Photojournalism: Camera Corner

  Digital Cinematography has a new player..  
It's called the XL-1. 

© Written by Michael Pappas

    The new Canon XL-1 has a wealth of features that independent filmmakers to videographers will benefit from.  One item that I've found that will be of great interest to independent filmmakers is a feature called Frame Movie Mode. This allows you to adjust the way the ccd chip captures an image.  Normal video is made up of 60 half resolution frames a second or also referred to as fields.  In the Frame Movie Mode the XL-1 captures 30 full frames instead of 60 half resolution frames a second.   There are many beneficial results because of this special capture mode.  First the captured frames vertical resolution is increased because the two interlaced fields of a single frame capture are not scanned at separate points of time like normal 60 field video captures.  The odd and even fields are simultaneously captured all at once at 1/60 of a second in the Frame Movie Mode.

    In normal video mode the ccd would capture the odd field at 1/60 of second,  then capture the following even field at 1/60 of a second.  If there is any movement in between the time  when these frames were captured,   there would be a discrepancy between the two separately captured fields resulting in what is called motion flicker.  There is also aliasing in the video because the fields are containing information of different movements recorded at those different times of the captures.  Since the XL-1 can capture a full frame not half fields, aliasing is dramatically reduced.

     Another by product of the Frame Movie Mode is you get what has been referred to as the "film look".   Video that is recorded in this mode would contain the same amount of different captured frames a second that a 30FPS film ( Like an Iwerks movie ) transferred to tape would contain.   Another big advantage to this full frame capture is if the video was transferred to film, the video shot would contain a higher vertical resolution because you are transferring a full frame not a video field to film.  One would only have to drop six full frames in total or in other words drop every 5th full frame and you would have 24 full DV frames transferred to film. If you took it to the next stage and have it line doubled and transferred to HD or another digital format before its transfer to film,  your results will even be better.

       Today's acclaimed Digital Betacam cameras can't even give you the option to record 30 full frames,   they only do 60 field video.  If Digital Betacams did offer this,  it would indeed make the final product even look sharper and much easier to transfer to film.   The Canon XL-1's  Frame Movie Mode feature is going to set a new standard in the way digital video images are captured.  The Full frame capture feature could turn out to be a perfect tool for filming television productions, documentaries and feature films.

Michael Pappas is a Filmmaker at Arrival Entertainment Pictures. He is also involved in research on new technologies that filmmakers can use to make films. He lives in Orange County CA, and can be reached at