HD For Indies

This panel was on the pros and cons of using High Definition video for independent films. What follows is a summary of the points raised by the panel, and why I’m choosing DV – not HD – for my short.


  • P+S Technik has an adapter that allows 35mm film camera lenses to be attached to HD cameras.
  • Never saying cut helps your cast and crew keep up the energy and momentum you’ve built up.
  • Shooting cost is on par with Super 16 format.


  • Sucks for tight spaces, camera can be too big, especially with the adapter for 35mm lenses.
  • Not great for daytime exteriors.
  • Not great for slow motion. Basically true for all video, and it was funny to hear one director’s workaround: have everyone simply act in slow motion. For a short scene in a comedy, it apparently worked.
  • Avoid stripes and similar patterns (screen test your wardrobe).
  • Needs more planning and testing for set lighting in general.

General advice:

  • Needs a ton of planning in general. Have your DP and editor speak with the post house technicians and colorists in depth, before you start shooting.
  • If you do plan everything out in preproduction, you can get some very nice images for way less than 35mm.

From the panel discussion, and a subsequent Texas BBQ lunch with panelist Mike Curtis, I learned that DV is better suited for my Crack Team short idea. DV is superior for shooting daytime exteriors, which is probably most of the short. Another point hammered home was ?know your target?: theatrical, video, or web? For my short, it will probably exist solely on the web, another point for DV.
     For editing HD, the big players are Final Cut Pro and Avid?s higher end stuff. Final Cut Pro is out because it requires me to buy a Mac. For the editing bundles, that leaves two options. Avid Xpress Pro looks cool, and as an industry standard vendor, it would be nice to learn their interface. The ebay price is about $1,000. Mike Curtis thought the best deal around was an Adobe bundle that included Premier Pro, Encore for DVD authoring, and Audition for audio editing. Its ebay price is sub-$400, which is easier to swallow, especially if you have to buy a camera ($3,000-3,500, depending on accessories).

I?ll close with some web resources mentioned at the panel:

HD for Indies ? Mike Curtis?s HD weblog (not officially related to the panel)
The Orphanage ? Makers of Magic Bullet ?film-look? processing software
HD Expo ? Conference and workshops
withoutabox ? Great resource for festivals

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