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John Mercer December 31st, 2005 08:40 AM

Trying to be objective IMO
I have not posted here for a long time - I have been very busy - but I have read with interest the many forums on the new HD prosumer cameras over the last week or so, both here and elsewhere (and scrutinised extensively the various footage now available both online and in person).

What concerns me is the infighting between the various camps and champions of, usually owners, of one make or other - this I feel may be good for one or other manufacturer but is ultimately IMO detrimental to market choice and the overall filmaking/broadcast and prosumer community at our level.

I'd like to counter what I see as some of the more ludicrous hyperbole without attacking anyone or any one make. I'd like to be objective although much of what follows is my own personal preference, and as they say your mileage may differ. I do not own (yet) any one of these cameras BTW.

I currently work in broadcast TV with a DSR570, and sometimes DigiBeta and I own an XL1s (all PAL) FYI.

I think all the HD/V camcorders in this category are excellent products and are capable of truly amazing results, in the right hands, and compared to their much more expensive hi-level counterparts.

Firstly, I can see very little meaningful difference between the various footage in picture quality terms. This is to be expected they are all 1/3" chip cameras with lenses built to a price. IOW there is not enough difference for this to be the main factor in choosing between them, the picture quality difference is negligible.

This remains true of both HDV and DVCPRO HD in this category - the chips and lenses are the determining factors for me.

I feel also that from a professional point of view these cameras are of most interest to broadcasters and corporate producers. They will all make excellent tools for TV and promotion. I don't want to burst anyones bubble about features but I feel, and this is entirely my opinion, the reality is that probably 0.001% of owners will ever go to 35mm filmout. There will be (and is) lots of independent low budget films made but mainstream Hollywood is never, except under rare experimental circumstances going to use these cameras. The only mainstream dramatic feature as I see it ever to use DV (as in trying to get the best out of the format, not to degrade it by drawing attention to its consumer qualities) was 28 Days Later. HD is obviously better than SD but if you're making a feature of even a million dollars and upwards then HDCAM becomes a realistic and almost mandatory option for HD.

So without further ado I am going to list the 4 models (in the order of market release) with their various pros and cons, whilst ignoring the NLE and HD distribution mess which I feel will be resolved at some point:

SONY HVR-Z1 - an excellent HD replacement for the PD170, easy to use and good looking footage. It's main drawback is no progressive but if you don't need this (as in a lot of daytime and news broadcast TV) then it is a great workhorse. A companion deck too is a great plus point for pros - though only mini cassettes is a slight drawback. A great price for entry level pro HDV.

JVC GY-HD100 - the most professional form factor of all 4 for me (coming from a DSR570). Interchangeable lenses, robust and true progressive scan. It is also part of a complete end to end system including deck, HD monitor and even a DVD player that will accept WMV HD and M2t streams. Perhaps released to market to soon with one or two problems but this is the camera that we have tested most extensively and we like it very much - I wasn't even aware of SSE until I came here and we haven't really noticed it since. There was a dead pixel but that was sorted very quickly. Ok its only 720p but that compares very favourably with 1080i in resolution terms and we love true progressive scan with full 1280 x 720 raster scaling. The lens has been slated but what do you expect for an $800 essentially SD lens - with the wide angle HD lens or a new standard HD lens (due soon) you have a very good HD/SD camcorder for about $15000 - a lot for some but the next step up is significant in pro terms. The SD footage from this camera was better IMO than what we get from the DSR570. Interestingly the actual owners of this camera who are more than satisfied with it far outweigh those owners who dislike it, for all its bad press.

CANON XL H1 - I love my XL1s and I like very much the similar form factor of this one. Interchangeable lenses a big plus but I would prefer a non proprietry mount like the JVC, although this lens is better than the one provided with the JVC. HD-SDI and genlock is going to make it very attractive to broadcasters. 1080i is great and from what I've seen of the footage 24f is a very very good compromise for progressive - 'frame mode' acquisition with true 24p encoding - although it is not true 1080p resolution. There is however no deck for 24f and I would hate to use this as a feeder to an NLE - big negative point for me. Can do everything the SONY can with a host of extras though at a much higher price.

PANASONIC AG-HVX200 - built upon the very successful and good DVX100, I'm sure its going to be a huge hit. I like the 4:2:2 DVCPRO HD codec and MXF workflow - very robust and currently the most useful in NLEs - although it's downscaling raster implementation is not ideal particularly in 720p. I love the choice of 720p/1080i and 1080p with variable framerates - no other camera comes close to this flexibility. The P2 card system is innovatory too but I feel cumbersome in long form production although DTE solutions may obviate this. The lack of interchangeable lens for its intended use (narrative fiction and glossy entertainment) and handycam form factor are huge drawbacks for me - I know the lens is probably quite good (seems to be from the footage) but I would choose the JVC first for these very reasons. However like the SONY it is going to extremely useful in broadcasting: MTV, pop promos and arts/history programming. The lack of a cheap mastering solution may be a drawback for some too - the cheapest DVCPRO HD deck is about $20,000. Overall though an excellent and innovative camera.

IOW they're all good in different ways for different uses and when the post-production and distibution workflow gets sorted they will all make powerful tools. As I said in the title 'trying to be objective IMO' if that's not too much of an oxymoron. I am not going to get into a debate about the details of which one is best, it is more of a plea for us to promote all of these tools whilst obviously not being blind to their faults, so that we can push the various manufacturers to improve their products. But if we give too much bad press to one or the other simply because we own one or the other or are a 'fan' of one make over the other then we might see some otherwise excellent product die and disappear from the market with no equivalent alternative for those who need that combination of particular features.

Robert Niemann December 31st, 2005 09:02 AM

John, what do you think about resolution and film-like images? Which one is the best in these categories?

John Mercer December 31st, 2005 09:53 AM

Hi Robert,

"what do you think about resolution and film-like images? Which one is the best in these categories?"

I think 'film-like' images are most producible with those cameras featuring progressive scan for me - so for me the SONY is the least film like in these terms.

The JVC produced excellent film like images for us once we had tweaked the settings (basically putting it in to 'cine' matrix setting). It had nice glowing highlights and rich colours. The footage I have seen from the HVX200 also produces very nice crisp film like images. The Canon seems very good too but I do notice a resolution hit, albeit very slight, from 1080i to 24f. I basically think all three in the right hands could be used very happily to produce a film look.

In terms of resolution they are all as I said very very close to me. If you have to scrutinize to see any difference as I did then you know this to be the case. 1/3" chip cameras will look pretty much like any other 1/3" chip cameras IMO excepting for newer chip technology - this was the case with DV and seems to remain true of HD perhaps unsurprisingly.

Apart from our own testing the only differences seem to be in the way things are shot, for example, the Charles Pappert clips for the JVC look too dark on my PC whilst the HVX200 Barry Green look brighter and punchier. This could be encoding not the shooting (I know Charles is a first class DOP) plus in my view there are problems with using the mini35 adaptor for HDV, the ground glass grain challenges MPEG2 encoding and in any case produces a slightly softer and therefore impaired resolution. Our own tests with the JVC looked great that is all I can say. On the other hand, as I said, the Sony clips from DSE looked very very sharp and lush. The great thing about Canon is that they seem never to rush a product to market and so the XL H1 seems to be very mature and again its footage is every bit as good as the rest.

Maybe not the answer you're looking for but as I say to me there are no clear winners in resolution terms. For me rez charts a pretty meaningless unless testing lenses - the final photographic results are what matter, and in this you'd be hard pushed to tell what camera was used to shoot a HDV originated show shot by a top DOP. I say look at the long shots not the crisp CUs - all cameras tend to look their best with extreme CUs. When you look at the long shots on all the available clips they are almost identical in terms of resolution.

Interestingly I went to MIPCOM this year (the European broadcast festival) and they had a number of HD seminars. They had the best HD monitors and the cream of the crop HDCAM content showing on them and it is still not obvious that you are not looking at very good SD DigiBeta sometimes, so for the public HD is a difficult perception problem. The very best HD image I have ever seen was shot by Sony's XDCAM HD shown on a 32" pro Sony CRT HD monitor. I know XDCAM HD isn't the top HD format but it was the first time I personally have seen HD footage that looked truly HD. I am in the long run looking closely at XDCAM HD to replace the DSR570.

Tom Roper December 31st, 2005 10:36 AM

Excellent comments John! What a refreshing respite...

Mathieu Ghekiere January 1st, 2006 07:48 AM

Nice comments, John, your first post was a very interesting read, and I mostly agree with you.

Graeme Nattress January 1st, 2006 09:58 AM

Not be overly critical, as I totally agree that with 1/3" chip, cheap lenses, and lots of compression, there's really not that much in it for the final picture quality, but both the JVC and the Sony can produce extremely film-like images, but you've really got to put the Sony in 50i, post-de-interlace and shoot with care, not that you don't have to shoot with care on the rest. Again, there's very little in it.

But, I must take a point on your statement: "The only mainstream dramatic feature as I see it ever to use DV (as in trying to get the best out of the format, not to degrade it by drawing attention to its consumer qualities) was 28 Days Later."

Because they intentionally degraded the quality of the footage to achieve the look they wanted. It was deliberately made to look really bad, and indeed, it did look really bad. For instance, they had the sharpness up full, a big no-no for film-out, and the up-rezzing was attrocious, again, to achieve the grainy / nasty / evil look they were after.


Mathieu Ghekiere January 1st, 2006 10:07 AM

I still think it looked really good...
(Nobody in the theatre speak to me about it, and even some collegues in the film academy are surprised if I say it's shot on DV!!)

Graeme Nattress January 1st, 2006 10:15 AM

Wow. I can't quite believe that - I thought the picture quality was the worst I've ever seen for a DV to film blowup - pure headache inducing.


Shannon Rawls January 1st, 2006 11:43 AM


Pardon me if i'm wrong (i quite often am), but you're not being objective at all. I mean the beginning of your message was positive and fair, and when you said this.....

Originally Posted by John Mercer
if you're making a feature of even a million dollars and upwards then HDCAM becomes a realistic and almost mandatory option for HD.

.....I stood up and cheered as if I were at a boxing match in Vegas! That's probably the most honest uppercut punch I've heard in a while when it comes to these little camcorders. 100% true!

However, as I continued to read your summations of each camera, it became clear and concise that you obviously have an un-objective bias in favor of the JVC HD100.

You mentioned how "most extensively" you've tested & used it and how "pleased" you are with it. But apparently you haven't touched the others (i may be wrong, but thats my guess) and if you have, it sure wasn't 'extensive'. Well, I mean....if that's true, then how can you write an Objective and Fair report?
Instead you've written the longest tid-bits about how great the HD100 is out of all the other cameras paragraphs. And here's the killer.....when you mentioned "some" of the (serious if you ask me) faults it has, you made sure you mentioned how insignificant they are and how they were so easily fixed and all that. Talked about how how wonderful a $deal$ it is and how more people who own the camera like it then those that don't. How do you know that? For all you know, there are more HD100 'returns to the store' then there are people who kept them. Do you have access to some RMA information that we don't? Additionally, you mention how it's better then your DSR570 and also you talk about how it's the only true end-to-end solution and mention HD delivery on WMV format and DVD players and all that.

John, I thought you were " ignoring the NLE and HD distribution mess "??? But you made sure to mention how great it is for the JVC. Wassup with that John?

So now when it comes to the other cameras, when you mention a fault (if you call it that) then that's that, no excuses for these guys? The poor little Sony got all of 2 lines for his so-called review and half of those 2 lines were talking about the sony deck and not the camera! lol You made sure to mention the Canon and what it's not and how it lacks a deck and how its a much higher price and all that. And lord, the Panasonic....you mentioned all kindsa bad stuff about that awesome camera. Cumbersome P2 and handycam formfactor (as if thats a bad thing) and gave crazy expensive prices on post production gear for it and simply summed it up as "Oh Well". Where's those excuses and 'work-a-rounds' for these cameras that you objectively gave the JVC? *shaking my head*

I think the only person that can give a true and fairly 'objective' report on these 4 cameras is someone who owns em all! Someone who has no commercial intrests with any of the companies or anything else to offer but the truth to others who are interested. I happen to own a SD camera made by all four manufactures. And I happen to own half of the HD cameras at question. All of them sitting right here with me like an Army of electronics on the shelf ready to attack. I may pick up a third HD camera if I can find someone who has one in stock (been unsuccessful so far)......and even then....I don't think I can be truly OBJECTIVE and UNBIASED if I don't own and operate ALL FOUR. Therefore, I simply praise the ones I got and give my heavily biased opinion on the ones I don't.

Now John, don't get me wrong, I value your opinion, but I don't think its fair to post a topic and then try and protect it under the banner of 'objectivity' and 'non-attack' of any manaufacturer, but then notify us that it's followed by your own personal preference and end up praising the one you've used the 'most extensively'. lol Well John, that just oxy-moronish if you ask me. *smile* Especially considering you don't even own one.

I'm sorry, but I just had to call you on this bro.

- ShannonRawls.com

Shannon Rawls January 1st, 2006 11:50 AM


Originally Posted by Graeme Nattress
Wow. I can't quite believe that - I thought the picture quality was the worst I've ever seen for a DV to film blowup - pure headache inducing.


That's because you, me and the rest of us here can't watch TV like the rest of the world anymore! and you know it! *smile*

Actors = pick out bad acting
Writers = proof read the movie as they watch it
Directors = pick out bad directing
Costume Designers = slam the wardrobe if its ugly
DP's & Camera Geeks = pick out bad lighting and picture
etc... etc...
Producers = pick out everything!

When "MIAMI VICE" comes out...I bet you won't be able to comment on the story to your regular friends because you'll be busy seeing if the HDCAM holds up in low-light. *smile*

When "Superman" comes out you'll probably bring a laptop to the movie theater to do some calculations on the Genesis camera.

I know how ya feel buddy.....it sucks to be us.

- ShannonRawls.com

Graeme Nattress January 1st, 2006 01:41 PM

Shannon, you're spot on right my friend! The more you get into this biz, the more educated you become about film and TV, the more you can spot the errors, mistakes and qualities.

Film viewing for me was ruined the day a friend pointed out the que dots, and how to tell if the movie whas shot flat or anamorphic. From then on, it's just down hill.

I barely watch TV at all these days. Most TV I watch is "classic" TV from the 50s onwards which I watch for pure enjoyment.


Sam Druckerman January 1st, 2006 02:15 PM

Hi John,

I want to Thank You for your comment regarding the "infighting" as well as your thoughts on the four cameras.

I'm just starting out and I'm not very technical, so I like to hear what people with a lot of experience think.

I'm wondering why Andomeda wasn't included in your comparison?

And what your thoughts are on the Andomeda mod?


There is something about the look of those Andomeda images that I just love.

Am I wrong in thinking that Andomeda should be part of this discussion?

Anyone care to comment?


John Mercer January 1st, 2006 08:35 PM

Hi Shannon,

"I'm sorry, but I just had to call you on this bro."

You are quite right - reading back my comments it does seem biased in favour of the JVC - it was not intended to be so, it's just that again you are right I have had more hands on experience with it. But I think I was saying you can make an informed choice in the absence of owning all four - how would you make an initial purchase otherwise? Do you need to own all four and then send back the three you don't like? My point was that there is very very little to choose between these camcorders in terms of quality - it only remains to choose based on feature set that is more useful for you - that IS market choice, but infighting and slagging off other makes is a) way over the top compared to the true flaws and B) detrimental to market variety.

I also purposely drew attention myself to the obvious and inevitable contradiction in some of what I was saying.

As a matter of fact I haven't settled on buying any make yet though I really do like both the Canon and JVC - I don't really like a camera that has no interchangeable lens and handy cam form factor, sorry that's just me, and so I think that would rule out both the SONY and the HVX200. The Canon has one big problem for me in that there is NO deck that can feed 24f to any NLE, and I really don't like using the camera as a deck. So yes I am veering towards the JVC for the reasons outlined, but that still doesn't alter the central theme of what I was saying - Yes I can't be anything but subjective because I have my own preferences but the differences between these cameras is not worth the mudslinging and as a community we should celebrate the choice rather than hack it all down for what are almost negligble differences.

Hi Graeme,

"Because they intentionally degraded the quality of the footage to achieve the look they wanted. It was deliberately made to look really bad, and indeed, it did look really bad. For instance, they had the sharpness up full, a big no-no for film-out, and the up-rezzing was attrocious, again, to achieve the grainy / nasty / evil look they were after."

No I don't think they intentionally degraded it - it is just the reality of 4:3 frame mode SD cropped to widescreen. The XL1 is quite soft to start with, add frame mode and crop it too and then you've actually got something like 50% PAL vertical resolution. On DVD, despite this, it looks very good and carefully composed and shot - in the cinema it looked soft - I think they tried their very best to make it look as good as they could. My point was this was a $15 million movie that used DV not as a home movie device but as a legitimate shooting choice.

Shannon Rawls January 1st, 2006 11:42 PM


Ok...I feel ya. We should in fact be more helpful then hurtful. Thank goodness for people like you who can referee some others (even me sometmes).

Happy New Year.

- ShannonRawls.com

Dave Ferdinand January 2nd, 2006 12:23 AM

$15M for 28 Days just didn't sound right, so I went to check it on Wikipedia and $8M seems more like it (5 million British Pounds).


I actually thought 28 Days looked pretty good, albeit quite videoish. In other words I do agree with Shannon in that we nitpick a lot (look at me challenging John's opinion on 28 Days Later budget) so we don't let little things go. From interviews I read with Danny Boyle it seems he opted for using DV in order to give it a fake documentary look. Not that people were supposed to think it was a real documentary, instead he just wanted the film to visually resemble one.

As to the JVC bias, well I have to be with John on this one. After so much and so exaggerated bad publicity given to this camera it's good to have its owners defending it a bit. I also feel his points about the XL-H1 and HVX200 are good although it's obvious he didn't give so much info because he doesn't own these.

Let's face it - The Sony looks highly videoish and CF24 is crap; The JVC has issues (namely SSE and CA); The Canon is expensive and has no true 24p; The Panny is going to be a new ground (and therefore possibly harder) to walk on. In the end they're all going to die suddenly when Red comes out. *

But if Mr. Boyle made a film that cashed in $60M bucks shooting with a XL1, no matter which HD cam we use we don't so much to worry about image quality but instead having as good produciton values has he did.

* Just kidding. I think.

Graeme Nattress January 2nd, 2006 03:31 AM

When you read "making of" stuff on 28days, it's very apparant they deliberately degraded the image quality. I've seen quite a few PAL blowups to film, and they don't look anywhere remotely as bad as 28days.


Dave Ferdinand January 2nd, 2006 03:56 AM

Maybe those blow ups weren't so cropped as 28 Days? Not trying to start a dispute on this subject or anything, I really wouldn't mind if they had indeed reduced the quality for effect but from what I know they didn't.

I can't find the other interview I read but he something similar to this:

(from this link)

RES: What about disadvantages?

Boyle: Picture quality, especially on wide shots. We were fortunate; on the whole we got away with it. When you dwell on a wide shot, the human eye is so extraordinary that it goes to where it is interested on that big screen and it zooms in, just like that zoom in on the video game. Halo! If the eye is interested in that picture and if the detail isn't there, it looks a bit ****ty. Whereas on film, you can go in that close and there's enough detail there so it is still acceptable. That's the only major disadvantage. I am not sure if DV would work for period films as there is something completely modern about its feel and about it as a recording or capturing process. If you did a Jane Austin novel or great period piece, I don't know what it would look like; it might feel very odd.

On the other interview I'm pretty sure it was the DP saying that this picture quality achieved shooting with video would only suit this project itself for style purposes, and he didn't like the idea of using it for other films...

I think it was Steven Soderbergh's project Full Frontal that had heavy manipulation of XL1 footage in order to make it looks worse.

Graeme Nattress January 2nd, 2006 03:59 AM

Well, the fact that "sharpness" was applied before scaling up to film, and the visual appearance was that bad (compared to decent PAL to film I've seen) must mean they deliberately reduced the quality. I did read they cranked up the sharpness for an edgy look (ie crap look). Well, they could just have no idea on how to get a decent film out from video, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they wanted an edgy look....


John Mercer January 2nd, 2006 04:55 AM

"When you read "making of" stuff on 28days, it's very apparant they deliberately degraded the image quality. I've seen quite a few PAL blowups to film, and they don't look anywhere remotely as bad as 28days."

I have the DVD (love the film) and nowhere on it in either the commentary or supplemental materials does say anything about "deliberately degrading" image quality. I think Dave is right that Boyle has gone on record saying that DV has a documentary immediacy about it that lends a reality feel to horror that perhaps 35mm couldn't achieve, but this implies it is already degraded - you don't have to do anything to DV except blow it up to 35 in order to degrade it - yes I know everyone has seen 'fantastic' blow-ups from DV but really NTSC and PAL rez compared to 35mm originated footage?

As I say on the DVD to me (entirely subjective I know) it looks very very good, considering, and I know they went to some lengths with the long shots of London by stitching various takes together, to improve resolution at MPC (Moving Picture Company) of London. They used a PAL XL1 (not XL1s) with an adaptor I believe from Optex (not the mini35) to use 35mm lenses and this helped too. There was also some very nice filter work.

Thankyou Dave for correcting my budget error - but $8 million is still more than a low independent. It seems that this comparatively modest budget for Hollywood (not for mainstream British) and the very brief availability of major London locations also informed the choice of cheap DV - Boyle could use many cameras at the same time to cover many angles - very expensive in 35mm or even 16mm especially when as he did you have 15 or more of them.

Basically Danny Boyle with writer Alex Garland made a couple of experimental DV shot dramas for BBC - the strangely titled "Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise" and "Strumpet", where they liked the medium very much and felt it could have a place in feature production. My point was that unlike say Steven Soderbergh's "Full Frontal" which used the same XL1, but drawing attention to its degraded qualities, 28 Days Later used DV as a legitimate production choice and gave it the best shot, so to speak. Compare those two films - same camera - and tell me which one looks the most degraded.

BTW Happy New Year to you too Shannon - and everyone else too of course.

Graeme Nattress January 2nd, 2006 10:43 AM

All I remember seeing in the cinema was big, inch thick "sharpness" halos around the actors as they stood against the sky. Looked like it had been drawn in with a kid's crayon.

Maybe they did think that they were treating the DV to give the best quality possible, but got it wrong. The film print we saw in Canada on previews was blinkin awful.


Boyd Ostroff January 2nd, 2006 12:24 PM

It's funny how "28 Days Later" keeps coming up around here. I saw it in the theatre and enjoyed it, but it did have a harsh look. FWIW, here's an article that discusses the choices:



In order to maintain the integrity of Alex Garland's script, the filmmakers opted for MiniDV, a format at the lower end of digital video's resolution scale. The advantage of MiniDV, however, was that its inherently small cameras could be set up quickly, which proved key to pulling off the stunning shots of deserted London. "If I had shot those on a big negative, it would have looked absolutely stunning," Dod Mantle reflects. "It was extraordinary to see those city streets deserted. I knew how beautiful those could have been, but we made an artistic decision and I stood by it.

Choosing the MiniDV format wasn't just about logistics. Its harsh imaging characteristics corresponded well with the film's subject matter. "I saw an artistic, logical justification for shooting this film on this format because it was a very violent script - very disturbing, gritty and anarchic," Dod Mantle observes.

Graeme Nattress January 2nd, 2006 12:32 PM

Boyd, I guess it's a controversial topic. But an interesting one. I guess 99% of the people in the cinema didn't notice the poor picture. I've lost count of the times I've seen out of focus films and nobody complains - apart from me, and the odd two or three wanting their money back. The percentage who notice is awfully slim....


John Mercer January 2nd, 2006 01:06 PM

"The percentage who notice is awfully slim...."

Thank you Graeme ;) - I did 'notice' - that was my whole point - DV looks s*!t blown up to 35mm and projected on a big screen IMO. In the cinema it looked very very soft but not because focus was out but because of this recipe: take the nice but quite soft XL1, add Frame mode to it, lots of filters then crop it to 1.85:1 while blowing it up to 35mm; sit back and enjoy the golf balls - you end up with less than 50% vertical resolution of a PAL XL1.

On the DVD, on a TV it looks quite nice and well shot, with a great feel about it (well to me anyway) - infact some of the vistas of London do look quite 'beautiful' to me - what I can't understand, if Dod Mantle "...knew how beautiful those could have been, but we made an artistic decision and I stood by it." then why did he use nice sepia grad filters on some of the shots. Maybe when it was slated for picture quality in the cinema a bit of disingenuous damage limitation was in order?

My whole point was that in 28 Days Later DV was afforded the sort of production values it rarely gets - whatever look they were after or achieved it was shot using gibs, 35mm lenses, cranes and tracks etc. on a good size budget movie - it was not exclusively hose-piped handheld like an 'am-cam' on auto-focus and exposure - DV was given some professional respect and to paraphrase, 99% of the cinema going public would have no idea that a prosummer format was used unless they read it in the various reviews - my wife simply cannot tell the difference between SD and HD and doesn't care either (I'm not implying she's simple BTW :) )

It is an interesting and controversial discussion and I think we're saying almost the same thing, but if we're not forgive me and I'll agree to differ.

Shannon Rawls January 2nd, 2006 01:32 PM

28 Days Later looked better then Open Water.


However, my dad (a school teacher), bought both movies and was entertained.

Catch my drift?

Graeme Nattress January 2nd, 2006 03:11 PM

Oh yes, script is number 1....

But I can't help but think that the lack of education of the public with regards to quality of production, and visual quality is something that will change over time. Originally, widescreen was bad because you lost the top and bottom of the picuture, but the education got out and people, on the whole, now "get" widescreen. DVD has taken over VHS, and again, I think people "get" the better quality.

But how long will it be before people spot and complain of MPEG macroblocks on broadcasts? Or other more subtle picture annoyances?


Barry Green January 2nd, 2006 03:59 PM


Originally Posted by Graeme Nattress
All I remember seeing in the cinema was big, inch thick "sharpness" halos around the actors as they stood against the sky. Looked like it had been drawn in with a kid's crayon.

Maybe they did think that they were treating the DV to give the best quality possible, but got it wrong. The film print we saw in Canada on previews was blinkin awful.

Agreed 100%. I saw it on the big screen, and I was mortified at the edge-enhancement halos and the overall blurry look. Granted I was sitting in the sixth row; I found that if you sit in the back of the theater it improves the look drastically, so I would wager that that's why we have disagreement over how it looked -- to a large degree it depends on where in the theater the observer was sitting.

Ash Greyson January 2nd, 2006 05:32 PM

Remember, there was more than one version of 28 Days Later... they released an alternate ending in some markets I believe. The version I saw was very good, better than most DV stuff I have seen blown up... WAY better than Madhot Ballroom, Murderball and Open Water. Maybe everyone didnt get the same prints? I dunno but I saw nothing that was atrocious.

As to the fact that they intentionally degraded the image? That is just false. If you read the article linked above you can see they went to extreme lengths and thru multiple tests to get the best image possible...

ash =o)

Graeme Nattress January 3rd, 2006 01:58 AM

Perhaps we did see different versions. I can't believe anyone who saw what I saw would like the quality of the blowup.

As for intentionally degrading the image - sharpening in camera, or sharpening before blowup, which must have been what they did to get the inch wide halos that both Barry and I saw, is in my book, intentionally degrading the image......


Barry Green January 3rd, 2006 02:37 AM

Yeah, I didn't quite get it. I read the article, and they made a point of using high-def prime lenses -- obviously they were going for the best image they could get. Yet the edge enhancement was downright objectionable, and all wide shots were extremely blurry. I came out of that theater quite disillusioned, if this was the best that a DV blowup could look.

Not long thereafter I had DVFilm blow up some of my stuff and we screened it, and I'd say it looked at least twice, if not 4x as sharp as 28DL. Then I saw November in the theater and (other than the horrible 4:1:1 red in the darkroom scene) I thought it looked completely passable.

But what I saw in the theater had massive halo'ing, especially around the downtown london buildings where they met the sky. It was distracting. And the entire show looked out of focus. Only on the close-ups did it look borderline acceptable.

Graeme Nattress January 3rd, 2006 02:48 AM

Barry, sounds like we saw very similar things. I think if you fire up the DVD, you'll also see the very bad haloing also - the infamouns Gibbs Effect.....


Joe Carney January 3rd, 2006 03:58 PM

fyi, all the original Dogma95 films were shot on DV, sometimes on a single chip DV camera ,'The Celebration' used it to great effect. Dancer in the dark was shot with a `100 pd150s if I remember correctly. All were blown up to film (as per the original Dogma requirements).

Just to keep things in perspective.

Mathieu Ghekiere January 3rd, 2006 04:17 PM

Those 100 cameras from Dancer in the Dark weren't even 3CCD PD170's, but smaller cameras. Don't know if they were 3CCD, think so, but not sure.

But indeed, nice remark, puts things in perspective.

Barry Green January 3rd, 2006 05:35 PM

They were PD100's, which are 1/4" 3-CCD models. Basically the "pro" variant of the TRV900.

Ash Greyson January 4th, 2006 03:18 AM

They also used an XL1 which has no option to sharpen an image in camera.... I sincerely believe there were a couple stabs at the film out and the markets that got the later copies got better versions...

ash =o)

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