ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

HV20 Test Footage —

I bought a Canon HV20 a little while ago. This is basically a handheld high-definition camera that costs $1000, with accessories. It shoots in HDV, which is a lower-bandwidth high def format that can fit on the old MiniDV tapes instead of the P2 cards I currently shoot with.

Am I moving to a new camera? No. The $6k I spent on my camera has been worth it and I’ve been getting some great shots; this new thing is for second-unit-type shots, that would put the other camera at too much physical risk, or be too cumbersome to conduct stuff with. I am then giving it to a filmmaker I’m working with, where I am helping produce a new documentary. Yes, a third one. I refuse to make the mistake I made with ARCADE and give much in the way of details.

Anyway, I took it with me to the Penny Arcade Expo, and did some test setups and shooting and the rest. Some of the still frames from that footage is here in thumbnails. I then took an MC Frontalot song about Penny Arcade and cut some of the test footage I shot. I have gone ahead and rendered it out, in the three sizes you might want: youtube, large, gargantuan.

Here’ the youtube link, which is pretty much good for getting a feel of if you’d want to download the other two.

So here’s the large size, 75 megabytes, MPEG video, 1:40.

And here’s the gargantuan size, 325 megabytes. MPEG M2T video (plays in Videolan VLC).

Bear in mind, this camera is tiny, about the size of a regular has-a-separate-lens digital camera, or a baseball. And I put it through some paces here, intentionally. I shot in low light, bright light, moving crowds, masses of flashing stuff, people walking around, and so on. I’m rather impressed with what came out.

One of the issues of the current stream of consumer level video hardware (and that’s definitely what this is) and even the I-hate-the-name “Prosumer” level is that there are certain situations where the camera’s output just doesn’t look good, specifically very low light and high-motion shots. As a result, someone shooting will end up either eating the lower quality, or shoot stuff and turn it into the look they wanted. I’ve discovered the hard way how tools can end up controlling you without knowing it, so this isn’t a good thing, although time will likely fix this. The other issue is that the sound on this is a major step backwards, taking in what’s basically a headphone jack instead of the XLR jacks I ran too after the sound issues on BBS Doc. This means that you’d have to record sound somewhat separately, which means you have to play SYNC SOUND GAMES like the old film days. That blows, but at least the solutions sitting out there, instead of you having to hack it up. One more annoying step.

Also, this footage is good for showing off PAX, which was fantastic.

Categorised as: Uncategorized

Comments are disabled on this post


  1. I opted for the middle porridge and I thought it looked fantastic. To my shitty, untrained eyes it looked terrific, better than most of the DVDs I’ve rented lately.

    That being said, don’t drive yourself crazy with the technical details. The amount I (and I assume most people) enjoy your work isn’t directly related to the number of pixels in frame. 🙂

  2. Sean Murphy says:

    Why was announcing the Arcade Documentary a mistake?

  3. Jason Scott says:

    Because it distracts attention from GET LAMP. It’s not coming out for at least 3 years. I’m not a major film studio, I don’t need to pimp my product well in advance to see how “focus” handles. It. It was silly to do and I should have resisted the suggestion to do so.