Capturing Forests on Video vs. Still Camera  

TOPIC: Capturing Forests on Video vs. Still Digital Cameras

== 1 of 4 ==
Date: Thurs, Dec 27 2007 10:25 am
From: "Gary A. Beluzo"

This is a response from Joe Zorzin which I post with his permission:

Gary, I'm not currently subscribed to ENTS but I occasionally peek at
the discussions at the Google groups site, which is allowed without
subscribing. I don't subscribe because I don't want to overwhelm ENTS
with my ranting. <G>

Anyways, I saw a recent post by you: "I am experimenting with
documenting forests and I am wondering if taking VIDEO will do the
trick since you can do a 360. None of the camera shots seem to really
capture the image. Anybody else have tricks for capturing good forest
shots with a digital camera? Digital Video? "

This is something I've been pondering for many years. A decade ago I
spent a fortune on a top of the line Nikon 35 mm camera with all kinds
lens, etc. I was disappointed with the photos I took, by and large,
though some were OK. Once digital photography got going I could see
the big advantage over film- you can take hundreds if not thousands of
pictures with a digital camera so you're bound to find some good ones.
Unfortunately, most digital cameras don't have all the accessories
like those great film cameras- in particular, the better wide angle
and telephoto lens- except for the higher end cameras.

But, now that digital video is taking off- I think this may be the
answer for us to be able to record what we see, fell and think about
forests. I haven't yet purchased video equipment but intend to do so
soon. The problem is there are so many camcorders out there and the
technology is evolving so rapidly. Older models used digital tape, but
now they make models that have hard drives or solid state memory. The
problem with hard drives and solid state memory is that they record to
a different format- one that is highly compressed, which may result in
reduced quality of the video- and, very importantly, to edit this new
format (AVCHD)- you need an extremely powerful computer with at least
a duel core or preferably quad core and a 64 bit operating system.

In the past several months I haven't been doing nearly as much
forestry ranting as I've been spending many hours per day in video
discussion forums trying to get a grip on this subject. In case you
care to get involved with those forums, let me know and I'll give you
the URLs. The consensus among the pros and semi-pros is to get a
digital camera that uses tape, not the newer hard drive or solid state
memory. An extremely popular camera at a good price- one that has
gotten rave reviews is the Canon HV-20 which you can now get for under
$700- check it out at the B&H Video store in NYC, probably the best
place to buy all camera equipment-

But, once you get the camcorder- you also need to invest in a wide
angle lens, an external microphone, and some other accessories- but
for around a grand, you could be fully loaded!

But, back to your original question- is video a way to capture a
forest? I think it can be- these new camcorders are high definition.
The maximum resolution is 1920x1200 which is lower than most new
digital cameras, but you won't know it on a hi def television as you
watch the motion. On the net, in those discussion forums, people post
clips of their video work. I've seen some and they are gorgeous- far
better than most of the videos that Ed Frank has listed on the ENTS
site. Much of what gets posted to YouTube is far inferior of the full
capability of these cameras since they are shrunk and extremely
compressed. The best way to view hi def video is on a huge hi def TV.

My intention however isn't just to video record forests- I also intend
to interview people on forest policies, beginning with a recording of
Mike Leonard doing a "rap" about the forestry establishment. <G>

Whether or not video is going to succeed in capturing what we think,
know and feel about forests better than film or digital cameras, I
don't know- but I'm going to give a try. I'm very, very optimistic
about this.

Rasputin Zorzinovich
PS: if you think this message has any value to others in ENTS, you can
forward it there <G>
Reply to all
Joseph Zorzin to me, Bob, Mike
show details 9:56 AM (3 hours ago)


Also, - though a video camera can be slowly panned to show that 360
degrees, I'm not sure it will work very well since panning of any sort
results in blurring the image. Rather than panning, I think it's best
to get a wide angle lens- Canon makes one for their HV-20 camcorder
for about $200. Then it's important to find the right spot so that
the wide angle lens will capture the location and some motion as
people pass through- or a deer, or whatever.

Aside from using video, old fashioned oversized cameras with huge lens
and huge negatives is one possibility. I saw some photos taken this
way hung up in a bookstore. The photos were poster size and the detail
was extraordinary. The photographer really captured those places.
Looking at them you feel as if you're looking out of a window.

Another possibility is specialized cameras that can take a 360 degree
image! They can be found but are very expensive. I saw such an image
of the top of Mt. Monadnack, which I found on the net- a very amazing
photo. I looked on the net for it after seeing that mountain from a
client's property on a hilltop in Ashburnham. The mountain looks like
that volcanic mountain in Japan (can't remember name, Mt. Fuji?)

BTW, I just read that the old farmers toasted Mt. Monadnack in the
early nineteenth century- their burned it because they believed there
were wolves up there. Supposedly the mountain once had a lush forest
of spruce right to the top. That fire destroyed the soil on the top
half of the mountain and now it's mostly bare rock. FUCKING IDIOTS.
Stupid Anglo-Saxon honkeys. <G>

- Show quoted text -

== 2 of 4 ==
Date: Thurs, Dec 27 2007 10:58 am
From: Larry

Gary, Any good digital camera with a wide angle lens should get the
photos your after. We have a couple Photographers in the ENTS group
maybe they could give you more of a detailed answer. I shoot a F828
Sony, 28mm-200 Lens. A good camera for my learning process For around
900 dollars at the time I bought it, 3 years ago. I'm now ready to
move up to a good Canon with multiple Lens. Wide Angle,
Telephoto,etc. Larry

== 3 of 4 ==
Date: Thurs, Dec 27 2007 11:04 am
From: "Edward Frank"

Gary, Joe,

one option rather than making a 360 pan with a video would be to make a 360 still shot. Take a series of images and there are programs that will merge them into a 360 view that the viewer can rotate through on a website. Ulead cool 360 lets you make circle panoramic and only costs $39.95'
There even is a free trial version.

Ed Frank

== 4 of 4 ==
Date: Thurs, Dec 27 2007 11:40 am
From: "Edward Frank"

Gary, Joe, Mike,

If you took this 360 still you could incorporate it into a video sequence by using some of the motion control scans, like was used in the stills for Ken Burn's Civil War documentary. Adobe after effects would do it with just software, and I think there are several other software only options to do so. Add some ambient background sound from the forest and it will look good. It will still oak like a still photo, but it will fit with the flow of the video images. This will avoid the motion blur. If you want to shoot video of the 360 pan, turn very very, very slowly. Then in editing programs like adobe, you can speed up that sequence as it plays back and is encoded. This will minimize the motion blur...


TOPIC: Capturing Forests on Video vs. Still Digital Cameras

== 1 of 3 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 28 2007 7:17 pm
From: "Gary A. Beluzo"


My MACBook Pro has the "Ken Burns" Effect in Keynote (more powerful
than PowerPoint) and the other slideshow software. Bob has seen it....


== 2 of 3 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 28 2007 8:26 pm
From: "Edward Frank"


Sounds good. I just thought this might be an alternative to a straight pan - and much easier to do. You need not worry about vibrations from the tripod or varying speeds of rotation of the camera. Even light shifts could be better dealt with using a 360 still rather than a video pan. You should do whatever works best for your project, be it straight video or a 360 still. Good luck.