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    Junk Camera Cinematography
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    Just for fun, I started a new group on Facebook if anyone is interested. Here's the write up.

    Low resolution? Compression artifacts? Clipped highlights? One person's image quality nightmare is another person's sought-after look.

    This group is for filmmakers of all levels who want a little break from thinking about image quality. Whether you're someone who enjoys the challenge of trying to shoot something with less than adequate tools, or you just like the lo-fi texture of older point-and-shoots, early smartphones, CCD camcorders, or industrial/security cameras, this group embraces the cameras that serious filmmakers would NEVER use...

    Or would they?

    Spend as little as possible or use what you already have. Learn the quirks, make something interesting, and experience the creativity that comes with limitations.
    I'm hoping that this group can be a soothing balm for those that feel like there's too much emphasis on new and better gear, or those who just want to shoot something for fun without worrying so much about image quality. It would be great to see some of you in there.
    Last edited by QuickHitRecord; 01-24-2021 at 12:31 PM.


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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    Cool idea.

    Although I literally have woken up from nightmares in the past five years, freaking out about Hi-8 tape dropouts. When I was shooting mostly film,
    one of my first small video cameras I owned was the Sony CCD-TR81, a little Hi-8 fixed lens camcorder. I used it to shoot underwater a lot all over the world shooting off of
    dive boats. I ran into some situations with beautiful, once in a lifetime shots of divers with Whale Sharks, big Tiger and Mako sharks, huge fish, Mantas, Eels, night dives that
    were completely marred by Hi-8 dropouts. Drove me crazy. But the alternative was dragging a relatively huge Arri SR2 in housing underwater with 10 minute mags. Versus I could
    shoot almost an hour with the Sony.

    I can deal with lo fi, but those damn huge tape dropouts, not so much.
    It's a business first and a creative outlet second.
    G.A.S. destroys lives. Stop buying gear that doesn't make you money.


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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    Donít miss tape in the least. Had an entire shoot ruined for a network from Canada that carried/re-broadcast NFL back in the early 2000ís. They booked me to shoot what were essentially scenics inside the stadium here during a game in a fashion so that they could insert their virtual billboards, graphics, etc. coming back from and going to break, etc. Sent them the tapes(Betacam SP) and they really liked what I did, but it was covered by hits and drop-outs and just an un-airable mess. Unfortunately I didnít know at the time that the pinch roller had gone out and therefore proper tension couldnít be maintained on the tape, so it couldnít record properly.

    For some reason, they actually had me go back and re-shoot it after I had my camera repaired and partially paid me for the second shoot(I offered to re-shoot it for free).

    And if youíve ever had a camera lock-up because of humidity and you couldnít roll when you needed to, youíll thank God(!) we donít shoot on tape anymore, either.


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    Yes, and not having to deinterlace is wonderful too.


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    Senior Member Eric Coughlin's Avatar
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    I once had to get out of a sticky situation when I tried filming with gaff tape.


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    Quote Originally Posted by puredrifting View Post
    Although I literally have woken up from nightmares in the past five years, freaking out about Hi-8 tape dropouts. When I was shooting mostly film, one of my first small video cameras I owned was the Sony CCD-TR81, a little Hi-8 fixed lens camcorder. I used it to shoot underwater a lot all over the world shooting off of dive boats.
    Would love to see some of this footage if it's online. As I recall from my short-lived Hi-8 days, those cameras needed a lot of light. It would be interesting to see how it did underwater.

    Quote Originally Posted by Run&Gun View Post
    Donít miss tape in the least.
    I love the look of this old cameras but I don't think I could go back to tape. For all of the reasons you mentioned and then some. It is kind of intriguing to me that some of these older cameras had composite out and with the help of a composite to HDMI conversion box, it would be possible to record them digitally. I tried that with an old XH-A1 and was actually pretty impressed with the quality of the footage. But after working with the modern cameras for so long, the dynamic range on that camera was a hard pill to swallow.


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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuickHitRecord View Post
    Would love to see some of this footage if it's online. As I recall from my short-lived Hi-8 days, those cameras needed a lot of light. It would be interesting to see how it did underwater.



    I love the look of this old cameras but I don't think I could go back to tape. For all of the reasons you mentioned and then some. It is kind of intriguing to me that some of these older cameras had composite out and with the help of a composite to HDMI conversion box, it would be possible to record them digitally. I tried that with an old XH-A1 and was actually pretty impressed with the quality of the footage. But after working with the modern cameras for so long, the dynamic range on that camera was a hard pill to swallow.
    No, this was quite a long time ago, none of this footage is on-line. I have actually been considering buying a Hi-8 deck or camcorder on Ebay because I have a small pile of Hi-8 tapes laying around and no way to view them or edit the material. WIth this rig, I never had any problem with lighting levels since part of the rig was two powerful incandescent underwater lights that were heavy and bulky. The whole Hi-8 cam in housing with the two handles, brackets and video lights weighed, I think, at least 15lbs, maybe 20lbs? I have shot with Betacam sized video cameras underwater and the size and weight was ridiculous, the size of a large block V8 engine and it cost something like $70k or $100k just for the housing.

    The Hi-8 underwater footage, other than the dropouts, looked decent, but of course it was interlaced 4x3 480i, which looks pretty primitive these days when we are all shooting 4K or higher.
    It's a business first and a creative outlet second.
    G.A.S. destroys lives. Stop buying gear that doesn't make you money.


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    I did this a while back with a crappy handycam.

    I remember the post process being basically backwards of my usual trickery so I..

    Increased the highlight saturation to induce clipping and other things for example.

    And cropped to 4:3



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    Senior Member Eric Coughlin's Avatar
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    A couple short films I shot and acted in 13 years ago with a crappy point and shoot camera that had video on it as an afterthought, in combination with YouTube's poor image quality at the time. 240p!

    As I'd put in the YouTube description at the time, "'Pre-visualization' meaning very low production values, shot on a poor quality camera, and quickly put together. Basically, it gets the story across."

    The camera recorded to a spinning disk, like a small CD.





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    Quote Originally Posted by morgan_moore View Post
    I did this a while back with a crappy handycam.

    I remember the post process being basically backwards of my usual trickery so I..

    Increased the highlight saturation to induce clipping and other things for example.

    And cropped to 4:3

    That was actually quite funny, using up most of your batteries while waiting in line.


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