Casual Dog news

Casual Dog Productions, LLC, has been undergoing some changes. For one thing, the LLC – we are now registered in Oregon as a Limited Liability Corporation. Doesn’t that sound official and grown-up?

Much more exciting has been the re-tooling of our production and post facilities for high-definition video production. And we have gone Mac!

High-definition video and TV is rapidly arriving in just about every setting. This includes TV, home theaters (with HD-DVD and blue ray duking it out), movie theaters, and computers. In particular, with the switch to digital TV (and cable) transmission, the demand for HD content will continue to skyrocket.

It is odd – the other trend in video is smaller, with video for iPods and cell phones a new niche. Go figure…

So producing in some form of HD video will future-proof our work, enhancing its marketability – and look better. The problem is, HD is expensive. From the cameras used to shoot Robert Rodriguez’ Sin City (Sony Cinealta F950s) to the present high-end HD cameras (Sony’s, the forthcoming Red, and so on), the cost ranges up from $100,000. Without a lens. Youch!

Sony’s XDCAM may be taking over the mid range, but we are still talking $16,000 to $35,000, plus the cost of lenses (perhaps $15,000 and up). For a broadcaster or commercial production company, an outstanding bargain. But for a low-budget indy film maker, quite a chunk of change.

So we drift on down to HDV. This is the form of high-definition’ that is beginning to show up in consumer camcorders now. Just as DV (or more precisely, mini-DV) was a leap in quality over VHS or Hi-8, HDV is a big step up from DV. But it is very compressed, and in particular uses mpeg temporal encoding. These I-frames mean that only every 15th frame of video is really and truly there, with frames in between being the camcorders or computer’s best guess. Imaginary video. This can be a major headache for editing, and for moving targets too (harder to shoot action-adventure material or sports).

But it is much more affordable.

In reality, HDV is proving to be a very usable HD acquisition format. And so, Casual Dog has taken the plunge. If anyone wants more technical details, leave a note – I’m full of info, pointers, and opinions. Here is the bottom line – our new gear:

  • Sony HVR-V1U camera.
  • Mac Pro (dual 2.66 GHz, 6 GB RAM, 1.25 TB SATA hard drives, 2 x 24″ display)
  • Behringer BCF2000 control surface
  • Contour ShuttlePro 2
  • Apple Final Cut Studio
  • Logic Pro
  • Shake

As an aside, the initial shoot for What’s Inside, Professor? anticipated HD, in that we used Panasonic’s anamorphic lens adapter for the DVX-100A. This will greatly improve the results of up-rezzing that footage.

We be smokin!

3 thoughts on “Casual Dog news

  1. Learning curve, you ask? Well, something of one… Switching from Windows PC to Mac is slightly disorienting, but mostly fun. The menu bar at the top of the screen instead of with the window still throws me sometimes. And the location of the command key (vs ctrl) still seems odd after a week or two.

    The switch from Avid Xpress Pro to Final Cut Pro isn’t so hard. Yet. What I am mainly finding is that editing is editing, the software just a tool. Of course most jobs come out better if you use good tools. And know how to use them.

    I’ll keep you posted.

  2. Still a learning curve. I have been bogged down, trying to develop and refine an HDV to HD workflow. Here is the general plan:

    1) Acquire in HDV (using Sony HVR-V1U).
    2) Capture into a more robust codec (like Avid’s DNxHD or the Apple Intermediate Codec or the forthcoming CineForm codec for Mac or DVCPRO-HD).
    3) Edit in FCP – on-line quality all the way?
    4) Optionally on-line in an uncompressed HD format? [There probably isn’t much advantage to this if initial acquisition is HDV – effects heavy work might be a different story].
    5) Output to various formats as needed for delivery…

    The current problem is with #2. In particular, using FCP I am having trouble removing advanced pulldown (2:3:3:3:2), since the Sony’s video stream isn’t flagged to FCP’s satisfaction. Also, most of these methods lose timecode – so that re-capture from original tapes is not possible (or would involve immense amounts of work).

    Sigh…

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