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Forums Broadcasting DV footage blown up to cinema screen size – possible?

  • DV footage blown up to cinema screen size – possible?

  • marsha foyle

    December 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Hi there,

    I have asked many people about this and I get varying opinions. The question is this – if I use a DV camcorder Panasonic nv-gs230 which has 3ccds to shoot a film, will the end result of that film (if blown up / shown on a cinema screen) then look really terrible or will it look satisfactory. What I am thinking is, since I cannot afford a HD Camcorder or even a sony pd170 and am using DV, will my precious artworks that I am making with DV, be a total waste of time if there is no way they can be shown on a cinema screen. I don’t mind the look of DV, I actually quite like it, but I have never seen what the hell it looks like blown up to a large screen size. You guys are the experienced ones, what do you think? If everything is meant to be broadcast quality HD, then you have to spend some £10,000 on decent equipment which is out of most people’s price range to even get started making film. Does this mean that your excellent dv film will never get screened on TV because of it’s poor quality. All I want to know is then – will it be good quality to show on a reasonably large screen and if not is there anything that I can do to change that. Many thanks.

  • Andy Mees

    December 21, 2008 at 7:52 am

    All I want to know is then – will it be good quality to show on a reasonably large screen and if not is there anything that I can do to change that.

    In a word, No … it will look like crap, but if you work that in as a stylistic element and/or heavily treat the image then you may get away with it.
    That said, two things in your favour:
    1) Content is everything. If you tell a compelling story then folks will enjoy it regardless of whether the image is soft when blown up so large
    and 2) Your audio doesn’t have to suffer because you visual recording medium is of low quality. Folks will happily watch low quality images if the audio is good quality but not vice versa

    I have asked many people about this and I get varying opinions.

    And those varying opinions will keep on coming. The question is do you have any choice?

  • marsha foyle

    December 21, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Hi there,

    thank you for your reply. I mean how bad will it look – ‘soft’ – what does that mean? You say the problem of DV can be eliminated in post production. Would that be somehow sharpening up the picture? Could you explain briefly how to do this and will it make a big difference.

    Impossible question I know but do you know what is the cheapest camcorder I could get that would look adequate blown up to a large screen. I have been told I have to buy a HD camcorder and all the gear amounting to some £10,000 if I want the film look. I don’t care about that now I just want a camera where the footage when blown up to big screen will look adequate. Someone told me a sony pd170 is pretty good but that also costs a fortune!

    Like you say at the moment I have no choice I am just wondering how bad it is going to look.

    Regards.

    Mac OSX

  • DIno

    December 21, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    I’m going to start by saying something slightly harsh. It sounds like you are asking for permission to removing everything that could be considered professional (equipment, skill, experience, process) from your production and then for us to tell you that you will still end up with professional results. That will not happen. Amateur efforts will yield amateur results.

    DV can yield from atrocious to surprisingly good results. The same goes for HD. The biggest variable is often the skill, experience and dedication of the people doing the work. Ignoring limits or poor efforts can make even 35mm film look like garbage. Definitely though cheap, mediocre technology has some very absolute limits that no level of intention will overcome.

    The camera is just one of many pieces on a long journey to quality results. It seems you are not ready to start that journey. Since you offer so little in the way of your specific intentions I wont pretend to offer specific advise. I suggest you look for help locally. If you are in school, use that as a resource. If you have hopeful filmmakers as friends, look into setting up a situation where you help each other out with equipment and staffing. Spread the costs and share the struggles. If you are truly independent, there are probably community services available. Perhaps a college or outreach organization has a program. They may focus on working with kids but if they have equipment they could very well extend services to locals at very low rates.

    As much as a solid script and a clear intention are paramount to making a good film, at the end of the day, film should be a sensory experience and bad picture or sound will severely limit the potential to effect an audience.

  • marsha foyle

    December 21, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Hi, I think you are being a little severe. I have the best intentions with making films that’s why I have posted on this message board. I have done a degree in Art and a screenwriting course and just in the last few weeks decided upon actually taking the practical steps needed in order to get my ideas actualised in reality. I am trying to find out the best approach.

    Maybe I have posted on here in a panic of sorts, since I recently went to my local amateur video makers club and was told to continue with using a DV camera and that buying an expensive one was not necessary contrary to others were telling me. I have been trying to justify this move to myself by getting accurate information about the future of my film; it’s output format would be a screening on a cinema size screen and so using DV (a panasonic nv-gs230) would be a waste since the picture I have been told would be terrible.

    My specific intention is to produce a series of 1 minute or so mini movies which will finally be viewed on a cinema size screen. I just wanted to know how I could get the best quality results even if I have to tinker with the film in post production. To talk to me as if I have just left school is disrespectful. I have taken the trouble to find a composer and a sound recorder, am making costumes and props all myself, all out of my own pocket. I will be editing the finished films with Final Cut Pro. I am not interested in taking short cuts because I want to get the best result I can. I was hoping I would get some honest advice on this forum and I feel absolutely let down by you as I thought someone would want to help me.

  • Bob Zelin

    December 21, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Marsha,
    I am the rudest, most disrespectful person on these forums. These forums are filled with professional, and STRUGGLING professionals, that have huge financial investements in professional video equipment – all having issues with their expensive equipment. This is the very reason these forums exist – and the very reason they are sponsored by the banner ads that you see to the left and right of you, on each of these forum pages.

    You write –
    Hi, I think you are being a little severe. I have done a degree in Art and a screenwriting course and just in the last few weeks decided upon actually taking the practical steps needed in order to get my ideas actualised in reality.

    REPLY – have you ever worked with a professional film maker. Have you ever had an internship, or an entry level job to see how it is actually done ? Dino was being VERY polite to you – I will not be so polite.

    you write –
    “I recently went to my local amateur video makers club and was told to continue with using a DV camera and that buying an expensive one was not necessary contrary to others were telling me.”

    REPLY – this is issue # 1. You should be getting experience with professionals – even if these professionals are corporate video producers, wedding photographers, or your local TV station. There are plenty of independent film makers that are always looking for interns to assist with their “professional” low budget films. I have no idea of what an “amateur video makers club” is – this sounds like a game, not like a professional situation. People that CHARGE MONEY for their services are professionals – you should observe these people, not the advice of the “local amateur video makers club”.

    you write –
    I have been trying to justify this move to myself by getting accurate information about the future of my film; it’s output format would be a screening on a cinema size screen and so using DV (a panasonic nv-gs230) would be a waste since the picture I have been told would be terrible.

    REPLY – it WILL be terrible. Don’t fool yourself, and dont’ take the advice of the amateurs video club.

    You write –
    To talk to me as if I have just left school is disrespectful. I have taken the trouble to find a composer and a sound recorder, am making costumes and props all myself, all out of my own pocket.

    REPLY – I don’t give a damn about your film, or your feelings. You are asking for PROFESSIONAL advice – and you have received professional advice (polite advice from others – not from me) – not only from this list, but from others that you have talked to. You want someone to say “that’s ok dear, your little DV camera will look just lovely on the big screen” – IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR – well, ITS A LIE. It will look like crap. I don’t care how good your intentions are. I don’t care if your concept for the film is award winning – your video image will LOOK LIKE CRAP. You may not have just left school, but you act like you are a freshman with very sensitive feelings. This industry is for those with a thick skin – those that can be abused, and taken advantage of. All you are getting right now is GOOD FREE ACCURATE ADVICE. Just wait until you actually sell your film (if it is good), and you get financially screwed.

    YOU WRITE –
    I was hoping I would get some honest advice on this forum and I feel absolutely let down by you as I thought someone would want to help me.

    REPLY – you are being helped. You just want to hear that your little DV camera will be able to make a feature film, that you can be proud of in front of a critical audience. This forum is trying to tell you that it won’t work. If you don’t like this, I’m sorry, but it’s true. A DV25 camera is not capable of making a professional film that most people will take seriously. Take this from someone (me) that has worked with Haxan Films, who made The Blair Witch project with a DV camera.

    Bob Zelin
    Orlando, FL.

  • marsha foyle

    December 21, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Hi,

    Well, now I know for sure – it will look CRAP. Thank you. I am not going to do anything you say though. I don’t need to get experience with professionals, that is a lie. You also misunderstand what I have said I was actually well aware how useless my camcorder is. I just wanted to get some confirmation of that from a professional. What you are telling me is this ‘I will not give you any information, go out and find it out for yourself’. Well fine if you want to be Mr Grumpy I will just find out the information somewhere else. Have a nice day.

  • DIno

    December 22, 2008 at 1:09 am

    Bob,
    Thank you for the defense. I thought I was being fair and your unique ability to cut to the heart of things has removed any doubt I may have had.

    Marsha,
    Since I was already working on a response, I’ll offer this.

    I am sorry you found my advise, dishonest? From your original post I was able to discern three facts. 1, you want to make a movie. 2, you want to use consumer level equipment. 3, you want it to hold up as a theatrical presentation. Would it have been more respectful to just offer simple words of encouragement even if the outcome would potentially be you being disappointed in your hard efforts?

    In my situation the idea of a ‘cheap’ video package for film production starts at around $50,000. I’m actually a fan of the the budget Panasonic 3 CCD cameras, but only in relation to their immediate competition. There is just not any one camera that gives carte blanche to make a ‘film’. Unfortunately, so many factors that come to play on these choices that your question could have been, how do I make a movie? Not something that can be reasonably answer in this medium.

    In your last post you say we are not offering information. What could we offer? No one will suggest a specific camera as you state you have no money to make a new purchase. No one can provide any specific production advise as none of your questions lead towards anything specific. No one will provide any technical details as you offer no evidence that you would even want them. Finally, calling Bob a liar will not engender anyone to your cause.

    I have two bits of advice.

    Lighting. Proper lighting is perhaps the most important part of creating a good image. Good lighting conveys what is important and diminished what isn’t. Good lighting sets the emotional tone. Good lighting provides an image that can be contained within the limitations of whatever camera is used.

    Cameras. The thing is, most TV and Film is not shot with equipment the filmmaker owns. The equipment is rented. If you only need a camera for a week why pay to have it forever? Work out a detailed shoot schedule and hire the right kit for your particular needs.

  • Mark Suszko

    December 22, 2008 at 3:22 am

    As far as the quality argument, rent “Hoop Dreams” which was at least in part shot with 8mm analog video camcorders, won that year’s ACE and DGA awards, a raft of smaller awards, and just missed winning an Oscar. So, it is true that people forgive image quality *sometimes*, but the sound would have to be more than perfect, the performances, arresting, and the story, unique and expertly told. The odds against a beginner bringing all that together are steep. That said, people shoot documentary things in HDV format all the time and have them projected as video in film festivals. Modern theaters are all moving to electronic projection, slowly but surely. Whether something is good enough technically to survive transfer to optical film emulsion for traditional projection is not really a primary issue for distribution anymore.

    That said, I will echo what has been said already, that if you want to make films, you should be a film maker, not a camera-owner. The two are not always the same. But when you have a solid concept for telling a great story, and the production well-planned, it is easy to rent a good high def camera for just the day or days you need it, and editing time, etc. just for the time you need that. Before the camera rental is even considered though, a film-MAKER is working on the unglamorous elements of the project: arranging the funding and the distribution. Strictly speaking, if you really want a lot of people to see the work, these two things need to be locked in before you shoot frame one, on ANY camera. Otherwise, what you are doing is only a hobby. Nothing wrong with that, but we should be honest with ourselves and not treat one like the other.

    I would rather sink my own money into owning an editing system before buying a “fancy” camera, because I could make better productive use of the machine time in editing over a long period of time, I would not want to be out shooting every day of the year just to pay off the camera.

    That’s part of what we call the triangle problem: cost, time, quality. You get to pick any two but only two. So when you are poor, and you want to keep the quality high, you wind up spending more time on things, in this case, pre-production planning, and post-production editing, color grading, sound design, scoring, etc etc etc. This is murder when you have to rent the time and access to someone else’s system and you may want to take most of a year to work on it. So that’s when owning the editing gear makes the most sense. But even there, you can find economies, in that you can edit in low resolution to create the final project file, then take your tapes and project file EDL lists and logs to a pro with a fancier system to have the final master conformed in high quality. This two-step approach lets you work at your own speed and low expense for the hardest, longest part, and minimizes the most expensive part of the process. So rent the cameras, the light kits, the audio gear, just for the length of time they are needed, don’t spend money on storing them on a shelf the rest of the year.

    Now for the more philosophical part of the equation.

    This is a hard process no matter what: projects don’t make it without the author giving their total commitment to it. It is at least as much work as bringing a child into the world and raising it, as far as commitment level. You don’t do it just to make a buck; there are easier, far more reliable ways to do that.

    You do it because this thing is burning in your soul to get out and be shared and it will not let you sleep or do anything else in your life until it has been given a chance to be seen. Anything less and the effort is not worth it.

    Assume you think it IS worth it. You will be told “no” many times and you’ll have to get over it and keep working away to see it through. You will need a thick skin and a lot of drive and self-confidence to see it through. You will make a bunch of mistakes and have to learn to forgive yourself and move ahead, while seeking the wise council of those more experienced.

    The self-assuredness and faith in the product and your vision required for this job is often and easily mistaken by outside observers for egomania. (Sometimes the diagnosis is also coincidentally correct!) But you need that. That’s the price of commitment. But you need balance, too. You need to balance the ego that drives and leads the work where it needs to go, and keeps the flame from going out, against the need to work with others and be able to listen to criticism and praise with equal attention, in the service of the work.

    After over twenty years of making and watching programs being made, I have barely begun to learn all there is to know. I come here to share what I do know but also to learn more still from those who can teach me. Marsha, best of luck to you, this place is an excellent resource, be sure to make the most of it and remember to watch that balance I talked about. Evangelize for your ideas by all means, that’s how you talk people into sharing your creative vision and helping it get realized. But they will only help and join when there is a true dialog happening, so a diplomatic approach is advised over a confrontational one. People talk about the “Auteur” theory, and I tend to approach my own work that way, but for anything more than a simple project, it can’t be a reality: you have to depend on too many other people to make your vision come true.

    So becoming a film maker means learning also how to make others dream your dream along with you and WANT to become part of it. The dream grows even more rich in the sharing, and becomes more likely to make the leap to actuality. May your dream come true.

  • marsha foyle

    December 22, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Hi,

    Thank you guys for your encouraging words. I really appreciate it. I think as you say rental of equipment is the way forward since it seems to depreciate very quickly. I was contemplating buying a Canon XL-HL for some £3,000 on a credit card yesterday but there is also an issue with that; my computer only has 1GB RAM and I use Final Cut Pro, the HD camcorder is too powerful for the computer or is that correct?

    Thank you for your advice on the correct attitude to adopt as a film maker, I am aware of that I have read lots of books but I don’t want to talk about it anymore I just need to get out there and do it.

    This site is absolutely great, the mixed responses show the diversity of people and if I get a bad reaction sometimes I don’t mind that much, we all have bad days sometimes.

    I know it is going to be the hardest thing to do to be able to success make films but as Werner Herzog says ‘you need guts to START making movies’ and he is right.

    Thank you for comments.

    Regards.

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