Sort of OT: Revenge of the great camera shoot out, 2012.
A camera test wrapped in a documentary (Part 1).
It speaks for itself.
This related article is very interesting too:
Here is the full "The revenge..." movie.
Down on your linked page, Jeremy, there is also an interesting link to the technical specs of the shooting.
I've spoken to a Cameraman who's opinion I respect a lot who's seen the film in a theatre and his opinions were very interesting, I'll share them when he's allowed to blog them!
"The ripple command is just a workaround for not having a magnetic timelinel"
I've been following it, too. I thought it would be fun to try and decipher which camera was which, based on the lighting changes that they reveal for each camera. The more I studied each shot - watching the shadows on the coffee-table legs, the brightness of the table lamp shade's glow (a constant value in each scene), the amount of highlight detail in the "exterior" and the lighting ratio on the girl's arm/face (at the end of the shot), it made me wonder if the results aren't more about psychology than dynamic range.
Let me explain.
You have cameras ranging in price from $100 to $65,000.
So I ask you - if you have the $100 or $700 or $3,000 camera, are you going to want to add lights or do nothing?
Likely, you'll want to add lights! Why? You're the underdog trying to make your little POS compete with the big boys. (One cinematographer spent 1:24 hours setting up additional lights, and then used 27 layers in a BaseLight grade that lasted 1.5 hours on a 30 sec clip. That mentality is one of doing your best to catch up.)
Now, if you have the $65,000 camera (naked) what's your motivation? Anyone can add lights - whoop-de-doo.
Likely, you're there to prove how much this camera kicks a$$, so you add no lights (which is what happened with the Sony F65.) Confident that you will still capture every detail without lifting even your pinkie, you pass on the lighting changes. I mean, this is a "shootout," and it's time to stomp that iPhone into the dirt. So you log 0 hours on lights, use 4 layers of BaseLight correction - only 1/2 hour in session - and head out to celebrate the time you saved.
So, while all cinematographers are given creative freedom here, I think basic psychology intervenes and biases this test toward - the weaker cameras! Counterintuitive? Yes.
So take a look at the footage.
We can tell which cameras have the greatest dynamic range by studying the constants.
The background reads f/22, and the table lamp shade reads f/8. That's 3 stops difference. If a camera had 3 stops dynamic range, the background would be white and the table lamp shade would be black. If a camera has 6 stops dynamic range, the lamp shade would be grey. You see where I'm going with this.
So I'm studying how much "glow" I see in the table lamp and how much highlight detail I'm maintaining in the "exterior." The brighter the lamp glow - while retaining exterior details - the greater the range of the camera (regardless of other lighting changes).
This achievement goes to shots A and H.
These cameras are likely the ones with the greatest exposure latitude
Are they as pretty as B? In my opinion, no. B is a complete cheat. And it's the prettiest.
In shot B, the table lamp is practically grey. This is one of the most heavily front-lit shots of them all (if I remember correctly) and probably one of the most pleasing to look at (from a Vimeo perspective, anyway). But what does that mean? If it was the GH2 - with its underdog status (compared to everything in there except the iPhone), I can see the cinematographer pumping light into the scene to make it competitive. (Interesting that the "exterior" is still barely holding highlight detail).
However, the cinematographers running the F65, the Alexa, the F3, and the FS100, apparently wanted to "prove" how much dynamic range their cameras can handle, and added no or few additional lighting changes to the scene at all, and may have ended up with something lacking the saturation and modeled contrast that the weaker cameras enjoyed because their operators were more driven to "catch up."
So what can I learn from these tests? That if I spend hours massaging something with inferior characteristics, I can compete with wealthier operators who suffer from ADD? Not exactly a real-world scenario, is it?
Great entertainment, though.
[Glen Hurd] "it made me wonder if the results aren't more about psychology than dynamic range."
I think that's the overall take away from this test, right? Isn't that what all the interviews are talking about?
Indeed. Unless I missed some groundbreaking study in the last few years how people see things is psychology. Does Alexa @ 1080p " look better than 5K from whomever? Who knows?
I believe that it is more than entertainment, As someone envolved with the workflows from the beginning, you seem to miss one of the more obvious results.
The higher end cameras required less time to re-work lighting and considerablly less time in Post, so that expensive camera rental really equated to greatly reduced costs for post.
[Glen Hurd] "That if I spend hours massaging something with inferior characteristics, I can compete with wealthier operators who suffer from ADD"
IMHO Thats a pretty arrogant way to look at it and by "wealthy operator" you mean someone that chooses an uses his tools like a professional? I am one of those people and I am offended that you assume that being a pro is somehow akin to having a mental disorder.
Why not use the information as an equalizer, that any tool in the hands of some that knows and understands it can be used to create art and real art takes time to create.
I on the other hand think this is a business and in business using the tools that allow faster turnaround between shots and less time processing in post, allow for greater financial contrstraint ( as well as greater risk) with a historically greater chance for success ( or financial gain)
Post and Production Workflow Consultant
Production and Post Stereographer
follow me on Twitter
[gary adcock] "I on the other hand think this is a business and in business using the tools that allow faster turnaround between shots and less time processing in post, allow for greater financial contrstraint ( as well as greater risk) with a historically greater chance for success ( or financial gain)"
I think Gary really sums it up.
If using a "nicer" camera allows for significantly more latitude of time and options in both production and post, it would seem that the offset of the higher cost can certainly be regained.
lets also point out that Alexa's price today is actually less than what the going rate to purchace a top of the line Sony Digibeta, a Varicam or F900 when new.
This used to be an industry of a rarified few, but no longer. I humbly think that there are too many up and comming "filmmakers" that garner some unwarranted sense of entitlement just because they got 300 people to view a clip on youtube.
I judge my work by my critics, not my friends and followers and a 47' TV is the smallest thing I work on, if it does not look good big, being smaller will not help it.
Post and Production Workflow Consultant
Production and Post Stereographer
follow me on Twitter
Though it could also be noted that those of us who are limited using "cheaper" cameras have No Excuse for poor material! :-)
....I mean..... Can still produce quality work.... yeah... that's what I meant.
I think the test is fair as long as you take on board the lighting time and post times. I have just finished a job shot on the Sony F3 sLog to a PIX recorder, in DNxHD.
The show is 87 minutes and 85% drama. It was shot in three weeks single camera, small crew in a variety of locations. The end result looks stunning because the DP knew how to light and the sLog gave him confidence in the amount of detail captured. The grade was done in 20 hours and then six hours run through with the DP and director tweaking. I noticed a lot less 'fixing' with secondaries.
It is all about control and not having to work as hard to compensate for short comings in camera, codec and workflow. It paid in post to have the right camera & using the external PIX recorder to minimise data wrangling and codec conversions prior to edit. The same DP is currently shooting with Alexa and said it was better to use than the F3. As Gary says, the camera costs are small biscuits compared to speed a crew can move at confidently and also the time saved at all stages of post.
There is so much false economy about cameras. I have a 5D mk2 but I can tell you that RED, Alexa and the Sony F3 make life a lot simpler in post and for some shoots they are a cheaper better option.
Amen to Gary A and Michael G.
Like most creative shops that have been around for a while, I've produced in a number of formats from 16mm and 35mm (always rented and always with DPs that understood film cameras) to Sony video cameras that cost more than the Alexa to Canon Xls with P&S mini35 setups that we've always shot ourselves.
We've always worked with the systems that budgets allowed for and always tried to use the systems that offered the fastest/best production and post production benefits.
We'e always owned a full production system but rented "better" when the project demanded.
Right now I'm in the middle of determining our new system and the big difference is whatever I decide will preclude ever renting anything, because the barrier has been lifted. Whether it's a RED (which it isn't going to be simply because I don't like the workflow vs how we work now), A C300, or even an FS700 the new generation of cameras, at this level, offer virtually all the tools we need to cover web only, regional/national commercial work, or doc and fiction - basically we now have systems that can do everything for the smallest or biggest screens that are great professional investments.
If the C300 had 1080 60fps I'd have had one of the first available. Shame Canon didn't allow for that because I really like everything else about the camera from image quality to operation to ease of workflow to using all my L glass.
Anyway, to G and M's point - we just finished shooting a spot yesterday, all car interiors, regional budget, our 5Ds and LED panels were the perfect solution for the constraints and budget. But I paid for it in time on location (even though I'm really fast with the system) and now in post as we grade and finish the campaign and deal with the codec limitations.
Because I don't produce national work all week, I still won't invest in an F65 or Alexa right now, but the benefits of renting one when appropriate has nothing to do with psychology. If national work was all we did then I would most definitely find the Epic, F65, or Alexa real bargains.
The new evolutionary development is that whichever system I do go with, it will provide everything we need to produce at every level. RIght now those cameras exist in the $8k to $20k range and absolutely kill the systems we used to rent that cost $80k and shot in SD.
But a pro system isn't just about being able to craft a test shoot to maximize IQ. It's about the speed and variety it offers on set and how quickly it is to edit and finish and how it holds up to robust post creative.
I really wish the C300 had 60fps.
Despite higher resolution cameras, I think easier logarithmic workflows have really boosted the final quality of work, no matter what camera is used.
It has been the most useful for my work, technology wise, more so than 2k+ resolution.
We use the best camera we can afford on any given job, but if budgets would allow, the Alexa would be the absolute go to if we could swing it.
From production, through post, it truly seems to be a great camera.
The crew likes working with it, we like editing and color.
For spots, and episodic TV, it's a steal.
We have shot our fair share of DSLR over the past few years, and with these newer more ergonomic and production oriented cameras, all the DPs I work with can't wait to get on to the next system.
We all appreciate what DSLRs have done for affordable "big chip" production at an incredible value, but the form factor is beginning to wane at least for us.
Can't wait to see the rest of this test. Next installment is July 15th, and the final
installment is August 15th.
[Glen Hurd] " If it was the GH2 - with its underdog status (compared to everything in there except the iPhone), I can see the cinematographer pumping light into the scene to make it competitive. (Interesting that the "exterior" is still barely holding highlight detail). "
The only shortcoming of the GH2, compared with other DSLRs, is that clips the picture at 100% on recording.
If could keep the overhead lights would be great.
All right. How did I step into this mess? Did I hit a nerve or did I really fail so terribly to communicate? I try for brevity, but that obviously wasn't worth it. :(
For convenience, I'd like to use the term "underdog" to refer to those operating less expensive, less capable cameras and "topdog" to reference those using the more capable, more expensive cameras. My intent is not to offend, to make any political or socially-oriented statements or opinions about anyone who uses any type of gear - I wish to use those terms simply for purposes of brevity. And if I need to use more disclaimers in future posts, I will try to remember to do so.
Jeremy, one of the problems I had with the shootout was the fact that some of the topdogs did so little to try and improve the lighting in this "extreme" situation. I couldn't imagine bringing an F65, an Alexa, an Epic to this situation, and not wanting to put some work into the lighting. Sure, it had lights already set up. But that was the "scenario." Who walks into a scenario, adds a bounce card and says, "I'm done?" (I don't think anyone actually added a bounce card and said, "I'm done." I just wrote that as an example of someone arriving at a scene, and putting very little work into it.)
I ate a sandwich and thought about it, and came to the conclusion that the reason why the topdogs didn't do much in the way of lighting was because, in their minds, they weren't engaged in production but in a shootout. But why did the underdogs go through so much effort? Because they were the underdogs - they had nothing to lose by adding lights - they're already the guys with inferior gear. So, after another sandwich, I surmised that this test wasn't fair because it didn't encourage everyone to approach this as real production but as a camera shootout! By the nature of competition, the underdogs will light to prove they can capture a scene, and the topdogs will underlight to prove their cameras are more powerful -it's a shootout! In a real production environment, I think it's safe to say, that each operator would have spent at least an hour setting up lights and checking the shot, so something strange had happened here. That's the "psychology" part I was discussing. Shootout vs real production. Not - the - same - thing.
To sum up, I see 2 different sets of goals being pursued. One group, the underdogs, were pursing the goal of making the most beautiful scene they could capture. The other group, the topdogs, pursued a different goal: they wanted to demonstrate how awesome their camera was at capturing a scene under extreme lighting conditions.
That's what I'm saying happened here.
Based on looking at the footage.
Based on seeing what kind of cameras I'm seeing, based on relative exposure values by constants in that scene.
As I said, Camera B had inferior exposure latitude to the other cameras, but came out with some of the prettiest footage. Why? Because of the split focus of the competitors, not because the topdogs couldn't have easily beaten it.
I'll bet I'm still not making any sense here to anyone, but do I get points for trying?
So my comment on the psychology of this test was an effort to DEFEND the inherent value of using the more expensive cameras, and why this test failed to show that.
So Gary, (and those that followed Gary) you gotta back off a little. If I come across arrogant it's because you completely, utterly misunderstand me. I don't know how - I thought I was perfectly clear - but it doesn't matter, I'm going to try again. I'll use more words, at the risk of boring you to tears.
I was trying to show that after analyzing the footage and looking at the lighting setups, that the more expensive cameras weren't really shot with the same focus on beauty as the lesser cameras. My explanation was that the operators had a different purpose. The F65 operator, for instance, was obviously not trying to improve the scene - but wanted, rather, to prove what his camera could handle. The same with some of the other topdogs, though to a lesser extent. As a result, in this test, did he do as well as he could have? I don't think so. Why not? Why didn't he try harder? Please, don't accuse me now of suggesting that he was a bad operator. I'm not saying that. And if you still don't understand, then I must simply give up trying.
But before you respond, read the rest of what I have to say. It might help.
I had concluded that it's not a great test because it didn't encourage the topdogs to push beauty as hard as the underdogs would push. The topdogs were distracted by the nature of a shoot-out and didn't think it would demonstrate their camera's prowress if they spent the same time lighting and improving the scene for their cameras as they would have during a real production. I make that statement because I believe that bring an F65, an Alexa, an Epic would always be a better choice than bringing a GH2 to a shoot (unless space or danger were an issue), and yet you would still WANT to light your scene to improve produciton value, wouldn't you? No-one brings an Alexa to a shoot because they see the camera simply as a shortcut to getting work done! That's where I made the comparison to a rich guy (read "uncommitted") who brought his toy (F65, Alexa, Epic, etc) to a shoot so he didn't have to work (ie. can't stay focused on the rigors of lighting, or suffering from ADD - as an example). That's what I was trying to say, in 1,000 words or less.
So . . . newsflash . . . I'm not degrading the use of great equipment. I'm not degrading those who prefer to bring their best game to a shoot - even if it's overkill.
I'm simply trying to illustrate an inherent weakness to their test. On the surface it looks fair and intriguing. With a little analysis, it has weaknesses that are borne out once the footage is evaluated.
Again, my problem was that this scenario showed someone coming in with a top-end camera, and doing nothing to improve their lighting -it's as if they suffered ADD. I explain that as being the nature of the shoot - it was a shootout! Of course the topdogs are tempted not to do as much! Do you get it??!! Is it really that hard to see this?! But that's not real life. In real life, you bring a camera - whether GH2 or F65, and you still work your butt off to get the best picture that fits your story - and that usually means lighting like a mad man. Who wouldn't? What a waste if you didn't. Right? Are you with me? We don't go to work to save time but to preserve quality! Yet this test shows people saving time!! Why??!! 'Cause it's SHOOTOUT!! That, by it's nature, ruined the test! It's as if the guy with the GH2 is competing with an uncommitted cameraman with a top-of-the-line camera, who has ADD!!!! Not a real-world scenario! Not a good test!
This "test," therefore, failed to show what the topdogs could really do.
I thought pointing this out would add some insight to the test, and help those studying the footage understand why the results were nothing like what was expected.
I liked the concept of the test, but in my opinion it backfired. The footage with the greyest table lamp shades are some of the prettiest - showing that hard work in lighting is a definite asset to production - but we already know that!
Showing up with an F65 and doing nothing isn't realistic. Is it Gary? Is it Jeremy? Is it anyone else?
So why did they do it?
It's as if a rich guy showed up with ADD - read that part again - it's AS IF a rich guy (read, uncommitted - has access to gear because it's easy, not because it's a calculated decision/risk) showed up with his toy (F65) and shot without any focus on beauty (ADD).
And let me carefully restate that I'm not saying the topdog operators were bad or uncommitted or suffering from ADD. I haven't implied it. I haven't thought it. I have nothing but respect for all of them. Rather, I'm trying to explain why they did what they did. They went out to prove what the worst-case scenario their cameras could handle - while competing with underdogs who were doing everything they could to flatten out the scene to make it easier for their cameras to handle. And according to quite a few reports, some of the underdogs did better than the topdogs. The previous post was intended to explain how this can happen.
So, I didn't think the test was realistic, because not everyone was shooting as if they were on a production but in a shootout.
Do you get what I'm saying?
Obviously there's been a failure to communicate.
I'll bet I still failed.
Come back to this post, once it's revealed which cameras were which, and maybe you'll see why I wrote what I wrote.
I'm cool with your comments Glen. Certainly no offense. Gary was involved with the tests so perhaps he saw something in the critique that I didn't. I agree with much of what you say.
As I said, if you bear in mind the work done, I think you can tease out the results of this test so I think like any sort of shootout, there are advantages and disadvantages that I think the organisers tried to minimise. By publishing the setups, time and grade complexity, they can allow us to make some further assessment of the merits and result generally.
I have my paper list and guesses, but I don't know which camera is which without seeing the publish list which is to be revealed. Personally I think for us graders there could be a still frame (tif, png?) supplied of each of the raw shots pre grade so we can try it in our grade tools. That said, I find the luxury of trimming RED tab settings (ISO, Color temp etc) as part of the grade important but it would level the playing field a bit.
[Glen Hurd] " Did I hit a nerve or did I really fail so terribly to communicate? I try for brevity, but that obviously wasn't worth it. :("
[Glen Hurd] "Again, my problem was that this scenario showed someone coming in with a top-end camera, and doing nothing to improve their lighting -it's as if they suffered ADD. "
Why is it nessesary to offend persons with mental illness (again) to make a point
[Glen Hurd] "And let me carefully restate that I'm not saying the topdog operators were bad or uncommitted or suffering from ADD. I haven't implied it. I haven't thought it."
You have and you are- by re-using that comment over and over again in this post - why do you keep denigrating an actual mental illnesses to make a point about someone you perceive being to lazy to do what you expect?
You resopnd as if you minimal experience on a larger sets, for the record it is quite common for the Gaffer to have pre-lit sets for mood or to match an exisiting shots based on previous discussions.
Most lighting ratios have been established based on film stocks and until digital cameras can hold that "filmic" luminance range unless you are going for that flat "sitcom" lighting.
[Glen Hurd] "I'm simply trying to illustrate an inherent weakness to their test. On the surface it looks fair and intriguing. With a little analysis, it has weaknesses that are borne out once the footage is evaluated."
I disagree. Possibly the difference is I viewed this material in a specific viewing environment where a group of us were all seeing the info at the same time- I have not watched the internet version, to me that would not be allow anything close to proper viewing conditions.
The test reaffirmed to me a few specific thougths having been involved in a couple of these tests.
a) the better the camera gear, the faster working environment. Cost aside.
b) a real pro can make art with Stone knives and Bearskins
c) No one will agree on the outcome.
d) the loudest complaints come from the people with the most to loose from the results.
[Glen Hurd] "Showing up with an F65 and doing nothing isn't realistic. Is it Gary? Is it Jeremy? Is it anyone else?"
Actually the Alexa took the lest amount of time for lighting and post, and that fact mirrors why that camera has pretty much taken over a great deal of the Episodic and commercial market in the US with something over 80% of Episodic TV shot on that single camera.
Why? Why with all of these great tools do the pro's go for one camera at better than 2-1?
There are RED's everywhere? why are so many Alexa's being used. WHAT happened to Sony and Panasonic's former claims that they were top dog; 5 years ago the F900 was the dominate camera for Episodic tv, try and find one on a set now.
Everyone has thier own opinion and they are allowed to differ- however I think it best not to bash others on the way to making your point.
Post and Production Workflow Consultant
Production and Post Stereographer
follow me on Twitter
Geesh, Gary. I really did hit a nerve!
My whole point was that this test encouraged topdogs to do less than they might normally do. It was not a situation where the F65 crew, for instance, walked in and lit for their camera and everyone else were then asked to make adjustments. Was it? And for the record, the F65 did have the shortest setup time IF I'm to go by the charts they released on their website. No time lighting. The Alexa took 33 minutes.
Therefore, I conclude, that the topdogs weren't approaching this with the same mindset as the GH2 operators did, for instance, where they spent so much more time on lighting.
You're being beligerent by completely ignoring what I'm trying to say, and instead reacting to what you imagined I said. Which, simply is not fair.
If you were to disagree with my assessment of the camera operators' mentality, you'd say, "No, I talked to all the operators, and all they could focus on was creating as much beauty as they could. When I asked the F65 operator why he made no adjustments to the lights, he told me that he tried, but that the currrent set up for the shootout was already perfect for his camera, and he could do absolutely NOTHING to improve the image for his camera!"
See, if you said that, I'd be illuminated by information I didn't have access to anywhere else.
If you went on to say that you had similar conversations with the other topdogs, I'd be even more impressed with the underdogs. Because your comments would point out that an extra hour of lighting with a $700 camera will allow me to match or exceed the cameras that rent for over $1500/day because those cameras were just as focused on beauty as the underdogs were, yet failed to pull out in front by a significant margin - if at all!
So, Gary, while you go on about how offensive and arrogant I am, I am still sitting here in comparitive darkness because you won't tell me that the topdogs were just as focused on beauty as the underdogs. And since you are silent on that, I'm left to conclude that the topdogs weren't focused on beauty at all - but on proving their camera superiority by underlighting - by doing the least necessary - to get a good picture. Opposite motivations, which yield results that - if misunderstood - would give a false value for shooting with inferior gear.
You point to 4 conclusions.
a)The better the camera, the faster the work. - I think everyone would agree that was obvious, I would add that if the faster work yields inferior results to a slower effort with a significanlty cheaper camera, is that an advantage? If concensus is that the GH2 outperformed the Epic, for instance, was the time saved setting up for the Epic of any value? Would anyone running an Epic - in a real production - approach their lighting requirements the same as if they were in a shootout with a GH2, where they want to demonstrate the superiority of the Epic vs simply going for the prettiest shot they can wrangle? My guess/assertion is no. People don't bring top gear to a shoot JUST so they can skimp on lighting. They may not have to work as hard as with inferior gear, that's more than obvious, but they will still want to do what's necessary - if they have the time. Yet these operators had time, but they were motivated, in my opinion, to underlight. And I think that needs to be acknowledged.
However, apparently you were there, so most will assume you should know. I will be the minority opinion that psychology plays a part in every competition, and this - at the end of the day - was a competition.
b) A real pro can make art with Stone knives and bearskins - My response is no doubt. But this was a shootout, where the stone knives appeared to do as well or better than the scroll-saws, chainsaws, and sawzalls. So I wanted to figure out what may have contributed to this - other than the implied suggestion that the underdogs were simply more talented than the topdogs - which I don't believe.
c) No one will agree on the outcome. - My response is that many will agree on their top 1 or 2 favorites, and if they misunderstand why they are seeing the results they are, they may never consider the better equipment for their own needs - thinking that an extra hour of lighting will allow them to exceed the quality of a $1800/day camera rental with their sub-$1000 purchased DSLR - which I think would be a mistake. Yet this test tends to imply that, not just on my observations, but also on the opinions of many others following the test.
d) The loudest complaints from the people with the most to loose from the results. - I don't know what that's in reference to, but if that helps you ignore me, then have at it. Whatever method you need to hide from my logic is OK with me.
If you found my ADD references offensive, they were intended to explain the only scenario I could imagine where someone shows up to a real production shoot, given at least 2 hours to do whatever they want to light the set to accomodate their camera, and do nothing, while someone with a veritable toy spends the time to enhance the lighting well enough to compete with that much superior camera. That scenario doesn't make sense, so I made fun of that scenario to make a point. That's called exaggeration. Look it up sometime.
And after all that, you still think I'm knocking the better cameras - which I am really supporting.
You may be reading my posts, but you certainly don't understand them. At least you've made this personal, which is helping me get to know you a little better. And that is reason enough for me to look forward to your next response.
[Glen Hurd] "Geesh, Gary. I really did hit a nerve! "
I have never agreed with an online poster using derogatory phrases insinuating people have mental disorders because you think it is somehow alright. It is not. Belittling others to make your point has never been acceptable.
Once again I reiterate that your comments seem, to me at least, to show a lack of experience on larger sets where gaffing is handled by a different crew.
Have you actually worked on everyone of these camera's? with the exception of the GH2 I have. When the tools reach the level of Alexa, F65 and Epic, DP's that were trained in film style lighting go back to thier roots, one of a simpler shooting style and a reliance on the professionals that come after them in the process.
What is so wrong about that?
What you seem to keep bypassing in your comments is not only the addtional time to light the shot for the prosumer cameras, but in some cases a huge increase in post time. Again this additional post handling something that has to be included in the associated costs attached to post.
This was not designed to be compared to a one man "preditor" style. This test simulates what happens in a great number of commercial, episodic and theatrical productions- One person shoots and another handles the post, very few of the DP's I know acutually post the materials they produce on set.
On a large set like this one, adding an hour or 2 to relight every shot keeps 30+ people on the clock, while the DP compensates for a lower cost camera. That alone makes the higher end cameras more practical. I can assure you that have a couple of dozen people standing around burning your budget while everyone waits.
Do that for every other shot and all of a sudden your production schedule (AND BUDGET) out the window. Now let me here the complaints about the extra rental costs when the budget for personnel (often the largest part of a production budget) just tripled while everyone is waiting for your to Re-light.
[Glen Hurd] "d) The loudest complaints from the people with the most to loose from the results. - I don't know what that's in reference to, but if that helps you ignore me, then have at it."
My guess is , once again, is that you have some vested interest in your exisitng camera choices and the test has made you question a previous decision, hence the animosity in your posts.
I do not own cameras any longer, I chose to purchace the glass that fits on the style of cameras I choose work with, that way I am not bound by technical limitations.
FYI- its not personal, I do not know you. It's about being respectful to others in your posts.
Treat others as you would expect to be treated, there are enough trolls online already.
Post and Production Workflow Consultant
Production and Post Stereographer
follow me on Twitter
I didn't think my comments were derogatory - I was simply describing a scenario wherein an imaginary photographer shows up to shoot something, and somehow finds he can't commit to studying the scene long enough to do anything before shooting. Yet, because that had happened in this test, I felt that there was a flaw in the setup, and then drew some observations that I thought would explain how this could happen.
But before you try and convince me that Charters gaffer had set up the scene for him before he arrived to shoot, could you do me a favor? It feels like you've been trying to read my mind more than my words, and I was wondering if you could actually quote something I've written that fits the description of the "derogatory phrases insinuating people have mental disorders" and "belittling others."
You're now accusing me of actually insulting someone, and I would like to clear that up. But I need a quote. No mind reading, OK? And I'd ask you not to respond to my post until you have that quote - I'm going to need it.
And while I'm on the "bullying" aspect of my post, maybe a different context may help you see how some people - outside your collection of friends and family - actually communicate.
On Master Chef recently, (yes, this is national TV) I heard one of the judging chefs, while looking at a messed up meal that was presented to him, say, "This looks like it was assembled by a chef suffering from ADD!"
Now, from your perspective, was he insinuating the chef in question actually had ADD? No.
Was he insinuating that all people who have ADD are idiots? No.
Could he have simply been drawing a parallel between a non-serious, easily managed disorder - that exhibits itself with a lack of focus - to the result he was holding in his hand?
See, in some parts of the Americas, people with ADD don't consider themselves "victims" or in need of special consideration. I have a friend who works as an aircraft mechanic for a very large airline. He's convinced that his ADD is an asset. I know what he'd say about your comments on this post. See, he sees this sort of speech as hyperbole and is accepted as humor. Perhaps we haven't submitted to the righteous ascension of the sensitivity crusaders yet - perhaps we value expression and debate and spontaneity over "correctness" - allowing for friction to be a part of every relationship instead of insisting that it all be made of teflon (and usually to someone else's definition of what that teflon standard should be).
And the reason why I won't let this go is because many times, in debates particularly, when the weak-minded find themselves fumbling for a defense, they suddenly assign themselves savior-status and attack their opponents for various deeds of insensitive improprieties, while completely ignoring the thread of logic in their opponents presentation. Not because they care about those whom they suddenly represent, but because a smoke screen of accusations makes for a wonderful distraction while they try and gather a more successful defense. I must confess, for a moment or two, I thought you might be doing that.
But now I believe you are a truly compassionate being, who would feel remorse if anyone were to be hurt in a discussion. Unless you judged them to be a bully of sorts. Then you'd let them have it - right between the eyes - but just to save the innocent.
I'm right there with you.
Now, back to the real topic, if you have the time.
I want to start by asking basic questions (anyone can answer - this is a forum after all).
Do you think the operators of the higher end cameras were as devoted to getting a great picture as the GH2 operators were? Yes or no?
Do you think it was possible that the higher end camera operators took the word "shootout" to mean "demonstrate maximum exposure latitude" instead of "Get the best damn picture you can"? Yes or No?
Do you really believe that a camera limited to 9 stops and a 4:2:0 signal should be capable of competing with the Alexa and F65 if all operators were truly focused on getting the best possible picture from a scene over which they have the same lighting controls - and assuming the operators are relatively equal in skill? Yes or No?
Do you think it was possible the higher end camera operators took the word "shootout" to mean "demonstrate how fast you can work to get an acceptable image"? Yes or No?
Do you think the operators in this shootout could possibly have had different goals in this shootout, thus making the visual assessment of the graded images an erroneous response to the camera operators' goals? Yes or No?
I'm trying to contact some of them privately, because I'm intensely curious. But in the mean time, I've read many comments on the web, from some in Holland, some in Australia, many in the US, that the GH2 did very well compared to the other cameras. It's been reported that a famous "yet-to-be-named" cinematographer actually preferred the GH2 to the Alexa and F65 at the Skywalker Ranch showing.
So I wasn't just shooting in the dark when I made my observations about what I thought had happened. I've screen-captured the footage, exported stills, measured brightness values, watched shadows under the coffee table appear and disappear, watch the lighting ratios on the faces in the foreground change from clip to clip, all as indicators that help me evaluate which cameras I'm looking at, while studying the lighting charts. None of my observations relied on resolution, but on contrast, shadow placement, and relative brightness values for light sources that are constants in the scene - that sort of thing.
And from those observations, I realized that a couple of the cheaper cameras had performed so well that the more expensive cameras, despite their price tags, could hardly claim to offer better picture performance (ignoring time for setup and all that - which is another point I'll get to).
Yes, I understand that reaching the same look as the cheap camera in 1/3 the time, has production value. But it better offer more than that! I can't imagine Rodney Charters saying "With a normal subject, this Alexa can barely exceed the quality of a 9-stop DSLR camera, that shoots 4:2:0 color on a 150mb/sec stream, but I can do it in 1/3 the lighting time and 1/2 the grading time, which is pretty damn exciting."
OK. That just made me laugh. Ridiculous.
Yet I read a quote where Illya Friedman said the total quality difference between cameras, excluding iPhones, was 15%.
I would expect that kind of difference if they were shooting grey cards where no camera has to really perform - but not on this set.
Apparently, you were quite satisfied with the results, which I find amazing.
Now, you've pointed out that gaffers set up lights in advance of the camera operators - in my experience the final decisions are only made once the camera's in position and the DP is making final decisions, but regardless, I thought this scene was set up without regard for any particular camera - from what I understand anyway. Perhaps you could address that if you have insider knowledge. Did they light specifically for the F65 or the Alexa? If so, I understand why you're confused by my comments. I thought it was a testing ground, not a starting point for Sony.
However, if I'm correct in understanding that it was set up simply as a test scenario, then I still wonder why they didn't do more tweaking - just out of pure control. As you accurately pointed out, many prefer to get as close to the needed picture in camera - instead of relying on another person to control the "look" so with the film community, especially, there is a tendency to get as close to the final look as possible. Here, I don't see that behavior. If you saw this behavior on a production set - no gaffers, no crew, just an operator who simply shows up to shoot, you'd think that operator had been burning too many nights on Modalert! (Phew) Another way to put it is, if they were told they were competing with a $300,000 wondercam with 20 stops latitude, do you think they would have still been happy with doing nothing to the set? Yes or No?
This is strictly a question of psychology. We have a test. We have certain motivations. If I can change the conditions of the test, do the motivations change?
What I have learned is that you are satisfied by how closely all these cameras performed, despite their price tag.
You know what's funny? I own 2 of the cameras featured here, and according to this shoot-out, they both did wonderfully. Now all I need is to design a faster method of setting and adjusting lights.
How's that for irony.
[Glen Hurd] "On Master Chef recently, (yes, this is national TV) I heard one of the judging chefs, while looking at a messed up meal that was presented to him, say, "This looks like it was assembled by a chef suffering from ADD!""
I assume that most of us have been taught "Just becasue someone else does something wrong, it does not make it the right thing to do"
Post and Production Workflow Consultant
Production and Post Stereographer
follow me on Twitter
Do you realize that those are some incredibly well known and gifted shooters you are accusing of intentionally being lazy, stupid or malicious in their actions? Do you really think that someone would put their name on any project if they had done that?
I certainly did not, and my name is proudly listed on the Revenge of the Shootout.
I can tell you from my perspective that not one of the DP's went into this project with any intention other than making the best images possible with the tools they were assigned. This was my task as the designer of the workflows. Some of the Camera MFG's wanted their specific workflows shown, others supplied personnel and technical support to show their products in the best light.
This is the same fundimental principle that the DP's I work with. The job is ALWAYS to handle each and every project they work on with courtesy and professionalism.
To assume there are ulterior motives to shoot faster, show more latitude or somehow submarine the project just because, shows a fair bit of naivety of how people actually work in a professional enviroment. No one I know or would work with would allow that to happen and if seen they would have been called out by anyone of the dozens of people that worked on this project. The BTS cameras were running continously so there would a record if that was the case.
Part 1 of the test was to see how the imager and workflows compared in one instance with out bias to any camera, that is the base test and the higher end cameras clearly showed higher image quality.
The Lighting was designed to be difficult, it encompassed what would be difficult even for film, that was part of the test. Most cameras of the cameras faired poorly on this test, even some of the highest end cameras did not respond as well as the MFG's claimed it should.
There is nothing wrong with making the Lighting extreme, working in extreme lighting conditions is a very real problem, to ignore that issue is as egregious as an error can be. On a real episodic production, the DP would not be re-lighting every shot, there is just not time in the budget when shooting 10+ pages of dialog in one day
Again I am going to reiterate that the time envolved in re-lighting multiple shots with a larger crew standing around is bad business. I do not care which camera you are working with, to waste your crew time is both foolish and expensive.
Allowing the re-lightingin this test to show that given time (and the associated monies) that virtually any modern imaging camera can be used in a professional manner.
I personally choose to spend the money on hardware to save physical time, my perspective is people are the most expensive part of the equation and wasting peoples time is the worst thing I can do. I hate it when people waste my time, so why would I choose to waste anyone elses time.
Post and Production Workflow Consultant
Production and Post Stereographer
follow me on Twitter
Sorry for not getting back to you sooner - went through a busy spell.
Again, for the record, I'd like you to show me where I've accused anyone of being anything negative - "lazy stupid or malicious."
I've stated, repeatedly, that there is no indication that everyone approached this alleged "test" with the same goals, therefore it is not a real test.
I'll state it again, very simply, and then stop beating this horribly disfigured dead horse.
Each operator was told they could approach this first test "creatively." That sends up red flags for me because when I evaluate the footage, I have no idea what the intent of each operator was. I simply don't know.
If an operator spends 1 1/2 hours on lighting, is it because he's trying to get skin tones in the foreground to match those of someone outside? Is it to bring out more detail in a coffee table he's fallen in love with? I don't know.
If an operator spends no time in lighting is it because he's more interested in just capturing the 10 stops inside the "room," and is happy to have blown highlights for exteriors - 'cause he feels they're more natural that way - and because he feels lights that are losing detail are less distracting, and don't contribute enough to a scene to make their inclusion important?
I don't know.
And, unless each operator states what their goals are, neither do you.
To assume they all had the same goals appears naive to me.
I cannot, for the life of me, understand where you keep coming up with these negative assertions about me, however. Anyone else reading what I've said, perhaps they could confirm what you are saying (if anyone has the grit to still be reading this thread). I certainly have felt nothing but respect for the operators. In fact - again, here's the irony - it's that respect that had me questioning the whole test to start with. With such luminaries operating this gear, there had to be a reason why the results weren't as clear cut as they could be. I still don't buy the "better cameras are for faster lighting" argument. Yes, that's a clear advantage, but it's certainly not the only one. Nor do I think it's the most important one. You might save on your budget, but if no-one's impressed with the photography, you're not making money with it either. It's not as cut and dried as you're trying to make it out to be.
To be honest, I've been researching this off site, and am relieved to have confirmation regarding my misgivings. Here's a hint. What does an artist want to do more than anything else - once given the freedom to do it? And each of these operators is not only an individual but a very experienced artist. With only one mandate - be 'creative.'
Different goals for different roles - I say.
If anyone is still interested in how I analyzed the footage, I'll be happy to explain - it's a long process, however, and will require me to upload a bunch of photoshopped stuff - so I don't really want to do it.
And at this point, this thread feels pretty parched to me - parched and buried.
Adieu, ol' boy . . . adieu.
[Glen Hurd] "Showing up with an F65 and doing nothing isn't realistic. Is it Gary? Is it Jeremy? Is it anyone else?
So why did they do it? "
Glen, I hear what you're saying, and, for the most part, I agree with your main points. But I think there's a flip side to what you're saying....
There are plenty of shooting situations that would greatly benefit from using a cinema camera (maybe not like the Alexa, but certainly something in the $8k-$20K range) that don't have a lot of time to work on lighting. Specifically, in certain types of docu style interviews on location (think hospital patients, or doctors in their office), there is not a lot of leeway for time to set up a lot of "extra" lighting, if for no other reason than the interviewee does not have a lot of time to dedicate to the process in the first place.
[Glen Hurd] "The topdogs were distracted by the nature of a shoot-out and didn't think it would demonstrate their camera's prowress if they spent the same time lighting and improving the scene for their cameras as they would have during a real production. "
I think the fact that they WERE able to spend "less" time setting up/fiddling with lighting is one the main takeaways (for me at least) from this shootout.
[Glen Hurd] "I make that statement because I believe that bring an F65, an Alexa, an Epic would always be a better choice than bringing a GH2 to a shoot (unless space or danger were an issue), and yet you would still WANT to light your scene to improve produciton value, wouldn't you?"
Yes, obviously the more time and effort spent in improving lighting will have an impact on production values....But I also think that there's a bit of a threshold to that improvement, in that sometimes there are such drastic time constraints (especially when shooting on location) that SOMETIMES "good enough" actually has to BE good enough. For me, knowing that my camera selection could actually handle a "good enough" situation (and what that threshold of "good enough" qualifies as) would be a huge benefit. And I think that, if nothing else, the shootout proves that. So I certainly wouldn't consider it a "weakness".
So, Glen, are you saying you know which camera is which? If so, how?
Occasionally, I get extremely lucky and get to work with higher end production tools.
No matter what camera is on set, the work ethic from our team doesn't change.
When a higher end camera is on set, there's usually much more at stake in terms of client, budget, insurance, and therefore our reputation.
It costs more, the client knows it, and wants to see that measurable difference in the end product. Then there's the opposite, budgets are lower, client doesn't care what camera as long as it hits a price...yet they still want a nice product.
No matter what budget or camera is selected, we still show up and work really hard at it, no matter how sensitive the chip is to light.
This test was setup, as far as I can tell, with a level playing field. The cameras we already know aren't level, so you have to setup a control.
They could have setup charts, lines and graphs, they could have done it any other way, but instead they chose to start as even as possible, and then beyond that, provide as much insight as possible through the interviews.
For me, that's a successful shootout in that you can forget the gear for a second and perhaps gain some experience from those that have been in the field, which is much much harder to do in today's environment.
Just like what was said in the video, this might be the "last camera test" as they are all getting to be pretty good, some just happen to be excellent.
Also, just because the F65 guys didn't use any more instruments doesn't mean they didn't adjust anything. There's a difference.