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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
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Old March 4th, 2006, 04:19 PM   #1
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Hc1/a1u Feature!!! Need Help!!!!!

Hi everyone, I am new to the post. I am a film student living in Los Angeles (pasadena), and I am in pre-production (writing script/storyboard) for a feature I want to shoot later summer/fall. Early in the year I purchased an HC1 for a documentary I was shooting which I have since dropped (sort of). While I love the camera, I am still an amateur when it comes to using it because I just haven't fooled around with it much and also I don't have an HD set to view my footage on, nevertheless I have just recently started going out with the camera and shooting random things. Now for my narrative film I plan on using wireless mics (not all the time) and from what I understand this will not be possible with the HC1 but only with the A1U, am I right? There are also certain scenes where the use of two cameras will be extrememly helpful in picking up 'everything' so if I were to get the A1U it would match up (image-wise) well with the HC-1, resolution wise, right?

Basically, my main issue is sound, and not the just the wireless issue...when it comes to sound I don't know anything really. If I get the A1U, will I get pro sound? Or what kind of setup (mic, etc) will I need to get pro sound, by pro I mean clean, with no ambience, will the A1U give me that with the proper accesorries? Also, I keep hearing about this 'black stretch' but can't find a description of what it actually is? Any other advantages for me in getting the A1U, though I think just the sound issue itself is too critical, so I'll probably get the camera because of it.

Has anyone seen HDV footage from the HC1/A1U blown up on a big screen, or has anyone seen the footage transferred to film? Although I am a student, I DO NOT want to make a student film, meaning I want it to be 'clean' when it comes to technical issues (I am completley confident in my story/aesthetics), a film that I can submit to festivals that looks like a 'real' film!

I actually have a hundred more questions I would like to ask but I have gone on for too long as it is. I am sorry if these questions have been answered before, the amount of information on this site is very helpful but also rather overwhelming, if any of you can help I'd be grateful!

Lastly, though I will do some camera work I am still hoping I can find a cinematographer and a sound tech for the film. So if you live around Los Angeles, and are in love with cinema (cassavetes, bresson, pasolini,etc...) like I am, contact me quartet14@aol.com

I will probably be asking more and more questions as summer nears, bear with me, haha.

Thanks guys.
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Old March 5th, 2006, 03:02 AM   #2
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I think most people on this board will tell you that the HC1 and the A1U are nearly identical for what you're talking about... I mean that in terms of the 'image matching' that you're mentioning. There are differences, of course, and if you didn't already own the HC1 and you were asking which one to buy, I would have recommended stretching for the A1U based on your audio concerns and the A1U's XLR inputs, which would have complemented your wireless mics.

However, it's a very simple solution to add an XLR breakout box that will give you the balanced XLR inputs for your mics, and output the audio into the minijack input that the HC1 has.

From the B&H site, a Beachtek box, one of many they make, but a popular choice:


The only real inconvenience is that these boxes generally screw on to the bottom of the camera and this camera shape (HC1/A1U) has a bottom-loading tape mechanism, so it can be annoying to remove it to change tapes. There are also small spacers that a guy on this forum makes that give you room to change tapes when the camera is attached to a tripod, and this would likely work the same way if an XLR box was attached as well.

It is a bit large on the bottom of the camera, but it's almost '6 of one/half dozen of the other:' the XLR inputs on the A1U are actually just a breakout box attached to the top, avoiding the tape-loading issue but still not truly integrated in the camera. I can probably guess what you're thinking, and no, I don't think you can buy the A1U's box to use with the HC1, as the A1U has a special connector for it.

As for the 'black stretch,' I believe it's a fixed gamma-curve adjustment that will lift some detail out of the darker to black areas in your shot, like a curve adjustment downward in photoshop.

I have been following the experiments of a few guys on this site, both using the HC1 and A1U, and various adaptors for 35mm lenses, giving a great feeling to this camera for 'narrative' application. Check out these topics from both R.P. Cuenco (check out the link in his forum signature) and Matthew Kent:



Good luck with everything -

Last edited by Bill McMullen; March 5th, 2006 at 03:44 AM.
Bill McMullen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 5th, 2006, 03:21 AM   #3
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Bill's reply covers most the questions, but I will add that the A1U does come with a shotgun mic (directional pickup). It's not a high end professional mic, but my guess is that you would probably find it acceptable for now.
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