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david van brink // Thu 2007.10.25 22:38 // {after effects}

Synthetic Camera Motion

Why I Like HD

This test clip, shot with a Canon HV20, shows one way to use HD source to produce SD (or smaller) content. The original HD provides so much information — pixel data! — to work with. Since my output is usually for web or occasionally small-run DVDs for friends, I can do glorified pan-and-scan completely after the fact.This is also handy because my cameraman is usually a tripod or a rock or something.

How Big Is HD?

I’m glad you asked! HD is this big:

The above diagram shows the sizes for different video formats relative to the 1920×1080 pixels of HDV.

But is HDV really 1920×1080? According to Canon’s web site the HV20 has “true 1920×1080 resolution.” Ok… but QuickTime player shows this:

So it’s a little bit hard to understand. “Reports vary,” as they say. I think that it’s stored on MiniDV tape at 1440. If the effective resolution is 1440×1080, meaning the pixels are 133% as wide as they are tall, then the usable areas for smaller formats would be as shown here:

Both diagrams show the smallest size you can grab where pixels aren’t expanded; digital editors do an excellent job of reducing images, but enlarging them introduces blurriness.

I made these diagrams to get a general idea of how much I might get away with when moving and zooming, but the real test is, and can only ever be, “Do you like how it looks?”

3 comments
Pedro // Mon 2009.09.21 01:431:43 am

Hello David. Iร‚ยดm working exactly as you are and would just like to know how you animated that wide angle distortion when movind the cam. Can you tell me if it is it a plugin or a native AFX function? Today I only do rescaling and repositioning..

david van brink // Mon 2009.09.21 05:145:14 am

Hi Pedro — you will laugh when I tell you. I used a 3d layer, and the pan/zoom is done with camera angling. It’s kind-of strange looking… but in a different way than 2d pan/zoom. ๐Ÿ™‚

Imran // Sat 2009.12.26 12:2112:21 pm

Hey David.
I saw your synthetic motion video on youtube over a year ago and I’ve been trying to emulate that for the longest time! I have an HV30 and After Effects CS3 as well.

I looked everywhere for a tutorial or a how-to video or anything without any luck so finally I thought I’ll ask the creator himself… If you can, please show us a video tutorial on how you did that? I’d really appreciate it. Thanks and keep up the good work ๐Ÿ™‚

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