Making Your Old CCD Camcorder Continue to Pay Off

By Anthony Burokas
I’m a gear guy and I have HD gear. Yes, even my phone shoots HD now. But does that mean SD gear is dead? Not at all.

The best kind of money to make is on projects that require no new investment. Because if you’re constantly paying off new gear then you’re not making as much money as you could. So where and how do you use SD gear in the age of HD?

Live from the show floor.

I was hired in January of 2012 to run camera for the local chamber of commerce’s annual awards gala. This is a typical, multi-camera, live, IMAG (image magnification) event, with b-roll played back from DVD players to highlight each of the winners. Why not do it in HD? Consider the delivery. The IMAG screens were 10′ screens flown way above the audience. They were 30-40′ away, at a minimum. Most people would watch the screen across the room so they’d be about 100′ away give or take.  The human eye can only resolve so much detail (and the vast majority of the Chamber membership is older individuals) so putting HD on such a small screen so far away would be worthless endeavor. You could probably count on one hand the number of people there that night who could actually perceive it.

 

 

 

 

The company that was hired for the gig already owns SD gear. Doing it in HD would require renting HD gear from cameras to delivery. By going with SD gear, there’s zero rental cost so all the revenue goes in the pocket. They all work with gear they know. They use the equipment they have and, even despite numerous last minute changes and client additions/deletions, the event goes off flawlessly with many compliments on the coverage and the video playback.

SD all the way to delivery to the hockey parents. They buy this gladly.

The same goes for sporting events. Kids hockey, cheerleading and more. Parents want instant gratification. So would your money be better spent buying new HD gear, or in a fast DVD rack that can quickly duplicate a master DVD you record live during the event. In the time it takes for the kids to change from back into “street clothes,” you have finished DVD’s waiting for the parents to take home at $45 a pop. That makes parents/customers very happy and dramatically lowers your delivery costs.

A sample corporate web interface, with the video delivered smaller than 1/4 frame SD.

How about corporate work. Everything is HD, right? Not really. I spent 5 years working for Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies and for every webcast, even the SD image was sized down to fit the field representative’s laptop screen. On the right of the interface was a live chat, at the bottom were other interface elements- all fitting into 15 or 12″ laptop screens. All the powerpoint presentations were still formatted square to fit the delivery so widescreen video would have been out of place. HD resolutions need not apply.

Did the drummer use "bendy" drumsticks? No. The camera used CMOS chips.

Then consider another advantage of early HDV gear- CCD chips. There’s no rolling shutter, no flash banding, no image distortion. I just finished a corporate video where I shot 1080p24 and conformed to 720p24 so I could do image stabilization in post (the vDSLR lenses I used didn’t offer it) This “windowing” is a great little trick, if it werent’ for the jello I had to contend with after the image was stabilized. The shot may be smooth and even, but the “rolling” shutter was still evident within the frame as various parts jiggled around independent of the stable overall frame. Take particular note of the Magnavox shots. Using my Sony FX1 HDV camcorder with 3 CCD chips would have made this video look a lot better.

So, when considering gear, think of the deliver, think of the need, and re-look at how your existing gear may provide what you need.

 

In the business for 20 years? He doesn't look it. Anthony Burokas is a 20+ year broadcast TV video producer currently based in Dallas TX. He has produced an extensive body of event, corporate, special interest, and broadcast TV. His web site is IEBA.com

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