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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old July 6th, 2013, 08:45 PM   #1
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Viability of 4K

Some random thoughts...

* So the attraction of 4K is at least two-fold:
-- (1) the ability to reframe in post when delivering in HD (basically, can zoom in to about a quarter of the image without losing comparative resolution); alternatively, the marketing advantage of "ultra high definition" when delivering in 4K, which I haven't actually seen any video company offer;
-- (2) the possibility of providing a pretty high-end video/stills package without having to divide your attention between stills and video, or having to make a decision which you should be using.

No.2 is perhaps more attractive now than No.1, because photo+video packages are a proven seller, it's an unknown whether couples would be interested in "ultra high-definition" (maybe in 5-10 years 4K TVs will be a lot more common), and you should be able to get the compositions you want in camera anyway without reframing.

* About delivering stills from video in place of photos... You couldn't run around as much as a photographer for shot variety; and the images wouldn't have quite the quality of raw photos, in terms of resolution and manipulability. But, frankly, aren't they good enough? I think you only have to watch Abraham Joffe printing out A4-size photos from stills to have some grounds for thinking they are.

There are even advantages over stills -- like the possibility of finding the perfect "micro-expression", and the fact that there's then only one media company on the day, instead of two competing with each other.

And if your 4K weapon of choice is a 1DC, this also means that you're able to capture normal raw stills whenever you like anyway.

* Options now or in near future are: Canon 1DC ($12,500), JVC fixed lens camera ($5,000), JVC Nikon mount ($18,000), BM4KPC ($4,000), Sony FS700+external recorder ($7,500+$5,400).

* Given that you can easily rent a 1DC for $400 a weekend, the main worries are not so much the body purchase (if you're able to incorporate this in the package price), but the media and post-processing time/costs. Eg: on a 1DC, 30 minutes is about equivalent to a 128gb CF card. (For the JVC cameras, you can record about 2 hours to 128gb worth of SD cards, making them much more attractive in that respect.)

* Media costs: lots of variability here. But, with my usual shooting partner, we shoot fairly extravagantly, and amass about 800 minutes over a 14-hour day between the two of us across three or four cameras. If we were using a 1DC and purchasing Sandisk 128gb cards only (Komputerbay are about a third of the price), the costs would be crazy. You'd be talking about 30 cards, about $20k purchase price, and 3.5tb of data for each wedding.

3.5tb of data -- think about the copying time and the transcoding time. Also think about dropping that amount of 4K footage into your poor NLE and how happily it would cope with it.

But if JVC cameras can record 2 hours to 128gb, then it's less than a terabyte of data.

* If you're delivering in HD, but want 4K for the possibility of stills, then you could save a lot of space by using 4K selectively. Eg: you could shoot prep, photoshoot, vows, candids, cake and first dance in 4k, and the more continuous stuff in 1080. Don't need half an hour of a priest talking in 4K.

* Conclusion... Don't really have one; just kind of throwing thoughts around. But if I've got all the numbers correct, then I think shooting 4K on the fixed lens JVC is pretty viable to most people right now. For two cameras and 800 minutes, the startup costs are about $10,000 in cameras, and another $4,000 or $5,000 in Sandisk 32gb SD cards. For one camera and 400 minutes, it's about $7,500, and you'd have 500gb of data to deal with each shoot.

Last edited by Adrian Tan; July 6th, 2013 at 09:48 PM.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 08:51 AM   #2
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Re: Viability of 4K

I must say that its hard to see how video grabs can ever take the place of stills whether they are 4k or 40k.

One reason is that for stills to really work its all about the lighting. You can only go so far with available / ambient light and then you must get into fill flash and off camera flash. This is entirely separate from how well or otherwise the sensors may perform in low light.

Another reason is that for stills you can pretty much ignore the shutter speed if you shoot in aperture priority - as many wedding photographers do when not in manual mode. This means that you are often in the 1/500th - 1/4000th range when outside. Do you really want that sort of shutter speed in your video? Likewwise you do not want 1/50th for your stills. For example a recessional at 1/100th is touch and go as to whether the images will have unacceptable subject movement.

Of course many grabs will be "good enough". But for the parts of the day where the stills really matter - such as posed groups of family - there are very few times when suitable backdrops combine with good ambient light.

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Old July 8th, 2013, 09:22 AM   #3
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Re: Viability of 4K

I tend to agree with Peter. I think shutter speed is going to be a huge issue utilizing the same camera for both.

The part of 4k that excites me the most is the ability to reframe in post without losing resolution.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 08:04 PM   #4
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Re: Viability of 4K

Hi Guys

Because my video cameras have APS-C sensors I can also do still photos at 16.8mp BUT they never seem to look as good as my stills with my old but trusty Nikon D90's ..again as Peter says, you have no flash during video (I can also use a dedicated flash on my Sony EA-50's) but I STILL prefer using the Nikons for stills! Video cams with DSLR sensors can tolerate a much higher shutter speed than conventional small chip cameras but they still do not take "photos" as well as conventional cameras!

Ok, it is a bit cumbersome having two DSLR's hanging either side of your waist via a shoulder harness while you shoot video but the results are still better using a still camera as far as I'm concerned. The Sony's are supposed to have a lossless 2X zoom too as it only uses part of the sensor BUT the one time I tried it (not at a wedding of course) you can already see the degradation despite what the manual says!

It's probably still better to frame your video correctly in the first place so you don't have to crop the image whether it's 4K or not and keep still cameras to take your stills.

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Old July 8th, 2013, 08:09 PM   #5
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Re: Viability of 4K

Originally Posted by Daniel Latimer View Post
The part of 4k that excites me the most is the ability to reframe in post without losing resolution.
If you have to do too much of this, then you should rethink your whole methodology while shooting.

Otherwise, people have been doing that for years on footage shot at the same resolution it's being mastered in. Eventually, it will be reframing 4k on a 4k timeline.
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Old July 9th, 2013, 12:38 AM   #6
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Re: Viability of 4K

Back when we were shooting bar bands we'd set up two locked down cams and take two out to shoot B Roll. While shooting that B Roll, we'd have the aim on those cams flying from left to right, front to back, back to further back, to the right, and basically, all over the place. You wanna pull some really cool frames ??? Man we coulda got a ton from shooting that B Roll !!!! Now if you wanted to tell a story...... what we shot while doing the B Roll would give you an incomplete pile of crap to work with. As others have stated, IMHO, shooting style is different between stills and video. For some, frame grabs from typical wedding video might be "close enough"....until they see their friends photog shot wedding stills. Not saying 4K cams can't do it. But I think you have to add one extra cam to get that B Roll for those frames.
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