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

Synthetic Camera Motion

Why I Like HD



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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. I´m 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. :)

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 :)

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