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Christopher Decker
Camera Traing Questions
on Dec 4, 2014 at 3:25:36 pm

I’m in the process of updating some written camera training materials from the standard analog to the high definition digital age. I have two subjects that I’ve had difficulty pinpointing in my online research and I need the help of some professionals. Bear in mind, we don’t identify any specific camera system as this is general education for individuals who will use different cameras depending upon their location.
Contrast range. We had an old rule of thumb that the brightest area of a scene should not be more than 30 times brighter than the darkest area (as measured in foot candles) otherwise the image would not be reproduced correctly. Is there a general rule of thumb for high definition? Is it determined more by the dynamic range of the camera or the contrast ratio of the television?
Operating characteristics. Our old training materials listed operating light level, contrast range, and picture resolution as the three most important characteristics for determining the capabilities and limitations of a camera. It was referencing late ‘90s Betacam SP technology. Is there a group of “most important characteristics” for a young videographer to know about their HD system? (Dynamic range? Bit rate? S/N ratio?)
Thanks in advance for your help.


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Bill Davis
Re: Camera Traing Questions
on Dec 13, 2014 at 12:14:34 am

I'd advise to make it as simple as possible. Obviously strike anything about analog tech.

The truly basic digital stuff won't change. Like 8 bit systems yielding 256 "numbers" between black and white and nothing over or under that registers - etc. And it's pretty safe to say that the gear developed for that era will continue to be replaced such that your readers will be more likely to run into stuff like false color displays for exposure setting - and if they do use scopes - understanding how to read and adjust Histograms and understanding the ruthless lack of headroom in digital audio meters will be more germane than colorbars and Vectorscopes and analog style audio.

Not sure what "operating levels" even mean today with cameras like the A7s that can LITERALLY shoot useable images in the pitch dark. Still, understanding the digital gain and noise relationship will continue to be critical.

Really, the challenge is that where once a camera could be expected to have a fixed set of characteristics and controls - that consistency is largely gone. Setting up a GoPro is nothing like setting up an Arri Alexa - which in turn is miles far away from setting up a DSLR or a C300. So what's the "standard" you can apply? I've done edits lately with footage from iPhones - and for the particular purpose, the image quality has been WAY better than I expected. So what IS the standard anymore?

Again, I'd simply try to stay away from too much theory and put in as much real world practicality as you can. I know that's difficult, because the real world is changing so fast. But I honestly don't think we're ever going back to a system where you can expect much of any consistency in the realm of image-making techniques.

Good luck.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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