HD v. HDVComplications Ensue
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Thursday, April 12, 2007

I had been wondering why the heck anyone would shoot HD instead of HDV for a short film. HDV is much cheaper, and if you're only really airing on TV... the difference is just grain, right?

I've finally managed to get some answers.

a. HD has a greater latitude. That is, bright spots won't blow out as much. Having a blown out sky is a big part of the "video look" that people disparage.

b. HD has less depth of field. Depth of field refers to the depth of the area in which things are in focus. Ironically, less depth of field is good. You don't want everything in focus. You want the important stuff in focus and the other stuff out of focus so it doesn't distract. (Unless you are going all Orson Welles-y and you've got a staff of 100 to make sure that everything on your set is worth looking at.) I'm shooting a comedy. I don't want anyone looking at the background unless someone's doing something comical there. Because the CCD chip in an HDV camera is smaller, you have greater depth of field whether you want it or not.

c. HD cameras use film-style apparatuses. If you've got professional camera people on your show, they'll be used to shooting with film cameras, so they'll be comfortable with the HD; but they may be unfamiliar with the HDV camera.

d. HD makes your DP happy. While you're not making the film for your dp -- and don't let a pro d.p. railroad you into thinking you are -- you don't want to turn him off the project or you may lose him.

Labels: ,


Unless you hand your DP a JVC's GY-HD100U... Probably the BEST HDV camera on the market and DPs love it.


By Blogger AMERICAN RESTOP, at 9:35 AM  

We just shot a short on the Arri HD-20 with 35mm/16mm lenses. Since it is leading edge it's not only the DP and the focus guys who want to work with it (because they can "learn by doing' and put it on their CV) but also post-prod people. We have a company who is colour grading for nothing because they want to learn how to use HD and they told us that if this was film they wouldn't have ben interested. Down-side we've had quite a few technical challenges. It's a learning curve for everyone.

Also Arri themselves lent us the camera for nothing because we will promote the HD-20 via the short.

By Blogger Schmucks with Underwoods, at 10:31 AM  

But on a short HD can be a technical nightmare, where HDV is much more easy to control.

By Blogger Jon and Kate, at 1:43 PM  

umm...what does ccd size have to do with dof? dof is a function of the lens, no?

see this post for what you can do with depth of field on hdv:


By Blogger deepstructure, at 6:59 PM  

another thing to keep in mind: if you ever want to blow-up and/or repo a shot the more resolution you have to play with the better. it's not just about your final display medium.

By Blogger deepstructure, at 7:00 PM  

It is misleading almost to the point of inaccuracy to say that HD has less depth of field. Depth of field is completely hardware-dependent, and the difference between HD and HDV is one of software codecs. However, it is generally true that video cameras using HDV codecs generally have more DoF than cameras using HD codecs.

The other [very significant] reason to use HD over HDV is ease and quality of post-production. HDV is much more difficult to work with (in general) for serious editing and effects, and it is a far inferior codec than most of the HD codecs.

By Blogger glassblowerscat, at 11:34 PM  

"another thing to keep in mind: if you ever want to blow-up and/or repo a shot the more resolution you have to play with the better. it's not just about your final display medium."

Yeah, that's what we're aiming for - a blow up to 35mm so we need that HD resolution.

By Blogger Schmucks with Underwoods, at 5:33 AM  

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