Archive for August 14th, 2007

HV20 and CineMode

The Canon HV20 currently is the No1 best selling HD camera worldwide as it’s the best there is. Its Cine-mode contributes to the good sales, a mode that emulates the “film look”. Cooler colors, less contrast, better dynamic range so highlights are not blown out. This mode can be used only when shooting in 24p mode.

However, there is a lot of controversy about that “Cine” mode. You see, while it helps out with highlights, it loses a lot of detail in dark areas of the picture — detail that is present when shooting in shutter/aperture priority modes. The truth is, most film cameras do the same too, but there are many those who — amongst them myself– who would like to have the extra detail anyway.

So basically, you will have to pick your poison: Do you prefer the traditional film look with less detail in the dark places, or more detail equally distributed in the image but blown up highlights?

One thing to remember here is that CineMode would best serve professionals and not amateurs. You see, when shooting a real movie, there are very bright lights everywhere. Even if the movie ends up having a “dark look” like “The Matrix”, it is STILL shot with very bright lights and then adjusted later in post processing. You see, it’s better to capture as much detail as possible and then discard it in post if you want, rather than not having it at all. Problem is, amateurs don’t have their own lighting people or equipment around to shoot properly on each scene.

One movie that looks exactly how HV20’s Cinemode records, is “Syriana” with Matt Damon and George Clooney (sample pic). It is non-detailed on dark spots while it performs well on highlights. Personally, I didn’t like how it looked. Some other modern films look cleaner IMO.

Regardless, I don’t think I have much of a choice, so if I go ahead and shoot music video clips for local bands I will be using Cinemode.

Damn you market perception!

If you buy *any* TV today, you will be watching an image like this one by default:

The colors and their temperature is jacked up like hell. They do that on purpose because when people are shopping for TVs in shops, their only frame of reference is “how lively the colors are”. And so manufacturers have NO ALTERNATIVE but to jack up the colors so they can have a shot in the TV market.

For years we left our TV, a 55″ Sharp 1080i rear-CRT projection, on its default settings. We just don’t mess up with it. It’s a bit of a taboo, and also because we trusted Sharp to do the right thing. But now that I am involved in video work, I just can’t stand how TV looks by default. You switch on Jay Leno’s or Conan’s show, and everyone looks RED. Everything is just so freaking saturated that it doesn’t make sense. It makes me sick. At first, I was thinking “what the hell are TV channels are thinking of shooting like this, don’t they do white balance tests before shooting?”. But now I know. It’s not the TV channels to blame, but the default settings in the TVs.

So, I decided to give an end to this visual ordeal. I went to Sharp’s picture settings and did the following changes tonight:
– “Color” went from “50″ down to “5″ !!!
– “Brightness” went from “50″ up to “65″.
– “Color Temperature” went from “High”, three notches down to “Low”. The “Low” temperature emulates the film look and looks very cool, especially in indoors scenes.

Now, everything looks so much more natural, more “filmy”, and I am such happy camper:

I only hope that when we will buy a new TV, these settings will be there so I can get them back to acceptable levels. Cheaper TVs don’t have adequate color controls you see, so I am rather stressed about it.