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Slow motion with a Prosumer camera and FCP7

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Jeff Mueller
Slow motion with a Prosumer camera and FCP7
on Feb 12, 2010 at 6:24:53 am

I posed a similar question in the Canon Camera forum and Todd Terry gave me some good pointers, but I hope it's okay to ask it here as well for a broader perspective.

This weekend I am shooting a sports/instructional DVD where the client has asked for an NFL Films type of look. Specifically, he wants a lot of slow motion. My camera is a Canon XLH1 and I post with the latest FCS. Most of my work is not sports and I slow down/speed up things as prudent in FCP. What do you think are best practices for shooting this type of footage with this type of camera? All the action footage will be exterior-day available light (plenty). I expect to use the internal ND filters, a long lens and a circular polarizer. Todd suggested a shutter speed of 1/120th to 1/160th of a second for something like 40% speed. He also suggests that slower speeds require frame interpolation software.

Ultimately I'll worry about post in post, but I want to do the best I can in production as I won't be able to re-shoot. The client has made clear that I must make do with what I have, there is no budget for extras.

I should have added that the camera will either be on a good fluid head tripod or a Steadicam Pilot, no hand held.

Thanks.

Jeff Mueller
http://www.ApertureVideos.com
Santa Barbara, CA


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Alex Huber
Re: Slow motion with a Prosumer camera and FCP7
on Feb 12, 2010 at 7:04:52 am

Well those tips are exactly correct -- but only IF you shoot 60i and the rest of the footage and project is 24p.

If it is, then the math works and you can get acceptable slow motion.
60i x 40% = 24p

It looks pretty good. I don't know if it is an HD or SD project but even if it is SD shoot with the H1 in HDV mode since you effectively lose half of the scan lines when coverting individual interlaced fields to full progressive frames.

One thing that you said though -- you said you were going to be using long lenses. You said you may also use a Steadicam. Those two things don't usually mix. You would probably never want to use long lenses with a Steadicam -- they are best for medium wide or wider lenses. They are not really the look of NFL Films either which is predominately very long lenses.

/A




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Jeff Mueller
Re: Slow motion with a Prosumer camera and FCP7
on Feb 13, 2010 at 1:42:53 am

Thanks Alex. I agree on the Steadicam and wide lens. I'll shoot the long lens stuff off of the tripod. the Steadicam idea took root before the client said anything about NFL Films or slow mo but I couldn't unwed him.

This is going to end up on DVD. Normally I'd shoot it all in 1080i 60, but from what you're saying it sounds like I'd be better off shooting the rest of the project in 24p (they call it 24F on the Canon because it's an interlaced chip but I think it ends up the same).

Jeff Mueller
http://www.ApertureVideos.com
Santa Barbara, CA


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Alex Huber
Re: Slow motion with a Prosumer camera and FCP7
on Feb 13, 2010 at 6:52:40 am

right you will want to shoot the rest of the project as 24p if you want to slow the 60i footage to 40 percent and get a frame for frame accurate drop in for the rest of the project.

Don't sweat Canon's "24f" label. It is 24p. Lots of 24p cameras actually shoot with an interlaced chip just like Canon does. It is more of a legal thing than anyone else. Basically Canon didn't want to pay the royalty rights to Robert Faber (the inventor from the old "FilmLook" company) who had trademark protection on the process and the "24p" moniker so canon came up with the "24f" designation. It's the same thing. Plus if they want the NFL Films look they will definitly want the normal speed footage at 24 not 60.

Speaking of which -- keep in mind that the NFL Films slow motion was often very very slow. Back when they were shooting film they often used film cameras that would overcrank up to almost 500 frames per second. That's more than 2000 percent of normal speed. So the slow motion was very very slow. You won't get that out of the H1 even with frame interpolation. You might run a test so your client does not have false expectatons of what the gear can do.

If they really do want it that slow, the best choices would be to either shoot real film with a high speed camera, or book a Panavision Phantom 35/HD for the day if they want video.

/A



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Jeff Mueller
Re: Slow motion with a Prosumer camera and FCP7
on Feb 13, 2010 at 4:25:27 pm

Thanks, great information. I have to make do with the gear I've got, but I'm sure the results will be better for having asked the Cow.

Jeff Mueller
http://www.ApertureVideos.com
Santa Barbara, CA


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