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Author Topic: Video autofocus and steadicam. GH3?  (Read 1274 times)
Hywel
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« on: September 06, 2013, 02:24:20 PM »
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Hi All,

  My workhorse camera is a RED Scarlet, which we love, but which is a bit of a beast when fully rigged with V-mount, lenses, paralinx, audio receiver and recorder, etc.

  We've also been using a GoPro Hero 3 Black, which I've been having great fun with. With a combination of Protune, decent lighting and FilmConvert, it intercuts OK with the Scarlet and allows dynamic shots to be captured quickly. But it is very limited- fixed focus, auto everything, pretty wide angle.

  What I'm now musing about is a camera in between the two, and I wondered if anyone had any suggestions/thoughts?

  Specifically, I want:
- A camera light enough to fly on a steadicam-Merlin-style rig (if I have to buy a full steadicam I might as well just fly my Scarlet)
- Quick to set up (so ergonomics matter a bit)
- Either a built-in lens in the 24-105mm FF equivalent range, or interchangeable lenses, ideally f/2.8
- Better image quality than an AF100 or 7D, ideally (I'm considering using those as I have them already but I hate the AF100's banding and colour and the 7D's overheating and Moire)
- Manual control over exposure (auto exposure/white balance a bonus for indoor/outdoor transitions)
- At least full HD (which rules out my HVX200)
- O.I.S. I guess?

Critically:
- Usable continuous autofocus in video mode, which the AF100 and 7D palpably lack

It doesn't have to be the smartest autofocus in the world, but something that will get there in under a second and can cope with off-centre subjects is a must. I don't want to be racking focus whilst doing roving shots. Again if I'm doing that I might as well get a second mortgage and outfit the Scarlet with a full steadicam rig and remote follow focus and get someone else to control focus while I operate.

Maybe a small chip camcorder, or something like a GH3. The BMPC would be a possible but looks like autofocus is a maybe-sometime-maybe-never on that.

Anyone got any suggestions? GH3 is looking quite promising from what I've seen, or some of the new Canons with video optimised autofocus and an STM lens? Anyone got any experience of using these on a steadicam rig to make nice planned dolly and jib style shots in confined spaces and with less set-up time?

  Cheers, Hywel.



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bcooter
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2013, 09:16:26 PM »
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Hi All,

  My workhorse camera is a RED Scarlet, which we love, but which is a bit of a beast when fully rigged with V-mount, lenses, paralinx, audio receiver and recorder, etc.

  We've also been using a GoPro Hero 3 Black, which I've been having great fun with. With a combination of Protune, decent lighting and FilmConvert, it intercuts OK with the Scarlet and allows dynamic shots to be captured quickly. But it is very limited- fixed focus, auto everything, pretty wide angle.

  What I'm now musing about is a camera in between the two, and I wondered if anyone had any suggestions/thoughts?

  Specifically, I want:
- A camera light enough to fly on a steadicam-Merlin-style rig (if I have to buy a full steadicam I might as well just fly my Scarlet)
- Quick to set up (so ergonomics matter a bit)
- Either a built-in lens in the 24-105mm FF equivalent range, or interchangeable lenses, ideally f/2.8
- Better image quality than an AF100 or 7D, ideally (I'm considering using those as I have them already but I hate the AF100's banding and colour and the 7D's overheating and Moire)
- Manual control over exposure (auto exposure/white balance a bonus for indoor/outdoor transitions)
- At least full HD (which rules out my HVX200)
- O.I.S. I guess?

Critically:
- Usable continuous autofocus in video mode, which the AF100 and 7D palpably lack

It doesn't have to be the smartest autofocus in the world, but something that will get there in under a second and can cope with off-centre subjects is a must. I don't want to be racking focus whilst doing roving shots. Again if I'm doing that I might as well get a second mortgage and outfit the Scarlet with a full steadicam rig and remote follow focus and get someone else to control focus while I operate.

Maybe a small chip camcorder, or something like a GH3. The BMPC would be a possible but looks like autofocus is a maybe-sometime-maybe-never on that.

Anyone got any suggestions? GH3 is looking quite promising from what I've seen, or some of the new Canons with video optimised autofocus and an STM lens? Anyone got any experience of using these on a steadicam rig to make nice planned dolly and jib style shots in confined spaces and with less set-up time?

Cheers, Hywel.



I have the Scarlet, two R1's and two gh3's.

The Scarlet has a lot of lattitude though I don't use it much as I prefer the R1's, though plan on using it more now that they have the fan issued fixed.

The GH3's are love, love and then uh oh.

You have to be dead on with the gh3's.  You must set your color, white balance and check them on a dedicated screen either hdmi, or computer then go shoot.

They have a sweet spot, it's better to be under than over, but they shoot very, very pretty in the right conditions.

Actually, I just finished one shoot in Paris in a cafe with a translucent like tent (3 stops) over the subjects, Kinos for slight fill.

Shot the main dialog scenes with the R1's, the cutaways with the gh3's.  It was somewhat backlit and I'd have sworn the gh3's wouldn't have held up, but they did to the point the files are almost identical in look and depth to the R1 files, but I hit the sweet spot dead on.

That's the only issue.

The autofocus is very good if you set it up correctly.  Amazingly good at fast point, shoot, pan,  point shoot, not as good with slow crawling type of focus, though better than any other autofocus I've tried.

They have a face detect that when it works is freaky good and it works 75% of the time.  When it doesn't it's a big miss.

But for the money, they're well worth it, though your going to have to carry .9 of nd for daylight (minimum).  I'd go with the pana constant zooms, the 12 to 34 and 35 to 100 (24 to 70, 70 to 200 in still 35mm terms).

They'll cover about anything you need and should work well with a small steadicam rig.

Those robotic aerial guys use the gh series all the time for good effect, though I don't know if they manually focus ot not.  Probably manual.

Me, when I do steadicam, I have a good operator in LA and a great focus puller.  They prefer a RED 1 and the optimo zoom and get great results, though it adds to the budget.

Try a gh3.  The price is so low if you don't like it you can sell it for less than a rental, or you can rent from some of the online places like borrow lens.

Once again, learn the settings as things like fast, medium and quick focus change the operation of the camera, same with the 4 autofocus settings same with wb and color inputs.

When it's right, is very good.

Good luck.

BC





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fredjeang2
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« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2013, 04:06:55 AM »
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James is right on the money,

Those Gh issues are what he described.
You have to be spot-on and therefore don't
Expect the same flexibility as the Red.
That was already the case with the gh2 and same
Story with the #3.  

So you'll have to get used to the "right settings"
And probably will have to spend some time until
You "understand its soul", but then it's really good.

The high-end hacked gh2 will give you more details
Than a lot of very expensive profesional cameras but
The gh3 is way more advanced in terms of AF and better
Built.
You can't shot log, but is it really that much of a problem?
Tricking the settings and choosing some presets you will
Find a configuration that meets your needs. You can save
Configurations.
In my case for ex, my main config would be:
Preset: cinema + all controls (contrast, satu etc...) To minimum.
And then take specially care as James pointed on the highlights.

Then, it's probably the best you could buy to date in this
Range of gear, and don't worry about IQ, it's above the rest.

Mixing the footage with Red is fine. Some did that with
Scarlet + hacked gh2 and to match the Scarlet look in post
They had to blur the gh2 footage because it was too detailed
Compared to the Red. (but more video look). As there is no currently a hack for
The gh3, you won't probably find that much of a difference.
The "secret" is to watch carefully your highlights as this is
Not Raw video and those are quite sensitive.

On the steady, those are very small light cams and if
You want to use the AF lenses of pana, same: small and
Light. Instead of using a classic steady that is in the end
Overkill and ridiculous (mounting those on big tripods looks
Already ridiculous), it's a wonderfull oportunity to lightenth
Your gear and look for alternative steady that could fit
In a small bag. Don't think matte boxes but ND filters,
No follow focus arsenal but AF or directly like in still MF.






« Last Edit: September 07, 2013, 04:23:47 AM by fredjeang2 » Logged
bcooter
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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2013, 06:14:08 AM »
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Panasonic really listen to film deepees on this camera, from the high end of the food chain to the small indie guys and got 95% of it dead on right.

Fred put it in better terms than I, but you don't really need follow focus, matte boxes, etc.  They don't do anything and just get in the way of a camera with this size.

You could put PL's and matte boxes on it, but you'd just have a heavy camera that didn't shoot any better, because as crazy weird as the two constant zooms are, they don't breath much and are nice and smooth.

An external monitor might help for framing, while you let the on board lcd pull out to the right and allow someone else to touch screen the focus, if movement of subjects is critical.

Since there is no c-log type of look, the blacks tend to crush a little, at least in fcp 7 vs. out of camera in quicktime.  That is really a gamma issue rather than the actual file, as anything put into fcp 7 tends to crush most converted files.  (There are gamma corrections in fcp7 to correct some of this . . . sometimes), but the shadows open up well with a gamma filter, or using the 3 way color corrector.

If you shoot for clients, the gh3 won't look as impressive as an Epic of scarlet tricked out for use, but that belies the fact that the file is rich and deep and more moveable than most would think.

You have to be careful in opening up the mid tones as it can give a casted look if you start too saturated and a film type of plug in (like apple color, or red giant) with very minimal grain will go a long way to matching the RED footage, though you use a scarlet that is much smoother than my RED 1's. so matching will be easier.

I very, strongly suggest, going with the pana constant zooms, vs. oly primes.  The Oly primes are brutal sharp, but too sharp for digital motion, the panas roll off smoother from mid tones to shadows.

The upside to the oly primes is they are fast, from f2. to 1.4 so you get more focus fall off, but as Fred says you'll end up running a silk stocking filter to match.

Where most people have issues with the GH3 is they tend to treat it more like a pick up and shoot camera rather than a real professional cinema camera.  If you give it the same care in set up you do your RED's or an Arri or an F35 (I know those cameras are way up the chain) you'll have moments that you wonder how panasonic does it for $1,200.

One other note, for a lot of movement, turn off the lens ois.  It will give some crazy looking movement, more like funhouse mirror than actual jello cam. 

The other side of the Panas they are very rugged.  I treat mine awful, in comparison to the RED's and they never miss a beat. 

Wishing for more, (we always wish for more) the only downside to me with all h264 cameras is the workflow.  Unlike the Sony's AVCHD the Pana file is robust and the color very nice, but if they'd only shot straight to prorezz and have gamma settings, two channel sound, I'd probably use them for everything.

Still 72mbs is in the professional range.

Now one other thought (and I don't recommend this but do use it) is the OMD 5.  The file is 30 fps only and about 28mbs but the camera has amazing in camera 5 axis stabilization.  You'd have to jump around like a one legged man to make them jittery, the I.S. is that good.   Downside is they don't track focus anywhere near the panasonic.

All of this makes me respect the RED's more and more, but also makes me wonder why Panasonic just doesn't go another 30% and bust down all the preconceived ideas of what a professional camera is.

If they could add a module right where the optional grip is, that had bnc, xlr inputs, real hdmi ports and a little more solid construction, with a snorkel viewfinder, smpte time code, a detachable lcd so a second person could tap screen autofocus (btw the tap screen autofocus is amazing), Panasonic would be the go to camera or better put panasonic could be the go to camera, far eclipsing arri, Canon, RED and Sony.

There is an interesting article in the NY times about the Cohen Bros.  They mention digital vs. film and they're right there is no digital look.   Not like film had color and black and white.

I'll shoot a RED and think . . . wow looks like film, then shoot a panasonic and think . . . wow looks like film, then the next scene I'll go s__t looks like digital.

Or I'll shoot a REd and think wow it hold like a billion stops, that's amazing, then shoot another scene and it's the opposite, like I forgot to turn on the key light or something.

About 10 days ago I had a shot on the beach of a family goofing around.  Shooting fast, quick cuts and one scene is great, but I overexposed it.   Don't know why, I checked it, it looked good, but when I got it into the computer it was a stop over.   It was from the gh3's.  I went s__t ruined it, but put it into fcp7, it darkened up, made a compound clip with a track set on multiply and it was all there, rich and deep.

But next time it would be opposite.  I'll be the first to admit, I don't understand digital on the whole.   I think it's very subject, light, specific to the point it's like it has it's own mind on what it's going to do.

I can force film to do what I want and hold a continuous look.   Digital forces me to do what it wants and I have to find a way to fix it. 

My take from this the gh3's are much better than the RED's then much worse, then much better.  It's so scene specific.

Sorry to go off topic.

IMO

BC
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