April 26th, 2005, 12:33 PM   #10
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Thanks Luis, that was very helpful. I appreciate your thoughts.
Sorry if I misunderstood your first post.


Sorry I misunderstood yours.
I need to learn not to respond to posts unless I can give my responses the time they deserve. I was a bit quick in that first response, and obviously came off as condescending which was not my intent at all.

I'll take a look at the higher-priced cameras and see if we can afford the rentals. But I'm not hopeful.

A lot of that obviously will depend on your schedule, you'd be amazed what kind of deals you can get for a long term rental. Your time would probably be better spent working on other issues until you get closer to your acual shoot.

Appreciate your suggestons about color processing outside of the NLE. This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. The editor hasn't been selected yet, so I don't know how much knowledge he/she will have about this. Hopefully we can find someone who is experienced with this type of workflow.

If you're interested in talking about it some more as the time gets closer, I'm up in Austin (I saw you are in Houston). Drop me an email if you want, and we can get in touch:

luis AT studio3 productions DOT com

We're not shooting until late fall, or early 2006, so I hope to have some reviews and test footage of the HVX200 prior to making a decision. I'm just hoping it comes through as well as advertised.

I am too!
If you're going for late fall, it's going to be tough to plan on the HVX, but early 2006 might be doable.

You may also want to consider something like the SDX900.
The compression on DVCPro50 is nearly half of what DVCProHD is, and it uprezzes beautifully. I wouldn't be suprised to see that uprezzed SDX footage might look better than the HD footage from the HVX (given the lens options and larger chip size, etc).

Just a thought.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 12:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heath McKnight
Before you do anything, whether you are the DP or someone else, you should do a lot of research. Our tastes in gear may not ultimately be what you want to use. Before I shoot my next feature, I test (and have been testing) HDV cameras with my DP and also by myself.heath
That's what I'm doing now -- research. :-)
Exactly my plan.

Thanks for your suggestions Heath.

Best Regards,
Pete
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Old April 26th, 2005, 01:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luis Caffesse
Your time would probably be better spent working on other issues until you get closer to your acual shoot.
Thanks for the suggestion. Fortunately I'm not the producer, who is working on many other issues now. I'm just trying to scope out the potential workflow and equipment options that will give the producer the "look" she wants. If the budget permitted, she would shoot in 35mm, but knows this is not really an option. She is giving some thought to 16mm and to HD. So I'm researching the HD option and what benefits, and limitations, that offers.

Thanks again for all your thoughts. Later this summer or fall, I might just take you up on your offer to talk directly. Very kind of you.

Best Regards,
Pete
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Old April 26th, 2005, 01:21 PM   #13
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What sort of shooting ratio do you normally shoot?
Do you have a rough idea of how much footage you're likely to generate?

That would help in narrowing down what your best/most cost effective format might be.

I.E. - if you generally keep a low shooting ratio, then 16 or S16 might be your best bet, especially if you plan on doing a good amount of daytime exterior work.

Or, if you are generally accustomed to the long takes and high shooting ratios that have become common with DV, then HD may be your best option.

Also, having a rough idea of how much footage you will have may help you decide between the HVX and something tape based.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 01:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
What sort of shooting ratio do you normally shoot?
Do you have a rough idea of how much footage you're likely to generate?
Well, it's not how much I normally shoot as it is how much the producer/director wants to shoot. She has already said that she expects the cast to be fully rehearsed and wants to keep the number of takes down to 1 or 2.

There are a lot of action scenes with cars, guns, even a few with airplanes. The basic setting is that of drug running/dealing.

There is a good mix of exterior and interior scenes.

While I support her goal of minimizing takes, I not sure how realistic it is to achieve 1-2 takes. This is a low budget production with deferred payment for both cast and crew. So while she is trying to sign up all professionals, it seems to me that those willing to work for deferred payment may not be as efficient as others.

What do you guys think?

Pete
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Old April 26th, 2005, 01:58 PM   #15
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"So while she is trying to sign up all professionals, it seems to me that those willing to work for deferred payment may not be as efficient as others."

I think that's probably a safe assumption to make.
In which case, you're probably right, 1 to 2 takes is a bit optomistic.
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