HDV 16 x 9 format

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Paul Chater
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HDV 16 x 9 format

Post by Paul Chater » Thu Jan 31, 2008 6:53 pm

Recently I have been thinking of updating my equipment to suit HDV 16 x 9 format.

What I have seen so far, I love it for the picture, where it looks sharp and clear. But I hate it when I realised the need to scale it down to standard definition for burning to DVDs and writting miniDVs for viewing at camcorder clubs. This also raises the question for most camcorder clubs to what format for HDV projectors and equipment to play HDV.

At the moment the video industry has developed two competing standards: Blu-ray and HD-DVD. This guarantees a split in consumer interest because they are not compatible. Each system can have its advantages and drawbacks but I remember from past experience the war; Betamax against VHS, and more recently DVD ram vs. DVD +R vs. DVD –R.

Market forces usually determines the final standard used in the past Beatmax and DVD Ram fell by the wayside. This experience tell us that the cheapest will always win over quality (no matter how advanced one system may be), because of this, I cannot understand the thinking of some companies (SONY) to charge a premium for there product claiming because of technical superior. To me this is a “no brainer” because cheapest system has always won and become the industry standard.

However, after saying that I now believe Blu-ray and HD DVD are both non-starters for camcorder clubs. Why spend many hundreds of pounds for a player when it looks has though the camcorder industry future will mainly use hard drives or solid state cards for capture.

For the future, it may be wiser for Camcorder clubs to receive video entries in computer file format (mpeg4, mpeg2 or avi) and play these back through HDV projector using a more versatile computer which costs about the same.

So, is the competition between Blu-ray and HD DVD dead before it starts?

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Thu Jan 31, 2008 10:30 pm

For the future, it may be wiser for Camcorder clubs to receive video entries in computer file format (mpeg4, mpeg2 or avi) and play these back through HDV projector using a more versatile computer which costs about the same.
Interesting idea, Paul ... and you could well be right.

Don't confuse the 16x9 ratio question with the SD or HD one though. You can easily have 16x9 in SD - in fact most new camcorders use that as their native format.

You may have heard that Warner Brothers is dropping its HD line and using only Blu-Ray. It begins to looks as if that format will dominate the commercial releases for a while.
it looks has though the camcorder industry future will mainly use hard drives or solid state cards for capture.
It does look that way ... but what will be the distribution media? Will we be sending memory cards through the post to festivals? Will we be demounting hard drives and carrying them down to the club?

I suppose memory cards may become cheap enough to make the first viable. My suspicion is that whichever HD system becomes the norm for commercial movie releases will also be used by us. My fourpence would be on blue-ray for BIAFF in a couple of years time.

As for the club ... see another thread for concerns about projector weights. It is likely as we all get older we will go for a small, lightweight, relatively cheap projection system - whatever that is.

The sad thought is that 16x9 has been around for several years now but few clubs can or do show in that format and if you enter a festival the safest bet is to make a letterboxed print ...

Dave

ned c
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Post by ned c » Thu Jan 31, 2008 10:47 pm

The war between Blu-ray and HD DVD seems to be in its final phase with Blu-ray being the potential winner. This is as a result of an announcement that Warner's are discontinuing HD DVD issues of their feature films in May and only issuing Blu-ray. There is also a report that Woolworths are withdrawing sales of HD DVDs as they are outsold 10:1 by Blu-ray. I think we have to wait for the dust to settle but the end is in sight.

Blu-ray is essentially a distribution medium but all ready there is a Blu-ray camera on the market in Japan. If we use HDV in one of its acquisition formats (MPEG2 or AVCHD) we can edit for release on Blu-ray or tape or down res to SD. What we capture to be it tape, HDD, card or whatever is less important than what the finished production ends up on provided we can edit what we capture and then write to the distribution medium.

My experience with HDV is that it down-reses to a superior quality SD DVD. We have also been making Blu-ray DVDs on standard DVD-R using Vegas 8, a DVD-R holds about 30 minutes of Blu-ray data which is enough for most n-c movies. They play back very satisfactorily from a regular Blu-ray player to a 52 inch HD Acquos LCD TV. Stunning pictures.

For clubs/Festivals I assume a Blu-ray player connected to a suitable projector/TV is the future.

ned c

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stingman
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Post by stingman » Fri Feb 01, 2008 10:10 am

I hate to say it, but I think we can thank the Video games industry for speeding up the wait for the winner, Blu-ray or HDDVD. Sony Playstation and Microsofts XBox use different systems to each other. I forget which uses which but what ever one is more popular will be the one that wins this HD war. I`m not bothered which one wins because I havn`t got any money to do anything about it. But what I havn`t spent on upgradeing to the wrong format, I will have saved money in the long run.
So I can wait a little longer to buy that, Goldwing, Better RC Helicopter, HD Video Camera, HD computer upgrade, Plasma 42 inch TV...........
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Willy
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Post by Willy » Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:36 pm

stingman wrote:
I hate to say it, but I think we can thank the Video games industry for speeding up the wait for the winner, Blu-ray or HDDVD.
8mm or video ?
I don't like discussions about Blue-Ray and HD etc... I am a big zero when my clubmates are talking about technical problems and about quality of pictures. Do you remember the heavy discussions about 8mm films and videofilms ? That was 20 years ago. I still use my panasonic 2000. Nowadays we must try to control ourselves.

£2000
One of my friends would like to buy a new camera. He still has his old SVHS-camera, the poor man. Maybe it's better to wait for another few years until the storm is over. Last year HD-films were shown for the first time at our national festival. I didn't see any difference.

Poor chaps
I am the chairman of a club with only poor chaps. There is even a lady who can't afford a camera anymore. Luckily she is a good actress. She has already helped us a lot in a different way. She still feels happy. Sometimes friends say things like "that camera is 'only' £2000". If you earn only £380 (I'm not joking) every month then it must be hard to hear these prices.

I prefer to talk about the structure of films, the power in it, about editing etc. but of course I don't mind that friends talk about technical problems.
Willy Van der Linden

ned c
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Post by ned c » Fri Feb 01, 2008 4:54 pm

One of the problems that clubs face is that ownership of a video/cine camera seems to be the reason for membership. Clubs should really be production units that have access to two or three cameras and post production set ups and the skills to use them and welcome people who have something to say and want to say it using movies. This means that keeping abreast of the technology is not a personal expense but devolves on the club or its wealthier members.

When I worked for a living we did not own a camera, we rented from Samuelson's what ever was appropriate to the job in hand. In fact you cannot own a Panavision camera, they are all rented.

Herein lies one of the problems for many clubs, they are more about equipment than creativity. As someone once commented "cameras are male jewelry".

Having said all that I see that Willy shoots on miniDV which is still a very current technology and will be for some time to come. Interestingly I was integratimg some Hi8 footage into a project and it has a different "look" than DV so would make a useful past time sequence or similar.

We have no control over the march of technology but need to look out for affordable equipment. A camera was shown at NAB that shoots full frame rate HDV 720p for USD150 so all the advances are not cripplingly expensive.

If I had to choose where to spend my hard earned money I would spend it on a decent editing set up and rent or borrow a camera for the shooting. The ratio of time spent editing to shooting is in my case about 20 to 1. The other advantage of editing software is that there are regular upgrades that keep pace with the developing technology. There is also the added advantage that a computer can be used for many other applications.

This seeems to have wandered all over the place and although I agree with Willy that technology nmust not get in the way of creativity we cannot ignore it.

ned c

tom hardwick
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Post by tom hardwick » Sat Feb 02, 2008 5:49 pm

I think renting a camcorder makes sense only if you keep renting the same make and model. A camera takes many hours to learn and more hours to practice and even more hours to master. Renting by the day or weekend is not the way in my view.

ned c
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Post by ned c » Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:54 pm

Renting is just one option. The best answer to making movies for a non-camera owner is to have access to a production group, such as a club, where camera ownership is almost universal. Some clubs seem to be more about equipment/technique than creative production that is why it would be an advantage to attract members who have no interest in the techy stuff but are creatives who have something to say and need technicians to help them say it.

It would be interesting to know how many club members do NOT own a camera and/or an editing setup, not many I suspect. Film is a co-operative art in most cases and needs the involvement of several people. My limited experience of narrative film making is that it is almost impossible to both direct and operate the camera.

I agree with Tom's point that renting does pose problems but that is what many of the young production groups do where the camera is seen as tool rather than a status symbol.

Here is an interesting conundrum, a writer went to a video club and had them produce a piece that he had written. He was involved in the shooting and sat in on the editing to make sure his vision was realised. The club then claimed the prizes won at various amateur Festivals, the writer got a credit in passing, what do you think?

ned c

tom hardwick
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Post by tom hardwick » Sun Feb 03, 2008 8:21 am

The current writers' strike probably has some leaning towards the correction of just such a situation Ned. Of course they both need each other and in my view it's a 50:50 split. But up to now - as you say - the writer's credit at the end has been far smaller than it should have been.

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stingman
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Post by stingman » Sun Feb 03, 2008 12:15 pm

I would have to disagree!
Yes. A writer is important. It`s his idea isn`t it. But it`s ONLY his idea. All he`s done is think up a basic story and padded it out a bit. He could have had a dream. I recon thats how some of these twisted stories come about.
Now the director, producer, actors etc, have to turn these weird ideas into something thats watchable and makes sense! This is the harder thing to do and alot more work! You have to work to a schedule and deadline. The writer just goes into his study any time that he wants to!
So I would give a percentage of 10% to the writer and 90% to the rest.

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tom hardwick
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Post by tom hardwick » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:53 pm

You're obviously not a writer, Ian.

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stingman
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Post by stingman » Sun Feb 03, 2008 5:35 pm

If you`ve been following the Forum Tom. You will remember that for us ameatures we have to be a jack of all trades! So basicly, just because I havn`t written the next Harry Potter, doesn`t mean that I cannot write!
We may not be as good as a dedicated writer, but we have basic ideas for what we want to do. And because it will be all `in house`, It does make the job a bit easier.

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Willy
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Post by Willy » Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:23 am

"Harvest"
About 5 years ago I wrote 10 stories to make one minute films. I gave them to my clubmates. I even gave them the screenplays/scripts. Things like : shot1 = long shot = gangster in garage = Holding a gun in his hand... shot 2 = close up of his gun, angle = from behind his shoulder; etc... 7 one minute films were made. I was very happy with the "harvest".

Lazy
Afterwards I asked my friends to write stories themselves. However they didn't want to write everything down. They didn't have the "courage" to write their ideas on a sheet of paper. Maybe they were lazy. I am lazy when I have to hang a painting on the wall. I hate hammers and nails.

So they took their cameras and made one minute films. Because they had not written a screenplay their films were not so powerful. They missed some shots. They had not prepared their films.

No man or woman of letters
That's a pity of course. You don't have to be a man or woman of letters to write scenarios, screenplays or scripts.

Last week it took only one hour and a half to do the camera work for one of my newest films. I have already edited it. Length of my fiction film = 6 minutes. The actors are my clubmates. They seemed to be very happy. I told them that it does not always take months or even years to make a film, but you must always prepare it and that means writing down everything you need.
Willy Van der Linden

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:06 am

Willy has - as is so often the case - hit the nail on the head. (And this from the man who hates using hammers and nails!)

In film and tv terms the writer - or often writers - are responsible for the shape, design and structure of what happens not just for the words characters say.

There are "writers" on reality tv shows because someone has to plan the scenarios: "if we get this type of personality and that type then they will spark off each other ... especially if we put in a sexy guy/gal they want to impress ... then make them do this task ..." etc.

It is one of the most common weaknesses of films - amateur and professional - that the story does not hang together logically, the characters do not act in credible ways and the audience is not taken on an interesting journey from A to B. This applies to documentaries and travelogues as well as fiction films.

Ned's question about the writer and the club ... that's one of the reasons why TV shows often credit a range of assistant producers. Some of them are writers who do more than turn in a script and walk away. They take an active part in all aspects of making the show.

Normally we assume that a club makes films using its own members' skills and if the writer were a member then he or she would just be part of the team. If the club were making the film as an unpaid "commission" from the writer then it would be his or her film with due credits to the club.

But I guess that in our informal world no contracts or agreements were drawn up. All it really needs is an agreement about how the writer is credited ...

Dave

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