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Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XL H1S (with SDI), Canon XL H1A (without SDI). Also XL H1.

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Old March 30th, 2007, 02:40 PM   #1
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Aesthetics of 24P(F)

This may be ill informed, but its an honest question. I have had my XL-H1 for several months and shot footage on average several times a week, and have used a variety of modes (60i, 30F, 24F). This was the first camera I have owned that does 24P(F). I was initially pretty jazzed about this wonderful “film” look, but as time has gone on, and the more I shot, the less I use it.

(Facial close up, then a wavy screen as we go back to the past…)
About a year or so ago, I remember going to a friend of a friends house. I was told this person was an audiophile, so I expected an amazing music collection, speakers and stereo at his place. When we got there, the guy starting going though an impressive collection of music, almost all of it was on vinyl records. I asked him if he preferred CDs to LPs, and got a earful.. Most of the rest to the night was dedicated to telling me how bad CDs were as he would demonstrate by going back and forth from CDs to vinyl. I nodded, it wasn’t really important to me, but it was to him. I’m about 50 now, so a good portion of my life was spent listening to LPs, it wasn’t a new experience. I do know that 24 bits sounds superior to 16, my hearing is terrible and I can tell the difference. But either to me are more accurate reproductions than vinyl. When we left, I reflected that what I believed they guy to be attached to was the warmth of the sound, which was in fact not a true “reproduction” of the sound source, but just an limitation of the technology used to reproduce the music. To be honest, it is distortion.

I’m really feeling this way about 24P(F), almost everything I shoot in 30F I feel is superior, easier on the eyes, more fluent. There have been a few things I shot in 24F that I thought may have been better, but in hindsight, maybe because I was trying to reproduce a “nostalgic” feeling, and the film feel does that. I think I could have reproduced this feeling a bit more crassly if I had used the “film scratches and dust” effect. I’m curious, how do you feel about this? I know that if you go from tape to film transfers (which I don’t do) it’s required to be compatible with all the “old” technology projectors, but aside from that are there any real benefits. Do a lot of people really believe in this is somehow superior, or are others like myself feeling like its generally hype unless you need to go to film. I guess I’m wondering if people are just attached to the distortion because they are used to it. I'm not trying to get flamed, but am asking an honest question. Am I missing something? What modes do you use and why?


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Old March 30th, 2007, 05:15 PM   #2
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Hollywood experimented with shooting 30fps in the 60's. I know that Oklahoma was shot twice. One take was with a 24fps camera. The second take was with a 30fps camera. Most tests at that time said that audiences preferred the increased frame rate (less strobing).

But, ultimately, the studios and the theater owners quashed the idea. I guess the studios didn't like the 25% increase in film costs. I'm not sure why the theater owners didn't like the idea. For them it was just a matter of replacing the governor on their projectors with a 30fps one.
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Old March 31st, 2007, 12:37 PM   #3
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Personally, this is how I feel about it:

30p: good
24p: bad
60i: ugly

Your mileage may vary.
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Old April 1st, 2007, 06:10 PM   #4
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I have the XH-A1, but since the X1 and A1 have similar (the same??) chips and processing, I'll respond.

I have shot hours and hours of 30f, a few tapes of 24f, and zero 60i (and likely never will use it). For nearly anything with motion, I liked the faster frame rate. The upside of 24f is being able to shoot down at 1/48 or even 1/24 without things becoming too "dazed and confused" looking. However, there is motion blur (just not the "trippy" kind).

Sometimes, in marginal lighting conditions, a shoot will look better (cleaner, really) at 1/48 and 0db gain than with 1/60 and 3 or 6db of gain. So 24f gives you some extra exposure to play with.

There's also the fact that fewer frames would theoretically compress better, for fewer artifacts. And if I had to do a bunch of rotoscoping or something, 24 frames vs. 30 per second could really add up.

But so far I'm very pleased with 30f and will not likely change the setting unless the situation direly calls for it.

I agree with your stance, Brian. 24p is not some "Holy Grail" in my book, either. Just some holdover of technology that got bandied about for too long. Now... Progressive shooting is the Holy Grail to me. And now we got that in spades! I just love those gorgeous, massive, discreet frames. And Canon really did some magic to give them to us, IMHO.

My take,
Brian Brown
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Old April 1st, 2007, 09:36 PM   #5
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Just something to think about...
Another consideration for using 24P over 30P is when the footage is intended for Internet delivery. We looked at the amount of bandwidth saved simply by working in 24P, when added up it can be a substantial amount. It might sound like a small savings, but with 250K to 1 million hits a year, streaming bandwidth can get costly. Plus a reduction in drive space when working with 24P in any format, more so in uncompressed compared to 30P & 60P (speaking in terms of the HD250 here), and last the time saved during post renders.

The funny part is, even with all that said and done, regardless of the benefits of using 24P for web formatted content (now 90% of our delivery), I STILL work in 30P more times than not simply because I prefer the esthetics and workflow. Go figure. ;)

On that same point, I just finished watching 2 hours of footage shot with the H1 comparing these two frame rates while evaluating the camera. One tape was shot intirely in 24P and the other in 30P. Hands down I preferred the look and fluid motion of the 30P tape when comparing the same scene/motion. The look of shooting in 24P on the H1 no more added to the "film look" than did shooting 24P on the JVC HD250. When viewed on a good studio monitor, both cameras looked better in my opinion at 30P.

Unless specifically requested by a customer, or as Brian Brown mentioned, we need the extra stop of light (the later I learned to be true of the JVC, not yet tested with the Canon), we will continue to use 30P wherever and whenever possible.

Our eyes allow us to see the world - The lens allows others to see the world through our eyes.
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 03:18 AM   #6
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I am thinking of getting the NTSC update for my PAL model. This will give me 30F and 24F. I now only have 25F (and 50i of course).

But all of you are shooting in 30F? I also heard that a lot of people recommended shooting 50i/60i and go to 24p/30p in post.
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Old November 22nd, 2007, 11:03 AM   #7
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In another life I used to shoot big budget commercials (in the late 80's & early 90's) in 35mm with an Arriflex that had the 30fps option - this was usually at the request of the client or the agency, but it was a fad that proved too expensive for longer projects (35mm - or even 16mm - film stock is very expensive, and if you can save 1/5th of the cost, that's a good thing) and eventually all but died out, even in commercial production.

Today, many commercials are shot in HD at 24p intentionally to have a film look - strangely, many car commercials (which were the biggest advocates of 30fps) now shoot at 24 - I just saw one shooting yesterday near my home on the Monterey Peninsula...

30 good, 24 bad, 60i ugly - I don't think so... I live over the hill from Clint Eastwood, and last time I looked he was shooting 24fps...

Roget's theory of persistance of vision is at the base of all of this... originally films were shot at 16fps, because that was deemed the slowest frame rate at which the human eye would "blur" the frames into movement (not a technical description, but you get the idea). When sound came in, the frame rate increased to 24fps, not because of flicker, but because the film needed to move faster through the projectors to avoid wow and flutter on the sound track...

But it is entirely subjective. I shot, as I said above, everything with the Canons for over a year at 60i and was very pleased - and never ran into "broadcast standards" problems, which can be an issue with the p's, both 24 and 30...

I am currently shooting 720/24pn with Panasonic cameras because I am making a feature documentary that will (possibly - I am a realist) end up on 35... With the P2 cards, 720/24pn allows more card space and allows slow motion, which I'm doing a lot of...

You really have to try things and look at them and make your own decisions - unless, of course, you have a specific request from a client - but even then it's good to be aware of the options..
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