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QUESTION: I have been offering film and video transfer to VHS & DVD services for 20 years out of my home studio in NJ (www.yourtransferstation.com). I have been using a Sony DCR VX2000 digital "3-chip" camcorder since 2002, and am thinking of making an upgrade to HD - as I've received a few requests for HD conversions, plus the fact that this would appear to be the direction the industry as a whole is moving in.

My question is two-part: For functionality as a studio camera for this line of work, what would you say are some of the best HD cameras out there, and what in your opinion are the ones to avoid (in your opinion)?
Second, using HD... can something like an old 8mm home movie be digitally converted to an HD format and play on an HD TV with the same kind of quality, resolution, and depth of field that an original HD presentation would display? Thank you in advance.

ANSWER: Bob,

This is a fairly complex question...I'm going to give you some answers, but it's probably going to require some work on your part.

I'm guessing you're talking about film and not video. I don't have to tell you, traditionally, these items would go through a film scanner.

I don't think there's a 'reasonable' HD camera for this - I don't think any of the consumer cameras from Best Buy or B&H are what you really need.

You say you want "functionality as a studio camera for this line of work"
I'm assuming you mean a camera that's studio grade? I'd look at some of the Sony XDCam Cameras. Those are what current studios use (such as KYW in Philadelphia.)

But what I think you're doing is projecting film and want a camera setup for it.

Best camera? I'd suggest a RED ONE at 25k with no lenses (equivalent sensor size to 35mm)

A little cheaper? The Black Magic Cinema Camera (3k) which as a sensor equivalent of 16mm.

These aren't HD cameras - they both exceed HD - and they record everything on chips; depending on your NLE you'll have lots of variety of what you can do.

The Black Magic Camera will shoot slightly higher than HD and exceed what 8mm can do. It's a great deal that's currently available.

From there you can make SD and HD discs.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello Jeff,
What I am talking about relates to the digital conversion on both film and video.
I run a video transfer service, and have been importing analog images from my VCR from VHS tapes (VHS-C, Hi-8 tape Players, etc.), as well as projecting 8 and 16mm film through a film optical converter (made by Quasar) with my current Sony DV camera mounted to it.
The Sony cost me $2,500 back in 2002, which was purchased from a competitor of B&H called Armato's in Long Island.
As far as HD, I have Hi-Def DV editing software in place, but would need an HD camera in order to use it.

My question concerns whether or not images recorded on 2D video and film can be converted to HD using an HD camera??
I never heard of the film scanner method you'd mentioned, and would have no idea how this would factor into the equation?

I mainly wanted to know if this is indeed do-able, and what I would need to do in order to upgrade to this new system?
I am sorry if I did not make this clear beforehand.

ANSWER: Bob,

You were pretty clear - and I think you just really want to talk about film workflows (see below), I'll try to be clearer on my end.

In fact, its sounds like you're asking "Hey Jeff, could you just tell me an HD camera to replace my SD camera?"

Sure - go get a Sony HVR V1U.

But if you'd indulge me, there's some other information that I think is important.

Your Quasar box is an inexpensive telecine unit - you project into the box and point your camera into the box at a different angle, right?
I've only ever used a Spirit telecine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_DataCine from this company: http://www.dft-film.de/

Film and video both have very separate paths to me. Just in case you wanted to talk about video, I wrote this.

Video is easier, so let's do it first.
The less compressed we can keep the path from VHS the better.
I'd capture uncompressed as a SD file (after all, upscaling it does us nothing.) It'll run a gig a minute.
I'd avoid your DV path - it's compressing your footage added a layer of damage.
I'd use capture device like the Intensity from Black Magic. About $300.

But the question is, should we even bother to 'fake' it up to HD (up converting)  After all, it's an SD picture. All SD is 720x480. Sure, you can make it HD and output to BluRay but all you'd be doing is making it larger - you can't create information that just doesn't exist.

And this is why I don't think you need to blow SD up to HD; it's not really doing anything; I'd capture SD and if I needed to output a BluRay, I'd upscale in my editorial or compression software before I author the BluRay.

But this is the section that I think is important.

Film Path
I don't know how well your Quasar unit with work with HD cameras. I'd rent/borrow any HD camera from a friend and take a look - just to test how the look is from HD.

Do you want the equivalent of your camera? There are a bucket of Sony HDV cameras that may work. A pro camera would be a Sony HVR V1U

But I'd never use them. DV and HDV are so compressed that I don't think they're worth talking about.
I think the Spirit (mentioned about) isn't really something you'd want - it's 50k+

What you're really asking (I think, and please tell me if I'm wrong) is an HD camera for 16mm footage (yes, you could do 8mm, but it's about SD in quality. 16 is about HD in quality.)

>My question concerns whether or not images recorded on 2D video and film can be converted to HD using an HD camera??
You can try a Sony HDV camera (and yes, B&H or Adorama are great places for such.) I'd buy the most expensive camera you'd budget for.

My issue is that HDV (and many other HD formats) are adding a layer of compression. It'd be nice to keep the image as nice as possible.

I'm trying to suggest something that provides a higher quality (which may be out of your budget.)

I have two ideas:
1) A cheaper HDV camera that has an HDMI output - Which I'd then either plug directly into my computer or to an AJA Ki pro (which acts as a recorder) and record directly into ProRes or DNxHD giving a great looking picture before you made a bluray
2) Consider the black magic cinema camera which has a sensor that's 16mm and use that (the camera is 3k)

Does that help at all?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: >In fact, its sounds like you're asking "Hey Jeff, could you just tell me an HD camera to replace my SD camera?"
Jeff,
Well, yes but only under the condition that it meets the criterion for optimizing Hi-Def results from sources that have been traditionally viewed as 2D. Toward that end, I will try and follow-up with your suggestion to borrow an HD camera to see how well it works together with my Quasar telecine unit. Up until now, I have been using the camera's A/V ports to import video from my VCR and other video tape players. For film, I align my 8 and 16mm projectors with the front of the unit, while my Sony VX2000 camera is mounted on the side... recording the image onto digital tape as it is projected through a series of lenses and mirrors.
So at this point, I can't say that (at $50k) the Spirit telecine is a viable option, if the HD camera experiment fails to get HD results with my Quasar telecine unit?

>What you're really asking (I think, and please tell me if I'm wrong) is an HD camera for 16mm footage (yes, >you could do 8mm, but it's about SD in quality. 16 is about HD in quality).

Yes, if the right HD camera can get me HD results with any one of the three formats mentioned (video, 8mm, or 16mm). I would consider it a plus if it makes it easier for me to do Blu-Ray as well.
But for now, my primary concern is in finding out if (in converting either video, 8 or 16mm film) I would be able to get positive HD results, and if so, also finding a camera that will be compatible with the new iMac desktop that I am planning on purchasing in the coming weeks.

>I have two ideas:
>1) A cheaper HDV camera that has an HDMI output - Which I'd then either plug directly into my computer or >to an AJA Ki pro (which acts as a recorder) and record directly into ProRes or DNxHD giving a great looking >picture before you made a bluray
>2) Consider the black magic cinema camera which has a sensor that's 16mm and use that (the camera is 3k).

Do you still stand by these, and do you know if they're compatible with a Mac platform? I would say that my budget for this would not exceed $5k. Again, my thanks.

Bob

Answer
Couple of thoughts:

> Well, yes but only under the condition that it meets the criterion for optimizing Hi-Def results from sources that have been traditionally viewed as 2D.

Let's pretend 3d doesn't exist.

> Up until now, I have been using the camera's A/V ports to import video from my VCR and other video tape players.

Yes, this is a tape path - and as I mentioned, since it goes through a DV camera, it reduces the quality of the footage.

>For film, I align my 8 and 16mm projectors with the front of the unit, while my Sony VX2000 camera is mounted on the side... recording the image onto digital tape as it is projected through a series of lenses and mirrors.

Yes, this is the film path. And the only one we care about. After all, you have a working path for the SD video.

The reason I suggested you borrow someone's HD camera (or an iPhone5 for that matter!) is so you can see that yes, you can put an HD camera in the mix. Many of these cameras won't allow you to plug in analog sources, which is why I keep trying to separate out the Tape/SD elements in my reply.

>So at this point, I can't say that (at $50k) the Spirit telecine is a viable option, if the HD camera experiment fails to get HD results with my Quasar telecine unit?

Since I don't have a Quasar unit, I need you to be my eyes and ears - which is why I suggested it.

If that doesn't work (and I can't see why it wouldn't, if everything is optical), I'd then do some deep research into what sort of prosumer solutions exist. I've already started this and saw there wasn't much for this, beyond conversion services like your own.

>The right HD camera can get me HD results with any one of the three formats mentioned (video, 8mm, or 16mm). I would consider it a plus if it makes it easier for me to do Blu-Ray as well.

I don't think most HD cameras can help you with the analog/SD sources. I'd suggest you keep your existing camera long.

Oh, you're adding Blu-Ray into the question.

Every method I'm talking about can end up on Blu-Ray. HD or SD. But let's save that discussion for later. There are hiccups in BluRay.

>I have two ideas:
>1) A cheaper HDV camera that has an HDMI output - Which I'd then either plug directly into my computer or >to an AJA Ki pro (which acts as a recorder) and record directly into ProRes or DNxHD giving a great looking >picture before you made a bluray
>2) Consider the black magic cinema camera which has a sensor that's 16mm and use that (the camera is 3k).

> Do you still stand by these, and do you know if they're compatible with a Mac platform? I would say that my budget for this would not exceed $5k.

Method 1) A cheap HDV camera plugged into
a Black Magic Intensity <http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/intensity/models/> which plugs into your iMac
or an AJA Ki Pro <http://www.aja.com/en/products/ki-pro-mini/#overview> which records on CF cards (or could plug into your mac)

Either of these could be editable (You still haven't mentioned which editorial/post solution you use.)

Do I stand by this? Sure. I'm a stranger on the Internet. I'm easy enough to find on google. My full name + video or my full name + consulting both are ways to find me.

Last, if this is your business, I might recommend a reseller who can support you after the purchase (rather than piecemeal purchases from B&H or other groups that you cobble together yourself.)

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Jeff Greenberg

Expertise

I can answer questions about Final Cut, Avid, DV cameras + editing, Hi-def, production, filmmaking, DVD creation and special effects. Please do not ask me questions about your desktop, NOR your windows machine, nor ANYTHING to do with copyright infringement.

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I'm a film editor and certified trainer for about ten different applications.

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videography

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BA, Penn State university in film.

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