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Phil Rhodes

For once, a "what camera should I rent" post

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Hi folks,


I have a shoot coming up at the end of the month (about which I recently posted some location shots) for which I need high speed, because it's an action movie, and global shutter, because the production involves at least three sources of stroboscopic light which would otherwise cause problems.


These two requirements immediately make things very expensive to do in one camera. High end equipment such as an F65 or mech-shutter Alexa is impossible from a cost standpoint. I think what I may end up doing is getting an FS700 to do the high speed, where we probably won't care so much about being able to use strobes, and something else to do the rest of it.


The "something else" is really the question. I would prefer to end up with a 2/3" video camera because I'll likely be pulling my own focus, which works out fine because 2/3" video cameras invariably use global shutter CCDs. F900s are still alarmingly expensive, for some reason, although the thought had occurred to get something like that, ignore the HDCAM deck, and record it to flash.


Or, I could simply get one of the main manufacturers' simple ENG style cameras, which probably don't have appallingly worse basic imaging performance than the F series. One of the Sony PMW series, or Panasonic's HPX stuff. I could potentially get hold of a Viper, although I'm not anxious to end up in a difficult situation with regard to the log post and trying to make it match an FS700 (Viper is very clippy and videoish in videostream mode, and filmstream mode really demands uncompressed or very lightly compressed recording, which is a pain).


What do we think? I guess strictly speaking there probably are cameras that would do this all in one box - 2/3", global shutter, high speed - but they're used on live sports and generally aren't set up, or even available as a rental, for single camera field production work. Even if they were any cheaper than an Alexa, which they're probably not. And the way you'd have to record the high speed would be, well, strange.


As always, any thoughts gratefully received.



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Hmm.. that's a tough one Phil. I know you like pulling your own; but would it not be incredibly cheaper and easier just to do it all on the FS? You could try to get to a good 4/5.6 split and I'm sure you could pull your own focus off of that. That's how i'd go at least, though I am a pretty appalling focus puller-- hence why I love the ACs I have worked with. The F-900 to something like a hyperdeck shuttle is an interesting idea as well; but I don't know if the cost would justify it. Also, the money you'd save on rental could go to more lights for deeper stop.


my 2p.

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would it not be incredibly cheaper and easier just to do it all on the FS


Sure, but if I use strobes and flickering lights, etc., it'll tear like hell. I'd love to do it all on an FS700. To be honest, I'd rather avoid it as an A-camera there's a need for some fairly energetic handheld work on this particular production, and it is a little wobbly even under normal circumstances. Otherwise, it'd have been my default assumption.


The other thing is that the 700 does not, by default, have a particularly good recorder on it, and I'd probably feel the need to use something better regardless, not that that's really a problem. I'm not sure if any recorder that's currently available will sit on an FS700 and automagically record its high speed stuff as it debuffers, but I trust myself to hit the "go" button, if need be,


Also, I don't particularly like pulling my own focus, I just can't afford a puller. No offence to them, and it's among the first positions I'd fill with a real pro if I could because it isn't something with any latitude for mistakes - but it just isn't in the budget on this occasion.

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That's understandable in terms of the flickering lights ect (and lord knows I hate rolling shutters on pans). Still, I find most of those detriments are almost forgotten about now when people are actually watching the project. I just can't think of any really affordable global shutter cameras to do highspeed which don't cost an arm and an leg. As for codecs, the Hyperdeck Shuttles are very interesting. I've played with them and did some tests with an Af101 and really liked how they opened up the camera a bit-- and they're so cheap it's almost worth it to buy one yourself just to have 'round (and make production rent/purchase SSDs). Not sure, of course how it would handle the high-speed; but then again, if you're just doing high-speed on the camera itself and just using it for those highspeed shots, I might almost be inclined not to worry 'bout it too much and trust in/hope in the fact that the audience will be too caught up in the slo-mo to really notice any slight decreases in quality.


I also am very loathe to say but what about an older RedOne? You could in theory run it windowed, to get the DOF Characteristics 2/3" ish... though at a major decrease the real resolution. Again, you have the CMOS issues and lord knows I HATE how that camera particularly looks in most instances; but again, it seems it could be cost effective all in one box type thing. And any strobe 1/2 frames you could also just treat in post-- depending how many strobes you have going at once. Also you may die many deaths attempting to hand-hold the thing....



And if all else fails, go with the 900 see if you can throw a hyperdeck on it; and, throw in the FS700 for the high speed stuffs (and maybe keep onboard as a B cam-- something to tuck in quickly when you can?)


that's bout all i can think of this morning.

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