Cellphone v. Camcorder: Physical Design Effects Style

Discussion in 'DSLR Video Discussion' started by VidThreeNorth, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Lately, Canon has predicted that Interchangeable Lens Camera sales would drop about 50% over the next two years, and I think most of us believe this has some possibility of being correct. And we are attributing this mainly to the increase in smartphone camera capabilities. There is a feeling that if look at all the wonderful things you can do with a cell phone, then there is no need to spend more for a separate camera or camcorder.

    I want to look at this idea a bit more closely and ask myself can I do better with a well chosen camera or camcorder than what can be done with a cell phone? Since my main interest is video, I'm starting with a camcorder -- and depending on my time and interest, I might not get any further than this.

    Before I go further, let me make clear that the clip I have chosen as an example, was probably made under circumstances that would probably make it impossible to do better. This is a video recorded at a Korean pop concert. The situation was probably something like this: Cellphones were allowed, but photography was probably limited. There are usually specific times during a concert like this when photography is specifically allowed. Selfie sticks and camera modifiers (like telephoto lenses adapters) are generally not allowed.

    This is a concert by Korean singer "IU" (Lee Jieun). Her fans are very loyal, and generally obey the rules. If you search YouTube for "fan cam" videos, you will find them, but mostly they are within the permitted rules of the concerts. IU specifically tells security to allow videos of her encores, and that is mostly what you will find. This can be very generous. IU has been known to typically have ridiculously long encores. After a three hour show, she usually stays for another half hour to an hour. The longest she has ever stayed was two and a half hours. That show was about double the length of some other performers shows. And keep in mind that she is not a member of a group. The whole show is mainly just her.
    [2019-07-19 01:57 corrected a couple of typos]

    This Clip:

    The "Story"

    Around the middle of the show Jieun takes a break of about 10 minutes while a guest performer performs. For this show, the guests were her "bosses" from the TV show "Hyori's Bed and Breakfast" in which she appears for a season of 14 episodes. Hyori is also a major K-Pop star, about 15 years older than Jieun and her husband Sangsoon is also a singer, song-writer, producer. Prior to this clip, Sangsoon sang is song "Again" accompanied only by his guitar. After this clip, Hyori and Jieun will sing their "unreleasted" song "She's Different", and then Jieun will leave the stage and Hyori and Sangsoon will perform Hyori's hit song "Miss Korea".

    The Problem:

    Stylistically, one rarely sees zooming during a cellphone video. This not because it cannot be done, but rather because it is difficult to control. Usually it is difficult to get a steady recording, even with stabilization, because of hand-holding the camera. If the zoom is controlled by the touch screen, it is awkward. If it is controlled by the volume buttons, you still risk tilting the camera when trying to zoom. So as a rule, using cellphones discourages the use of zooms.

    In general, expert advice has been to avoid using zooms in order to give a "professional appearance". This is typically good advice because too much zooming can be distracting. But it is also based on a professional environment with multiple cameras. In those cases, one can avoid showing zooms completely by cutting to another camera to allow the first camera to zoom without it showing. In that case you can have a variety of views to avoid "boring" video, but do not need zooms or even pans. But you cannot do that if you are a "one camera crew".

    But effective use of zooming can improve a video, and I think today, we are more accustomed to "active" camera work in general. Sometimes I deliberately use "fancy" pans and zooms to create a sense of being a part of the activity. But this is not one of those cases.

    This video:

    This video appears to be recorded from the "orchestra seats", and I would estimate fairly near the front of this venue (a very large theatre). It might be as far as five rows back, but I doubt if it was much further.

    The whole video is one clip and I see no zooming at all -- just panning.
    [Correction: There was a bit of zoom used, and in fact, you can tell it was "digital zoom". It was not used enough to keep the performers in the composition.]

    At ~1:30 Hyori enters from stage left, probably from upstage. Jieun is on the right and she is surprised by Hyori's appearance in a fitted dress and stage makeup. Jieun backs off out of the composition towards the right. The camera stays mid-stage while she is off camera. At ~1:37 Jieun returns and greats Hyori with a hug. Jieun is clearly surprised and overcome. When she loses control like that, she has a habit of laughing so hard that she has to squat down to avoid falling, and letting herself laugh. We do not know if that is what she did because she was "off camera". I don't think that she did that in this case because she usually takes longer to recover when that happens. She might have bent over laughing for a few seconds, but that's about all.

    Overall, the sound is too high and there is some distortion. I am not sure why. Most modern cellphones will do a pretty good job recording sound in this situation.

    This Is What I Would Like To Have Done:

    First, my camera of choice would be something like a Sony FDR-AX53 recording UHD with a 20x optical, variable speed power zoom, with optical stabilization or Canon's new, similarly spec'd HF G50, and hopefully a monopod. On such camcorders, zooms are easily controlled during a recording. The camcorders has enough "reach" to be used in very large venues, including most North American hockey arenas.

    In general, I would be zoomed to include the performers from about knees up while Sangsoon and Jieun were talking. Hopefully I would have seen Hyori's entrance and I would have zoomed back to include her in the frame. When Jieun backed up, I might have zoomed out a bit further and panned to keep all three in the composition. That way, I would not have missed watching Jieun's reaction to Hyori's entrance. As they came together I would have used a slow zoom in for subtlety, and also because I would not know if there might be some further reaction that might require a zoom out again.

    My target composition would be knees to heads, but if they seemed to be moving around a lot, I might have kept it at full body height (head to toe). But my first priority would be trying to keep all three people in the frame at all times. The "story" or "show" at that point was the three of them, and it was too unpredictable to zoom in for close-ups.

    I might have used some digital zoom in post, but I doubt it. Zooming in for close-ups is generally overdone. In UHD, you do not need it. I do not think audiences are that interested in seeing every pimple.

    So yes, the physical device can make a difference in the final result. It is more than just "Oh wow, the resolution (and maybe even the theoretical zoom) of the cellphone is just as good." A good camcorder has the physical controls -- well positioned, which makes using those capabilities "transparently" usable. And the image stabilization and dynamic range are also much better, but I am not even considering those advantages in this example.

    "[Eng] 이효리 무대의상 보고 설렌 아이유 : IU, Hyori, SangSoon : 효리네 민박 게스트 토 크 talk : 직캠 : dlwlrma 콘서트 제주 커튼콜", posted by "supershinstudio", Jan 5, 2019.

    ""


     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
  2. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I did not know if I would have a chance to make this comparison but we got lucky.

    In the K-Pop world, the theory is "Promote, Promote, Promote". One way that many K-Pop acts promote themselves is providing behind the scenes coverage of their activities, made available via Internet. IU's behind the scenes coverage started off as a "single camera" capture done by one of her staff members. The camera was a mid-range consumer camcorder. If I poke around I could probably find the first "Loen TV" (Loen was her management company's name back then) clip. During that period, it might not even be 1080, but I don't know. These days, the coverage is leaning more to "Pro-style" coverage with multiple cameras running. For concerts, the coverage is usually at least three cameras. But the camera operators are still general staff members with little training.

    The hardware is still not that impressive. Mostly it is still recorded at 1080, and some of the earliest camcorders are still being used. They have a couple of good "pro-sumer" camcorders and lately have added a single interchangeable lens camera. Most of the cameras are probably Sony (because she has Sony ties), and I think the interchangeable lens camera is probably one of the "A7.." series. She owns multiple Apple phones, so those are also in the mix. I would hope that at least some of the cameras are recording at UHD for the sake of future releases, but so far nothing has been released at anything better than basic Blu-ray quality.

    2018 was IU's 10th year of activities, and for the Fall - Winter she made a 10 stop international concert tour and this concert was the last event held, in the Jeju Island district of South Korea. Coverage of this last concert is at:

    "[IU TV] 'dlwlrma.' Concert - Jeju Ep.1", "이지금 [IU Official]"
    published Jun 29, 2019, [Length 15:43]


    Coverage of the section that corresponds roughly with the "fan cam" clip starts at around 6:20. The differences are due to the multiple camera coverage. As I mentioned above, camera zooming is generally not shown, which is modern "orthodox professional" style. Though multiple cameras are used, yes, there are close-ups, but notice that when Hyori comes on stage and Jieun (IU) is backing up, they used a right side camera and kept them both on screen (roughly 6:29 - 6:32) with only a slight pan. At 6:52 - 6:54 they cut to their wide shot and it is huge. I am guessing that this was a UHD shot (or maybe even 6K) and it might have been the same source as some of the close-ups, simply by cropping. When I saw this I was surprised. Personally I would not have gone this wide, but then again, with multiple cameras, and "talent" that is somewhat unpredictable, I guess it is a good idea. At 6:59 - 7:10 is a shot closer to what I would use as a wide shot. But then again, I am not so reluctant to "zoom and pan".

    At 7:25 - 7:30 you get an idea of why they need so many cameras for a solo artist. She is touring the facility with "run and gun" coverage and her body guard, and 7:31 - 7:34 a big stage show something like eight dancers.

    If you want to see some of the cameras they use, the first 40 seconds of this episode is some goofing around (self-parody) where a couple of the dancers are pretending they are camera operators and for a while you have four camera coverage. As I mentioned above, the two camcorders are a couple of their earliest camcorders, and they are still being used.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019

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