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Going HD or How I spent my winter.

Moving to HD Cameras. A filmmaker’s case study. By David Basulto
As I prepared to make my second feature film, Fiesta Grand, I knew I wanted to step up the look and feel of the film. This film (or movie I should say as I no longer use film!) was a follow up to my horror feature, Death Clique, which I made for next to nothing on my Panasonic DVX100a and received a distribution deal to Blockbuster. My insiders suggested I make the next film in High Definition even though the distributors hadn’t asked for it. Why I said? They want the best resolution possible for future distribution platforms such as ipods, cell phones, HDTV etc. Having the content in HD will bring the price tag up at selling time! Sounds good to me!

After producing many features and TV with 35mm film cameras and seeing the costs involved, I welcomed the digital world with open arms when I made my first mini dv film. Now I was moving on to HD. So off I went to find the perfect camera for my run and gun style of shooting. I wanted something light weight, fast, and powerful.

After looking at many different cameras and checking my budget (my wallet actually!) I fell in love with the JVC HD110. This bad boy can shoot 24p (film rate) and 720p (progressive versus interlaced). You can program your settings ie: blacks, whites, gain etc on a standard SD card. This was the one for me!





JVC HD110 Features include:

  • 16:9 CCD, 1280x720 res
  • Mini DV records 60i, 50i, 30p, 25P, 24PA, record resolution is 720x480
  • HDV records 30P, 24P, 25P record resolution is 1280x720 (no scaling at all)
  • HDV-SD60P is also available but support is very limited in post. 720x480 60 Progressive
  • Full High Definition (HD) progressive recording at 24 frames per second
  • Compact shoulder style for stability, comfort and mobility
  • Three newly developed 1/3-inch CCDs with 1280 x 720 (square) pixels
  • Interchangeable lenses with standard 1/3-inch bayonet mount
  • Rugged die-cast body
  • 16X Fujinon newly developed ProHD lens included
  • User adjustable HD Focus Assist makes focusing faster and more precise
  • Live 720/60P analog component output (4:2:2 equivalent)
  • Dual Media option (record to disk and tape simultaneously)
  • XLR Audio inputs (x2)
  • Extensive user adjustable parameters can be stored on SD memory card
  • Spectacular standard definition performance, too! — records on MiniDV tape
  • HDV™/DV Format


I knew after using the DVX100a it was important to continue with a camera that had 24p capability. Although there were other choices I fell in love with the beautiful imagery of the JVC HD 110. Done deal! Ok with camera in hand I was off to make my next master piece! But. something was missing…

Separating the men from the boys

How can you tell a “real” film from a handicam mini dv home movie? Three words: Depth of Field”. The big boys use big lenses to capture the beautiful imagery that we see on the screen. I knew I wanted that look and I was determined to find a solution. Lucky for me a colleague pointed me to the Red Rock Micro site. The Redrock Micro M2 adapter allows cameras such as the JVC HD110 use 35mm still lenses from makers such as Nikon, Minolta, Canon, Pentax and Olympus. The adapter can also use P.L. lenses. P.L lenses are the big pro lenses that Panavision and Arri use. This was a huge production value asset to my film! I opted to use the P.L. mount lenses and rented a solid set of Panavision primes. The shallow depth of field was worth every penny! I was now able to achieve the “film” look I wanted. If you haven’t heard of the M2 its worth checking out. It can be used with an array of cameras such as:
  • Panasonic AG-DVX100 and AG-DVX100A, and AG-DVX100B
  • Canon XL1, Canon XL1S, XL2, GL1, GL2, GM2
  • Sony Z1, FX1, V1
  • JVC HD100, HD110, HD200, HD250
  • Panasonic DCX30 Panasonic HVX-200
  • Sony PD150, 170, PD100, Sony PC9
  • Canon XL-H1, XLA1

If you are an owner of any of those cameras I employ you to test out the Redrock M2. It will be a huge addition to any production.

To tape or not to tape
The big thing these days is tapeless recording. I have to admit I wasn’t a big proponent of it as there were so many things that could go wrong. At least with a tape in place I knew I had my footage. I ended up shooting my entire film with JVC HDV mini dv tapes. They were excellent. I then went back on my original idea that tapeless wasn’t for me. Doing some reshoots I decided to try out the JVC Firestore DR-HD100, the first DV and ProHD disk recorder designed for the JVC GY-HD100 camcorder. It was amazingly seamless and very secure. After my shoot I imported the footage fast and easy via firewire and all my audio, video, timecode and control information was there! I love technology! The unit is a bit on the spendy side but in the long run it is worth it as it saves you the wear and tear of capturing from the camera.

So what did I learn?
As I complete my second feature, I have learned a few things. A) All the tools are out there to make compelling imagery for much lower costs than ever before! No longer can one complain that it takes millions to make a commercial product in the movie industry. My first was made for peanuts and its now in Blockbuster! B) You still need a good script! Story is everything!

<>David directs the cast and crew on the set of his current film

Although I discuss my camera choice here there is much more to the filmmaking process that I didn’t discuss. So tune in soon for my next installment! Until then, get out there and make a movie!

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David Basulto is an independent filmmaker in Los Angeles. After 17 plus years, David is well versed in all aspects of filmmaking from development to distribution. He produces, directs, edits, and now is addicted to motion graphics and 3d. His last film, Death Clique is in Blockbusters nationwide. David is also the host of the www.filmmakingcentral.com. In his spare time David is an avid gamer and can be found slaying monsters in the world of Vanguard. For more info visit www.davidbasulto.com
Related Keywords:David Basulto, Opinion, HD Camera, film, Firestore, HD Camera Comparison, filmmaking

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  • Going HD or How I spent my winter. by DMN Editorial at Feb. 26, 2007 6:07 pm gmt (Rec'd 21)

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