If you have been following my blog, you know that we use a Sony V1U primarily as another DVCAM camera, for most of our shoots. We actually shot a lot of interviews a few weeks ago with our V1 and a rental, in the hopes that matching the two cameras would be easier than trying to match the V1 with a Panasonic camera.
Here is the transcript of a conversation had this week while shooting a surgery:
Doc: So, is that an HD camera?
Me: It shoots HD, but not at the moment. Do you record HD?
Doc: No, the HD scope (medical video camera) doesn't let you record in HD.
Me: Figures. Although you are displaying it on those nice plasma screens in your OR.
Doc: It's nice isn't it.
Me: Not bad, although when you walk right up to the screen it looks kind of grainy.
Doc: What do you think looks better the plasma or the boom mounted LCD?
Me: The LCD. You know, I have an idea. I can shoot the next case in HD (HDV is actually a phrase the average person has never heard, so saying HD results in fewer blank stares) and you are using an HD camera and displaying it in HD - what if I shoot the HD off the screen onto HD. The only analog signal will be the air between the screen and my camera.
Col. Hannibal Smith: Crazy as it sounds, it just might work.
Mr. T: I ain't gettin on no plane.
Sorry, had a brief 80's flashback, stick with me.
Obviously the plasma screen's grainy image won't be as crisp as the LCD, however from my camera's position hovering over the OR bed, I have a pretty straight shot to the plasma screen. I certainly do not expect to get a crystal clear image, however the aspect ratio is the same so it is worth a shot.
Here is a fullest size frame grab Flickr will allow from the experiment (I hope you have eaten recently):
It's not bad is it. Does not actually look very grainy to me, and is certainly better sharpness than DV. We'll call this pseudo-HD.
Here is a smaller version allowed by the COW:
In case you were wondering, that's the prostate being cut away from the pelvic floor. That pink thing in the foreground might be the vas deferens, everyone's favorite structure!
For comparison, here is a frame from the full size DV recording from the same HD camera, taken from DV tape captured into Premiere(confused yet?). The HD surgical camera has S-Video outputs on the back, recording a slightly cropped SD version to whatever format you desire, in my case DV tape. Remember, compare this image to the link above, not the image which is essentially a thumbnail from the full size HDV frame:
Alas, the HDV recorded off plasma display of HD is certainly larger in size than standard DV, which is obvious given HDV's larger image size. However the real question is, is the resolution any better, and would it stand up to HD display and projection, or to printing for that matter. Another future experiment will be to try to record the HD signal from the OR camera to an HDV deck. The HD outputs of the medical video camera control units range from component to DVI. Thus a scan converter which accepts DVI and can output HDV via firewire, a device which probably does not exist, will need to be used. Short of renting an XDCAM deck, the only other choice might be to record directly to a computer.
Also available are seriously expensive Sony medical grade HD recorders - at least we know someone is thinking about recording HD in the OR.
These questions may be answered in a future episode entitled: HDV, it's What's for Dinner.
Or whatever. Must be time for lunch.
PS - If you are interested, here's a link to the full size HDV frame of the image at the top of this article: