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Published : 25th July 2004


I met a UK director for a C4 Documentary slot last week who said she was 'looking forward to working with a proper crew as she shot most of her own material on a pd150'.

Maybe I'm either being naive or merely behind the times, or even both, but are these cameras now accepted as 'acceptable broadcast quality'? I've used them myself as 'crash disposables' on DigiBeta jobs where you stick a couple of seconds in for effect.

Secondly there's the aspect of the director as the one man band .. also now the norm?

I'm putting this in 'chat' as I would like your opinions, observations, experiences and anecdotes rather than righteous professional indignation.

Mike Costelloe
Cam Op/ LCam UK Based



Since Americas Funniest Video (AFV) there is no longer a rigid "Broadcast Standard"

Many networks will hold onto lowest common denominators but cable shows will let you get away with murder.

However Discovery channel for instance in their high end shows will only allow no more than 5% DV footage and no more than 30 seconds at a Pop.

I consider it the same as VHS and those that use it often are doing it to show others the value of the project or subject and then will go back and reshoot with more money and a proper format.

There are many that were told incorrectly that it was acceptable for Whole TV Shows and for the most part that's just not the case.

Unless you get the famous shot of Osama Bin Laden being taken down in a shoot out and you were the only camera there it likely will have limited distribution.

B. Sean Fairburn SOC
Director of Photography
Castaic Ca



>There are many that were told incorrectly that it was acceptable for >Whole TV Shows and for the most part that's just not the case.

What exactly are the new crop of Discovery shows being shot on anyway? Most look like they're shot on DV 100% (or is it VHS? LOL)

You know, the motorcycle stuff, gardening/improvement shows, etc. It's unbelievable.

John Babl



I know that for most "doc" programs for outfits like The History Channel, A&E and Discovery, the interviews usually have to be shot on at least Beta SP, but then re-enactments are often photographed on DV since they like to muck up the images on these anyway.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



>Maybe I'm either being naive or merely behind the times, or even both, >but are these cameras now accepted as 'acceptable broadcast quality'?

The excellent Documentary "Lost in La Mancha" was shot on PAL PD 150s.

It looked a bit soft with limited color palette on the big screen film out, but composition and camerawork by the two French gentlemen responsible for it was excellent. On the DVD release it is excellent all around on a monitor.

A case of a professional crew making the difference, not the equipment. My own problem with most handy cam style rigs is the control layout, lens controls, manual functions, etc. Not the picture quality. It's like the difference between a Ricoh 35mm still camera and a Nikon F. A good photographer can take an excellent picture with both, but the F is much better designed and built for a work pro.

Remember, the only thing that makes a DigiBeta as big is it is, is the tape transport. recording the same signal to a hard drive it could be much smaller, etc.

Steven Bradford DP
Collins College
Phoenix AZ



>The excellent Documentary "Lost in La Mancha" was shot on PAL PD >150s.

And a Pal JVC DV500, the footage from which looked a lot better in the theatre than that from the PD-150.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



Thanks for the replies guys...

Steven Bradford wrote:

>A case of a professional crew making the difference, not the equipment.

As per my original post this was part of the question, were the director was shooting her own interviews on a pd150. I actually do look forward to seeing them, as they may be very good, but it is the trend towards cutting out the crew altogether!

Mitch Gross wrote :

(The excellent Documentary "Lost in La Mancha" was shot on PAL PD 150s. )

>"And a Pal JVC DV500, the footage from which looked a lot better in the >theatre than that from the PD-150."

..and I'm sure if it had been shot on S16mm it would have been even better.

The question is when all the experimentation is done what will we be left with?

I saw a projected 'feature' in the earlier days of 'mixed multi media', which was a way of shooting to guarantee funding in the UK some years ago, shot on S16mm, Digibeta and DV. The DV material with it's heavy filtration and odd quality was astounding to watch when juxtaposed with the other formats. I seem to remember the film was called 'I Could Read the Sky', with the DV being used for flashback sequences and such.

I come from a career where I have worked almost exclusively on film, both 16 and 35 until stepping up to operating and encountering DigiBeta cameras on lower end drama shows. We used DV cameras as 'crash' cameras within these shows, when shooting stunts and such.

Are the pd150's significantly better than the lower end DV cameras, read single chip types, or are we now going in this direction?

I will make an effort to see 'Lost in Mancha'.

Once again thanks for replies, they are an eye opener!

Mike Costelloe
Cam Op/ LCam UK Based