Best cam for shooting a low budget action drama w/ filmlook?? at DVinfo.net

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Old October 20th, 2002, 01:04 AM   #1
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Best cam for shooting a low budget action drama w/ filmlook??

I asked this somewhere else but I think maybe this is better place for it. I'm looking for a cam to shoot a low budget action drama. I want to shoot on a 3ccd cam then do a film look. I got my eye on the Pana 24p but I'm not 100% sold on it considering with software and other tricks you can get the filmlook (or what many indy directors consider the "filmlook") for less than $4000. Here's the problemo.

The GL-1 (and 2) and VX2000 have been noted to have problems in their frame modes. My choices are...

1. Buy one of these cams (problably the GL-2) shoot normal mode using sports mode (high speed shutter) during the action scenes and play around with it in post. (Maybe get Magic Bullet).

2. Shoot in frame mode and ignore the problem, as I've heard it's not that big of a deal - I noticed a little herky jerky motion in the movie "The Glass House" in some scenes making me wonder was some of it shot on video and made to look like film or were they just poor match cuts.

3. Wait on the 24p which may still have the same problem in 24p mode. (By the time I can afford the 24p there should be a few meaningful reviews of this cam). What do you guys think?

4. I could buy a Pal VX2000 and DVFilm Atlantis. Andromeda has a nice price for a Pal VX2000 but I need to do some research on them and find out if they're a real camera provider or BS artist like Royal and B&H.

I should mention I just want the film look I'm not going to print to film, but I don't want the motion to look to weird.

-Vinson
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Old October 20th, 2002, 01:44 AM   #2
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I don't know if you were looking at the XL1s at all, but I can tell you for sure that camera movement of anything but a slow speed looks jerky as hell in frame mode.
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Old October 20th, 2002, 02:52 AM   #3
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Okay, I see what you're asking. Here's the link:

http://www.dvfilm.com/atlantis/

My advice would be for you to decide exactly what you want to do, first. Then you'll have some direction to determine which way to go (with the rest of the way).
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Old October 20th, 2002, 10:06 AM   #4
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<<<-- Originally posted by Josh Bass : I don't know if you were looking at the XL1s at all, but I can tell you for sure that camera movement of anything but a slow speed looks jerky as hell in frame mode. -->>>

That's what film look is about. When you watch something like Saving Private Ryan, the high shutterspeed and shooting at 24fps makes the motion a lot more jerky then at 50i or 60i, but that's part of the filmlook.

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Old October 20th, 2002, 12:35 PM   #5
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Yeah, but if you're trying to do a nice delicate tilt/pan for an establishing shot or something, that's not supposed to look like that.
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Old October 20th, 2002, 03:34 PM   #6
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That is still no effect of the XL-1s' frame mode, but the effect of the framerate. To get a smoother look you need to use a lower shutterspeed, whether you're shooting video or film. Or would you say another digital video camera shooting 25p or 30p has a smoother motion at exactly the same shutterspeed?

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Old October 20th, 2002, 07:07 PM   #7
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The XL1 in frame mode has a look of it's own. It's not entirely video, it's not film, it's XL Frame Mode. Especially when combined with good lighting and filtering it is a really nice look that does justice to any story.

Shooting at high shutter speeds in frame mode does produce a jerky effect, esspecially when there is camera movmement. At low shutter speeds, 1/50 1/60 depending on format ther blur is just enough to look smooth but retain subject focus.
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Old October 20th, 2002, 08:16 PM   #8
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A camera operator who knows what they're doing can get a smooth pan or tilt out of the XL1 in Frame mode. Whip it around and sure, it'll look funky. Excersize some care with the movement and it's just fine. Exact same principle applies to motion picture film cameras.

It is not an issue of the camera at all. It's strictly an issue of frame rate.
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Old October 20th, 2002, 09:36 PM   #9
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Chris's point shouldn't be taken lightly. I've been a big proponent of the frame mode over the years, and I've heard the debate over its supposed jerkiness. I use this mode exclusively, and I almost never see a problem..the footage nearly always looks smooth and filmic and beautiful. There are two situations where the frame mode can be a problem (and they are the same situations that would cause similar problems for film, or other progressive scan systems like the panasonic ag-dvx100)

1. Fast rotational movements caused by poor hand held photography. The xl1s doesn't have as much of this problem as say the smaller gl1/gl2. Its greater mass and shoulder mount keep it more stable, and less likely to tip and wiggle. With the gl2, I always shoot handheld using a shoulder mount to eliminate this problem.

2. Panning or tilting the camera across high contrast linear elements that are perpendicular to the camera movement. In this situation, virtually any pan, slow to medium in speed will see some amount of strobing. Often, if you pan very quickly, these lines will blur, and strobing will not occur. Recently, I have seen this situation occur in several theatrical films...and they strobed just as bad, (Actually worse) than the frame mode.

The real problem here is not the frame mode...it's the camera operator. You rarely see this problem on film, because the camera operators are disciplined, experienced professionals, and they know the limits of their medium. A good chunk of us using the xl1s and gl1/2 are significantly less experienced, yet we wonder why the camera alone won't give us the magical "filmlook" we desire.

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Old October 20th, 2002, 11:42 PM   #10
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Yes, but how does one strike a balance?

If you lower your shutter speed (to smooth out);

You then choke down the aperture (to get the exposure right);

the result is a bigger DOF, right? (which gets away from the film look)

I know we can add neutral density filters to try to keep the iris open...

What about big changes in lighting? Day shots, night shots...

Is there a logical way to approach a balance in all this?
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Old October 21st, 2002, 12:14 AM   #11
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Do what Hollywood does in these situations: just add light.

Even the darkest of the dark shadowy film noir thrillers were actually saturated with light during shooting.

And their camera movements are elegant, deliberate, and look like there's some mass behind them.
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Old October 21st, 2002, 12:24 AM   #12
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So, plenty of light while using heavy filters?

If not, how can you keep the iris open for shallow DOF?

Thanks for your help!
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Old October 21st, 2002, 12:25 AM   #13
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On the XL1 (don't have an XL1s or GL2 here to check on) but when you kick it into frame mode, it doesn't allow digital effects such as slow shutter speed.

BTW, I've been able to get some monster whip pans with the XL1 and get it to blur/smear nicely. I use this technique to do hidden cuts, panning to a dark area, then starting my next shot from a dark area. I've had results that are seamless 180 degree turns stitching two locations into a single shot.

Then there are times when using the stock 16x IS lens, that the stabilization was left on and I didn't know it, nor thought to check with it. When I looked at the footage, I had a fit cause THE take was ruined due to the I.S. trying to compensate for the whip pan on the tripod, bobbing back and forth as the pan slowed to a stop. I fancied thoughts of locking the lens with no IS and then ripping off the toggle switch. When I did the pickup shot, I made sure I went with a freshly purchased manual 14x.

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Old October 21st, 2002, 12:36 AM   #14
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Ah yes, the Golden Rule of O.I.S. -- always turn it off when you're on a tripod!
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Old October 21st, 2002, 12:53 AM   #15
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I sorry, but I disagree about the comments regarding jerkiness in frame mode. At a shutter speed of 1/60, (at 1/30 frame mode doesn't look like frame mode at all, to me, it looks like 60i --as far as smoothness of movement. I accidentally shot this way and it just looks like regular video) you can be outside, doing a moderately paced pan across any surface you want, on a tripod, (this is just an example, it could be anywhere) and the movement just looks funky. I don't mean it looks like the camera itself is jerking around, but the pan movement looks like poo. I've watched a monitor. Maybe this is the problem. When I say monitor, I mean magnavox TV. I'm sorry if I've pissed everyone off because my monitor has mislead me.
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