Fort Vancouver Mobile - A video overview

Courtesy of: Research Assistant Aaron May of Washington State University Vancouver's Creative Media and Digital Culture program. Produced in 2011.

Video highlights from the apps (36-minute version)

This montage provides a sampling of some of the video media in the Fort Vancouver Mobile apps. This app is much more than just a video distribution system, but these videos show the variety of content, from expositional segments to new journalism to those intended to prompt the development of interactive narratives.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Choosing the right camera for this kind of mobile work

Now that we have the experience of producing several videos (and still images) for the Fort Vancouver Mobile project, and another Historical Promotion Grant from the Clark County Commissioners, the time is right to buy a camera and accessories for our future research. We have used borrowed equipment to date, and we think that dedicated equipment is better long-term for the videographers involved and for the sustainability of the project. A video camera is next on our list.   
Tom Turner, of T.Videography, generously consulted on the audio equipment purchases we made last year, and a key consideration in this next purchase is that the new camera works well with all of the various microphones, recording accessories and the mixer that we already have.

Videographers Troy Wayrynen and Forrest Burger have volunteered to research the various cameras within our budget ($5,000, plus $2,000 for accessories) and have narrowed the field to these contenders:

* Canon XF100

Comments from Forrest:
"This camera is interesting, for sure.  Probably the nicest thing about it is the codec it records in...50mb sec, 4.2.2. color space.  My EX1 records in 4.2.0 and do the DSLR's.  That means not quite as much color rendition. That mainly comes into play during green screen work.  So, even though the XF100 only has one chip, the colors should be pretty good."

Lumix GH2

From Forrest:
"I know Troy was pretty high on the (Panasonic) AF100 early on and so was I.  I continue to be since my GH2 has a very similar chip in it.  I think that could be a nice fit for the types of things we're talking about doing.  XLR inputs, focus assist, ND filters, the ability to put really long telephoto lenses on it...all the things you want out of an affordable cinema style camcorder.  But, not necessarily a run and gun type camera that the (Canon) XF100 would be. The XF100 would be more user friendly to a wider user base. ... the (Panasonic) AF100 would produce superior results.  The (Lumix) GH2 produces as nice a picture as the AF100, but with certain workarounds. ...  I continue to be blown away by this little camera, even with its shortcomings (no XLR inputs)."
And ...
"As much as I like the ergonomics of the (Canon) 60D, I have stopped using it for critical shooting and am now working exclusively with the GH2 for paid gigs. The (Canon) 5DMKII and 7D will also experience the same moire issues as the 60D. I use my Sony EX1 when I need a "real" video camera. The 5DMII will most likely be the king in low light due to its full frame sensor, but it can be a bear to focus.  I did an interview yesterday with the (Lumix) GH2, and although my depth of field was wider than it would have been with the 5DMII, the interviewee stayed in focus. That's a big deal when you're working on limited budgets with bare bones crews. The XF100 may fit the bill for our camera, but the low light part is something I believe we need to look very closely at. Also, does it have a "video" look to it or a more "film" look?  The DSLRs definitely have a "film" look about them that I, and many others, love."

Nikon D7000 DSLR

From Forrest:
"Things to consider with Canon and (potentially) Nikon...moire, it can really bite you.  You don't see it when you're shooting but, alas, it can pop up in the editing suite to your dismay and disappointment.  You have to be very careful with what people wear, shooting brick walls, wood siding concrete. Here is a quick test I did this morning with my 60D and GH2. ... In the case of re-purposing content for bigger screens this one issue alone can be very important.  The moire is even more dramatic when you watch the video full screen. ... "
60D vs GH2 moire test
"I'm fairly confident the XF100 will not experience quite as much moire as the Canon DSLR's, but keep in mind, all camcorders/DSLR's will experience some level of moire.  I don't have access to a D7000, but here are a couple of links from some tests I found in a quick search."
D7000 vs. Canon T2i Moire Test (T2i and 7D share same chip)  

As a final note, Forrest added: "For ALL of these cameras we will need lights. Lighting is king in video (and stills), and as much as the DLSRs require less light input, they still need some help to get great images. Without good lighting you risk getting muddy images that even intense color correction cannot fully rectify."
That is something to keep in mind for future grant proposals. Next step in the camera decision, test each contender, in the most difficult lighting conditions at Fort Vancouver: The Blacksmith's Shop. Will post an update in the coming weeks.

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