Monday, February 7, 2011

Camera decisions for the next feature...

It's been a busy few weeks. On top of editing the trailer for 'Their Law', i've also been editing the Howard Jones DVD/Blu-Ray. The 'Their Law' footage we shot with our Canon 550D's and the Howard concert was shot with a wide array of cameras.... one of which was the Canon XF305.

While editing the Canon 550D footage i've been both impressed and slightly depressed. Sometimes, when the lighting is right, the footage looks stunning. But, when things are a bit darker and the lighting isn't so perfect... noise creeps into the footage.  Now, i'm not dissing the whole DSLR thing... i've shot some great stuff on my 550D... but, they are not the holy grail... there are issues.

When i was editing the Howard Jones concert, i was stunned when i saw the XF305 footage. Compared to all the the other footage it was so much more faithful to what i remember seeing at the venue... the colours were amazing, but most of all, skin tones and hair details was so far removed from what i am used to seeing from video that it's caused me to rethink my camera decisions for the film. Colour grading the XF footage is great. You can pull it all over the place and it holds up. Compared to the EX3 footage from the same shoot, it's night and day.

I knew already that DSLR wasn't the route to go for the main 'A' camera. I don't want to worry about moire, rolling shutter and awkward workarounds. I love the DSLRs, but i'm happier using them for 'B' camera duties. I was giving serious thought to the Panasonic AF101... it's the obvious choice really, but the whole XF305 thing has thrown a spanner in the works.

It's down to 2 issues from what i can tell. 1) The data rate. The XF305 is 50Mbps. 2) The colour space... the XF305 is 4:2:2.

The 550D shoots at 44Mbps with a 4:2:0 colour space.

So now i'm thinking that 4:2:2 is making the difference here. Obviously, the Canon line-skipping on the DSLRs isn't helping here... but the XF305 was up against Sony EX3's, Sony XDCamHD cameras and Canon DSLRs in the Howard Jones edit... and it was easy to spot the XF305 footage on the timeline.  It was the only camera with a 4:2:2 colour space. that means i've got to choose between using an AF101 with a NanoFlash OR i go for the Sony F3 with a NanoFlash.  From what i've heard from people who have done comparisons between these 2 cameras, there's a big difference in the look.  Then there's the price. To get an F3 with 3 primes and an adapter to use my existing 35mm lenses is going to cost around £20,000. To get a similar set up with the AF101 is only about half that... in fact, if i forget the cinema primes and go for DSLR lenses, it would be even cheaper. But... there's talk of a Sony F1...(NXcam35)..maybe that will be the perfect camera for the job?

The Panasonic AF101

The NanoFlash.
The Sony PMW-F3

As bloody usual, it's a waiting game. We've just got to wait and see what the best camera is the month before the shoot and go with that... it's almost pointless making decisions now. Such is life now that the market is moving so fast.  I think what i've learnt though, is that without seeing the footage from these cameras, it's all a guessing game. Maybe the F3 doesn't need 4:2:2 to impress? I really need to see some raw footage and have a play with it.  I'm almost scared of going to the BVE again next week... i might get to try the Arri Alexa...and then i'll really be in trouble.

1 comment:

  1. hire the stuff and play with everything, I heard that arriflex have a Digital camera coming out, for use with their legendary primes. posible joy but likely 100k to buy the naked unit.