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Video Monitors and Media Players for field or studio use (all display technologies).


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Old August 18th, 2004, 01:52 PM   #1
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handheld TV as preview/framing monitor

I've noticed that you can pick up a small handheld TV on eBay dirt cheap, and I'm wondering if anyone here has any suggestions for or against this. Some of them do have composite video inputs, and for those that don't I figured I could rig up a small RF modulator (wouldn't be the first time I've come up with some crazy electronics design). Also, a low-power video transmitter would make it wireless (though I'm hesitant to start transmitting my live video over standard TV frequencies).

Mostly I'm just looking for a cheap preview monitor for the jib I'm building (which will hold my new Canon GL2). I do have a Canon Optura20 camera I could use, but I'd like to keep it free for shooting alternative angles when I'm working on multi-cam live shoots. The ability to operate it off of battery power is also important.

Any other suggestions for <$100 screens?

Thanks to everyone here. I've been browsing for several weeks now and have dug up a ton of useful info on everything DV.
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Old August 19th, 2004, 02:17 AM   #2
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That should work fine. It might not be (very) accurate in the
color department and don't forget you'll need to power it.
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Old August 19th, 2004, 11:27 AM   #3
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Hi Jeremy. Many of those handheld units do incorporate an input. I would recommend this over using a transmitter; it's very frustrating to work off a transmitted image when attempting to frame a shot (RF hits can cause the picture to break up or shift, which is very distracting). If you do choose to go that route, there are some very inexpensive transmitters out there--try supercircuits.com. As far as your hesitation, if it has to do with others being able to pick up your signal, consider that these class of transmitters have a pretty short useable distance, and most people have cable/satellite these days. There is a potential issue if you are using a frequency that requires a license and you don't have one.

One thing to think about is that the handheld units have very small screens for framing purposes. There are quite a few in the 4"-6.4" range that are better suited for this; they generally require 12v which would require an external battery pack. And they will usually cost more than $100.

Good luck!
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Old August 19th, 2004, 01:22 PM   #4
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One thing I'd like to add: keep in mind that TV's overscan. So
you are NOT seeing the full picture. This should not be too much
of a problem when you are shooting for TV distribution since
all TV's have that, but you might get things inside the frame
you can't see (the classic thing being the microphone).
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Old August 19th, 2004, 01:45 PM   #5
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handheld TVs, overscanning, etc.

I understand what you mean about TV's overscanning -- I got in trouble with that the first time I produced a computer-animated slideshow (I didn't leave room for this so stuff was "falling" off the edge of the screen).

I've actually noticed that the LCD screen on my Optura20 even has this problem. Things that I thought were just outside of the image (on the LCD or viewfinder) can still be seen on the edge of the captured image (once I import it into Premiere). I haven't checked the GL2 specifically for this yet.

Are monitors specifically made for this kind of viewing better with the underscanning issue? What recommendations do you have for outside viewing (since this is where I'll likely be using the crane)? How much should I expect to spend on a descent (not overly-extravagant) battery-powered monitor?

Thanks!
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Old August 19th, 2004, 02:09 PM   #6
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Perhaps you could check on the LCD side? Ok, LCD are not really color accurate, but for framing and focus, it works pretty well and the light weight is a big plus.

The Varizoom monitors are not so expensive, let you see the entire frame, and works on battery. With the sun hood, it does a decent job outside.
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Old August 19th, 2004, 05:10 PM   #7
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Another approach might be to use a long firewire cable to a laptop for a monitor. On the Mac I use BTV Pro as a cheap field monitor. It shows the full frame and you can fully adjust the image size and aspect ratio (nice for 16:9). It will also record directly to the hard drive. This software if Mac-only, but I gather there are similar applications that run under Windows.

To the best of my knowledge, all of the prosumer cameras have LCD screens and viewfinders that overscan. I imagine most of us have been "bitten" by this at one time or another... I know I have! Look in the XL-2 group for a thread where people are lamenting that its viewfinder overscans.
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Old August 20th, 2004, 12:36 AM   #8
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This is really a technicality, but I wouldn't want any of us to misunderstand each other here..."underscan" means seeing all of the TV raster. "Overscan" is what most TV's and LCD screens do, i.e. not show you the whole picture. For example: the XL1 series viewfinders overscan, while the FU-1000 viewfinder underscans.
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Old August 20th, 2004, 07:15 AM   #9
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Arrgh, you're right... was typing without thinking again! Have edited my post accordingly :-)
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Old August 24th, 2004, 09:37 AM   #10
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Thanks for catching that Charles. Sometimes these terms get
mixed up. I've changed my post as well, I can edit yours as well
Jeremy if you want.
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Old August 24th, 2004, 09:54 AM   #11
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Re: handheld TV as preview/framing monitor

<<<-- Originally posted by Jeremy Davidson :
Mostly I'm just looking for a cheap preview monitor for the jib I'm building (which will hold my new Canon GL2). . -->>>

Hi Jeremy
I'm also looking at (I'm in the planning stages) building a jib, too. I'm wondering what sort of design you are pursuing--one with cables and pulleys, the parallelogram type, or something else? I think I'm going as light as possible, with cable and pulley.

For a monitor, I've been eyeing those 5 inch black and white portable TVs. I've seen them locally for less than $30.

Plenty of interesting sites out there about homebuilt jibs, I'm sure you've seen them...

Chris
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Old August 27th, 2004, 08:56 AM   #12
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Chris, my jib is actually almost complete. It's an all-metal construction using the "parallelogram" style you mentioned. It's not the lightest thing around (as far as weight goes), but I'm kinda hoping that fact will work in my favor and improve stability. I'm a little concerned about the main arm flexing (even though it's made of 1" perforated square tubing), but I haven't finished it to the point where I can try it out yet. If I can find time I'll post some pictures of it once it's done.

As for the monitor, I'm debating whether to go B/W or color. I understand it's easier to discern focus on a B/W screen, but I'm also concerned about making sure I'm getting a proper white balance and exposure. For the time being I may just use my other camera with its flip-out screen (though I'd really like to keep it available for shooting alternate angles, etc.).

After spending this much on my GL2 it may be better for me to just save up a little more and go for one of those Varizoom screens. If you do go for one of those B/W screens, be sure to post after using it for awhile and let us know how well it works. I'll do the same when I pick something up.

Rob, if you'd like to correct my previous post that'd be fine. Thanks!
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Old September 15th, 2004, 08:31 AM   #13
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Well, Jeremy, my jib is close to being finished. It's been a real challenge (and a great deal of fun)--something that seems quite simple, but has a lot of tiny (but VERY important) details. But it looks like it's going to work OK.

I still haven't figured out what to do for a monitor. Ideally, I'd like to get a small (4"-7") LCD monitor, but they can cost a bit more than I can afford right now. I'd attach it to the tripod, on a gimbaled mount. Color would be fine, but I've also thought of getting a black and white one--security companies have these, they sell them as a part of a package for things like RVs equipped with closed circuit TVs (so the driver can see behind him when he backs up). But I haven't found a source that will sell one of those seperately. The quality needn't be great--just need it as a framing guide. Most seem to be made made for in-car use (12volts DC, makes it easier to make a battery pack for it...)

I've also looked at the PS2/Xbox angle--there are add-on LCD screens for these systems, and most have s-video and/or composite inputs. Some of those can be had for cheaper on eBay (store returns etc) but they have speakers, which I don't need for this application. Would need to rig a battery pack for those, just like the other LCDs...

And I've bid on a few 5" black and white portable TVs, but not won one yet. Like it to be as compact as possible. Been hanging out in pawnshops, too.

I guess the thing REALLY holding me back from getting a smaller (maybe 4 or 5.6") LCD is that I'm worried that I wouldn't actually use it much once the rig is finished, and so would be a bit of a waste of money. I can only see using the jib infrequently at best--certainly not for every shoot.

Jeremy--did you come to a conclusion about your monitor?
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Old September 16th, 2004, 02:34 PM   #14
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For the moment I'm using my other video camera (a Canon Optura20) as a viewscreen, linked via the A/V connection. It's a little weird having head-up displays from both cameras being displayed on-screen, but it works OK. The part that I miss is not having the zebra stripes (which apparently only show on the GL2's display or viewfinder and not the A/V output).

I built a simple arm that swings out from the center pivot point that holds the camera/viewer. This way it stays with me as I rotate the boom around, but it doesn't change angle as I go up and down (LCD viewing angle stays the same).

I've settled on a six-foot arm for now. I tried to join an additional three-foot section onto the end, but the joint (bolted together) was flexing too much to be useful. I may try again after I finish this project, but it's enough for now. I have some other modifications I'd like to try, but I also see that it's going to take lots of practice to get really good shots with it.

I still plan to post pictures, but it may be awhile as I have a very important project to finish in the next week.
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Old September 16th, 2004, 08:09 PM   #15
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Thanks for the update Jeremy!
I just bought a 5" black and white portable TV at Best Buy for $30, it'll do fine for now. In contrast to the issue of having double the amount of display items shown on screen, none are shown with my setup. It's fine that way.

The TV is light enough that I might even hang it from my neck, so I'll have it resting on my chest as I shoot. It'll look goofy as hell, but hey!

Love to get a dedicated LCD in the future. One thing at a time....

Chris
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