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Greenscreen vs. LCD


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#1 Afton Grant

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 03:52 PM

What are people's opinions about the new line of monitors offered by Steadicam?

I've just spent a week at a workshop with newest SC gear. The greenscreen monitors have been discontinued. Supposedly, the new UltraBrite monitors work just as well in all light situations, however when we took them out into the sun, they definitely were washed out at certain angles. Surprisingly, the monitor that worked the best in direct sunlight was the little, cheap LCD that came with the Flyer.

The instructor, Paul Taylor, claims there is really no question that the CRT Greenscreens are superior as far as brightness and resolution go. From what I've witnessed, I tend to believe him. However, Frank Rush was also in attendance and claims he hasn't received a request for one of the greenscreens in a few years - since the LCD's came out.

I'm wondering if the glare we witnessed on the new HD UltraBrites could be fixed with either a hood or an anti-glare coating of some sort.

Thoughts?
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#2 mattmarek

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 04:38 PM

of course you'll get answers that will sell their gear the most. i have the utmost respect for tiffen, but i was not so impressed with their ultrabrite. from what i hear, the hummingbird monitor sold by mk-v.com is the way to go if you're to go to an lcd monitor. i have not seen one in the flesh.

i'm way to happy with my green crt to consider anything else at the moment. an all HD feature or series would probably have me seriously considering though :D
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#3 Afton Grant

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 05:03 PM

i'm way to happy with my green crt to consider anything else at the moment.  an all HD feature or series would probably have me seriously considering though :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


This brings up a follow-up question. Is HD really necessary for a Steadicam monitor? I know the picture is incredibly nice to look at, however, does it justify the couple thousand dollar price difference? Especially when all the information about the frame is easily seen in SD?
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#4 Janice Arthur

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 08:48 PM

I can't speak to whose monitor is best but as far as CRTs, they are fast going away. Europe is spearheading the way because they don't want the environmental clean-up of CRTs. (Mercury, and other heavy metals) Sony and the other top man. of tubes are getting out of the business. I don't know a time frame but it's happening fast.

At an HD seminar the people were lamenting how that will change how you "evaluate" an image. Portability is the great upside.

The other plus is CRTs in fast food places and hotels, and bars, and hospitals take up too much valueable space. Size is demanding that flat panels take over the CRT domain even more. As countries "westernize" the 10s of millions of CRTs not in the homes is staggering.

JA
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#5 Jerry Holway

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 07:05 PM

Garrett Brown found and helped develop the first big monitor bright enough to be seen in full sun (the "Widdoes" monitor), and Tiffen went forward from that to make what I think is still the brightest 8.4 inch LCD out there at 1400 NITS, as well as pushing the envelope with other LCD's, like the Flyer/Archer 7" models. LCD panels and technology has a lot of $ behind it, while the technology for the little green screens is going away. Reject rates for new tubes is awful; people just don't seem to know how to make them anymore.

You do lose resolution with LCD's, but you gain info in size and in color. Without the Vidiflex (a monochrome tap with a drawn fiberoptic relay system) like Larry has on his Moviecam Compact (and CP doesn't make it anymore), resolution isn't really an issue; the LCD's can faithfully display the information from most video assist systems, and display it in color.

As the LCD monitor is both thinner and lighter than a CRT, the LCD image is going to be further from your face (for the same inertia, it's got to be further away), and consequently the image will stay in view a whole lot longer as you tilt - very, very useful in low mode...

Is HD necessary? For some folks it is, for others not. But you have great choices now (from several manufacturers) with HD component, HDSDI, and SD monitors in a lot of pretty big sizes.

As one of the inventors of the Ultra and some other widgets, I have a relationship with Tiffen. However, I think comparing monitors that one hasn't seen side by side, fed by the same signal, is less than helpful. Last October at a workshop we had the Tiffen UltraBrite and the MK-V version of the Hummingbird and a regular Hummingbird all side by side in the same light... They were all very similar in terms of brightness and contrast and had identical viewing angles; (you really could not tell unless they were side by side). Tiffen's monitor has been upgraded since then; I assume the same is true for the others.

There were differences - I happen to prefer the anti-reflection coating on the UltraBrite, and I like the way it mounts (I helped design that....), but I think the most important thing is that green screens are going away, and better and better and cheaper LCD's (HD or not) are the colorful future.

Jerry Holway
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#6 Afton Grant

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Posted 10 August 2005 - 09:27 PM

As one of the inventors of the Ultra and some other widgets, I have a relationship with Tiffen.


Jerry,

I just wanted to extend my appreciation for your history of work and innovations for Steadicam and related gear. During one of the conversations about gadgets and accessories for the gear, my instructor made the point that not everyone will have the use for every new item that comes out of the factory. However, how nice it is to have those gadgets available should they be needed, instead of needing a certain item and having to wait for its invention. It was a very simple testament to the dedication of the inventors to the equipment and its operators.

Thanks.
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#7 PeterAbraham

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 03:45 PM

( Small Aside ) I am a huge proponent of the work done and products released by Tiffen. (/Small Aside )

I have a prototype lightweight rig. I built it before the Flyer was a reality. Last week I purchased the Flyer monitor to put onto it. ( I've had the rig for almost 3 years now ). that 7" LCD that comes with the Flyer monitor is so superior to any other 7" standard LCD that it's remarkable. At 500 nits is is clear and crisp outside on an overcast day. ( Opposed to a sunny day with deep blue sky. Overcast days are the roughest for LCD monitor imaging because the sky is a white silk overhead.)

I saw that side-by-side last October. The Ultra-Bright is larger and as crisp as the Hummingbird. Were I flying a larger rig, I'd absolutely own the Ultra-Bright monitor. The more information my eyes are given, the happier my brain is.

Peter Abraham
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#8 Chris Haarhoff

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 02:36 PM

The last part of Peter's comment jumped out at me.. " the more information my eyes are given, the happier my brain is..". It's exactly what I consider when thinking about the green screen versus LCD debate. Many years ago I tested a prototype for the then brightest, most daylight viewable LCD. I used it on and off throughout the filming of AI, and even though my deliberations were not enough to help the movie out of the quicksand, I came to some strong conclusions which led to the abandoning of the project, leaving others to delve into the new technologies.

This all may be a product of my particular brain, so it could be read with a pinch of salt, but the main reason I abandoned the LCD on many occassions was that I was being presented with TOO MUCH information. The wider the lens and my decision making seemed to suffer. The longer and tighter the lens and my mind could relax around the lack of background elements. In the quick glance at the monitor during a difficult shot, I found myself unable to be fully reassured. A classic example that I remember was tracking Jude Law and Haley Joel Osmend into a big set that took up the whole stage. It was a fast lateral move with a fair amount of foreground and a background that included lights and flags to the edge of my frame. The object was to keep the actors at the bottom left of frame while maximizing the set. After rehearsing it a few times I was completely overwhwelmed by the amount of color information that was coming my way. After the first take I quickly set about returning to the trusty green screen while 'guess who' aired his disatisfaction.

Even today, although I use one of the new LCD's whenever the situation calls I am most comfortable with the green screen be it a PRO, TB6 or Masters'... all good. As I watch our progress into the LCD and HI DEF world I'm not sure if we are moving away from some of the elegance that the simple tube provided. Even the original Model III seems like it was the best ever. This thought immediately leads me to the size of the current monitors. There is a trend to go big with the screen as if the size mitigates the reduced resolution. I'm unable to take in the details I want, in the time I have, when scanning a larger image. The array of HD screens have me even more confused as the processing brings you the image in " strobovision" a split second after you get there. Nice to look at when you've finally arrived and all the actors are keeping still but the journey is not as silky as it used to be.

I'm working with Steve St. John at the moment, which is a treat second only to spending time on a set with Garrett Wan. Steve was an inspiration to many throughout the eighties and nineties, as he helped define the standards that would measure Steadicam operators forever. He is a wealth of information and stories that simply cannot be retold and improved. Regarding the trend towards LCD's, Steve even feels nostalgia for the non-flicker free video tap. He points out that the ever so slight image delay upsets his timing and rhythm enough to be a distraction. I may not feel what Steve feels, but I think I find myself somewhere in between his world of incredible accuracy and the world where operators are raised on LCD's, Hi Def delay and maybe an altogether better processing ability.
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#9 Charles Papert

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 09:01 PM

Nicely put, Chris.

I too wonder about the nature of large monitors--I felt right at home moving up from the 3A to the PRO monitor (and from there to the TB6) but have been a little thrown off when playing around with the current spate of larger color LCD's. The addition of the color information shouldn't be the problem (after all, we do nothing but hiss and spit when our beloved ground glass eyepiece is replaced with a black and white CRT viewfinder on HD gigs), but then again our eyeballs have many more places to be than the monitor during Steadicam moves.

I also agree that it may be a function of how many years one has spent staring at the smaller image, and those without such conditioning (and owning large plasmas, 30" Cinema Display monitors etc) might take to the big screen without question. There are a growing number of folk who find 24 fps acquired material to be unnaturally "stroby", and actually prefer 60 fps (i.e. NTSC television, also known as the "soap opera look") as a visual medium--a significant percentage of these are video gamers, who seem able to take in more information at a higher speed than I am capable of on the very odd occasion that I pick up the controls.

Personally I think the ultimate display will be heads-up, projecting a virtual image (ambient-light-proof!) onto the space where the monitor used to be on the rig when desired, but allowing the operator to sneak all the geographic peeks required without restricting one's field of view or creating disorientation as the old systems did. The technology seems achingly close, but apparently resolution is still an issue.
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