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Chris D Walker

DVC PRO 50 for First Film

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Within the next year my friends and I hope to get a small film going funded from our own pockets- the budget will be somewhere between £15,000-£25,000. As this is not too much my thoughts were that we could shoot onto DVC PRO 50, my reasons being:

 

-4:2:2 colour sub-sampling

-Less compression than DV 25 and HDV

-Cheaper to rent than DVC PRO HD, HD-CAM or film equipment.

 

With a 16:9 image at 1024x576 I then thought in post we could uprezz by 25% to 720p and still have an acceptable definition; I know that 'Iraq in Fragments' and 'Inland Empire' both did something similar with DV 25 to 1080p.

 

Firstly, I would like to know whether who here thinks this sounds like a good idea and, following from any responses, if anyone can direct me in finding a camera (or cameras) that provide:

 

-DVC PRO 50 compatibility

-Shoot 25p

-16:9 aspect ratio

 

Lastly, would we need a specific VTR to digitize the footage into our editing system (Either Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer).

 

Thanks for any replies.

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For that sort of money you're bonkers if you don't shoot HD.

 

DVCPRO50 is, like more or less every other SD format, 720x576 - the 1024 width you've come across is what you have to scale it up to in order to get back to square pixels, for a 16:9 image.

 

If you're really wedded to DVCPRO50, there are P2 cameras which will shoot it - the SPX-800 is a decent standard def ENG camera, which obviates the requirement to get hold of a VTR at the cost of some software complexity.

 

But as I say, shoot some form of HD direct to disk and overlook the entire concern.

 

P

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A small film, or company? Because if it's just a film, then rent instead.

 

Depending on the project (the story, schedule etc.) I have access to a HDX900 (Dvcprohd), deck along with lots of other fancy kit, but it really depends when you are shooting and where, as I would only lend it on the basis that I get a good credit and showreel material out of it and all expenses are paid.

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It's just one film, no company. The plan is to rent all of our equipment.

 

As far as ambition goes, we've got lots of it. Working regular jobs, we're each aiming to save £200 a month and pool in the pot together after ten months, then take fours week out to shoot. We want to do the job to a professional degree even though it is for our own interests. Expensive hobby, I suppose.

 

The shoot will happen next year either during May or June predominantly in Cornwall. Having checked, there are no rental houses anywhere near close enough so that does have us in a quander. Not much of an industry in the South-West of England. This is simply a preliminary step just to be sure we run into less problems later.

 

Who else thinks we should shoot HD? If so, DVC PRO HD or HD-CAM?

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Chris,

certainly look into an HD camera, even if it's only an HVX with a lens adapter. HDCam would be great quality wise, but you'll get into a sticky situation for your post workflow (how are you planning on posting?) I don't know 'bout the UK, but I know here in Philadelphia I can get a full HDCam system for around $900/day.

Something else to look into would be just buying one of the HDV cameras, such as the Canon XHA1, which goes for around $3000/us, shooting with that and investing your money in an experience crew and better lighting etc.

Or, hell, you might be able to swing film for that much if you massage the numbers just right. . .Not an easy thing. . .but possible on S16mm.

Edited by Adrian Sierkowski

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For the money you will not find a better camera than either the Sony ex1 or even better the ex3. Full raster HD for a lot less than most good HD cameras with the same quality as the better cameras. I'd buy one of those and keep it for this project and many more.

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Is this a short or a feature? If it is a short, I would say Super 16mm would be a great affordable option. I don't know about the costs where you live, but here in Los Angeles, I have found that often the cost of renting a professional digital camera package can exceed the cost of 16mm. (And I am including camera rental, film, processing and transfer). With professional video, the cameras are usually more expensive to rent and the lenses are often more to rent.

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As I was quite ambiguous as to what our film will be here's a little clarification. It'll be a 90 minute feature and we'll hoping for a straight to video release, not sure about the numbers yet. I'm thinking Super16 will be pushing our budget into the red as we'll be renting lighting equipment and paying the caterer among other things for those four weeks.

 

Reading up on the PMW-EX3, but haven't seen any footage for it that I'm aware of. Interchangeable 1/2 inch lenses, variable frame rates, HD-SDI and genlock; this could be the one. I read the price as around $13,000 (around £7,000) so would it be worth purchasing or simply renting? Does anywhere rent this camera in England?

 

One more thing, can XD-CAM HD footage only be edited in Final Cut Pro or could we convert the footage into another format usable in another NLE?

 

Again, thanks for all your replies.

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I believe there is a workflow for the XDCamHD footage for Avid as well as FCP. I am unsure as of yet about premier, though I'm sure there is a workflow for that.

The EX3 is a very nice camera, EX1 is quite similar, sans the interchangeable lens and gen-lock-- both have the same imagers (3x 1/2" 1920x1080 CMOS). I have seen the EX3 @ BH Photo here in the US for around $9,000 or so to buy. I haven't yet seen any rental rates for the camera published but would certainly be interested to.

 

As for S16mm, it can be expensive, but generally the camera rentals are cheaper than full HD packages. Also deals can be had for raw stock (short ends/recans), processing, and transfer when you're dealing with a feature length film. It's something to look into at least.

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<br />I believe there is a workflow for the XDCamHD footage for Avid as well as FCP. I am unsure as of yet about premier, though I'm sure there is a workflow for that.<br />The EX3 is a very nice camera, EX1 is quite similar, sans the interchangeable lens and gen-lock-- both have the same imagers (3x 1/2" 1920x1080 CMOS). I have seen the EX3 @ BH Photo here in the US for around $9,000 or so to buy. I haven't yet seen any rental rates for the camera published but would certainly be interested to. <br /><br />As for S16mm, it can be expensive, but generally the camera rentals are cheaper than full HD packages. Also deals can be had for raw stock (short ends/recans), processing, and transfer when you're dealing with a feature length film. It's something to look into at least.<br />
<br /><br /><br />

 

I've been using both for TV series' now that Sony's small format HD cameras are the only approved small form HD cameras for use on the major cable networks such as the Discovery Channels. I'm so impressed with it that I am purchasing a EX3 and hard drive. This camera was made for the indie market and it knocks every other camera out of the water in it's range and beyond. For the money to get such a quality picture with the specs is unheard of. Forget film here, you don't have the budget or need. If you are going direct to DVD there is no better format to do it with than this camera for your budget. This has become my favorite small format camera, and it plays like a camera 100 times the price. I'd say if lens switches are in your future, then the EX3 is the one. If not the ex1 is perfect too with a great lens with all the range you need, long and short. Heck, even the little brother, the V1U is awesome for the price and performs just as well albeit smaller imager and slower record speed, but still well worthy of making a feature for DVD.

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HDCAM EX workflows are in place for FCP, Premiere and Vegas, no problem.

 

I'm an EX1 owner and love the camera as well. The compressed data rate is roughly the same as the Panasonic HVX-200, but the imagers have true 1920x1080 resolution which makes a huge difference. They're 1/2" which means it's actually possible to get out-of-focus backgrounds at telephoto.

 

As supplied the camera is wildly unbalanced, but the addition of a shoulder rest does tons to fix this. I love the fact that the camera is so tiny with extras removed though. Perfect for fitting into tight spaces.

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"The compressed data rate is roughly the same as the Panasonic HVX-200, but the imagers have true 1920x1080 resolution which makes a huge difference."

 

It's hard to make a one to one comparison of these two types of recording since there is so much more to it than just data rates.

 

The HVX was a first generation small form HD camera that basically was a DVX that used electronic tricks to make HD. And side by side, it never equaled any of the cameras that came out along with it that were made by the other manufatuers from my tests with it. It's such an outdated camera already. The EX series is a serious HD camera.

 

EX cameras record true native progressive at 23.98, 25, 30, 50, & 60p. When the camera is in the progressive mode the imagers always run at 1920 x 1080p. So, when shooting at 720p at 50 or 60 fps the EX's imager and DSP front-end run at full raster 1920 x 1080 50p or 60p. The 1280x720 signal is derived from the 1920x1080p signal by an advanced filtering algorithm similar to what is in Sony's $100K+ cameras. Oversampling has two major benefits over using a camera with native 1280x720 imagers:

1- Less aliasing (strong aliasing sets in at over 600TVLPH on 2/3-inch native 1280x720 imagers)

2- Better MTF. ANd a picture is ALL about MTF!

 

As for the SxS cards, they are a great next generation recording medium. Best of all EX progressive signal recordings are always stored to the SxS cards in its native progressive frame rate and resolution. So the data ingested by the NLE will also be native progressive. Both the new EX3 and EX1 have 23.98PsF HDSDI EE output. This allows capturing the EX's clean, live camera10-bit 4:2:2 progressive signal directly by NLE. The NLE's capture utility recognizes the PsF payload as a true signal and stores it as such. PsF makes having to apply reverse telecine such as Adobe After-Effects or Cinema Tools in post to remove pull down a thing of the past.

 

And in a few weeks Sony will announce a firmware upgrade for you older owners that will also allow the use of

the use of 32GB cards and the new PHU60K HDD recorder, several additional shutter speeds, REC indication on the LCD/ EVF even if data display is set to OFF, and a better "clip menu". You'd be silly not to consider such a great camera for your film project.

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I don't know about the costs where you live, but here in Los Angeles, I have found that often the cost of renting a professional digital camera package can exceed the cost of 16mm

 

Only where you live, believe me.

 

P

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Only where you live, believe me.

 

P

 

Hey Phil, out of curiosity did you ever give Four Corners a try? their kit does look a little worn at times, but i've never had a problem with it, which hasn't been obvious to begin with.

 

 

 

For that budget Super 16 is totally a possibility, with a 5 to 1 shooting ratio stock, dev, telecine to SD would come to about £7000, and super 16 cameras can practically be borrowed for next to nothing if your happy to go a little older, especially from the big rentals.

 

Telecine to HD and a slightly kinder shooting ratio would probably still be a possibility, maybe for under £10 000 without the kit.

 

 

The EX1 though is quite a remarkable camera, its design (if your not Sony-wise) takes a little getting used to but it produces pictures that feel in league with the big-guys.

Edited by Andy_Alderslade

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-DVC PRO 50 compatibility

-Shoot 25p

-16:9 aspect ratio

 

 

Panasonic SDX900 PAL would do this. They rent in the $500 range. Super 16mm cameras rent in the $350 range plus $100-150 for a zoom lens and in you're in for comparable money. Granted, that doesn't account for film stock/processing/transfer, but the quality would be greatly increased.

 

I would seriously consider shooting HD though.

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I'm back again.

 

Even though it's still quite faraway from shooting my thoughts have rested on the EX3 for capture; I'll have to run it by the others before we finalize anything.

 

One question about the camera: what choices do you have when recording to disk via an HD-SDI connection? Is the limit 1080p, 4:2:0 at High Quality 35Mbps or can you record 4:2:2 at a different bitrate for the best image possible? Is this confined to Sony's higher-end cameras like the PDW-700?

 

What are the number of lenses available for 1/2 inch and 2/3 inch cameras. I would guess there are more 2/3rds than 1/2 inch lenses around.

 

Lastly, is there anything I should know about differing lens mounts?

Edited by Chris D Walker

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If you're going out through the HDSDI then it's 4:2:2 uncompressed, right off of the sensor. Hence why it's such a nice kit for the cost!

There are adapters for the 2/3" lenses, but there is differences in FOV of course due to the smaller imager. I would also bet there are more 2/3" lenses about, but I am unsure of this. A place like Abel Cine, or any big reseller/rental house will be able to help you out there, of course. Or you can try calling up Sony's professional division.

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hi chris.

i think dvc pro 50 is a good choice..or you can make another choice about camera.

but the most important thing is the way you make your film..

in my country indonesia where the equipment very expensive we make our movie with any camera eg. panasonic p2 or dvc pro.

i'm very sorry if my answer and my english very bad..i'm just happy to join in this forum :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

 

thx

 

shutter

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The intent is to have two distinct looks for exteriors and interiors.

 

Exteriors would be shot normal and wide with deep depth of field and have a high contrast look with a blue tint to suggest winter days. Ideally the weather would be overcast (something very likely being it's England).

 

Moving into the interior we would then changeover to long and telephoto shots for shallow focus in addition to a soft focus filter. To emphasize the warmth in difference to the exteriors we would set the colour balance to daylight, then use tungsten lights gelled with 1/4 or 1/2 CTB's. As the film progresses the interior colours and shots would change to the same as the exterior to suggest the change in emotional tone.

 

In terms of motion it would vary between static, dolly and hand-held shots dependent on the action on-screen. I'll be doing the storyboards once I have the final script.

 

I don't know everybody's thoughts about this but I would like to capture all the aesthetics and visual elements in-camera instead of relying on effects in post. It may be that it could turn into something 50/50 between the camera and colour grading but for the moment I'll be sticking to my first stance.

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Although it's possible to get some great rental deals on a Super 16 camera kit, it would be the cost of stock and the labs cost that would heavily eat into such a small budget, leaving very little left for production values. Since the UK broadcasters have mostly moved to video and HD, there aren't the short ends around any more.

 

The EX1 or EX3 seem to offer the best value. I'm not sure about it being worthwhile renting one of these, with these types of camera buying seems to be better over a longer period. You could then sell it and put the money back into the film.

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Although it's possible to get some great rental deals on a Super 16 camera kit, it would be the cost of stock and the labs cost that would heavily eat into such a small budget, leaving very little left for production values. Since the UK broadcasters have mostly moved to video and HD, there aren't the short ends around any more.

 

The EX1 or EX3 seem to offer the best value. I'm not sure about it being worthwhile renting one of these, with these types of camera buying seems to be better over a longer period. You could then sell it and put the money back into the film.

 

 

This is such a great suggestion. The EX series is an F900 in sheep's clothing. It uses some of the same circuity and algorithms of teh more expensive cameras and offers full raster HD. I have fallen in love with this camera which was designed specifically for the low budget market that wanted quality without the price.

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Although it's possible to get some great rental deals on a Super 16 camera kit, it would be the cost of stock and the labs cost that would heavily eat into such a small budget, leaving very little left for production values. Since the UK broadcasters have mostly moved to video and HD, there aren't the short ends around any more.

 

There are still a lot of Super 16 productions currently going on in the UK, its pretty much the BBC alone which has moved most of its drama production off Super 16. Though admittedly I've yet to see people to make the effort of shooting 16mm on short ends here, it seems the saving just isn't worth the effort.

 

As already said, its possible to shoot a feature on Super 16 for well under £10 000 worth of stock, dev and telecine. There are multiple options to keep up front costs down and how to blow up for festival and theatrical distribution. Thats perfectly suitable for their budget, depending on how much budget is required for other area's, art department etc...

 

Don't get me wrong I love the EX1 like Walter, (I just posted an example here http://www.cinematography.com/forum2004/in...showtopic=33251 ) but Super 16 does have some quite serious advantages, grading for example.

 

One factor to consider would be how much of the film is exterior/interior, personally super 16 just kicks-ass for day exteriors.

 

Just my two pence,

Andy

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There are still a lot of Super 16 productions currently going on in the UK, its pretty much the BBC alone which has moved most of its drama production off Super 16. Though admittedly I've yet to see people to make the effort of shooting 16mm on short ends here, it seems the saving just isn't worth the effort.

 

I know someone who made a feature for £12,000 about 14 years ago using a Bolex, but so far as making a saleable film at the present on this budget, I'd go for the spending the money on actors rather than film stock.

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