Friday, June 27, 2008

HVX: Green Screen - Footage

Well, the first thing an HVX / Panasonic supporter will refer you to, in an argument for their camera of choice over a competitor, is the 4:2:2 colorspace. Check that, once they discredit the rolling shutter, then comes the 4:2:2. But it is a noteworthy attribute of the camera, especially if you intend to any significant amount of color key or green screen work.

With that in mind, here are some clips of green screening with the HVX...

WWII- Special Effects Semester Project from Chris Newman on Vimeo.

This clip is also referred to in my BEST OF HVX post, but I've included it again simply because the best key of all is one you can't tell (or can barely tell) even was a key.

And here's some more green screen work, in a pretty cool video...

Entity - Touch and go from Nicky Campos on Vimeo.

And another by the same guys...

Kabelo Abongwana from Nicky Campos on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

HVX: Overcrank and Undercrank

Here, I am gathering up some footage of overcrank and undercrank from the Panasonic HVX as a counterpart to the collection of EX1 clips.

Alex Overcrank from keyboardsurgery on Vimeo.

In the above clip, we see the HVX at work. One thing that caught my eye in this clip is the level of frame rate flicker seemed pretty consistent with the EX1 in terms of quick-moving objects.

And now a 24p slow-motion beer pour...

Sam Adams hvx200 Overcrank Slow Motion Raw Footage from Geoff Albach on Vimeo.

And of course, more skateboarding...

HVX testing slow motion from kylegherman on Vimeo.



Here is a good ARTICLE BY BARRY GREEN, the HVX guru. Not only does he discuss variable frame rates as they apply to the HVX, but also the general use and effect of different frame rates in the context of narrative storytelling for all videographers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lighting: Selected Readings

Regardless of what you are shooting with - the EX1, HVX, XHA1, the RED, 35mm film, your cellphone - the skills of the people involved are always more important than the equipment being used. Eric Clapton will be able to produce better music by strumming a tennis racket than I could with a brand new Fender Stratocaster. And the same goes for making movies.

The question keeps arising in forums everywhere. How do I make footage on my A1 / Z1U / EX1 / HVX / DVX / (insert non-film camera here) look like film? Or even more challenging (and important), how do I make it look like a big budget production? Or at least professional? And the standard answers come back... Shoot in 24p, color grade carefully in post, tweak the camera's settings... And most importantly, learn about lighting. And the advice is never "here are three quick lighting fixes for dummies, use them." The advice is always "learn about lighting."

And it is sound advice. Lighting technique is one of the things that will set a professional project apart from the work of beginners quite quickly. To the layperson, it may not register what the difference is. To the trained eye, it will be obvious. And that's not even getting into the subtleties of what lighting can do to convey a mood, or the possibilities in going against lighting conventions for artistic reasons, and so on.

With that in mind, here are a few useful links on lighting. The more you know...

"IT'S NOT THE BUDGET..." from ProVideoCoalition.

COMPLETE EEJIT'S GUIDE to Film and Video Lighting for Low Budgets.

DIY LIGHTING at Shuttertalk.



The following are also a few recommended books on the subject...

SONY EX1: Stories from the Trenches

Now that the Sony EX1 has been in the hands of the ambitious for a few months, it is being used for narrative storytelling and tales of these experiences are trickling in. With them come the wisdom of hands-on experience with the camera's ergonomics and real-world situational handling.

Below is a three-part diary of a six-day shoot with two EX1's. The entries discuss everything from lighting setups to supplemental equipment, from solutions for 24p flicker to sore thumbs.


More to come.

SONY EX1: Undercrank / Time Lapse - Footage

In addition the EX1's overcrank abilities, it also has the capacity to shoot at reduced frames per second to allow a time-lapsed fast motion effect. Think of the 2-second sunrises and sunsets in Gladiator as transitions between major scenes.

Jamie Baughman has again treated the video community to some test samples, one at a BUSY STREETCORNER and the other of PASSING CLOUDS.

And here, we see some interesting timelapse work by Philip Bloom, taking advantage also of the Letus Extreme (also featuring a number of overcrank shots).

South Bank HD from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

**Addendum: Unfortunately, the video "Timelapse Broadbeach Sony X1" by Geoff Charters" was deleted by the producer. Please explore the site for more footage of your camera of choice.**

SONY EX1: Overcrank - Footage

The EX1 permits a number of variable framerates, with more available at lower screen resolutions. This permits the camera to be used to "overcrank" or shoot more frames per second than the rate at which they will be played back, allowing for a smooth slow-motion effect.

This video (Youtube compression, unfortunately) features the EX1 being used to both over- and under-crank.

Here is an OVERCRANK TEST OF A FLAG RIPPLING posted by Jamie Baughman, who also provides an WATER FOUNTAIN OVERCRANK TEST.

And here, of course, is a CLIP BY PHILIP BLOOM that features some EX1 overcrank. As mentioned previously, it is pretty much the ambition of most EX1 owners to parallel the results achieved by Mr. Bloom with this camera.

And some nice raindrops footage...

Rain Drop [DOF] from Ross Loosemore on Vimeo.

And some more stuff...

The Swim Meet - Preview from Scott Karlins on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

SONY EX1: Working with Glidecam - Footage

Given the rolling shutter issues that can pop up with handheld footage, there have been a few questions about how the EX1 will perform with various filming techniques and accessories.

I was able to find a bit of footage of the EX1 being operated with a Glidecam (in the case of the following clip, the Glidecam X10).

This is YouTube quality compression, so it can't be used for any detailed analysis, but from a rough viewing at this level, I can't say that any glaring wobble or Jellocam issues were readily visible.

It is also nice to see the Glidecam and EX1 working together, since there were some worries that the front-heavy design of the EX1 would make it challenging to counterbalance.

HERE is a brief forum discussion on using the EX1 with a Glidecam setup.

HERE is another.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Canon XHA1: Custom Preset Tests - Footage

Especially given how flat and drab the XHA1 footage is reputed to be directly out of the box, there has been a great deal of interest online and in forums about custom in-camera presets to tweak the camera's settings for image capture and color rendition. With these presets, you will see that there is actually quite a bit of latitude for different looks within the XHA1 before even getting to post-production. It does, however, require a little bit of work, research and testing on your part.

Below are some instances of test preset footage undertaken by various good samaritan videographers. And do bear in mind that these individuals are under no obligation to post such tests. They do so entirely out of a desire to help move everyone's expertise along, so big ups to these guys, and also to the developers of the presets (among them, Steven "Disjecta" Dempsey") for sharing the fruits of their ingenuity...

Canon XH-A1 Custom Preset Movie from Gert Kracht on Vimeo.

Update: The Roger Shealy video of preset tests (which was linked to here) was taken down from Vimeo.

HERE is a link to a database of XHA1 custom presets and a discussion of the concept.

And HERE, Paolo Ciccone discusses his TRUECOLOR presets. They are also FURTHER DISCUSSED in the DVinfo Forum.

And below is footage of a cutom preset ("VISION") by John Hope. The link with the actual video will also provide the settings of his preset.

XHA1 Preset: VISION from John Hope on Vimeo.

Here is the "VIVIDRGB" preset being tested out...

Trying out the VividRGB preset (XH A1) from Jesper Dudal on Vimeo.

Here is a LINK to the thread with the (updated) VIVIDRGB preset. There was an original version that was revised.

SONY EX1: Green Screen - Footage

The following clips are some examples of the green screen and keying work that is currently being achieved with the Sony EX1.

The clips include a music video and a simulated nightclub scene.

Tenette - Weave/Star from Dana Rice on Vimeo.

Here, the editors used only Final Cut's tools to pull out the key. Of course, with this particular video, I had a bit of a hard time paying attention to the key work... Um, what was I talking about?

Editing Sample #1 from Zak Mussig on Vimeo.

In the above clip, the attention to detail used by the editors (adding the shadow on the wall, color correction) does a fair bit to make the EX1 footage look good regardless of its abilities to produce keyable video.

I don't know whether these clips were shot with the EX1 in 4:2:0 or whether the HD-SDI was utilized to capture the footage in a 4:2:2 colorspace. However, in the absence of clear information, it seems that most people are saving to the SxS cards, which would mean 4:2:0.

Here, also, is another GREEN SCREEN CLIP made from EX1 footage.

And another music video...

(Edit: The video was removed.)

HVX vs EX1 vs XHA1: Analyzing the Specs (Part 1)

Now, in a PREVIOUS POST, I listed the specs of these three cameras with a promise to delve into the ramifications of what these actually mean. The HVX has 4:2:2 colorspace instead of 4:1:1? Is that a big deal? What for? 16 bit audio sampling? 24 bit? Ummm... Does it really matter how much the codec compresses my footage? Why? CMOS, shmee-moss...

Well, here's some of the specs again, with their real world applications included, with a couple reasonable conclusions.


Half of an inch can be enough to impress the girls. Both the Panasonic HVX and the Canon XHA1 utilize three 1/3" CCD chips. The Sony EX1 uses three 1/2" CMOS chips. Does this 1/6 of an inch really make a difference?

Yes, it does. A one-half inch chip allows the videographer to achieve a shallower depth of field because it is a larger surface on which the image is being projected. Is the difference between 1/2" and 1/3" night and day? No, but it is noticeable. It is significant.

One should also keep in mind, though, that while the EX1 and HVX have 13-14x optical zoom lenses, the Canon goes up to 20x, allowing you to use the "back up and zoom in" trick to greater effect in achieving the appearance of a shallow depth of field.

Also, a larger chip means the ability to receive more light, and as a result, better low light performance and less grain. This can be especially noteworthy if you are combining your camera with a depth of field adaptor, which causes an additional loss of light (usually about one F-stop).

Using a depth of field adaptor makes the depth of field capabilities of a 1/2" chip vs. 1/3" somewhat less critical, but does highlight the great light receptiveness of the chip.

Winner: Sony EX1


This has been done to death, so I will refer you to a couple other posts (POST 1, POST 2) for the analysis on the topic, but suffice it to say that at this stage of chip design, a CMOS chip also means a rolling shutter.

One significant benefit of the CMOS chip is that it does not cause vertical banding when portions of the image are blown out by extreme brightness and high contrast, such as that achieved by a bright light bulb in the middle of a black background.

The cost for avoiding banding is fairly high, though, with horizontal skew on fast side pans, vertical stretching and compression on fast vertical pans, partial exposure with camera flashes and strobe lights, and the potential Jellocam wobbling in high vibration situations.

However, regarding his choice to work with the EX1, I did see the venerable Philip Bloom state somewhere that, at least for his purposes, he has gained more by avoiding CCD banding issues than he has lost by working with a rolling shutter.

The debate continues, and if you delve into the forums, you are likely to see a global vs. rolling shutter war zone. Make sure you bring your bulletproof vest and watch out for Sony and Panasonic die hard suicide bombers (comprised mostly, I would imagine, of quasi-professionals who can't bear to digest the idea that their five-to-six thousand dollars could possibly have been better or even equally-well spent on another camera).

Winner: Panasonic HVX and Canon XHA1


Duh, by the time you buy the media necessary to shoot in HD on either the EX1 or the HVX, you will be able to buy two XHA1s for the same price (and record your footage to tape).

On price alone, XHA1 is the clear winner, since you could set two of them up for every shot and double your coverage. However, it has been said since time immemorial that "you get what you pay for."

Winner: Canon XHA1

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Canon XHA1: Best of the Best - Footage

Now, when I started this series, I vowed to look extensively not only at the Sony EX1 and the Panasonic HVX-200A, but also the Canon XHA1, a significantly lower-cost alternative that does have some good potential if used in the right hands.

For the moment, I am just going to provide reference to some of the better footage that has been developed with this camera, whose price has dropped significantly from its already low starting point for a prosumer camera. Indeed, this camera seems to be the bridge between the territory of "consumer" and "prosumer."

Employed properly, though, it can produce some professional quality work.

If Philip Bloom is the EX1 kingpin, then perhaps Marlon Torres is making a similar name for himself with his Canon XHA1 work.

Here are a couple clips:


This is quite a large file at 720p. If you go to you can find links to the clip at smaller resolutions.

One thing that will stand out is Mr. Torres' talent for matte painting and post-production, which simply make the XHA1 look good through no virtue of its own. That said, the camera did give him what he needed to get this piece done. Note as well, though, that the piece seems to be heavily ADR'd (re-recorded dialogue in post). Many people have not been impressed with the XHA1's audio recording capabilities and sampling rates. I don't know if the camera was a limitation for on-set sound or not (it would not be fair to assume so - anything from sound design to microphone quality to microphone placement to an airplane overhead could have forced a need for ADR) but I just wanted to flag the issue. I wanted to flag the issue without drawing any hasty conclusions about the XHA1 and sound, that is.

Another project in the works by Mr. Torres is JUNIPERO, where a glimpse will show some of the additional imagery he is capturing with this camera.

Here, as well, is a nice clip put together by a harp player. He did some significant grading in post production but one notable thing about this clip is that he used the stock XHA1 lens - no depth of field adapter.

Si Bheag Si Mhor - harp tune by Carolan played by Mark Harmer from Mark Harmer on Vimeo.

As well:


A MUSIC VIDEO (Tamar - "A New Day") filmed with the XHA1 and a Letus Extreme.

And a pair of clips by Steven Dempsey:

Postcards from the Road from Steven Dempsey on Vimeo.

Olympic National Park from Steven Dempsey on Vimeo.

Again, the above was done with the stock lens and no adapter.

Here is a fairly cool motorbike clip. Some nice editing but do notice that the headlights of the motorcycle create a bit of vertical banding with the CCD chip as the bike races down the highway. See, I'm not making this stuff up. It actually kind of works with this clip but generally speaking, it is a pretty ugly phenomenon.

little video "SPEED" from Maxim Lupascu on Vimeo.

And some work with a macro lens...

macro snail from Marco Rognoni on Vimeo.

And the following clip... Well, I just like it. It's not a technical clinic in terms of cinematography or camera operation. The settings on the camera aren't ideal (the highlights get blown out at the end) and it's really quite simple. But hey, the guy was making his mother's birthday present and it's just a nice little clip.

So Many Colors! HD from Nick Mitzenmacher on Vimeo.

And here is the TRAILER FOR "EVOLUTION", a snowboarding piece shot on the XHA1. Looks pretty good.

SONY EX1: 25p Crane Shot - Footage

Well, this is a topic that I want to delve into extensively, but I just came across a clip that stands out in terms of its value as a test at this point and wanted to make a quick post.

The following videographer wanted to test the EX1 on a crane shot for rolling shutter artifacts, given that rolling shutter paranoia seems to be sweeping the globe. Now, I am actually quite a bit more sensitive to rolling shutter skew and wobble than most viewers. I tend to see it where others don't.

And I have to say that this fellow's footage is reasonably confidence-inspiring. It appears to be shot at 24p and while it does have that 24p flicker and stutter (which some feel is more pronounced in the EX1) and which may also be exaggerated a bit by web delivery, this footage does hold up pretty well and is a decent testament for the EX1.

Correction: The footage, I have learned, was shot at 25p, proving that at least over the web, I don't have Kyptonian Super-Eyes when it comes to detecting this minor difference in frame rate. That said, 25p does give a good approximation of how 24p will be handled.

**Addendum: Unfortunately, the video "EX1 Crane Tests (Rolling Shutter)" by James Watson was deleted by the producer. Please explore the site for more footage of your camera of choice.**

Bear in mind also that this was a pretty well-executed crane shot and that one with minor vibrations or shake would have a greater potential to bring rolling shutter artifacts or Jellocam into play.

Out for now.

Funny Stuff - Some Classics III: The Rise of Jon Lajoie

This bastard is funny. Another brief reprieve from the technical side...

And I have no idea what camera he uses.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

SONY EX1: Footage in 24p Mode

Those who want to use their video camera to create narrative film are definitely going to be giving some thought to filming in 24p mode, the frame rate that film cameras record in.

Some people have raised possible questions about how the EX1 looks in this mode. So I have gathered together a few clips of the EX1 in 24p to let you be the judge.

A Flight in a B-17 from Torv Carlsen on Vimeo.

I know I said I'd leave you to your own opinions, but in this one case I have to comment on the above clip. While the photographer got some nice shots and the clip has been generally well received by viewers, it does also represent to me an instance where the rolling shutter Jellocam phenomenon crept in to a minor degree on some of the handheld footage. Perhaps upon watching the clip, you won't even see any Jellocam happening. It isn't an issue for many people unless it reaches extreme levels. Or, maybe you think I'm imagining it, which is also a possibility, I suppose.

Environmental Science PSA HD from Robert L. Mickles on Vimeo.

A Bald Place - Letus Extreme 24p Film - HDTV from Tom Guilmette on Vimeo.

The following clip was actually filmed in 25p, but does show the EX1 panning through nature scenery at a similar framerate.



Finally, there has been some discussion about whether the EX1 tends to exaggerate flicker and stutter more than competing cameras when shooting 24p. Shooting 24p on any camera, film included, will have a stutter and flicker between frames that you may not notice until you actually take a look at the issue with editing or camera purchasing in mind, and it will be most visible, even in Hollywood blockbusters, on fast pans and fast action. That said, there are rumblings that the EX1 has an exaggerated flicker at this frame rate.

HERE and HERE and HERE are some discussions on the topic.

You be the judge.

For what it is worth, the following is a well-done documentary piece, shot on the EX1 in 24p, that includes a great deal of panning. I think he did a pretty solid job with them.

Martin the Tailor from Ed David on Vimeo.

EX1 vs. HVX: SxS vs. P2 Storage

With all the debate about which is the better choice in the "about $6,000 camera range" between the Panasonic HVX and the Sony EX1, some of the focus has turned to a parallel discussion of which is the better form of solid state memory, the P2 cards used in the HVX, or the SxS cards required to shoot with the EX1.

Below are a few points of comparison between the two:


Some ballpark figures for P2 cards...
8 GB: $700; 16 GB: $850; 32 GB: $1550

And some rough figures for SxS cards...
8 GB: $400; 16 GB: $850


A single GB of space on a SxS card used in conjunction with a Sony EX1 records more footage than one GB on a P2 card, shot with an HVX. Links are provided at the bottom of this post that will take you to detailed charts if you desire. The difference is significant.


Being physically smaller and slightly more efficient, the SxS cards require less power to operate than P2 cards.


Right now, the maximum storage size available on SxS cards is 16 GB, as compared to 32 GB for P2 cards.


Before claiming SxS the undisputed champion, one thing to remember is that the EX1 (which uses them) does more heavily compress its footage while recording with a long-GOP format. While this format (XDCAM) is proving to be much more robust than the heavily-maligned HDV (the naked eye has difficulty detecting any artifacts and even blatant attempts to break the codec generally fail), this compression is a factor in the enhanced recording times of SxS cards. Quite simply, they are being used to record compressed video - of course they will record more minutes of footage for a given number of GB. Of course, that is not the entire picture.


Below are some supplemental readings on P2 and SxS if you want to learn more, or just don't want to take my word for it.


The above link includes a chart that lists the recording times provided by each type of media at different resolutions and quality settings on each camera.



EX1 vs. HVX: Selected Readings

The following are just some articles, blog entries and forum posts on the topic of comparing these two cameras, for those interested in some other perspectives and experiences. Naturally, especially in the case of forum threads, don't believe absolutely everything you read.

ProVideoCoalition discusses the cameras

Philip Bloom on the topic

And here are a fellow pro's thoughts and rationale for choosing the HVX over the EX1 as his next purchase.

Various Forum Threads:

EX1 vs. HVX for Narrative Work

EX1 vs. HVX Shootout at Creative Cow

HVX fanboys getting hated on at Creative Cow

More Discussion at Creative Cow

And more...

Light Sensitivity Discussion at Creative Cow

Discussion at

Finally, the following link is footage of a side-by-side shootout of the two cameras of various scenes and calibration charts.

Shootout Tests

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

HVX: Best of the Best - Footage

Well, this camera has been around for a while and has been the choice of many independent filmmakers. As such, there is a greater body of narrative work out there that has been done with this camera. Those who use it, love it. They swear by its "film-like" colors and cadence. Sometimes it seems like they sleep with it and would die for its honor.

But here are some clips of the fine things that have been achieved with this piece of equipment (and accessories).

In some cases the clips also benefit from some very nice compositing in post-production.

WWII- Special Effects Semester Project from Chris Newman on Vimeo.

And HERE is A Little Mouth to Feed, directed by Jack Daniel Stanley and produced by Art Jimmerson and Barry Green, the consensus HVX guru.

Human Movement from Jordan Clarke on Vimeo.

Jason Mraz :: I'm Yours from LEVEL4 on Vimeo.

And some other stuff that is pretty decent...

RED NAILS from danilo Parra on Vimeo.

SONY EX1: Filming Fast Action - Footage

While there is a ton of footage out there of the EX1 being used for tranquil and serene settings and subject matter, and performing very well - there has not been a great deal of footage online of the EX1 being used to capture fast paced and jarring action.

With that in mind, I'm collecting some clips of exactly that kind of footage and posting them.

I'll let you make your own judgments on the results of how the CMOS chip and rolling shutter perform.

Celtic Invasion Boxing Patrick Hyland V Mike Dobbs from Joshua Fleetwood on Vimeo.

In the boxing clip above, do note that because of the CMOS chip, there is no risk of vertical banding from the overhead lights above the boxing ring. With a CCD camera, there is a good chance that the columns of pixels hit by the bright overhead lights against the black background would be blown out in an extremely ugly way.

Airshow 2008 Singapore from VideoCobra on Vimeo.

KGB Experience Lithuania from Philip Bloom: Five News on Vimeo.

The above Philip Bloom news piece is another example where banding might have occurred on a CCD camera.

Bear in mind that I don't necessarily know much about the frame rate used, shutter angle, or post production of these clips.

Realy fast from Kristian Kettner on Vimeo.

But the above was filmed in 24p, 60fps and then sped up in post. Therefore, not the best representation of what would be involved if there were dialogue present, etc. But still an interesting piece of work.

T-REX 600 from Bogdan Kramliczek on Vimeo.

And a music video...

NOT THEM - FEEL IT YET from Marco Menestrina on Vimeo.

SONY EX1: Selected Readings

The following links are just some collected readings of relevance to the Sony EX1...

A Review by Colin McFadden with Lots of Clips

A Review by Dylan Reeve at Creative Cow

A Review of the EX1 at ProVideoCoalition

A Review by Ned Soltz at

Mike Jones Review - Part 1

Mike Jones Review - Part 2 EX1 Review

Simon Wyndham Review

FreshDV EX1 to FinalCut Workflow

FreshDV EX1 Menus and Settings

A Positive Review of the EX1

A Strobe Test at another site, which left them unimpressed with the EX1.

Various Forum Threads:

Some Discussion in the RED Forum that touches on the EX1, rolling shutter issues that affect both cameras, and even the EX1 vs. HVX debate

A Skew Test at DVinfo

The EX1 getting hated on in a Creative Cow thread

Unnatural Judder at DVinfo

EX1 Thread at Skateperception

DVinfo - Has Rolling Shutter Affected You?

DVinfo - Skew and Panning

Discussion about Flourescent Lighting at Creative Cow

SONY EX1: Rolling Shutter Issues - Footage

First off, none of the commentary included here is meant to be insulting in any way toward the videographers who have produced any clips included in this post. In most cases, they have found some interesting settings and captured some nice imagery. They have simply, in this relatively early stage of the camera's release, tested the limitations of the camera's shutter mechanism and had this affect their footage to some (usually minor) degree.

That aside, now that we've seen some of the best, we can look at some of the footage that pops up in worst case scenarios.

The potential issues that can pop up are the kind of stuff that is scaring some people back to the HVX despite the superior resolution, lens, record times and chip size of the EX1.


Now, I actually feel kind of bad even linking up to this particular bit of footage. It was filmed specifically to test the abilities of the camera, as I understand it. But the main issue with the footage is that it has had an aggressive smoothcam filter applied, which can create dynamic distortion of its own. The cameraman was running around handheld, trying to keep the camera steady barehanded, which is generally not a recipe for usable footage. Anyway, discount the effects you see by whatever factor you see reasonable for the smoothcam filter. I've had smoothcam warp and distort footage that was not shot with a rolling shutter. But anyway, here it is...

Let 20,000 Flowers Bloom from Matt Davis on Vimeo.

And don't let the rolling shutter and smoothcam completely detract from the fact that he found quite a nice setting and captured some otherwise very nice family footage. Damn rolling shutter!

Jellocam: These are not the WORST - They just show some Rolling Shutter Artifacts

Now, this following clip doesn't really belong in any "worst of the worst" list. They actually did a decent job with it and apparently won a contest with this clip. But what it does do is illustrate some more subtle Jellocam that can result from going handheld or run-n-gun with the EX1.

For some people, the Jellocam effect may not even be detectable here. For others, it may be intolerable when it pops up. Anyway, this is a bit more of a realistic illustration of what you might run into if you are simply doing your best with minimal filmmaking accessories and end up testing the rolling shutter's limitations.

Yes, I Do! from Dennis Roelofs on Vimeo.

Again, here's another clip that really shouldn't be in a "worst of the worst" post but more a "medium of the medium." It's another case of relatively subtle Jellocam that pops up in handheld footage and also when handheld in addition to the vibrations of a moving car. Once again, this may be barely detectable (if at all) to some, and a deal breaker to others.

The controversy that is popping up over whether rolling shutter effects are detectable with this camera in "normal use" is becoming fuel on some of the message boards that can often cause academic discussions about the properties of the camera to degenerate into a Panasonic vs. Sony Jihad that sometimes makes me wonder if I am reading educated opinions on videography or getting a unique glimpse into cult behavior. Either way, it seems to be a matter of personal taste and "wobble" threshold.

sacked from r. alverson on Vimeo.

On the other hand, if you are going to be spending $7000 plus on your camera, you should not be doing the bulk of your "money shots" barehanded anyway...

The following link is to a clip under relatively challenging circumstances - handheld in a helicopter.


As you can see, the videographer caught some sweeping and stunning imagery from this position. On the whole, the CMOS chip seemed to hold up pretty well, though I can't say that there weren't ANY rolling shutter artifacts. Jello crept in a little from time to time.


Here's an example of the skew you can get from side panning.


Bear in mind that in normal filmmaking, one typically would not pan back and forth this rapidly, and also, there would be some kind of compelling subject matter to draw focus away from the skew. Usually we don't film straight vertical lines for the sake of showing how they skew.

Here is some more Skew footage:

And finally, there is even a POST ON PHILIP BLOOM'S WEBSITE with a still capture of some pretty grotesque skew he obtained while whipping the camera around. That said, I can't say how noticeable or terrible the skew was in the context of the action he was filming.

Partial Exposure:

Here is a link to a clip where we see partial exposure due to the sirens on a cop car:


And at the end of this clip, you'll see a streetlight flickering in a way that messes up the rolling shutter...

Test Sony PMW-EX1 from Dmitri Blueglass on Vimeo.

And again, on some outdoor bulbs...

Sony EX1 Harrods Test Footage from Simon Frances on Vimeo.

And Ned Soltz posted an EX1 CLIP AND SOME NOTES at the Dallas FCPUG site. The partial exposure effect in that clip is not a deal-breaker but it is worth noting its effect is mitigated by the fact that the point of division occurs on a white background (ice at a skating rink). So, if you are framing a shot where partial exposure is a risk, and you have any choice in the matter, a lighter background may be the way to go.

Finally, here is some rather nice footage that was captured on the EX1 of a fireworks display. As is characteristic of this camera, the image is sharp and clear. But in the later stages of the clip, some partial exposure issues do pop up. It's still a nice clip and the typical viewer might not even care, but there are some frames where the top half and bottom half are clearly divided in brightness.

Fireworks from Clem Kasinskas on Vimeo.

Now finally, make a note here that the following footage is not from a Sony EX1. It was shot with an HG-10 and it can not be blamed on the Sony EX1. I only post it because it shows a fairly extreme example of Jellocam due to a rolling shutter. Around the three minute mark, shit really hits the fan, and that is just on a tripod with high winds.

Anyway, this does not necessarily represent how the EX1 would handle the situation. Even the high-end RED cameras, considered one of the great recent innovations of digital filmmaking, utilize a CMOS rolling shutter and suffer from some artifacts. But anyway, here's an extreme, just to be clear on what the phenomenon looks like. And bear in mind that this fellow did capture some fairly nice imagery, rolling shutter wobble vision notwithstanding.

A windy day at the fjord from [ PIXEL VIKING ] on Vimeo.

Funny Stuff - Some Classics II: Dark Territory

More Funny Shit...

Orson Welles for Paul Masson:

Demon Cat:

Dana White Huge Announcement:

Dick in a Box:

Kids in the Hall: I Got the Monkeys

Yeah, it makes no sense.

Boom Goes the Dynamite:

Boom Goes the Dynamite Guy's Cousin:

Funny Stuff - Some Classics

This here is the funny shit. Take a break from your tedious technical research. If you haven't seen these, you've been living in a nuclear bunker for the last few years. But they're always good for a laugh and now I have them all listed in one place for my own purposes.

Miss Teen South Carolina:

The Mayor of Cincinatti:

Ole Miss Douchebag:

Gellie Man:

Carl Lewis - Music Career:

Yeah, Carl Lewis the Olympic Gold Medallist... WTF

Star Wars Trumpet Solo:

The Price is Right: There is no Justice

Yeah, I laugh at the failure and misfortune of others. Know about it.

SONY EX1: Best of the Best - Footage

Here, I am including some of the best of the best of what is achievable with the Sony EX1.

These are the clips that set the bar, to date, of this camera's potential.

Narrative Work:

To me, this is the most telling test of all. Nature footage and imagery without a story and narrative action can be more forgiving for the rolling shutter. Nobody will complain if some waves rolling in on shore suffer from "jellocam" - they are waves - how would we even know if the true shape of Wave X got distorted?

Here is the best narrative work achieved on the EX1 that I could find.

WINTER LILACS - search for this one. I don't think he's officially made the final cut public yet.
CONFESSION by DOP Philip Bloom (video no longer posted) - Philip Bloom is generally considered to be the EX1 master. This is an instance where he proves his worth of that reputation.

In both of these pieces, the DOPs have filmed with an awareness of the EX1's limitations and kept pans slow and so on. What will happen when intense action is involved? Well, as of yet, I don't have a 5-star clip from the action genre. But I am looking forward to that day. As more and more people use this camera, I think the day will probably approach sooner rather than later...

Also, while I don't like it quite as much as the above two pieces, the following clip (also by Mr. Bloom) does nonethless stand out as among the best narrative work done with this camera and is well worth a viewing.

The Battle of the Somme from Craig Spenceley on Vimeo.

And here we have The Entity, a short horror piece apparently starring Heath Ledger's Danish brother. It appears that the camera was able to handle the situations it was placed in for this shoot.

The Entity from Martin Bech Pedersen on Vimeo.

Music Videos

Coming Home - Sean Cox Music Video from Michael Stern on Vimeo.

Nature / Imagery Work

Welcome to Philip Bloom territory. As I mentioned, I think this genre is generally much more forgiving for the limitations of the EX1. These clips show off the amazing ability of the camera for locked down shots or slow and ultra smooth pans and dolly shots. Generally, they show the great photography talents of the DOPs and don't push the camera to its limit. Rolling shutter won't be an issue with the time-lapse shots that are relatively common in these types of clips. But they are great nonetheless.


Kubalsky's Shibuya: EX1 and Letus Ultimate HD from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

And seriously, just go to Philiip Bloom's site or search out his stuff on vimeo. It's generally all up to this caliber.

Letus Extreme Nature Short - Misty Brook - HDTV from Tom Guilmette on Vimeo.

Magnuson Park February from Mark O'Connell on Vimeo.

Letus, What a beauty ! from greenjelly film on Vimeo.

And of course, take note that in virtually all instances, a depth of field adapter has been employed to allow for these very filmlike depth of field shots. Adapters is something else entirely we'll get into in another line of inquiry. But they do give the filmmaker some real creative freedom.

City of Angels HD from Bogdan Kramliczek on Vimeo.

Martin the Tailor from Ed David on Vimeo.

Pasquini from Underground Planet on Vimeo.

SONY EX1: CMOS and the Rolling Shutter

You know what, I was going to save this for later in the discussion but let's just get this one out of the way.

As people delve deeper and deeper into these cameras, this one issue has become the keystone consideration and possible deal-breaker in their decision-making. So let's address it now. It's just one of the many things that will come into play decision-wise. But it's a biggy.

The EX-1, unlike its competitors here, utilizes a CMOS chip to capture its images. Now this is both good and bad.

The fact that the CMOS chip is more heat and energy efficient, allows it to be larger - 1/2 inch instead of 1/3. This means great resolution and low-light sensitivity, and the potential for a shallower depth of field. Not 35mm film depth of field, but something a little nicer than 1/3 allows.

Also, the CMOS chip avoids vertical banding when we hit bright light. If you have a camera with a CCD chip, point it at a bright light at night and you'll get vertical bright line from the top of the screen to the bottom. Banding. Gone with CMOS.


All is not perfect in CMOS-land.

The way CMOS chips are designed, they use a rolling shutter, and this can lead to several problems when filming, especially when motion is involved.

While global shutters used with CCD chips take a single snapshot of what is in front of them with each frame - everything all at once - rolling shutters sequentially record the image in rows from top to bottom, one after the other, so that not all parts of the image are recorded at exactly the same time. Therefore, the subject being recorded may actually have moved a bit from when part of one frame is recorded to when another part of the same frame is recorded. This can distort the image.

When the EX1 came out, it was quickly hailed as the "HVX killer." That may or may not be, but many people's issues with the rolling shutter and the artifacts it creates are, at a minimum, keeping the HVX on some pretty strong life support.

Among the problems rolling shutter can create are:

Skew: The image bends diagonally in one direction or another as the camera or subject moves from one side to another, exposing different parts of the image at different times.

Jello-vision: This is most common in handheld shots. The rolling shutter causes the image to wobble unnnaturally and bizarrely. This typically only shows up in somewhat extreme circumstances, but we'll get into that later...

Partial Exposure: This one also sucks. If a camera flash goes off, it may only be present for some of the rows of pixels in a given frame. The top 1/3 of the picture may be brightly lit by a flash, while the bottom 2/3 of the picture is dark and unlit. The difference between the two parts of the frame can be very dramatic and even for a frame, is visible and jarring to the human eye. Similar problems can arise with police sirens, some flourescent lighting, and so on. That makes rolling shutters an issue for things like weddings, red carpet and event filming, and narrative filming situations that involve these issues.

Anyway, take a breather.

We'll get into some real-life examples and clips of the above phenomena in the next posts.

And don't go and eliminate the EX1 from consideration just because I opened with this issue. We're gonna cut rolling shutters apart a little bit, but we'll give this camera a chance to redeem itself.

Additional Links and Readings:

You can also find a good ARTICLE on the subject by Barry Green, an expert in digital video and also a strong proponent of the Panasonic HVX.

Here also is a POST by another video pro on blogspot that goes over CCD vs. CMOS. Tell him JC sent ya.



And finally, an ARTICLE by Kyle Doris.

HVX vs EX1 vs XHA1: The Specs

At its simplest, we can look at the specs of these three cameras. Though that, of course, will not tell us the whole story. The story ultimately will be in the footage, though good footage is an interaction of the camera itself and many other factors: talent behind and in front of the camera, camera motion, proper settings on the camera, exposure, lighting, set design, possible accessories in use like a depth of field adapter. And so on...

But we'll look at the specs anyway because it's a good place to start. The list of specs is long and tedious. I'll pull out the key ones here. Without a bit of knowledge, most of us won't even know the relative use and importance of most of the listed specs...

Here are some of the major considerations. Bear in mind that they will be of varying importance depending on your intended use of the camera.

CANON XH-A1 (most of these specs apply to XL-H1, essentially the A1 with interchangeable lens ability)

Price: $3300 (approx)
Chip Type: CCD
Chip Size: 1/3"
Color Space: 4:2:0
Recording Medium: Tape
Optical Zoom: 20x
Progressive Framerates: Canon's version of 24P which is pretty effective
Maximum Resolution: 1440x1080

- Good Lens
- LCD screen is "not bad"
- audio sampling is "not good" for a prosumer camera
- colors are flat and drab out of the box without tweaking the settings


Price: $5200 (approx)
Price Note: Significant Additional Expenditures for Memory Cards if you want to Record HD
Price Note: Significant Additional Expenditures for Transferring Footage from Memory Cards to Computer for Editing
Chip Type: CCD
Chip Size: 1/3"
Color Space: 4:2:2
Recording Medium: Tape or P2 Memory Cards (P2 required to capture HD)
Optical Zoom: 13x
Progressive Frame Rates: True 24P, Ability to Overcrank and Undercrank

- So-so Lens
- LCD screen is "not good"
- audio sampling is very good
- colors are good and "filmlike" out of the box and somewhat idiot-proof
- HD is actually upsampled a little bit from a smaller chip - that is, the image is captured at a resolution slightly under what is considered to be true HD and then upscaled to an HD pixel count in-camera.

- The HVX-200A is an upgrade over the well-known HVX-200, and has corrected to a degree one of its most serious flaws, that being very poor performance in low light. It is now considered by many to be roughly comparable to the XHA1 in low light.


Price: $6500 (approx)
Price Note: Some Additional Expenditures for Memory Cards if you want to Record HD, though right now cards are included
Price Note: Potential Smaller Additional Expenditures to get footage from the Cards to the Editing Program
Chip Type: CMOS
Chip Size: 1/2"
Color Space: 4:2:2 (direct from HD-SDI output). Otherwise, it's 4:2:0.
Recording Medium: SxS Memory Cards only.
Optical Zoom: 14x
Frame Rates:
- at 1920x1080: 59.94i, 29.97p, 23.98p (at PAL settings: 50i, 25p)
- at 1280x720: 59.94p, 29.97p, 23.98p (at PAL settings: 50p, 25p)
- also a 1440x1080 / 59.94i mode (at PAL settings: 50i)
Overcrank / Undercrank: at 1080p resolution: 1 to 30 fps; at 720p resolution: 1 to 60 fps
Maximum Resolution: 1920x1080 - true native HD
Audio: 2 Channel, 16 bit, 48 KHz

- Good Lens (Fujinon)
- LCD screen is "very good"
- audio sampling is good
- colors out of the box are considered somewhere between the XHA1 and the HVX. They can be made to look very good and filmlike with proper post-production.


What does this all mean?!?!

The practical applications and results of these specs are what we are going to get into next... Just keep this list as a guide to refer to so we can look at things by the numbers. Then we'll look at some footage, some experts, some theory, and break this puppy down.