Operating High Definition
go to the cinealta f900 users report for latest issues and faults with the f900
Operation of f900 for theatrical release films.
The size of crew should be the same for a 35mm feature.
It is possible to operate a HD camera with a small crew for some shots. If focus pulling is required a focus puller is needed. Until significant advances are made to the viewfinder it is not possible for a camera operator to reliably pull focus by using a traditional video cameraman's technique.
Even on replay with a big HD monitor a shot can appear sharp when in fact, it may be very slightly soft when transferred to film. The back focus should be checked regularly
Initially a large HD monitor is vital until the DP gets a feel for the response of the camera. This took me months even with my extensive background in digital imaging- and there is much more to learn!
Cameras from Panavision have the benefit of their fast lenses. The Panavision camera is tailored toward a 35mm style of operation.
Tape to Tape grading must be performed by a operator with large screen experience.
Transfer to film is the final act for a theatrical release. Testing is the key here before you start shooting. A good transfer house should be able to match the colour and contrast of the original HDcam image. It is possible to make subtle changes in printing to further enhance the look that you are trying to achieve, but you have so much creativity in a HD online that you should have already had the look finalized.
Operation of f900 for TV Drama or Documentary
Using the progressive scan feature of the f900 enables a picture to be recorded in a filmic way, ie 24 or 25 or 30 pictures per second. This replicates the motion strobing that is characteristic with cine cameras.
So even when down converted to digibeta for transmission the pictures still have a filmic look. Also the picture has a higher resolution than a digibeta camera, but not full HD resolution, which can only (partly) be seen on HD transmissions in the USA, Australia or Japan, or if the program is converted to film for a theatrical release. A top notch digibeta crew could be expected to get an improved result using a f900. But if the project is to be transferred to film a focus puller should be employed along with a 14 or 20 inch HD monitor. A DP not experienced in large screen projects will need to be wary of camera vibration and generally smoothing out moves.
Shooting documentaries with this camera for theatrical release will be possible, with a change in shooting style to accommodate the uncertainty of the depth of field, due to the limited resolution of the current viewfinder.
A 40 minute tape lasts 48 minutes when shooting at 25fps. Shooting at 25P is considered to be a good compromise for multi standard broadcast programs originating in 50Hz countries.
Summary of 25p HD workflow for Producers or Production managers
This workflow should be discussed with your chosen post house. In my view, there are significant gains of shooting 25p instead of 24p in Europe or other 50Hz countries.
The Camcorder records the picture and at least two tracks of audio and timecode.
4 tracks of audio are available if a HDSDI adapter is fitted to the back of camera.
Wild track sound or steadycam shots are recorded on DAT, at the same time as a guide track radio linked to the camera. At end of take, if time is available, this sound can be recorded onto the camera from the DAT so all sound ends up on HDcam.
At end of the day or end of week down convert the HD pictures with sound to digibeta or Beta SP by using a HDWf500 edit deck. This process should be streamlined to save costs.
In Europe consider shooting at 25fps as there are no timecode issues, unlike editing 24fps in a 50hz environment. (have I said this before?) Forget about shooting art 23.98 for a PAL edit!
The down converted 25p pictures can be edited on a cheap and readily available PAL Avid offline, just like any other PAL video by using the digibeta or beta SP down converts.
Perform the offline with a basic sound mix.
Take EDL into online
Online on either a non linear (Avid DS/HD, iQ or Xpri) or linear suite.
Perform separate sound mix.
Dub sound mix to HD online.
Online in a linear HDcam suite (faster, less effects and basic reel time grading available)
Include the credit and title sequence graphics.
Combine sound dub with music to finalized HDcam edit master.
At this point you have a 25fps HDcam master with sound.
In the future you'll deliver this for digital projection, but until then;
The edit master, not necessarily on HDcam, goes to a transfer House where all of the 25fps pictures are converted to RGB fed into a computer, then played into a Arri Laser film recorder onto 35mm neg.
The audio track is lifted off the HDcam to a DAT and sent to the lab where a pitch correction of .7 is made then combined and printed onto the optical track of the 35mm neg.
This is then printed for a show print.
This is projected in the cinema at 24fps not 25fps. No one notices the 4% slow down of picture, nor the slower sound as the pitch has been corrected.
(Every feature film shown in the UK on TV or DVD runs at 25 fps even though it was shot at 24fps! So the running time of a PAL version of Titanic runs for 6 minutes less than the NTSC version.) My reel HD showreel has been shown to an estimated audience of around 10,000 throughout the world in 2001. Not one person to my knowledge has commented that they thought the sound was "off" or the picture running slow. And most of these people were being very studious during screenings! How many TV stations in PAL countries get complaints that the picture and sound of feature films is off speed?
Now is the time to establish 25p as a Euro frame rate!
To make a NTSC version a "clone" is made of the HDcam tape by simply playing back the 25fps HDcam master at 24fps and recording it on another HDcam or D5. The audio pitch correction can happen at the same pass.
The 24fps HDcam master can now be used to make NTSC video similar to film in a telecine ie. The 24fps video is downconverted to NTSC using 3-2 pulldown that adds frames to the 24fps to make 30fps an acceptable rate for conversion to 60i NTSC.
at any point in the off-line the edl can be used to make a HD trailer or test on 35mm film.
copyright Michael Brennan firstname.lastname@example.org