I was wondering if it is possible and feasible to shoot a low budget HD feature film using High Dynamic Range Video.
What are my options? I have heard that it requires two digital cameras and a beam splitter (not sure what that means)! Is it possible shooting with a single RED camera?
Have also heard that it is too early too shoot HDR video. is that true?
Thanks for all your help.
What is your reason to shoot in HDR? And what do you mean by HDR? Every new camera that has been released lately generally has a "higher dynamic range" than previous technology.
If you want the super-stylized "HDR" look that you can get from bracketed DSLR frames combined, then no, I'd say that it's way too early to think about on a low budget. Looks like these guys have figured out how to do it with a couple Canon 5DmkIIs but I'm betting it's a cumbersome rig and frame timing and compression artifacts are nasty. Since you're asking about the beam splitter and such, this is probably how they did it: one camera is set to overexpose and catch shadow detail, while one is set to underexpose and preserve highlight detail. They are either mounted in a 3D rig but aligned to capture as close to the same image as possible, or they use a beam splitter and a single lens to split the exact same image to both sensors (ideal, but much more expensive/intensive). Then, I'd suspect that you import both shots as a still sequence into Photoshop or your preferred HDR processing software, stitch them together to taste, and you're done! But, I wouldn't expect great (or even usable) results in most cases. Too many variables.
If you want "HDR" as in more dynamic range to manipulate in post than what is visible on set, then the RAW recording format of a RED might work for you.
If you\'re looking for a camera that gives you extremely high latitude, recording in a format that preserves the high bit rates, in HD or higher resolution, with a form factor similar to other digital cameras, the closest I\'ve seen is a prototype that Sphereon VR showed at Siggraph:
It has its own issues, most notably that there are no helpful workflow tools to take 32-bit (I think) HDR image sequences into video tools (NLE, color correctors) that only deal with 8 or 10 bit video...
But as was mentioned, the existing best option is to find the camera that will capture a high latitude and write it to a proper video format, like RedRAW, ArriRAW. None of these existing cameras can capture true HDR at 24fps to my knowledge, so it depends on what exactly you need to accomplish...
Without the proper budget, I think your best option is to shoot a well-exposed but not over-exposed master, and imitate this HDR "look" in post, by layering multiple versions of the video, each graded for one aspect of the dynamic range, or by using a plug-in like Magic Bullet Looks. Doing this live on capture, using hardware and mirror rigs, is at least as complicated as shooting quality 3-D right now.
Thanks Mark, makes a lot of sense. Have you had experience with Magic Bullet?
A little bit. It certainly is a time saver.
I use Magic Bullet all the time (especially Magic Bullet Looks) and it's pretty great and powerful software... especially considering that it is not very expensive.
I'm not aware though of it being able to create something that really replicates HDR photography though... although it certainly can create some interesting looks that might be sufficient.
As you probably know, most HDR still photographs are created from at least three different exposures... and if you read the notes on some, you'll often find HDR photos that were made up of as many as a dozen different exposures... or more. Obviously the setup you mentioned using the two REDs and the beamsplitter was to get two simultaneous shots with different exposures.
BUT... in theory you could do this with just a single RED camera, as there are HDR programs that will take a single RAW image and split it into three different images of different exposures which are used to make the final HDR image. Most of the still HDR photos you see that are of static subjects (an object, or a building) were made with multiple exposures, but when you see an HDR "action" shot those were made with a single RAW image. The kicker, is that these are for stills. Doing it for motion footage is likely to be a fair bit more difficult. Apparently post production software that will allow you to take three different exposures of motion video does exist (because apparently people are doing it), but I'm not sure what that is. But again, yes in theory it can be done with a single RED shooting RAW. I would imagine that you would have to be very careful about nailing exposures right on the money, and it would probably be pretty darn complex and time consuming on the post side of things.
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A few months ago I wrote down a bunch of thoughts on how 24p HDRI cameras might work - it doesn't provide a solution by any means, but be interesting to some...