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Multiple F900’s

Published : 28th January 2004


I am talking to a Director about an upcoming HD Feature project. He has proposed that he wants to shoot with TWO F900's.

This is a very tightly budgeted project…(is there any other kind?). There will be no engineer.

I am feeling like two camera's is more work and will actually slow things down. Every time we decide on a look, some of which we'll want to create 'in-camera', I will have to work with each camera individually. I also feel that a WF/VS will be an absolute necessity in order to match the cameras, whereas I'm more comfortable with one camera if I can't have them. Am I correct in feeling that I can't simply create a look in ONE F900 and then transfer the data to the 2nd one and it will match perfectly? Am I making a bigger deal out of this than it really is?

Thanks bunches.

Roderick Stevens
www.restevens.com
12on/12off



>...TWO F900's... very tightly budgeted project... There will be no >engineer.

Roderick is right in that if you're looking to create various looks in-camera, and you are sans true DIT or Engineer, then it will be trouble to match the 2nd camera on-set without sacrificing your time blocking, lighting, rehearsing dolly moves, and generally working with the director. Sometimes it can be trouble just matching cameras to begin with if you cannot dedicate the time (and it'll always take you longer than a talented/dedicated Engineer).

I think the only realistic way to approach this is to build 3-5 looks ahead of time (hopefully with an Engineer) and then write those to separate A & B MS (which are specific to that A & B camera's base look). And then hope you don't have to trade out a body.

I like using 2 cameras when I'm on a tough schedule - I recently did a feature with 2 F900's, no Engineer or DIT even during prep. Lots of help from Panavision Woodland Hills and Nolan Murdock (thanks!). Not enough time allowed to prep/test, so I built a couple of scene files to start, then tweaked and added as I went along. Our B-Camera/Steadicam Operator was Eric Fletcher, and he and I suffered our way through the DIT responsibilities, but we sure would've preferred someone dedicated to that. Eric's really great with that stuff - we're both comfy with the menus - but it just takes time to chase your tail through the menus (and remote) to tweak the color/contrast/gamma to match or manufacture a specific look.

And the thing that still bugs me about "engineering" 24p HD : Detail. For pure perfection you need to dial it in separately for each shot (depending on its focal length, subject matter, lighting, contrast, etc.) but that's not always possible. Honestly I find this aspect very difficult to control thoroughly and consistently. Meaning, for it to look truly consistent, you need to mess with the detail/enhancement - often times turning it way down on CU's. One time on a beach the sand turned hyper-real when we tightened the lens, and everyone will tell you that you can adjust Aperture Correction in post, but its actually not that easy to sharpen/soften things in post. Maybe by next year, but not yet and not industry-wide.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP



Mark Doering-Powell wrote:

>For pure perfection you need to dial it in separately for each shot >(depending on its focal length, subject matter, lighting, contrast, etc.) but >that's not always possible.

Which is one reason why these cameras are a real pain. Properly these things shouldn't have to be dealt with on-set, but could be dealt with in post, as film is in telecine.

Jeff Kreines



>Which is one reason why these cameras are a real pain. Properly these >things shouldn't have to be dealt with on-set, but could be dealt with in >post, as film is in…

Saddle up the horses Mildred were going into town.

Rod, Email me I'll give you the simple technique that will make it work for you.

Sean Fairburn



>...feel that a WF/VS will be an absolute necessity in order to match the >cameras, whereas I'm more comfortable with one camera if I can't have >them.

I have found that at least a WF and VEC ARE A NECESSITY AND I WOULD NOT TRUST ANY EYE ASPECT OR PRESET without BEING ABLE TO MATCH AND Check EE as well as Playback... ALSO the cost of a VIDEO ENG person seems to be a much needed cost and in the long run much cheaper then Matching the cameras and taking care of actual electronic inconsistencies on set before capture then FIX IT IN POST.....

I have done a few Commercial and Music HD productions and ABC set up and I have found the ENG is a PART of the TEAM and a needed or useful and well worth the cost in time savings and camera matching as well as video inconsistencies due to LOCATION and Variable TEMPS CONDENSATION etc...

Thank you,

*)o(* BLS Barry Shankman
co-director
www.blsvideo.com



B. Sean Fairburn wrote :

>Rod, Email me I'll give you the simple technique that will make it work >for you.

Ah, c'mon Sean, share a little.

Surely a simple technique (or even hints) for f900 multicamera creating and matching various in-camera looks without Engineer could be posted here and not only for Rod's benefit. No ? Wonder why the secrecy ?

Mark Doering-Powell



Roderick wrote:

>I am feeling like two camera's is more work and will actually slow things >down.


- Yes, it is more work. That is you get more work shot for the same time spent setting up. Yes, it will slow you down without extra crew. There should also be an engineer, if you plan on doing anything other than simple shooting with more than one camera. A HD waveform/vectorscope will be ideal to keep things matched. Right next to your waveform monitor, get a couple 9" HD monitors to display the menu text with some RM-B150 remotes for controlling the two camera set-ups quicker, without having to squint through the little eyepieces all the time. You should also have a couple of matched BVM D24 or D20's to evaluate everything in your dark tent.

>Am I correct in feeling that I can't simply create a look in ONE F900 and >then transfer the data to the 2nd one and it will match perfectly?

- Perfectly? No. But, if you keep the cameras matched with every major setup change, you will come close. Make sure your camera angles work together in line for coverage. If an "A" and "B" camera setup just won't work, utilize the set up time for both cameras anyway, and then shoot "A" to be immediately followed by "B" after your tweak or just to remove "A" out of the shot quickly. Do not expect the "60 minute" style shooting to make your life easier for lighting or camera matching. Plan your shots and set-ups well, be decisive with set maps and thumbnail sketches with the other operator.

Don't compromise too much for the second camera, know when it will slow you down.

Good Luck,

Eric Adkins
DP, Los Angeles



>Which is one reason why these cameras are a real pain. Properly these >things shouldn't have to be dealt with on-set, but could be dealt with in >post, as film is in telecine.

Only when the post production community can get by the need for a videotape cassette, and implement data from the acquisition point through the entire post production work flow process. Reminds me of the scene in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker and Obie Wan arrive in Tattooine in their land speeder, are surrounded by the Empire army, and Obie Wan uses the "Power" of telepathy on the Empire soldiers as he "suggests" to them that "they" (he and Luke) are OK, "let them pass". Only in this case it is the "Empire" using the power to telepathically (?) implant the message to let videotape "pass". S-Two has a terrific removable disk solution for Viper 4:4:4 Uncompressed, Unprocessed acquisition (gee, just like film except for the data acquisition). With that it IS dealt with entirely in post, as film is. Yes the cost is an issue temporarily, temporarily. But since this is a community of artists and we always insist on the providers to fix such things.........

Now for the nay Sayers.........any bets on how many postings will say it's impossible? 40, 50, 100?

GEORGE C. PALMER
HDPIX, INC.
HD and Digital Imaging Services
www.hdpix.com

==========================================

(Sean Fairburn has very kindly assisted by supplying the information that was eluded to during the course of this discussion. . .many thanks for the help and expertise)


Here is what I would tell someone desiring to work with Multiple f-900s for a HD Shoot going out to Film.

1) This sounds simple but its a very big deal :

Get both cameras from the same rental house. This will go a long way in making the cameras see the same way when they get set up by the same engineer. The numbers may not match but the pictures should absolutely match.

I highly recommend that you the DP be there during this process at this point you are watching the in house engineer do a few things.

Insure Framerate is appropriate.
White Shading
Black Shading
Knee point and slope
Gamma
Master Black
Flair
Detail (ABS) Absolute
White Balance (A & B)
Black Balance
Lit Pixels (capped lens at 18 db Gain)
Color matrix (ITU 709, smite 601, 240M)
Lens Files for EVERY lens you are going to use.
Label lens Set for Cam A and Cam B in Lens File.
Back Focus ALL lenses

If you did nothing else but this you would be well within range for cameras to match. The best way to get beautiful matching pictures is to start with them that way.

The next thing is common sense but it it deserves being said :

Whatever you do to one camera do the the other as well.
CC, ND, Shutter, Gain, WB on Same chart in same light at same time.

Any User Matrix, Multi Matrix, Gamma, Black Gamma shift use the same numbers in both cameras. Use same external filtration Schneider or Tiffen don't mix them. Diffusion is OK (wide shot 1/8th and tight shot 1/2 or whatever)

2) Now test the color correction and ND set up both cameras side by side shooting a DSC Chart and plug both cameras into one monitor through a VFM monitor use the A-B to toggle the cameras and roll through all internal and external filtration. if there are discrepancies (say in both 6400K filters looking different) re-white balance and see if this matches them back. watch the <P2> Page looking at the White R-B numbers as you do this so you can see the offsets.

3) Test roll on color bars and picture then play back to insure recorder works.

Also Toggle through A-B during playback as well.

If you don't have an in house engineer prepping your camera then you should hire someone qualified to perform these functions or learn how to fly yourself.

B. Sean Fairburn
Director of Photography