Re: camera

From: Casey Pegram (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Dec 26 2007 - 10:33:59 PST

I bought one of these last week and I've been really pleased with it
so far. It's hard to believe the quality of the image given the price
and its small size. It shoots onto standard DV tapes, which is nice
for me since I also own a DVX. The battery life is a bit of a concern
- you will need to carry around several if you are going to be
shooting for an extended period.

The biggest thing you have to overcome is the lack of easily
accessible manual controls. For certain situations and applications
it's not going to be a good choice, but for filmmaking, where it's
okay to move a little more slowly, I think it's fine. Basically, you
cannot manually dial-in your exposure/shutter/gain settings - you must
derive them from careful attention to what the auto-iris is doing, and
go from there.

The process consists of aiming the camera at a bright (but not too
bright) area with full autoexposure on. By inserting a Mini-SD card
into the camera, you can press the "photo" button halfway down and
reveal your current aperture and shutter speed (not, however, gain).
If you shoot in the Cine Mode, your ideal result is going to be an
f1.8 with a 1/48 shutter (this is assuming you're zoomed out all the
way, which you want to be when you do this step). Once you've pointed
at your bright area and gotten your approximate exposure, you lock the
exposure and then you have essentially manual control. If you get
something like an f2 1/48 or f2.8 1/48, you can manually dial it in,
from that starting point. You move the exposure up or down from
"0" (whatever your initial starting point was) to fine tune, and press
the "photo" button to check your exposure. What you do not want is to
get an f1.8 1/24, because you can't really tell if it's adding gain or
not (once you get to f1.8 1/24 and increase the exposure more, it
keeps reading the same thing - it's adding gain without telling you).
But if you need an f1.8 1/24, you just have to check that the exposure
to the left of it on the dial is f1.8 1/30 - then you know you're not
adding gain.

It sounds really confusing, but you'll get the hang of it. Once you've
done it, you don't really have to worry about it until you turn off
the camera or move into different lighting conditions. If you're
outdoors during the day, you could probably just do an autoexposure
and lock it in and accept whatever it gives you and not have to deal
with any added gain.

The 24p mode for the most part works really well and produces good-
looking results. If you want to edit on a 23.98 timeline, though, it
takes some fudging in the capture process to get it all worked out.
There are different techniques on the Mac and PC side of things.
Personally I work on a Mac, so my process involves capturing as native
HDV, then transcoding to ProRes 422 with Compressor, which removes the
pulldown and gives back the original 24 frames. The downside to this
is that ProRes takes up between 3 and 4 more times the space as HDV,
so one tape ends up being about 45gb rather than the usual 13gb for DV
and HDV. Then again, storage is pretty cheap these days.

Other things - there is an "end search" funciton which is handy for
getting back to your last recording point on a tape, but it doesn't
work after you've removed the tape from the camera. What I end up
doing is recording about 10-15 seconds of dead space after I'm done
shooting so that I can roll into that when I pick up shooting again.
There is a peaking/focus assist mode that draws an outline around the
area in focus, which helps since the LCD is pretty tiny and you're
working in HD, but it won't perform miracles. Some kind of external
LCD is a good idea for critical focusing. And the focus ring is a tiny
dial on the front of the camera, so if you're used to more robust
manual focus rings, it takes some getting used to. It's workable,
although it makes rack focusing a little tough.

The other big thing to keep in mind is it uses a CMOS rolling shutter,
which has all kinds of technical jargon associated with it that I
don't know enough about to really go into here. But the basic result
is that it scans the image from the top down, so on quick movement,
pans and the like, it's possible to see some "bending" in verticals in
the image that can look pretty strange. Honestly, I haven't seen this
manifest itself in my footage to the extent that it would render a
shot unusable, and I think it's more something that visual effects
types worry about (it can throw off tracking programs and so forth).
It's something to be aware of, though.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the camera. In the end, it's the
image I'm most concerned with - on a low budget, to get the quality of
imagery I'm seeing on a camera that costs around $700 is pretty great.
I'm more than willing to put up with the quirks as a result, but of
course it's going to be something you have to decide for yourself.

Sorry for the lengthy/rambling reply, hope it helps. By all means let
me know if you have other questions.

Casey Pegram

On Dec 26, 2007, at 12:40 PM, gyoungblood wrote:

> Frameworkers,
> I'm looking to buy a consumer-grade HD camera, and the Canon HV-20
> has been recommended. Can anyone comment on it?
> Gene Youngblood
> 28 Sunrise Road
> Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507 USA
> vox/fax: +1.505.424.8708
> email suppressed
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.