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DP New To HD

Published : 25th July 2004


Greetings from Richmond, VA. I'm a filmmaker with a background as a grip, electrician, and AC for many 35mm and 16mm shoots, as a daily news cameraman, and recently, as DP for 4 short films (all shot on Canon XL-1s, MiniDV).

As the in-house DP for a production company, I'll be the first to use their new F900 in the fall. They are sending me off to a workshop in the summer, but I want some of my questions answered now.

Will my knowledge of how to expose both film and DV help me learn to expose for HD?

Does HD take exposure more like film or DV?

Is it helpful to have an HD Engineer on-set?

What were some of your discoveries when going to HD from film or DV?

Basically, I'm trying to get over my anxiety of shooting on a new format soon. Thanks for reading.

Danny Eckler
-Grip/Electric/AC/DP/camera op
Richmond, VA



Danny Eckler writes :

>Will my knowledge of how to expose both film and DV help me learn to >expose for HD?

Without doubt, all experience is useful.

>Does HD take exposure more like film or DV?


I would say more like DV and I expect to get shot down by the HDCAM fans...

>Is it helpful to have an HD Engineer on-set?

If you can find a good one then yes, otherwise they can be as useful as a boat anchor when you go swimming.

>What were some of your discoveries when going to HD from film or DV?

That I needed to do my own tests to see how pictures would look going through the whole process because everyone was lying to me.

Cheers

Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net



>Does HD take exposure more like film or DV?

DV. The F900 is still basically a video camera with all the attendant weaknesses, the most important one to watch being lack of overexposure latitude.

A bunch of local video controllers went to a Santa Fe workshop recently and thought it was entertaining to hear the film people asking questions about exposure. "So if there's more underexposure latitude we should underexpose, right? If the camera is rated at EI 320 we should rate it at 400, right?"

The correct answer is the same as with DV: you have to be dead on.

>Is it helpful to have an HD Engineer on-set?

Yes. I've worked both ways with the F900 and I really prefer having a DIT (as we're calling them now ) right there to finesse. They are your on-set colorist, and if the productions you work on are anything like mine that'll be your only chance to tweak.

>What were some of your discoveries when going to HD from film or DV?

HD is very much a much improved form of video. It wants to be lit like film, that is to say it needs a bit of taste and subtlety. It needs to be exposed like video, which means careful attention to contrast and highlights. It helps to bring both your film and video talents to the table because it is very much a hybrid format: in front of the camera you need to treat it like film, but behind the camera you need to treat it like video.

>Basically, I'm trying to get over my anxiety of shooting on a new format >soon.

If you can shoot film and make it look nice and if you can shoot DV and make it look nice you can do the same for HD. Having a DIT on-set will make life even easier as you can concentrate on things other than the engineering.

Don't worry, be happy, you're going to be shooting HD!

Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"
http://www.artadams.net/
AIM: ArtAtoms



The beauty of HD is that what you see is what you get - no guessing.

If you see it an overexposure problem on the monitor - you are likely to have a problem. That's the one issue you can't fix in post. Once you're beyond 109% and it's all dead white, there's nothing to get back. The same is true with film - if it's clear - there's nothing to get back. Pick your poison. Film - underexposure causes grief. HD overexposure causes grief.

Maybe it's just me but I don't understand what difference it makes which end of the scale causes me grief. As a filmmaker, storyteller, image-maker, I just want to tell the damn story. I'll avoid the pitfalls at whatever end of the scale I need to make the images work.

There are plenty of reasons to shoot film and an equal number of reasons to shoot HD. Different flavours, different looks, different economics. I am an image-making whore I'll use whatever I can to make whatever works under the circumstances I have to deal with.

Paying attention to the limitations of any medium - film - video - HD -data capture - is just being smart. You can't break the rules unless you know the boundaries.

Can we move past the film vs HD vs whatever is coming down the pike please?

Personally I love them all - in fact - I wish my fingers were back in the soup - or that we could shoot Autochrome motion images or better yet go check out the guy who really invented color photography in 1890. The Czar's official photographer. 30 years before a couple of musicians in Rochester figured out a practical way of doing color.

Getting hung up on better worse is to miss the point. We have tools. They don't all work the same but in the end it's light and shadow and color.

Robert Goodman
Filmmaker/Author
"Goodman's Guide to the Panasonic SDX900"



Since receiving replies from my post (emails as well), I've actually slept better. You guys have helped me more than you know. My initial doubt about HD has turned into an excitement I can't control. Plus, I just learned that HD experience is limited in this town, putting me one step ahead.

I'm sure I'll be back for more, can't get enough of your guys help!

Danny Eckler
DP/AC/Grip
Richmond, VA