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    Old HV20 comes back to life as a working prop!
    #1
    Director of Photography
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    Jul 2004
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    Los Angeles
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    On the current TVLand series I'm shooting, "Teachers", we had a storyline where one of the characters is shooting a reality show audition video. The footage from the camcorder was to be cut into the show so it needed to be a working HD camera. Normally we would shoot those clips separately from the main action with one of my operators manning the camera, but in this instance the director wanted the actual actors (including at one point an 8 year old) to hold the camera. I knew that we would need to live monitor the footage to make sure the framing was OK and didn't swing around to catch our cameras/lights/ boom etc. However, we couldn't hardwire the camera because the cable would be seen in the primary footage and wouldn't make sense. Finally, the camera needed to be light and easy enough to operate that the actors would be comfortable, and for the sake of the storyline it needed to be a few years old rather than state of the art.

    I still have my 8 or 9 year old Canon HV20 around which I've kept around to transfer my small pile of HDV tapes to hard drive. I haven't touched it in years, but was glad to see that it worked perfectly well. I had to order an inexpensive replacement battery as a backup but the original issue still held a charge, not bad for Li-On!

    The HV20 was one of the first camcorders to sport an HDMI port, and rather amusingly at this point in time, a full size one at that. That made it a perfect to use a Paralinx Arrow to transmit the video, but I had to contend with powering the transmitter and making the whole thing self-contained, and it all had to look believable on camera. I came up with the idea of disguising the Arrow as an onboard mike by adding a foam windscreen on the front, mounted onto a hot shoe bracket. For power, I velcroed a Mophie Juice pack to the bottom of the camera. Fortunately the color scheme of the camera being silver and black, all of these components tied in visually!

    The HDMI and USB cables were electrical-taped together into a short arc at the back and kept as low-profile as possible. As can be seen from the picture below, it's not perfect but I think unnoticeable in the show. The Arrow worked perfectly (we kept the receiver as close as possible) and thus we were able to monitor the HV20 along with our two Alexas at all times.

    It was a full success! The actors had no trouble working the camera. The 8 year old was particularly adept; we rehearsed her once, I gave her some framing notes, and she killed it take after take (while acting in the scene on top of everything!). It occurs to me that today's kids have grown up shooing stills and video so their inherent sense of operating a camera and framing is a great improvement over previous generations.

    We had a little trouble transcoding the footage--it seemed illogical to capture via old-school firewire as an HDV signal and transcode in this day and age, so we played it out of the camera via HDMI into a Blackmagic Intensity Extreme and captured through Media Express as ProRes422HQ, same as our Alexas. A few dropped frames here and there necessitated additional transfers of select footage down the road. We shot in the camera's "24p" mode which is really just flagged frames in a 59.94 file, but it was easy enough to reverse telecine to a 23.98 file which post took care of for us.

    HV20teachers.jpg
    Last edited by CharlesPapert; 01-27-2016 at 12:20 PM.
    Charles Papert
    charlespapert.com


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