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Our Greyhounds on KCRA TV

Published On August 13, 2013 | By Mike Carroll | DSLR, Greyhounds, Greyhounds Friends For Life, KCRA-TV

Okay, yes – this is a home movie.

But it’s a home movie that was shot as a professional test. Hand held Canon 7D footage, shot in 1080 24p using a Canon 70-200mm F4 L-series lens.

The purpose was to see how it would look broadcast in HD. This is something that I am uniquely privileged to be able to do. As you probably know by now if you’ve read any of the posts on this site or any of my books, by profession I am a TV news cameraman at KCRA-3 TV in Sacramento, California. Over the past couple of years the station has been making the conversion to High Definition – initially inside the station and in our news broadcasts, and now to the total conversion to the news crews in the field.

I’ve used my Canon 7D on a couple of news projects over the years with mixed results. The footage always looks great in HD. However, when down-converted to Standard Definition (SD), it can look like early Youtube video or something beamed low-band out of a third world country. Not very visually appetizing.

Now that we are all-HD at KCRA, I am looking forward to incorporating some of the unique visual looks that I can get out of the 7D, particularly with the super-wide Tokina 11-16mm lens.

Bea (left) and Greta (right) going on a greyhound tear.

Bea (left) and Greta (right) going on a greyhound tear.

Also, TV news is shot and aired in 1080 30p (or 60p interlaced). This looks very real and now, and also very much like video. I like shooting in 24p to get that textured, timeless film look. It may sound like I’m not conforming to the TV news norm, but I have to say that every time that I’ve shot news in 24p, going back to 2006 when I shot a story in 24p SD on my Panasonic DVX 100A, people at the station always say, “Wow! What did you do to make that story look different? It looked just like film! Very cool!!!!”

Alex, our boy of summer, perpetually in tryouts for the Sacramento Rivercats. He wants to play outfield. Only problem is that once he catches the ball, he makes a mad dash for home plate.

Alex, our boy of summer, perpetually in tryouts for the Sacramento Rivercats. He wants to play outfield. Only problem is that once he catches the ball, he makes a mad dash for home plate.

Okay, so what is this 20-seconds about? It’s just a simple test. If you’ve read my book Naked Filmmaking, or even just flipped through it (although, I’ve been told that it’s a pretty good read), I’m a big believer in testing things out on something small before committing to doing something big and keeping my fingers crossed.

In this test, I wanted to see how handheld telephoto looked when shot in 1080 24p and broadcast.

This footage was shot on a Sunday morning when Bonnie and I take our greyhounds Ava, Alex and Bea to a private, gated field and let them run around with the greyhounds Greta and Crosby, who belong to our friends Matt and Irene. Crosby, by the way, had been one of our foster greyhounds through GFFL (Greyhound Friends For Life) who Matt and Irene adopted.

Ava, "Big Sis", watches the others at play.

Ava, “Big Sis”, watches the others at play.

After the morning outing, I edited the footage in Adobe Premiere and FTP’d it to KCRA, where it was used as weather video in the Channel 3 Reports at 5 O’Clock.

This is all of the footage that I uploaded. Only 20-seconds made air.

My conclusions:
24p looks good when broadcast. It retains that nice, textured, almost creamy look. Bright light levels are still an issue, but in this case it’s more a matter of shooting in the right direction and having better exposure.

Wide-angle looks better when handheld. If I were to shoot this type of action again I would strive to have the camera on a tripod with a fluid head. The greyhounds’ legs move so fast that when you look at the individual frames they are just a blur at 1/50th of a second. Would they look any different at 1080 60p? I don’t know, but it’s worth trying. Perhaps next time. I’m not a big fan of high shutter speeds for film/video. I’m not a big fan of the Saving Private Ryan-effect of stuttery-shutter.

Bea came to us over a year ago as a foster. She came to us after being rescued from a race track in Mexico where she had gotten ill and was near death. Retirement has proven to be a road to health for her. (Her favorite room in the house is the kitchen!)

Bea came to us over a year ago as a foster. She came to us after being rescued from a race track in Mexico where she had gotten ill and was near death. Retirement has proven to be a road to health for her. (Her favorite room in the house is the kitchen!)

Again, this is just a home movie test, but it did help me to learn a little more about the 7D and how it can look on HDTV. Not bad.

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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

One Response to Our Greyhounds on KCRA TV

  1. Pingback: Naked Filmmaking | New Adventures Using Canon 7D DSLR In TV News

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