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    DVX200 For Indie Film
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    Hi everyone, new member here. I am producing and directing an indie feature later this year and will be shooting on the DVX200. While I’m very aware of its limitations, I chose the DVX200 a.) for its cost, b.) for its “all-in-one” package with ability to record sound via XLR, and c.) because I’ll be shooting other things (live events, weddings) with the camera. Has anyone had experience shooting narrative projects with this, and if so, could you share your experience?

    The project I’m working on will have a very limited crew, and in some cases could just be myself and someone else. I have a small light kit although the project is a horror project and will have night scenes. (Anyone have experience with the High Sensitivity mode?...bummer it can’t be used with log...)

    Appreciate any thoughts or advice y’all could share!

    Cheers,
    Andrew
    Last edited by dvxnewb; 02-13-2021 at 03:32 PM.


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    I use High Sensitivity mode quite a bit. I do a lot of work shooting ballet, etc. (pre-covid anyway). It adds a stop *and* good noise reduction. Do an experiment using High Sens *with* some gain. You might be surprised how good it looks.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Chapman View Post
    I use High Sensitivity mode quite a bit. I do a lot of work shooting ballet, etc. (pre-covid anyway). It adds a stop *and* good noise reduction. Do an experiment using High Sens *with* some gain. You might be surprised how good it looks.
    Thanks so much, Larry, for the advice. I haven't really done much testing using High Sensitivity, but what little I did looks pretty good. I will test it using the lowest gain preset and see how it looks. I'm hoping there is a way I can shoot using a scene file and modify it to cheat some dynamic range. When I shot in log, the dark footage was pretty rough.


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    Hello Andrew--I haven't shot with the DVX200, but have shot with its ancestor the HVX200, and I've also shot with cameras with a 4/3" sensor. So these are more general suggestions, rather than specific to the settings you'll find in that camera's menus.

    My top suggestion is to address the limitations of the camera through lighting. You may already be familiar with this idea, but it bears repeating: remember that a dark scene doesn't necessarily call for high ISO/high sensitivity mode, especially if you're working in a horror/thriller/noir idiom. What you really need to control is your contrast ratio-- the difference between the lighter and darker areas. You'll have your own artistic concept (and maybe your goal is more MIDSOMMAR than HALLOWEEN), but it's often the case that the style means you don't need to see *everything*, and many things can be exposed well under a typical exposure-- including your actors. It's more about balancing your lighting with the ambient light. Dark room? Perfect-- now all you need is a big piece of hardware store foamboard to bounce just enough soft light on your actor's face so that we can see their terrified expressions!
    I understand that working alone and without a huge lighting package means that there can be challenges in just getting enough ambient light for basic detail, especially if you're shooting wide in a large space. So that certainly may be a time when you want to increase gain/go to high sensitivity mode-- just to get exposure on the things you do need to be able to see. But one other lighting solution for these situations might be that a backlight can sometimes be really helpful in creating enough separation from the darkness that the viewer can still understand the action. A backlight can also work to reduce that muddy look we sometimes associate with "video" shooting, where you can make out an image but there isn't really much contrast-- it gives you a bigger contrast range in the image and helps define shapes and create a sense of depth.

    As far as the camera itself, you might also consider lens diffusion to break up the image a little bit, especially for wides-- a wide angle on a 4/3" sensor with the excellent Panasonic zoom lens can sometimes feel overly sharp (great for weddings, but not always what you want for narrative), and the diffusion can also mask noise a bit. Many types of diffusion filters also lower contrast a bit and give the apparent effect of spreading around light a little. Plenty more guidance on these choices available on the forums here if you want input.

    Lastly, partially because of the look of wide angles on the DVX and similar cameras, you might consider leaning towards shooting in the normal-to-telephoto range when you can. I personally love the look you get in this range. And it has the other big advantage of reducing your lighting requirements.

    Ok, hope that's not too far off the topic of the DVX200 to be helpful. Good luck!


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    Quote Originally Posted by M Harvey View Post
    Hello Andrew--I haven't shot with the DVX200, but have shot with its ancestor the HVX200, and I've also shot with cameras with a 4/3" sensor. So these are more general suggestions, rather than specific to the settings you'll find in that camera's menus.

    My top suggestion is to address the limitations of the camera through lighting. You may already be familiar with this idea, but it bears repeating: remember that a dark scene doesn't necessarily call for high ISO/high sensitivity mode, especially if you're working in a horror/thriller/noir idiom. What you really need to control is your contrast ratio-- the difference between the lighter and darker areas. You'll have your own artistic concept (and maybe your goal is more MIDSOMMAR than HALLOWEEN), but it's often the case that the style means you don't need to see *everything*, and many things can be exposed well under a typical exposure-- including your actors. It's more about balancing your lighting with the ambient light. Dark room? Perfect-- now all you need is a big piece of hardware store foamboard to bounce just enough soft light on your actor's face so that we can see their terrified expressions!
    I understand that working alone and without a huge lighting package means that there can be challenges in just getting enough ambient light for basic detail, especially if you're shooting wide in a large space. So that certainly may be a time when you want to increase gain/go to high sensitivity mode-- just to get exposure on the things you do need to be able to see. But one other lighting solution for these situations might be that a backlight can sometimes be really helpful in creating enough separation from the darkness that the viewer can still understand the action. A backlight can also work to reduce that muddy look we sometimes associate with "video" shooting, where you can make out an image but there isn't really much contrast-- it gives you a bigger contrast range in the image and helps define shapes and create a sense of depth.

    As far as the camera itself, you might also consider lens diffusion to break up the image a little bit, especially for wides-- a wide angle on a 4/3" sensor with the excellent Panasonic zoom lens can sometimes feel overly sharp (great for weddings, but not always what you want for narrative), and the diffusion can also mask noise a bit. Many types of diffusion filters also lower contrast a bit and give the apparent effect of spreading around light a little. Plenty more guidance on these choices available on the forums here if you want input.

    Lastly, partially because of the look of wide angles on the DVX and similar cameras, you might consider leaning towards shooting in the normal-to-telephoto range when you can. I personally love the look you get in this range. And it has the other big advantage of reducing your lighting requirements.

    Ok, hope that's not too far off the topic of the DVX200 to be helpful. Good luck!
    Thanks so much for the advice, both on the camera and cinematography! Luckily, the piece takes place over Christmas so I'll be able to have natural light sources (Christmas tree, lights, decorations, etc.) Good idea to get a reflector to bounce available light, as well.

    Also totally agree that shooting with long lens equivalents will be helpful. Hitchcock exclusively shot PSYCHO on a 50mm, so I'm tempted to try a technique like that. There are particular scenes at night, even if I'm not getting wide landscape shots, that I'm concerned about...this is where I might have to rely on the high sensitivity setting. At this point I think I've talked myself out of using log, and just using gels on lights and Cine-like scene settings to achieve the look I'm going for. I'll definitely consider changing the contrast settings, too. Thanks again!
    Last edited by dvxnewb; 02-17-2021 at 12:56 PM.


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