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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
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Old July 21st, 2005, 08:23 PM   #1
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Running/Handheld Issues & Looks

Hello all,

I'm making my first leap from dv to HD and will be shooting a narrative short w/ the Z1U in a couple months. I'm more of a director/producer/writer and not a DP, so forgive me if I may sound inexperienced as I want to feel relatively comfortable with an eqipment decision:

I have two questions, that should really warrant two threads, but are closely related enough to ask together:

#1 While shooting in full 1080 PAL, has anyone encountered issues with stutter or fallout or instabilty while either walking very fast/light jog or doing lots of handheld? (I will be capturing w/ Cineform Aspect HD to Premie Pro 1.5)

#2 I am looking to create a "surreal" sensation from the (low) perspective of a child running away from something and tripping/struggling as well as the perspective of something closely following that child. I want to try a few ways of shooting it to give me options- primarily one way that seems ultra-realistic, and one way that's more nightmarish, dreamlike.

I very much like the dream effect that was used with the Sue Snell character in the last scene of Carrie- DePalma shot the footage in reverse with her walking backwards. I was wondering if there are certain techniques that might work okay with HD. For example, I'm wondering if shooting extremely slow movement (having the DP and child move very, very slow) and then speeding it up to a more normal or almost-normal-looking pace would work on HD. (Or what it would look like on any quality format!)

I know that this second question is a complex question that warrants a lot of different ideas/answers, so if anyone wants to respond to me directly, that's okay too. I'm primarily worried about the issue of stutter in question #1, as I have yet to rent the camera.
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Old July 22nd, 2005, 05:28 AM   #2
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This might be better for the "techniques for independent filmmakers forum".

Your idea of having the talent/DP move slowly and the speeding it up is tricky to get right. It's a student film staple, to get that I'm so alienated, the world is such a busy unfriendly place shot, and it usually looks funny rather than weird or unsettling. Adam Buxton once did a bang up parody of it.

While I know that's not what you're going for, the problem is that unless you talent trainsed REALLY REALLY hard he would look really awkward, trying to balance as he steps slowly (try it yourself). You can't actually run in slow motion. I've only every seen it work really well in the Orbital video "The Box" with Tilda Swinton, but it's a very specific effect they're using it for there, and I bet it took weeks to shoot.

Also for the Camera Operator it would be hard, as it it's hand held or a "steadycam" shot, when speeded upm all camera shake would be much more violent and obtrusive (although this might tbe what you want).

Really, the best thing is to shoot tests, even if it's not in HD.
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Old July 22nd, 2005, 10:28 PM   #3
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Hi Tony - I have done some similar shots (a Mark Lewis film The Wonderful World of Dogs) and we had a special mount made for the (16mm Aaton) camera. Since then I have done similar low angle (and running) shots by attaching a Magic Arm to the top handle of the camera. This brings the camera to within inches of the ground (depending on the height of your DOP). Another device I have used lately when filming people who cannot be identified, is to simply use a low shutter speed (try 6 to start) which gives a nice 'etherial' effect (not if they are standing still!!) and could be tried in conjunction with some of the other 'tricks' mentioned.
Cheers, TW
Tony Wilson ACS
Freelance DOP specialising in docos DV and (now) Z1 shooting.
Based in Sydney, Australia
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Old July 23rd, 2005, 10:05 AM   #4
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As far as the quality, on Sony's demo DVD of the Z1 there are a couple of shots of a person walking rapidlyl at an angle toward the camera as the cameraman moves backward. I saw no problems with those shots. They aren't running, however.

For the running shots, there are several ways to do it. One very cheap easy solution was used by a freind of mine. He got a 2 X 8 at the lumber yard, about 8 feet long, screwed on large handles at each end and mounted the camera in the middle. Two guys ran through a field, one on each end of the board; it looked great. They didn't want a steadycam type smooth shot, rather the low wide angle running through the weeds. They were shooting 35mm, so the 2 X 8 wasn't overkill. For a lightweight camera, a 2 X 4 should be fine.

I've also done numerous shots following kids running. With a typical 2/3" chip camera that's pretty well balanced, I've done it hand held, running behind them, the camera skimming over the tops of the weeds. For a smoother shot I use a Hollywood Lite Running Rig (like a steadycam).
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