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Rolling at the keep...

Tuesday, May 19. 2009 10:38
This thursday we well be rolling for the next scenes at the Burg Kronberg again. Luckily we will have som efair weather and some good shooting conditions. I hope this time we will also have lighting in tact and not a crash again :-)

Maybe I'll post some pictures of our roll again. I'll surely will keep you informed.
Posted by FinFarenath in hobbies Add Comments

Too sad...

Sunday, April 5. 2009 19:59
It is a sad truth, that most people treat their horses like they would treat a baby or their child... in fact - like a human would be treated. But they forget, that this is not a human they care for - it is a horse and has completely different needs and requirements for living then a human has. And even more sad is that - eigther because of excessive sloth or just forgetfulness people often just don't realy seem to care for their horses.

This weekend there was a great derby where for the 50th anniversary for the local club hey had a class S dressage tournament - also a lower level tournaments for children. And the sad images one could see all around were horses treated like sports instruments and where obviously the treatmend of a trophy was more important then caring for their horses. One example is this cure horse, left standing on the paddock. Still wearing a headstall ( so it can be easier grabbed when needed again ) also still wearing horse gaiters and hoove protection for jumping.

The horse stood there for a long time, without someone caring for to removing those things off his body for comfort. And maybe the poor one stood there the whole rest of the day wearing "sport gear" al the time. It seems around here that people think that once a horse doesn't wear its headstall noone can fetch it from a paddock anymore. So everyone leaves those things attached all the time and then wonder why the horses shy on heads and have rubbed off places in their face. Or... in some rare and even more tragic events the poor horse tries to eat form under the fence and shies up from something, hanging itself in the headstall that is set too loose and break its neck or other things like that... and sadly I've seen more then one incident where that happened...

... enough ranting... It just is so frustrating to see people seem to not learn from mistakes and continue to act in a way "because it was always done like that"
Posted by FinFarenath in hobbies 2 Comments

Camera Comparison

Saturday, February 14. 2009 22:15
As promised in my last post, I will write some notes about the camera comparisioin I did last weekend....

Subject to testing were:

*) - Those cameras were not subject of test, but we tested them alongside, as we had them with us. But because of certain properties they didn't apply to the properties we needed. Wrong fromat, signal processing or simply other connectors we didn't use. Just as a sidenote - if you want comparison values or images of those not tested here explicitly - just ask. I also have them but didn't want to put them here as well.

Audio Properties

This is simply saied.... I haven't tested audio properties, as we did audio recording externally. Maybe I will compare them later the week if I should find the time. But one thing saied - use XLR with phantom powered condensers. It will make you happy with quality :-)

General Differences

A few obvious technical differences, I want to mention first. Recording to tape was all the same with those camcorders. They record to standard miniDV tapes, which makes production easy and comfortable. The only drawback was on the JVC GY-HD100 because it records in ProHD format, which is only 19Mbit/s instead of the standardized 25Mbit/s of HDV. So we recorded for the JVC on a firestore external. Another drawback was that ProHD only has a 720p in the JVC, so all images were reconverted to 1080i HDV using the Philips reference encoder.

All cameras were able to do progressive instead of interlaced - save for the HVR-A1E. The real adventage of progressive versus interlaced is rather obvious when you start shooting on moving objects or move your camera around. To have the full quality of 1080 lines in interlaced is that you need a player medium that is also capable of interlaced displaying - meaning you need a line based display. CRTs, TFTs, Projectors and so on that create the image by more or less drawing single lines in a given frame of time. ( Which needs to be 50Hz frame frequency for PAL ) ( Just a sidenote... in HD/SD environment, using HDV - which basically is MPEG2 with other profiles, terms such as PAL and NTSC are rather wrong placed. But I will use them for the termini of frame and picture frequency, for distinguishing 25/50 and 24/30/60 Hz ) To be back to the topic about interlaced video, you have two frames that are taken in short distance after each other, meaning the first half (for example the even lines) of the 1080 lines is taken in slot 1/2 and then the second half (for example the odd lines) is taken in slot 2/2. It basically does a finer movement capturing of the scene (one can identify old televosion shows with that :-)) because of a higher fieldrate, but the disadventage is obvious. You have two images. And if the object you captured moves, you have two non coherent fields. Now if you want to process that to a non interlaced medium, you have to eigther blend the two fields, which creates two halftransparent images in one frame, or discard one field - effectively reducing the resolution to half. (Actually, interlaced, progressive, fields, frames and such in post processing and target media encoding is a case of its own... take a look at my tutorials secion to find out more :-) )

Storing is done in HDV (which is basically MPEG layer 2 in Main Profile and High 1440 level) in all cameras - save for the already mentioned JVC. This profile declares a sampling of YUV 4:2:0 and a maximum pixels of 1440x1152. Rendering in image to 180x1440 blocks for the DCT. On a typical base it gives a more clear result in motion then the "newer" "mp4" format, or so called AVCHD codec which is based on fewer static sample blocks but increase of motion detection and free blobs. In stills the AVCHD codec definitely has an advantage over the HDV codec, but in motion it has the tendency to "morph" the image, meaning that motion parts in a fine detail are not in sync with the rest of the motion of the image. This fact renders the AVCHD codec impractical if you want to do some post processing and motion tracking. Also the linear approach of HDV and its chunks makes it faster to access for DTE.

Optical Properties

One has to mention that this was a hard comparison to make. All lensesystems were from Canon, safe for the HVR, which is Carl Zeiss and the JVC, which of course is Fujinon. One simply has to tell that comparing Fujinon with Canon is unfair - as the result is so obviously clear that I originally didn't even want to waste time in doing a real comparison. But then again, the differences in those Canon lense systems in the three price categories sparked my interes.

The most obvious drawback on the Canon was on the Canon XL H1 - that sadly failed in my eyed because of a non acceptable CA. You can take a look for yourself in the comparison chard below. The image of the russian building where you can see the dark trees against the sky - a definitve no-go. Although all cameras have a great range of zoom and well manufactured ringsystem ( I will leave the HVR out here ) there are differences in handling. One thing I noticed was a rather loud sonic drive of the new Canon XL H1A that is audiable in the internal microphone if you take pictured and zoom/focus. For production no problem, but might cause some disturbance when hobby filming with the attached mic.

Optical stabiliziers ( if present ) is equally well done in all Canons. But the most surprising plus was the extreme of 32,5mm in the Canon XH A1s that even surpasses the wide angle of the FX1 - and no notifiable CA in that one. A little sidenote to the CA. Cromatic aberration is "normal" for these class of optics. I will not go into too much detail here how CA occurs and what creates it, but for a standard coating that one can still pay there IS cromatic aberration. No way around it. But I recently tested a funny cam by Sony - the new XDCAM EX series. It promises to have a CAC - a CA compensation - that made me curious. It really, if you shoot those awfull comparison pictures with a black mesh on bright background absolutely NO CA. So it made me wonder - and I wondered not long :-) Its done in software. There is no special coating on the lenssystem. The CAC is a pure piece of software, that can also be done in post processing but is done on the fly in the cameras GPU. Adventage - you can use brilliant images without CA in life environment, but.... and here comes the BUT: Never try using the zoom with that. It completely increases the visible CA when you zoom, as the software somehow isn't able to compensate the CA while changing the lens configuration. Actually it makes the CA even more visible for the eye as its effect is increased in comparison to non zoom. So my two cents: Great idea, but badly implemented.


Those pictures were taken in different light and distance situations. One was at noon with clouded sky at about 3800K and shows the russian mausoleum in Bad Homburg. The other one was taken at night, shot against bright spotlights to give a maximum distance in luminance, to test properties of noise, sensitifity and responsiveness in chrominance. Also the bright cloudless noon sun was taken on the taunus, with an even more extreme distance between light and shadows. Just with swapped around weights. ( Snow with hard sunshadows :-) ) I used an anchored production tripod from sachtler with reattachable camera plate to have the ability to shoot as identical motives as possible. But because of different lens properties or sadly a "oh, sorry, I didn't know that I shouldn't move that tripot"s some motives show different. But it gives the general idea...
JVC-GY-HD100Canon-XL-H1ACanon-XL-H1Canon-XH-A1sSony HVR-A1E

Signal Processing

Some notes to signal processing here. The main difference is in the HVR and all the others. The HVR uses a CMOS sensor and all others CCD. To put it all in a nutshell: CMOS is great for color but baaaaaaad for lowlight. CCD is great for lowlight, but bad for color. Actually, I would prefer CCD over CMOS still. Sadly the CMOS adventage gets lost in the HVR because of its small diameter of the lenssystem. In simple terms: Few light goes in, few light can be used for the adventage of the CMOS.

I don't want to go into too much detail about shutter speeds, AE shifts, programs and whatnot. But a few exceptions from the standard I want to highlight: One thing is the infredibly fast and accurate instant autofocus of the Canon lens systems. It even works under extreme conditions without a typical AF-jittering. Meaning, it finds the right focal length even in 25P, 1/25, <15lux. A sad disadventage was that the JVC has no image stabilizer - making handling and shooting a rather "artistic" action. But given the weight of that thing, its rather flowting then jumping aroung in movement. ( Such as the HVR, whis is an absolute pain in the a** to handly - small, lightwight and only electronical image stabilizer )

General Handling and Connecting

All cameras have, of course, a FireWire connection that enables seamless recording on a fire store device. Also external connectors for secondary displays, video feed and such are presend. Some have SDI output and Genlock in/out. But thats nothing I really tested - not interesting for me as I do not dwell into direct YUV422 recording or mixing or whatnot for sudio environment. Also a lot of the automatic programs the cameras had - I did not test. I run my cameras in manual mode, as this gives the best result in my eyes - given you know what you are doing of course :-)

There are certain aspects one has to consider when shooting. How do you want to handle your cam and whar do you want to shoot. For extreme example: You will possibly not be able to shoot shoulder shots with the HVR. It simply is too small for that. But you also will surely never shoot flybys or steady shots with a GY-HD100. It is the need that will dictate the type of camera you will need. Another thin is the axial stability of the camera. Typically a more heavy camera has a better stability if you do some freeform shots. Taken the example, it virtually is impossible to shoot a flyby with the HVR without completely making a zigzag into the motion. But also you don't want to do such with the JVC. You simply have no way in carrying the cam as well as controling it at the same time that way. It simply is not built for such shots.

The good middle-range are the "shoulder" semiprofessional XLs from Canon. You can use them on shoulder and even can use them for flyby, steady and other freeform shots - thoght I would not recommand that. On the other hand, the XH A1 is brilliant for freeform shots, but because of the too close display, you can not use it for shoulder or even clip on shoulder shots. The adventage the FX1 had was that its display was as far in front of the camera as possible, which enabled the user to do clip on shoulder - shoulder shots and use the display as external VF. Sadly one can not do that with the XH :/


I will not give a favourite here. It is a simple comparision on picked properties that I was able to test and that were important for me. Surely this can not be a real objective test under studio conditions, but was an - as best as possibly practicable - thing I was able to rig up in such short time. If you have questions about cerrtain properties or experiences with those cams - just ask me. I can still test or retest them for some time as I have them here. Also if you want me to shade some light in more detail to seomthing, please go on and tell me. I didn't want to write a huge comparision of all technical properties as there certainly are numerous out in the net for you to read :-) Its more an "in the field" test and a "usability" test that happened just for the fun of it. But I hope it will give you some insight and maybe help you when deciding on using one of those cams for your shoots :-)
Posted by FinFarenath in hobbies Add Comments

Fetching Equipment

Sunday, February 8. 2009 21:39
Whooho... today we went to the broadcaster to fetch the Equipment and collect everything together. They fetched me with a huge van and then we drove to the hr studios where we fetched he rest of the needed equipment. Cameras, Cables, Recorders, Reflectors and a lot more. All in all a very busy thing to carefully store everything in that van. But then the fun started.

Our equipment for cameras was in one JVC GY-HD100, one Canon XL H1 and one Canon XL H1A. Whow... great Cameras in deed. We spend the whole day in testing those babies out. And it was a real fun to so so. ( Just a sidenode. Only the JVC was form the hr, the other two are privately owned and the fun part is, the XL H1 realy is my old cam I sold to a freind a few years ago ;-) And it's still in perfect shape and running smoothly. Good to see its in good hands, but also sad to see that I am stuck with a small camery nowadays. Of course my HVR-A1E is not bad at all, but still the optical system is not the same. )

Colorcorrecting those three brutes was a non funny task, I can tell you. We took over an hour until we had all cameras leveled and in same colorquality for all settings to shoot. And then we started to just for the fun do some comparisons for quality, handling and over all performance to get ourselves used to handling them blindly. Was a lot of fun to shoot just for the fun of it. Although the weather was not that well, it was fine for just esting average settings in the target light situation we will shoot next weekend ( hopefully, if the weather stays :-) )

We also tested a little sieline equipmenet I was thinking about to use at EF this year. A digital video and communication system for cameras. I was at least able to get the audio work biirectionally, but failed to do it for video. The line form camera to picture control worked fine, but I was unable to get the control and videofeed back to the camera. The image quality is excellent tho. Maybe I will find someone this week who can - for a coffe or so - explain to me how to set this up in the right way.

I'll write more about the different models and types and maybe post some comparison video footage when I can find some time to extract and name the different images. Anyway... I am realy excied about doing a video project again after ushc long time.
Posted by FinFarenath in hobbies Add Comments

Great ;)

Friday, February 6. 2009 12:57
I am fascinated. Really ;-) The evening with two of my freinds from the television broadcast times went extremely interesting and well.

To be honest - I missed working in such a team over the last half year or so. And it's great to see I am not forgotten. More so - the projekt they want me in is a real interesting one. Its a small TV productions about the roman empite in the taunus. We will set up and film in different locations around the taunus and its many facilities of the roman empires wall and military keeps around here.

My part will be, besides occational photography, directional issues for pictures - namely DP work. I am realy excited about this. This sunday we will fetch the equipment we get from the television broadcaster and have out shooting plan ready by then. So let's see how this will fare...

I only hope the weather will hold and give good impressions from the places as we need moisty athmosphere with few direct sunrays but no real wet and rainy weather for the shooting. Hairy thing this. Also we have to see if we will get all the shooting permissions in the governed buildings and facilities we have to shoot at days when we actually can shoot... thats even more tricky.
Posted by FinFarenath in hobbies Add Comments

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