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class="style5" Sony - Varicam and Color

>Published : 31st Juy 2005

>I've gotten several comments off-list stating that any competent DIT can get the same exact look out of both an F900 and a Varicam. I'm skeptical.

Anyone have any thoughts on that?

>Personally, I look at the F900 and I still see "Sony colors." They don't quite track right. The Varicam tracks color vastly better according to my eye although I don't see the shades of tonalities that I do on the Sony.

>Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"
http://www.artadams.net/
Local resources : http://www.artadams.net/localcrew


class="Paragraph">>Personally, I look at the F900 and I still see "Sony colors." They don't >quite track right. The Varicam tracks color vastly better according to my >eye although I don't see the shades of tonalities that I do on the Sony.

>How does the compression differ?

>Dale Launer
writer.filmmaker
Santa Monica


class="Paragraph">>How does the compression differ?

>Dale,

>The compression on the Varicam is 6.7, on HDCAM is 4.4 at 24p. Remember however that that's the overall final compression after all the pre-filtering. The overall data rates are very close (99.5mbs for the Varicam vs 112mbs for HDCAM).

>There had been some lengthy discussion on this in the past and I've included some numbers below which should clearly illustrate. Thanks again to Glenn for his help correcting my original errors. I have included his beautifully worked out data rates for most major HD formats at the end.

>Varicam Before Compression (assuming 10-bits/sample)
(((1280x720) + (640x720) + (640x720)) * 10[bits]) * 60[frames] = 1.106 gbps

>Varicam after Prefiltering and Truncation to 8 bits
(((960x720) + (480x720) + (480x720)) * 8[bits]) * 60[frames] = 663.6 mbps

>Varicam after Compression
663.6 mbps / 6.667 = 99.5 mbps

>HDCAM 24P before compression (assuming 10-bits/sample)
(((1920x1080) + (960x1080) + (960x1080)) * 10[bits]) * 24 [frames] = 995.3
mbps

>HDCAM 24P after Prefiltering and Truncation to 8 bits
(((1440x1080) + (480x1080) + (480x1080)) * 8[bits]) * 24 [frames] = 497.7
mbps

>HDCAM 24P after Compression
497.7 mbps / 4.444 = 112.0 mbps

>The most important point here is that the Varicam is always 60p and thus takes up the same amount of data irrespective of frame rate, unlike the Sony, which varies.
_______________

>HDCAM 24P, 50i, 60i
Unfiltered Pixels/line 1920 (Y) + 960 (Cb) + 960 (Cr) = 3,840 total
Prefiltered Pixels/line 1440 (Y) + 480 (Cb) + 480 (Cr) = 2,400 total

>Prefiltered Pixels/line 2,400
x Lines per frame 1080
Prefiltered Pixels/frame 2,592,000
x Bits per pixel 8
Prefiltered bits per frame 20,736,000
x Frames per second (at 24P) 24
Prefiltered bits per second 497,664,000
÷ Compression Ratio 4.44444
Compressed bits per second 111,974,512

>Prefiltered bits per frame 20,736,000
x Frames per second (at 50i) 25
Prefiltered bits per second 518,400,000
÷ Compression Ratio 4.44444
Compressed bits per second 116,640,117

>Prefiltered bits per frame 20,736,000
x Frames per second (at 60i) 30
Prefiltered bits per second 622,080,000
÷ Compression Ratio 4.44444
Compressed bits per second 139,968,140

>From this, you can see that Sony adopted ONE standard of picture quality and a data rate that varies with the frame rate. Accordingly, you get longer record times at 24P that you do at 60i.

>DVCPRO-HD Varicam
Unfiltered Pixels/line 1280 (Y) + 640 (Cb) + 640 (Cr) = 2,560 total
Prefiltered Pixels/line 960 (Y) + 480 (Cb) + 480 (Cr) = 1,920 total

>Prefiltered Pixels/line 1,920
x Lines per frame 720
Prefiltered Pixels/frame 1,382,400
x Bits per pixel 8
Prefiltered bits per frame 11,059,200
x Frames per second (at 60P) 60
Prefiltered bits per second 663,552,000
÷ Compression Ratio 6.66667
Compressed bits per second 99,532,750

>DVCPRO-HD 60i
Unfiltered Pixels/line 1920 (Y) + 960 (Cb) + 960 (Cr) = 3,840 total
Prefiltered Pixels/line 1280 (Y) + 640 (Cb) + 640 (Cr) =2,560 total

>Prefiltered Pixels/line 2,560
x Lines per frame 1080
Prefiltered Pixels/frame 2,764,800
x Bits per pixel 8
Prefiltered bits per frame 22,118,400
x Frames per second (at 60i) 30
Prefiltered bits per second 663,552,000
÷ Compression Ratio 6.66667
Compressed bits per second 99,532,750

>DVCPRO-HD 50i
Unfiltered Pixels/line 1920 (Y) + 960 (Cb) + 960 (Cr) = 3,840 total
Prefiltered Pixels/line 1440 (Y) + 720 (Cb) + 720 (Cr) = 2,880 total

>Prefiltered Pixels/line 2,880
x Lines per frame 1080
Prefiltered Pixels/frame 3,110,400
x Bits per pixel 8
Prefiltered bits per frame 24,883,200
x Frames per second (at 50i) 25
Prefiltered bits per second 622,080,000
÷ Compression Ratio 6.66667
Compressed bits per second 93,311,953

>The most important point here is that the Varicam is always 60p and thus takes up the same amount of data irrespective of frame rate, unlike the Sony, which varies.

>Hope this helps,

>Chris Cooke-Johnson
Director
Creative Junction Inc.
Barbados
www.creativejunction.com


class="Paragraph">>Personally, I look at the F900 and I still see "Sony colors." They don't >quite track right. The Varicam tracks color vastly better according to my >eye although I don't see the shades of tonalities that I do on the Sony.

>I've gotten them to look very similar but at cost. One thing Sony has always been consistent at is their 'look'. Some describe it as a pastel look. I often refer to it as what happens when you put on certain types of sunglasses, the colors all change slightly and no longer appear exactly as they do in real life. From the late eighties and early nineties when Sony first started to 'make it' selling cameras, folks have always dealt with the challenge of making them 'match' with other cameras that see the world in true color such as Ikegami. In fact last week I was doing a corporate project for Watchovia bank. I had my Ike SP along with two Sony IMX cameras. I was able to match the cameras. But I think one of the cameramen said it best, you have to dumb down your camera to make it work, don't you? And to me the answer is yes! With HD, it's no different.

>While I know some love the pastel look of Sony cameras, I choose the more natural palette that Panasonic makes. I look at my Varicam as an Ikegami because frankly it was designed by two of Ikegmi's top engineers, hence why when I turn it on and look through the viewfinder, I feel like I'm using an Ike. I had to match it with a F900 on a project up at Harvard business school not long ago. While I was able to make them look very similar, I again had to dumb down the look of my Varicam to make a color match with Sony. So yes it can be done, but in the end you might have to squint a little if you know what the color looked like on an Panasonic camera.

>Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.
www.bluesky-web.com
Offices in NYC and Amherst Mass.


>Don't forget thought that while the Varicam is recording around 100Mb/s, it's always doing that irrespective of frame rate, so when you're recording at 24p, and "throwing out" all those extra frames, your bit-rate just went down to around 40Mb/s.

>At that point, you can see the the Varicam is using around 1.5Mb/s per frame, while the Sony is using 6Mb/s for each frame, a difference of 4x more compression on the part of the Panasonic. In fact, at 40Mb/s, the Varicam is more compressed than DV25, since that's 25Mb/s being applied to an NTSC frame, not an HD one which is 3x the resolution!

>Jason Rodriguez
Post Production Artist
Virginia Beach, VA


>Art Adams writes :

class="Paragraph">>I've gotten several comments off-list stating that any competent DIT can >get the same exact look out of both an F900 and a Varicam. I'm >skeptical. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

>Those of us who match live cameras for a living are routinely placed in environments where different cameras are intercut, live, and we're able to get a decent match. For example: On a 30+ camera Olympic venue, its often not even possible to get all the same cameras.

>Sony (Different generations of Sonys look very different from one another), Ikegami, and Phillips (which really do look different from anything!!! [Right Mark?]) cameras are all intercut, yet they'll match acceptably. All those "Handles" (Matrix, Saturation, etc.) are designed for that purpose.

>Example :

>Think of an audio mixer who uses equalization to match the sound of different microphones or the accoustics of different concert halls.

>Same idea.

>Lew Comenetz - Video Engineer USA.


>All I know is... when I shoot with an F900 the colors are always a little off. It's not so much that they're more pastel, it's just that they don't seem to track right or look real.

>Out of the box the Varicam tracked every color I shot perfectly. I shot some pretty colors that I've never seen accurately reproduced on tape... until now. I've never seen that in a video camera before. There's a dent in my jaw where it hit the ground.

>I'm disappointed by the lack of resolution, but as long as you don't blow it up to movie screen sizes it should work marvelously. I'm going to have to take a look at compression and noise a bit more seriously too. But... after seeing those colors I really want to shoot with it more often.

>Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>You can almost always get the results you want from any tool you are using.

>It just depends on how hard you are willing to work and what compromises you are willing to make to get there. The Cinealta and VariCam cameras have their strengths and weaknesses.

>What each of us prefers seems a waste of time for a professional discussion list. I happen to prefer a warmer look for most things - except when a colder look would be more effective. A perfect example is that if you had asked me about what I prefer to watch in color balance terms I would have said I don't like cold blue-balanced looking films.

>Too distancing for my tastes. Yet, "Northfork", which David Mullen brilliantly photographed, I felt was magnificent, and if you asked me today to watch something cool blue in balance, I'd still say I'd prefer something warm until the story and cinematography mesh.

>Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer/Producer
Philadelphia, PA


class="Paragraph">>You can almost always get the results you want from any tool you are >using. It just depends on how hard you are willing to work and what >compromises you are willing to make to get there.

>This feels a little dismissive. I've tried to get an "Ikegami look" out of a BVW-D600 and I've never been able to pull it off well enough for my taste. I've seen same model cameras that are set up with the same matrix settings and look completely different. At the speed at which I have to work, and considering I rarely get a choice of which rental company I get my gear from because that's more often driven by price than anything else, I don't have the time to make sure the cameras I use are always set up at a baseline that I like, or that they show up on the set looking like another camera I wasn't able to rent. And I've never been able to make a Sony look like an Ikegami. Not really.

>I'm not talking about matching cameras because nearly all my work is single camera "film" style.

>I prefer Ikegami over Sony. I prefer Sony HD over Sony SD. I prefer Panasonic's color over both Sony and Ikegami. Telling me I can make any of those cameras look like the others if I'm willing to compromise doesn't really help me, because when I compromise I'm not totally getting what I want. Why should I compromise an F900 when I can use a Varicam without compromising?

>Also... who has the time to work at these looks? It's not like they give us prep days in the HD world. They certainly don't in my area. I have a rental house whose cameras I trust implicitly and I try to steer people to that facility because I know when the camera shows up on the set my DIT will have very little extra work to do before I can shoot. If the camera comes from somewhere else... who knows what it's going to look like? I don't have time for that. I'd rather order the right camera for the right job first time around.

>I'm getting emails from people saying, "If you switch off the matrix the F900 and the Varicam will look exactly the same." For the work I'm doing I NEVER switch off the matrix. That look just doesn't fly, either with me or my clients. And, using the matrix alone, I've not been able to get one brand's look out of another brand's camera, especially when one of the brands is Sony.

>Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>Art,

>Wasn't meant to be dismissive. Just saying that you can make all of these cameras reproduce a scene in much the same way if you are willing to spend hours doing the work it requires. Not suggesting that you should do this exercise or purchase/rent a camera because it's possible to make one look similar to another camera.

>We buy/rent based on our personal preferences re: tonal and color reproduction, controls that seem intuitive, placement of buttons, switches, knobs. It all comes down to what's easiest for to use. So, if VariCam is your favorite tool - great. That makes my friends at Panasonic very happy. If Cinealta is your favorite tool - great. That makes the folks at Band Pro very happy - I'd say Sony but all my friends there have been laid off, retired or quit. And Ikegami unfortunately hasn't been much of a presence since the days when the 79 series owned the market.

>As more and options become easily available - from Arri's D20, Dalsa's Origin, Kreines' Kinetta, to Thomson's Viper - perhaps we could discuss what quality reproduction means and where all of these options could be improved.

>Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer/Producer
Philadelphia, PA


class="Paragraph">> I prefer Ikegami over Sony. I prefer Sony HD over Sony SD. I prefer >Panasonic's color over both Sony and Ikegami.

>So don't rent Sony's. Problem solved

>Seriously, it's always been about compromise whether it film of video. That is what makes you a professional, the ability to take something and make it work. As a professional I rarely ever 'get what I want', but the reward is taking a challenge and exceeding in a result. I've painted Sony cameras pretty damn good in the past when I needed more from them. Like you many others know the differences between Sony cameras and others. That pastel look as I call it is very similar to what you describe, colors simply are not as real as to my eye. But if that is what I am using I make the best of it and even surprise myself often with what I can accomplish.

>I'm surprised that folks are still concentrating on numbers, and compression, and pixels, and formulas, and all the other digital noise and not out simply making nice pictures. Sometimes I find that when you turn off the reasoning mind and simply let the art flow, you make better pictures than when you sit and worry about compression, color, matrix and all the other stuff. Lately I have been making some pretty nice pictures by putting the camera on my shoulder and looking through the eye piece.

>Just shot two new series and did about as little as I could worrying about all the picture manipulation available and concentrated on making nice pictures. All the gimmicks and gadgets are nice but I'm beginning to find it all a diversion and holding me back from making my best work.

>There was a day when a professional engineer was the only one to touch the matrix and any of the other controls inside a camera. Sometimes I wonder if it was big mistake to allow the masses to do so too.

>Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.


>Just shot back to back jobs...Sony 900/3-Varicam. I prefer the Panny (at least for the small screen). Speed CTRL. is easy and well understood on the Panasonic with shutter adjustments which roughly correlate with a film camera. Nice to know you've got it, and post will get it too. Good color, rich image. Compared to Super-35mm though...it....Um.... IMHO.

Nick Hoffman

IA DP NYC


class="Paragraph">>Just shot back to back jobs...Sony 900/3-Varicam. I prefer the Panny (at >least for the small screen).

>Nick, or anyone who wants to answer... do you think you could make an F900 look like a Varicam, color-wise? Would you even try?

>Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>You Guys need to learn how to Season your Chilli and Stay off the Store Bought stuff.

>Both of them look Unusable IMHO

>Both of them need some Tuning to taste.

>Don't complain about the Look when all you have to do is do some tweaking yourself. (Add some salt yourself) Hi Walter

>If you don’t know how to do this take the Camera to an engineer or Shader and talk to them like you would a Colorist.

>But That's just it you gotta know what you want the Color to look like, or at least be able to decide once you have seen it.

>I like to start with the camera conveying what my Eye sees.

>Neither camera does this out the Box, but both are possible with a little tuning.

>Have Fun Testing and tasting

>B. Sean Fairburn SOC
Director of Photography
Castaic Ca


>Behalf Of Art Adams

class="Paragraph">>Nick, or anyone who wants to answer... do you think you could make an >F900 look like a Varicam, color-wise? Would you even try?

>We do it all the time...It should be a walk in the park for any good VC...

>Tom Tcimpidis


>Art Adams writes :

class="Paragraph">>For the work I'm doing I NEVER switch off the matrix.

>INFORMATIONAL NOTE :

>The above statement implies that the matrix in a TV camera should NEVER be turned off. Readers please note: There is an entire industry segment that operates with the matrix turned off. Perhaps a majority of the shows we all watch on TV are shot "Matrix Off".

>"Matrix" is a fancy word for color corrector & enhancer. It is to video what "Equalization" is to audio. Just as many audio mixers avoid using equalization when recording raw sound (because it changes things from the get-go AND can get you into trouble), many video operators, colorists, and DIT's turn the matrix off.

>This is not an arguement to say that you should turn your camera matrix on or off. It is merely to point out that a huge portion of the industry operates in this fashion. Personally? I operate in both modes, depending on the subject matter, the intent of the people I am working for, and other such factors.

class="Paragraph">>And, using the matrix alone, I've not been able to get one brand's look >out of another brand's camera, especially when one of the brands is >Sony.

>If you flip on your TV right now, and start channel surfing, you will undoubtedly surf past shows which have more than one brand's camera in use. On large shows, that have 20 or 30 cameras, or which employ specialty cameras (Super-Slo Mo's POV's etc.) its simply not possible to get a matched inventory of cameras at one location. Yet, the cameras seem to match!

>Similarly, in single camera documentary or film style shooting, where multiple camera crews are nationally and internationally deployed, there's little control of what cameras are in use, yet the footage is intercut, AND... Guess what? A lot of it seems to match! (Sometimes with color correction, but often not--Many shows don't have the budget, time, or sophistication.)

>I routinely work on telecasts where Sony, Ikegami, Phillips, (and occasionally Hitachi) cameras are intercut. The cameras have all those "Handles" (Color balance, Matrix, Saturation, Gamma, etc.) for the express purpose of getting them to match (multi-camera) or to get a certain "look" (single camera).

>So, to imply that [its not possible] "to get one brand's look out of another brand's camera" is untrue. I see it every day. I do it every day. With some cameras (Phillips) it can take some work (because the Phillips cameras really do look different than the others!). With others, it is not much effort at all.

>Lew Comenetz - Video Engineer


>Art Adams wrote:

class="Paragraph">> Nick, or anyone who wants to answer... do you think you could make an >F900 look like a Varicam, color-wise? Would you even try

>2 years ago while evaluating f900- varicam for a feature, Bexel NY was kind enough to give me a room with both cameras and plenty of time to look, mouse & click menus and the like. Walter Graff came by to play for a while and to be honest the cameras are so plastic with their software controls that they could be made to emulate each other.

>Ok but don't be fooled by a demo in a camera set up room. If you have enough time to tweak you can in fact make any camera look like almost anything *inside the confines of a given set up*. Turn the camera around and look at something outside your setup up or compare Macbeth charts after you think you have a match. This is usually where the problems show up in my experience. sometimes you have to give up more from one camera to get the match to another camera type in a given set up, which can whack out color reproduction in a different situation.

>And if you get reds to look similar between Sony and Panasonic you may lose the match between some secondaries in the spectrum.

>From my experience I have to agree with Art's observation about the Panasonic. Given the free choice between Sony & Panasonic I went Panasonic and was not in the least disappointed. I saw my film projected on a 35 foot screen at last year's Tribeca film festival and was really satisfied with the look of the result. as was the director. My preconception was that the image would be falling apart at that screen size, but I was wrong. It still looked really good. Another observation from that experience: the noise that I saw in the VF while shooting, which I have to admit caused me some concern as we did not have the time to test through post, was not apparent on the screen.

>Depends what signal you route to the viewfinder I suppose.

>Mark Smith DP
Oh Seven Films Inc.


>Mark Smith writes :

class="Paragraph">>Bexel NY was kind enough to give me a room with both cameras and >plenty of time to look, mouse & click menus and the like.to be honest >the cameras are so plastic with their software controls that they could >be made to emulate each other

>FInally!! Hooray!! I recall this to be the first post on this subject which mentions viewing two cameras side by side in an A/B switch comparison test: The only valid way to do it.

>Any other way brings subjectiveness of recall, differences in the image chain (other than the cameras themselves), differences in viewing conditions, setup, monitors, processing, etc., into play. And yes, most modern cameras have "handles" that enable them to be manipulated any which way, as reported above.

Lew Comenetz -

Video Engineer, USA.


>Walter wrote :

class="Paragraph">>All the gimmicks and gadgets are nice but I'm beginning to find it all a >diversion and holding me back from making my best work."

>I agree!

>It seems to me we DP's can get caught up in the infinite details of on site picture manipulation when in fact most of what we need or want, can and probably should be done in post.

>Sure we're going to want a bit of filtration to effect a scene or a polarizer to help with a windshield shot but those are basic tools that you carry along on any shoot.

>That color correction stage or the transfer stage if film, is where you want to be if your trying to achieve "A Look"!

>Spend your time telling the story and never forget, it's hard to undo the mess you made meddling in the field!

>This, of course, is just my opinion!

>Allen S. Facemire
DP/Director
SaltRun Productions,inc.
Atlanta


class="Paragraph">>Ok but don't be fooled by a demo in a camera set up room. If you have >enough time to tweak you can in fact make any camera look like almost >anything *inside the confines of a given set up*.

>Up to a point, for sports maybe, but in side-by-side testing nothing will overcome the difference between the Black processing in Sony methodology and almost all other cameras. The designed-in compression (Analog gray scale not Digital space saving) in the Sony blacks subtly but detectably alters the colorimetric performance of the cameras in the lower gray scale much more than is normally observable in those other cameras. Now for sports, this is actually noticable, i.e. in the almost always innacurate color of grass and the loss of luminance reproduction in shadow areas, but is so prevalent that most sports (production, technical, and even most video) folks not only don't see this chromatic abberation as a problem, but have come to define it as the "CBS" look, or the "Fox" look, or the "whatever" look. If one performs camera colorimetry testing with devices such as a Tek VM-700, those subtle shifts show up as faulty performance, but it only proves that if you see something that is just a little wrong over-and-over and no one labels the problem, it starts to seem right after enough exposure.

>And preemptorally, this is not a slam, just 30 years of close
observation of almost every color camera ever made. AND I do not respond to accusations of bias anymore...

>GEORGE C. PALMER
HDPIX, INC.
www.hdpix.com


Behalf Of George C. Palmer


> Up to a point, for sports maybe, but in side-by-side testing nothing will >overcome the difference between the Black processing in Sony >methodology and almost all other cameras.

>Ikegami was actually much worse in that regard on a number of their SD camera lines. They used a very soft black clipper/black knee/tristimulus to improve their noise specs. but that produced poor detail in the blacks. It was common practice to drop the setup in those cameras from 7.5 to 5 percent or lower and then run the master black level higher to compensate so that you would stay out of that compressed region at normal black levels.

>Tom Tcimpidis


>George C. Palmer wrote :

class="Paragraph">> almost always innacurate color of grass

>Grass? You must mean the "Astro Turf" look. How about the CNN orange people?

>Noel Sterrett
Admit One Pictures
www.admitone.com


class="Paragraph">>we DP's can get caught up in the infinite details of on site picture >manipulation when in fact most of what we need or want, can and >probably should be done in post.

>What if one could record CCD raw instead of painting the camera, from any camera? How many would prefer to do that? How many are doing it now with the Viper? Just a question - I *only* shoot raw in digital stills these days, to increase my post options. How many would like to paint a preview, and record raw (with the preview metadata)? How much besides gain are these cameras doing before the A-D converters? Everything? Nothing?

>Tim Sassoon
Sassoon Film Design
(not as smart as I look)


class="Paragraph">>What if one could record CCD raw instead of painting the camera, from >any camera? How many would prefer to do that?

>If I was guaranteed color correction time in a real post house for most of my projects, maybe. Nothing I shoot these days goes that direction. It ends up being cut on an Avid or similar NLE system and if any color correction is done at all it's usually blanket correction applied to all clips at once by an editor who is not a colorist.

>In smaller markets like mine it's going to be a long LONG time before we get anything like the Viper or Genesis. We're going to be using F900s and Varicams for the forseeable future, and given the choice between 10-bit color correction on location or 8-bit compressed tape-to-tape color correction later, I'll try to do most of my color correction before the image hits the tape.

>On the other hand, maybe five years down the road we'll be able to color correct 4:4:4 raw video on our PCs. It could happen...

>Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>Art brings up :

class="Paragraph">>If I was guaranteed color correction time in a real post house for most of >my projects, maybe."

>Therein lies the problem.

>I like Tim Sasson's notion of shooting raw.

>Balls against the wall raw...with everything as uncompressed and untouched as possible so you have all the play in the world in post.

>But, will you be able to to that?

>There are times when you have to make that part of the deal memo...no different than transfer time or timed print time; but you gotta want it.

>If they won't pay for it, then you need to go to correction on your own nickel to make sure your look is indeed coming out of the other end.

>Otherwise you need to buddy up with the colorist...buy him/her dinner and try to establish a dialog that will help him/her translate the look your hoping for!

>And then hope for it!

>Not the way they do it in the big leagues but it's a start.

>Allen S. Facemire
DP/Director
SaltRun Productions,inc.
Atlanta


class="Paragraph">> What if one could record CCD raw instead of painting the camera, from >any camera?

>I just directed a national spot which Bryan Newman shot for me using a Varicam. I asked the HD tech to keep everything cinegamma, flat as possible, boosted gamma to keep all the crucial info out of the noise bed.

>"Really?" he said.

>"Yep, we want to treat it like a little Viper."

>He pondered that for a moment, and when finally reassured by a third party that The Orphanage had a bit of experience in post-processing HD origination, he said, "Good -- that's what you _should_ do."

>Even with all our heads in the right place, a constant force of effort was required to shoot our moody night shots into the proper exposure range. I was like a madman running around futsing with contrast and brightness on the countless monitors we had.

>Final verdict? Perfect shots, great looking spot. The Vcam is a great camera.

>Stu, Director, The O, SF/LA


class="Paragraph">>Final verdict? Perfect shots, great looking spot. The Vcam is a great >camera.

>The beauty of digital is that post production can come into play so much. I remember a while back on the CML when I dare suggest that my transfer was as important if not more important than shooting film. That I shoot for the best I can in the field and rely on my transfer for everything else. The purists tarred and feather me for the blasphemous thought. But since then many of those purists learned that post production was your friend not your enemy.

>My Varicam is mine so I know where it is set. Just like my betacam or my DVCAm I basically turn it on and shoot, no white balance, no tweaking. That I can do because no one plays with my equipment. When I do let others use it, I reset it to the standard look I like. Here is a secret, any camera you use that is set up to factory standards will make a great picture. There really is nothing to it.

>As long as you haven't crushed your blacks beyond repair or over exposed beyond reasonable limits, there really is little need to play around inside a HD camera. Maybe a bit of gamma tweaking or a touch of ped or a few other minor adjustments, but all you want to achieve is already there if you just stop playing and start to shoot. Doing so will give you a better gift than any of the fancy controls in the viewfinder, and that gift is confidence. Confidence is when you don't play with the buttons anymore because the camera becomes an extension of what you see, not an adversary that you have to battle to make it see the way you want.

>I'm glad to see so many have seen the reality of how good the Varicam is. Outside of the five posts here, I got about eight other private ones after my posts from people afraid to admit the Varicam is better here for fear of mutilation. Sony played a very good marketing game in the beginning but in the end just as it was in broadcast for years, the best folks end up buying a different camera. Then it was Ikegami, today it's Panasonic. Not to say Sony is all that bad, Sony is a great camera too.

>Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.


class="Paragraph">>"Yep, we want to treat it like a little Viper.".. had a bit of experience in >post-processing HD origination, he said, "Good -- that's what you >_should_ do."

>Here's another way to think of it, and sorry I keep coming back to digital stills, but can provide an interesting model for some things. My Nikon D100 saves the current white balance into the NEF raw file and tags it as either 709 sRGB or Adobe RGB, and could just as easily store curves or any other LUT info, and if you read a frame into Photoshop at the defaults, that's what you get. But, the white balance and ICC tags are merely a suggestion, and can be easily shifted. Keep in mind that LUT manipulations aren't that difficult to do in real-time at HD res these days, so why not be painting the *metadata* so that the editor knows and can work with footage as you intended, but actually be storing the data raw, to give yourself more room for grading?

>Another scenario: cameras become more disk files instead of tape. Say you're developing a look as you get further into a show - if you're just working with metadata tags, you could change the intended look of yesterday's work to today's better look, maybe by just adding a sidecar color LUT file.

>Good to see a bunch of you at the NFL 3D screening...

>Tim Sassoon
Sassoon Film Design
"rendering builds character!"


class="Paragraph">> it's usually blanket correction applied to all clips at once

>Isn't this effectively what you do when you create an "in camera look" ?

>I don't mean painting shot by shot but the process of setting up a camera before a shoot so that it has a "look"

>Isn't it better to create this overall "look" after you have done the shoot and have the different views of it that a shoot will cause?

>Yes, I do know the realities of this

>But we have to try

>Cheers

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


>Walter Graff at BlueSky wrote :

class="Paragraph">>Here is a secret, any camera you use that is set up to factory standards >will make a great picture. There really is nothing to it.

>True that Walter.

>Use all the "handles" lighting, composition, lensing, before you count on the electronics to fix something. The deal here is that you leave yourself something to manipulate in post, as opposed to trying to fix a real problem.

>Recently had the experience on a shoot in the Marshall islands, very remote location, and I had limited grip/lighting tools available. Composed the interview with a dark skinned Marshallese native to minimize but not eliminate sunlit back grounds. Tweaked all my resources and was close but not optimum. As a last resort, I went into the menu and toggled between 2 gamma settings and chose one that was not my standard and that pushed it into the zone I wanted but was not able to get with the grip-age I had available. It was a small push but it tipped the image the right way, but only after I had used all the other tools at my disposal.

>I like to do my real color correction with a favorite drink in hand, not sweat dripping down my back.

>Mark Smith DP
Oh Seven Films Inc.


class="Paragraph">> How does this look? The 40Mbps codec that it uses to send HD via >Firewire seems odd.

>It looks as good as Varicam material can look, and I don't mean that in a negative way. The compression scheme used in the Varicam is very good and very efficient, and the Firewire transport methodology simply transfers that already compressed data directly to a hard drive. The result is that the information on the hard drive is unaltered in any way. Think of it as exactly the same approach that is taken with DV or DV50, only with a different data rate.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


class="Paragraph">>Isn't this effectively what you do when you create an "in camera look" ?

>No. When an editor decides to warm up the entire show by adding warmth to one exterior scene and then arbitrarily adds the same amount of warmth to the entire show--interiors, exteriors, days, nights, everything--the editor is creating a look. I'd already created a look on location; the editor was compensating for a digitizing error that made the whole thing green.

>I found out about the situation by accident. I stopped into the editing facility and noticed all the people in the cooking show looked like they'd eaten a bad piece of fugu. I pointed this out, but the director and editor had been staring at the screen so long they didn't notice.

>I asked if the monitor had been set up to bars; the editor said he wasn't worried about it, because the edit facility had put up a note on the monitor that said, "This monitor is set up to bars. DO NOT ADJUST." I made them put up bars and, risking excommunication or worse, pushed the blue-only button. The monitor was way out. Correcting it made the color worse. The editor said, "Well, I can fix that!" The rest is history. (No one bought the show.)

class="Paragraph">>Isn't it better to create this overall "look" after you have done the shoot >and have the different views of it that a shoot will cause?

>Yes, but that requires the producer's approval, and more importantly, the producer has to consider it an option. In this region no one color corrects tape projects after-the-fact. Once the tape leaves the camera there is about a 5% chance that I will actually see the final product. I certainly won't be consulted in post. Sad, but true.

>Fortunately nearly all cameras can be made to look good. It just comes down to preference, and how hard I need to work on set to get my look. I have some negative feelings about Sony cameras and their color rendition but I can still make beautiful pictures with them. The Varicam I tried out the other day was beautiful to my eye right out of the box... but is turning out to be too noisy for my tastes. Still, I'm sure I'll be able to make beautiful pictures out of it.

>I used to make beautiful pictures with BVP-400s, BVP-70s and BVP-7s. I'm sure I'll figure out the Varicam eventually. Comparatively it can't be that difficult.

>And I'll have to make my pictures beautiful the moment they hit tape, because I won't get a second chance.

class="Paragraph">>I asked the HD tech to keep everything cinegamma, flat as possible, >boosted gamma to keep all the crucial info out of the noise bed.

>From what I could tell, the noise bed I saw in VideoRec encompassed anything below about 50 units. I must be missing something; I just have to figure out what it is.

>I found a reference in the CML archives stating that the 27V had a -6db option in VideoRec mode. Is this still the case in the 27F?

>Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>That quote would only be correct when using a digital editing system that removes the 2:3 pulldown from the 720p/60 footage and stores just the 24 frames.

>The VariCam always records at 60P (60 fps) no matter what the camera's frame rate is set to capture. Same thing is true for SDX900 though this camera only records in 60i (30fps).

>Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer
Philadelphia, PA


class="Paragraph">>I've gotten several comments off-list stating that any competent DIT can >get the same exact look out of both an F900 and a Varicam.

>Only this. Declarations of Video Testosterone aside, some competent DITs CAN get a very close match. That can be said ONLINE. Not, of course, just with normal straight ahead gray scale and saturations tools, but usually with deeper, more subtle controls, with a great deal of thought and work, and not by graduates of 5 day schools. I was once very proud of my ability to make my Sony's on Empty Nest, It's a Living and a few other less memorable shows look the way I thought they should. So, yes it is possible to do so, but when asked how the result is reached, most gloss over or don't even understand the fundamental impact of black (and black toe) processing on luminance AND chrominance reproduction. That was my only point, and a point that is seldom taught in any of the 5 day schools; it is only learned in HKU (Hard Knocks U.).

>GEORGE C. PALMER
HDPIX, INC.


class="Paragraph">>"Not, of course, just with normal straight ahead gray scale and >saturations tools, but usually with deeper, more subtle controls, with a >great deal of thought and work, and not by graduates of 5 day schools."

>Which is why I always insist that if we're gonna shoot tape it's got to be tape to tape corrected. A good colorist at a good facility should make you proud..given that you give 'em "correctable" footage. Thats why Panavision suggests that you treat their 900's like film cameras don't F-around to much on set, make these evaluations in a controlled envirionment ie. Telecine. But if you go crushing the blacks on set etc.. it's gone forever.

>My 2 cents.

>Nick Hoffman 600DP NYC


>First off :

>The varicams range of gain is different than Sonys, hence 0 db on the Sony is NOT 0 db on the varicam. 0 is cleaner on the varicam than it is on the Sony.

>Second was your low mid and high range set up properly or did someone go into the menus and change the values of the gain so that you switched to what you thought was -3 perhaps you were at a higher gain?

>Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.


>So, if we can't use the term ASA, EI, ISO, or YUV on this list, then I respectfully submit we call the Varicam something else, perhaps something much more cumbersome.

>Varicam - it's just not accurate and only one company is using it. Hardly an accepted standard. And what is it? What does it mean? Varicam!

>Porsche has had Variocam for a decade (and it stands for variable cam) in their engines. And in the case the cam angle actually changes. BUT - with the Panasonic - the cam(era) stays exactly the same! Not exactly modular or anything. But I suspect they're talking about...frame rates/
Maybe it should be a variableframeratecamera.

>But it it a variable-frame-rate camera? NO! It puts down 60 frames on that tape whether you like it or not. Fiddle with this and that – always 60fps on that tape! Nothing varies. Nothingvariableframeratecam?

>I'm KIDDING!

>Dale (am I infringing on Kreines imaginary patent by using parantheticals?
I don't think so!) Launer
writer.filmmaker
Santa (Anyplace but Baghdad) Monica, CA


class="Paragraph">>Second was your low mid and high range set up properly or did >someone go into the menus and change the values of the gain so that >you switched to what you thought was -3 perhaps you were at a higher >gain?

>I checked the gains myself. Low was set to -3, and that's what I stayed on the whole time.

>It's been pointed out that the detail settings were probably too high. This might have caused a "noise" effect. Further testing to come...

>Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>Art,

>Check the black stretch/master ped settings.

>Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer
Philadelphia, PA


class="style7">>Dale (am I infringing on Kreines imaginary patent by using >parantheticals?
>I don't think so!) Launer wrote :

class="style7">>It puts down 60 frames on that tape whether you like it or not. Fiddle with >this and that – always 60fps on that tape! Nothing varies. >Nothingvariableframeratecam?

>Perhaps it should be called "variablepulldowncam?"

>Jeff "prefers agnosticam" Kreines