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Daniel Stone
XL-H1 and 2:3:3:2 stutter
on Jun 22, 2007 at 2:32:32 am

I just rented an XL-H1 for a shoot (I'm a glutton for punishment) and this is my first time filming in imitation 24p. I was filming in SD 16:9 24f and noticed that the motion looked sort of jerky through the viewfinder (not like typical 24p). When I pan it's like the camera goes through several frames, pauses and then jerks to catch up. So I went through the menus and changed the mode from 2:3:3:2 to 2:3 -- now the motion looks more like 24p.

My problem: I've recorded a lot of footage in 2:3:3:2 already - how do I import this footage into FCP without it having that strange 'jerking' motion? I know this is 24p vs. 24pA. These two modes look identical in my HVX-200 and DVX-100 so I'm worried that all of my footage is going to look jerky when I import.

Thanks ahead of time!


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: XL-H1 and 2:3:3:2 stutter
on Jun 22, 2007 at 4:05:48 am

I can't speak to the Final Cut issues (we're a PremierePro2 house), but as for the rest....

Glutton for punishment? Oh my, why? I LOVE the H1 and have been using one since the first day they rolled out the door. It's actually probably my favorite out of countless cameras that I have bought through the years.... DV, 16mm, 35mm, HDV, HD... etc etc

But anywho, digress...

You said the footage looked jerky through the viewfinder? Does it also look jerky when you playback?...viewed through a real monitor? I'm betting not. It's just one of the little pecularities of 24fps in many of the small HDV cams. If you watch the "live" signal (either via viewfinder or an external monitor) it will often look a bit stuttery... but playback recorded footage and it generally looks perfectly fine.

In reality your eyeball could probably not discern any difference in 2:3 and 2:3:3:2... the distinction is really only important if you are planning on doing a real film-out of your project. 2:3 is generally a safe bet though.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Daniel E
Re: XL-H1 and 2:3:3:2 stutter
on Jun 24, 2007 at 3:16:43 pm

I do think you can see a real difference in the motion of 2:3 and 2:3:3:2 when looking at it in 60i. The reason for the two standards of 24 is the motion vs removal of pulldown issue. The 24P 2:3 motion is smoother when looked at on 60i while 24PA is easier to remove the pulldown but the cost is the look of the motion. I do agree that looking at a live 60i signal while shooting 24P makes it harder to judge what the motion looks like in post.

Daniel Epstein
Gold Teleproductions, Inc
New York, NY
http://www.goldtele.com


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Daniel Stone
Re: XL-H1 and 2:3:3:2 stutter
on Jun 26, 2007 at 3:16:19 pm

Thanks for the info, guys!

I looked at the footage through a production monitor and I will say that it looks a million times better than through the viewfinder. The motion is still jerky, though. I'm going to try removing the extra frames through capture... we'll see what happens. In working with the HVX, DVX and SDX I've learned what Todd mentioned - that you shouldn't be able to tell a difference between 2:3 and 2:3:3:2. With this camera there definitely is a difference, though, and it's really distracting. It reminds me of a strobe filter from a cheesy wedding video.

As for the 'glutton for punishment' comment, the reason I said that is that I rented the camera despite all the bad reviews and known downsides. Why did I rent it? Because the HVX-200 wasn't available and I'm a huge fan of the XL-1, XL-2 and I was curious. I will say that I was extremely impressed with the overall picture color and layout of the camera (again, I'm a huge fan of the Canon XLs). Downsides are that the HD lens has CRAZY amounts of chromatic abberation, that funky pulldown motion and HORRIBLE latitude sensitivity. Add to that the fact that the camera doesn't import 1080 24f into FCP through Firewire and you have a camera niched for news-gathering applications. The camera certainly isn't terrible - it's just not ideal for my purposes. I do think this camera would be great for a college news studio or to send a live feed to a large screen at an event or conference (with that direct out).


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: XL-H1 and 2:3:3:2 stutter
on Jun 27, 2007 at 5:03:37 am

[Daniel Stone] "I rented the camera despite all the bad reviews"

Well, just to come to its defense... I guess we're just reading different things, as I've hardly ever read even one word of bad press about the XLH1. I LOVE this camera.

I strongly suspect that you either got a total lemon of a camera (hey, it happens), or the rental house had it set up VERY weirdly (and there are a LOT of potential things to tweak).

I can't imagine what is going on with your funky 3:2 pulldown issues. Mine performs and looks perfect. And I'm an old film guy who is used to shooting 35mm and watchin it telecined... maybe I got lucky with my camera, my pulldown looks perfect... no stutter, no judder...

I can't really speak to the stock lens... we never use it (I think it has been on the camera body maybe twice). We use real prime cine lenses (via P+S Technik DoF lens converter) and good glass REALLY makes the difference. Then again, a single good prime can easily cost more than the camera body (and if you need a case full, that really adds up), but you get what you pay for.

Lattitude I also find to be more on the "great" side rather than the "horrible"... although I will admit the "factory default" settings aren't ideal. We spent quite a bit of time tweaking the 30 or so adjustible paramenters until we finally got a picture that knocked our socks off.

As for the 24f 1080 firewire issues with FCP... that's a definite one. But I point the finger squarely at Mac, not Canon (although it's a non-issue for me, as we are a Premire Pro 2 house). At any rate, I'd certainly capture via HD-SDI rather than firewire, if at all possible.

I definitely do not see the XLH1 as a "newsgathering" camera by any means. It can be a great production tool. Our footage has been used in television commercials ranging from local to national spots... and we've seamlessly intercut the footage with Panavision-shot 35mm as well.

All in all, although the XLH1 is definitely one of the more expensive HDV cameras (heck, it might be THE most expensive)... I think it's a bargain. I'd buy another one at twice the price. Literally.

But hey, to each his own...

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Daniel Stone
Re: XL-H1 and 2:3:3:2 stutter
on Jun 27, 2007 at 5:52:26 am

True, there are things I love that other people hate, too. It all depends on the person and their needs, I guess. And good point about capturing with the SDI out.

Don't get me started on film - if I could, I'd shoot EVERYTHING on film (I LOVE film).

One question, though - if you're shooting with a Mini35 ($10K) and Prime lenses ($35K+ each), why use an HDV camera with tiny 1/3" sensors to capture the footage? I'm sure that good glass makes a big difference but you've got an image going through beautiful glass - only to be picked up by a prosumer camcorder. That seems to me like having a Ferrari with a Toyota engine. We rent a set of Zeiss and Pro35 quite often - but capture (at the very least) with a Varicam. No matter how tweaked the camera, there's always going to be a difference in image quality when you're comparing 1/3" CCDs to 2/3" CCDs. Add to that the fact that the XL-H1's 24f mode cuts resolution by over 25%, it doesn't seem to me that the XL-H1 does that glass justice.



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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: XL-H1 and 2:3:3:2 stutter
on Jun 27, 2007 at 6:36:26 am

Yup, you have pegged our setup almost exactly (although I've certainly never spent $35K on a single prime, not even half that, actually).

I'm a BIG believer in that it all comes down to your eyeballs, that should be the final judge. You'll see reviews from all kind of gearheads analyzing the most minutae of data... this camera is better than that one or such, because of some tiny bit of data... but in the end, that doesn't matter. Numbers mean nothing... does it look good to your eyeball, or doesn't it? That's the ONLY thing that matters.

I try very hard to only wear a cinematographer's hat, and to wear the "computer geek" hat as little as possible (especially since I'm not one). As Tim Kolb once reminded me, "technique comes before technology in the dictionary," and it should in practice, too.

After shooting 35mm for so long (and still do, pretty often), I'm as surprised as anyone that HDV can look as good as it does. There are plenty of HD shooters that will whine and complain about HDV, long GOP, heavy compression... etc., but when shot RIGHT I think HDV gives an incredible bang for the buck, and I have never begrudged buying our P+S Technik converter or our primes for one second (part of my rationale when we bit the bullet to buy the Panavision-housed Leitz primes was that we could use them on our 35mm cameras, but frankly we never have).

People might talk to death inferior specs on HDV... but I've seen our footage projected on a 60foot screen at a local cineplex via their Christie DLP digital projector... and I must say it looked just about as good as the movie I'd seen in the same theater a week before (and frankly looked BETTER than the film I saw there a week later).

Now, all that being said... we shoot almost nothing but television commercials, and most everything we do winds up on the boob tube (and we always capture footage via HD-SDI as full HD, never as HDV for editing). But I would not hesitate for one second to shoot a bigger project with the XLH1 (in fact, planning a low-budget feature even as we speak)... although in that case I would probably record pure HD-SDI uncompressed straight to drive (1Beyond or Kinor 10bit 4:4:4 1864 Mb/s drives) rather than to MiniDV tape. Geez, now I'M being a gear head... must revert to my own advice: "If it looks good, do it."

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Daniel Stone
Re: XL-H1 and 2:3:3:2 stutter
on Jun 27, 2007 at 3:48:29 pm

Todd, I really like your theory - trust your eyeballs. I think we all forget what's important - your eyes. I still wouldn't use a prosumer XL-H1 for a professional commercial application - and especially not hooked onto such a nice front end - but every cinematographer has their own thing, which is what makes this industry so interesting.

I must admit that I'm a but jealous of you. We work with a lot of agencies who hire us based on 'buzz words' beaten into them by the industry: Avid, Varicam, Cinealta, 10-bit Uncompressed, Smoke, Flame, etc. They don't know what those things are, but they want them. In our area the video business is so competitive that you have to be one step ahead of innovative. Eventually I want to get to the point where I get hired based on content and what I can do, getting kudos for having filmed a huge spot with a GL-1 or something. For now I'm in a place where I have to compete by filming with a Viper Cam and editing in Avid (or, rather, having Avid on my system just to say we have it while editing in FCP).


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: XL-H1 and 2:3:3:2 stutter
on Jun 27, 2007 at 4:27:34 pm

[Daniel Stone] "We work with a lot of agencies who hire us based on 'buzz words' beaten into them by the industry: Avid, Varicam, Cinealta, 10-bit Uncompressed, Smoke, Flame, etc."

That is sooo funny, Daniel, and so true. We work almost exclusively for agencies, too... but I think I have a bit of an advantage over you, in that I'm betting I live in a much smaller market. Here, the ad wizards (there are probably a dozen or so agencies we work for) not only don't know what words like Cinealta or Smoke mean, they don't even know the words in order to ask for them.... fortunately. OCCASSIONALY I'll get the "I've heard of Avid, do you edit on that?" question... but I will usually squash it with a "Well, it's like Avid" comment.

Fortunately also, we are basically the only game in town for high-end production. Well, there is one other house (actually bigger and older... and more expensive), but they don't own their own 35mm gear and primarily shoot 16mm, and we won't touch that anymore (sold all my 16mm gear)... if a client doesn't want 35mm I'll talk them into HD easily. Again, it helps that our clients aren't too lingo savvy. But we do good work for them, keeping them happy with effective advertising.

And... I wasn't trying to win you over to the XLH1, I never thought I would do that... (just like there are tons of Varicam lovers out there, but I doubt I will ever be one, it only takes one bad experiece to sour you)... I just didn't want anyone else to think my beloved XLH1 is a piece of junk without giving it a fair shot themselves.

Keep shooting! It don't mean a thing if it ain't on the screen...

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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