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  • The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    by Stu Maschwitz
Wednesday
Sep172008

So Close Canon


The 5D MkII has been officially announced, and the features match most of what was rumored, including a 1080p movie mode.

At 30 frames per second.

Remember how I said how stunning it was that Nikon chose 24 fps for the D90’s D-Movies? How it could have so easily been anything else? How if Canon came out with a movie-shooting DSLR that shot 30p I’d be less than thrilled?

Well it’s worse than that. Because a 5D that shot 24p at full HD resolution would have been a very important camera. For Canon to have come so close and botched that one detail is almost unbearable.

Maybe we can get Canon to offer a 24 fps mode in a future firmware update. Someone point me at Canon’s headquarters. I need to stand on their lawn with a boombox over my head.

UPDATE: Featured Comment from Joe:

I sometimes think that Canon has a pathological fear of true 24P. They have avoided serious contention to be the Indy filmmaker’s video camera year after year because of this.

30P is not only useless in relation to 24P (and film) -
it is actually dangerous.

Reader Comments (65)

I'd have to agree with you on that. I'm waiting to read some kind of technical/practical justification as to why they chose 30p, but I can't help but feel disappointed as a video-shooting Canon DSLR user who has been anticipating a solid answer to the D90.

They say it's geared toward photojournalists and wedding videographers. Those of you out there who are, what do you think of their choice to go 30p?

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Very true, Stu, very true. So close. I'm still hoping for a European version with 1080 25p - but of course I strongly doubt they would be that clever. Then again, I don't know if European HD TV Sets work with 1080 30p and that might be a problem for Canon. I guess that only the final reviews will be able to tell.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDanyX

I hear you brother...

I started reading down the stats page and saw 1080p and smiled and then saw 30fps and it all but disappeared.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

My thoughts exactly as I was reading through the specs this morning. 30p stuck out like a sore, swollen thumb. As soon as I read that I thought "I bet Stu M. has something to say about this...". Sure enough...

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterIan Hay

Too bad its 30p. ;(
But I'm still curios how the HD video is generated. Does the camera uses the full sensor or just the inner 1920x1080 pixels? If it uses just the inner pixels it must be hard to get a wide angle shot. And what would happen to the dof? Would be great if you have some answers!

PS: this is a great blog! just found it after reading your book, which I also liked a lot and gave me great ideas! Thanks!

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnton

Here is a short film shot with the Nikon D90 :
http://philipbloom.co.uk/2008/09/15/nikon-d90/#more-1377

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVictor

What's the exact downside of 30p? Isn't it somehow possible to convert it to 24p?

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteremotional-stuntman

What's gutting to me is the data-rate of the video. Presuming they are using interframe compression, if they would just bump it up 25% to 50Mbps (which a CF card should be able to handle) then a few more HD channels should consider it an acceptable HD acquisition device.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSaul

It seems like there is no manual exposure or shutter speed control.

I just love that it records in Quicktime instead of AVI. It also has an external mic option which I seriously doubt I would use but options are better than no options.

I am just loving this DSLR video revolution happening. Long time coming.

Are you still getting the Panasonic LX3? Are you getting the Nikon D90 or waiting for the Canon 5DMK2?

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAjit Anthony Prem

They surely don't want to compete against their 1080p professional videocameras... :S

But hopefully there'll be a hacked firmware sooner or later that will do the trick :D

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterthe_amo

I sometimes think that Canon has a pathological fear of true 24P. They have avoided serious contention to be _the_ Indy filmmaker's video camera year after year because of this.

30P is not only useless in relation to 24P (and film) -
it is actually dangerous.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

I feel soo clairvoyant now...

http://twitter.com/MasterZap/statuses/924289168

/Z

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMaster Zap

Not that I have a lot of experience shooting 24fps but seems the conventional wisdom is that the industry is just caught up in the "film look" of 24p. It suffers with any panning or movement. Much better to shoot 30fps and convert in your edit app.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe MacDaddy

I have no Probs with 30 fps. If you can also use 24. 30 would be great for some not-so-slow-motion :-)

But I think I'll stay at my Scarlet-choice.

george

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.Schnyder

Joe, you hit the nail on the head.

The Macdaddy, your inexperience shows. Converting 30p to 24p is a mess.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Technically, it should be Canon standing on your front lawn with the boombox, because they should be trying to get you back. And the boombox should be playing a parody of "In Your Eyes" with lyrics about updating it to 24p. It's 6 frames less for cryin' out loud! How hard can it be, Canon?!?!?

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDJ Smack Mackey

We need to start a grassroots movement to get Canon to wake up and realize how big of a blunder this is. Everyone (and I mean everyone) should write Canon insisting that they address this in a firmware upgrade (if that's even possible). On the other hand, this leaves the door wide open for Nikon and others. Is it possible we'll see a D800 soon with 1080/24p and external audio inputs?

Based on some D90 footage I've seen recently which shows how evil the "rolling shutter" artifacts can be, I'm not totally convinced that DSLRs are the best option for indie filmmaking (and especially in cases with camera tracking for VFX). But if you plan and shoot carefully, the resulting footage could be really sweet.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterprosckes

Irvine, Ca - huge Canon center:

Canon USA Inc
15955 Alton Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92618
949-753-4000

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=+canon&sll=33.658866,-117.762467&sspn=0.00376,0.005525&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=18&iwloc=A

Conveniently located next to the 405 and 5 freeways.

Rumor has it they love Journey.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterscribbilyg

Stu

My thoughts on this are as follows:

1. This camera is targeted towards ENG

2. Because of ENG, most if not all U.S.A. newsrooms have a huge investment in 30 FPS as a standard of their edit bays.
3. The real Killer DSLR will have a dual HD mode switch, go from 30 FPS down to 24 FPS .
4. As for panning, I think we have gotten way to many tools in the tool box. Learning to do lock down setups may prove to be a great experience, so when we get to a non shearing image DSLR we will have learned the fine art of less is more.
5. Is keiretsu still the norm in Japan? If so this may also explain the 30 FPS of the Canon.

more thoughts later, especially on using still images as reference points for a HD content shoot

Laurence

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaurence

Canon and Sony simply can't afford to jeopardize their pro video divisions; especially Sony.

Being green to video probably explains why the Nikon D90 and not D700 was the first to have video capabilities.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMakea

It's too bad divisions at these types of companies don't talk to one another (i.e. still and the video teams). Then again maybe they did and wanted to avoid it eating into their video sales.

It's sad that after all these years of pushing for 24p that many companies still don't get it and don't see the potential for sales and products for filmmakers.

They tend to consider it a small niche market when it's much larger than that.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterScott Squires

Wow, how awful.

Perhaps they are waiting to pop it on their 1d so they can charge another 4 grand for it.

I hope Red or Nikons next offering's really stick it up Canons...

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCasey James Basichis

I just cant even begin to imagine how the 5DII with 24p could be any sort of competition for their dedicated motion cameras. I own well over $20k in Canon still equipment - with 4 bodies from 20D to 1DsII and glass - and neither this nor any other DSLR with 24p will be my motion choice.

I think they made a blunder, but not that bad of one.

I think they need to give their still bodies a kick in the pants so Nikon doesn't surpass them and they need to give their motion cams a kick in the pants to catch back up with Panasonic. Dont waste the time on the hybrid poo. (Or if you are going to waste the time, do it right.)

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

As I also wrote elsewhere:

"DPReview has some info about the format the 5D-MII shoots: h.264 at 38mbps, full 1080/30p, PCM uncompressed audio, in the MOV container. Unfortunately, that 30p is either 30.00 fps or a variable of 30.xxx fps, instead of NTSC's standard 29.97. This means that an editor like Sony Vegas will resample by default, and this creates extreme ghosting in the final export (unless you manually disable resampling in all your clips in the timeline -- something that not all video editors support).

Canon should have done the right thing: selectable frame rates at exactly 29.97, 25.00, 24.00 and 23.976.

To me, as an final step editor (rather than a shooter), this is my main complain. It makes editing and final quality much harder than it should be."

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEugenia

I get the feeling that the industry doesn´t like indy film makers.

Most of the camcorders, they produce for an affordable price lack of nice manual control or other options which are important for being creative. Even my old VHS-C Panasonic MC5 camcorder had more manuel control than the most toycorder out there.

They are targeting at normal consumers who just want to point and shoot without getting into technics, or the cameras are so much expensive, that they are out of questions for low budget filmmaking.

It´s a shame, that there is no acceptable inbetween solution!

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Kulig

Martin. Just out of curiosity: how much did that VHS-C camera cost?
When I was 12 my parents bought a sony v100 Prosumer video 8 camera. Which was I think about 2800 dollars. Then later they bought the Prosumer Hi-8 camera V5000. Which was about 2800 dollars. Now if I want to buy a Prosumer HD camcorder, with manual controls I'll still spend about 2800 dollars. So nothing much has changed.
Also I think those manual controls weren't put on there to please the customers, but because doing everything in chips/circuitry was way too expensive back then. Autofocus of our video8 camera was nowhere near as good as modern cameras, so you need a manual option to override.
I think the situation has reversed since then. Chips/circuitry aer really cheap now, while building manual controls into cameras calls for more moving parts, more broken units etc. So it does make sense I guess. It's just no good for indy filmmakers. (although I doubt much good came from your VHS-C on the indyfilm front) :-)

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShadowMaker SdR

I really think, and this is a sad corporate truth, that someone in the marketing engine decided to not "cannibalize" their other cams of any size and assumed 30fps is better than 24 since you could always "go down to 24 in post," and that people would be excited by "more frames per second." i also echo the concern above of how the 1080 is chopped out of the 21mp sensor and how that windowing will affect the image, jellywobble and DOF.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjdiamond

I´m totally aware that i can not expect full functionality and quality of a professional filmcamera build into a consumer camcorder.
I just followed the whole d90 threads and was in the beginning very euphoric about these fascinating first videos i saw.

Maybe there is bad compression, lack of a microphone jack and what else, but i really thought, it could be a very cool compromise.

My dream was over, when i saw the first wobble movies, result of the bad rolling shutter which was a dealbreaker for me.

You are right, the VHS-C was quite expensive those days, but it was affordable.
We have the technology today, to build just the right cameras, why don´t we?

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Kulig

I am over impressed with the new specs for this Still camera and I find the 1080 30p gimmick pretty lame. When we shot 35mm film in still cameras and 35mm in motion cameras, we did not expect to have one camera to shoot stills and motion. While I desire 1 camera to rule them all, I'm not sure if it will come to pass for 5 yrs. Still at 30p they have insured the lame uselessness of this camera's video abilities.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTrinity
September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

One small detail recording format as well:

Nikon D90 shoots M-JPEG (nice intra-frame compression).

Canon 5D Mark II shoots only H.264, AFAIS. Bad, nasty, evil codec. (For production.)

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteravocade

If anyone will do this right.. it's going to be Jim Jannard or some other "outsider".

The specs we want as "potential" indie filmmakers are just not in the target marketing brackets of the major DSLR or HD cam players.

But I can really appreciate the DLSR getting all "in the face" of a movie acquisition device. It totally makes sense to slap in 24fps capture on a DLSR that can use the lenses we already have. And at that $1k sweet spot.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

hey, maybe its a legal issue? Someone has the patent on 24 frames per sec?

/z

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMaster Zap

http://www.pdnpulse.com/2008/09/canon-5d-mark-i.html

Footage doesn't look too bad. Note that it's all locked off though... Wondering if it's as "skewy" as the D90.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBen Cain

Just wondering if anyone has any opinions on the 5D Mark II as a dSLR and not a video camera? Since it is a camera for still photography primarily and the video seems more like a gimmicky selling point. Anyone?

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

"One small detail recording format as well:

Nikon D90 shoots M-JPEG (nice intra-frame compression).

Canon 5D Mark II shoots only H.264, AFAIS. Bad, nasty, evil codec. (For production.)"

That's a pretty ignorant comment based on assumptions without knowing the details.

The Nikon uses a really low bitrate (averaging somewhere between 11-20mbs) on a much less efficient "nice intra-frame compression" system.

The fact that Canon uses nearly 40mbs on a codec light years ahead of MJPEG in terms of efficiency with at least twice the bit rate means its going to look a helluva lot cleaner.

Avocade--have you seen raw footage from the D-90? Lots of quantization blocks even on nearly static scenes. Ugh...but hey, it's 24P!! WEEEE!

I think it's obvious that Canon was protecting its pro video products by not including 24p, but who knows? I think there may be another shoe to drop here, and you know that they will probably add "step-up" features in their replacements for the 1D and 1 Ds.

I happen to think that 30p is fine for narrative. It's not the same as 60p or 60i in terms of brain response to temporal sampling. It's still not "live" looking and can feel filmic, in terms of being "cinematic".

I happen to think there are going to be some amazing 30p films made with this camera that get into Sundance, etc.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBarlow and Lannie

And what happens when those 30p films that got into Sundance get distribution deals? They'll need a film print at 24 fps. Someone will have to convert, which is a mess. You may like 30p, and that's fine (although I can't think of any successful examples of 30p narrative for you to like), but it's a neither-here-nor-there frame rate both aesthetically and technically. I've seen filmmakers crushed by the ramifications of trying to strike film prints and create deliverables for a 30p film that got some attention. This is what Joe's "30p is dangerous" comment is about. The slightly-more-film-like look of 30p in their (probably Canon) DV camera seduced them, they used it, and then the time came for a film print and they were screwed.

Anyone who has The Guide can always refer back to my rant on the evils of 30p. That doesn't mean that you're wrong for liking it on a personal level, but 30p is not a substitute for 24p. It has a very different look and huge limitations for distribution.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Stu,

Very good points, of course, and let me backtrack a little.

The reality is that just almost no ultra-low budget indie films ever see theatrical distribution. Right here in Salt Lake City, a good deal of theatres have switched to all digital projection, which could easily accomodate 30p content.

I'm sure we're still quite a ways away from a massive switch to digital theatres, but it's coming, and not a moment too soon in my book. I almost exclusively see my Hollywood movies at digital theatres--the quality is easily superior and doesn't degrade over time.

Honestly, I think more about the internet and Blu-ray distribution, which is the reality for most indies with a dream and some balls.

I just finished a corporate video that we did "cinematic" style, shot on an HVX at 720p 29.97, and used a Brevis 35mm adapter with Nikon and Canon glass.

Here's a rough cut segment I posted on vimeo some time ago: http://vimeo.com/1647785

I recommend downloading the original QT on the lower part of the page.

I showed that piece at a local filmmaker gathering/festival on an HD projector, and no one who saw it afterwards asked if it was 30p. They just said it looked great.

Like everyone else, I'm bummed that Canon would intentionally gimp the 5D MKII's HD, but I see all the advantages and say HELL YEAH!! Dynamic range alone is worth it to me. I'm sure more and better will come.

Thanks,

Barlow

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBarlow and Lannie

but wait... isn't this still a 'still' camera? Why would you use (buy) a still camera to do anything other than shoot stills? Personally I'm buying this camera (with an impressive STILL track record) for shooting stills.

When I want a camera to shoot HD, I'll then beg, borrow or buy a RED.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenternybe

Stu. You're right that 30P gives a lot of trouble for distribution.
In theaters.
But for the web, where I still tend to watch shorts on my 60hz monitor. Or a Direct to DVD release where 60hz (or a multiple of it) is still a big thing 30p will probably be just fine.

(I'm probably going to get banned from the blog for this)

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShadowMaker SdR

To all of you for whom 30p is "just fine," congratulations. You have many cameras to chose from including this very enticing new option from Canon. But for some of us, 30p is as useless as a garage door that's three inches too narrow for our car.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStu

@5tu - You mentioned a firmware upgrade... is that possible? thx [m]

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter[ griff ]

It's not that I think 30p is as good as having 24p, due to the fact that we have about a century of conditioning about movies and what the motion should look like, but I think it's not gonna be as much of a problem for distribution as it once was.

Question: If suddenly most theatres were digital, would you still consider 30p to be useless for narrative cinema?

I still think more is to come from Canon and others in response to RED, but I happen to see the cup half full on this issue. It's disappointing that it isn't the BIG BANG camera every indie dreams of, but it's also a nice indicator of things to come.

For cryin' out load, it's a high ISO, full-frame DSLR with a crazy new HD mode.

Reminds me of the old "frame mode" mania when the XL1 came out, but now everyone's spoiled.

Maybe the european version of the 5D MKII will have 25p and resourceful indies will find a way to get one in the U.S.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBarlow and Lannie

30p looks like video to me, so yes, personally I would find it useless. As digital projection becomes more prevalent, projection frame rate might become a creative choice. I will always choose 24p.

Here's a direct quote from The DV Rebel's Guide on the subject:

"30p is not 24p. It sounds close, but it’s significantly different. Think of it this way—30p is 25% more frames per second than 30p. If you could get a 25% discount on a new 24p camera, you’d take it right? Now does 25% sound like a big difference? Quite simply, your audience will be able to tell that your “film” was shot on video if you shoot 30p instead of 24p."

We're no longer talking about anything technical here, but rather about a filmmaker's creative choice. I hate the way 30p looks and I love 24p. That is my preference as a filmmaker, and it is a fervent one. 30p is only of interest to me as an overcrank speed for 24 fps playback.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStu

24P or bust

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I just think that 24p isn't the end-all-be-all. Don't get me wrong, it's preferable for filmmaking, but I think 35mm DOF is far more impactful on cinematic storytelling than the perceived difference between 24p and 30p.

It's funny that filmmakers are complaining about a DSLR that had rudimentary HD video functionality thrown in as a bonus.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBarlow and Lannie

We are complaining, because it meant hope to have something usefull which is affordable otherwhise nobody would´t care at all.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Kulig

JOE: I never had the need to upgrade from the 1DsII to the III. With the 5D, however, once I see test images, I may just get the 5DII. I'll have to see how those extra pixels affect image quality. And no, I will not use the motion mode beyond a test or two.

BARLOW: Your doc looks nice, but it looks like VIDEO on TV. Not like a narrative film should look.

Also to Barlow: You ask why people are complainging about the camera throwing HD video in as a bonus? Isnt it obvious that no one is knocking the CAMERA? They are knocking the choice in FRAME RATE for the HD video.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Brian: I appreciate your comments and I understand what you mean, I just differ about the acceptability of 30p for filmmaking. I don't mind the slightly smoother look of the frame rate--it still doesn't look live, just a teensy bit smoother than 24p.

I guess I'm on of those oddball types that sees all sorts of possibilities when we're talking about unheard of dynamic range and DOF for HD at that pricepoint.

I can see lots of History channel and Discovery HD stuff being shot with it, despite the fact that it's a DSLR and not the usual HD ENG camera like a Varicam or F900.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBarlow and Lannie

Hey stu, this is mr. kulig

Yeah I would put the lack of 24p right up there with the lack of a larger than 3 exposure autobracket with a -2/+2 range.

I think they just don't consider professional film fx use when they are decide on all these things. I wonder how the ergonmics play out while shooting video and adjusting settings.

Despite the lack of 24p, it still has my interest. To be able to use my lenses while shooting video... would be awesome.

September 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrain
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