Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Canon XL-H1 test shoot

As I wasn't at this particular event so the entry below was written up by David Taylor. It was a great opportunity to really put the Canon's 24F mode to the test (with a film-out planned.) I will update more on this shoot as the data comes in. I hope you enjoy the details below.

- David.N.

David Taylor wrote:

The story starts out with a phone call I received from Robert Margouleff at Mi Casa Multimedia (www.micasamm.com/newsite/) who has exceptional expertise in various audio endeavors, including audio remixing for feature films before they are distributed on DVD. Robert's partner is Dan Kavanaugh (Mirage Productions), and together they had plunked down some money on a new Canon XL H1 at Birns and Sawyer in Hollywood. But prior to taking delivery they wanted to run some performance tests in 24F mode while recording from its HD-SDI output, then send the material to I/O Film for a filmout test in order to judge big-screen visual quality. To run the tests, Robert recruited Scott Billups, who has a long resume of successful theatrical production and visual effects credits, and who had been itching to give the XL H1 a run for its money.

Robert had heard of the new Wafian HR-1 direct-to-disk recorder and asked if we'd like to participate. We have a couple Indie films in production that are using the HR-1 with JVC's new HD100U, but we hadn't had a chance to participate in an event like this for the XL H1. So of course we jumped at the chance. So last Thursday (1/12), Jeff from Wafian, plus Thad Huston and me from CineForm tooled up to Hollywood for the test shoot which was held in the new Birns and Sawyer facility near Sunset and Vine.

Jim Martin (left, Birns and Sawyer) and Scott Billups getting ready for the shoot. Two cams were used - one to setup the shot on a local monitor, and the second (with the Prime lens) was recorded.

Scott wanted to perform both indoor and outdoor tests, which included both res chart shots plus people and motion shots. Material was recorded to HDV tape, and was simultaneously recorded from its HD-SDI output to the Wafian HR-1. (Momentary digression - For those of you not familiar, the Wafian HR-1 is a direct-to-disk recorder manufactured by a partner of CineForm called Wafian. More info is here. Wafian has integrated our 10-bit CineForm Intermediate codec plus an HD-SDI card into a D2D recorder with lots of innovative software intended for on-set recording - essentially D5 quality but lots of cool features. One further reference - CineForm Intermediate records files as full-raster 1920 x 1080 with 10-bit precision and YUV 4:2:2 color space, so its spatial and chroma resolution is greater than an F900. Okay, digression off).

Because we were recording using both HDV tape (1440 horizontal resolution and 4:2:0 chroma) and HD-SDI (1920 horizontal resolution and 4:2:2 chroma) we felt this would be an excellent opportunity to compare the quality of both.

After the shoot last Thursday we reviewed the footage briefly on large LCD panels we brought with us, but as time was short we didn't get a chance to do any big-screen projection testing. But Scott was very enthusiastic about the preliminary results, saying the quality looked "simply awesome!" multiple times.

In order to judge whether his euphoria was a momentary lapse based on our lack of food on Thursday, I sent him an email Saturday morning asking whether he remained as enthused as he was on Thursday, to which I received the following email:
"Damn this is good looking footage! I showed it to a couple producers and they want to set up a demo next Thursday for a major distributor. ….

BTW, this footage keys much better than F900 (HDCAM) using both Keylight and Primatte. Once I get back (from Sundance), I'd like to pump some Viper, F950, F900 and XL H1 into the box (Wafian HR-1) and set up a real side-by-side (Digital / Film projection at ETC) for ASC, DGA, 600 and SMPTE. I can get all the cameras so the only question is, how many boxes can we get for the test.

Nice job guys. If I had another hand I'd give ya three thumbs up.

Scott Billups"

Well, that's pretty much where we leave the story for now. Scott is intending to render the footage out to DPX files and deliver them to I/O Film on Wednesday (1/18) before he heads off to Sundance. Hopefully we'll see film footage soon thereafter. I don't know if there's a full plan yet for how to screen the material to those interested, but I suspect quite a number of people would like to see how this looks on the big screen. When we know more of the logistics we'll let everybody know.

The crew and the cameras! (l to r) Chris Angel (Mi Casa), Scott Billups, Robert Margouleff (Mi Casa), Jeff Youel (Wafian), David Taylor and Thad Huston (CineForm - no we didn't plan for the redundant red shirts and levis), and Jim Martin.


Isaac Anderson said...

Great stuff as usual!
You guys keep up the good work…

And keep sporting those CineForm Colors…which gets me thinking, you guys need to get some CineForm t-shirts up for sale on your website!

“Visually Perfect”…what a great t-shirt slogan!

David Taylor said...

Not bad...not bad....

Anonymous said...

I am down for a CineForm baseball cap!

BTW when will the new drivers be ready guys?