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Digital Video Forum Discuss camcorders, HD video, HD DSLRs, video editing, DV software, and video techniques. Your DV forum moderator is Skyman.
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  1. #1
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    Re: MiniDV vs. DVD camcorder

    wow, this is alot to take in LOL.

    OK, I have a question. I've read that miniDV cams are better for editing on the computer right? I do alot of visual fx videos, but nothing really major at this point, but as time goes on, I'm increasing my skills and programs, the only trouble is, is the only camera I have is a digital camera, designed for stills, but can record video aswell. All of my FX I do rotoscoping on, meaning I edit each frame individually. I'm looking at getting a batter cam, and I've been looking at the Sony Handycam DCR-DVD403, cuz I've read some good reviews on it, and i like the features it has (remote, plug for external mic which is VERY important for me when looking for cams, ect) But after reading this, I'm not sure. Most of my vids would be going on youtube, so would the loss of quality be that big of a deal at this point? Digital zoom is not a factor in my camera, but a decent optical zoom would be good.

    A local rent to own place, has a Canon ZR80, I could try out, but I've read a review, and it doesn't sound like its video quality is as good as the Sony DCR-DVD403. Especially in low lighting.


    I guess, what I'm looking for, is a camera that I can shoot my FX vids with, AND for use in regular home movie situations. I work at the local theater, and it would be great to film the shows myself instead of having to get a copy form someone else, but its usually has very low lighting, so I wouldn't think the ZR80 would be very good there.


    Also, two more things(I know, alot of questions from the noobie) I've read that with Minidv cams, you have to load it on the computer in real time, instead of drag and drop. Do you NEED a firewire card and cable to work it atall, or do they come with a usb capabilities, untill I can get a firewire.

    and, does a miniDV record better quality video then analog? Cuz I can get a cable to transfer my analog tapes into the computer, if the video quality would be better.


    I don't know if this belongs here, but here are a couple of my youtube vids, so you can see what I'm talking about, and the quality of video I'm working with currently.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBVoc1n7Ozg
    (^ this is unedited footage, with no fx)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1-1hKvLSmY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FHshL7z-HQ

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UO4RcSfwjI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pL5hp-N5GA

    as you can see, ANY improvement in video quality would be a step up to what I'm working with now.

    Also, any brand and models anyone can recommend, would be great!!! Somewhere int he price ranger of the Cannon ZR80 and the Sony DCR-DVD403 Thanks!

  2. #2
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    Re: Camera for rotoscoping

    I moved this post from the mini dv vs dvd thread as it really deserves its own post.

    Firstly mini dv or any other tape based camera will be a lot better for rotoscoping work than there dvd/ hard drive / memory card counterparts as tape based cameras save each frame without compression and disk / memory based cameras compress several frames only saving a certain number of reference frames. This means that with non tape cameras you will get compression artefacts that can make your final result look and feel manipulated (the trick with good rotoscoping is to make it believable and even slight compression can subconsiously alert the viewer to this) Unfortunately this means you have to have a firewire port (you can buy them for less than $20 and they usually come with editing software which is a bonus if you don't have any) some mini dv cameras have a usb port and this is only for tranfering still images and updating the cameras firmware. You do have to transfer videos in real time however if you take the effort to log your video (writing down the time code on the tape for the clips you want, then you can batch capture with most editing applications) this means entering the start and finish times of the bits you want then when they are all entered capturing all the clips automatically (the computer will control the fast forwarding rewinding and recording automatically through the firewire - so you can walk away and come back when it is done!! analogue capture will be similar in quality to mini dv as there is no compression however your signal degrades every time it goes through an analogue cable so there will always be a loss of quality and mini dv natively has higher resolution and colour depth than the analogue signal.

    Most decent camcorders come with a microphone input. If you have the budget I suggest you look for 3 ccd models as they will give you much better control of colour and this will help your fx, especially when working with one or more takes and or cameras.

    with the theatre stuff, most reputable brand camcorders will give you enough low light capabilities to get good results with normal stage lighting. without going to semi pro and broadcast models there is not much room for improvement. (looking for a camera with a faster lens (lower f number) will help a little bit but the trade off is loss of depth of field so people at the front / back of the stage might come into and out of focus a bit, especially if the camera is zoomed in at all.

    finally, I know the conditions were terrible on that first video, but holding the camera steady is the best way to improve quality. fluid camera movements are always better. a tripod with a good fluid head will help that a lot, as will practice.

    your rotoscoping work looks quite impressive, although I haven't done any of that myself so I would be interested to hear more about your techniques and workflow.

    also we have our own video sharing site and the quality of it is much better than youtube, so if you have more videos to post maybe you can post them here!

    welcome to the forums
    Simon

  3. #3
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    Re: Camera for rotoscoping

    Yeah. The first one, that was the sleet one right. LOL, yeah, that's one of those, get the cam quick and go film this stuff before it stops moment HAHA. Most of my fx vids, I keep the cam stationary, but I'm still trying to remember that when filming the weather and such outside, that I can't move that camera as fast as I would move my head to look. LOL

    Thanks for the impute, it really helps alot! So a minidv would defiantly be what I want to look for. I don't know if renting that one would do me much good right now, till I get a firewire card right?

    The one at the rental place, worries me from the reviews I read of it. Do you have any expirance with the Canon ZR80? I was reading the features, and it didn't list a port for external mic. Do you know any other models that you might recommend, that are around that price ranger of the ZR80 or the DCR-DVD403?


    your rotoscoping work looks quite impressive, although I haven't done any of that myself so I would be interested to hear more about your techniques and workflow.

    also we have our own video sharing site and the quality of it is much better than youtube, so if you have more videos to post maybe you can post them here!

    welcome to the forums
    Thanks. The way I do it, and I know there are better ways, but after I film my video, I take all the clips, and I'll use WMM to break it down into just what I need to edit, then, becuz WMM saves it as a WMM file, I have to use a converter to change it to an avi, which I have it set to save as uncompressed, but I think there is still alitte lose of quality.

    Then I load it up into a program called LSmaker. Its a freeware program made by a guy to make lightsabers, but it also can take the video and export it as Jpgs, each frame, which allows me to edit. Then I'll just draw whatever effects the best I can in my photo editing program. I'm kinda sucky at keying things, so sometimes things will move that shouldn't, or not move exactly when and where they should.

    I know Adobe After effects can save a video as a filmstrip file, which can be worked in photoshop. Its probably alot better, but when I tried it, the file was too much for my computer to handle. I am looking to start working with after effects and particle illusion though, which could make most of the rotoscoping I do obsolete, cuz I really only do it cuz its the easiest and less memory intensive thing to do LOL. My computer can't really handle those high end programs tho, so I'm waiting till I get a better computer built to start with those.

    I do actually, have quite a few more videos then what I posted, and I'd love to show them off LOL. A couple of them, are pretty bad quality, cuz I recorded them at the 320x240 image size, instead of the 640x480 size be accident. That's as big as my digital cam can record. Its a Polaroid PDC 5080, if you familiar with that camera. Its "ok" for a still cam that has video capabilities, but I'm sure just about any dedicated video camera would be better.

  4. #4
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    Re: Camera for rotoscoping

    I uploaded most of my videos, but I'm not sure how it works, to get a link the the channel or whatever.

  5. #5
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    Re: Camera for rotoscoping

    It can take a little while for your video to go live, as the videos you upload are checked to make sure they are ok. you should get an email saying your video is live and a link to the video. when you follow the link the video should have the code for linking or embeding the video straight away.

    The ZR80 is actually not that bad a camera - one of the guys I used to work with at the camera shop had one and he regularly used it to film concerts and the like in poorly lit conditions. It doesn't have a microphone input but I think its big brother the z85 does. Both of these are older models so you can probably get them on ebay very cheap. I am a big fan of panasonic cameras as they have a high quality leica lens and are usually 3ccd which will give much greater control of colour. I would probably hold off getting a camera until you have the firewire port to transfer your footage, although in the interim you can use the cameras analogue output if you want.

  6. #6
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    Re: Camera for rotoscoping

    Hmmm, I might check that one out. The next show is in Feb, and I would like to rent it anyway, cuz, you probably know as well as I do (or maybe not if you own your own cam lol) trying to get a copy from someone, isn't always the easiest task. For filming that, I can just as easily use my VCR to make a copy onto a VHS. For home movie purposes. I'll probably look into getting a firewire card aswell in the meantime. I've been wanting to start rebuilding my computer, upgrading and everything. If I can't between than, I'll probably get that $10 RCA to USB adapter, for running analog into the computer, and test it out for an fx video. LOL, in the intrum, I doubt the loss would be THAT significant compared to my, current cam LOL.


    Here are my vid links.

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid6555234001

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid5831519001

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid6555233001

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid5831518001

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid6554622001

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid6555232001

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid6554715001

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid6555231001

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid5831517001


    This next one if my very first visual fx video
    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid6554621001

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid6095228001

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid6095227001

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/...ctid5831516001

    LOL, there is quite a few of them haha.

    I really appreciate all your help man. Its helped me out alot! I also appreciate that you don't make us camera dummies feel like idiots like I've seen on other places.:thumbsup:

  7. #7
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    Re: Camera for rotoscoping

    no problem. I think your videos are great. all you have to do now is start stringing the effects together with stories. you should find that an analogue capture of a prober video camera will feel better than your current camera as it will record at a much higher frame rate and not suffer from the compression your current camera does. having said that what you are producing is very good considering the equipment you use.

  8. #8
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    Re: Camera for rotoscoping

    well, thank you very much! I really appreciate that! Yeah, I've been wanting to do some actual story based films, rather then just effect test films. Actually got a couple planed, but I've wanted to wait till I had a better cam.


    Do you know how much Windows Movie Maker compresses the frames? I wish it could save in other formats. I now its not really the best video editing program, but I've been able to find some really great "plug-ins" that can do some cool things!

  9. #9
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    Re: Camera for rotoscoping

    If you save everything as dv avi files there is no compression in windows movie maker. Having said that, I know some very good video producers who use wmv files to edit. They tell me the reason for this is that the avi files have too much headroom. You can also save files as uncompressed wmv, but I tend to do this in the export phase.

  10. #10
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    Re: Camera for rotoscoping

    oh wow, I see what you mean about the DVavi. If I save a 7 minute clip from my camera, its well over 1500 mb.

    I actually didn't know about this setting, or rather never noticed it. Which of these would be the uncompressed WMV?




    I might start using this from now on. I normally only have a 5 sec clip to rotoscope tops, so it shouldn't be quite as big as saved as DV avi, and I shouldn't have to run it through a converter to use it in LSmaker.

  11. #11
    Moderator Skyman's Avatar
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    Re: Camera for rotoscoping

    trial and error will let you know which format works best for you, but I would be looking to use the bottom 4 settings and possibly high quality video (large).

  12. #12
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    Re: Camera for rotoscoping

    oh, ok thanks!

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