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General HD (720 / 1080) Acquisition
Topics about HD production.

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Old March 30th, 2006, 05:23 PM   #16
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From the options you are giving, it sounds like your current cam might be the best bet. Look at your low cost options for upgrading your audio, maybe a DAT deck or one of the new mp3 recorders. Check your options. Spend your money on better lights, mics, filters, and software and hardware that will improve your image in post.
Damnit Jim, I'm a film maker not a sysytems tech.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 05:45 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Carolyn McGrath
I just want to get this straight: the lower end HDV cameras don't work well in low (i.e. available) light situations? If that's the case, seems that I'd do better sticking with the GL1 or switching to a better DV camera.
I wouldn't spend much money on a better DV cam given your budget and the impending switch to HD as a standard acquisition format. If your projects allow for additional lights in dim settings the 1-chip HDV camers might serve you well, but if you need to be able to shoot in the dark I don't think I'd recommend them. So either hold onto the GL1 for now, take a chance on the HDV cams or keep saving your money while we wait to see what other new cameras come along.
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Old April 5th, 2006, 01:02 AM   #18
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I don't think there is one simple answer to your quandry. There are such a variety of considerations, as you can see from all the prior posts.
I would urge you to think about some of the following questions:

Format: Do you intend to stay in 4:3, or do you want to go 16:9 widescreen? This is a huge issue, because GL-1, DVX-100, PD-170 all have serious resolution/image quality problems in 16:9. The Sony A-1 is native 16:9 and looks very good even in standard DV acquisition

Editing System: Are you prepared to upgrade your system hardware/software to the level required for full featured HDV editing? If you need to remain in the DV editing realm for a while, the A-1 will acquire in HDV and downconvert to DV on the fly for firewire capture. An awful lot of people think that the downconverted HDV images look better than images shot as DV on these cameras. If you shoot in HDV, even if you initially edit and deliver as DV, you, or anyone else, can always go back at a later date and conform the original HDV footage into a hi def version of the movie.

Delivery Format: What happens to your movie when it is finished? Does it end up on a standard def DVD? HDV does enable you to produce a better looking DVD, but it's still standard def, and will definitely look like it when it's on a big screen. However, if any of your ultimate distribution channels would accommodate a hi def format- TV, projection to big screen, film out, etc. - HDV acquisition is going to make a very big difference. I have seen Sony HDV projected to a big screen. It looks simply stunning. Hard to imagine it came from an inexpensive 1/3" chip camera. It's a true quantum leap in quality. If your movie was shot on HDV, it can ultimately be converted to other HD formats, or film.

Indoor Lighting: I have used Sony PD-170s for a while. It is a terrific low light camera. My A-1 will not match it in a candle lit restaurant. However, with the gain up and black stretch on the A-1 will make a good image unless the room is really poorly lighted. Daytime indoor scenes with good window lighting are not a problem. You can also purchase cheap clamp on fixtures at Home Depot, use 250 w daylight bulbs, fashion some home made diffusion filters- and behold- let there be light! This would make your GL-1 footage look better as well. But, if you are shooting run n' gun footage with no opportunity to pay any attention to light levels, having a low light camera may be a critical factor.

Audio: Many people say that a movie is only as good as it's audio track. Having 2 XLR inputs opens the options for boom mounted mike, wireless, lavalier, hand held mic, etc. all of which are hugely better for dialogue than camera mounted mics. A Beachtek attached to the GL-1 would be good, the built in XLRs on the A-1 or DVX-100 would probably be better- certainly more compact to manage for a one man shoot.

Ultimately, people shoot what they can afford to shoot, and having a better camera is not the real key to making a good movie. But, it sounds like you've had good success with your first production. If you can significantly raise the production values in the next one, for a fairly small price, it may pay off when Discovery Channel, Sundance, or whoever comes knocking at your door.
I have switched to HDV. My Sony PD 170 is laying around collecting dust right now. The next step is to sell it and buy a Z-1. I'm never going back to DV. If a scene needs more light, I'll just get more light on it, tweak it in post, whatever it takes.
Good luck.

Last edited by Robert Young; April 5th, 2006 at 01:45 AM.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 08:36 AM   #19
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So many choices...

Thank you, thank you, thank you all for the excellent feedback!

After careful consideration of all that has been said, I've decided for now to keep the GL-1 until I can afford a better quality HDV camera (or until lower priced ones perform better in low light). I'll be spending the $ I have available on a Beachtek unit and some good mics for the GL-1, as well as upgrading my mac and FCP application. Perhaps in a year or so, I may be ready for an HDV camera, and at that time, I'll be sure to keep all your good suggestions in mind (maybe by then used Sony FX1's will be available...).

Thanks again for all the help!
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Old April 6th, 2006, 09:16 AM   #20
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You know Canaon actually make an XLR converter for the XM1/GL1 Carolyn. It's called the microphone adapter MA0300. Not cheap, but a lot more compact than strapping a Beachtek under the cam.

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Old April 6th, 2006, 10:48 AM   #21
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But the beachtecks are more rugged built and you have the chance to buy a certain model that gives you phantom power, which isn't the case with the MA300.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 01:17 PM   #22
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AGC sound issue with GL-1

Having done location sound on a "feature" shot with a GL-1, it is my understanding that there is no manaul level control on the camera, but that it always has auto gain (AGC) on.

While in many situations this posed little problem, I did encounter difficulties recording sound beside a busy street because the AGC would "hear" the loud background noise and gain it up as if IT was the signal I was trying to record. Then there was no headroom left for the voice to be recorded significantly louder.

The GL-2 does does offer a manual sound selection as of course does the XL series.

Tip McPartland
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Old April 6th, 2006, 06:02 PM   #23
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Yes, but...

I'll respond to the previous posts, but briefly, because I think the thread is getting a bit off topic with all the discussion of GL-1's (and this being the HDV acquisition category...). Although, don't get me wrong, I'm happy for the comments.

Tom, Canon's MA-300 is comparable in price to the Beachtek unit, but is made for the GL-2, not the GL-1.

With regards to Tim's post, I don't anticipate the auto gain being a huge issue because of the types of sound recordings I'll be doing.

All things being ideal, I'd be getting a better, newer, all around snazzier camera, but for now, I'm gonna work with what I've got.

Thanks again all for the help.
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