Cinematography Mailing List - CML

HD Feature In The Swamp


Hello -

So I'm off to the deep south to shoot an effects heavy monster movie on Panavised 900s in which 90% of the shots will be on or in the water in brackish swamps lots at night (15 days of shooting 15 nights of shooting). Needless to say I have some worries. This is the tenth feature I've shot so I'm fairly comfortable with that part of the process but it is only the second HD feature I've done (have shot a fair amount of tape over the years though)... anyway - Panavision has assured us that the cameras will be fine.... even though the night air down there is heavily dewy and wet- I worry that we will constantly be shut down by the dew switch- any thoughts? Anybody have a good list of the various types and kinds of splash bags and underwater housings available for these cameras?

Also I'm thinking about trying out the little JVC HD things for "crash camera" type of situations- I'm aware of the stated limitations of these little things but am interested in the possibility of have one or two around for inserts and such, maybe give one to the director to shoot things with... anybody know about bumping their output up to HDCam? Also - the show involves about 100 CGI shots (it's a monster movie)... most of which involve practical effects in the plates- any thought?... I have made a small effort to try and get them to shoot S16 and transfer to HD D5...but they are pretty set on the HD camera thing.... O.K., any thoughts, suggestions, hopeful words, or commiseration will be appreciated...thanks,

Elliot Rockett

Greetings Eliot,

Swamp you say?!?!?! I'm an HD owner/operator living in Naples, Florida and boy do we have swamps down here. As a matter of fact I've done quite a bit of work in the environment (Everglades) shooting HD both top side and underwater (I own a housing too) and can certainly help with some issues and concerns you may have with shooting in this sometimes difficult environment.


Larry Curtis


Eliot Rockett wrote :

>Also I'm thinking about trying out the little JVC HD things for crash >camera" type of situations

Well you say HD feature so I assume that you mean that it will end up on 35 mm. The JVC camera upconverted to 24P HD will look like S__T compared to the rest of your photography. First of all it does not operate in any kind of 24 Frame mode. That means converting the 60i or 30p to 24p.


This single chip camera has poor single to noise and poor dynamic range. Also very poor lens compared with "REAL" lenses. What would you expect from a camera of this price. Just because you call something HD does not make it HD.

A Good Standard Def native 16 x 9 camera would be the best to shoot "SECOND" unit. And the best camera at the moment would be the Panasonic SDX-900. This camera has incredible pictures. Even has a "cine look" mode. It operates in the 24P mode and you can extract these 24P images from the 60 i video stream and upconvert to HD 24P with the new Panasonic 1700 tape machine in real time. And it cam use any number of lenses including the new prime lenses.

On many night time and other shots these upconverted HD pictures would be
indistinguishable from the HDCam images.

Just my opinion but based on images that I have seen.

Regards, Bill Hogan

I would venture to say that given the choice, footage from the Panasonic DVX100 at 24p would be preferable to those from the JVC HD camcorder when output to 35mm or upconverted to 24pHD.

Mitch Gross

Eliot Rockett wrote:

>even though the night air down there is heavily dewy and wet- I worry >that we will constantly be shut down by the dew switch- any thoughts?

Do not ever store the camera in an air conditioned space over night unless you want to spend the first hours of your day sipping coffee while the camera dries out.

Mark Smith
Oh Seven Films

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