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change camera on long-term project?

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Gerret Warner
change camera on long-term project?
on Jul 13, 2017 at 8:35:28 pm

For the last five years I've intermittently documented a subject on my HVX 200 @ 720, 24PN. I've been happy with the look, but as time has passed, of course, much has changed and audiences are now used to 2k, even 4k.

I don't think I should change cameras at this point, but it now looks as if funding is likely to pull our footage together into a documentary, and it's made me wonder again if maybe a better camera would be worth the risk of trying to intercut all the 720 footage with the newer.

I'd love to hear from anyone experienced with this challenge.

Thanks in advance.

GW


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Gary Huff
Re: change camera on long-term project?
on Jul 14, 2017 at 7:47:33 pm

Do you think the quality of the footage looks poor?


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Gerret Warner
Re: change camera on long-term project?
on Jul 14, 2017 at 9:27:12 pm

No. I think it looks pretty good. I'm simply concerned about the current standard audiences are getting accustomed to.

Here's a link:

GW


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Rick Wise
Re: change camera on long-term project?
on Jul 14, 2017 at 10:54:22 pm

"It's not the camera, it's the eye and mind behind the camera." Always.

Further, if you suddenly up-rez new footage it will make the old look bad. Audiences adapt quickly, but sudden changes distracts them. I suggest you stop worrying about getting a new camera and finish up the project with what you have. The alternative, start all over again, seems like a colossal waste of time.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Gerret Warner
Re: change camera on long-term project?
on Jul 15, 2017 at 11:11:19 am

My thoughts exactly. Just thought I'd see what others have done. Cheaper too.

Thanks

GW


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Reid Kimball
Re: change camera on long-term project?
on Jul 16, 2017 at 6:28:55 pm

To give a broad answer, I think it depends on where you plan on releasing your film. Some distributors may have minimum requirements. I know that Netflix Originals even specifies which cameras can be used and which settings on those cameras.

But if you are releasing independently on YouTube or Vimeo, I think audiences will be fine with a change in look. That's what I did with my documentary. I started in 2010 when I didn't know what I was doing. I started it with a Panasonic HS700. Then years later I shot some of it on a Panasonic GH4. I also used very low quality Skype videos of interviews I did with people online. The people I made the film for don't care, they care about the inspiring stories, which was my goal.

-Reid


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Gerret Warner
Re: change camera on long-term project?
on Jul 16, 2017 at 9:01:28 pm

Thanks for your thoughts, Reid, but of course I can't change what I've already shot in the last five years, whatever Netflix or others demand.

I'd pretty much made up my mind before posting, but I'm still interested in how others have coped with what must be a common problem. WIth new cameras looking so good I've been tempted to upgrade for any new footage, as I said, but I think on reflection the change midstream would overshadow the beauty of the new images. Audiences do notice differences and it confuses them, unless there's a clear logic to the difference.

I'm not sure what the function of your Skype footage was but archival footage in a documentary can be in almost any format as long as the audience gets the context: home movies, newsreels, TV. My question was only about the primary story.

Thanks again.

GW


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Mathew Farrell
Re: change camera on long-term project?
on Aug 11, 2017 at 5:38:04 am

I'm with Rick - don't change cameras. As a supporting tale, I know of long-term documentary projects that shot on a range of camera formats throughout the years. The post guys had to degrade the newer footage to try and match the legacy stuff.

The only compelling way to mix with newer cameras, in my view, would be for whole elements. For example, all your field footage is shot with your HVX, but your talking head interviews are shot on a newer camera in a studio.

Mathew Farrell
flowstate.com.au


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Gerret Warner
Re: change camera on long-term project?
on Aug 11, 2017 at 10:29:53 am

Thanks Mathew,

Yes. I'm pleased to my instincts are shared by others.

And I agree with your compromise: original camera for field work, newer camera for interviews. I've done that in the past and it's a good solution. But in this case I've shot both with the same camera, and I'm five years into the project, so it'll be the HVX all the way.

GW


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