Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Quiet Revolution

I knew that things were changing when Canon, JVC and Panasonic announced their recent crop of HD cameras. And I've known for a while now that HDV and DVCProHD are the two predominent codecs that are here to stay. But I've also known that if you're doing serious, high quality, HD cinematography the only real choices are the Sony F900 and 950, the Viper, Panavision's Genesis and Arri's D20.

But what I didn't realize was how much these cameras, particularly the Canon XL-H1, was going to be a huge paradigm shift.

Mark Ross and I visited Birns & Sawyer today to review the Canon XL-H1 and also to get some pricing on a rigged out H1. And boy were we in for a surprise.

First, if you're into HD and digital cinematography then you've no doubt heard of Scott Billups. Apparently he's been conducting a full on comparison test of the H1 versus the F900. And he's come to some very surprising results...the H1 is within 90-95% of the F900's quality. Let me state that again -- the Canon H1 will give you 95% of the same picture quality as the F900!

That's a big deal.

A fully rigged F900 with lenses and accessories will run you approximately $150,000. A fully rigged H1 will run you $18,000.

Additionally, Scott Billups also mentioned that the H1 actually keys green and bluescreen plates BETTER than the F900. Wow! That's quite a statement. And considering that the upcoming shoot for THE TWENTY-THIRD LETTER trailer will require some bluescreen work, that's exciting news for us.

Jim over at Birns said that his technical team is surprised that the H1 (stock) doesn't cost at least $13,000. In their estimation the HD-SDI and Genlock output is a $2000 feature. Not to mention the costs association with a full resolution 1080i CCD block.

So to make a long story short (ha!), I think Sony and Panasonic are probably going to be forced to take very drastic measures to protect their "pro" line of cameras and start seriously considering massive price reductions.

Not only are we this impressed with the H1 and wowed by the paradigm shift taking place right now, but we're seriously considering this rig as the A-camera for the SHADOW FALLS feature film. Now that's saying something!


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