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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old January 1st, 2009, 01:30 PM   #1
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Wondering if I should make the switch to HD

For all of you HD users, could you give me your input and advice. I'm on the fence if I should make the switch to HD this year. I'm shooting with PD-170's and love the footage i get from them. I don't want to spend the money only to be let down with the performance, especially with the low light of the receptions. And do you think it's worth the investment to switch? I'm curious as to how much a bride actually cares to what format their wedding is filmed in.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 02:06 PM   #2
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I'm a former vx2100 user and am using a xh-a1 now, if you want low light I would buy a sony fx1000 as that one comes most close to your camera in low light.
Otherwise any HD camera will be an improvement when doing 16:9, as they don't have to letterbox they have more resolution if you burn onto dvd. At least that's what I have seen, especially when the lens is wide you clearly see that a 16:9 lens vs 4:3 letterboxed gives you more detail.
Another thing to consider, most hd camera's in the xh-a1, fx1000, hmc150 class have a much wider lens compared to your PD.

The reason why i switched to hd last year was that I had 2 clients complaining that my vx2100 footage didn't look "sharp" on their large lcd screens, since I use my xh-a1 I see that even in SD it is noticeably sharper so for me it's a good investment, it does struggle more then my vx2100 in low light but not that it becomes a problem.

You only need to consider if you are going to upgrade to a hdv or avchd camera as the last one is more demanding when it comes to soft- and hardware.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 03:17 PM   #3
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A1

I was thinking of getting the xh A1 if I made the transition, but then I read up on the sony fx1000 or the z5u, and they would be much better in low light. But the fact that the xh a1's are pretty cheap right now in the used marketplace makes them appealing.
Does the a1 hold you back during the receptions? I tend not to use lights, so that's something that I need to keep in mind. But it seems like the sony cams might be worth the extra investment.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 03:34 PM   #4
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You don't have xlr on the fx1000 so that's worth considering. I did do a wedding a month or 2 ago with very low light and I was surprised at what the canon could do, I filmed at 25f at 1/25 shutter and +6db gain which is about the max the camera can take in low light without your footage getting to grainy and I thought it went really well. Actually I prefered the canons footage over the vx2100, sure the Sony is more light sensitive but it also gets very grainy if you don't limit the gain.
During the reception I managed to film without extra light but when it got later they dimmed the lights almost completely and then I always use my Swit light, as that one is dimmable I can choose how much light is needed without blinding the guests too much.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 03:49 PM   #5
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Okay, so if you were to get new HD cams would you be more inclined to pay the extra money for the sony cams, or after using the a1, would you just stick with those? It's a big investment so I want to get something that I will like using and not regret after a few shoots.

Thanks for your input
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Old January 1st, 2009, 04:13 PM   #6
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Can't answer that one for you as the only experience I have with the Sony HD cams is the info I pick up on this forum, it's only on the canon I have hands on experience.
I would try to find someone in your area who owns this camera to make some comparison footage with your PD.

If you would ask a mac owner what the best "pc" is, guess what his answer will be :) It's allways best to see for yourself and make a decision based on that.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 05:18 PM   #7
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Keep in mind that sticking with your current brand of cameras could ease the transition, by allowing you to use your existing batteries and have fewer issues mixing footage between old and new cameras. For example, you could buy one FX1000 to use with your PD170s, and then take your time considering whether to invest in other HD gear. If you buy another brand of HD camera you'll be more likely to feel pressured to move forward with a second one and ditch the PD170s, before you're sure whether that's worth the investment.

Going HD seems increasingly sensible as more and more customers invest in widescreen HDTVs, for which cameras like the PD170 are less than ideal. But if you have enough business shooting in SD and customers aren't asking about HD, you can take your time upgrading.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 05:46 PM   #8
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I used to have a 170 as well and decided to make the switch to HD... so I bought a Z1u... and just shot 4:3 SD with it until I got another Z1.

The low light DOES suck... but you can knock the shutter down to 1/30 and bump the gain to 6db and be okay... unless you're shooting in a cave.

I think the reason I made the switch was to have it all 16:9 rather than 4:3. Was it worth the money? Sometimes yes... sometimes no. I would borrow or rent a camera before committing to buying it.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 01:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Swan View Post
For all of you HD users, could you give me your input and advice. I'm on the fence if I should make the switch to HD this year. I'm shooting with PD-170's and love the footage i get from them. I don't want to spend the money only to be let down with the performance, especially with the low light of the receptions. And do you think it's worth the investment to switch? I'm curious as to how much a bride actually cares to what format their wedding is filmed in.
interestingly enough, I just finished cutting my first promo (SD in 16:9) from all sorts of footage from about 7 different cameras (GL2, Panasonic GS320, Canon Optura, some Sony handy cam thing from 5 years ago, XL1, XL1s, and Sony HDR-FX1).

The best footage was from the HDR-FX1 and the GS320. Both are native 16:9 so all the GL2 footage which was shot in native 4:3 had to be cropped to 16:9 and stretched to eliminate the 10 pixel bars on either side that make up the difference between the PARs of the SD vs HD footage.

The HDRFX1 had two different clips, one shot in HD (editing with the M2t file on the timeline) and the other shot in SD 16:9. Both of those shots looked better than anything else on the timeline. The GS320 came in second, despite being a piece of crap camera. I think because it was a native 16:9 it just looked so much better with out all the stretching & cropping.

I personally am just waiting to see if I get enough clients at this weekends wedding show to afford paying the bills. I'll worry about the jump to hyperspace, er... HD, after those basics are met.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 01:47 AM   #10
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I made the switch in June, and have been pitching HD to couples since then. To date I have not had a single couple interested in HD. I'm actually quite surprised. I didn't expect big numbers for HD, but I was thinking maybe 20-25% would at the very least express interest.

Nothing. I can't speak for your market, but in mine HD seems to be of little concern to brides. Maybe in a few more years.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 04:15 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
To date I have not had a single couple interested in HD. I'm actually quite surprised
I don't think you should be surprised Travis. They want a film from you that they can play *anywhere*, and at the moment SD DVD answers this just beautifully. They can post the DVDs to friends secure in the knowledge that they'll play under the TV and in the PC, they can give them to Auntie Flo and know she'll be able to play it too.

To Josh I'd say - get into 16:9 right this minute. Not sure about the shape of the TVs where you live, but it's been a long time since decent sized 4:3 TVs were sold in Europe.

tom.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 06:49 AM   #12
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This is an interesting question and the one thing that struck me, having made the move to HD in late 2007, is that it ends up being about much more than the camera you use. The yummy slippery slope of creating HD content may require that you upgrade your computer hardware and software and ultimately adding a BD burner and a standalone player to check your final projects. That needs to be part of your budgeting process.

It also means that you must rethink your workflows because you'll likely want to output your HD projects in both HD and SD. There are technical challenges there, and to be honest, I haven't sussed out an optical solution yet. Dual format output doesn't have to double your workload, but if not done right, it can.

I shot exactly one wedding in 2008 and the B&G wanted BD. They came back to me in the middle of the post production process and said they wanted some SD DVDs for Auntie Flo and others that haven't gone HD yet. Knowing that up front would have simplified my life some, but since I shot progressive the downresing to SD wasn't that hard.

To be fair, the groom owns a high end home entertainment biz that specializes in custom HD home theater installation so it's not surprising that he wanted HD.

In sum, my long and rambling post means that there's more to consider than just what you shoot with if you're moving to HD. You can take a little bite and shoot in HD and down convert everything to SD for editing, but isn't it possible that a future client will see the "HD" printed on your camera and want some? Plus HD just looks so much better than SD that I'd personally much prefer delivering projects in HD when I can. Like I said... slippery slope.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 08:28 AM   #13
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HD all the way !

At least here in the US, I'm starting to see HD as a competitive benefit as clients are starting to ask if I "shoot in HD" My current setup is a DVX100 + HV30s (Canon GL2 has been sold) I'm on a slow migration to HD and I plan to shoot 100% in HD for the 09 season. Tapeless media is also a must as I've dealt way too many mysterious tape drop outs with my DVX in the past season, everything short of a head replacement has been attempted to no vail.

I've worked HD prosumer cams in several projects and I can say that the HD format does make a huge difference on the final video regardless of whether you deliver on BlueRay. Even the little HV30 + Letus 35 (in good light) produces work that surpasses what can be achieved with my DVX..

I've worked with the PD170 so I'm familiar with the potential of that camera. I don't think you will be disappointed with any of the current HD prosumer offerings. The Panasonic HMC150 is suppose to have significantly better low light/high gain performance than other HD prosumer cams.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 10:12 AM   #14
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Tom, you are right about the TV's being sold. 16:9 seems like the way to go regardless which format I'm filming on the HD cams. I've been thinking a lot about that lately, especially after what Noa and Kevin were saying about people having big LCD screens now, and how the PD-170 is less than ideal for viewing on screens such as those. Especially with big screens being so cheap now, I'm guessing most of my client-el will be viewing on bigger screens than in past years.

Yang, I was thinking the same, I think that it will be a competitive benefit. I'm sure some will like it delivered in HD but I'm guessing it will give me more of an edge just saying that I'm shooting in HD. I'm sure most brides don't even care if it's delivered in HD, just the "term" HD might help give me more of an edge on the competition.

So to all of you guys again. Are you shooting in HD then down converting to SD in post?

Thanks for all your input.

Last edited by Josh Swan; January 2nd, 2009 at 02:41 PM.
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 10:26 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Josh Swan View Post
Especially with big screens being so cheap now, I'm guessing most of my client-el will be viewing on bigger screens than in past years.
Quite correct. Any wedding couple that can afford to hire a videographer on top of the stills tog, a stretched limo, honeymoon in The Maldives, buy bridesmaid dresses, two gold rings, flowers for the church, a slap-up meal for 120 guests, rock band and string quartet, candles, chocolate fountain and so on...

...sure as hell don't come back from honeymoon to switch on an old 4:3 CRT.

tom.
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