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-   -   Xl2 For Independent Film (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-xl-gl-series-dv-camcorders/32349-xl2-independent-film.html)

Alex Cano September 22nd, 2004 10:08 AM

Xl2 For Independent Film
 
Hello, I've been browsing this site (and DVXuser.com) ever since the XL2 was announced, and I finally feel ready to ask some intelligent questions. I hope that you can help me out.

I'm a filmmaker, in the past I've made short films in 16mm, but due to budgetary reasons, I want to tackle a feature length film using miniDV, which I've never used before, and know nothing about when it comes to technical issues.

I'm looking for the best camera on the market to do it. I don't own anything yet so I'm wide open to any camera. What I'm looking for is the camera that can best aproximate the look of film. I have a $22,000 budget, and want to shoot native widescreen, 24p, be able to have a shallower depth of field, etc. I would like to leave open the possibility of a transfer to film, although it'll probably go straight to video. I've studied "Pieces of April (PD150?)" "28 Days Later (XL1)" "Spellbound (XL1)" "Tadpole (PD150)" and other features, as well as the samples here and in other forums, and the only times that I've been blown away visually have been 1) the Seinfeld/Superman commercials shot with XL1s and mini35 w/Cooke lens (find it at www.jerry.digisle.tv/room.html) and 2) the night shoot that Johnnie did in Vienna, and that's why I'm favouring the XL2 with mini35 package, but I would like to work out some questions:

1) THE PRICE for the camera seems steep, specially with the DVX at $3,500 and Sony's FX1 coming with HD at about the same price. Would you think that the Sony HD camera might be a better buy, even without 24p, just because of the resolution? I'm afraid that in five/eight years, movies shot in SD will be unwatchable once people start buying more HD TV sets and that becomes the standard. But I would loose the 24p and film lenses, and could I still edit on Final Cut Pro? What would be the advantages/disadvantages of the XL2 vs FX1 (at least as far as specs since we haven't seen the FX1 in action)

2) FOCUS PROBLEMS have been raised, which would be catastrophic. Is the LCD screen adequate? Do I need a monitor? If so, which one's best? CRTs are better than LCDs? How do you use it while in a shoot with a very mobile camera. What cables are needed? What's the best way to check focus?

3) GREEN SCREEN COMPOSITING/EFFECTS I have heard that miniDV is bad for compositing, any word on how the XL2 performs? What are the miniDV problems in this area?

4) SETTINGS. Not sure how to explain this one exactly, but I understand that its hard to MARK a setting that you want, like a focus setting or F-stop setting. Is this true? If so, Is there a way to remedy this? Is there any attachments that can remedy this?

5) HARDER TO HIDE. Silly issue maybe, but I'm shooting in Mexico without permits, and the DVX and the FX1 seem a bit more inconspicuos. There's no way you can say that's your tourist camcorder with the XL2!

6) STEADICAM-LIKE RIGS. Much more affordable/lighter with the DVX (and potentially the FX1). I need to move fast on this film, and a rig like this would be neccesary. Which would be a good, affordable one for the XL2?

7) MUTED COLORS, MORE VIDEO-ISH IMAGE. Some people have said that, even though it provides a crisper image than the DVX, the XL2 has a more "video look" with colors a bit washed out, etc. The quickie shots I've seen (with the exception of the Vienna night footage) do point in that direction, BUT then I haven't seen an extensive tryout to aproximate film-like images, like people have tried for years with the DVX, AND I haven't seen it in action with the mini35 and film lenses. Is anyone else in this same boat, as far as the specific situation that they want to see examples of from the camera before buying one?

8) TRANSFER TO FILM. Any lab that people can recommend? I would like to get their feedback as far as the best experience (and worst I guess) in transfering, best settings, camera, conditions, etc.


Can I please get your opinions on these issues?

Also, what are the settings that you've found make the image more film-like? Are there any extensive reviews up for the XL2 against the DVX, or maybe one with the mini35 attachment on both?

Thank you very much.


Alex

Paul Figgiani September 22nd, 2004 11:31 AM

Alex,

I enjoyed reading your post...I am also considering the XL2 and I am looking forward to some indepth replies to your questions. There are lots of good people here to help that really know the deal.

-paul.
nyc

Marty Hudzik September 22nd, 2004 12:10 PM

"3) GREEN SCREEN COMPOSITING/EFFECTS I have heard that miniDV is bad for compositing, any word on how the XL2 performs? What are the miniDV problems in this area?"

I can tell you that green screen and compositing is tricky for any camera that records dvformat. The format has only 4:1:1 sampling which means it only samples the color imformation once for every 4 pixels which leaves a stair step pattern in the color channels that wreaks havoc on compositing. There are
workarounds and good results can be achieved. It is however not the ideal format for this type of work.

"5) HARDER TO HIDE. Silly issue maybe, but I'm shooting in Mexico without permits, and the DVX and the FX1 seem a bit more inconspicuos. There's no way you can say that's your tourist camcorder with the XL2!"

the XL2 will make it a little harder to shoot in public places without a permit. Hands down the DVX or other small camera will definitely draw much less attention.

7)" MUTED COLORS, MORE VIDEO-ISH IMAGE. Some people have said that, even though it provides a crisper image than the DVX, the XL2 has a more "video look" with colors a bit washed out, etc."

I wouldn't worry about muted colors. The default settings seem to error on the safe side and the colors are a little more flat. But just a few tweaks in the menu and you can have a super saturated film look.

"4) SETTINGS. Not sure how to explain this one exactly, but I understand that its hard to MARK a setting that you want, like a focus setting or F-stop setting. Is this true? If so, Is there a way to remedy this? Is there any attachments that can remedy this?"

I'm not sure what you mean but the barrel of the default lens has no marking for focal length or zoom. Since these function are servo driven the rings spin infinitely and cannot be marked for accurate reproduction of settings. A manual lens can be used for this. Also the iris on the 20x is electronic and therefore you have to toggle through your F-stops electronically. However you can easily remember your settings and reproduce them but you cannot mark them as you would on a manual iris.

I'm sure others will chime in with more useful tips but I figured I'd contribute what I know already.

Chris Hurd September 22nd, 2004 12:59 PM

For filmmaking, you'd definitely want to use the "filmmaking lens," which is either the 16x manual or the 14x manual (or if you have the budget, a rental package with the Mini-35 adapter and cinema glass).

Dan Barnhill September 22nd, 2004 01:30 PM

Ola,

Quote I got last night on the mini 35 was about 10 grand to buy. That's without a camera to attach it to. Cool setup. Pricey. But renting for a feature might be cheaper than 16mm processing. Might be. I was unsure if the $1000 rental fee was by the week or the shoot...

DVX and XL2 has no real price difference if 16x9 is going to be your main medium because of all the DVX accessories needed to make 16x9 work at quality.

You could hide the DVX in a taxidermied Chihuahua and no one would be the wiser. Totally awesome size.

But in 5 to 8 years not being able to watch any SD movies because of HD? Does that mean any movie I have now or can rent now on either VHS or DVD will be unwatchable? How the heck am I gonna watch the Marx Brothers?

The settings - I have this same issue with the markerless barrels - but there are lenses that will help you work around some of these issues - for the extra cash.

If you have permit issues and low profile issues - look more into the DVX. Even with the anamorphic and matte box it's still a pretty small camera. And I think (i'm sure i saw one when hunting around) century optics sells a flip out 16x9 screen that you can exchange with the stock screen for around $300.

db

Marty Hudzik September 22nd, 2004 01:36 PM

<<<-- Originally posted by Dan Barnhill :
. And I think (i'm sure i saw one when hunting around) century optics sells a flip out 16x9 screen that you can exchange with the stock screen for around $300.

db -->>>

Where did you see one of these puppies? I didn't think century mad anything but a anamorphic little converter for 2-3 inch screens. Cause that is something I'd like to have. Let me know or give me some clues and I will search for it.

Marty

Dan Barnhill September 22nd, 2004 01:43 PM

Marty,

Give me a few minutes to retrace my steps. I came across the link on one of the other sites. I'll hunt it down.

Dan

Marty Hudzik September 22nd, 2004 01:54 PM

I just talked to Century and they do make an anamorphic eyepiece adapter that replaced the eyepiece on the DVX. It is $395.00.

They also have a magnifier in the works for the DVX100/a that goes over the LCD and stretches the image anamorphically but it is in the development phase and is not available yet.

IF what you saw was something other than these let me know.

Thanks.

Matthew Cherry September 22nd, 2004 01:59 PM

If I may ask...

If you're going to be shooting a feature why would you use the MiniDV format? Wouldn't it make more sense to simply rent a pro DV or HD rig for the time you'll be spending shooting?

I purchased the XL2 and I love the camera in every possible way, but it also suits my purposes (training videos and web based applications) perfectly (as well as having some fun making a few shorts as a hobby). However if I were to shoot a feature, and anticipated a transfer to film, I would rent higher-end gear.

Am I off base here?

Best,

Matt

Dan Barnhill September 22nd, 2004 02:18 PM

<I just talked to Century and they do make an anamorphic eyepiece adapter that replaced the eyepiece on the DVX. It is $395.00.

IF what you saw was something other than these let me know.>

Just as I posted my bit about that I thought, "hmm - maybe I have my head up my arse, you can't get anything from C. Optics for $300."

Of course now I can't find the blasted post. I do most of my post reading late at night when I'm groggy and even goofier - I should probably take notes.

If I find it, I'll post it here.

Jim Exton September 22nd, 2004 02:59 PM

The mini 35 somebody mentioned at $1000 was the weekly rate. For a month, you should be able to get it for $3000, maybe less.

And then you still have the lenses to rent on top of it.

I am in the same boat and like somebody suggested have looked at renting something better. I assume they are talking about HD, but when you get to looking at those rental rates (about $3000 to $4000 a week, plus $1000 for a zoom), it kind of drives up the costs.

Besides, when you are done with one film, you already have spent money to buy the camera, so your next film should be less expensive.

I would talk to whoever you are going to have blow the film up and ask them what THEY think you need. If they tell you 24p and 16X9, then the XL2 sounds like the camera for you.

Regarding HDV, it is the wave of the future but are you set up for HDV editing? If so, then you might want to think about it, but if not, make sure you add the costs of an editing station into your overall budget, whether to rent or to buy. DV is cheaper in that regard.

David Lach September 22nd, 2004 03:22 PM

I'm not here to answer questions, just add more of them (talk about selfish).

Since this seems like the new "XL2 for filmmakers" thread, I thought I'd ask if somebody here ever tried himself (or know someone who did) to use 16mm film lenses with the XL1 or XL2.

I think this is a path to consider since you will probably get all the resolution the XL2 can handle out of it, the adapter can be bought at around $500 and the magnification factor is only 2x.

I don't know, there's just something about using a few Zeiss high speed primes with the XL2 that draws my interest.

Of course that could be done with the Mini35, but I cannot find a rental house that has it in Montreal, and I'd rather buy anyway if budget allows.

Dan Barnhill September 22nd, 2004 03:27 PM

<The mini 35 somebody mentioned at $1000 was the weekly rate. For a month, you should be able to get it for $3000, maybe less.

And then you still have the lenses to rent on top of it.>

Actually, the guy from ZGC said four lenses ( i think it was four) were included in the rental package.

For filmmakers working on a low budget - I wonder if we are a but premature in worrying about HD. Let an audience build itself up for that first - and that's still probably going to be a few years yet. For me, that's a few years too long to sit around and wait for the general population sweating out a sluggish economy with mixed news on unemployment to go buy overpriced TV sets for a medium with no international standards yet. But that's just me and I'm a bufoon.

Rand Michael September 22nd, 2004 04:32 PM

as far as steadicam rigs for the xl2, I am an xl2 owner and also have a steadicam flyer. The flyer is ideal for an xl2 setup. The arm on the flyer is hands down the best thing out there for the price point. I talked to long time operators at NAB and they all agreed that this is a master series quality arm packaged for small cameras.

Frank Rush @ tiffen is the contact if you are interested

-Rand

Barry Green September 22nd, 2004 06:51 PM

Quote:

the adapter can be bought at around $500 and the magnification factor is only 2x.
I haven't seen this -- where is there a 16mm lens adapter for the XL cameras? I've got a nice Zeiss 10-100 in Arri Bayonet mount that it'd be interesting to try on an XL2...

Charles Papert September 22nd, 2004 09:11 PM

Barry,

I'm sure you are aware that this will result in an effective 44-440mm in 35mm cine terms (or 72-720mm in 35mm SLR terms).

Responding to David L's comparison, mounting cine lenses via a mechanical adaptor vs the Mini35 is quite a different animal in terms of field of view and depth of field.

David, if you have interest in a rental of at least a week, let me know and perhaps we can arrange something with my Mini35. We'll just have to see how we can deal with the customs issue.

Rand: couldn't agree with you more about the Flyer, although I personally like the arm even better than the Master's! (or Ultra, as I guess we need to call it these days). Congratulations on your purchase. The XL2/Flyer combo is top-notch.

David Lach September 22nd, 2004 11:04 PM

Charles, you have a Mini35? Lucky you! Thanks for the proposition, it could interest me, I had crossed that option but if something could be worked out inside my very modest budget, I'd be all for it. I'll be shooting a short fictional movie for about 2-3 weeks in december if everything works out (we're still in pre-production).

I'll be buying the lensless XL2 soon and was juggling with the different lens options I had. Of course I would also need some glass too so I'll have to inquire for the prices on those first. We have a rental place here called Michel Trudel but since they seem to have monopoly in Montreal's film industry, their prices are nothing short of indecent. I'll try to find out if I can get a good deal on some 35mm cine lenses here.

One question, does the Mini35 adapter soften the image or does it keep all the sharpness of cine glass intact? This was my main concern with this adapter because as I understand it the camcorder does not record the image directly from the lens itself but rather records a projected image on a "fake" focal plane. Just wondering if there's significant degradation during this process.

Barry, the adapter is for Arri PL mount lenses only (16mm, S16mm and 35mm) as far as I know. There's one made by Optex selling at $600 on http://www.zgc.com/ and there's an other one at http://www.xl1solutions.com/ for $500.

Charles Papert September 23rd, 2004 12:39 AM

The Mini35 does soften the image somewhat, but it's a bit hard to quantify because you are viewing it through a video camera rather than a film camera--follow me? If we are comparing it to an optic-free PL mount adaptor, well, there really isn't a useful comparison here since they don't do the same thing as I indicated earlier.

The images from the Mini35 are beautiful, and well worth the bother and cost. To really take advantage of it, you still need to put everything in front of the lens in terms of production value. Otherwise it's just shallow-focus DV, 2 stops slower and lots of money later.

Dan Barnhill September 23rd, 2004 12:55 AM

along the lines of the mini 35-

just in case no one posted it - www.35digital.com
i have a sample footage dvd of a bunch of stuff shot with the rig. drop em a line, maybe they have more....

Alex Cano September 23rd, 2004 08:12 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Marty Hudzik : "3) GREEN SCREEN COMPOSITING/EFFECTS I have heard that miniDV is bad for compositing, any word on how the XL2 performs? What are the miniDV problems in this area?"

I can tell you that green screen and compositing is tricky for any camera that records dvformat. The format has only 4:1:1 sampling which means it only samples the color imformation once for every 4 pixels which leaves a stair step pattern in the color channels that wreaks havoc on compositing. There are
workarounds and good results can be achieved. It is however not the ideal format for this type of work. -->>>

Wow, I want to thank everybody who has chimed in, I've read all your posts a few times and jotted down some notes.

Marty, I don't have many FX shots in my film, but the few that I have would help me a lot in containing the budget. What "workarounds" can I use, since I'm pretty certain that I can't afford any other medium at the moment? Is there a book that you can recommend, that deals with miniDV filming for green screen and other compositing? My results don't have to be ultra-realistic, because I'm going for a heightened-reality, magical realism feel. But I'll try to make them as well as I can.

ANOTHER QUESTION I forgot to ask, can you shoot with slow motion on the XL2? If not, can you "fake it" in post in any way that is professional looking? What about "time lapse"?

Thank you,

Alex

Barry Green September 23rd, 2004 09:03 AM

The XL2 is one of only two prosumer cameras that can shoot real, genuine film-style slow motion (the other being the DVX). Shoot 30P and bring it into a 24P timeline, play it at 80% speed, and you'll have a frame-accurate 30fps slow motion sequence. It's not very slow, it's only about 25% slower than normal, but it's full resolution and no interpolation.

The other option is to shoot 60i and import that into your 24P timeline. Then play that clip at 40% speed and you'll have very smooth slow motion, although at a loss of vertical resolution.

David Lach September 23rd, 2004 09:04 AM

Thanks Charles.

Yes I understand perfectly your point about DV. The medium is very limiting in terms of resolution and dynamic range. That's why the project I'm working on right now was storyboarded accordingly, with almost exclusively close to medium shots (no wide establishings) and all interior locations where the light will be controled at all time to make sure the contrast ratio never gets overboard.

Thing is, this short will either be blown to film or projected digitally in film festivals. So of course I'd love to get the shallow DOF (although that probably means less forgiving focusing and therefore I'll have to take into account I'll need a B&W CRT viewfinder) but I need to make sure I'll max out the DV capacities in terms of sharpness, so it doesn't look like crap on a big screen. Right now my mind set is about getting every bit of resolution possible out of the camcorder in order to have at least a decent looking image when projected (it'll be soft, it's inevitable, but just how much is what I'm trying to control).

That's why right now I'm wondering also about the results of 16mm cine lenses and also broadcast 2/3" lenses on the XL2. Does one give significantly sharper results? I don't know, but it's something I'd like to find out. Because theoretically, the advantage of a mechanical adapter is that there's no intermediate between the glass and the CCD system. Plus the magnification factor can also be somewhat perceived as an advantage (I'm an optimist I guess) since only the best part of the lens is used to record the image. A 7.2x magnification factor with 35mm glass is just useless for what I want to do, even if I used the Pappas system and get it down to 3x, but a 2.2x magnification factor for 16mm lenses, and even less for broadcast lenses, is something I could probably work with.

So my dilemma right now is shallow DOF VS sharpest images possible. I'd like to get both, don't know if it's possible. Of course if I could find some comparative images between the Mini35 and a mechanical adapter with either cine lenses or broadcast TV lenses (those Digiprimes would probably look awfully fine on the XL2), it could help me take a final decision. If I knew the resolution of the XL2 was already maxed out with Canon's 16x / 14x manual lenses, that would make my decision easier. But so far I've found nobody that did scientific resolution and sharpness comparisons between all the lens possibilities for Xlx camcorders.

Sorry for the rambling, I'm just thinking out loud at this point.

David Lach September 23rd, 2004 09:15 AM

Alex, what Barry said about shooting 30p for the specific sequence that needs to be slowed down is the way to go if you only need 1/4th slower footage (that is, if the rest of your footage is 24p). That right there is a distinct advantage for the NTSC XL2, since the PAL version only does 25p.

If you need significantly slower, you will either shoot 60i, or do a bit (ok a lot) of fixing in post. That means shooting 30P and using the Twixtor plug-in from Revision Effects in After Effects. Since this is a morphing based plug-in, you'll need to draw a matte around your moving subjects to avoid background distortion between the frames.

Alex Cano September 23rd, 2004 11:14 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Dan Barnhill : Ola,

Quote I got last night on the mini 35 was about 10 grand to buy. That's without a camera to attach it to. Cool setup. Pricey. But renting for a feature might be cheaper than 16mm processing. Might be. I was unsure if the $1000 rental fee was by the week or the shoot...

DVX and XL2 has no real price difference if 16x9 is going to be your main medium because of all the DVX accessories needed to make 16x9 work at quality.

You could hide the DVX in a taxidermied Chihuahua and no one would be the wiser. Totally awesome size.

But in 5 to 8 years not being able to watch any SD movies because of HD? Does that mean any movie I have now or can rent now on either VHS or DVD will be unwatchable? How the heck am I gonna watch the Marx Brothers?

The settings - I have this same issue with the markerless barrels - but there are lenses that will help you work around some of these issues - for the extra cash.

If you have permit issues and low profile issues - look more into the DVX. Even with the anamorphic and matte box it's still a pretty small camera. And I think (i'm sure i saw one when hunting around) century optics sells a flip out 16x9 screen that you can exchange with the stock screen for around $300.

db -->>>

Hola, Dan!

That's a good point about the final price if shooting 16:9, I really just want to get the best filmlike image-capturing camera at the prosumer price rance.

Regarding my point about SD in a few years, though. I meant that the image CAPTURED in SD miniDV might suffer in a higher definition delivery. To use your example (a Marx Bros movie shot in 35mm B&W) VHS tapes didn't "live up" to the real, captured image. DVD is currently better at it, and probably HD-DVD will be even better, because the source is good, the captured image in 35mm. An image captured in SD Mini DV might not fare as well in say, 5 years. That's why I'm wondering about the probable advantages of the FX-1, but it won't have 24p, no mini35 rig that doesn't go on top of video lenses, and I might have some trouble editing it in my G5/FCP home computer. Oh well.

Aaron Shaw September 23rd, 2004 12:05 PM

Alex,

How much do you have to spend greenscreeing? I've seen some amazing greenscreen work done with miniDV and Ultimatte Advantedge.

Rabi Syid September 23rd, 2004 05:25 PM

hey

i plan to use 2 Xl2's(pal) to film a feature in Dec. i was first going to get the the P+S (and still might still do) but peopl have been making there own devices and the images have been wonderfull and in comparison to the mini35. i am thinking. and i already hear people saying it wont work but as soon as i can hire a canon xl2 and my lenses, then i'll make a reasonable knock off version of the mini. i will then do tests. and i will proably film this FEATURE with home built mini 35's. with of intent of transfering it to film and getting it seen by millions over the globe. any comments on my claims are welcome. i have been working on this project since november so there isn't really anyhting i cant answer.

oh yea. there are propably 2 green screen scenes in the movie- 1 one where it has to look ******* good! i have heard the debate before about DV not being good for green screening. should i rent a better camera say and Hd or film camera. this i am unsure of as to mixing HD with DV or Film etc. the scene involes some one shooting a speargun out of a window onto a helicopter and him then being dragged off flying through the air. i shpould have a storyboard up soon anybodies interested.

Brack Craver September 23rd, 2004 07:36 PM

Hi Alex. Charles Papert, one of the guys on this thread, was a cameraman on what I think was the Seinfeld commerical you were raving about. He wrote extensively about his experience on the set for this website. Just type in Charles Papert and Seinfeld and you will find it. There are some pretty interesting folks on this messageboard. Also, the Apple Computer website has an article about a film by a guy named Graham Robertson which was shot entirely with greenscreen and dv. It's a very cool article. The film is called Able Edwards.

Don Berube September 23rd, 2004 10:34 PM

Dan Barnhill wrote:
>>>>>>>>DVX and XL2 has no real price difference if 16x9 is going to be your main medium because of all the DVX accessories needed to make 16x9 work at quality.

One should also consider that a high Signal-to-Noise Ratio is integral to creating pristine cinematic images too. Since there is no electronic stretching, cropping or interpolation on the XL2, there is remarkably less noise than one would typically find with a camera that shoots only 4:3 but electronically simulates 16:9. Since the 16:9 Mode of the XL2 is *pixel-for-pixel* a real, native anamorphic 16:9 with no cropping, interpolation or stretching of the pixels, the pixels are not compromised from capture to output and as a result, there is noticeably less noise.

If you were to make your decision based solely upon which camera provides you the most pixel power, you should remember that the 16:9 Mode of the XL2 offers 460,800 pixels per CCD, for an effective total pixel count of over 1,382,000 pixels in a real, native 16:9 aspect ratio which is pixel-for-pixel a true anamorphic 962x480 capture. That is one high detail, high resolution 16:9 capture with a high signal-to-noise ratio. (Assuming it was shot well) In 24P Mode, at 0db and default 1/48th shutter speed, the XL2 is rated at 400ASA. It should be noted that a *noise-free* 400ASA is a sweet place to be as far as filmmaking goes. Pop the XL2 to -3db Gain and you have 320ASA. Still a very sweet place to be.

Here's one example of a workflow to consider:
(Many variations of this sample workflow can be expressed, but you get the idea)
Shoot in real WYSIWIG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) native 16:9 with the XL2 in 24P or 30P. Take advantage of the XL2's Cine Gamma, Low Knee, Cine Color Matrix, Detail Settings, etc... Capture all of your footage via FireWire (using the DV Codec) and edit your timeline in anamorphic 16:9. Look at all of the coverage you have created and start cutting. Once you have your final timeline and global color-correction settings, re-batch capture the footage from your final timeline via an uncompressed 4:2:2 solution such as AJA Io or Kona LS, BMD DeckLink, etc (get out of the DV Codec). Now that you have opened up your color space, finish and sweeten your final edit uncompressed. Save that final edit to hard drive and have those pictures Up-Rezzed to a higher Def resolution. Strike a digi-beta show reel from that. Now you have a digital show reel of your film which you can submit to film festivals and which can be projected on large screen S-XGA native resolution projection systems and it will hold up... Assuming that your DP employed a nice level of craft and shot it well, you will have an *artifact-free* and remarkably noise-free digital show reel.

If you approach the issue merely from a cinematographer's standpoint - all you have to do is do the math - and look at the images, of course!

Lots of options out there. In the end, as always, pick the camera which offers the feature set which most satifies your needs and with which you feel the most comfortable.

A high level of craft is key.

Best regards,

- don

Alex Cano September 24th, 2004 10:45 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Brack Craver : Hi Alex. Charles Papert, one of the guys on this thread, was a cameraman on what I think was the Seinfeld commerical you were raving about. He wrote extensively about his experience on the set for this website. Also, the Apple Computer website has an article about a film by a guy named Graham Robertson which was shot entirely with greenscreen and dv. It's a very cool article. The film is called Able Edwards. -->>>

Thanks, Brack! I'll look for the "Able Edwards" article.

Curiously, I was surfing through the old XL1s threads last night and found a link to that article, and remembered Charles' name from this thread.

Charles, I love the footage. It's one of the reasons that made me think that making my dream project would be possible in the DV format, because its a very romantic, kind of epic-in-feel movie, and I thought video was just too harsh. Not that I'm completely sure now, but it was certainly refreshing. Folks at the DVXuser website are very passionate about the "mojo" and "filmlook" of the DVX, but to my eyes, those commercials are the only time any DV footage has come within a mile of film. ALTHOUGH, you mentioned that the reason the DV medium was chosen was that it was just going to be shown on the web. Later, I hear that it was shown on TV. How did it look there? Up to broadcast standards? Would you recommend going this route for a feature? Were you involved with the green screen work, and if so would you have any pointers on that or any general pointers on a good setup for the mini35? I'm talking ND filters, t-stops, speed of ground glass, good lenses for it (16mm or 35mm make a difference?), etc? Would love to hear your comments, like I said I'm completely new to the DV medium, but I'm very eager to learn.

<<<-- Originally posted by Aaron Shaw : Alex,
How much do you have to spend greenscreeing? I've seen some amazing greenscreen work done with miniDV and Ultimatte Advantedge. -->>>

Hey Aaron, as with many things, I know very little about the mechanics of the green screen process except for stuff I've learned on the net, although I've been impressed at what people have done recently on their home computers. All the money I have is alloted to the production value of the shoot ($22,000, I'm not including the cost of the XL2), and what I'm more interested is in the production, in-set mechanics of green screen work so I can do my shoot and get my elements correctly, and LATER during post learn to do the composites myself, knowing that my footage is ok and usable for when that time comes. I have heard a lot of good things about Ultimatte, I'll look into it, do you know the how much that goes for?

<<<-- Originally posted by Rand Michael : as far as steadicam rigs for the xl2, I am an xl2 owner and also have a steadicam flyer. The flyer is ideal for an xl2 setup.
-Rand -->>>

The tiffen.com website wasn't working properly, but is this the same set that sells in B&H for $6,999? Ouch, what would be the typical rental rate?

<<<-- Originally posted by David Lach : Thanks Charles.

Thing is, this short will either be blown to film or projected digitally in film festivals. So of course I'd love to get the shallow DOF (although that probably means less forgiving focusing and therefore I'll have to take into account I'll need a B&W CRT viewfinder) but I need to make sure I'll max out the DV capacities in terms of sharpness.

So my dilemma right now is shallow DOF VS sharpest images possible. I'd like to get both, don't know if it's possible. Of course if I could find some comparative images between the Mini35 and a mechanical adapter with either cine lenses or broadcast TV lenses (those Digiprimes would probably look awfully fine on the XL2), it could help me take a final decision. -->>>

There was a long thread in the XL1s forum about the mechanical adapter offered by places like xl1solutions.com (I think Charles was involved in that discussion) and I understood that it wasn't what it was made out to be, besides not offering the shallow depth of field that makes the mini35 so appetizing.

David, do you think that the mini35 contibutes to a softer image, or just that the mechanical adapter should (by specs if not a/b comparisons -- would love to see some) provide a crisper resolution. I would love to leave open the possibility of a blowup to 35mm, so I know what you mean that every bit counts. Just watching the trailer for "Open Water" in the theater made me queasy--that home video look coupled with the softness of the projected image... I hope we can do better with the XL2/film lens, or its straight to DVD for me ;-(

<<<-- Originally posted by David Lach : Alex, what Barry said about shooting 30p for the specific sequence that needs to be slowed down is the way to go if you only need 1/4th slower footage (that is, if the rest of your footage is 24p). That right there is a distinct advantage for the NTSC XL2, since the PAL version only does 25p.

If you need significantly slower, you will either shoot 60i, or do a bit (ok a lot) of fixing in post. That means shooting 30P and using the Twixtor plug-in from Revision Effects in After Effects. Since this is a morphing based plug-in, you'll need to draw a matte around your moving subjects to avoid background distortion between the frames. -->>>

Thanks, Barry and David,

Dave, can you explain about the "draw a matte around your moving subjects to avoid background distortion between the frames" line if I want to play around with Twixtor? How do you do that?

I apologize if these are basic questions, its just that I originally didn't expect to deal with all these issues, with an entirely different medium. On the other hand, I think some effects will save my butt. For example, I have this scene where a Circus parades though a small village in Mexico, in front of a little girl. Without the budget I originally wanted, I can't bring the circus to a small town, but I could go to the circus in my city, put up a green screen, pay them to walk in front of it with elephants and stuff and some of my own extras, and then composite that with a shot of this girl's backyard in foreground. that's another reason I wanted to shoot digital, because I could do optical solutions when, if I shot say, 16mm, I wouldn't be able to do any FX without scanning the image etc.

Enough rambling, thank you all for your continued help, I really appreciate it.

Bob Cetti September 24th, 2004 12:03 PM

This is a good discussion on workflow issues.

If you are going for the most resolution the PAL version of the XL2 offers even more imaging pixels in 16x9 with over 550,000 per each chip with over 1,650,000 pixels when you multiply by the 3.

Plus since the recording color space is 4-2-0 you get more color resolution on tape though this is on every other line. Could this be better for chroma keying than 4-1-1?

Regarding up-rezzing if you are using quicktime you could do a firewire transfer of your takes and then uprez the good ones to a higher quality format CODEC in the computer.

Working in PAL 25P seems to have resolution advantages (20%) if you are going to film. Though you have to know your workflow well to correct audio sync, pitch and other issues.

Any thoughts on working with NTSC versus PAL in mini DV and the XL2?

Bob Cetti
Audio Video Services

>>If you were to make your decision based solely upon which camera provides you the most pixel power, you should remember that the 16:9 Mode of the XL2 offers 460,800 pixels per CCD, for an effective total pixel count of over 1,382,000 pixels in a real, native 16:9 aspect ratio which is pixel-for-pixel a true anamorphic 962x480 capture. That is one high detail, high resolution 16:9 capture with a high signal-to-noise ratio. (Assuming it was shot well) In 24P Mode, at 0db and default 1/48th shutter speed, the XL2 is rated at 400ASA. It should be noted that a *noise-free* 400ASA is a sweet place to be as far as filmmaking goes. Pop the XL2 to -3db Gain and you have 320ASA. Still a very sweet place to be.<<

Charles Papert September 24th, 2004 07:50 PM

Alex:

Thanks for the nice words on the Seinfeld piece. That was a high-budget effort. I've done a few projects since that I think have some equally nice moments on a much more modest budget. For instance, we used the Cooke S4 lenses on that job, which are phenomenal; my last three Mini35 projects have been shot with 1st generation Zeiss superspeeds, which are about 20 years old and rarely seen any more. However, I'm delighted with the results.

As far as pointers...it's a long, long list, because at this point what we are really saying is "how does one shoot well?" A lot of this is predicated by the individual shot and the story and the style, so it's hard to give generic guidelines for cinematography. I've already seen poorly lit, exposed and composed shots made with DV cameras sporting 35mm lens adaptors, and I would personally rather see better crafted images with deeper DoF.

I recommend for anyone intending to output to 35mm that they shoot tests of whatever camera, format or lens system they are considering and send them to a lab that specializes in output to film, then screening the results. The stakes are really too high for this sort of thing to take anyone else's word for it.


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