Planet Earth

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Ray Maher
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It's a pity that the Planet Earth series starting next month will only be seen in its full HD
glory by a handful of people on the BBC trial.

Has anybody out there got a HD box.

Will the picture be noticably better for the rest of us and will there be any difference between
an ordinary TV and a HD ready one in picture quality.

Ray Maher

Alan Roberts
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The pictures sre considerably better than had they been shot in SD or super16. Trust me, deep inside information :D

Although we'll only get the SD down-conversion in UK, DiscoveryHD will show it HD in the US, plus any other broadcaster who's bought HD rights. And, when the BBC goes HD properly,l we'll all get the chance because it was always planned that way.

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Ray Maher
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Alan,
Thanks for that,I await the broadcast.

Ray Maher

steve
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Ray Maher wrote, "It's a pity that the Planet Earth series starting next month will only be seen in its full HD glory by a handful of people on the BBC trial."

Does this mean that the trial is actually happening/about to happen? If so, does anybody have any info, because I can't see any updates from either the BBC or Nebula (whose involvement was pointed out a short while ago)?

Steve

Alan Roberts
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The trial is a closed operation. It will broadcast to an undisclosed audience. The issues to be resolved are "what compression system", "what bit rate", "what delivery medium" etc. They'll be trying satellite, cable, and terrestrial (Freeview channels). Unless you have the right decoder box and a HD display, and inside information on what's transmitted when, you won't be aware of it. There's no issue of secrecy about it, these are engineering tests designed to sort out exactly what the BBC wants, and can afford, to do. Decisions will be made, and we'll find out.

Meanwhile, Sky starts HD broadcasts in time for the football.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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steve
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Alan,

I wasn't inferring that the BBC trials on DTT were an issue of secrecy, (other than to keep it out of the average viewer's eyes as I can imaging the demand from a few for their 'rights' as licence payers).

The thread you that originally posted following the November announcement:

http://forums.dvdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=36089

included a reference by infocus, to the announcement that:

"Nebula Electronics is currently talking with the relevent UK authorities with a view to having the DigiTV software ready with any enhancements necessary to take part in the trials as and when they occur in 2006."

Maybe Nebula have not got anywhere with "the relevant UK authorities", because there doesn't seem to be any more info on their site.

My question was merely whether anybody knew if the CP mux was set up and running yet and if programme material was being transmitted.

Steve

Alan Roberts
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As far as I know, the CP tests haven't started yet. But I wouldn't expect there to be any formal announcements of those tests, or of the hardware involved, simply because they are engineering tests. Absence of news doesn't mean absence of activity (like the swan, all serene on the surface, loads of activity below the water).

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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steve wrote:
Alan,Maybe Nebula have not got anywhere with "the relevant UK authorities", because there doesn't seem to be any more info on their site.

I'd noticed that there was no update on the Nebula website since last November ( http://www.nebula-electronics.com/news/hdtv.asp ). It may be worth an e-mail to see what the score is. AFAIK their product works fine as an HDTV receiver in Australia etc - though there the transmissions are MPEG2, and the expectation is they will be H264 here. Hopefully that will be the only issue to sort out and it won't be deemed worthwhile encrypting them.

Any idea if the coverage area is likely to be comparable to that of the Freeview multiplexes broadcast from CP?

Alan Roberts
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I know that Kingswood's local tests have used Oz decoders for demos, and that several other coding systems have been/are being tried out. Other that that, I know little that you don't already. I'm being kept in the dark just like evryone else.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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Hmmm - http://www.dtg.org.uk/news/news.php?class=countries&subclass=193&id=1502 .

Quote: "Broadcast quoted Arqiva's terrestrial media chief Steve Holebrook saying a delay now could leave large areas of the UK without digital terrestrial HD until 2013. Holebrook added: "It is inconceivable that digital terrestrial TV will not support HD in the future. How can 50% of the population be denied coverage of the London Olympics in HD?" "

How things have changed in the last two years.

Alan Roberts
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Quite. You plant a seed, and water, and wait. We planted the HD seed in the early 1980s, well before it was feasible. But we showed what pictures could look like. The thing that's surprised me most is the emergence and takeup of big displays, I was expecting that to lag behind production and broadcast of HD programme material by at least five years.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Ray Maher
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infocus wrote:
Hmmm - http://www.dtg.org.uk/news/news.php?class=countries&subclass=193&id=1502 .

Quote: "Broadcast quoted Arqiva's terrestrial media chief Steve Holebrook saying a delay now could leave large areas of the UK without digital terrestrial HD until 2013. Holebrook added: "It is inconceivable that digital terrestrial TV will not support HD in the future. How can 50% of the population be denied coverage of the London Olympics in HD?" "

How things have changed in the last two years.

Come the switch off who is going to pay the £300+ for arial upgrades in areas that cannot receive freeview.
I can't in Hurst Green.

Ray Maher

Alan Roberts
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Come analogue switch-off, the radiated power of all the Freeview transmitters can be increased significantly, so Hurst Green should be ok. Currently, Freeview is transmitted in "forbidden" channels between analogue channels. They were originally forbidden because there's a chance of spillage from adjacent channels, causing ghosting. Freeview sits in many of these channels, because the power is typically only 20kW (instead of the 1MW of a main analogue), and the mutial interference between the existing analogue and new digital channels is at an acceptable level. If Freeview were to be transmitted at 1MW on the main stations, reception would be wonderful, but existing analogue would get a lot of fizzing and cracking. There'd be complaints.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Ray Maher
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Alan,

Thats good so at least I will have a back-up if my Sky goes crooked like it does sometimes in bad weather.

1st Planet Earth this sunday I believe. Prime time as well.

Ray Maher

Alan Roberts
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Yep, I'll be recording it. I've seen some of the material, and I trained many of the producers/photogtraphers, so I know how good the pictures are. I had many phone calls from odd parts of the worlde, sorting out teething troubles with the HD kit. It was worth it.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Ray Maher
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Yep, I'll be recording it. I've seen some of the material, and I trained many of the producers/photogtraphers, so I know how good the pictures are. I had many phone calls from odd parts of the worlde, sorting out teething troubles with the HD kit. It was worth it.

What will you be recording it onto Alan

Ray Maher

mooblie
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I was wondering that. Surely even S-VHS will not do it justice.

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

Alan Roberts
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Since it'll come into my home on Freeview, I'll record it on my Liteon 5045 at HQ, and maybe transfer to DVD. But I suspect I'll keep it on the hard drive, and buy the DVD set when it comes out. Of course, it'd be nice to see it in HD, but.....

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Alan Roberts
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Well, it happened. I was gobsmacked. Some of the footage I'd already seen in HD, but s'truth, what a programme. The Tornado shot of the whale shark was breathtaking, and the snow leopard sequence has far more than we've seen (close-up of teeth of baby eating dear, complete with dribble).

I'm happy and proud to have been involved in getting this project up and running. I hugely enjoyed working with Mark Linfield, Huw Cordey, Simon King....... The results speak for themselves :)

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

StevenBagley
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Well, it happened. I was gobsmacked. Some of the footage I'd already seen in HD, but s'truth, what a programme. The Tornado shot of the whale shark was breathtaking, and the snow leopard sequence has far more than we've seen (close-up of teeth of baby eating dear, complete with dribble).

I'm happy and proud to have been involved in getting this project up and running. I hugely enjoyed working with Mark Linfield, Huw Cordey, Simon King....... The results speak for themselves :)

It was stunning to watch in SD, and the HD shot stuff was noticeably better than the SD stuff in the video diaries.

It's a shame the BBC's HD plans aren't slightly more advanced (and the BBC a little more commercial) because if they got that playing in HD in TV retailers, I suspect the takeup of HD would happen a lot faster...

Steven

johnpr98
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Very Good, Excellent, Fantastic, Emjoyable, Simply the best etc.

Regards

johnpr98
 
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Alan Roberts
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Rest assured, it was deliberate policy not to let any of it out before broadcast. The licence payers (and NHK) have paid for it, so they get it first. Had any of it been used for publicity, you can bet your boots it would have been ripped off in all directions. But you can bet far more than your boots that you'll see it again in HD, when the BBC starts broadcasting HD, along with much other stuff that's already HD (e.g. Last Of The Summer Wine ep.#1 today with me as an extra, Hotel Babylon, and hundreds of other programmes that are already in the bag in HD).

You ain't seen nuthin' yet :D

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

rbarry
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Apart from the breathtaking shots already discussed, there were a lot of time-lapse pieces that were equally impressive. A few were cgi, but the best time-lapse shot for me was the tracking of the sun during 24 hours of daylight.
Great programming, can't wait for next weeks show. And well done and thanks to Alan for contributing with the techy stuff!

Rick.

Alan Roberts
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Don't write off all the clever stuff as cgi. There's a well-established technique that lots of high-budget natural-history shooting uses to get it for real.

Take, for example, the track past a tree that goes through the seasons. You lay a set of rails along the track you're going to use, and nail it down, because it's going to be there for a full year. You assign a particular prime lens for this shot, and don't use it for anything else. On, say 8 occasions during the year, on very calm days that have a clear sky, at the same time of day, you trundle the camera through the tracking shot using wither a stopwatch to time it or some powered machine so that the speed's the same each time. Now you have, say, 8 identical tracking shots past the same object (our tree). The only differences are the growth and leaf/flowering. Lay them down as an 8-camera shoot and edit. It might seem complex, but it works, and is pretty easy to do. The only real problem is getting expusre correct, but, provided the camera setup hasn't been changed, that's not difficult to get right. So you get a cross-fade through the seasons on a tracking shot.

It might seem clunky, but it works well.

The highly-speeded up stuff is usually shot on stills cameras, the Nikon D1 is a favourite. BBC Bristol did a lot of work on sorting out how to do that, I saw many examples and helped to sort out some of the issues with it. The circular pan, keeping the sun central, would be a stills camera on a powered turntable, possibly nothing more complex than a telescope mount. Again, keeping exposure right is the biggest challenge, but these guys are all professional photographers, so you'd expect them to know how to do that.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

branny
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I've only caught the trailers so far, and these are awesome. The tracking shot you describe sounds blissfully simple, but the results must be thrilling, I'm gonna be stuck like glue next time it's on. Missed you on LOTSW - any more cameos Alan?

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

erich
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I agree the picture quality on the Planet Earth programme was super, but what happened to the Last of the Summer Wine footage?
I was so aware of oversaturated colours and poor flesh tones.
It reminded me somewhat of early single tube cameras, apart from the increase in definition.

Richard Payne
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That was simply the most magical tele I have seen.

Dear BBC, I would gladly sell my house and go and work in an Angolan Diamond mine dressed in high heeled shoes, to pay more towards my TV licience just to let you make more stuff like that.

PS - Knock all that singing and dancing tosh on the head please.

Dave R Smith
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Like Rick - I thought the time-lapse sun-track was incredible - and original in that time lapse is usually static. It was shown over about 4 seconds - like a throwaway.
I was eating toast when the whale shark was caught fully out of the water in ultra slo-mo, I literally froze, mouth agape at this high quality shot, with frothy water crisp.
The commentator said this was 40 * slower (I think it was this shot) so, 1000 fps.
I bet the camera man was pleased he was in the neighborhood to be in the right position, at the right time!

I didn't look for HD/SD I was too engrossed in the subject, but when they went over a massive waterfall (probably Victoria) and then had 'aeriel' shots of wildlife which suddenly zoomed back to very high in the sky, I could only think of a balloon, but a balloon can't gain height that quick.
So the nugget at the end was a bonus for us video dudes. The camera housing was described as 'rock solid' vibration free. I guess the altitude meant that the choppers down-draught didn't cause 'compressed air' ripples spoiling the shots.
So - all the 'hard work was done by 3/4 guys sitting in an armchair with a playstation, back home for kippers in no time (or in time to save their filmstock from fire) while their land counterparts had a 2 hour drive over tundra.
We have come to expect knockout shots from the BBC, but it was the pace and frequency of these shots that did it for me. 10 minutes before the end I wanted to make 'a visit', but I didn't want to miss anything, so I crossed my legs.

Alan Roberts
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I've only made one appearance in LOTSW, and I missed it :( I can't comment on the pictures until I see them, but they were shot correctly, and looked fine to me on location and at Elstree.

The whale shark must have been shot on an Arri Tornado, it's a process-control camera that's been adpted for tv. 1280x1024 sensor, masked to 720p for tv. 32GB of RAM in the camera, download to PC via USB2. Shoots at 100, 250, 500, 1000 fps in full res, 2000 fps at 620x512. Large format single cmos sensor, 35mm movie lenses. It's a pig to learn how to drive it, but well worth it. You can look forward to a fair bit more of stuff from this camera. It aslo gets used at Wimbledon, horse-racing, adverts etc., but at £1.5k/day to hire, it ain't cheap.

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SimonMW
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Hehe, my turn to be pedantic! It was a Great White shark, not a whale shark. Whale sharks are non agressive and eat plankton :)

However, what can I say about this programme? I was well and truly stunned by the whole thing. I don't think I've ever watched a programme before where I was thinking "how on earth did they manage to capture that?" on virtually every single shot! To be in the right place at the right time for the shark leaping out of the water, the dust devils in the desert etc AND manage to get perfect composition at the same time was truly incredible.

I can't wait for HD transmissions to be the norm! Although it would have been nice to see this for the first time in HD. Although it was a co-production, it is productions like this that should really shut people who complain about the BBC license fee up.

StevenBagley
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From Media Guardian:

Quote:
David Attenborough's ambitious celebration of the world's natural history, Planet Earth, brought nearly 9 million viewers to BBC1 last night.
The first of an 11-part run, which focused on how the sun affects life from the north to the south pole, attracted an average of 8.7 million and a 43% share.

The series, which took four years to make, is the latest magnum opus from the BBC's natural history unit and follows a tradition for sumptuous filmmaking that goes back to 1979's Life on Earth.

"Only a few weeks ago it was hard to imagine any television programme ever bringing us more sensational footage than Life in the Undergrowth. Now it's already been beaten by Planet Earth," wrote Telegraph TV critic James Walton, while the Star's Matt Baylis said it "did exactly what good TV should".

Steven

Dave R Smith
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Thank-you for the insight Alan / Compo.
I look forward to the other Arri transmissions (apart from boring tennis, which will become suicide material if played in 'bullet time').

The 'big fish' can be seen here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/planetearth/
then 'Watch the programme trail.'

I did the 'Realplayer download' - which took 3 reboots when following the 'normal' prompts.

Alan Roberts
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Touche, Simon :)

The secret to getting footage like that, is to ignore all the other footage. There's one sequence of a wildebeast migration crossing a river, with the crocs waiting. There have been a few successful shots of the ambush, but never on video. The crew took a Tornado (plus a Varicam, plus a couple of DV camcorders, plus super16 film, generators, a PC, 4 LaCie drives) and waited. It took 3 weeks, and they got one money shot, just the one. But that shot will live in the archive for ever, just like the great white.

In Blue Planet, there were a few shots like that. Remember the seals being charged up the beach, followed by a nearly-dead seal being flipped about in the sea? That was on film, but who knows how many rolls they shot to get that one sequence? And the grain was terrible, confusing MPEG no end.

And the albatross running down the beach on South Georgia (?). It was a long shot, on old 16mm (4:3) fast film, shot very slow. The tracking was perfect, the bird's eye held steady throughout a the shot. But the grain was like golf balls. It was used in Blue Planet, but not from the film, that had deteriorated too much. So an archived digibeta of it was used, that means the original film was, by now, 720x432 after 16:9 cropping, and was then blown up to 1920x1080 for the cinema release, Deep Blue. There was always the choice, use it/don't use it. But since there's no other shot like it in the archives, it got in. And 100% correct too.

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drgagx
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I also had the chance to see some samples of the footage projected on a large screen at the recent Video Forum. It looked even better there.

I recall the speaker (Mr King?) saying the shot ratio was 80:1 - by which I assumed he meant they used 1 minute out of every 80 minutes shot. Does that sound right?

Alan Roberts
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Yes, that would be Andy King. When I first knew and worked with him, he was responsible for the purchase and installation of HD kit in Bristol, because Blue Planet was acknowledged to have been the last big production that could be made in SD (co-production being dependent on HD). He now has much the same brief for the whole of Production, as far as I'm aware.

And 80:1 sounds about right. So for 11 hours of output (11x50 minutes as sold worldwide plus 11x10 minutes for the "making of"), there would have been about 8,800 hours of material. Certainly that wazs the sort of total we were talking of 5 years ago.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
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David L Lewis
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A Ratio of 80:1 doesnt sound that Bad for this type of programme.

I was lucky enough to be the subject of a BBC4 documentary family ties ( similar to who do you think you are but with ordinary people instead of celebrities). Yhe Programme was only half an hour but I got copies of everything that was videoed and they run to a total of 25 hours so that's a ratio of 50:1.

I thought that was quite high and questioned the producer and he said it was all about giving the editor lots of choices.

David L Lewis

Hello I'm in Mensa, Is there anything you would like me to explain to you?

SimonMW
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Hehe! The editor might see it as giving him a headache! ;)

SimonMW
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BTW, looks like the BBC's entire line up of high end drama this year is HD. Dalziel and Pasco looks like it is shot HD. Theres Last Of The Summer Wine, Hotel Babylon. Any others? Since Planet Earth is HD and it is the biggest thing they've ever taken on can we assume that the Beeb is now totally HD? Or rather totally video?

rbarry
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Don't write off all the clever stuff as cgi. There's a well-established technique that lots of high-budget natural-history shooting uses to get it for real.

Take, for example, the track past a tree that goes through the seasons. You lay a set of rails along the track you're going to use, and nail it down, because it's going to be there for a full year. You assign a particular prime lens for this shot, and don't use it for anything else. On, say 8 occasions during the year, on very calm days that have a clear sky, at the same time of day, you trundle the camera through the tracking shot using wither a stopwatch to time it or some powered machine so that the speed's the same each time. Now you have, say, 8 identical tracking shots past the same object (our tree). The only differences are the growth and leaf/flowering. Lay them down as an 8-camera shoot and edit. It might seem complex, but it works, and is pretty easy to do. The only real problem is getting expusre correct, but, provided the camera setup hasn't been changed, that's not difficult to get right. So you get a cross-fade through the seasons on a tracking shot.

Well Alan, that makes this program allt he more remarkable. I was convinced the footage was cgi of the tracking past the tree and showing the background of forest going through the autumnal changes of colour. Perhaps the cross fade made me think it was cgi, and maybe it would have been cheaper to make it so, but in retrospect, it may not have had the same degree of realism if it had been created in cgi.
Thanks for putting me right and giving the technical explanation.
Rick.

Alan Roberts
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Rick, I'm not saying that that shot was done that way, only that the technology's well established for doing it. So, I'd expect it to be done that way.

Much of BBC's drama has been HD for the past 3 years (:)). I don't know about Dalziel and Pascoe though, because Warren Clarke has a reputation for not shooting on video. He makes the point that, when shooting on film, there's only one camera and he can act to it, but in video there can be lots more people looking at monitors and he finds it distracting. But, in getting HD up and running, I often tell people to shoot like film, having set the camera to deliver a passable film-look. So, maybe he's been convetred as well, I don't know.

The usual give-away for film these days is to look for grain; Vision2 stocks are remarkably fine grain, but you can still tell, if you've got a good enough delivery system (and Freeview is just not quite good enough, mostly.

HD production is accelerating a lot now, I've lost count of HD projects. It's happening for several reasons:

1: production's a lot cheaper than 35mm and arguably a little better, technically.
2: production's a bit cheaper than super16 and significantly better, technically.
3: co-producers insist on HD or 35mm.
4: new kit makes it possible to get into locations where film won't work.
5: HD cameras are "faster" than film (320-800ASA tyically) and far finer "grain".
6: manufacturers are still pushing deals to get HD kit used.
7: video's more "instant" you can review shots, so save on shooting time.
8: HD's sexy.

I can think of a few more, but that covers the ground.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

SimonMW
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Grain was one of the things I was looking for. You are right though, a Freeview signal is hardly ideal for looking at these things! But whites for example were very clean, and overall there didn't seem to be any film style grain. It was a very similar picture to Hotel Babylon. There was just something about it which didn't look 'film'.

Alan Roberts
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Well, Hotel Babylon's certainly HD, two HDW750s set to my 35mm settings.

I wrote a paper a while ago, identifying the differences between video and film. That was based on the science, and on observation. It was easy then. Now, it's a lot harder, partly because the newest filmd stocks are sharp and fine grain, and partly because lots of people set their HD cameras up right (:)). So, I guess I've won that one.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Alan Roberts
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9 million viewers. Not bad for epsiode 1.

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Ray Maher
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I got my Brother to record it to dv and burn to dvd for me.

From your comments I look forward to watching it.

Ray Maher

steelej
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Alan, do you know what "Life on Mars" what shot on? Looked very film like and was an excellent show.

John.

StevenBagley
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steelej wrote:
Alan, do you know what "Life on Mars" what shot on? Looked very film like and was an excellent show.

John.

Very obviously Super16 judging by the amount of sparkle on it. And there was a lovely pan in episode 1 which showed exactly why 25p should be banned ;)

Steven

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I saw only one episode, and didn't conventrate on the images, only on the story. There still is film being shot, but it's dwindling rapidly.

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SimonMW
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"And there was a lovely pan in episode 1 which showed exactly why 25p should be banned "

Yes, or the DP sacked for not taking the judder into account :)

With regards to video the camera setups do make a difference with regard to the overall appearance of judder. I happened to catch a few minutes of Grange Hill the other day (no, I'm not a student! I work from home at present). After I had got over my shock that they still made the thing, I couldn't help but notice the switch to progressive scan. The program is obviously shot on SD cameras given the budget (possibly de-interlaced in post?) But they have the sharpness set to quite high levels. Now there's a programme that judders! Every movement looks like it comes from a fight sequence in Gladiator!

While James Cameron pointed out that framerates should probably go very high, I notice that his base level was 48fps. I wonder if such a framerate might be good to 'ease' people into a smoother look for films (even though it is only 2fps less than us PAL people are used to :) )

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48'll be fine for cinema, because the screen brightness is still low compared with tv. But 48 on tv will still not be brilliant. That's why the NTSC countries run tv at 60 (or rather it's why they're still happy with 60).

But you're absolutely right, the sharpness settings are one of a few crucial factors, if you want the "video-look" with crayon outlines to everything, the pics will look horrid in film-style progressive (they look horrid anyway but that's another story). But get the sharpness settings right (and the vast majority of cameras lack the proper controls to do this) and pictures look to have clean detail without the crummy outlining. Some of my settings for HD actually deliberately soften the HD pictures (at some spatial frequencies) when going for a film look, because the camera native mtf is higher than equivalent film stocks. But the cameras that allow this are expensive.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
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SimonMW
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Alan, what is your opinion on the softening? Do you prefer the native MTF of film, or of the HD cameras?

Alan Roberts
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I prefer non-repeated frames at such a speed that motion's smooth. p/50 would be nice, but we can't afford the bandwidth yet. So, the only way to get decent resolution is to accept i/25 or psf/25. i/25 (what we used to called 50Hz interlaced) gives smooth motion but interlace twitter, while psf/25 gives jerky motion. I really can't decide between the two, but I find the interlace effects less disturbing than the jerky motion.

At HD, the issues are a bit easier to resolve, because the twitter is now at 540/pic.h. instead of at 288, so it's less visible. And it goes away completely on a de-interlaced display (however badly it's done).

I regard what I've been doing in HD as only an interim. The day will come when we can throw it all away and shoot p/50, and I'll be very happy. But lots of film people will probably still insist on throwing away alternate frames to get that lovely old jerky motion that they say they like so much.

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SimonMW
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What about the actual detail resolving? Do you prefer the slightly softer detail handling of film, or the sharper look that a camera such as the F900 has even when the detail circuits are switched off. For example would you prefer not to have to go into negative detail for the HD cameras?

Alan Roberts
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For non-repeating frames, I like the proper sharpness we can get with optimal settings ( but still not the child's-crayon outlines), but for film-style the slightly-softer look is the only sensible solution because it reduces the jerky motion to almost-acceptible levels. I've seen one "film" made using a Thomson Viper, with a fair degree of sharpness added (but not enough to cause Panda's-eyes edges). The detail stood out like chapel hatpegs. It really didn't look like film at all. I was sitting front row and it filled 95 degrees horizontally. Motion was really disturbing when camera moves were too fast. But, if they'd done it at 48 or 50, then who knows?

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
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asdv
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Alan Roberts wrote:
The whale shark must have been shot on an Arri Tornado, it's a process-control camera that's been adpted for tv. 1280x1024 sensor, masked to 720p for tv. 32GB of RAM in the camera, download to PC via USB2. Shoots at 100, 250, 500, 1000 fps in full res, 2000 fps at 620x512. Large format single cmos sensor, 35mm movie lenses. It's a pig to learn how to drive it, but well worth it. You can look forward to a fair bit more of stuff from this camera. It aslo gets used at Wimbledon, horse-racing, adverts etc., but at £1.5k/day to hire, it ain't cheap.

More likely the US made Photron (http://www.photron.com) based on similar specs but cheaper I think, which BBC NHU bought a few of for this series. Lots of variations on the system but it too is a pig to use.

One great advantage though for capturing the action is the buffer, but you can only keep a very short section (this gets beter as the systems are being upgraded with more RAM) and have to select in the setup options whether to 'keep' beginning, middle or end of what's in memory (usually middle is best) then a very anxious wait for 10 minutes to download the take to laptop if you decide it's worth keeping, and potentially miss a better shot during that down time !

The sensor is bigger than needed for 720 HD and it is square so there's scope to re-frame the shot in post, particularly in the vertical direction.

The emperor penguins in Antarctica were shot on 35mm film. The cameraman was cut off from the rest of the world for 9 months and film cameras are probably less likely to fail.

SimonMW
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Interesting about the 35mm film for the penguins. The BBC have been hailing the series as the first of its type, on the BBC, to be shot entirely on high def. Oh well. Thats that illusion shattered!

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Hold on there, 35mm counts as HD, it's super16 that doesn't. That's been a constant factor since the start.

I didn't know NHU had bought a Photron.

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rbarry
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asdv wrote:
More likely the US made Photron (http://www.photron.com) based on similar specs but cheaper I think, which BBC NHU bought a few of for this series. Lots of variations on the system but it too is a pig to use.

One great advantage though for capturing the action is the buffer, but you can only keep a very short section (this gets beter as the systems are being upgraded with more RAM) and have to select in the setup options whether to 'keep' beginning, middle or end of what's in memory (usually middle is best) then a very anxious wait for 10 minutes to download the take to laptop if you decide it's worth keeping, and potentially miss a better shot during that down time !

The sensor is bigger than needed for 720 HD and it is square so there's scope to re-frame the shot in post, particularly in the vertical direction.

The emperor penguins in Antarctica were shot on 35mm film. The cameraman was cut off from the rest of the world for 9 months and film cameras are probably less likely to fail.

On the BBC website for the Planet Earth series there is an interactive world map called Planet Earth Explorer, http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/planetearth/flashapp/.
This shows various hotspots you can click on, that in turn offer clips shot from that region of the world.
The footage of the great white was shot using the aforementioned Photron, while other footage, such as "crocodile strike" was shot using a Tornado camera.

Rick.

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I knew about the croc strike shot, I trained the cameraman/producer for it, at Arri :)

But I'm pleased to see that NHU is taking HD very seriously now. Planet Earth was the first big series for which camera hardware was bought. Prior to that, cameramen/producers would either use their own kit (super16 usually) or hire in as needed. But for Planet Earth, the project was big enough and long enough to make it worth while buying centrally, a mix of Sony HDW750 and Panasonic HDC27F (Varicam) plus a range of specialised other bits and pieces (like small box cams, kit for polecam use and so on). BBC Bristol is now very well kitted out for HD, and very well supplied with expert users.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Ray Maher
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rbarry wrote:
On the BBC website for the Planet Earth series there is an interactive world map called Planet Earth Explorer, http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/planetearth/flashapp/.
This shows various hotspots you can click on, that in turn offer clips shot from that region of the world.
The footage of the great white was shot using the aforementioned Photron, while other footage, such as "crocodile strike" was shot using a Tornado camera.

Rick.

What a great site. Particularly liked the flocking starlings.

Ray Maher

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Don't forget that "Mayo", starting Sunday, is also HD. Who'll be the first to guess what camera was used? (and explain why).

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Ray Maher
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When the BBC goes HD proper will it be on both freeview and Sky.

Ray Maher

asdv
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Hold on there, 35mm counts as HD, it's super16 that doesn't. That's been a constant factor since the start.

Super16 Vision2 stock still has to be used for HD sometimes - particularaly for slo-mo when a Photron isn't practical (which is the vast majority of situations in wildlife filming) and a Varicam's frame rate isn't enough. The Arri HiSpeed SR16 is still holding the 100-150 full frames/sec arena sometimes.

Alan Roberts wrote:
I didn't know NHU had bought a Photron.

Several. They are like manner from heaven to Producers struggling to show a new perspective on an animal world that has been filmed to death before.

SimonMW
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Just read the latest Broadcast. Apparently there is all sorts of footage in the programme (Planet Earth) including upressed Digbeta, and even HDV.

asdv
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Yes, the US co-producers only insist on a specific (majority, but I can't remember the exact figure) percentage of the delivered shows be shot on 'proper' HD cameras.

Lots of TV shows are being delivered (not particularly BBC ones) as SD and HD masters that are shot entirely on DigiBeta (or less).

I remember paying to see an Imax movie in London that was entirely shot super35 ! The edge 'sharpening' made it look like cheap DV.

StevenBagley
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Another excellent episode,

found this information on the making that people might find interesting:

http://www.bbcresources.com/postproduction/london/planetearth.html

Steven

harlequin
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Don't forget that "Mayo", starting Sunday, is also HD. Who'll be the first to guess what camera was used? (and explain why).

As with 'last of the Summer Wine' , we in Scotland can't make comment ...... we aren't getting to see it.

Seems like most HD sourced programs won't be showing for a while up here.

Gary MacKenzie

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StevenBagley
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Don't forget that "Mayo", starting Sunday, is also HD. Who'll be the first to guess what camera was used? (and explain why).

Varicam, (as for why I think it is that it is because it doesn't look like usual 1080p stuff and you were asking which suggests it isn't the usual Sony 750P :) -- also it has a look very similar to the US Arrested DEvelopment -- i.e slightly soft but I think that's done to the way it was filmed not

As for why? They wanted to edit cheaply in Final Cut Pro or the more usual they wanted to do some overcrank/undercrank stuff

I don't like the grade...

And is Lucy Evans going to be in all Sunday early evening dramas now?? :) (she was also in Rocketman playing the lead's daughter...)

Steven

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Dunno about the grade, but that comedian bloke McGowan or whatever his name is can't act!

Alan Roberts
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No, not Varicam, and the reason's not right either. Keep guessing :)

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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StevenBagley
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SimonMW wrote:
Dunno about the grade, but that comedian bloke McGowan or whatever his name is can't act!

True but it doesn't stop the series looking like it could be fun...

Steven

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Alan Roberts wrote:
No, not Varicam, and the reason's not right either. Keep guessing :)

HDX400? Although there is a reference online to it being 720p, and the HDX is 1080i/psf.

Steven

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Correct. HDX400. And it really is a 1080 camera, doing both 1080i/25 and psf.

Now, can you explain the hints of 720?

By the way, was that just a guess, or did you have a reason for it?

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Richard Payne
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I thought Mayo was more like Salad Cream. I'm suprised it was shot on HD, they should have spent the money on the script and some proper actors.

StevenBagley
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Correct. HDX400. And it really is a 1080 camera, doing both 1080i/25 and psf.

Using 1280x720 chips in the same way as the HVX200 I believe.

Quote:
Now, can you explain the hints of 720?

The only thing I can think of is the 720 line CCDs... Unless for some bizarre reason, it was finished in 720p? (Or inserts were shot in 720p, using another camera?)

Quote:
By the way, was that just a guess, or did you have a reason for it?

Guess mainly -- although I knew BBC Birmingham had been looking at the camera.

I've still no idea to the reason -- other than perhaps the BBC looking at cheaper methods of making drama whilst maintaining the quality.

Steven

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Correct on the ccds, and it really doesn't show on the downconvert. It's just detectable on the 1080 pictures but only if you feed it the right test card (zone plate).

The real reason why this production's different is in the camera setup, they'd used an untested set of numbers without my knowledge. I got called in late to fix it; several episodes to go before you see any change (although I don't expect to be able to see much difference even though I know what to look for, and I'm not yet going to tell what the difference is :))

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

SimonMW
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There seems to be a trend for the BBC to be using Panasonic cameras these days. The HVX200's at the Winter olympics, the HDX400 on Mayo, and I have heard that one or two of their factual programmes have been shot with SDX900's.

Alan Roberts
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It's a standard procedure, not to reply on one manufacturer. And the HDX400 is quite a lot cheaper than a 750 (and uses less power, is smaller, uses cheaper tapes, HD signal travels on firewire, and so on). HVX also does 720 as well as 1080 and isn't MPEG compressed.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
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StevenBagley
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Alan Roberts wrote:
It's a standard procedure, not to reply on one manufacturer. And the HDX400 is quite a lot cheaper than a 750 (and uses less power, is smaller, uses cheaper tapes, HD signal travels on firewire, and so on). HVX also does 720 as well as 1080 and isn't MPEG compressed.

How does the picture (in HD) compare between the HDX400 and the 750?

Steven

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Surprisingly good. The HDX is a little more soft vertically when in psf mode, but in interlaced there's no measurable difference. Horizontally, I can't see any difference (I use zone plates and other test cards). The compression artefacts are different, of course, but you'd expect that.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
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infocus
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SimonMW wrote:
There seems to be a trend for the BBC to be using Panasonic cameras these days. The HVX200's at the Winter olympics, .............

What makes you think they were HVX200s? AFAIK those aren't yet available in the 50Hz version. I believe they were trialling P2, but understood it was with 2/3" SD cameras?

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That makes sense. Panasonic haven't shown me a 50Hz one yet, promised mid-March.

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SimonMW
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Might be. Although the press release I saw somewhere specifically stated that they were trying out HVX's. I've been trying to find it again, but as per always in these situations it is nowehere to be found now!

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Don't forget that "Mayo", starting Sunday, is also HD. Who'll be the first to guess what camera was used? (and explain why).

Saw it for the first time this week, and if it hadn't been for the preceding posts would have been convinced it was film - slightly soft and I could have sworn there was grain on some shots. ;) Quality wise it didn't jump out at me as especially good or bad - I've seen worse (much worse) but also seen better. I didn't think the colorimetry was as good as some drama I've seen, flesh tones looked a bit jaundiced - the sort of thing I'd expect from mixed colour temperature lighting, and especially fluorescents creeping in where they shouldn't. But maybe that was deliberate - to give a gritty, real look?

Compared to some drama, faces also seemed to lack fine detail, but these observations are via Freeview. Maybe I'd be more impressed to see it true HD on a proper monitor. I wouldn't have thought much about it if the subject wasn't raised last week.

Technical details aside, I doubt I'll watch again unless Alan tells us there is anything worthwhile coming up technically. :)

branny
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I too managed to catch this for the first time. The arial shots really are breathtaking, especially the midgey clouds and snow geese. I would have been tempted to wear armour plated underpants when filming the pirhannas though.

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

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I'm not making any more comments on Mayo. It is what it is, I wasn't in on the setup, only on a fix later in the series.

Planet Earth continues to astound me though. Last night's was a blinder. I feel a pretty intense glow of pride to have been in early on the project, before the decision to go HD had been made. We did lots of tests on Blue Planet material and lots of demos in Bristol and elsewhere, to establish just where HD stands relative to the normal NHU techniques. That it went HD is a source of continuing delight to me, particularly since I subsequently spent many happy days down there, talking to and training their photographers, many freelance. I'll cherish those sesions for a long time.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
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Branny - I think you made the same mistake as me in reading infocus's comments - they relate to Mayo - not the thread title. I was wondering - faces - what faces - Otters faces?

I was really worried for the Piranha diver/cameraman. His hands were stupidly unprotected by chainmail. He's an expert - but he was doing this for the first time. He even flicked Piranha away with his hand. If just one Piranha had nipped him, the spot of blood would be a trigger to the already frenzied mass 1 metre from him. The boat was about 30-40 feet away. His face / hands had no-chance.
I don't want people risking their lives for 'good telly' - I think he crossed the line from experienced judgement in a dangerous situation to un-necessary risk - probably in desparation after 10+days of no results.

Favourite bit was the family of Otters chasing a monster croc off the river bank.
Obviously they'd put their towels down first.

infocus
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Dave R Smith wrote:
Branny - I think you made the same mistake as me in reading infocus's comments - they relate to Mayo - not the thread title.

Whoops - sorry, yes, actually relating to the quote I copied from Alan, but I'd forgotten the thread had veered away from the original topic and I should have been clearer. For the record I also find Planet Earth pretty amazing. Mayo's not bad, but I wouldn't have said "wow, HD makes a difference even when you watch SD" about it in the same way I might about other things.

asdv
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HD didn't benefit Planet Earth. Quite the reverse. It would have looked better on film. But that was a cross it had no choice but to bear.

Alan Roberts
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Ahem, I think you might want to re-consider that opinion. HD made it possible to get shots in places that film couldn't manage, and returned pictures every bit as good as film but without the grain. The producers and crew are very satisfied with what they've got.

Why do you say it would have been better on film?

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cstv
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i got to see some of the planet earth footage in HD last week at a panasonic dealer training day/HVX200 launch. It was on a 65" plasma from about 4 metres away and quite fankly, looked stunning! I've only caught glimpses of the broadcast stuff because it clashes with other things in my life - i'm quite kean on waiting a few years to see it in HD anyway! :D

btw, HVX200 gets my vote as the low-cost HD camcorder. it's an absolute brick, has a DV mech that i'd never use and uses solid state technology when hard drive would do (for a few years until solid state is cheaper) but at least it's not HDV!

mark.

simond83
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Alan, with regards to plant earth. When you say HD, do you mean 35mm film thats been telecined to 2k or 4k HD, or actually using HD cameras or both?!?

Simon

asdv
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I maybe didn't make it clear what I meant Alan. I'm really talking about the difference between film and video for wildlife production when it's only going to be seen in standard def. For us SD viewers HD seems irrelevant. Of course producers and crew love the thought of high res/def more than anyone but their opinions hardly matter to a UK audience. I was amazed how good the video content of Planet Earth was - thanks to experts like you providing the effort and skills to get the best from the kit but still the highlight detail gets lost when cameramen go for their beloved backlit clouds and dazzling lakes, so the super16 film shot sequences looked a little better on my 22" Trinitron.

For SD viewers the advantage of Varicam or Sony HDCAM footage over DigiBeta is not reflected by the huge cost difference. Surely the real advantage of those cameras only becomes worthwhile if you are a HD viewer and most of us aren't. I'm just saying that in one sense the HD expenditure on the series was wasted. Money that could have gone into finding more and new things to film instead of the same old things, albeit from a different camera angle or in overslowmotion (I made a cup of tea waiting for the shark to hit the water again, but it did let me notice the blown out highlights more easily - the Photron certainly can't cope with bright light).

A HighSpeed SR is still often better than video cameras, for much wildlife production for SD viewing (and arguably for HD too, if the story/content is more important than anything). Video still the only way to get some shots of course - 3x runtime underwater is just one, and we've been using low res mono CCTV cameras for years for night shoots to reveal new behaviour. But camcorders are slow to start, disturb sensitive creatures when they lace up, use far more power (extra weight reduces mobility - wildlife filming is often done alone and on foot), poor viewfinders, unforgiving of exposure errors, serious limit on overcranking (Varicam 60fps is not as useful as 150fps Arri), they are many times the price of film cameras - wildlife camerapeople relied on the hire out of their own kit with themselves to supplement low daily rates but can not now afford the gear and are facing further drops in earnings, the list goes on....

HD has been resisted by BBC wildlife producers for many years now. When the only real option was 35mm - the 2x cut in focal length was one of several factors ruling out HD demands from US co-producers. It was only when the Varicam appeared that we had to give in. I'll be delighted never to have a load a film mag again but Varicams have not overall made the job any easier. A current major UK wildlife series in production for 2007 will be using mostly super16 for the wildlife. Most camerafolk own a film camera and won't be encumbered by the vagaries of trying to guess the weather and hire HD gear to coincide with it.

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Sometimes blown out highlights are intentional. One problem with keeping a huge dynamic range in the 16-235 limitation is that pictures look very flat. In fact in wide lattitude film the picture looks very black and milky until it is graded. In fact many of the newer film stocks are coming under heavy criticism from DP's because of the washed out blacks Not everyone wants to do a DI process. Even then, when the picture is graded quite often the blacks are crushed, or the whites blown out on purpose. It is just that the wide initial range gives them a choice of what to do. Even if it is a subtle adjustment it is doubtful you'd retain the whole contrast range properly unless there was a lot of headroom at the top and bottom of the scale (doubtful).

I like backlit clouds when it is done right. You'd be hard pressed to see the highlight detail in those circumstances even with your naked eye, let alone with a camera. One of the funniest things I find is when people think they can spot video because of the blown out highlights. Many 35mm DP's purposefully blow out highlights as a part of their artistic descision.

A technically correct picture is rarely the most aesthetically pleasing.

infocus
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asdv wrote:
For SD viewers the advantage of Varicam or Sony HDCAM footage over DigiBeta is not reflected by the huge cost difference.

Is the cost difference 'huge' nowadays though? Certainly in relation to all the fixed costs?

asdv wrote:
Surely the real advantage of those cameras only becomes worthwhile if you are a HD viewer and most of us aren't. I'm just saying that in one sense the HD expenditure on the series was wasted.

We may not be HD viewers at the moment, but I suspect the programme will be shown around the world, and have a very long life. Making it HD was probably essential in maximising overseas revenue, and with blue laser discs starting to become a reality HD will also aid future sales. (I expect to see it on sale for well over a decade.) The rushes may also have value in the future for other productions, and HD can only help here.

Regarding slo-mo, video does have the advantage of being able to be written into a cache and only stored when something has happened. Whwn you don't know where or when an event may happen, surely that's a big advantage over film, especially at very high frame rates?

Alan Roberts
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ASDV, there are some major misunderstandings in your latest posting.

Planet Earth is 70% funded by coproducers in the US and Japan, who have paid to have a series made in HD. Without their money, the series would not have been made, it was too expensive. In this cintext, HD means material shot with an HD camera (HDCAM and DVCProHD) or 35mm neg tk at 2k. Super16counts as unpconversion. There was a limit of 25% placed on each episode, 25% of the source material could have come from non-HD sources but not in complete sequencers, only in individual shots.This limitation forced HD production at all stages, only shots that could not be reached in HD could be shot otherwise, and used as inserts rather than full sequences. The HD production, as a whole, is now in the BBC archive and we'll see it in HD when the BBC starts HD broadcasting.

On my 28" Panasonic 16:9 SD tv set, I can easily identify the non-HD material, it stands out like a sore thumb. And I suspect I'm not alone in that, although I know I'm in a tiny minority of those who are able to identify sources like that, after all it was my job.

The cost difference between HD and Digibeta shooting is almost zero now, HD cameras can be hired at Digibeta prices. the cost differences between HD and SD are in the price of the lenses, and the rendering time in post. All other costs are very, very similar, HD is cheaper than super16 now.

Film still wins in high-speed, although I know of more higher-than 60Hz cameras in the pipeline. The specialist cameras available right now have limitations, some of those are to do with the way they shoot, rather than with the technology itself (e.g. shooting 10-bit log forces a hard-clip at white that comes on suddenly, while encouraging overexposure because of the relatively poor monitoring).

But there was one shot in Blue Planet that had me convinced; an albatross running down a beach, close-up, overcranked, the eye spot-centre frame throughout. It was (still is) breathstopping. It was old stock film, and the stock had deteriorated so much that only a Digibeta copy was usable. So, there's this 4:3 SD stock shot, with grain like golf balls. Blue Planet cropped it to 16:9 and used it. Look at it critically and it's awful, but the content guarantees that it gets used. When they rescanned the film shots and upconverted the SD to make Deep Blue, it looked even worse, but it still has to go it, because there's no other shot like it. Now, cut to some other NHU programme being made in 2016, when all the major broadcasters are HD, and the film stock has deteriorated even more. Which shots will get used, the grainy old film, or the sharp, clean HD?

But, when push comes to shove, if the money that pays for the programme insists on it being HD, what are you going to do? Go away and sulk, or join in and make the best of it that you can? That was the decision I had to face, NHU were backed into a corner so we worked our backsides off to get a system that would work. For, me the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, HD-sourced pitures look far better than even modern-stock film, the freedom from grain, weave, dirt, hairs in the gate, all that sort of stuff, are well worth the trouble. This is the future, embrace it or look for another revenue stream :)

I don't mean any of that to sound rude, although I can see it possible to read it so. That's not my intent. It's only my view, and an attempt to put things into context. The world is changing, I want to be involved in it still i n a few years time. If I stick with film and ignore HD, I'll be out of a job in 5 years.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

cstv
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IIRC Planet Earth is also set for a cinema release... so that would bring in yet more revenue.

asdv, i take it you haven't seen the panasonic testimonial video from the guys who worked with varicam on the planet earth shoot...? Obviously it's slightly biased because it's panasonic sales material but these people clearly love the varicam. You mentioned viewfinders and interestingly that's one of the things that a camera op mentions on this video as being great about the varicam compared to other HD cameras. The general thrust of the testimonial was of varicam over digibeta though, not over film. For the moment at least these guys are happy to use film or HD video depending on what's apropriate at the time - HD is becoming more apropriate.

Alan's point about archiving is an important one, especially for a wildlife production because it's the sort of footage that can (and will) be used again and again. If it had been shot digibeta the footage would be usefull only as a last resort maybe just a few years down the line...

mark.

asdv
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Wildlife DPs seldom intentionally blow highlights especially when they are one of several on a series. You don't impose your artistic delights on the rest of the team.

My main point is still not understood and I'm at a loss to think of another way to explain. And it's not that relevant a point anyway ! I'm just suggesting a different viewpoint, as a producer and viewer. As a 4:3 telly watcher I don't feel I'll ever get the full benefit of this series - if I ever see it in HD in five years time it will look a bit tired compared to newer HD material (the Varicam will probably be history) and I probably may not bother because it's a repeat. What irks me is knowing that these wildlife programmes have enough overheads soaking up the budget and ever increasing other difficulties as it is, without being forced to produce in a 'bigger' format, which is currently going to be of most benfit to only a wealthy minority. I am a cameraman too and I love the idea of HD images but I also hate the way latest technology is assumed to be a good thing all the time. It just isn''t. (More often than not it just serves to widen the gap between rich and poor - I've seen it all over the world at first hand and will never be able to forget it.) If our wealthy US co-producers had said 'let's carry on in SD' we would all have had a better series I believe. Possibly even better if we could have shot on miniDV. That's all I'm saying and I'm only bothering saying it as because it might add something to the thinking on this forum.

I am in post on my own wildlife film shot entirely on SD tape only because the projected revenue precludes the use of anything else, even though for practical reasons super16 film, very closely followed by a Varicam (in this instance) would have got better results. Thus it is the market that determines the choice of format not the producer, we all know that and Planet Earth, like all productions, suffered to some extent from this same factor.

The costs of frame conversions mean that the costs of originating on film & HD tape (Varicam) have during the last few years (when what we've seen so far of Planet Earth was shot) been turning out to be quite similar. HD post is still higher than SD and has significant impact on the majority of UK wildlife (I don't know about the rest) output that has to be achieved on a tiny fraction of Planet Earth's budget.

Take that Panasonic video with a pinch of salt, please !

I'm glad I sold my Arri when I did and I can't wait to see HD, but as a cameraman and now a producer I wish the constantly upgrading formats were a help rather than a hindrance.

I'm pretty hurt to be described as a sulker but I won't take it personally. It'll help to get me off this forum and get on with some work ! Good discussion though, thanks to all.

Ray Maher
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asdv wrote:
I am a cameraman too and I love the idea of HD images but I also hate the way latest technology is assumed to be a good thing all the time. It just isn''t. (More often than not it just serves to widen the gap between rich and poor -

I don't see it that way at all.

I don't subscribe to Sky sports or movies not because I can't afford to but I have no interest or time to watch them.

I will however be subscribing to some of the HD channels because I have allways tried to get better quality pictures.

I got my first svhs camera in 1988 and was forever showing people the difference in quality.

I don't see only the rich affording HD if that's what you mean.

You just have to see the people standing in front of the HD demos and commenting on the
quality of the pictures to see that there is at last a recognition of the difference of HD against analogue.

Ray Maher

asdv
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cstv wrote:
IIRC Planet Earth is also set for a cinema release... so that would bring in yet more revenue.

asdv, i take it you haven't seen the panasonic testimonial video from the guys who worked with varicam on the planet earth shoot...? Obviously it's slightly biased because it's panasonic sales material but these people clearly love the varicam. You mentioned viewfinders and interestingly that's one of the things that a camera op mentions on this video as being great about the varicam compared to other HD cameras. The general thrust of the testimonial was of varicam over digibeta though, not over film. For the moment at least these guys are happy to use film or HD video depending on what's apropriate at the time - HD is becoming more apropriate.

Alan's point about archiving is an important one, especially for a wildlife production because it's the sort of footage that can (and will) be used again and again. If it had been shot digibeta the footage would be usefull only as a last resort maybe just a few years down the line...

mark.

I'm also one of the ops but wasn't in the video thankfully. I'd better have look. Varicam is of course much better camera to use than DigiBeta but is not more useful than film, or any other camera, 75% of all of the time, which is what it decreed to be just for Planet Earth.

Probably the most useful archive material for the BBC will be the emperor penguins overwintering and breeding in Antarctica. It is incredibly hard logistically to get and has just been shot all over again for Planet Earth. I shot the same sequence in the same location in 1992 on 4:3 16mm film and the out-takes have been used ever since in programmes all over the BBC right up until a few months ago (The Natural World - Penguins of Antarctica). I briefed the cameraman for the re-shoot for Planet Earth and it was on (35mm) film not Varicam. 35mm makes his job harder than I had it on 16mm, but he got lots of other help with the filming which will hopefully have made up for it to some extent, but there are one or two stunning shots he sadly will never have been able to even attempt with 35mm which is a perfect example of what I mean (and it removes the red herring issue of HD).

Alan Roberts
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OK, I think the benefits start to get really visible when you're watching in 16:9 on a decent size telly. Then the benefits are clear. I'm with you on the continually changing technology, but Japan isn't going to roll over just for us. It's always been the same, broadcast technology has a short life because there's always something better round the corner. T'was ever this and will be, I'm afraid.

My only concern, in HD, has always been to get the best performance out of whatever kit it is. That's what I helped NHU to do. However, it was only on the kit they wanted help on. So I was never involved in any of the specialist stuff, like the polecams and so on. Some of the little stuff is a bit more flexible than you'd expect, so perhaps I could have sorted out some of the highlight problems, but, if they don't ask...........

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

simond83
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Joined: Sep 5 1999

So.....getting back to the original comment about how good Planet Earth is, which is the best way to watch it? Will i get a better signal off Freeview or of the Sky satellite system? When they turn off the analogue channels in a few years and boost the signals, which will be better or will it still be the same?

Simon

cstv
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Satellite is generally higher bitrate than freeview so it should give better quality pictures.

as far as i know there aren't any plans to increase freeview bitrates when analogue goes off so it'll just improve signal quality rather than image quality. I suppose theoretically the reduced error rate would allow for higher bitrates but i doubt it'll happen. Any extra bandwidth will hopefully be used for simulcasting HD anyway...

mark.